How to Build a List for Your Affiliate Email Marketing Business

April 4, 2021

Kenneth Holland

When it comes to earning an online income, passive revenue is always the dream. Being able to make money without putting forth so much effort allows you to take control of your life and live it on your terms. 

Affiliate marketing is one of the most reliable ways to earn passive income, but that doesn't mean you can just sit back and let the cash flow into your bank account. At least, not until you set up and execute a successful affiliate email marketing campaign.

Fortunately, I'm going to show you how to do just that. If you're ready to start earning more money and being proactive with your affiliate marketing strategy, keep reading...

What is an Affiliate Marketing Campaign?

Typically, when selling affiliate products, you rely on inbound marketing to make sales. Customers visit your website, your blog, or your social channels and reach your affiliate link.

While this strategy works, it requires you to have a sufficient audience of active followers in your niche clicking on those links. If you don't have thousands of people coming to your pages, your affiliate income will likely be more of a trickle than a flood.

Affiliate email marketing enables you to be more proactive about running your business. Instead of waiting for customers, you're out there promoting your product links. When done correctly, you can even automate your affiliate email marketing campaign, which can supercharge your earning potential.

Email Marketing for Affiliate Marketing

Realistically, you shouldn't have to start from scratch, either. Chances are that you have a subscriber list already, so you can capitalize on that instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.

Why is Email So Valuable for Your Affiliate Marketing Business?

With so many marketing channels and options out there, some people are hesitant to rely on email. After all, don't visitors and potential customers just delete them from their inbox without opening or reading the content?

While that may happen with some emails, the right strategies and messaging can make a considerable difference in your results.

According to recent research, email marketing as a whole is still viable, with an average open rate of 17 percent and a click-through rate of about 10 percent. While those numbers aren't gargantuan, they are better than other marketing options, and averages don't tell the whole story.

For example, emails related to arts and entertainment get an open rate of over 25 percent.

Overall, email marketing is effective if you know how to use it. When it comes to affiliate email marketing and links, here are several reasons to use this channel:

Email Stats by Industry
  • More Control - When relying on other platforms to deliver your message (i.e., social media marketing, cost of ads), your marketing exists at the whims of another company. Even worse, changes and updates can potentially sink your revenue stream, all without warning. Email marketing allows you to control who, when, and how you're sending messages to customers.
  • Warm Leads - Your email list should be full of prospects who, at the very least, filled out an opt-in form. Since those subscribers have already shown some interest in your company, they are more valuable than cold leads that may or may not care about your message. As you segment your subscriber list, you can engage with those followers more, creating the better potential for affiliate sales.
  • Targeted Messaging - Although inbound marketing has its place, you never know where your prospects will end up. Some of them may catch your CTA, while others might bypass it altogether. Email affiliate marketing ensures that you get the correct links to the right person every time. Don't assume that customers will know where to click - make the process as painless as possible through email.
  • Repeat and Referral Business - Even the most enthusiastic customer may not visit your site or social media profile too often. Affiliate email marketing allows you to sell directly to that person over and over again. While they may not click on every link, they can still be a viable selling channel for years to come.
  • How to Build a List for Affiliate Marketing

    An affiliate marketing email list doesn't just appear out of nowhere, no matter how many incantations you recite. Instead, here is where you will have to put in some work. However, the more effort you put into finding your target audience and building a list, the easier it is to set it on autopilot later.

    Here are the top strategies for creating the best email list for your affiliate email marketing campaign.

    Sign Up and Set Up an Autoresponder


    As you build your email list, you'll eventually wind up with hundreds or thousands of subscribers. Unless you want to spend every waking moment replying to those people, you should set up an autoresponder.

    Thankfully, this tool is becoming much more widespread, meaning that you may be able to access one within your current email marketing service. If not, integrate a third-party responder; doing so will save you so much time and energy.

    If you're unfamiliar with the term, an autoresponder is a tool that automatically sends an email promotion to a subscriber. Typically, this response is triggered when a person joins your list, but you can set up canned replies for all inbound messages as well.

    For example, if a subscriber responds to one of your emails, you can set up an autoresponder with a short note like, "thank you for reaching out! We'll be in touch shortly!" Having this system in place ensures that customers stay engaged.

    Auto responses (an automated email) are also necessary for new subscribers for two reasons:

  • First, the incoming message is confirmation that they entered their contact information correctly. Without an auto-response, the user may wonder if they missed a step.
  • Second, this message will have the highest open rate of anything you send, so capitalize on that captive audience. Use your initial welcome email to set expectations and showcase the value of your list. This way, they will be more apt to open future emails.
  • Determine Your Follow Up Sequence

    Although it's technically possible to sell an affiliate product to someone with a single email, it's unlikely. Instead, you have to build trust and value before a new subscriber will both click on an affiliate link and purchase the item.

    Since you will have to nurture the lead over time, your email campaigns need a follow-up sequence to keep them engaged. Fortunately, you can set up an automatic drip campaign that works without your input. 

    Remember, you'll have hundreds or thousands of users to message at a time, so save yourself the headache of having to do manual group email blasts every time.

    When developing a follow-up email sequence, utilize these tactics:

  • Customize Your Sequences - Segmentation is the key to building an efficient email list. As your subscribers show interest in various messages and products, segment them further so that they click through more emails. Simply put, don't take a one-size-fits-all approach.
  • Time of Day Matters - Some leads may open emails first thing in the morning, while others might do so on their lunch break. When you send your email is just as valuable as its content, so pay attention to the times of day that get the most opens and clicks. From there, you can build a more captivating sequence.
  • Cut Your Losses - Ideally, most of your email subscribers will engage with you regularly. However, once a lead turns cold, you want to move them to a different list or segment. Cold emails aren't necessarily dead, but you'll have to try different strategies to warm them up again, hence the list change.
  • Write a Compelling Call to Action

    Affiliate email marketing doesn't work if users don't click your product links. So, your call-to-action has to compel them to do so. While there is no magic trick to writing an engaging CTA, here are some tips on getting the most out of your links.

  • Keep It Simple - Don't overload your lead magnet with tons of wording or information. Also, don't confuse your users by adding too many steps.
  • Focus on Value, Not Cost - Most users will scrutinize the price of any affiliate products. While you don't want to hide the cost, focus your energy on the product's value and incorporate that into your CTA. For example, if you're selling sleep masks, your message could be: "stop waking up groggy and unrested! Click here for a better night's sleep!"
  • Make it Eye-Catching - Your CTA should be front-and-center on your landing page or email. Your subscribers should have no confusion about what they're supposed to do and where they're supposed to click.
  • A Call to Action

    Create an Opt-In Form That Converts

    The first step to building an email list is getting users to subscribe. Opt-in forms are the easiest way to do this, rather than telling people to contact you further. However, if you want the best affiliate email marketing list possible, follow these simple strategies for a higher conversion rate:

  • Don't Ask for Too Much - Typically, all you need is a name and an email address to get a new subscriber. Most users are hesitant to offer more than that, such as a phone number or mailing address.
  • Measure Expectations - These days, users are less willing to enter their contact info without knowing what they will receive. Your opt-in form should highlight the benefits of subscribing, such as discounted prices, early release offers, and more.
  • Customize Your Form - Again, avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to opt-in forms. Tailor your messaging to fit specific needs. By creating multiple forms, you can also segment your lists more efficiently.
  • Provide Something Worth Clicking On

    Since your affiliate links are the lifeblood of your email marketing campaign, you need to provide sufficient value around that link. The questions you have to answer include:

    • Why should a lead buy from you instead of someone else?
    • Why buy this product instead of a different one?
    • Why buy now instead of later?

    If you can answer these questions with compelling answers, you will see your click-through rate skyrocket and increase the likelihood of receiving an affiliate commission. Some examples of answers may include:

    • Buy from me because I'm an authority in the industry, and I've verified that these products deliver valuable results.
    • Buy this product because it's the best at solving your particular problem.
    • Buy now because of this limited-time discount offer. If you wait, you'll have to pay a higher price later.

    FAQs About Affiliate Email Marketing

    While affiliate programs can lead to passive income, success is never guaranteed. Unfortunately, you can't just press a button and watch as money rolls into your bank account. So, to help you get the most out of your campaign, here are some answers to frequently asked questions for your email marketing strategy.

    What Should Be In Your Emails?

    Although the goal is to get a commission from product sales, you don't always want to slam your prospect over the head with an offer. Instead, you want a mix of valuable content, such as:

  • Video Clips - These clips can be entertaining, informative, or both.
  • Relevant Information - Link to an appropriate study or blog post about a particular subject.
  • Customer Appreciation - Reward your most active users with discounts or freebies. Even something small like a digital sticker can have a substantial impact.
  • Overall, your emails should deliver on the promise of your initial welcome message. Otherwise, you'll see a lot of clicks on the unsubscribe button.

    That doesn't mean you can mention your offer in your message. In fact, I make an offer in most of my emails. But sometimes you just want to mention the call-to-action rather than push hard for it.

    Can/Should You Put Affiliate Links in Emails?

    There are two ways to connect your customers to a specific product. First, you can put the product link in the email, or second, you can link to a landing page. Unfortunately, some autoresponders and automation programs don't allow product links, so your options may be more limited.

    In most cases, it's better to simplify the sales process as much as possible. If your customer has to follow-through on multiple steps, they are less likely to complete a purchase. So, when possible, put affiliate links in emails directly.

    How Often Should You Send Emails?

    Email Frequency

    Some companies send emails a few times a week, while others send them every month. The frequency depends on a few factors, but you mostly want to wait until you have something valuable to offer. If you have enough content and product options to send an email every day, then go for it. In fact, that's what I do.

    For beginners, it will take a while to find that sweet spot, and keep in mind that some customers may want more while others want less.

    That said, you want to keep your emails consistent. If you wait too long between messages, you can lose momentum, and your passive income will take a significant hit.

    What Does a Good Affiliate Marketing Email Look Like?

    While the details will vary for each person and company, here are some core elements of a good affiliate marketing email:

  • Subject Line They Can't Ignore - Your most important goal is to get your visitors to click on your email. This starts with a enticing headline. This not only increases your click-through rate, but reduces the change your emails will go in to their spam folder. This is a skill that should always be work on continuously.
  • Personalized Attention - Realistically, you can't customize your email messages for a specific person, but if you segment your list correctly, you can create unique messages for a particular group. Doing this will draw more attention and encourage clicks.
  • Valuable Offer - Giving someone a link to a product isn't enough. Remember the questions we talked about earlier? You have to address those every time you put a link. Why should someone not only click the button but buy the product? Deliver a compelling answer, and you'll see results.
  • Laser-Focused Details - No one wants to read a rambling email that takes forever to get to the point. Aim for around 200-400 words and draw attention early. If you want someone to read more, link to a blog post or article.
  • Affiliate Email Marketing - Best Practices

    Now that you have the tools and strategies necessary to start your first affiliate email marketing campaign, here are some last-minute tactics to ensure success your first time out:

    • Deliver High-Quality Products - If you link to a low-rated or subpar item, users won't click on your following email. Make sure that all of your affiliate links are vetted and well regarded.
    • Focus On Relationships - While it's nice to get passive income, you have to see your leads as more than just a dollar sign. Building relationships ensures future engagement and more buyers, so utilize reward programs and customization tools.
    • Don't Link Each Email - If every message you send has a new product link, users will stop opening them. Again, deliver value with your campaign, and the sales will follow.

    Where Should You Go From Here?

    Affiliate marketing is excellent for making money, but it can be tricky to master. Learn how to make each of these elements work together for a successful affiliate email marketing campaign.

    Join my Free Email Insiders Group and you'll get daily tips from a 20-year internet marketing veteran on exactly how to move your business forward.