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How to Use Email Marketing In Affiliate Marketing

August 10, 2020

Reading time – 6 minutes. 

Every successful affiliate marketer knows how important it is to build an email list for newsletters that get read. 

Why is it so important? Well, simply because email marketing is one of the most effective marketing channels. Despite it being a commonly underestimated source of new clients, and therefore affiliate sales, it actually shows a strong ROI of 4,200%, meaning that for every $1 you spend on email marketing you can get a $42 in return on average. 

If you do affiliate marketing – sell products and services and get an affiliate commission for it – you should definitely know how to use emails to passively earn money. Read this article to learn the best tips and tricks on marketing emails for affiliates.

Does email marketing still work? 

When we think of affiliate marketing, we usually imagine content publishers, social media marketing (YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), review websites or content, etc. And it seems that not so many people take the emails very seriously when it comes to affiliate marketing. A lot of small businesses and bloggers who are just starting out don’t realize how important an email list actually is.

Have you ever noticed how many emails you open and read in a day? If not, here is a simple stat for you  – according to an Adobe study, people spend 2.5 hours a day on average checking their personal emails and on top of that they spend around 3.1 hours checking work emails. That sounds good for affiliates, doesn't it? 

Moreover, consumers are more likely to interact with email than with other channels like direct mail, phone calls, text messages, social media, mobile apps and even with hyped chatbots. 

All this and the fact that 59% of the SaleCycle research respondents said that marketing emails influence their purchasing decisions, make affiliate email a powerful tool for your passive income. 

Now that you understand why you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to test different email marketing campaigns, let’s move on to a more pressing issue, namely, how to build your mailing list. 

What tools can you use to build your email list? 

It doesn’t matter whether you promote digital products, services, or you sell goods with either an affiliate program or affiliate network, you still need to build your email list to effectively sell your affiliate products. 

And, to be honest, it’s not that easy to make people join your email list in 2020 -  there is so much information we need to process that people are careful about what they spend their time on. 

However, there are several legitimate tactics that you can use. Let’s talk about some of the more popular of them. 

1. Add a valuable lead magnet to your website. 

It’s a proven trick for website or blog owners to use different kinds of lead magnets to grow their email list. A lead magnet is a valuable piece that you offer your website users for free in exchange for their email addresses. For example, e-books, PDF checklists, reports, etc.

Here is an example of an e-book made by our partner. By the way, it is only one of the good ways to share affiliate links. 

2. Collect emails using online quizzes 

Quizzes are simple to design and promote, so you can use them to grow your list. They are engaging for users and beneficial for you. Just ask participants to give you their email so that you can send them answers and voila – your email list is replenished. 

For example, if you write about SEO and competitive research, consider creating a quiz on one of the following topics: 

  • “Test your SEO knowledge – a free quiz” 

  • “How well do you know your competitors? Take this free short quiz”

  • “Free quiz: what is your marketing I.Q.?”

3. Add a widget to your blog 

Another way to build your email list is to add a widget on each of your blog post’s pages. Such widgets usually get a high conversion rate.  

If your users like content that you create, they’re more likely to subscribe to your newsletter to get your content delivered to their inboxes. 

4. Create a pop-up on your website 

You can use this trick for promoting your lead magnet, quiz, or simply to let people subscribe to your newsletter. The average pop-up’s conversion rate is about 3.09%, which seems to be a low number, but if you have 100,000 visitors to your site you actually get 3,000 subscribers! 

However, be careful with adding pop-ups and widgets to your website as you don’t want to overdo it. Otherwise, people are going to be annoyed by all these triggers and will leave your site faster. And you obviously don’t want that to happen. 

Should you buy an email list? 

The short answer is – no. And there are pretty logical reasons behind that. 

First, it is now really easy to identify spam emails and that’s what you can expect from people to do if they’re not your subscribers. Also, you don’t want your emails to be marked as spam, because that will negatively impact your brand awareness. 

Also, please remember that it’s illegal in some countries to buy email lists (learn more about the GDPR and CAN-SPAM act).

Related: What Is the FTC Affiliate Disclosure in Affiliate Marketing?

How to send emails effectively 

Building your mailing list is an essential part of your email marketing efforts. However, there are several other metrics that can directly affect your affiliate offers or sales, such as open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe and bounce rates. So, let’s briefly define each of these important ratios. 

  • Open rate stands for the total number of people who opened your email. 

  • Click rate is the percentage of subscribers who clicked on links in the email. 

  • Unsubscribe rate indicates the percentage of people who unsubscribed from your email list. The unsubscribe rate is normal as long as it is less than 0.5%. If you have a higher rate, you should consider working on your email list, segments, subjects, etc.  

  • Bounce rate refers to the percentage of subscribers that didn't receive your email because it was returned by a recipient mail server. 

Your goal as an affiliate is to increase the open and click rates and decrease the unsubscribe and bounce rate of your emails. So, here is the ultimate checklist to help you create an email that will work. 

1. Write a clear and valuable subject line. 

You want your email to get read, and for that you’ll have to provide value in your newsletters. The same with the subject line – give people a reason to open your email. 

Try to make it as personalized as possible to increase your chances of getting a high open rate. For example, use the name of your subscriber to make your email more visible to him/her. 

2. Use a subject line tester to ensure it’s going to work.

There are plenty of free-to-use solutions to quickly and easily test your subject line. Usually, such services ask for your email address (the irony!) and voila – you can access a perfect tool to ensure your subject line will work. 

3. Always try to A/B test your subject lines and email content.

If you use an email service provider such as Mailchimp or others, it’s not that difficult to properly A/B test your subject lines and even email content. Using an A/B test in your email marketing can help you to get better open and click rate (and click-through rate) results. 

4. Avoid phishing phrases and spam trigger words.

There are several words you should try to avoid when creating a subject line. By getting rid of these words and phrases you’ll be able to increase your open rate. 

You can find a full list of such words on the HubSpot blog post here

5. Don’t forget to use emojis (when applicable).

Somehow, emojis are highly underrated in email marketing. However, you should definitely A/B test them on your subscribers. If an email with a subject line with emojis gets a higher open rate than one without it, you can keep adding emojis to your subject line.

Just remember to add them when applicable and relevant to your subject, and don't overdo it. This is the type of situation where less is more.

6. Segment your audience to deliver valuable and relevant information. 

You need to segment your audience so that you provide the relevant information to the right people. For instance, if you write an email about dog food to people who have no pets, you can’t expect huge interest from them, right? 

7. Add call to action buttons to your email. 

Instead of just using links, consider adding a CTA button (aka call-to-action) to induce a reader to take the targeted action. 


To sum up: 

Email marketing in the affiliate marketing field can be extremely beneficial for you if you do it right. First, build your email list for affiliate marketing using different triggers and tactics. 

Before starting any email marketing campaign, remember the importance of such metrics as open rate, click rate (and click-through rate) and unsubscribe and bounce rates. 

Your goal is to get high open and click rates and low unsubscribe and bounce rates. To do that, ensure you create a clear subject line and valuable content for the relevant audience. 

Do you want to get more affiliate marketing tips and tricks? Subscribe to our newsletter. 

Alina Cheremokhina 

Alina is a marketing manager at the SEMrush Affiliate Marketing Program. She is obsessed with digital marketing and SEO. When she is not at work she likes to take singing classes, play with her dog and play volleyball.