Should you have email marketing in your affiliate marketing bag of tricks to grow your traffic and sales? After seeing the power of email for so many of ClickBank’s top affiliate and seller clients, I am confident: the answer is yes!
Whether you already have an email list or you’re looking to start one, there is a crazy amount of untapped potential here. Marketers who use email are by far some of the most profitable and fastest growing types of affiliates on ClickBank!
Sound interesting? In this epic affiliate email marketing campaign guide, I’ll talk you through how to get started with email marketing and list management step-by-step. Let’s do it!
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Why You Need an Affiliate Email Marketing Campaign
Real quick: Before we dive into how you build an affiliate email campaign, let’s look at 3 quick reasons why email is such a good idea (whether you have an email list right now or not).
1) Email is insanely profitable.
With an average ROI of 38:1, email is easily the most profitable affiliate marketing channel. With email, you are one click away from reaching your target audience. Once you have a contact on your email list, you now own that relationship with that contact and can send offers in your newsletter virtually whenever you want (with some restrictions) – and it costs you close to nothing to do it.
The only real costs that you could attribute to email are the overhead of paying for an email service provider (ESP), as well as costs associated with hiring out list management or copywriting. You may also have costs in building your email list (paid traffic to a landing page with an email grab, cross-promoting with another offer, building your YouTube channel, etc.) – but almost anything you earn after they’re on your email list is pure profit.
2) You own your email list.
Once you’ve built an email list, you have an asset that you own as an affiliate marketer, according to Ian Stanley in his Dominate the Inbox course inside of Spark.
Unlike other channels, such as YouTube or Facebook, your email list can’t get shut down. And if you don’t like your current ESP, you can switch and bring all of those email contacts along with you.
Ultimately, the only hurdles you need to worry about are spamming your subscribers or oversending – and making sure you have a way to monetize your list! (ClickBank can help with that!)
3) Email marketing is sustainable.
Email is one of the oldest marketing channels that exists – it’s been around since the late 1970s, believe it or not!
Along the way, email has rarely been affected by any sort of policy/privacy changes. The most notable change for email marketers has been the recent iOS 15 update in 2021, but this mainly impacted how we look at open rates.
Email continues to be a crucial communication channel and will likely not lose popularity anytime soon. What does that mean for you? It means if you can develop a good relationship with your subscribers, email will be a reliable source of revenue for you to count out throughout your affiliate marketing career.
Step 1: How to Choose the Best Email Service for Affiliate Marketing
Okay, now that we know why email marketing is so valuable, it’s time to get started actually doing it!
(I’m assuming you already have a niche and an affiliate offer in mind. If you don’t, check out this article on the best affiliate marketing niches or this article on how to choose an offer.)
So, your first step on the path to launching an affiliate email marketing campaign is picking an email service provider (ESP). This is the software that allows you to grow and manage your email list.
But which ESP should you choose?
That’s a little difficult to answer with a blanket, one-size-fits-all tool that works for everyone. As with any digital marketing channel, you may want to test a few different email software tools to see which platform works best for you and your business.
With that said, when you’re looking at ESPs, you should be thinking about the features you need and what works within your budget. Typically, ESPs are priced based on your list size, so you should find an ESP that has a pricing option that fits your list size – or at least what you hope to grow your list size to!
If you’re just getting started, the simpler the ESP you use, the better. We have a full guide to choosing the best email service providers for affiliate marketing – but the short list I included below is a good place to start.
We asked our top affiliates about their recommended ESPs. These are the ones they chose:
- Aweber – list size, monthly, annual pricing options available
- SendLane – list size, monthly, annual pricing options available
- MaroPost – monthly options available with unlimited list size
- Blastable – monthly pricing available
If that’s still too many to choose from and you’re a beginner affiliate, I would look at Aweber. They allow you to get started for free on an Aweber free plan and have a lot of premium features – and their paid plans start at an affordable $12.50 per month.
But any of those ESPs will serve you well as you get up to speed on email affiliate marketing!
Step 2: How to Build an Email List for Affiliate Marketing
Once you’ve chosen an ESP, you’ll want to get up and running with the tool. We can’t give a tutorial on every single tool – you should consult with your new ESP’s tutorials and customer support.
Assuming you don’t have an email list right now, let’s talk about how you can begin building one from scratch. There are a couple different ways to approach building your list, but ultimately, the most important piece of the puzzle is an opt-in page (sometimes called a squeeze page).
There are tons of helpful email marketing tips out there that completely skip over this step. If you’re already an offer owner, you most likely have experience putting together a sales page, in which case you can easily pivot to creating a landing page for generating opt-ins. Just tease a lead magnet gated with an opt-in form on the page, and you can start collecting email addresses!
But most new affiliates don’t have a website or any sort of landing page, and may not know how to build one. The good news is, your landing page doesn’t have to be a robust website – just build a simple one-page lander that you can point traffic to.
If you don’t have a landing page and need some pointers, here is our ultimate guide to landing pages for affiliate marketing, a super helpful resource for building your first one. As an alternative, most ESPs have a full page sign-up form that you can use as your landing page.
Here’s a simple example of what your opt-in page might look like:
After you’ve created a basic landing page, here are the simple steps to build out your email list:
1) Create a new list in your ESP. This is where your new contacts will go.
2) Embed an email signup form. Create a brand-new sign-up or opt-in form connected to your email list, and embed it on your website or landing page(s).
3) Make the sign-up forms as visible as you can. Also, experiment with different timings on email pop-ups. Depending on your audience, people might be more likely to sign up after being on your page for a couple of minutes. Most ESPs will have tutorials on how to integrate with your site, as well as how to set up an opt-in form. One helpful tip here is to incentivize subscribers with a ‘free item’ you can give them.
4) Drive traffic to your page. Once you are happy with your landing page, then you will want to point traffic to it. This is where the options really start to open up. Fundamentally, you should try to utilize any traffic source you currently have or are familiar with: content website/blog, YouTube channel, a social media following, or paid media campaigns via YouTube Ads, Facebook Ads, native ads, or Google ads, etc.
Here are the most popular methods:
Link to your landing page literally everywhere you can on your YouTube.
Prompt your subscribers to sign up for exclusive content by subscribing to your newsletter. You can prompt viewers to check out your landing page with annotations, cards, and direct mentions in your videos, if possible.
You can even include a CTA that prompts people to sign up for your newsletter in your video descriptions, your ‘about’ tab, and your channel header.
The blog parallels with good usage of sign-up forms on your website. But just a tip: the key here is to already have a well organized blog that is value-packed. This helps incentivize people to want even more content, including exclusive content that you’re not giving away on your website!
You can offer that additional content via email, whether that is specifically called out in the blog or included as a callout at the bottom of each post. You should also use exit pops and general pop-up forms to maximize email sign-ups from your site visitors.
If you have any experience with paid media, you know how to drive traffic to a landing page. If not, here’s a guide to getting started with running paid ads.
Here are the best paid media channels for driving traffic:
- YouTube Ads
- Facebook ads
- Google Ads
- Native Ads
If you have a following on any social media platform, from TikTok to Instagram, be sure to add the link to your landing page or signup form wherever you can. This includes. your bio, stories, and posts. Tease even more valuable content by signing up for your email newsletter.
It’s obviously beyond the scope of a single article to dive into all of these traffic methods in detail, but we have plenty of free resources to point you in the right direction! Check out this series of traffic source guides.
Or if you’re interested in learning even faster, look at Spark by ClickBank. This affiliate marketing education platform provides you with in-depth learning tracks on both organic traffic and paid traffic!
As soon as you feel comfortable driving consistent traffic to your opt-in page to grow your email list, you’re ready to start building your first campaign!
Step 3: How to Write an Email for Affiliate Marketing Campaign
Launching an email campaign is a huge step toward becoming a successful email affiliate. Before looking at the steps to building a campaign, we need to talk about funnels.
The typical flow for an email campaign starts with a traffic source pointing to your opt-in page, which allows you to build an email list of leads. A “lead list” is in contrast to a “buyer list,” which consists solely of people who have already bought a product from you.
What your affiliate email campaign needs
It’s important to think about your campaign holistically. Whether you have leads or buyers, all of the email addresses you collect are related to people with shared characteristics. You need to be aware of who your audience is before you can effectively sell them anywhere.
With that in mind, here are some fundamentals that are applicable across virtually all channels:
1) Tease exclusive content or a free giveaway.
Use your YouTube channel, Facebook page/private group, Instagram account, or TikTok to drum up interest for the lead magnet you’re using to attract email signups.
As you design this content, think about what will hook your audience to the point where they’ll give you an email address to access the content. Simple examples include:
- PDF: 77 ranked niche ideas for your business
- VIDEO: Discover this 14-lb. “fat melting” loophole
- IMAGE: Spring cleaning cheat sheet – give your home a makeover
Whatever your niche is, you’ll need to make sure there’s a logical continuity between the traffic source(s) you’re using to build anticipation, your lead magnet, your email campaign, and the affiliate product you’re going to promote.
2) Set up a thank you page.
Make sure you have a thank you page for people to land on after they’ve signed up for your list. On this page, you can confirm that they’ll receive whatever type of content they signed up for, such as an email newsletter, a video, etc. in their inbox.
3) Select the format for your first email
For your first email, you can either set up an automated welcome/intro email, or wait until you have built a list and send as a batch email.
A batch email is a manual send to your list, “triggered” by you and not an automated trigger.
Ideally, you’ll have both: an automated welcome email or series of emails for brand-new signups, and new content that you batch send on a regular basis (such as weekly or daily). This content should mostly provide value, but also include occasional pitches for the ClickBank products you want to promote so you can make sales from your email marketing.
4) Create Your Email Content
Before you create an affiliate email campaign, you should select an offer you trust or have used before that has proven conversion rates.
At ClickBank, we recommended viewing the first few pages of the marketplace for current top offers, or checking out our monthly ClickBank top offers content to find proven high-converting offers to promote.
In the body of your email, you should set up your CTAs to encourage people to click through to the affiliate offer. Make sure to drop your hoplinks in these places so you’ll get credit for anyone who goes on to make a purchase.
We’ll discuss this in detail later, but the key thing here is to make sure your email copy gets your audience to respond to your CTA and click through. That’s the only way they’ll see the sales letter and potentially buy the product, earning you a commission.
5) Point your audience to the affiliate offer.
If you are using email to pointing people to your own offer (via a landing page), make sure it is cohesive with your email. You may get a lot of traffic to a page with a great email but if people get to your page and are confused with what the content is or are surprised, you will see a lot of bounced traffic.
Here’s an example Lead Magnet funnel involving email:
6) Decide on your email frequency and volume
There isn’t really a set limit or sweet spot for how often or how many emails to send.
As you get to know your email subscribers, you’ll learn what works with them. You don’t want to overdo it and overwhelm or take advantage of your subscribers. The best way to tell how you’re doing is by monitoring your unsubscribe rates, spam rates, hard and soft bounce rates, and overall engagement (open rate and click rate).
That being said, here are a couple of ideas on the number of emails to create when you’re still getting started:
A good rule of thumb is having at least 3 emails in your welcome flow.
By far the email that gets the highest engagement is the first email in your welcome flow, followed by the second email. From there, you can add emails as your engagement start to die off.
If you start with a 3 email automation, give each email 1 day in between sends.
That’s probably enough automation when you’re new to email marketing. There are other automated campaigns you can set up based on unique audience segments and triggers, but I wouldn’t worry about that until you’re already seeing affiliate sales.
A good start for batch sends would be to send 1 email a week for a month and measure performance.
Once you start getting more comfortable with email and the engagement is there, start sending actual email series.
You can start with 3 emails set to send 1 day apart to the same list pointing to one offer. With these types of batch sends, you want the emails to be cohesive and flow together.
Maximum emails per month
It is hard to set a max on email because it’s so different across different industries and audiences. But even so, there are some universal principles to keep in mind:
First of all, if you’re sending to your full list, generally you don’t want to send an email every day all the time. While you may see high volume to your affiliate offer or website, you’ll also lose trust with your list. You can tell that’s happening if your spam/unsubscribe rates are going up – either a rapid spike or gradual increase over time.
How segmentation helps
This is a little more advanced but super helpful! Once you’re able to segment your list, you can target lists based on open rates or click rates, which means you can increase your email frequency to the more engaged audiences.
Doesn’t it make sense to send on a more frequent basis to subscribers with a level of engagement? The most advanced email marketers are sending an email every day, but only to a small percentage of their audience that is highly engaged.
Step 4: Creating a Quality Email
There are a lot of great resources out there on creating a quality email. We recommend checking out Ian’s Stanley’s course on email marketing in Spark by ClickBank.
But for now, let’s look at some basic fundamentals to help you get started.
Any email needs to have a good subject line that encourages people to click through and actually read what you wrote!
When it comes to great subject lines, here are a few quick tips:
- Be concise – try to keep your subject line under 7 words or less – most of ClickBank’s emails use this formula and all emails less than 7 words typically have a higher open rate
- Be personal – keep your subject relevant to your audience, try to make each email like it was going to 1 person and not a list. If possible, use the users first name in the subject line.
- Build curiosity – hint at what is inside your email but without giving away too much of the content inside the email. Your subject line will set the mood for how your user responds to your email and the cta withing your email. Your subject line and preview text are like “cliffhangers” to the rest of the story you will tell in your email
- Be creative – This is a given but think outside the box with subject lines. Don’t overdo it with emojis but it is worth a try if relevant. Use different keyboard characters, ex: ?  “” *
- Test, test, test – This can’t be stressed enough – most ESPs have split testing capabilities but if you don’t have that capability, you will need to do this on your own. When it comes to testing really pay attention to your subject line messages and what is getting better open rates and especially better click rates.
Lastly, when it comes to subject lines, you want to avoid using words like discount, sale, one-time offer, limited-time offer, winner, price, % off, guarantee(d), or credit.
A lot of these words trigger mailbox providers (such as Gmail, Yahoo, and Outlook) that your email is a promotion. In that case, your carefully-crafted email may get relegated to the Promotions tab – or worse, end up in someone’s spam folder!
Preview text follows most of the fundamentals of having a good subject line, but there are a few additional tips that will make your subject line stronger and open rates higher.
- Preview text can be longer than your subject line. But try to keep all of it visible in the inbox.
- Preview text can be more conversational. This is the next layer beneath the subject line that serves as a primer for your audience. Think of preview text as continuing the conversation that was started with your subject line. Preview text can be a little more “revealing” about the content inside.
A lot of email marketers don’t think of this, but the “from name” is worth experimenting with! This is an area you can really get creative with storytelling. You can use the “from name” to develop different brand personas and messaging.
With that said, one quick word of caution: if you always use a different from name, it can hurt your deliverability in the long term. Generally, you should stick to only a few consistent from names, but throwing in a creative one now and again is worth a test!
Email copy is probably the biggest hurdle in creating a quality email for affiliate marketing. All of the biggest affiliate marketing email pros are excellent copywriters.
This goes for all aspects of your marketing – having good copy that gets your audience to respond is the foundation for a successful affiliate marketing career. There are multiple courses inside of Spark by ClickBank that cover copywriting.
For now, here are some basic copywriting tips to point you in the right direction with your emails:
- The first line of your email or your headline is crucial for grabbing the attention of your reader. Your subject line, preview text, and first line should all flow together and be cohesive in building curiosity.
- Tell a story in your email that capitalizes on the emotion of whatever product you are selling them. Stories far outperform even a well-crafted sales pitch. Try to create an experience of “being a friend” to your subscribers as much as possible.
- Here’s a helpful formula for creating content: make 65% of your email content/story- based, 25% promotional, and 15% administrative material (privacy, legal, contact, unsubscribe, etc.).
- The best emails are really efficient with the space used. For example, a lot of the most-clicked emails are not scrollable. This may not be easy to do, but the idea here is to not overdo it on the length so subscribers have no alternative but to click through your CTA.
- Add links wherever you can find a reason to get someone to click through to your lander.
Lastly, I highly recommend focusing on getting into the personal inbox vs promotional!
At the bottom of your email, encourage your subscribers to reply to your email by answering a question relevant to your content. Once you are in the personal inbox, it’s really hard to get out of it.
The more you appear in your subscribers’ personal inboxes, the less popular mailbox providers will see your emails as promotional, leading to even fewer instances of getting marked as spam.
You don’t have to be a graphic designer to be good at email, however it does help from a branding perspective to use your ESPs email builder to add some creative elements.
Try to add a clickable image where you can, this also improves deliverability. Your image doesn’t have to be super high resolution. If you add a high res image to your email, this may cause your email load time to slow down which reduces click rate significantly.
Test, test, test
Test different angles, hooks, and messaging in your email copy. Test different images, length of copy, color of the font, color of the buttons, whether or not to have a button at all… anything you can think of!
The more you test, the more you will understand what is working with your subscribers, which is a win-win for both you and your audience.
When testing creative, the quickest way to measure what’s working is by looking at your click rate. If you see an increase in clicks in your split test, run with the winning version.
Taking it a step further, you should pay attention to conversion rate. In the case of promoting affiliate offers on ClickBank, you’ll be able to find that as your “hop conversion rate” inside the ClickBank dashboard, or potentially as the conversion rate reported inside your landing page software.
Sometimes, an email may have a great click rate but a poor conversion rate on your website or landing page. At the risk of sounding obvious, it’s way better to have fewer clicks and more conversions than to have more clicks and minimal conversions. The way to improve conversions is by treating your subject line, preview, from name, copy, and creative like one big primer to warm up your audience for whatever offer you’re promoting.
The most important thing is never to lose track of the goal for your campaigns! Numbers like open rate are little more than vanity metrics – focus instead on the total revenue per send, earnings per click, and conversion rate.
Launching an Affiliate Email Marketing Campaign Wrap-up
If you managed to stick with me all the way here, congratulations! I know email marketing can be a complicated and multi-faceted skill, so I commend you for taking the time to learn about it.
I truly believe that affiliate email marketing can be a game-changer for your business.
So, what now?
Well, if you followed along with each of the four steps, then by this point, you should have chosen an ESP, built an opt-in page, started driving traffic to your new email list, published an automated welcome email flow, and possibly sent a handful of batch emails – all designed to promote a specific ClickBank affiliate offer and generate commissions for you!
Of course, even if the concept of email marketing is simple, actually going through and setting it all up is anything but! That’s why I encourage you to check out Spark by ClickBank to get access to copywriting and email marketing courses and a community to help you as you work on your email skills.
And stay tuned for our next email marketing guide, covering more advanced email concepts like list health, automations, segmentation, and deliverability.
For now, best of luck on an exciting new phase in your affiliate marketing journey!