Email Marketing for Affiliates


A well-designed email campaign can drive traffic to your website or directly to the products you promote. Email marketing is a great channel to utilize affiliate links. Learn how to build your subscribers list, design and test your email campaigns to increase an open and click rate.

A step by step guide to building your mailing list

To send people emails, you need to get permission from them first. It’s called opting in, and it means that they agreed to receive communication from you. You must also provide a way for subscribers to opt-out of receiving emails at all times.

Your website is the best place to focus your email list building efforts. You can present opt-in forms in many ways. It’s essential to ask for emails politely. Aggressive pop-ups can annoy visitors of your website. Take advantage of email capture tools to grow your mailing list.

Strategies to collect email addresses

  • Offer a content upgrade They are sometimes called bribe-to-subscribe offers as you need to give people something in exchange for their email address. It can be an ebook, guide, research, infographic, a cheat sheet, template, etc.
  • Add a blog opt-in form If you provide exciting and valuable content, you can encourage your readers to get notifications about new posts.
  • Use exit-intent pop-up When someone is about to close the browser tab, the action triggers a pop-up. Pop up tools: Sleeknote, Thrive Leads, PopUp Domination, OptinMonster, Bounce Exchange, Ninja Popups for WordPress, Pop Over Plugin for WordPress, Hello Bar
  • Add a sticky top bar Sticky headers that always remain on top of a website, so they are easy to notice. Header bar tools: Hello Bar, Smart Bar
  • Add a sidebar Website owners usually use sidebars on their blogs. For sidebars, forms, widgets and on-page options check: Plugin by Bloom, Plug Matter, Leadin Forms, Gravity Forms
  • Place an opt-in form in a footer on your website Footer is another place to add a subscription form without annoying your readers.
  • Place a form at the end of the article If your readers enjoyed the post, there is a big chance they will want to receive newsletters from you.
  • Host a webinar Organise a webinar and collect the email addresses at the registration.
  • Update your email signature Include a link in your email signature to a landing page where people will be able to sign for your mailing list.

Tips to create an opt-in form

  • limit the number of fields in your form
  • tell them what to expect (what content you will send them and how often you will communicate with them)
  • make it visually appealing.

Contact segmentation

Don’t sell sand in the desert. Even if you use an award-winning design and have the best deals on the market, you won’t be successful if you don’t get the right offers to the right people. One-size-fits-all messages are not effective or profitable. Imagine that you provide a free trial of your software although your subscribers are already your clients. Or, that you want to sell sausages to vegans.

Design email

Choose an email marketing tool

There are plenty of email marketing tools on the market. To choose the best email tool for you, you need to determine which features are essential to you:

  • ready templates
  • free trial
  • free plan/ price
  • advanced segmentation
  • A/B tests
  • reports
  • integrations.

Sign up for free trials to see which email marketing tool you consider easy to use. Their prices vary. MailChimp and Moosend are the great ones to start with if you don’t have a big mailing list. They offer a forever free trial if you have up to 2000 or 1000 contacts. Some of the other popular brands are GetResponse, Active Campaign, AWeber, Constant Contact, and many more.

Make sure your email looks clean and crisp

  • Use simple design Email marketing tools offer a wide selection of ready-to-use templates. They can save lots of your time, and you won’t need to worry about how your email will display across different devices. You can also use a drag-and-drop editor in your email system to design your template. Add blocks like images, social media buttons or text blocks, customize styles and other elements. Another option is creating your email from scratch. You can find plenty of inspirations on Dribble or even Pinterest. If you’d like to learn more about designing emails with a wow-effect and choosing the color scheme, you can find this article from handy.
  • Remove long block text Replace a long block text with bullet points and short, concise paragraphs to share your message efficiently. If you want to expand upon, include a link to a landing page where you can share the rest of the information.
  • Use simple English Avoid jargon, buzzwords, and acronyms. Writing copy for emails or landing pages is different than writing the academic research paper. Marketers should cut down on flowery language wherever possible. Use a conversational tone. Check your text with the Hemingway App. Don’t worry; replacing big words with common synonyms won’t make you look uneducated. Most people in the United States read at a 7th-8th-grade level.
  • Insert pictures sparingly Images shouldn’t replace your content. Some email providers block them by default. For that reason, you should always use alt text. It is a short description of an image that displays when your subscribers are unable to see the visual elements. Alternative text can improve the overall experience for your readers.
  • Use call to action buttons Let your recipients know what you want them to do (sign up for a trial, claim a discount, etc.). An ideal call to action should draw attention, be clear and, of course, be clickable. Design a big button, so it’s easy to click on mobile devices. If your email is long, add another call to action, so your subscribers don’t have to scroll to find it. Make a CTA copy compelling.
  • Make emails mobile-friendly Always make sure that you use a responsive design. Effective email campaigns are designed for all devices (desktop, tablet, and smartphone).
  • Add a preview link To improve accessibility include a link where a subscriber can preview the email in a browser if it doesn’t load correctly.

Tips to keep your emails out of spam folders

When designing your email, you should have anti-spam regulations in mind. Every spam filter is different. Your email can pass through one filter without issues, but you can’t be 100% sure that the other one won’t flag it.

  • Avoid using all caps, too many exclamation marks, and hyperbolic phrases
  • Don’t use deceptive headers, From names, reply-to addresses, or subject lines. Be transparent.
  • Use merge tags to personalize the recipient field (TO:) of your campaign. It will also increase the chances of your email not to be flagged as SPAM. Don’t use Dear Sir/ Madam.
  • Always provide an unsubscribe link- it must work for at least 30 days after sending it.
  • Use message footers to bypass spam filters. It’s a perfect place to add links to your privacy policy.
  • Avoid spammy words like congratulations, lottery, win.

Test your emails before sending them

Don’t hit a send button without proofreading and testing your campaigns. An email with spelling and grammar slips will feel rushed and will make you look unprofessional. Sometimes when you work on something for too long, it’s easy to miss small mistakes. Make sure that all links work correctly. I recommend that you always send a test email to a colleague or a friend to read it first. Or, take a break and come back to check your email later with a fresh mind.

Never send an email without making sure it’s working properly. What looks good in your inbox can look broken or mangled in someone else’s. Use tools that can help you with testing your SPAM score, deliverability and the rendering of your email. There are plenty of free or freemium solutions that provide screenshots of your email in dozens of different email platforms.

Track your results

Metrics below will help you understand the effectiveness and success of your email campaigns.

Open tracking

Open rate shows a percentage of total recipients that viewed your email. You can track it in HTML emails that include a transparent image (a tracking pixel). When it’s loaded, an email is tracked as open. This metric isn’t 100% accurate. As mentioned earlier, some email providers block images, and a user needs to enable them to see the visual elements.

Open tracking relies on a hidden graphics embedded in your campaign code, so it doesn’t work in plain-text emails.

To determine the open rate, divide the number of unique opens is divided by the number of emails sent, minus those that bounced.

Open Rate = Unique Opens / (Number of Emails Sent – Bounces)

Opened – a number of recipients that opened the campaign any number of times.
Total opens – a total number of times recipients opened the campaign. This count includes multiple opens from individual recipients.

Tips to boost email open rate:

  • clean your list – if your subscribers haven’t engaged for a long time, send them an email to attempt to re-engage. If it doesn’t help, remove them.
  • segment subscribers to send them offers that are relevant to them
  • use attractive subject line
  • keep subject line short (fewer than 50 characters) so people can see the whole text on their mobile phones
  • never use ALL CAPS in a subject line
  • effectively use the “From” field so your recipients can recognize you
  • optimize send time as bad timing can jeopardize your campaign. Adapt to the time zones of your subscribers. Don’t send emails when they sleep!

Click-through rate

The click rate is a percentage that shows how many successfully delivered campaigns registered at least one click. The click-through rate or email CTR shows the number of people who clicked a link divided by the number of recipients who opened an email. With this metric, you can measure the success of a specific email. The click rate shows how many people engage with your content and take the desired action.

Tips to boost your email click rate

  • embed more links
  • include a clear call to action so your subscribers know what you want them to do and how they will benefit
  • send content that is relevant to your audience
  • A/B test your email to see what works best
  • optimize your email for mobile.


Losing subscribers is never a nice feeling, but always leave an unsubscribe link in all emails you send. It’s better to have less engaged subscribers than being labeled as a spammer.

Top reasons people unsubscribe from mailing lists

  • they never subscribed to your mailing list in the first place or they didn’t realize they gave you permission to email them
  • you send them too many emails
  • emails are not mobile-friendly or don’t display properly (check the section about testing)
  • you send irrelevant content
  • your email looks like spam.

Create your unsubscribe survey to learn more about the reasons why your email recipients don’t want to hear from you anymore.

A hard and soft bounce

A hard bounce is when an email is returned to a sender for permanent reasons:

  • incorrect domain name
  • fake email address
  • recipient is unknown

Having a high volume of hard bounces can affect your deliverability rates. Always make sure you remove such email addresses.

A soft bounce is an email that failed to deliver because of temporary reasons, e.g., an attachment is too big, or a recipient’s inbox is full.

Email marketing benchmark

Email marketing rates vary by industry, niche, and a country. Most of the email campaign service providers publish their reports on a regular basis. You can compare your stats to others in the same industry.

Here are some other key findings

  • According to research by SendGrid, the unique open rates have gone up, but unique click rates have gone down, which caused a drop in click to open rate last year.
  • The average open rate for all industries MailChimp analyzed is 20,81%.

Best practices for utilizing affiliate marketing in your email campaigns

  • Don’t oversell I’m sure you have heard it many times but providing the value to your readers should be a priority. Don’t send them an email full of ads. Any advertisement should be relevant to the content. Remember that content comes first, ads come second. Talk about the benefits, not features. If you have a product you want to promote, think what value it can bring and add relevant info.
  • Promotion Equals Endorsement Don’t promote random products. It takes time to build a brand, but it’s easy to lose your authority. Test products and services before recommending them. If you decide to advertise something you are not familiar with, write a description based on the official specifications. Never write fake reviews.
  • Don’t send too many emails Your email campaigns can bring excellent results as long as you aren’t heartlessly spamming your subscribers. Their inboxes flood already with several newsletters. Don’t send too many emails to advertise each product you promote. Instead, add info that your subscribers can find a full list of recommended products and services on your website.
  • Don’t overload your reader with too much information Email is not an essay, and you shouldn’t overwhelm your subscribers with too much information. If you have a lot to share, break up your email by subjects with clear subheadings.

Email marketing in a nutshell

An email campaign is a powerful way of reaching your audience directly. Never miss a chance to collect email addresses and target your subscribers with content and offers that are relevant to them. Readers usually skim instead of reading the entire message. Keep your email clear, concise, and scannable. Include a call to action so your readers can understand what you want them to do. A/B test different headlines, images, copy, and subject lines to see what works best for your audience. And, always test your campaign before sending it.

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