Affiliate marketing is one of the golden low-investment methods to achieve regular passive income. If you are an affiliate, it lets you earn profits by recommending products of other companies and doesn’t require a warehouse, call center, or customer service to promote it. Read on to find out how to do affiliate marketing through email and learn from real-life examples of the affiliates which are doing it.

What is affiliate marketing?

Affiliate marketing is a business model which consists in earning commission for promoting a product or a service of another company to potential customers. The process usually involves three players:

  1. A seller, also known as a retailer, a merchant, or a vendor, is an individual entrepreneur or a company that launched a product and is looking for channels to market it. The product can be anything from a physical item to a service or an online course.
  2. An affiliate, or a publisher, can either be an individual or a company that advertises the product made by a seller through any marketing channels appealing to the potential customer — blog, social media, personal website, or email marketing that will be discussed later in this article.
  3. A customer, or a consumer, is the last link of the affiliate marketing chain. Once the customer buys the product thanks to the marketing efforts of the affiliate, the latter receives commission from the seller.

The affiliate may get paid in various ways, but there are three most popular affiliate marketing pricing models:

  • cost per click, when the affiliate redirects customers to the seller’s website and gets commision based on every click generated from their link;
  • cost per lead, when the seller charges the affiliate for each website visitor who performed a desired action — for example, joined the mailing list, downloaded a file, watched a video, registered to a webinar, and so on;
  • cost per sale, when the seller pays a predefined percentage of the price for each purchased item.

Although there are common practices affiliates leverage to engage their audience and motivate them to purchase the promoted product, not all of them advertise products in the same way. Whereas some affiliates may prefer blogs and social media to recommend affiliate products, others choose email marketing to do that.

How to do affiliate marketing through email

The principle of the affiliate email marketing is the same. Two players, a seller and an affiliate, co-op with each other based on the product’s niche and target audience. Every affiliate receives their unique link which they use to recommend but not to hard-sell the product. The seller then uses this link to track the conversions generated owing to the affiliate’s marketing strategy.

If you want to try out the affiliate email marketing, there are two paths to choose from: becoming a seller or becoming an affiliate.

How to become a seller

As a seller, your goal is to create a high-potential product and then search for affiliates who can promote it.

Begin with a product idea: it should be relevant to a specific audience in the current realities. To reinforce your idea, you can check similar products and services on the market to find out their pros and cons. After that, you should try to improve upon the cons you detected.

To make sure that the product will actually work, test product/market fit. It’s a concept that allows you to understand whether or not there are enough people interested in your product for it to be viable in the market.

The next step is to produce the product. The latter may be offline or online. Keep in mind that physical products require a lot more investments than digital ones. Then think what promotional channels would be the most effective in your particular case. Focus on searching for affiliates who will be passionate enough to invent new ways to promote your product.

How to become an affiliate

Being an affiliate is not just about strong sales skills but also about the ability to deliver value to your audience. Start with understanding what products they would appreciate and hence buy, try to find out what topics and products would be interesting for you to promote.

Keep collecting email addresses to enlarge your mailing list. You can do it by offering freebies, invitations to webinars, or free chapters of your courses. Combine different tools such as subscription forms and lead magnets to get as many people in as possible.

While enlarging your audience, you should also produce high-quality content. Why? Because it will help you build trust with your subscribers. If they believe you and rely on your expertise, they are more likely to purchase the products you recommend.

How to promote affiliate products to your mailing list

If you have chosen to start your affiliate email marketing journey as a publisher, we have some recommendations for you:

  1. Choose only those products you find useful yourself. Your goal here is to build trust and not to lose it on your affiliate marketing way. Talk about what’s important, explain the benefits you have found using the product, and remember not to sound too “salesy.”
  2. Try out personalization. Highlight what pain points the affiliate product can address for different segments of your mailing list.
  3. Respect your audience and provide a variety of interesting content-packed emails. Combine affiliate emails with valuable content and entertainment. For example, your first two emails are introductory; the third one may be a pre-sale email, which logically leads to the fourth promotional one. After that, you can introduce some fun real-life stories connected to this product or the entire industry it’s coming from, and then send out a promotional email once more.

Let’s take a look at a few examples of publishers sending affiliate marketing emails to their subscribers.

The first example is an email from Nadia Munla, a personal coach for women. She recommends a course by Cara Viana and offers subscribers to follow her unique affiliate link to register for this course. Note that it’s done in a friendly manner and looks more like a personal recommendation rather than an offer from an affiliate.

affiliate email example
Nadia Munla promoting Intuitive Development & Energy Work Course by Cara Viana to her subscribers

Here’s what you see in your address bar when you click the affiliate link:

affiliate link
An affiliate link for the Cara Viana course

There’s a unique code that lets the author of the course track how many people followed the link and made a purchase from the affiliate’s email.

In some cases, it’s absolutely okay to inform your subscribers about advertisements and affiliate links in your email.

Digests from Sustainable Brands promote a lot of different products along with news and articles. On the example below, they have a section called “Advertisement” for ads from different companies. Another affiliate section is the “Featured event,” where they provide an affiliate link to an event that might seem interesting to their audience. The last section is “Member news,” which promotes the members of the Sustainable Brands community as well as their news and new products.

affiliate email example
An email from Sustainable Brands with different blocks for affiliate products

Affiliate links fit well within these digests as all of these ads are relevant to the industry and represent the values of the Sustainable Brand company.

The basics of affiliate email marketing to remember

If you are a publisher building an affiliate email marketing strategy, always remember that your main goal is to make people trust you and your recommendations. That’s why you should focus on high-quality content which will be relevant to the readers and be conscious about your recommendations.

In case you are a seller looking for affiliates, rely more on those who have a relevant audience or, if not, relevant interests. When people are passionate about the product they recommend, they will do it more effectively and bring you more sales. Present your affiliate program in a way appealing to the participants so that they will understand the importance of every new customer they bring.

Do not hesitate to try out SendPulse for your affiliate email marketing program with its free plan for beginners which offers up to 15,000 emails per month, user-friendly drag and drop editor, and 100+ free templates for different types of emails.

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15,000 emails free every month.