Affiliate Email Marketing: Why Building A Subscriber Base Is Crucial For Your Business (And How To Do It Effectively) 1

Affiliate Email Marketing: Why Building A Subscriber Base Is Crucial For Your Business (And How To Do It Effectively)

“Email marketing is dead.”

Table of Contents

“Email marketing is for conventional blogs, not for affiliate sites.”

“Why bother growing a subscriber base when you can’t directly promote Amazon affiliate offers via email?”

“We bought an email database but hardly anyone responded to our emails. Email marketing sucks!”

These are just some of the things you’d routinely hear from affiliate marketers when they talk about email marketing.

Websites built around Amazon products, in particular, rarely make any effort to turn their traffic into email subscribers.

There seems to be a general belief among affiliate marketers, especially newbies, that email marketing is a waste of time.

But is it actually true?

Not really.

Countless studies show that email is still one of the most effective online marketing channels especially when it comes to eCommerce (attention affiliate marketers!)

According to Oberlo, a popular Shopify dropshipping plugin, every dollar spent on email marketing has an average return of $32.

Source: Oberlo

A separate study found that consumers who purchased products through promotional emails spent 138% more than people who don’t receive email offers.

A survey by Affiliate Summit in 2017, of marketers, earning at least $1,000 per month, found that 41.47% of them considered email as their number traffic source while 69% considered it the third most effective source behind SEO and Social Media.

The problem is not with email marketing.

Pat Flynn, one of the most popular affiliate marketers, considers not building an email list early in his career as one of his biggest mistakes.

It’s with the way you approach it.

In this detailed article, we’ll share several compelling reasons why you need to actively grow your email subscriber base, the biggest mistakes marketers make when building an email list, and the right way to use affiliate email marketing to exponentially grow your revenue.

Let’s dive in.

What you’ll learn in this article

  • Why NOT building an email list for your affiliate site is a huge mistake
  • Why the top affiliate marketers not building an email list from day 1 of their business
  • The biggest reason why most affiliate marketers fail at email list building
  • The proven strategy to grow a profitable email list
  • A smart technique to create self-funded social media marketing campaigns

Here are eight reasons why you should strongly consider adding affiliate email marketing to your arsenal:

#1 Email Marketing Lets You Build a Relationship With Your Audience

As an affiliate marketer, you make money when people buy the products you promote.

But only a fraction of your audience, that already trusts you and is convinced about the usefulness of your offer, will buy from you the first time they land on your site.

Research shows that 92% of first-time visitors to a website do not intend to make a purchase.

A 2018 study by DemandGen Report shows seems to back this claim.

It shows that the major chunk of your audience, 78% to be precise, needs to have multiple interactions with you and consume at least 3 pieces of content before even thinking to make a purchase.

Source: Demand Gen Report – 2018 Content Consumption Survey

You’ll struggle to have the interactions required to drive sales if your site has no mechanism of turning traffic into subscribers.

A small portion of your traffic might still buy from you.

But the rest of it will never come back to your site, depriving you of potential sales.

Unless you actively build an email list.

Just think about it.

Is it wise to make so much effort to drive search engine traffic only to see it bounce back and never come back?

Why not turn them into subscribers so that you have a chance to build a relationship with them?

Once your visitors become email subscribers, you can understand their needs, send targeted content, make relevant offers, and build a relationship that ultimately results in much higher sales.

Trust is a key factor in sales.

It’s the reason why consumers turn to affiliate marketers instead of buying directly from the sellers. They want to see whether their trusted marketer also endorses a product.

Knowing that there’s a real person behind a website who’s ready to listen and respond still fascinates people. This is why welcome emails, usually sent right after someone signs up to a list, drive massive engagement.

Like this one from Michelle, a blogger and affiliate marketer who earns in excess of $100K/month from her blog.

Email opens up a communication channel that builds trust and gives you multiple opportunities to persuade your prospects.

Yaro Starak, a leading affiliate marketer, made over $40k in affiliate commission by promoting a training program over seven days.

Was it his promotional emails that made the sale?

Apparently, yes.

In reality, though, it was the relationship he had built with his subscribers over the years that so easily persuaded them to buy the program he was promoting.

He couldn’t have done it without an email list.

And neither can you.

#2 Adds a Reliable Traffic Source To Your Site

Traffic is the life-blood of an online business.

No matter how much you already have, you won’t mind getting more.

All smart business owners diversify their traffic sources and drive visitors from search engines, social media, forums, paid campaigns, etc.

If you keep converting all that traffic into email subscribers, you can add a reliable traffic source to your site that you own and can always count on.

Why? Because consumers still love using email.

A recent study by Adobe found that the average American spends nearly 2.5 hours on a typical weekday checking and reading personal emails.

That’s a lot of time.

Plus, more than 50% of American consumers overwhelmingly prefer email as a communication channel when it comes to receiving discounts and special offers from brands.

As your subscriber base grows, it becomes a brand asset and essentially frees you up from constantly worrying about traffic generation.

Your email list becomes a traffic switch.

Whenever you need to drive visitors to an offer, simply send an email and watch the traffic flow.

But traffic alone is useless if it doesn’t convert into customers, right?

Well, it turns out that email outperforms all other major traffic sources in terms of conversions as well.

A study by Shopify of transactions of over $1 billion in eCommerce sales found that email traffic clearly had a much higher visitor to customer conversion rate as compared to traffic from search engines and social media

Source: SmartInsights

This shouldn’t come as a surprise if you understand consumer psychology and the typical behavior of online shoppers.

The traffic from search engines and social media comprises mostly of first-time visitors to your site who have no attachment to it.

Email traffic, on the other hand, is made up of people who have willingly joined your email list, already trust you, and have a relationship with your brand (as explained in the last point).

As a result, email traffic holds much greater value for your business.

#3 Turns Your Site Into a Long-Term Google-Proof Business

Search engine traffic is crucial for any affiliate marketing business.

There’s no better way to attract visitors to your site than ranking for relevant high traffic keywords in Google Search. But you don’t want to build a business that’s entirely dependent on Google.

Because you don’t want your traffic graph to look like this.

This sudden traffic loss that you see is probably due to a Google penalty.

When Google released its Panda update in 2011, it instantly killed hundreds of thousands of websites that were violating its search engine guidelines.

Ezine Articles, a content directory and a major hub for link builders back in the day, was one of the worst-hit sites and lost almost 90% of its traffic overnight.

It never managed to recover because Google Search was its main traffic source.

If that’s the case with your business as well, a single algorithm change or penalty can shut it down.

But even if you don’t violate any Google guidelines, you could still lose your top ranking spots to stronger competitors.

To build a Google-proof online business, you must add more reliable traffic sources to the mix that are in your control.

And there’s no better way to do that than building an email list.

Keep investing resources into SEO, targeting high traffic keywords, and building backlinks.

There’s no alternative to that.

But start building your list as well so that you can convert that traffic into subscribers and gradually reduce your reliance on Google Search.

This way, even if Google decides to completely wipe you off its search results for some reason, your subscriber base would still allow you to keep driving visitors to your site.

It would free you from constantly worrying about the next algorithm update or policy change and allow you to think more about the needs of your audience.

#4 Allows You To Promote Targeted Offers To Your Audience

One of the biggest advantages of having an email list from an affiliate marketing perspective is that you can promote offers and products that are tailored for the different segments within your audience.

Unlike promoting products on your site, where everyone gets to see the same content, having an email list and creating segments in it allows you to understand the various needs of your audience and serve products that they need.

Why is it important?

Because studies show that consumers are much more likely to purchase a product if the offer is personalized based on their interests and experiences.

If you have an email list, you can use advanced email marketing tools like ActiveCampaign, Drip, GetResponse, etc. to send personalized offers to your subscribers based on their previous interaction with your website.

For example, you can set up automated follow-up sequences to be sent to any email subscribers who read a certain product review on your site but do not click your affiliate link it.

This is similar to the way eCommerce companies use shopping cart abandonment emails. 

Research shows that sending follow up emails can recover a large portion of the abandoned sales.

Similarly, you could email related offers to your subscribers based on the content they view on your site or the products they show more interest in.

Affiliate marketers rarely do that but leading eCommerce companies, holiday and hotel booking sites, and even news outlets use email follow ups to great effect.

This isn’t possible without having an email list.

But when you have one, you can simply add user tracking to your site using any of the advanced email marketing tools I’ve mentioned, and trigger automated emails as soon as they meet the conditions you’ve defined.

In the long run, this will have a huge impact not only your site’s traffic but also on your sales numbers.

#5 Increases the Content Consumption on Your Site

Most affiliate marketers don’t build email lists because Amazon does not allow affiliates to directly share product links in emails.

That’s a big mistake.

You can’t directly promote your Amazon product links via email but no one’s stopping you from promoting your product reviews, info articles, or any other content on your site that has affiliate links.

Sending out a quick email to your subscribers whenever you publish a new piece of content is an easy way to create early traction, generate comments, and gain social shares.

Like this one.

Most of successful bloggers do this and it is one of the reasons why their content gains early momentum.

Imagine if you have an email list of 10,000 subscribers you can instantly drive thousands of visitors to any new product reviews or general info content that you publish.

You also stand a much better chance of driving sales from email traffic.

A study by ContentInsights found that email subscribers consume 20x more content, click 20x more advertisements, and are 34.7% more engaged on a site as compared to non-subscribers.

This means the larger your subscriber base, the more profitable your average visitor becomes.

#6 Increases the Overall Value of Your Brand When You Sell It

Building a profitable site and selling it on a private marketplace can help you bag a large amount of money that you can invest in growing more online businesses.

But there are hundreds of sites listed on these platforms and only a few of them are sold for high 5-figure or 6-figure price tags.

So what exactly makes a site attractive for buyers?

Flippa studied its top-selling sites in different industries and found that 97% of all the sites sold for more than $100K had a large and engaged email subscriber base.

That’s not a coincidence.

When a site has an engaged email subscriber base, prospective buyers view it as a much safer investment as compared to a site that relies solely on search traffic.

The reason is simple.

Search traffic can go up or down due to a number of reasons, many of which are not in your control.

An email list, on the other hand, is a business asset that you own and can use anytime you want to drive traffic, market your content, or launch new products to your audience.

If other factors like traffic, website history, income streams, and revenue are the same, an email list can be the difference between a site getting sold for 4-figures and high 5-figures.

#7 Drives Repeat Sales and Increases the CTR of Your Affiliate Links

Successful and long-term businesses are built on loyal customers and repeat sales.

An email list acts as a database of prospective buyers who already know you and are more likely to buy from you.

It’s hard to build a loyal customer base but once you have it, it’s much easier to drive sales from it as compared to attracting new customers.

Studies show that selling to a complete stranger has a probability of 5-20% as compared to selling to an existing customer which is 60-70%.

Source: CoSchedule

This also makes sense from a customer’s perspective.

If a buyer already knows you and has previously bought something as a result of your review or recommendation, they’re much more likely to trust you with future purchases as well.

This means that email traffic is also more likely to give you a higher CTR on the affiliate links in your product reviews, comparison posts, or even general info articles.

Compare this to the flawed approach of driving traffic to your site from search engines, social media, forums etc. but not turning it into subscribers and letting it bounce away forever.

This never allows you to build a relationship with your prospects and results in thousands of dollars in lost sales in the long run.

#8 Allows You To Diversify Your Income Sources

Even if affiliate marketing is your preferred monetization method, your business should never rely solely on a single income source.

Smart businesses always use multiple monetization methods because it reduces risk, brings stability, and makes the business attractive to future buyers (in case you plan to sell it).

Having an email list opens up numerous monetization opportunities for your business.

Here’s a quick look at some of them.

Promote digital products to your subscribers

Amazon has the world’s biggest affiliate program.

But it’s not the only one.

You can find thousands of affiliate products to promote on OfferVault, ClickBank, JVZoo and other affiliate platforms.

Or you can sign up directly as an affiliate for different SaaS tools that offer lucrative recurring commissions.

Launch your own digital product

Promoting someone else’s products to earn money is great.

But there’s nothing better than selling your own digital products. Not only do you get to keep all the profits but it’s also a much more reliable income stream since it’s completely under your control.

Even if you’re running an Amazon affiliate site, you can find product ideas that align with the interests of your audience.

For example, I once saw an affiliate site that was primarily promoting different dog food brands and dog training equipment.

But they were also actively building their email list and had their own online dog training program for passionate dog owners.

That program probably earned them more money than their affiliate sales.

The best part about digital products is that you can create them once and keep earning for years just by promoting them to your subscribers.

But of course you’ll need an email list to do that.

Start a podcast

If you have an affiliate site in a niche people are passionate about, you can use your email subscribers to launch a popular podcast.

Podcasts are exploding in numbers worldwide but in the U.S their rise has been exponential.

Studies suggest that 32% of the U.S population listens to a podcast at least once a month while 22% of the population listens to podcasts at least once every week.

There are more than 700,000 active podcasts right now with millions of episodes and uncountable listening hours.

Advertising revenue from podcasts is also growing at a rapid pace and is expected to exceed $650 million by 2020.

Source: MusicOomph

Pat Flynn, a popular marketer we’ve already mentioned, adopted this exact approach to launch his own successful podcast.

Divert traffic to new sites and projects

If you already have a successful affiliate site you can easily use its current audience to launch more successful sites in other closely related niches.

The idea is simple.

Your subscribers are already familiar with you, trust your advice, and regularly consume your content. They’d love to know more about your new sites and even spread the word for you.

There are many examples of this approach but one recent example is Glen Allsopp, a famous SEO and affiliate marketer. Glenn runs a popular blog about SEO, called ViperChill where he has amassed a huge following.

Using that same subscriber base, Glenn launched two more highly successful projects in closely related niches, and

Both became instantly successful because Glen promoted them to his loyal audience first.

Neil Patel, another famous marketer, did something similar. He ran which had thousands of subscribers.

In parallel, he started a new site and used the same subscriber base to turn it into a 6-figure blog.

Many other marketers have done the same.

Because all of them had loyal email subscribers that helped them launch new projects.

These are just some of the ways you can use your email list to diversify your income.

We’ve published a detailed article that lists several other monetization methods that you can add to your affiliate site to build a much more stable and long-term online business.

By now, you must have a pretty good idea of why your affiliate marketing site needs to have an email subscriber base.

But what is the right way to attract email subscribers and grow a list?

This is exactly what we cover in the next section.

The Right Way To Build an Email List for Your Affiliate Site

There’s a fundamental difference in how successful and unsuccessful affiliate marketers view email marketing.

The successful ones view it as a relationship-building channel that helps build trust and drives sales as a result.

The ones that fail at email marketing think of it primarily as a sales channel.

How are the two approaches different from each other?

When you think of email marketing as just a sales channel, as many affiliates do, you don’t ‘grow’ or ‘build’ an email list. You do things like.

  • Buying public email databases to send mass marketing campaigns
  • Spamming email users with irrelevant promotions that they have no interest in
  • Sending emails to people who never opted into your list
  • Sending overly promotional campaigns all the time without thinking about the needs of your audience
  • Promoting any product that offers an attractive commission rate without checking whether it actually works or not.

If you do any of the above, you’re not an email marketer. You’re a spammer.

Source: Constant Contact

If you go to the Spam folder of your email account, most of the emails you’ll find there are irrelevant junk sent by people you don’t know promoting products you don’t care about.

It’s like throwing everything at a wall to see what sticks.

That’s not email marketing.

The main idea behind affiliate email marketing is to give yourself a chance to stay connected with people who have the needs and problems that your products can solve.

The whole process of email marketing starts with subscribers voluntarily opting into your list and happily sharing their information with you.

This is the first indication that they trust you and want to hear more from you.

From there, your job is to prove yourself a niche expert by sharing high-quality content with them.

It’s only after the initial relationship-building phase that you can actually start promoting relevant products to your subscribers. And that too in a way where you don’t come across as a desperate salesman.

As we’ve repeatedly mentioned, the power of email marketing lies in your relationship with your subscribers.

Buying email lists or sending overly promotional emails all the time will only result in

  • Increase in the number of unsubscribes
  • Your account getting marked as spam
  • Your account being blocked by your email marketing tool

Here’s a step by step process you can follow to actually grow a list of relevant subscribers who have the potential to turn into buyers.

1. Building Your affiliate Email Marketing Strategy from the Bottom Up

What is the end goal of building an email list?

There can be a number of goals.

  • To build a relationship with your audience
  • To establish yourself as a niche expert
  • To market your content
  • To drive traffic to your site

But all of them boil down to one goal for an affiliate marketer.

To make money by promoting relevant, useful, reliable, and high-quality products and services that can solve the problems of your audience.

This can be done by directly promoting affiliate offers via email or by routing traffic to your content that has affiliate links.

To achieve this end goal, of making money from your subscribers, you need to build a strategy from the ground up.

Using the marketing funnel approach, place your end goal at the bottom of the funnel and work your way backward to create a well-rounded strategy.

Everything from your website content and lead magnet to your lead nurturing emails and product promotions must be aligned with the needs of your audience.

For example, if your goal is to promote fitness equipment from Amazon or a digital training program about weight loss, start by analyzing the kind of audience that’ll be interested in buying it.

Try to uncover their needs, wants, fears, aspirations, and the mental blocks that are holding them back from taking action.

Researching your audience is the key to the success of an email marketing strategy.

The more time you spend understanding the most burning problems and the most urgent needs of your audience, the more precise and targeted lead magnet and email content you’ll create.

Here are a few research methods that’ll give you valuable insights about your target audience.

Start by checking out the popular Q&A sites

Sites like Quora, Reddit, and other niche specific discussion forums are research goldmines for marketers.

These are the places where your audience shares its problems in detail with like minded people.

You can use their posts to understand the problems they have, the emotional stress these problems are causing, things your ideal customers wish they had etc.

When you know all of this, you can create content, lead magnets, and email sequences that address these points and answer all the questions of your audience.

As a result, you’ll be able to attract more subscribers.

For example, read the forum post below and look at how this soon to be bride has expressed her problems regarding weight loss.

Read the highlighted parts in particular because they show you the key emotional challenges she’s facing.

Here are the main points I identified from this post.

  • She’s already going to a weight loss program but its not working
  • She wants to look her best on her wedding day (her desired outcome, the dream she has)
  • Right now, she hates wearing fashionable clothes because she feels awkward and lacks confidence
  • She knows she has to exercise but lacks motivation and thinks she doesn’t have time for it.

As a marketer, your job is to create a link between the product you’re promoting, the challenges your ideal customer has, and her ideal scenario where she actually wants to be.

For example, she wants to wear fashionable clothes but can’t because she looks awkward, lacks confidence, thinks she’s ugly.

If you could promise, in return for her email address, a way to help her lose weight, look more confident, wear fashionable clothes, and look the best on her big day, without exercising for months, she’d immediately hop on to your email list.

Here’s another similar forum post by a person who desperately needs help

Understand the emotions in this post.

Each one of those emotions she’s expressed are her burning problems. Using them in your marketing strategy will immediately help you gain attention.

You can’t necessarily resolve all of those problems, but you can use this information in your marketing message to attract subscribers to your list (we’ll explain how later)

There are a couple of easy ways to find such forum discussions.

Use this free Google Chrome extension called “Discussion Button for Google Search” which adds a Discussion link to your search results page where all the forum results are shown.

Or use this site called FindAForum where you can search forums on different topics.

Use Google Suggest

Google Search suggests search terms with its autocomplete feature.

There are so many things you learn about your audience just by reading the search suggestions in Google.

For example, look at this one.

The search terms I’ve highlighted are common excuses people make to avoid exercise or fitness programs.

If you’re promoting a fitness program or exercise equipment, you can create content and lead magnets that respond to these excuses and resolve these mental barriers that are stopping your prospects from taking action.

Use “Keywords Everywhere” to understand the topic demand

There’s a really useful Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere which shows you the search volumes for the keywords you search in Google and also shows you related keywords along with their search volumes.

Apart from giving you additional insights on the needs of your audience, this plugin will also help you understand the demand of a topic or question based on its search volume

Get more ideas by using “People Also Ask”

When you search for any keyword in Google, it shows you a section under the heading “People Also Ask” which has some of the most commonly asked questions on your topic

New questions will keep coming up as long as you keep clicking on them and scrolling down.

These are just some of the ways you can research your audience and find out the things that are troubling them.

Remember, you need to build a connection between the products you’re promoting and the problems of your audience so that they see the benefit in buying from you.

But before the buying stage, you need to first get people on your email list.

And the best way to do that is by using highly targeted lead magnets.

Let me explain how to do that

2.1. Creating an Irresistible Lead Magnet (Plus Different Types of Lead Magnets)

A few years ago, simply placing a sign up form with the heading “Get Free Weekly Newsletter” was enough to attract subscribers.

That approach doesn’t work anymore for a number of reasons (too many sites collecting emails, content overload, email spam, privacy concerns etc.)

To turn your website visitors into subscribers, you need to use well-designed and highly targeted lead magnets.

A lead magnet is a free resource, a giveaway, a discount offer, or a piece of content that people can download by sharing their email address.

It serves as an incentive for your audience to sign up to your email list and uses reciprocity (a human psychological behavior) to help you build your subscriber base.

Source: Rovr

Using a targeted lead magnet immediately attracts attention because despite all the aggressive marketing by brands, people still can’t resist anything that comes for free.

So offering a free resource in return for emails still works.

Here’s an example of a lead magnet.

That’s a free 5-part email course RankXL uses to attract email subscribers. Considering the fact that their target audience wants to learn about SEO, this free case study is an ideal lead magnet for them.

An effective lead magnet has the following qualities

a) It is aligned with your core offer

The objective of a lead magnet is to attract relevant subscribers who can be turned into future customers. This is why it needs to be aligned with your core premium offer.

An irrelevant lead magnet that has no clear connection with your main offer will result in irrelevant subscribers who’re not ready to buy from you.

For example, if you’re promoting dog food supplies as an affiliate, your lead magnet needs to be about something that’s aligned with this product line.

In this case, a PDF eBook about healthy pet diet or a short video about different foods for different dog breeds will be ideal.

It’ll help you attract people who’re interested in dog food and who can be turned into customers by routing them to your dog food review posts.

b) It addresses a very specific need of your audience

An effective lead magnet covers a very specific problem and fulfills a well-defined need. Instead of covering a topic from a bird’s eye view, it focuses on a single topic and goes deep.

For example, for an affiliate site promoting anti-hair fall products, a checklist of actions to reduce hair fall is much more effective as a lead magnet as compared to a complete guide to maintaining healthy and beautiful hair.

For a site promoting email marketing software, a few hand-picked automation templates will attract more subscribers than a complete guide to email marketing.

Whatever your core offer is, pick a small area from it and create a focused resource that covers it in detail.

c) It delivers a lot of value

The objective of a lead magnet, as already mentioned several times, is to attract leads that can be converted into customers of your premium offer.

For this purpose, your lead magnet needs to massively over deliver in terms of value.

It needs to blow away your subscribers with the quality of information you give away for free so that the perceived value of your core offer becomes even higher.

On the contrary, if your lead magnet fails to deliver on its promise, because of which people signed up in the first place, it will have a very negative effect on the selling prospects of your core offer.

d) It offers instant gratification

A major reason behind the success of lead magnets is that they offer instant gratification. The prospect of accessing something right away and right now attracts people.

This is why an effective lead magnet is accessible as soon as the users enter their contact information. It does not make them wait.

For example, a downloadable eBook or PDF report that’s immediately accessible is a much better lead magnet as compared to a generic message like “Get on our waiting list”.

2.2. 13 Proven Lead Magnet Ideas for Affiliate Marketers

Now that you know what an effective lead magnet looks like, here are a few ideas you can use to create irresistible lead magnets and email list bribes to attract relevant and highly motivated subscribers.

1. PDF eBook

A short PDF eBook, about a specific topic that’s relevant to your core offer, works really well as a lead magnet.

It could be about anything your audience finds useful. For example, an eBook for potty training kids, or a collection of recipes for vegans like the one below.

eBooks are the most frequently used lead magnets mainly because they’re easy to create and people love reading them.

2. Discount coupons & giveaways

Offering discount coupons and giveaways is another popular method to attract email subscribers.

In the digital marketing space, in particular, product owners offer special coupons and discounts that affiliates can use to attract buyers.

eCommerce companies and stores also frequently use giveaways to get subscribers.

3. Cheat sheet

Cheat sheets are among the most effective lead magnets because they deliver a lot of value without consuming much time.

A typical cheat sheet summarizes a wider topic by breaking it into actionable points and presenting it in an attractive visual format.

4. Survey results

If you already have a large subscriber base, you can run surveys and offer the results as a lead magnet to attract even more subscribers.

You can also use third party survey sites in case you don’t have a large enough subscriber base.

For example, if you’re running a weight loss affiliate site, you could run a 3-5 question survey on the biggest challenges people face or how they overcome weight loss anxiety or any other topic that might be of interest to your prospects.

5. Checklist

Like cheat sheets, checklists are also very effective in attracting email subscribers by giving them a list of actions they need to perform to achieve a certain objective.

6. Video Training

Videos are much easier to create these days as compared to just a few years ago. But they still have a very high perceived value.

This is why if you can create a short video about a very specific topic in your niche, you can turn a lot of your random website visitors into email subscribers.

7. Free webinar

Webinars are great for attracting highly qualified leads, especially if you’re promoting a B2B software or an expensive program.

And here’s the best part.

You can record your webinar once and keep using it to attract subscribers because it’ll appear to them as if the webinar is happening live.

8. Email course

An email course spread over 10-12 days of daily emails is a great way to not only grow your email list but also build a solid connection with your audience by repeatedly interacting with them.

To set up an email course, you’ll need to use an email automation tool like GetResponse, ActiveCampaign, Drip etc.

9. Content upgrades

Normally, lead magnets are placed on a site’s homepage or promoted using pop-up boxes across the site.

Content upgrades, however, are article specific lead magnets that offer additional value to readers and perform well because the reader is already engaged with the article.

A content upgrade can be as simple as a downloadable PDF version of the article on your site or a video demonstration of the tips you’ve shared in it (like the one below)

10. Templates

Ready to use templates and worksheets are attractive lead magnets because they save time and help users structure their information.

11. Case study

Case studies are very effective in attracting leads for software and high end training programs.

The key to a successful case study, however, is in sharing the step by step process and showing the readers exactly how an objective was achieved.

12. Free tools

Sharing free tools that your audience can use is a great way to get their attention and build your email list.

Tools have a very high perceived value but they’re also a bit expensive to create.

13. Community challenge

Starting a public challenge and inviting users to follow or join it is another smart way to grow your email list.

It not only gets you more subscribers but also helps you build a close connection with them.

These are just some of the popular lead magnet formats you can use to attract email subscribers. But there are many others which we have not discussed because of time constraints.

You can read more about them in this detailed article.

3. Promoting Your Lead Magnet To Attract Subscribers

Creating a highly targeted and useful lead magnet is just one part of the equation. 

To attract subscribers, you also need to actively promote your lead magnet in different ways on your website and on other online platforms that are popular among your target audience.

Here are a few ways to do that:

a) Use pop-ups, sliders, and eye-catching opt-ins on your site

To turn website visitors into subscribers, you need to use a combination of different techniques and persuade users to join your list.

Placing an email sign-up form in you blog’s ide bar is the least you could do.

But increase your chances of getting subscribers by using smart pop-up boxes that show up once the user has scrolled your page to a certain extent and has engaged with your content.

Or by using opt-in scroll boxes that show up at the bottom of the screen and welcome mat opt-ins that cover the whole screen.

Many sites also place an opt-in box right at the end of their blog articles.

b) Publish guest posts to drive traffic to your list

Placing optin boxes on your site is great. But you also need to drive traffic to them.

This is where guest blogging comes handy.

Affiliate marketers and bloggers mostly use guest blogging these days to acquire backlinks.

If you run a website, you probably get a few dozen outreach emails every month from guest bloggers yourself.

This is why many high traffic blogs have stopped offering Do-Follow links in guest posts.

But there’s so much more you can achieve with guest blogging than just acquiring backlinks.

From an email marketing perspective, guest blogging is a great way to drive traffic to your lead magnet and attract highly targeted subscribers from the top blogs in your niche.

The strategy is simple.

  • Find the top blogs in your niche that accept guest posts using Google Search queries like [niche]+write for us, [niche]+contribute, [niche]+guest post
  • Write a high quality guest post on a topic that’s directly related to the topic of your lead magnet.
  • Link to your lead magnet in the article body with a call to action like “Download This Free Report To Learn More” or “Download This Free Cheat Sheet”
  • Instead of linking to your website in the Author Bio section, link to your lead magnet once again.

Since you’re not looking for backlinks, don’t worry about Do-Follow/No-Follow links while looking for blogs to target.

Look for sites with large and engaged audiences. You can often determine this by the number of social shares and comments on the site and by the size/engagement of its social media following.

Content upgrades work particularly well with guest blogging and usually attract more subscribers than an eBook or a report.

But the upgrade needs to be an extension of the guest post you’ve published or a tool/worksheet readers can use to apply the advice you’ve shared.

For example, if your guest post is about creating a content calendar, share a Content Calendar Template as a content upgrade that readers can download and use.

If your guest post is about a healthy diet during weight loss, share a sample diet chart that readers can use.

And the best thing about writing a guest post for a top blog is that it keeps sending you traffic (and subscribers) even months after the post goes live.

c) Run Facebook ad campaigns to promote your lead magnet

Guest blogging is a long term strategy that brings steady results.

But to build an email list fast, you need to invest some money in Facebook advertising.

According to Statista, a global marketing data platform, Facebook has more than 2.4 billion monthly active users as of September 2019

Source: Statista

This means that no matter what niche you’re in, your target audience is already using Facebook.

So why not reach out to them on a platform they’re already comfortable with?

To test the waters, you can start using Facebook Ads for as low as $5. When a campaign starts producing results for you, gradually increase the budgets to accelerate the growth of your email list.

But before you start an ad campaign, set up a simple landing page for your lead magnet with an attractive headline and an opt-in box where users can share their contact info.

Here’s a detailed guide on setting up a Facebook Ad Campaign to promote a lead magnet

It describes the process of creating an ad, choosing your target audience, writing compelling copy, and budgeting your campaigns in a lot of detail.

Once your campaign starts running, it’ll drive traffic to your landing page where it’ll be converted into email subscribers.

But running an ad campaign costs money, right?

Even though you will eventually earn much more than you invest in Facebook Ads by promoting relevant affiliate offers to your subscribers, but you can make this process even more profitable and create completely self-funded ad campaigns if you add a Tripwire offer to your strategy.

Not sure what a tripwire is?

That’s what we cover in the next point.

4. Adding a Tripwire Offer To Your Email Funnel (Optional)

Although adding a tripwire to your affiliate email marketing strategy is optional, smart marketers use it to run self-funded ad campaigns.

A tripwire is just like a lead magnet.

It offers a lot of value, it addresses a specific problem, and it’s easily accessible.

But unlike a lead magnet, a tripwire is not available for free.

A tripwire is a low cost product as compared to your main offer which is pitched to your subscribers as soon as they sign up to your list.

The image below shows a sample flow of a tripwire funnel where website traffic is converted into subscribers using a lead magnet, then the subscribers are turned into buyers with a tripwire, and then the main offer is pitched to the tripwire buyers.

What’s the objective of a tripwire?

To turn subscribers into buyers using a cheap offer that’s light on the pocket but priced high enough to cover the expenses of your ad campaign.

The biggest thing a tripwire does is that it separates potential buyers from the freebie hunters.

A lot of people that sign up to free lead magnets are freebie hunters who never intend to spend a penny online. A tripwire helps you get rid of them quickly.

Here’s a really good example of a tripwire. is a leading training platform for guest bloggers. When you visit the site, it offers you a free lead magnet.

Once you sign up to their list by downloading this free report, you’re immediately redirected to a landing page that pitches you a $7 contact file that has the email addresses of hundreds of blog editors and publications in different niches that you can reach out to with your guest post.

This is their tripwire.

And as you can see, it’s directly aligned with the lead magnet on their homepage.

You must be thinking.

Why not directly promote a tripwire instead of a lead magnet in the first place?

When you’re promoting a paid product, even a cheap one, to strangers, it’s hard to persuade them to pull out their wallets.

By signing them up for a free lead magnet, you start a relationship with them which can then be upgraded by pitching a tripwire offer.

The ones that buy your tripwire are much more likely to buy your main product offer as well.

Plus, it helps you fund your Facebook Ad campaigns.

For example, your core offer is priced at $350 and it costs you around $10 to generate a lead from Facebook to your email list.

A tripwire priced at around $13 to $15 would be ideal not only for your target audience but also to cover the advertising costs of your campaign.

To pitch a tripwire offer to your subscribers, you’d need to use an email marketing tool that will redirect your subscribers to the tripwire landing page.

Or you could set up an auto-responder series to pitch the tripwire when a visitor signs up to your list.

This is an optional step but one that is highly recommended.

Once you turn a visitor into a subscriber (with or without a tripwire) it’s time to move to the final step of our strategy.

5. Designing an Autoresponder Series That Offers Immense Value

This is the step where you will start pitching your product offers and promotions to your subscribers.

All the previous steps were meant to attract and qualify relevant leads for you.

This is the step where you actually start making money.


By setting up a fully automated auto-responder sequence to your list.

This will be a series of emails that will be sent to your subscribers on a set schedule once they sign up to your list.

Again, you won’t start pitching right away.

Instead, you’ll give more value in the form of free advice, tips, and content links on your blog.

If you’re only promoting Amazon products, you can’t send product links in emails. But you can send the links of your product reviews or content pieces that have your affiliate links.

In this case, your email series would look similar to this sequence below

Source: SmartPassiveIncome

If you look closely, all the emails in this sequence are content heavy.

They do not promote any products directly because you can’t do that as an Amazon Associate

But you can send links to your blog content that has affiliate links which is exactly what this sequence does.

If you’re promoting digital products or programs that allow email links, you can be a bit more direct and send emails that directly pitch the product.

But remember, do not bombard your subscribers with one launch after the other.

People hate being sold to but they love buying.


When you continually pitch products and try to sell, people quickly unsubscribe.

But when you keep sharing valuable content, focus on the problems of your audience, and present products as solutions, not some hard pitch, people love to buy from you.

There’s no perfect email sequence.

You need to try different combinations to see what works well with your audience.

But keep this in mind.

Always write emails with the objective of giving value to your readers. Pitch products after you’ve solved a problem or shared some really good content.

Highlight the benefits and tell readers how the product you’re promoting can make their lives easier.

The stronger the connection you have with your audience, the more effective your emails will be.

Keep adding new emails to your sequences and develop a system to periodically promote new offers or content that has your affiliate links.

Are You Ready To Grow a Profitable Email List?

We’ve laid out the whole process for you.

As you might have noticed, there’s a lot of emphasis throughout this guide on giving free value.

This is how sales works.

If you want to build long-term and profitable business relationships, you need to give away more free value than your competitors.

This builds so much trust between you and your subscribers that persuading them to buy from you becomes a lot easier.

So start growing an email list for your affiliate site today and give yourself a much better chance to build a sustainable and profitable affiliate marketing business.

Email Marketing for Affiliates – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is email marketing?

Email marketing is one of the most popular online marketing techniques in which sales are generated by sending targeted messages to a group of email subscribers who’ve willingly joined an email list.

Does email marketing work for affiliate marketers?

Yes, email marketing is among the most effective ways to drive traffic to affiliate offers and drive sales.

Why should I build an email list for an affiliate site?

Because it gives you a second chance and allows you to build a relationship with your audience that you can use to drive repeat affiliate sales.

What are the ways to use email marketing to drive affiliate sales?

You can route traffic to your website and sales landing pages with email marketing and also directly promote affiliate links (if your affiliate program allows it).

Can I put Amazon affiliate links in emails?

No, sending product links directly in emails is against the policies of Amazon Associates Program.

How can I use email marketing to promote Amazon affiliate products?

You can use email marketing to route traffic from your email list to the product reviews and other content on your site which has affiliate links.

Can I buy an email list for affiliate marketing?

You shouldn’t becuase sending mass emails to people who’ve not opted-in to your email list comes under email spamming.

How do I build an email list for my affiliate site?

The best way to build an email list is to offer a high-value and well-designed lead magnet on your website that users can download by entering their email address.

What is a lead magnet?

A lead magnet is a free downloadable resource (eg, a PDF eBook, a video tutorial), a free service, or a discount offer that users can avail by sharing their email address with you.

How do I increase email list engagement?

The best way to increase email engagement is by sending out well-researched and targeted emails that address the needs of your subscribers, give them value, and help them find useful products.

What kind of emails should I send to my subscribers?

You should send a mix of informational and promotional emails to build rapport with your subscribers also drive sales.

How frequently should I send emails?

Depending on your niche, and the nature of your business, you should send regular emails so that your subscribers stay engaged with you. But don’t send too many promotional or hard sales emails becuase that quickly turns people off.

Does an email list make a website more valuable and attractive to investors?

Yes definitely! An affiliate marketing website with a large and engaged email list is much more valuable to prospective buyers as compared to a site that depends solely on search engine traffic for its sales.

We’ve covered a lot in this guide but if you still have any questions, just tell us in the comments section.

5 thoughts on “Affiliate Email Marketing: Why Building A Subscriber Base Is Crucial For Your Business (And How To Do It Effectively)”

  1. Brendan Hufford

    This is fantastic, Andrej. I’ve done this with an affiliate website, but really struggled as the niche is mostly freebie-seekers who spend money on gear and not education (my site focused on helping them start a business in their industry). We’re talking a <1% conversion rate on the list. I'm moving my site to be more affiliate-focused on the the things they actually WANT to pay for and hopefully this list converts better for that!

    1. Glad to hear you like it, Brendan. Whenever I plan on building out an email funnel/sequence I start from the end. I lock in on the conversion point, then splinter that into a tripwire(s), then brainstorm something that would make a good lead magnet AND flows nicely into the rest of the funnel (intent). It’s really simple, but it works.

  2. Wow, what an amazing and in depth post!

    I feel one thing worth mentioning is that you need to start out with a brand rather than a review site to be able to ask for and convert emails.

    1. Thanks!

      Not necessarily. All you really need to do is put a face/persona behind the site and you should be good to go.

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