Ah, email marketing.
The bread and butter of affiliate marketing.
With email marketing, you gain the benefit of reaching your core audience virtually free. Each point of contact can be used to reaffirm your authority while presenting an opportunity to create a sale.
You could technically conduct your email marketing with your normal email account.
Whether you want to curate that list, spend hours and hours modifying the emails, and potentially getting your account flagged as spam is your choice.
The smart option is to use an email marketing tool.
These tools allow you to create dynamic list building forms for your website that will capture visitors and automatically add them to your list. On the backend, you’ll have access to creating elegant emails, scheduling options, automatic formatting, and delivery options.
What else makes email marketing so attractive?
- Using it to share coupons
- It’s dirt cheap
- You’ll reach them on mobile
- Get feedback about campaigns
- Lower the over-head in starting
- Add personality
- Help with site abandonment
And how about the fact that email marketing is said to be 40x more effective than Facebook and Twitter? That should do some good convincing! Or tons of other email marketing stats that’ll open your eyes if you haven’t messed with it yet.
We’re going to take you through the email marketing tools that matter with this post. But first…
What We look for in Email Marketing Tools
A great email marketing tool is one that’s:
- Full of features
Price doesn’t matter so much because it’s pennies on the dollar for getting your message through. Most will range from free to $10-$30 a month. Not bad compared to what you’d spend on other campaigns.
When we think of the nitty-gritty, it’s:
- Segmentation – The service must provide the ability to divide subscribers into segmented lists so we can create alternate campaigns; this also includes setting up different opt-in forms from the get-go versus managing the lists afterward.
- Access – Being able to use the service through mobile; so, we can capitalize on a campaign while we’re out and about or if something hot pops up and we’re not at our desk.
- Autoresponder – All the good ones come with this feature; it’s a killer feature frequently used for follow-up when someone first subscribes to the list (big money comes through this).
- Forms – The opt-in matters which is why we want an email marketing tool that has flashy, attractive designs we can plunk onto the site or at least a visual builder to make our own.
- Support – Not only if we have questions but also for learning and resources; we don’t want to hunt for graphics and templates to import – they should be available within the system.
- Testing – YES! It needs the ability to run A/B testing so you can optimize your emails. It shouldn’t make it difficult – just two variations sent to a subscriber split.
All-in-all, if we can sign up, create a list, add an opt-in, and start sending emails to our subscribers then it accomplishes what we want. The extra bells and whistles like integrating it with optimization tools are always nice but the basics are just fine for the beginner – you can always scale.
Simply put: you need an email list if you’re serious about this affiliate marketing thing.
Which ones are the best for the beginner? Glad you asked.
The Best Email Marketing Services & Tools
You’re not going to find too much variation in the email marketing tools outside of the design because the email has been around what feels like forever and not much has evolved.
You’ll mostly look at the combined factors of price and ease-of-use and then start making your way down into the finer features and details.
If you can A) collect emails and B) send mass emails then you’re golden but obviously, keep everything in mind so you don’t have to go shifting around services frequently.
MailChimp hit the scene and instantly changed the email marketing game.
Until that point, email automation services were rather clunky. They had all the features you wanted but the backend, templates, and management were lacking. MailChimp changed that with their elegant design, intuitive UX, and of course… being free.
MailChimp should be your go-to for email marketing.
The drag-and-drop email builder makes it dead-simple to create engaging newsletters.
The automation tools like cart abandonment, autoresponders, and ads cuts down time commitment. Integration of third-party analytics and tracking quickly realizes your campaigns. Plus, they have a stellar resource center for learning the ins and outs of using email effectively.
All-in-all, it’s probably the easiest email automation tool you can get started with.
Pricing starts at a forever-free plan (up to 12k emails or 2k subs) else plans start at $10 a month.
Constant Contact is right up there.
Once in, you’ll have access to a massive selection of pre-made email templates – ones optimized by the CC team to improve engagement (meaning more click through and sales!). Don’t like ‘em? No problem, use the drag and drop editing tool to change them into whatever you need.
Like other services – you can onboard lists from other apps like:
The backend lets you groom this information automatically to optimize your list and remove unsubs, bounces, and inactive members.
Having trouble setting up? Their support is unmatched in the industry.
The detailed tracking, attractive designs, and high deliverability makes it a great contender for those wanting to include email marketing with their affiliate marketing efforts.
Pricing starts from $20 a month and offers a 60-day trial.
AWeber has been around for ages and continues to set the industry standard.
The email marketing service is used by 100,000+ businesses and for good reason. It houses all the features you’d expect to find with email automation and packages it in a simple (but deep) package.
It’s the ideal email tool for those expecting growth.
- 700+ mobile responsive templates
- One-time broadcast emails
- Extensive learning center
- Welcome emails, product launch sequences, and email courses
The back end has gone through extensive changes throughout the years. It’s a tool you can have setup and running in about an hour. Overall, we love AWeber so we had to add it to the list.
Pricing starts from $19 a month and offers a 30-day trial.
Rounding out the list is a tool aimed to provide it all: GetResponse.
This hand email marketing software has a few key features that’ll catch your attention:
- Email marketing (that’s a given but had to be mentioned)
- Webinar marketing solutions
- Landing page designs and implementation
- Marketing automation
350,000+ customers can’t be wrong, right?
It’s a great choice if you’re expecting to scale your affiliate marketing through the use of targeted landing pages and webinars – two great features that would otherwise cost extra if you integrate them at a later time.
Pricing starts from $15 a month and offers a 30-day trial.
A Few Things about Email Marketing Tools
You’ve set your mind to the email marketing tool you’ll use for affiliate marketing.
Awesome, that’s one more thing accomplished.
The basic usage of these tools & services will show great ROI if you’re using them effectively. Yet, there’s always room for improvement. We’d like to share a few tidbits…
There are two camps in email marketing:
- Plain text
- HTML emails
Plain text emails are ones you write and don’t have much to worry about because they don’t include fancy graphics. They look and feel like your typical emails. Some affiliate marketers swear by this format because it allows them to be personal and saves on fiddling with a template.
Others prefer HTML templates because it gives them an eye-catching design. It uses graphics to draw readers attention. The design elements add to the branding and can help the CTA stand out. Though, there are sometimes compatibility issues (not as much as before) and having to work on them longer.
We recommend you stick to an HTML template.
The email marketing tools & services have a fallback with using templates that automatically generate plain-text emails for those that may have HTML blocked. So, don’t worry about it.
If you want great looking templates then look no further than the provider since they have dozens (even hundreds) to choose from on the backend. Else, you could always use their visual builder to design one or upload it if you did some coding.
Otherwise, try ThemeForest for thousands of email templates created by professional designers.
Plug-ins, Optimization, and Extras
The email marketing services have a great selection of opt-in forms but if you want to really kick it up then check out Optinmonster, Hellobar, SumoMe, Timersys, or Elegant Theme’s Bloom.
These tools add incredible flexibility to the opt-in forms:
- Beautiful designs
- Pop-up, pop-under, scroll boxes
- Embedded forms
You could go a step further and use tools like Unbounce to create high-converting landing pages with email forms for your campaigns to lay over your site or used on horizontal campaigns.
These will cost you a few extra bucks (usually a one-time fee) but are well worth it if you want to improve the conversion rate of your opt-in forms.
What Works with Email Marketing
What works for your email marketing efforts will depend entirely on your brand and audience.
Stiff, corporate emails probably won’t have the same impact (even if they perform well for big companies) if your audience is laid back and creative and vice versa.
What we’ve seen work best is:
- An “exclusive” members-only type community
- Sharing coupons, user stories, and whitepapers
- Contests and promotions
- Gathering feedback for new offer ideas
- Cross funneling to social channels
- Reusing old content
- Short training course
It’s really what you make of it – creativity is a must!
Try out a variety of these types of emails and keep using the ones that stick.
Send Times & Overload
How many of you are on a dozen or more email lists and feel like it’s too much?
Despite someone opting in… they can get burnt out.
Meaning you shouldn’t treat the opportunity like spam because no one likes that. Try to stick to one or two emails through the week unless you really understand your market. Else, segment the list based on how people respond so those wanting more get more.
Also, consider when it’s going out to hit ‘em at the right moment.
MailChimp dug deep into this topic and found:
- Send midmorning
- During the work week
Simple enough, right?
One last thing before we go…
A/B testing is crucial to everything affiliate marketing but doubly so with email marketing.
Because when you’re promoting products and services, you can easily disgruntle the subscribers. You can come across as too pushy and before long they just ignore your emails because they know you’re sending them yet another offer (ugh).
A/B testing lets you… test.
You can split an email to your list with small variations like:
- Subject line
- Body copy
Do just one change between the two and measure results. If you’re seeing a higher open or click through rate then you have a new baseline. Then… rinse and repeat.
Not doing A/B testing is why many affiliate marketers fail with their email marketing.
Email Marketing Tools and You
If you’re not using email marketing with your affiliate marketing then you’re missing out.
You’re missing out on increased traffic, sales, feedback, and branding.
It does make it another element of your affiliate project you’ll need to manage but is it really that hard to sit down and spend an hour creating an autoresponder once a week (or month)? Nope. Which is why you’d be insane to not use these services.
Let’s recap what we’ve talked about:
- Email marketing is one of the best investments you can make with affiliate marketing
- You can use the platform to drive traffic & sales
- It lets you shift into any industry and bring your audience along
- Setup is simple having just a few lines of codes to add opt-ins
- Autoresponders and e-courses will be your bread and butter
- Lean toward using attractive HTML emails over text (since it’ll convert anyway)
- Don’t spam
- Always split test your email campaigns
- Improve email marketing with plugins
An email list is one of the easiest, profitable additions you can add to the project in an afternoon. The cost is low and the value is high. You don’t even need to be technical to get it going.
Yes, you’ll make a few mistakes along the way but you’ll get better.
Before long you’ll probably even question why even bother with a site and ads when you could just send an email blast and generate sales. That’s what’s awesome about email – the subscribers go along for the ride even if the site goes down or you shift direction.
Go on – pick one.
You can always export your list if you’re not satisfied with the service.
But we think any of those in our list will satisfy those not only beginning the mix of email and affiliate marketing but also those well-established that have been putting off the platform for far too long.
Questions? Comments? Leave your thoughts with a comment below.