Building and Using a Mailing List to Promote Affiliate Offers

Building and Using a Mailing List to Promote Affiliate Offers

We’ve looked at all kinds of different techniques you can use to promote your website, your landing page and your affiliate offers. We’ve seen how you can send people directly to your landing page via Facebook Ads or Google AdWords and we’ve seen how you can use SEO and social media to generally promote a brand.

But now it’s time to look at the single biggest tool that many affiliate marketers use in order to promote their products and their offers: e-mail marketing.

Earlier we discussed how to choose an autoresponder and set up your opt-in form. Now it’s time to learn how to encourage people to sign up and how to get them to actually listen to what you have to say.

Why Internet Marketing is Ideal for Affiliates

Many affiliate marketers and even other types of marketers will say that their mailing  list is their single most important asset for reaching a wide audience and making sales. So what is it that makes mailing lists so valuable in general and for affiliates specifically?

The first big advantage of an e-mail list is that it’s highly targeted and arguably moreso than any other type of list. This is because the people on your mailing list have actually given you permission to contact them. Rather than simply ‘liking’ your page, they have actually willingly giving you a means to get in touch, thereby establishing that they are interested in your brand and the kinds of things you sell.

This small matter of permission also impacts the way that people feel psychologically when they get your messages. Specifically, this means that when you message someone, they won’t feel as though it’s an inconvenience or a nuisance – instead it’s something they gave you permission to do and thus they’ll be fine with it happening (at least theoretically).

Another big advantage of e-mail marketing is that it gives you a very direct way in which to reach your audience. This makes it different than social media marketing because you’re not going through another platform. That is to say that Facebook isn’t managing your relationship.

A good example of why this matters can be seen when we look at how Facebook has recently changed its policy regarding page likes. When Facebook first introduced the idea of Facebook pages for brands, it was possible to build a following and then to communicate with 100% of that following by sending a message. This number shrunk and now posting to your Facebook page will only reach 10% of your audience or less. That means that if you have 1,000 people following you, you can only reach 100 people. It’s also not completely unheard of for Facebook to simply get rid of a Facebook page or group without any explanation or consultation given.

So you could spend days, months and years building your page only to wake up one morning and find it’s gone. This might sound like hyperbole and paranoia but it actually happened to me with a page that had several hundred thousand likes. It was a painful experience and it really hammered home just how important it is to have your own direct way of accessing an audience if you’re going to invest that much time, money and effort into building it.

E-mail marketing gives you complete control and it lets you communicate with someone right in their inbox. This means you can message them wherever they are and they will see the message when you send it. It feels much more personal and potentially you can have a much more emotional impact as a result of this.

One often quoted ‘rule’ of digital marketing, is that it takes five ‘touches’ in order to sell something. What this means, is that it’s very rare for you to make a sale simply by sending a single e-mail, or from someone landing on your page and reading your article. Instead, you need to build that trust, you need to explain why your product is so good and you need to warm the buyer up to being interested in it.

E-mail marketing is perfect for this because it lets you use those five touches in a sequence and know that each of your messages is going to be seen by the people you’re trying to reach. This lets you manage your relationship and execute a plan and that results in many more sales.

How to Build Your Mailing List

We’ve already covered the biggest and most important way to build a mailing list and that is simply to create lots of great content and to keep updating it consistently. If your website informs someone with useful and entertaining information and if you demonstrate that on your site you tackle a host of fascinating subjects in a unique way – if you provide lots of value – then people will sign up to your mailing list because they’ll want more.


One of the biggest ways to get people to sign up to a mailing list is to incentivize that action. In other words, give people a good reason to sign up to your mailing list by offering something in exchange.

One of the most popular incentives of all here and the most obvious is a free eBook. If you offer an eBook, then you are providing free value in exchange for e-mails but at the same time, you won’t be costing yourself anything – so this isn’t a ‘loss leader’. EBooks as we have already discussed are great because there is no cost of manufacturing, storing or anything else. This means that you can give away as many as you want and it won’t cost you anything.

Likewise, you can also give away free ‘reports’ (which amount to very short eBooks), free online courses and more.

How to Make eBooks to Give Away and Monetize Them!

If you decided you wanted to become an affiliate marketer in order to avoid having to create products, then the idea of creating an eBook to incentivize your mailing list may not be terribly appealing. In fact, it might somewhat defeat the whole point as far as you’re concerned!

Luckily though, there are ways you can acquire your eBooks without having to create anything yourself. Of course you can outsource the process by using a site such as UpWork or Elance. Here, you’ll be able to find freelancers who are willing to write eBooks, design covers and more and who will work for a good wage in most cases. Another option is to buy an eBook with ‘PLR’. That stands for Private Label Rights and what it basically means is that you can resell it and also edit and change it however you see fit.

But if you want to forego spending more money then another option is to take content from your website. That’s right: if you already have been writing blog posts and articles then you probably have tons of unique content on your site. It’s unlikely any of your visitors will have read your entire site and Google really won’t care whether your eBook is unique or not – you don’t need it to get indexed.

So simply grab your existing writing and turn it into an eBook and you have a great free product to give away as an incentive!

If you do make your eBook this way, or if you’re happy to go about actually writing something, then you can make it more worth your while too by monetizing it. Simply throw in some additional affiliate links and that way people might buy something based on the eBook they’re reading. This is a great strategy if the eBook is good and it means that even if the subscribers only wanted the eBook and they never read your e-mails, you might still be able to profit from them.

As an added bonus, people who share your book and copy it will actually be helping you. If all goes well and the book proliferates around the net – containing your affiliate links then you can earn a lot of money without even needing to promote it

And because your eBook is free and people are getting tons of value from it, you’ll have their captive attention and can really push the merits of the products you’re trying to promote!

The key thing to keep in mind when providing these kinds of freebies though is that firstly: they must be relevant to the products you’re selling and they must be in your niche. Secondly: you also need to ensure that you aren’t going to convince people to sign up to your mailing list who have no real interest in whatever it is you’re going to be writing about.

The point here is that people love freebies. If you give away something for free on your website, then there’s a good chance that they’ll sign up to the mailing list just to get that free thing and then ignore all of your subsequent messages. This is not what you want and it’s a complete waste of time for everyone involved.

Instead then, make sure that your product attracts not only people who are interested in your subject but also who are willing to spend money and who are likely to open your future messages.

This is easier said than done but if you get it right and your mailing list is highly targeted it will be much more effective as a result. It’s better to have one good lead than a thousand dud ones!

So how do you make sure people aren’t just signing up for a freebie? One option is to make your incentive a discount or special offer instead. So say “sign up to this mailing list to get discounts on tons of great products!”. This way, you are giving people an incentive to sign up and you’re offering something in exchange for their personal details. At the same time though, by signing up they will be demonstrating an interest in spending money. They’re not just looking to get something free, they actually want to buy something but want to save money doing so.

What’s even better, is that the value you’ll now be providing will be coming from the e- mails themselves. In other words, in order to get those discounts that they have shown they want, they will need to actually open the e-mails you’re sending. This is very different from a situation where they’ve got what they want and now just want to be left alone!

You can also mimic this second strategy by making your e-mails themselves the thing that people want. A simple way to do this is by making your mailing list a ‘newsletter’ an ‘email course’ or even an ‘ezine’. These things all sound much more appealing and if you include some interesting content in each of your messages that’s on topic, then people will have a good reason to actually look forward to opening your e-mails each time they land in their inboxes. You should treat each e-mail like a blog post and give it the same care and attention.

Pop-Overs and Mentions

There are other more straightforward things you can do to promote your mailing lists too. One is to add a pop-over, which is a pop-up that appears within  the  browser window over the top of what you’re reading. You’re no doubt highly familiar with these because they appear simply everywhere. No matter what kind of websites you’re  visiting, almost all of them will now have some kind of pop-over that appears after a few minutes and invites you to sign up to the mailing list.

Now, you might have found these very irritating and perhaps this was enough reason for you to not want to use them. However, you should also ask yourself why so many bloggers and webmasters all use this technique. The obvious answer? Because it really works! And in fact, research suggests that you can increase your sign-ups by several hundred percent by including an opt-in form in a pop-over. Quite simply, this forces the visitor to engage with your offer and it makes sure that they don’t miss the option to sign up. If you offer something free as well then people will very likely just enter their e-mail and move on.

But you also do want to avoid annoying anyone too much, which is why it’s a good idea to do everything you can to make this minimally interruptive and frustrating. One thing that you shouldn’t do to this end, is to use the manipulative technique of making the ‘no’ button sound off-putting. Many of these mailing lists will say things like:

“Do you want to sign up for our mailing list and learn how to get amazing abs?” With the options being:



“No, I’m happy to carry on looking flabby”

While it’s clear to see what the bloggers are going for here, it’s also a very quick way to alienate and annoy your visitors – so you’re better off avoiding this strategy altogether!

Another thing to do is to ensure that the mailing lists aren’t popping up repeatedly or right away. If someone has landed on your site for the very first time then it’s highly unlikely they’ll want to sign up to your mailing list before they’ve even read any of your content. We’ve already discussed how it takes time to build recognition and trust!

So if your mailing list pops up the minute a new visitor arrives on your page, this will  just cause aggravation and not likely get many leads. Instead, use smarter pop-over technology that will show only once the visitor has been on your page a certain amount of time, or only once they have scrolled down a certain distance. Either of these strategies can prevent frustration and it means that only the people who engage with your content will see your message.

Finally and most importantly of all – make sure your popover is mobile friendly. A lot of these plugins and tools won’t appear properly on mobile devices and end up covering  the entire screen and making it impossible for visitors to click the cross or the ‘no’ button. This then renders the entire website completely unusable and as you might imagine  that  is  not  good for  your  brand.  A  good tool  to  use that  is generally mobile friendly is SumoMe, though you can find plenty more similar plugins through WordPress.

Another strategy for increasing your sign-ups that doesn’t involve shoving your opt-in force literally in people’s faces, is to simply mention it and ask them to sign up. This might sound rather simplistic but it works surprisingly well!

The mistake a lot of people make is to keep their mailing list in the corner of their site and to hope people just discover it and sign up. If instead you tell people it’s  there in your content and explain why it’s worth signing up to, then you’ll give people much  more incentive and you’ll know that they’ll at least be aware that it’s an option for them to sign up! Tell people that they can get more exclusive and exciting content by joining and this will give them a good incentive as long as what you’re writing is great quality (telling people they’re getting something exclusive or calling them VIPs are two great ways to get people excited to be a part of something).

Squeeze Pages

If you really want to focus on building your mailing list as the first step in your affiliate marketing strategy, then you may want to start by creating a squeeze page. A squeeze page is very similar to a landing page/sales page and utilizes the same narrow design and the same persuasive writing techniques. The key difference here though, is that you’re not going to promote a product at the end but instead promote your mailing list. So the entire site is designed around the singular goal of getting people to subscribe to your mailing list and you can then just direct visitors to that page in order to grow your list.

This means you can use PPC or CPA (remember you can pay ‘per subscriber’ using Facebook Ads) and simply link to your squeeze page. These strategies require a little bit of upfront investment but ultimately it should pay off a lot if you can get all your members to convert at some point in the future!

Writing Your E-Mails

So now you’re growing your mailing list and people are signing up left, right and center. The next question to ask yourself how you’re going to take advantage of that list and  turn those leads into prospects and buyers.

What you don’t want to do is to launch straight in with your sales pitch. As with your other forms of content marketing (which is essentially what this is), you need to instead slowly build trust and authority and then from there to increase excitement and anticipation for your product.

Step one then is to make sure that your e-mails get opened and that people look forward to your content. Hopefully, they will open your very first message because they expect it to be good quality – they liked your content and they’ve been promised more of the  same so they have no reason not to at least look at what you send them.

From here then, you should actually ensure to wow them with great content that really supplements what’s on your website. Think about the formatting and the value and make sure that they take something useful away from your message.

Keep doing this and you will gradually get to the point where people will look forward to your mails the same way they might look forward to getting their favorite magazine subscription through the door. At the same time, there’s nothing wrong with sending your readers to your website in order to get the full scoop. Give them the first part of your story in the e-mail and then send them to your site – this may even lead to a conversion!

Note: When you are creating your e-mail content, you typically want it to be much shorter than your website content. Whereas 1,800 words is the magic number for a blog post, most people don’t want to read that much through Gmail. Keep it short and sweet but deliver real value as well as some inspiration. Go here:

How to Write Great Subject Lines

If you are comparing your emails to articles or blog posts, then it follows that you should compare your subject line to an article heading. This provides all the same jobs, telling people what your content is about and why they should open it. At the same time, it needs to grab attention and really leap out.

But there are some differences here too. The first difference is that the typical email client will only display 50 characters or fewer for the subject heading. If your subject  line is really waffling then, people won’t know what it’s about and won’t open it.

Another difference is that often an e-mail subject will sound as though you’re talking to someone. This isn’t quite a title but rather a message and as such you want it to be a  little person. Some people will go as far with this as to put Re: in the heading or to pretend they know the person who signed up. This can be a useful strategy though it often comes across as manipulative and may irritate some people so tread carefully with it. Another option available to you is to use your recipient’s name “Jeff! Why not check out our new deals?”, which is possible through some autoresponder software.

Your main objectives then are to quickly grab attention and then convey the value that is inside the e-mail. Use the same rules as for your article title by making it sound interesting, valuable and unique to the other content they’ve read.

And most important of all? Tone down the promotional speak. People are absolutely  sick of spam in their inboxes and in all likelihood, this is probably something that you

Once you’ve got this flow going and people trust you, you can then start to warm them  up to the idea of your product. This is where it comes in really handy to be using e-mail marketing – you have the time and the luxury to warm them up to your product and to get them interested in it. You can build hype and even ask for feedback and ideas. If you ask what kind of product people want, then you can literally choose an affiliate product to match the one that your audience have expressed a need for.

Over time you can make this product more and more prominent and build up to a  launch date when it will be going live. Give your mailing list advance access and a discount and after you’ve built that trust and established the desire, they will then hopefully be inclined to click through and convert.

Remember, it takes about five touches to generate a conversion. So to break down your mailing list messages into five parts, that could look like this:

  • A welcome and hello to your audience, offering useful advice and value
  • A message providing great useful tips plus mention of something ‘exciting on the way’
  • Message with exciting tips and inspiring stories and a bit more information about what you’ll be selling
  • Exciting tips + a description of your amazing product and what it will do
  • A link to where the product can be bought along with a straight up sales pitch

What is an Autoresponder Sequence?

But wait, there’s a problem! What if someone signs up just as you’re about to launch and the first e-mail they see is that promotion? You can get around this by mentioning your new subscribers at some point in every message and by having a ‘welcome message’ delivered every time someone new signs up.

Alternatively though, you can also automate the entire process and to do this you just need what is known as an ‘autoresponder sequence’. This is basically a series of e-mails that will get sent out to any new subscriber and that will contain your five touches and conversion e-mail.

Building a Sales Funnel

Another very useful tool that you can combine with your mailing list is a sales funnel. This is another way to get your ‘five touches’ and it basically gets your visitors to commit more and more to your brand and to engage more and more with what you have to say.

A good funnel should again have about five steps and these should be based on incremental increases in commitment.

So the first ‘step’ in your funnel is getting someone to sign up to your mailing list and  you might do this via your website or via a squeeze page. The second step will be getting them to read your emails and to enjoy your content. The third step might be getting them to visit a free online seminar or discussion. Fourth might be getting them to pay for a small product and fifth might be getting them to buy your big ticket item.

As your visitors go through each of these steps they become just a little more committed to your brand each time and eventually they’ll then feel as though it’s only a small  matter to take the last step and end up spending a lot of money on a big product.

This works much better  than  going in  cold  and immediately requesting  they buy your $1,000 course and it’s a great way to build brand loyalty. Your mailing list is the number one way for you to achieve that!

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