Many people have asked me how I managed to build an email list of 250,000+ subscribers. I’ve some good experience with building email lists. I’ve built email lists mostly to gather subscribers and market my products to them. But I’ve also made a lot of revenue as an affiliate through my email list.
In this article, we will discuss about how you can build an email list for affiliate marketing. I believe that email marketing is the best way to promote affiliate products and make revenue as an affiliate.
You can see the screenshot from my ConvertKit account. I get 1,000+ new subscribers everyday and I have got a total of 89,000+ subscribers.
I have sent more than 3 million emails so far from my email marketing tool to my subscribers. Most of my subscribers have come from the popup optin form on my blog, and from paid ads. Google Ads and Facebook Ads contribute the most to my subscriber list.
You can see that my emails get pretty healthy open rates.
If I send out an email, I get 10-15% of the people open the email. I get 500 to 1000 clicks from every email campaign. These clicks are of much higher quality than what I get from paid ads.
These clicks will cost as much as ₹10 to ₹20 per click on paid ad platforms. But if I promote it to my email list, the clicks are free. And as long as I am providing value, people will come back and click on my links.
If you can generate enough targeted traffic you can sell anything to anyone. Email marketing is great because you can generate traffic on demand. You can leverage your email list to drive traffic to your blog, your product sales pages, or your affiliate links.
Direct Traffic to Affiliate Links
Earlier, a lot of people used to promote affiliate programs through direct traffic arbitrage. You can take a product where you will make money as an affiliate promoting it, and you can drive traffic to that link directly. People used to promote affiliate links on Facebook Ads, Google Ads and other advertising networks.
You need to get the math right here. Let’s say you are able to get traffic at ₹1 per click. Let’s say you drive 10,000 clicks to your affiliate link via ads and your total spend is ₹10,000.
Now you need to make sure you make more than ₹10,000 from affiliate commissions. Let’s say you make a commission of ₹1,000 per sale. You need to make at least 10 sales to break even. That means you need to sell 10/10,000 clicks which is a 0.1% conversion ratio.
0.1% conversion looks achievable. If you have 0.2% conversion, you will be able to double your investment in ads. For every ₹10,000 invested in ads, you will make 20 sales and make ₹20,000.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to get that kind of math working because there is too much competition and sometimes if you are not careful with the numbers, you might end up investing more money in ads than the total affiliate commissions that you make. That’s why you should use the traffic to build an email list.
By building an email list you are building an asset and you can leverage that asset for a long time. Even if you do not get the ROI from the email list immediately, you will be able to create enough products, or promote enough affiliate links to take back the investment from the list over a period of time.
The Lead Magnet
The best way to start building an email list is to start with a lead magnet. An email inbox is a private space and people do not share their emails easily. That’s why we need to give an ethical bribe for people to give their contact information to us.
A lead magnet is an ethical bribe. It is something of value that is given away for free in exchange for contact details. For example, my lead magnet is: A free digital marketing course with 25 videos.
After people optin, I send the videos to them in sequence. I send an email every two days, and for a while I keep delivering value via emails because I want to build the trust with them before I sell anything.
Here’s how my lead magnet landing page looks:
I drive traffic to the above page from my blog which gets SEO traffic. From Google Ads and Facebook Ads. I get 1000+ subscribers a day from this page.
This page alone gets 1000s of visitors per day. Here’s a screenshot from my Google Analytics.
In the last 7 days alone, I’ve got more than 24,000 visitors to this page.
I am able to invest so much into paid advertising and drive a lot of traffic to my landing page because I am confident that the investment in lead generation will always pay off in the sales of products and commissions from affiliate marketing. I have never seen the investment in lead generation go waste.
Many blogs and websites have a subscription box where they encourage visitors to enter their name and email ID for subscribing to their publication. Subscribing for more content is not motivating enough for someone to share their name and email ID.
A lead magnet needs to have a specific benefit, mostly information or data, that helps the subscriber. Information is the best form of lead magnet because it doesn’t cost anything to replicate information.
Here’s another lead magnet that is working wonders for India’s largest publication about startups – YourStory.
The lead magnet is very specific. It’s an ebook containing 50 different business ideas for entrepreneurs to start a new business. All they have to do is enter their name and email ID to download a PDF copy of the ebook.
Getting the email ID for the subscriber gives further opportunity to market to them. Initially, the emails should be of value. Without value, no one will open the emails. Each email that is sent after people opt-in should have some value in it. It can start with subtle promotion and it can eventually lead to more promotional emails which bring in the revenue.
To convert the traffic on my blog into subscribers, I use an exit-popup which appears when people try to leave my website. It shows up like this with the background blurred, bringing focus to the optin form.
YourStory also uses a similar popup on their blog. They get 100s of thousands of visitors per day and it helps them convert 1000s of visitors into subscribers per day with ease.
The popup can be configured to show up after some time or we can configure to show up on exit of the website.
For a typical lead magnet like this, one should be able to convert 2-3% of the visitors into subscribers.
If you have a blog which gets 1000 visitors a day, you should be able to get 20-30 subscribers per day. That would be 400 – 600 subscribers per month.
The best part about popups on blogs is that unlike landing pages which require traffic to be driven to them, we can rely on the organic traffic coming to our blogs via the search engines and build our email list from that traffic. But it takes a long time to build organic traffic.
Your blog needs 100s of high quality articles (like this one) to get 1000s of visitors per day eventually. In the next section, let’s discuss about the different sources of traffic from which we can get traffic to build our email list.
Sources of Traffic
By now, you would have got a fair idea about how to go about building an email list. First you need to select a market. Then understand the needs of the audience in that market. Create a free resource that is going to be helpful for your audience.
Give away the free resource in exchange for contact information (lead magnet). We have covered until here. But how do we get traffic to convert into email subscribers? That’s what we are going to discuss in this section.
Facebook Ads is an excellent source of traffic to build an email list. The best part about Facebook Ads is that you can reach a wide audience for a very low cost. Lead magnets that interest people with specific interests perform very well.
For example, I run ads for people interested in the topic of Digital Marketing. I can target millions of people who have this interest. This month alone, I have generated 27,370 leads at just $0.09 per lead and a total ad spend of $2335.
Now the return on investment of spending this much on ads doesn’t come in the same day. It comes in a few weeks where I promote my own programs and affiliate products through email marketing. One needs very good ad copies and email sales copies to make sure that the investment in ads are paid off.
Google Search Ads are a great way to build an email list. I drive traffic to my blog from Google Ads and some of that traffic converts into email subscribers.
These are Google Dynamic Search ads where all the articles on my blog are potential ad copies.
In the above screenshot you can see that I’ve got 6,200 clicks to my website with a cost of around ₹9k. I’ve got 335 conversions at an average conversion cost of ₹26.8 per lead. This contributes only to a small portion of my leads from Google Ads.
The other major campaign that I run is Google Search Ads with Display select. I’ve made a Google Data Studio report that gives me daily stats on how my ads are performing.
You can see that last month I’ve generated 17k+ leads at just ₹11 per lead.
This month I’ve generated 13k+ leads so far. Sometimes the cost of the leads go up as competition goes up for the same keywords.
In the above screenshot you can see how many conversions I’ve got on a daily basis. All the ads including Facebook Ads discussed above work with conversion tracking pixels. That’s why I am able to track the conversions and optimize the ad campaign for conversions.
Branding / Organic
I’ve made sure that my landing page is on a recognizable and brand-able domain name. My primary lead magnet is on www.LearnDigitalMarketing.com. When people ask around in groups and forums, others recommend them to sign up at this URL.
I also get a lot of direct traffic to my blog DigitalDeepak.com. 57% of my traffic to my blog is from direct sources. This gives me a lot of leads.
Branding your website is a long term process that takes a lot of time and most importantly consistency. With consistently publishing content, you will be able to build a known brand over the years.
Affiliate / Referral Traffic
If you are ready to pay a commission to whoever sends you a referral, you can build your email list very fast. If you lead cost in Google Ads or Facebook Ads is around ₹10 to ₹20, then you can give an affiliate commission of ₹5 per referral to your affiliates.
Note that if you have an affiliate program, you will also attract a lot of fraud. Many affiliates will try to send you leads that are not genuine and try to make money off your program. You need to be careful on the kind of affiliates you are ready to get into your program and you should closely monitor the quality of the leads.
Organic / SEO
Getting organic traffic from the search engines is a difficult task if you are trying to drive traffic to the landing pages directly. The best way to leverage organic traffic for list building is to drive traffic to your blog and have an exit popup convert the visitor into a subscriber.
My blog DigitalDeepak.com has received 228,355 visitors in the past 1 year.
I convert an average of 2% of the visitors into subscribers. That means I have received around 4,500+ subscribers just from organic traffic to my blog.
Engaging Your Email List
Once you generate the leads, it is important to engage your leads through marketing automation. Without delivering good content in sequence, your leads will forget you exist.
The best way to engage leads on automation is via Drip Marketing. You can see the drip marketing sequence we have setup for our content marketing mastery course’s lead magnet.
This lead magnet is supposed to get people’s contact information, and it sends valuable emails about content marketing until we start promoting the content marketing mastery course we have.
I have set the drip marketing sequence in such a way that one email is delivered every two days. Each email gets an open rate of 10-15% which is not bad.
You can add affiliate links in the content of this email and that would be the best way for you to make revenue from affiliate marketing, through you email list.
You can also engage the leads in different ways.
Here are the different options:
- Add the leads to a group or a forum and share content with them.
- Follow up with people who optin to receive messages on Facebook Messenger.
- Follow up with content on SMS.
- Get people to install your mobile app and Send content via Push notifications.
- Ask people to optin into another lead magnet done by a team mate and send emails through another persona
- Retarget people who have already visited your website or landing page, and engage them.
I created a group called “Learn Digital Marketing” on Facebook (link) and with time, this group has got almost 150k members. It is a great way to engage the audience in an online social construct.
I will not go deep into all the methods of engaging the email subscribers you gain as it would be beyond the scope of the article. But remember that engaging your leads with a mix of marketing automation and content sharing through various channels is very important to get people to pay attention to you.
Once you get people’s attention through valuable content, you will be able to get them to click on your affiliate links. When people click on your affiliate links, not everyone will buy, but some will buy. That would be more than enough for you to get the ROI on content creation and email list building.
I know people who have earned millions of dollars with affiliate marketing. There are so many different products to promote and so many different markets and audiences. There is enough room for everyone to be an affiliate marketer and still make a good enough income. Sometimes, the income will be good enough to even quit your full time job and become a full-time affiliate marketer.
Don’t see affiliate marketing as just another earning method. If executed properly, it can become a big business of its own. The entire system I’ve detailed above follows the general marketing and branding process that is there for any business to be built. You need to target the right customers, and build trust with them before they can do a transaction with you.
In the next blog post, I will discuss about the top affiliate networks that you have to join to get offers to promote as an affiliate. If you have any questions, leave a comment below.