How to Build Passive Income Using Affiliate Email Marketing

An illustration of email envelopes dripping dollar sign to a piggy bank - symbolizing affiliate email marketing as the source of passive income

Whether you’re just getting started with affiliate email marketing or have been doing it for awhile, I can probably guess what your main goal is. You are looking to achieve passive income.

And when you say that, you’re probably thinking of a serious amount of income. What point is getting tiny amounts of income “on autopilot”? The idea is to achieve a level of income that is noteworthy. 

Ideally, most of your work would go to increasing the amount of money that flows into your account each month. While only a smaller portion of your time goes to maintenance. That is what true “passive income” looks like. 

Obviously if you have to spend all of your time maintaining your passive income, it’s not really “passive” now is it? So you want to aim for a level where most of your work goes to growing the income, and most of the maintenance is “done-for-you”.

However, the opposite is also an issue in the sense that it is not a realistic goal. And by this I mean that a “passive income where you do zero work and maintain the same level of income each month” is not a realistic goal to strive for either.

The good news is that email marketing today can help you achieve this goal

Email is unlike any other channel. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard of people making “serious affiliate income on autopilot” with any other channel.

bunch of 3d emails flying through sky, symbollizing affiliate email marketing

This is for two main reasons. The first reason is that email marketing is “essentially free”. That is, remarketing to someone once you get them into your list requires no further “retargeting” efforts. This is unlike other channels where you have to constantly “fight” just to be able to reach people, even if they are already fans of your work. This is true even with platforms where people can “subscribe” to, or follow your content.

The second reason is that email marketing has the most advanced levels of automation available to us as marketers today. In fact, if you ever see platforms talking about putting marketing on autopilot, they’re always talking about email. This is because it’s not actually possible to put any other channel on autopilot.

Automation is the key to turning profit “passive”

Let’s get to the core of our goal here. You want to create a money-making machine that generates revenue on autopilot. In fact, that’s what “passive income” is. 

And the way that you accomplish this is that you automate all the major components of successful email marketing. That includes:

– Sending different types of offers and content to different types of subscribers

– Knowing when and how to introduce them to related verticals and offers

– Building a relationship with people over time to where they see you as an authority on a niche and click your affiliate links in a nanosecond to purchase what you recommend, because they trust you as a personal mentor

While there are a lot of things that can go into email marketing, the 3 above contribute the most to your bottom-line and can be put on autopilot over time. In essence, this is how you build passive income “on autopilot”.

The secret is to understand things first, and automate second

Most affiliate marketers tend to fall in one of two extremes when it comes to automation. Either they are all into old school broadcast marketing and do zero automation. Or they go overboard on the automation and over-automate.

But wait, how can one even “over-automate”? How is having things done for you on autopilot a bad thing? Well, it primarily has to do with automating things prematurely. Before you’ve fully developed or understood a given process.

If you automate a process that you don’t even understand or do well, you are essentially just automating your mistakes. That is, you are putting your “mistakes” on autopilot.

squiggly lines lead to a woman's head, coming out as straight lines on the other, symbolizes thinking about and clarifying marketing concepts

Now, I don’t want you to misunderstand this and use it as an excuse to put off automation. On the contrary, I think the right time to start automating is today. It’s just that you want to start with those simple automations for simple processes that everyone understands. And then gradually automate ever more complex facets of marketing.

What you want to do essentially is to start off with those simple automations. And in parallel start learning more about email marketing. You want to start crafting simple sequences that build relationships and analyze your results.

Then, proceed to study and gather information about how your subscribers differ from each other. And eventually, you can personalize your relationship building sequences to act differently based on ever finer criteria and data.

You can learn more about this approach in two of our most popular articles: Converting leads to customers, and 5 tips on automating your email marketing.

Learn about the customer’s journey, giving value and relationship building

Email is still the most profitable marketing channel for two reasons. First, because of its intimate nature, and secondly, because of the ability to automate any aspect of the customer journey.

However, of the two, the first one is the more important one. And it’s easy to figure this out if you just look at the facts. Email marketing was number one in terms of ROI long before we invented any kind of automation whatsoever. Yes, even back when everything was a broadcast, email still beat every other way of doing marketing, by a long shot.

Automation really only started when we invented autoresponders (drip sequences) and we’ve been inventing more sophisticated ways to automate since. However, automation merely allowed email marketing to increase its lead over other channels. Most of the secret still lies in the intimate nature of email.

And if you want to “get this”, just imagine what the “ideal sales process” would look like

Imagine that you have a mentor-type personality who is super-knowledgeable and caring about an subject. They know exactly how to help you solve your issues and what you need to do and purchase to make your problems go away.

Furthermore, imagine that this mentor-personality befriended a person who has this particular issue, and talked to them one-on-one in a caring selfless way. Then, think about how they personally guide the person through solving their issues. 

They know exactly when to bring up what solution, and they talk to the person one-on-one. As issues, challenges and objections come up, they are right there to guide them and give the right tips and advice. And, because of the personal connection, they bring up just the right solution (product) at just the right time. And again, the mentor does all this in one-on-one conversations with the person as they are going through their personal journey.

This is what an ideal conversion process looks like. And email is the only channel that comes anywhere close to being able to replicate something like this. If you wanted to do this manually, you could actually communicate with this person through email one-on-one and you would be able to achieve this ideal customer journey. However, as you might imagine, it would take a ton of time.

Fortunately, email marketing automation has advanced so much that it’s now possible to come very close to the same experience, and do it all on autopilot.

Track & gather data, it’s a prerequisite for personalization

To truly achieve passive income using affiliate email marketing, you will eventually have to get to more sophisticated levels of automation. This means building automations that have very fine distinctions in terms of personalization. For example – if a person has this tag, but not this other tag, and has opened this email, send them this offer

Or even better yet – if a person currently interested in niche x opens one of your blog articles on niche y, add them to the niche y list and send them an email with your best product recommendations in niche x.

Sounds cool right? However, there is some foundational legwork to be done before you can implement automations like these. You see, all automations are based on data. And some of this data is automatically collected for you by Emercury. For example things like whether a person opened a certain email, or clicked on a link.

And this automatically collected email-related data is a great place to start with building your more sophisticated automations. 

Eventually though you want to implement more personalization based on more types of data. For example, you might, gradually, and over time get into custom events where you can respond, in real-time, to subscriber’s behavior on your website, blog and other online properties.

In fact, this strategy of implementing automation in steps is something we’re quite big on. It’s good to start with the simpler levels, and get more sophisticated over time.

To learn more about personalizing your email marketing in stages, check out the guide to personalized email for higher conversions.

Get good at selling related verticals and offers

I advise a lot of marketers on how to increase their profits with affiliate email marketing. There is one thing that I find I have to advise quite often because I see it overlooked all the time. A lot of affiliate marketers over-specialize in a niche, or even treat their separate niches as completely different businesses.

What is a much better idea is to identify related verticals. Ideally, when you choose your niches, you also want to identify what are the related verticals. When you get good at automatically segmenting your subscribers by interest, you can use this to boost your profits.

And it’s quite a straightforward idea. You just want to occasionally send complimentary offers (or content) to your subscribers. Those who “bite” and show interest in those other complimentary offers or content (from other verticals) can be automatically copied to your lists that concern that other vertical. 

Or perhaps you might keep everyone in the same list, and track interest in a custom field or tag. Either way works, but generally the more advanced your automations, the more you want to base differentiation on tags and custom fields. 

You might also want to check out our guide on upsell and cross-sell emails for more information on these concepts and ideas.

Why email marketing deliverability is huge for affiliate profit

Let me tell you a funny story. I was talking to a new Emercury user the other day. He was surprised how he hadn’t “heard about Emercury before”, but it’s exactly what he was looking for.

Well, I told him, the secret is that Emercury is primarily successful due to all of the big-time email veterans using Emercury. These are people with huge lists who send a ton of emails, and need reliable email delivery. We have people like this moving to Emercury all the time. And yes, a lot of them are affiliate marketers.

And see the secret is that these people are moving to Emercury because they know how much email deliverability impacts your bottom-line as an affiliate marketer. But this is something that you learn with experience. When you’re a beginner you’re mostly drawn to sleek interfaces and shiny toy-like features designed to wow the email beginner.

Here’s a thought. You don’t have to wait until you have a huge list to realize that you’re bleeding profits by using an ESP that doesn’t care about deliverability. And while most of our users are super-successful experienced marketers, that doesn’t mean you have to wait to make the switch.

You can start off with great email delivery right from the get go, while you are learning about how to do email marketing right. In fact, with Emercury you get a team of people who care about helping you get the most out of email marketing.

Affiliate email marketing is easy when you have a partner on your side

You know what is the most difficult part of being an affiliate marketer? All of that overwhelm, stress and feeling like you are on your own. It also doesn’t help that most email platforms out there aren’t very affiliate marketing friendly. All you have to do is search “affiliate” on their blogs to find out that they pretend like you don’t even exist.

Emercury is kind of different. In fact, I’m going to share a little inside secret with you about our success. A lot of people think we are successful because of the cutting-edge features or the famous support. If you look at our droves of 5-star reviews you will notice a pattern. People love working with our team.

However, that’s just one part of it. Another big part of our success is the affiliate marketing community. We love affiliate marketing and truly understand affiliate marketing at a deeper level. We’ve used this knowledge to help successful email marketers become even more successful. And it’s a great win-win relationship. Their affiliate income grows, and they get to use more of our services.

I would love to see you become our next affiliate marketer success story. Would you like to book a free demo with our team to get a sense for the Emercury experience? Don’t you think it’s about time you had someone on your side that cares about your success and understands your unique challenges and worries?


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