At Emercury we love affiliate marketers, and they love us. But you know what really annoys me? When I see articles with tips for affiliate marketers. Most of them are just obviously regurgitated generic content that may or may not have anything to do with affiliate marketing.
As someone who has personally helped thousands of affiliate marketers multiply their profits using email marketing – I happen to know a thing or two about affiliate marketing, and how to get the most out of email as an affiliate marketer.
And while there are literally thousands of little tips and tricks I can give you, today I’ve decided to make a list of the top tips I wish every affiliate marketer knew. This list includes the most common and easy-to-fix mistakes, the highest-leverage tricks that I see underutilized the most, and some of the best kept secrets and details that a lot of affiliates miss.
Start Paying Attention to Your Deliverability, It Probably Sucks
You know what’s really sad? When an affiliate marketer does everything right, and their profits aren’t anywhere near to what they truly deserve. And all of this is happening due to a simple easy-to-fix reason. Their emails aren’t actually getting delivered to their subscribers.
Now, a lot of marketers are under the false assumption that if you use a reputable email marketing platform, email delivery is a given. Not the case. In fact, unlike Emercury, most ESPs don’t care about your delivery all that much. They make most of their money selling shiny software features to inexperienced marketers.
Realize this – if you changed nothing else except your delivery rates, your profits would grow significantly, just because your emails are actually reaching inboxes they didn’t reach before. Improving your deliverability even slightly is equivalent to adding tons of new subscribers “for free”.
And if you want to learn more about deliverability, read “13 dumb mistakes to avoid for maximum deliverability”
Avoid shared URLs at all costs
And while deliverability is a big subject, one of the most common mistakes I see is that affiliates get lazy and just use the raw URLs as provided by an affiliate network. Do realize that those links have reputation attached to them, and that carries over to your reputation. It only takes one bad mailer to ruin the reputation of that url.
Make sure to always brand your affiliate links using your own domain as the redirect. So that you’re always putting links with your own domain in the emails.
Send stories, not ads
Stories will always outsell typical ads, especially in email marketing. In affiliate marketing, this is even more crucial because you don’t want to be seen as the “I’m pushing stuff to get a commission” guy.
Ideally, your brand or persona should come across as a wise and caring “mentor” who simply wants to advise them how to pick (and purchase) the right solutions that will help solve their problems.
Storytelling is the perfect way to achieve this. You always want to share a story about how you (or someone else) struggled with a certain issue or problem, and how you (or they) arrived at the solution. This works much better than “buy this product, because features xyz”.
And trust me on this, affiliate marketers who study and master storytelling are going to crush the ones who fail to adapt and just keep sending emails that resemble an advertisement.
Don’t forget to utilize a site-specific permission-reminder
A permission reminder is that tagline which reminds people how they got onto your list. Ideally you can even reference the specific way in which they joined the list. For example by signing up for event xyz, or downloading lead magnet abc.
At the very least you want to make sure to reference the specific website where this occurred, and on which they gave you their email address and permission. And also, be sure to check if the website still exists, so that you’re not referencing a non-existent site.
Master the 3 keys to profit – engagement, engagement, engagement
This heading isn’t an error, engagement is that important. In fact, if you do nothing else in the coming year except understand the importance of engagement – you’ll be ahead of 99% of affiliate marketers.
The reason is very simple. Everything in email marketing comes back to engagement. Even if we jot down for you a list of 30 marketing techniques to implement – they’re not really 30 different things. They’re just 30 different ways of achieving higher engagement with your subscribers.
And here’s another equally mind-blowing point. Except for a few technical settings (like SPF, domain keys, etc), all email deliverability depends on engagement. The ESPs learned a long time ago that the best way to know if your emails deserve to land in their inboxes is to look at what kind of engagement you create.
Aside from just mastering all the marketing skills required to get higher engagement, it’s also wise to start actually monitoring your engagement. That means looking at and monitoring your open rates and click rates.
Leverage broadcasting, segmentation and automations, correctly
One of the main issues that I see in email marketing is a flawed way of thinking. It’s this all-or-nothing mentality that affects a lot of marketers and results in underutilizing powerful marketing technology and techniques.
That’s why I wrote one of our most popular and useful articles (Automations vs Broadcasts). It’s a great read if you haven’t gone through it yet. But in short, a lot of people fall in one of 2 unbalanced camps.
Either they think that “broadcasts are dead” and they obsess about automation-based marketing. Or, they rely entirely on broadcasts and suffer due to not utilizing automations.
A proper fully-rounded strategy will utilize a 360 strategy that relies on both. But that’s not all. A great strategy will also heavily rely on and emphasize quality segmentation. And this is the one thing that ties it all together. Segmentation is equally important to your broadcasts and your automations. In fact, both rely on it.
The great part is that with modern automation builders, you can even automate your segmentation processes. To learn more about that, read our guide on converting subscribers into buyers.
Build a relationship with your delivery manager at your email marketing platform provider
The fact is that your deliverability will always be your biggest multiplier when it comes to profits. And it’s quite simple to see why this is the case.
Even if nothing else about your marketing changes, but your deliverability goes down by 20%, then your profitability also goes down by at least 20%, it’s that simple. People aren’t getting your offers, no matter how good they are.
And while it’s a good idea to have a grasp of how deliverability works, especially when it overlaps with marketing, you probably don’t have the time to become a “deliverability expert”. This is why it’s quite convenient when you have just such an expert who’s right by your side to guide you and advise you on your deliverability.
If you’re not lucky enough to be an Emercury user, you might have to do some work to get a hold of someone at your ESP to help you with this stuff. And with most ESPs they might not even afford you such access unless you’re at the enterprise level. Consider giving Emercury a try if you haven’t yet, for example by booking a demo with our team.
Monitor your domain reputation
Speaking of domains, another thing I see too many affiliates ignore – is their domain reputation. Doing affiliate marketing is hard as it is, no need to make it more difficult by failing to monitor important metrics like this. To learn more about this, contact your Emercury representative or read this article I wrote on domain reputation and email marketing.
Avoid spammy subject lines, please, at all costs
Doing affiliate marketing is hard as it is, especially if you’re using an ESP that’s not fond of affiliates. Don’t make it harder on yourself by appearing spammy. And while there are multiple ways to be “tagged” as a spammer, the most common reason I see is that many affiliates overuse spammy subject lines.
Do not engage in erratic changes to broadcasting volume
I know it’s tempting to do these big massive launches where you send a special offer to a ton of people. And I’m not saying you shouldn’t. It’s just that if this comes out of “nowhere”, the mailbox providers will throttle your mail if they see such sudden spikes.
The secret to doing this correctly is to utilize warm up and ramp up strategies. This means that you want the inbox providers to gradually get used to that volume of emails, before you do this big massive launch.
You want to look at the difference between your current volume of broadcast emails, and then the volume you want to do in that one big “launch email” or whatever big-volume email you’re planning for. Then plan ways to gradually increase broadcast volume to these leads in the period leading up to that one big-volume email.
If you need more specific help with this, consider moving to an ESP that specializes in high-volume affiliate marketers, and includes deliverability management and help with customized ramp ups with every paid account.
Avoid volume decreases, they can hurt you as well
When we discuss delivery issues due to volume changes, we’re often thinking about sudden spikes in volume. However, what a lot of affiliate marketers don’t get is that sudden decreases are also bad and will result in deliverability penalties. So make sure to have both ramp-up strategies, as well as “coming down” strategies.
Don’t put off list hygiene, you’re killing your own profits
When it comes to deliverability, there are hundreds of little things you can do. However, in order to avoid the overwhelm, it’s much better to think of your deliverability in terms of 3 duties.
1) Monitor and keep up engagement levels
2) Watch your sending volume
3) Perform regular list hygiene
If you do these 3 things, you’ve done more than 99% of affiliate marketers do to improve deliverability. And if you get a deliverability partner on your side, you should achieve all of this much more easily.
The deliverability partner can recommend or mention when something else becomes an issue. Remember, there are hundreds of other details or facets to deliverability. But unless you want to get overwhelmed, it’s better to outsource them to a deliverability expert. Otherwise, you can just rest easy by focusing on the 3 deliverability keys above. Just make sure to look at those 3 as part of your responsibilities as an email marketer.
The sad part however is that most affiliate marketers that I meet tend to procrastinate on list hygiene. And this failure to work on hygiene is decimating their profits.
To be fair, I can’t blame them if they’re not using Emercury. Most other platforms put zero emphasis on list-hygiene and it is simply not a core part of their platform. Furthermore, they offer no support if you ask them for help with list hygiene.
This isn’t the case with Emercury where each account includes everything you need to easily perform regular list-hygiene.
Don’t forget to do a content-refresh, crucial
This is the one super-important thing that I don’t see anyone else talking about, so this will be a really crucial discovery for you today. We all know and love automations and drip campaigns, but there’s one issue with them. Whereas broadcasts are largely all unique one-off content, an automation is sending the exact same content many, many times. Unless you do a refresh, a person signing up today will get the exact same content as people 3 months ago.
So why is this an issue you might ask? Well if you’re not monitoring your engagement rates and they start to slowly drop, little by little then what you have is a downward slope or negative sloping trend. Once it gets to a certain percentage the content is then tagged and future content has negative scores against it. I normally see this happen when campaigns are initially setup and never monitored after that.
But how do you know when to refresh, and what to refresh?
That’s where engagement monitoring comes in. A very crucial task that every affiliate marketer should engage in. What you want to do is actually take note of your open-rates and click rates for new automations (or drip sequences, or autoresponders). Then, monitor how this changes over time. If the CR and OR rates go down, it’s almost always a case of stale content.
Sometimes it could be a seasonal thing. For example there are different open rates for one season over another. That’s why over the long-run you also want to keep track of how things change across the board during different seasons. Its a good rule of thumb to refresh content every 30 days if you are seeing a downward engagement trend. If you don’t see any downward trend then “kudos” to you and allow it to continue to run.
Never use shared content
Now that I have explained refreshing content and how content can be tagged… I want to go over using shared content and the pitfall of using shared content. This is one of those things I don’t really hear anyone talking about. If you work with affiliate networks they typically give you “approved content” to use. The same might be true when you work directly with the company as an affiliate.
It has gone through their legal team and their creative team and marketing team and then posted in a panel where it says “approved content”, and download HTML here. I get why they do it however what ends up happening is you are sharing the content reputation of every other affiliate marketer using that offer.
Just like when I mentioned to not use the affiliate links and to use your own masked links, I am telling you the same thing here. If there is a bad mailer using that content, it will get scored negatively and when you try to use that same content, you will piggy back on the poor reputation of that content. It is best to always have unique content to you. If they can create it for you, great, if you are able to come up with it yourself and get approval, even better.
Segment by offer vertical, follow up with complimenting verticals
We keep discussing the importance of segmentation, because it is crucial. However, the one thing I see among affiliates is that they just put everyone onto the same main list. And then they keep sending random offers to this generalized list.
You probably know that’s far from a good thing, but you still do it because you don’t know of a simple alternative. Well, I’m here to provide and give you that simple alternative.
What you can do is very simple. Segment subscribers based on the offer that they signed up with. For example, if they download a weight loss lead magnet, then put them into that segment. If they request a car-repair guide, put them into that segment.
And then here comes the most crucial part. From there, you want to start sending them offers from related verticals, aside from the main one. If they sign up for something in the loans segment, complimentary verticals would be “Credit Score”, “Auto Insurance”, “Checking Accounts” etc.
And if you really want to get why this is crucial, you might like the analogy I always give people. Imagine that you go to a online store and add hunting gear to your cart. Then as you’re checking out, you see recommendations to also add “hoop earrings” and “inflatable pools” to your cart. Would that make any sense? Obviously not.
Yet, this is what most affiliate marketers do out there. They fail to (first) segment by offer vertical, and then build automations that factor in complimenting verticals. Do this, and see your profits skyrocket.
Work with an affiliate-friendly email marketing platform
Look, I have a confession to make. We work really hard to make Emercury a super-useful and high-value platform for all email marketers. But for “some reason” most of our revenue comes from the droves of huge affiliate marketers that keep moving their big lists to Emercury.
There are many reasons why affiliate marketers love us, but it can be summed by simply saying that we love, respect and invest in affiliate marketers. Most tell us they’ve never found a platform that is as welcoming and helpful to affiliate marketers as Emercury.
That has to do in part with the fact that we truly get affiliate marketing and its unique challenges, and ours is the only platform where getting an account means getting a partner in your affiliate marketing efforts. To get a sense of this experience, consider booking a demo.