Affiliate marketing is great, but nothing is perfect. If you ask a group of affiliate marketers what the most significant issues with it are, you would hear a lot of answers. But the three most common are likely to be:

  • Working on your own with no one else to help motivate you
  • It’s a series of highs and lows that can be unpredictable
  • When you create a great campaign, other people tend to steal the idea

All are challenges we have to overcome, but for me, the biggest problem is something else. Many affiliates treat each campaign as a separate thing. That means they start from scratch each time, looking for traffic and prospects to convert,

Approaching affiliate marketing this way means that you make money from your traffic once if they click on your link, and that is it. But think about other sales approaches. If you buy from an online store, they get your email address, and they keep in touch. From that one purchase, they market to you again and again, and if it’s a good company, you probably buy from them again. Most likely several times.

That is something affiliate marketers are missing out on, but we don’t have to. If we build an email list, then we have the tools to market our new campaigns to the people we have converted in a previous campaign, just like the online store. You can probably see the advantages but let’s run through them all now.

You maintain control of the list

Whatever approach you take to affiliate marketing there is one issue. Whether you use social media or ads to drive traffic, someone else owns the platform. If Google, Facebook or Twitter suddenly changes things, your source of traffic is gone in an instant. It is entirely out of your control.

More than change the way things work, they could also remove your accounts at any point. It is their platform, and they make the rules. You have no control over what they do and few options to challenge them if anything does go wrong.

With an email list, you own everything. You have complete control of the data itself, but also the platform you use to send emails, everything. You have full control.

You can combat unpredictability

One of the most significant downsides people see with affiliate marketing is that you can have great highs, but also lows, and it’s not always predictable when they happen. Sometimes campaigns don’t turn out as you hope. But what if you had access to a list of proven buyers? Send them a great offer, and you know you will get a return. That means even when things are not going quite to plan, you have an option to make some money.

Easy access to a vast audience

For a good email list, you can expect about 20% of the list to open any offer you send out. If you have a list of 25,000 people, that is 5,000 of them who will read your message. Whatever your offer, whatever you want to say, you know that 5,000 people will pay attention.

That is a lot of people that you can talk to whenever you want.

You get repeat buyers

Now you can send multiple offers to your list over time; you no longer have buyers for just one campaign. That means once you have someone on your list, they can buy multiple times, and each time you make a profit.

There is no time limit either, send them offers they like, and they will keep buying.

You have more options

When driving traffic to your affiliate offer, you must always respect the rules of the platform you are using. Some platforms don’t allow certain types of offers, but with your list, you have no such restrictions. For instance, you could collect more data, such as addresses, ages, income demographics and so on to help you target

Affiliate marketers and list building

So, as we can see, a list brings a lot of advantages to your marketing efforts. The question then, is why does it seem that affiliates are mostly ignoring lists completely? Firstly, there are affiliates using lists; they don’t talk about it, mainly because its an advantage over everyone else.

Apart from that though, let’s look at the reasons why affiliates might avoid list building today.

It takes new skills

Affiliate marketing is great as a home business because you can start with a small investment and some easily learned techniques. However, list building is different.

To make a success of it, you need to be able to create engaging content that converts readers to buyers. Email copy is probably the hardest kind to write. This is because we all get so many emails, we don’t pay attention. An email has just 10 to 15 seconds to grab the reader’s attention. If it doesn’t, they are on to the next one. Think about your inbox, and how long you look at each email, and the challenge becomes clearer.

There are ways around this, you can hire a professional copywriter, but that adds to costs.

Besides, managing a list needs new knowledge too, understanding data compliance rules, setting up sales funnels, performance metrics and so on. Again, you can hire freelance specialists for these things, but the costs start to add up.

Profit takes time

Those additional costs bring us to the next issue. A list doesn’t generate profit straight away, and that itself is very different from affiliate marketing in general. Your first spending on building a list may pay back months later.

That means being patient; many affiliates don’t like to wait that long.

Not all niches are suitable

Some niches don’t suit list building. These are mostly the one-use offers. For instance, if you were offering Firewall software. Once that has been purchased, consumers do not need another firewall unless the first one did not work correctly.

However, other niches, health, beauty and making money, for instance, offer almost endless options for new products and services.

Running an Email Campaign

Understanding why affiliates may avoid list building means we can focus on how to do it while avoiding those challenges. There are two ways to run an email campaign with a list, so let’s look at both:

A focus on email addresses

The first type of campaign is one where the goal is to collect as many email addresses as possible. Here you use a straightforward landing page that has a free offer in return for submitting a name and email address. If you have responded to any direct emails yourself, you have probably seen these kinds of pages already.

This kind of campaign costs money upfront, and you never know how it will perform, with results seen further down the line. The best way to approach this kind of campaign is to start small with minimal investment, and then build on that if you see positive results.

Email as the secondary target

The other approach doesn’t place obtaining emails at the center of the campaign. Instead, you run an affiliate campaign as usual but include a method of email collection within the campaign. This could be a pop-up, sidebar, a text input box or another way. In this situation, the campaign itself is the focus; the email is a bonus.

For affiliates, this approach offers a way to build a list over time without a substantial cost or sacrificing existing affiliate activity.

Making the most of email

The other thing about email is that it is a very different way of reaching an audience. Affiliates are often not aware of the ways to maximize results from emails, but there are some tips and tricks to remember.

You need to give out more information

To ensure compliance, email service providers will expect you to provide a physical address for your business. It will appear at the bottom of every email sent. That may sound alarming; however, that doesn’t mean you have to give out your home address to thousands of people.

You can use a postal box or a virtual office service instead.

It’s more personal

Affiliate marketing is all about persuading an audience to follow a link to an offer. With a list, it’s all about the relationship. They are not just buying an offer you present; they are buying because they trust you.

To do that well, your email communications must be consistent. You don’t have to be yourself, but if you create a character, make sure you stick with it. How old they are, what they like and dislike and so on. If you seem different every email, then people won’t trust you, and they won’t buy either.

It’s more than sales

If all you do with your list is send them sales offers, you will quickly lose subscribers. You need the list to want to open your emails because they have real value for the recipients. Stories, video links, free information, such as an eBook or other material, all ensure that your emails are welcomed.

Do this, and then every 3 to 5 emails add in an offer that relates to the subject naturally offers the key to success.

Joint ventures are great

There are many marketers out there who specialize in email content. By teaming up in a joint venture, you allow them to use your list for their offer and other content, sharing the profits.

This is an excellent option for those who have built a list but don’t want to get involved with the technicalities of running a list campaign.

Use a lead magnet to get email addresses

A lead-magnet is an incentive you provide in exchange for the email address. Today, people know the value of their address and need something in return for providing it. This doesn’t have to be elaborate, just something that brings value. An eBook, a tip, a free video, anything that adds value, such as solving a specific problem, will work.

Learn the technical process

There are several technical aspects of the email funnel process that need to be optimized and refined for the best results.

This means carefully optimizing the email wording, the types of offers, the lead magnet used to obtain emails, any squeeze page is used to capture emails. However, there is one more that is the cause of a lot of confusion, and that is called deliverability.

Deliverability refers to the number of your list that is opening the emails you send. This is important, not just because if people are not opening, they do not see your offers, but because it can affect your entire list.

Open rates, the percentage who open each email, can be refined by adjusting subject lines and the kind of content offered. However, when it comes to deliverability, if you have a group of people on your list who never open any emails, you should remove them from the list.

This is because email companies monitor those deliverability rates, and a large number of unopened emails can have you labeled as spam. That will mean no one gets your emails as they are redirected to spam folders but automatic filters. It may seem wrong to remove addresses, but in the long term, it is better for overall list performance.


For affiliates, lists offer a way to keep in contact with hard-earned traffic, and instead of profiting from one sale from an individual, keep benefiting from new purchases for a lifetime. While running a list brings some challenges, if you prepare well, a list is manageable by anyone.

With additional income and a new platform to build a customer base, affiliates really should think about creating a list and unleashing more value from their marketing.


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