We all know that getting into affiliate marketing is one of the best and easiest ways to start if you want to make money online. However, we also know that not all affiliates are able to make money.
Let me be clear; becoming an affiliate is easy but making money as one is not.
In fact 90% of affiliates might not even make a single dime.
Now, what separates the 10% who make money as affiliates from those that make very little or none at all? There is one simple thing that productive and money making affiliates do that set them apart….
That one simple thing is list building.
What list? Well, a list can be a list of anything. It can be….
- Your followers on social media.
- Your friends list on Facebook.
But in affiliate marketing, the most important list is a targeted email list, which means a database of emails belong to people who show interests in what you have to offer.
I know, I know, if you have been in affiliate marketing or any types of internet ventures long enough you must have heard the adage saying “the money is in the list” over and over again.
Some of you might have built your list and some of you might have not even started after years.
We all have our excuses but the unwillingness of building my own email list when I first started cost me time and money.
I tried my best to promote my affiliate links with paid ads and so on simply because I did not want to spend monthly fee to use autoresponder.
The results? I made nothing.
But when I started to try out on building a list and used an autoresponder, my $15 investment for that month returned with two sales of a product that gave me $47 of commission per sale. In other words, I made nearly $80 of profits after I decided to build a targeted list and offered them a product.
So, in this post, I am going to cover everything about building your targeted email list.
Are you ready? Well, let’s get started….
Why Building Your Email List is so Important as an Affiliate
For any business looking to build an audience, develop relationships, increase trust and authority, and ultimately sell products; building targeted email lists is an absolutely important activity.
Email list building often takes a backseat to other forms of marketing. That’s a shame, as targeted email list building does in fact have even more potential than either of those when it comes to effective and efficient marketing.
Not convinced? Then just take a look at the blog of any big marketers. Almost all of them will describe their email marketing and list building activities as the single most important aspects of their business.
One such marketer is Michael Hyatt. He had the following to say about email marketing and list building:
I have literally built a multi-million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my number one business priority and asset.”
Meanwhile, Douglas Karr from Marketing Tech Blog said:
Without a doubt, our email list is the best investment we’ve ever made.”
Email is the most important channel for you to cultivate.”
The list of big names who claim email marketing is their most important tool goes on and on.
And the statistics back this up too.
For instance, did you know that 91% of all consumers check their e-mail daily? Or that surveyed companies rate their email campaigns as more profitable than PPC advertising, social media marketing or content marketing?
Or how about the fact that email marketing has a ROI of 4,300%? That’s an absolutely gigantic figure!
Check out this infographic from Campaign Slider too on the power of email marketing:
So what is it that makes email marketing such a powerful option for businesses and marketers? How does it offer such incredible ROI and lead to so many sales?
Well the high ROI, of course, is due to the simple fact that email marketing doesn’t cost anything. This requires very little work on your part while still yielding incredible results. You’ll only need to send an email once a week or once a month, while your mailing list will build itself once you’ve set everything up properly.
From there though, you can reach your audience directly in their inboxes – which is something you can’t achieve through Facebook or even through SEO. People carry mobile phones on them 24/7 these days, which means you can reach them right in their pockets any time of day and when they’re likely to be most receptive to your marketing message.
This also means that you aren’t going through a ‘middle man’ or a ‘gatekeeper’. Building a massive Facebook Page following is great, but ultimately you are always going to be beholden to Facebook. If Facebook decides to delete your page (which isn’t unheard of) then you can lose all that hard work and investment with no explanation. And recently, Facebook changed their policies so that a post to your Facebook page would only reach about 10% of your audience.
Now, can you see why it’s worth having your own audience and direct access to them?
Email marketing also lets you send multiple series of messages and schedule those messages perfectly. This means that you can build anticipation for a product launch, you can generate interest in a new project and you can discuss matters with your audience. You have complete control over your marketing message and that is incredibly powerful.
Essentially, you can use email marketing in order to create and manage a sales funnel. I will be sharing about sales funnel later, but essentially it is a series of communications that gradually draws in a reader. This is what leads someone from being a cold contact, to being interested in your product, to being invested in you – to making a purchase.
It’s also why most savvy marketers agree that it takes at least five ‘touches’ with any audience to yield one sale. With email marketing, you can manage all of those ‘touches’ and time them to perfection for the very best results. That’s why it’s such an incredible tool.
The Challenges of Email Marketing
Now you have understood and learned about a lot of the things that make building your email list a great and powerful method to make money as an affiliate.
But you should also understand that like any other methods, building your email list also has its own challenges. This is the also part where I am going to share some of the most challenging aspects of building an email list and how to overcome them.
First of all, I think it is very likely that you’re already familiar with some of the challenges of email marketing.
Just take a look at your inbox.
How many emails do you get on a daily basis? For many of us the answer is in the hundreds. And how many of those do you actually open? No I thought not….
Probably a large amount of your email correspondence goes straight to your junk mail/spam.
Then a fair amount of it will be filtered by Gmail or Hotmail into the ‘social’ or ‘promotional’ labels. Half the time we don’t even look at what’s in there!
And then we have our own ‘in-built’ spam filter. This is what we use to scan our eyes over a selection of emails and to pick out the very few that we’re actually interested in. And for most of us, there’s just too much here for us to pay much attention to anything that isn’t from a friend.
A typical inbox might have messages from Pinterest, Facebook, Amazon, Vistaprint, Lulu.com, Success Resources, Groupon and then countless bloggers and marketers…
How are you supposed to stand out? How are you supposed to get past the spam filter? How are you meant to build a relationship with anyone under those circumstances?
This is what I will be addressing. By the end, you’ll come away with knowledge you can use to build a massive list of people who are actually excited to receive your messages and who actually engage with your messages.
I’ll go over the basics, but then I’ll take you to look at some more advanced techniques, tips and tools that will ensure your messages are getting opened and your list is highly targeted.
The Basics of Building a Mailing List
How does one go about building a mailing list? And what are the best marketing techniques to ensure that it keeps growing?
Of course to begin with, you need the most important tool for building and managing a mailing list: an autoresponder.
An autoresponder is essentially a piece of software that manages a mailing list on your behalf. It saves you a ton of time in the long run and really it’s something you must have if you are serious about making money online in any type of businesses.
Specifically, an autoresponder is what you will use to create your opt-in form. This form is where your visitors will enter their names and their email addresses in order to subscribe. From there, the autoresponder will store your subscribers data and use this as the basis to send your messages. These tools allow you to message huge lists without using the BCC function of your email.
What’s more, autoresponders also give you lots of information regarding your emails – for instance they can tell you what percentage of them are actually getting opened. They also provide you with other powerful features, such as the ability to include the recipient’s name inside the messages. This way, your email can say ‘Hey John!’ instead of being generic and the same for each subscriber.
Autoresponders also allow you to implement a ‘double opt-in’, meaning that subscribers need to respond to a confirmation email to confirm their interest. This protects you from spam and from people who aren’t really interested in reading your messages. More important, autoresponders allow people to automatically unsubscribe, rather than requiring you to manage it manually.
For all these reasons, an autoresponder is an absolutely essential tool and not something you can do without.
The most commonly used autoresponders out there are GetResponse and Aweber. Each of them comes with their own pricing structure. I personally use GetResponse since three years ago and my reason was simple: GetResponse is much more affordable while it offers similar features with those of Aweber. So, since I needed to use money wisely when I began internet marketing, the logical option for me was to go with GetResponse. So far, I have been very satisfied with GetResponse, especially on their customer service which is always ready to help me out 24/7. Click here if you want to try GetResponse for 30 days for free.
Landing Pages and Embedding Your Opt-In Form
Once you have your autoresponder, the next thing you’ll do is to build your opt-in form. Your autoresponder provider will give you a piece of code that you need to paste into your website.
So what do you do with this form code and where do you put it?
One place to use an opt-in form is on a landing page, which in this case of email list building will be a ‘squeeze page’.
A squeeze page’ is a single page on a website that is entirely dedicated to getting people to sign up for your list.
This will use a very minimal design with no external links and no adverts for other products or pages. At the same time, all of the text is going to be in service of promoting your mailing list and selling its benefits.
If you’re unsure of how to build a squeeze page, then you can do it easily by using a WordPress site and installing the Optimize Press theme.
The idea is that you can then use PPC advertising (pay per click) and other forms of marketing to drive traffic to that page.
Likewise though, you can also use your opt-in forms on your blog or on your website. This way, you can surround your form with your regular content and that’s where the power of content marketing really comes in.
You can also add your opt-in form to your home page. Here it should be front and center.
One thing you should always ask yourself when designing a website, is what you want the first thing your visitors do to be. What is the purpose of the website? What is the ultimate objective?
The smart marketer knows that their mailing list is their most valuable asset and as such, this should take front and center stage on the homepage and every element should be in service of that. Think of your homepage as a funnel that leads to the opt-in form.
At the same time, you can also use attach your form on your blog sidebar. This way it will be site-wide and a constant reminder of its existence. Thereby, anyone browsing your site will be likely to sign up whenever they see the form there if they’re sufficiently impressed with your content.
And one more tool to make sure that your audience definitely sees your opt-in form and engages with it, is to use a ‘pop-over’.
A pop-over is like a pop-up, except it doesn’t open in a separate window. Instead, it pops up within the browser and sits on top of the content of the website. Your visitors will then need to either enter their e-mail or click ‘close’ in order to continue browsing.
Many bloggers say that pop-overs increase their subscriptions by several hundred percent, so this is a very worthwhile technique.
But do keep in mind that pop-overs also rub people up the wrong way. You don’t want to over-do this because it ultimately prevents your visitors from seeing the content they came to enjoy.
It takes up their time, it’s invasive and that can really damage your brand if you’re not careful.
This is why you should use a pop-over plugin that gives you advanced functionality.
There’s no point showing your mailing list as soon as someone lands on your site anyway – why would they be interested in signing up when they’ve never heard of you and haven’t read one bit of text yet?
Instead then, use smart algorithms to create pop-overs that show only when the visitor has spent a significant amount of time on your site, or when they have scrolled down the page a certain amount.
Likewise, make sure that your pop-overs don’t show when people return to your site a second time and make sure that they are easy to close – even on mobiles. You can check out App Sumo for some pop-over plugins and scripts for your website or blog.
Finally, you can also embed the opt-in forms directly into your content.
This way, the objective is to make your articles and blog posts serve as ‘free tasters’ for your mailing list. The idea is to show your audience that you know your stuff, that you’re capable of writing engaging content and that you’re focused on delivering value.
If they read lots of your content and they’re consistently impressed with the quality and value you offer, then they’ll want more and they’ll want to know about the new content and projects you’re working on. And that’s when they’ll be likely to sign up for your mailing list.
Think of the way Starbucks will sell their new coffees – by standing outside with free samples and offering them to passers-by. Your website visitors are people who are just stopping by on the information super-highway. You need to use your content to lure them in, and that means you need to keep offering amazing value.
And don’t shy away from actively encouraging people to sign up. Don’t paste your opt-in form into the corner of your website and just hope your fans find it. Instead, blow their minds with some incredible, high quality content and then remind them about your mailing list where they can get much more similar information.
This way, you are already building a relationship with your audience at the same time as you’re getting them to sign up.
Another great way to utilize your content to get subscribers is by using the content upgrade technique. This means you can lock some parts of your content (make sure they are the most important ones) and the only way for your readers to see it is by subscribing to your email list.
If you are a WordPress user, you can use the Content Upgrades Pro plugin to lock your high quality content in exchange for an email list subscription. Like pop-overs, make sure you do not over-do this and only use this kinds of lockers on your best and most interesting content.
How To Get Traffic To Your Landing or Squeeze Page
Now you have all these elements in place, your website should be a veritable ‘sign-up machine’. The next trick is to get people to your website. If your content is great, your opt-in form is prominent and you’re sending lots of people to your site every day, your list will grow.
But here’s where things get a bit more tricky. Because it’s actually not about building a massive list. Far more important than that is to build a highly targeted list.
You need to make sure that your mailing list is filled with people who actually want to be there, who enjoy your content, and who might want to buy your products.
This means you need to market your site, but you also need to market to the right people. Later, I will show you how to build your squeeze page and content in such a way that it also filters the kinds of people you don’t want on your list (people who won’t open your emails).
PPC is ‘Pay Per Click’ advertising. This means you’re paying only when someone clicks on your ads, which in turn means that a completely unsuccessful ad campaign doesn’t cost you anything.
The two main platforms for PPC advertising are Google AdWords (adverts which appear alongside Google searches) and Facebook Ads (adverts that are shown to specific Facebook users). The most important benefit of these though, is probably that they allow you to target your visitors very specifically.
On Google, you do this by carefully selecting your keywords. If you sell information about fitness, then you want people who are actively looking to get fit. The best way to find those people, is to place ads on SERPs (search engine results pages) pertaining to topics like ‘lose belly fat’ or ‘ebook on building muscle’. If you do this, then you’ll only be promoting yourself to people actively looking for information similar to that which you supply.
On Facebook, meanwhile, you can do the same thing by targeting your viewers based on their hobbies, interests, gender, location etc. If your website is about wedding planning for instance, then you can ensure that your ads are only being shown to people who are engaged.
That will make sure your ads are targeted, but is it enough?
You’re still paying several cents for each of your visitors and even more for each subscriber. Is a subscriber worth that much?
While estimates vary, it’s generally agreed that a subscriber is broadly worth about $1. As long as you’re paying less than $1 per subscriber then, you should expect to see some ROI. But this will only happen if the list is targeted – it will only happen if the people who subscribe are likely to buy your products down the line.
That’s why you might choose to go even further in targeting your list. For instance, you could state outright in your advert that the list is to receive information about exciting new products.
Now only people who are potentially interested in buying your products will sign up.
Likewise, if you have a squeeze page, you can focus this on a project that you’re currently working on – something you intend to sell in future.
Then you can invite people to sign up if they’d like to learn more about the product. Again, you’re now paying for people who are actually interested in buying something – not just in reading your mailing. And that means ROI.
Thankfully, Facebook provides a tool that you can use alongside such a method called ‘CPA’. This is ‘cost per action’ and essentially means that you’re no longer paying per click, but paying per action. And in this case, that action is signing up to a mailing list.
Now you’ll only pay if someone actually subscribes and they will hopefully only subscribe if they’re interested in buying your product. This is why targeting is so important – it is what ensures maximum ROI. You really shouldn’t even consider paying for your subscribers or you’re marketing unless you’re going to be using this level of targeting alongside your list building.
SEO and Social Media Marketing
You can also drive people to your site using SEO and social media marketing. SEO is search engine optimization and revolves around adding lots of relevant content to your website, as well as generating lots of links on external websites. I have shared a lot about SEO here;
Social media marketing means that you’re going to be posting comments, links, pictures etc. that your audience can appreciate – and this in turn will drive them to your website.
Getting someone to follow you on social media is a great step toward getting them to sign up to your mailing list.
This way, they are already subscribing to your content in one sense, so it’s a small push to encourage them to join your mailing list. Again, that step is going to be motivated by the high quality content that you’ll keep adding to your site.
Make sure you post content to your website regularly and that you do the same with your social media. Likewise, maintain a consistent branding across social media and your website, and be sure to link your website to your social media and vice versa.
You want to create as many ‘in roads’ as possible to help people discover your site, and thus your list.
By far, solo ads is the fastest way to build a targeted email list but it is also the most expensive.
Solo ads is a method in which you pay a large email list owner who operates a large website concerning your target market to promote your squeeze page link to their subscribers.
For example, if you try to build a list in the bodybuilding market niche, you might want to purchase a solo ad from someone who owns a very popular body building forum.
In solo ads, you are usually buying the number of clicks and for 100 clicks, you usually need to pay somewhere between $80 to $160 depending on your target market and the quality of the list.
Before you purchase any solo ad package, make sure you do your research first and ensure that the list is highly targeted and that it is relevant to your topic. You also need to make sure that the list owner is treating their list well and that they’re getting good engagement as a result.
The best way to make sure of this is to join the list yourself and to see what it’s like to be a subscriber. This can also be a great way to get inspiration and ideas for your own messages.
Another tip is to ask to see the stats from that marketer’s autoresponder. This way you can make sure their emails are valid and their subscribers are active and engaged. If they won’t show you this data, then be suspicious.
If you have lots of targeted people visiting your squeeze page and your content pages but no one is signing up, then you may need to give a little extra push to get them to make the decision.
This is where using incentives comes in. An incentive is essentially something that you’ll use like a ‘bribe’ to make your list more appealing – and normally that takes the form of a free gift.
Of course if you’re a small business then you can’t afford a big loss-leader. Thus, the gift you give away should be something free that won’t cost you any money per download. A great example of this is an eBook and these tend to be one of the most popular types of incentive.
Similar options include free ‘reports’ (mini eBooks), email courses, mind maps etc.
Doing Incentives Right
Incentives can be an excellent tool for generating more subscribers but unfortunately, they can also be damaging to your list for a number of reasons.
Some marketers advise against using eBooks for instance.
Why? Because there is a danger than an eBook can be seen as taking up too much time for the reader.
How many people are actually likely to read all the way through an eBook? And by the end of that, are they going to want more of your content or will they be all burned out?
Another risk when giving away free eBooks, is that you can end up with a lot of subscribers who are hunting for freebies. This is bad news, because it means that you can end up with people grabbing the book and then unsubscribing or never reading your message again.
For this reason, the smaller option of the report might actually be a better strategy. Whereas an eBook takes time, a report should save time for your readers.
But you’ll still find that this creates some of the same problems – especially if you’re paying for advertising or SEO.
And that’s why you can consider getting a little more creative with your incentives.
Ideally, you want to make your e-mail itself the incentive.
I already shared how you can drive people to a mailing list by talking about an upcoming project or product.
Discuss how life changing it’s going to be and get people excited for it, then at the end tell them they need to sign up for more information.
People always want what they can’t have and as such, an unfinished product is something that will always drive a lot of subscriptions.
At the same time though, your audience is now very likely to keep their eyes peeled on their inbox for more information and also more likely to potentially buy your product when it does release.
You see how this is a more effective strategy?
Another way to make the mailing list itself the incentive is to describe it as a newsletter, filled with breaking industry news and exclusive advice and tips.
Or how about making it into an e-zine with some glossy pictures?
You can even run a contest regularly for your subscribers. This way, there’s the promise of winning something big, but you will only have to pay out once.
Better yet, people will need to keep checking the e-mails you send in order to find out whether or not they won.
Finally, you can sell your mailing list on the strength of the special offers and deals you’re going to be offering. This is a great way to attract people with money to burn and it also means they’ll want to open your messages to see if the deals apply to them.
Using the right language also helps a lot. Refer to your subscribers as your ‘VIP members’ and make sure to keep offering them extra bonuses and benefits that your other readers can see. Make it sound exciting, exclusive and important to be a subscriber and therefore a member.
If you are puzzled or have no idea about how to create your incentives, there is this thing in the internet marketing world called private label rights (PLR) products. PLR means you can claim the ownership of the products and you can give them away for free in accordance to their licenses. One of the best PLR product resources for any types of topics is IDPlr and you can check them out here.
Hopefully by now you have gained enough understanding about how important building your own email list is if you want to become a successful affiliate marketer.
Now, all you need to do is take action and apply the knowledge you have gained here. To help you start taking action, here are the recap of what you need to do to start building your email list:
- Get an autoresponder: my personal recommendation is GetResponse.
- Build a landing page/squeezepage: I recommend using WordPress and the OptimizePress theme. For affordable WordPress hosting, I personally use and recommend SiteGround.
- Create a free incentive for people to sign up: you can create your own incentives or purchase PLR products from IDPlr. Make sure your incentives are relevant to your affiliate offer.
- Get traffic: use SEO and PPC ads to drive traffic to your squeeze pages. You can check out my 10 quick SEO tips for WordPress and beginner’s backlinking guide to learn about SEO basics. You can also join the Pay Per Click Academy to learn everything about PPC advertising.