affiliate marketing

Earn Money While You Sleep: Affiliate Email Marketing 101 

When you try a new restaurant, grab a latte from a new cafe, or switch your skincare line, what sparked you to make the decision? If you’re like 88% of the population, chances are you made these purchase decisions based on a recommendation from people you know.

This, by the way, is precisely why affiliate marketing is so effective.

Affiliate marketing allows people to earn a commission from products or services they love. These individuals may have no affiliation with the product — they simply enjoyed it enough to recommend it to friends, family members, or colleagues. In turn, the company selling the product rewards its affiliate marketer a commission. 

Sounds like a pretty great deal, right? Fortunately, all you need is an email service provider (and a list of products you love) to become an affiliate email marketer. Below, we explain what affiliate email marketing is, tips on launching your strategy, and a few ideas on affiliate products that would make the most sense for your business.

What Is Affiliate Email Marketing Anyway?

Screenshot of KAYAK's Affiliate Program to join as part of an affiliate email marketing strategy.

Affiliate marketing uses third-party individuals to promote products or services. In essence, a company transforms loyal customers into sales reps. (Note: Affiliate marketing is different from referral marketing, where individuals might receive a special promo or free service — not a commission — for referring friends or family members.)

Affiliate email marketing deploys well-crafted email campaigns written by affiliate marketers (i.e., the people who love the product). These emails contain trackable links that give the sender credit for the sale and a commission.

Virtually anyone can become an affiliate marketer to generate passive income for their business. It doesn’t require any upfront costs or complicated technology. Here are a few websites you can use today to start building affiliate links:

  • Amazon: Amazon Associates rewards a commission rate to anyone promoting products they enjoy. Simply sign up for an account, search for your favorite products, then copy and paste your personal affiliate link to share across email automation campaigns or your social media channels.
  • eBay: The eBay Partner Network allows affiliate partners to drive traffic toward any landing page on eBay. You receive the commission if someone clicks your link and purchases the item.
  • Target: Target Partners awards a commission rate of up to 8% to anyone who promotes one of their millions of products to their target audience.
  • Wayfair: Wayfair is an online shopping destination for furniture and household products. If you have an eye for interior design, Wayfair’s Affiliate Program can yield up to 7% commissions.
  • KAYAK: KAYAK is an online travel hub where people can book flights, hotels, car rentals, or travel packages. If you’re known for always having the travel bug, you can join KAYAK’s Affiliate Network to earn commissions as high as 50% (some of the highest commission rates in the industry).
  • LinkedIn Learning: LinkedIn Learning offers online courses on a wide variety of subjects. Promoting a specific course can fetch a $10 cut simply on free trial sign-ups and a 35% commission on course sales.
  • LTK: LTK, or Like To Know It, is an affiliate marketing shop for influencers. Creators can build their own online shop, then earn a commission by becoming a salesperson for their favorite products.

What Can You Sell Through Affiliate Email Marketing?

Bloggers, consultants, small business owners, stay-at-home parents, and virtually anyone can make passive income online. And frankly, you don’t need thousands of subscribers on your email list to start earning commissions.

Depending upon your interests, business, or areas of expertise, here are a few ideas to launch your affiliate marketing strategy:

  • Recommend sports apparel: Are you a personal trainer, own a gym, or coach fitness classes on the side? Recommend your favorite training shoes, sports bras, or winter running gear in your newsletter to get a cut.
  • Share your latest DIY project: Did you recently move into a new home or share photos of your gorgeously designed living room? Link to the products you purchased on Wayfair to earn an affiliate commission.
  • Stack your home office: Are you a freelancer who gets things done while working from home? Link your email subscribers to your must-have home office products on Amazon to make passive income.
  • Shop your wardrobe: Are people always asking you where you find your budget-friendly finds? Create an email sequence guiding people to a new OOTD (outfit of the day) to collect a portion of the sale.
  • Help others master a skill: Are you a self-employed person who’s always being asked, “How did you learn how to [blank]?” Recommend online courses to help people master new skills like digital marketing, graphic design, SEO, or creative writing.
  • Recommend natural products: Do you use natural household cleaners, diapers, or beauty products? Draft email content on the benefits of these products (or hidden dangers of toxic cleaners), then link to your favorite green products.
  • Break down a recipe: Food bloggers have the potential to earn a commission for nearly every ingredient on their website. Simply create an affiliate email marketing campaign where you put together a meal plan and shopping list each week — then hyperlink each ingredient toward the right affiliate link.

Content Marketing Tips for Affiliate Marketers

Affiliate email marketing is a wonderful tool that helps people make money on the side. However, before you launch your affiliate marketing efforts, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Sell products you actually use: Your success as an affiliate marketer depends on the level of trust you share with your audience. If you recommend a product you don’t love (or haven’t even used) and your audience has a negative experience, they won’t trust your recommendations in the future.
  2. Solve a real problem: Sometimes, the best products aren’t the most trendy but rather solve a real pain point. Therefore, start by recommending those products that really changed your life (whether it was an external monitor for your home office, a rug that you can throw in the washer, or a water bottle that keeps your drink cool for your whole workout).
  3. Be authentic, not salesy: Selling products doesn’t need you to be salesy. Write clear subject lines (e.g., “Here’s the sports bra I wear for every workout”) that tell your audience exactly what they can expect — rather than a clickbait one-liner.
  4. Segment your list: It is unrealistic to expect your entire email list to be interested in the same products. Therefore, leverage audience segmentation to divide your list by demographic data, geographic location, interests, or past e-commerce history to recommend only those products they might want.
  5. Personalize your content: Lastly, remember that affiliate marketing works as a lead generation tool because your audience knows and trusts you. Therefore, write personalized emails that address each subscriber by name so it reads as though it came from a friend.

Use Gumbamail to Launch Your Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Screenshot of the Gumbamail mail merge functionality

​​Affiliate marketers earn passive income by recommending the products they love. Virtually anyone can become an affiliate marketer as long as they have the right email marketing tools.

To launch your affiliate marketing strategy, choose Gumbamail. Gumbamail is the user-friendly email marketing service that works with your existing Gmail account. Gumbamail offers a free pricing plan, so there are no startup costs to get your affiliate marketing strategy off the ground. Plus, Gumbamail has 800+ pre-designed email templates, advanced reporting to tweak your strategy, and a drag-and-drop email builder to help launch your first campaign.

Ready to see how Gumbamail can help you attract new leads and make income online? Download the free plugin to get started.