This is a contributed post by Spencer Meacham, a successful affiliate marketer and ActiveCampaign contributor.

Have you ever wondered why you are able to get access to so much free stuff on the web?

You can get access to:

  • Free courses
  • Free software
  • Books
  • Video training
  • Answers to just about any question you can think of to ask

This is in large part because a vast army of affiliate marketers are out there providing free content to the web, and in return, they can refer you to applicable products.
Full disclosure – I often think that I get judged when I tell other entrepreneurs that I make a good portion of my income through affiliate marketing. I feel like I have to explain myself before their judgment of me as a human being becomes final.
While there are plenty of ethical and value-driven affiliate marketers in the industry, they are often outnumbered by spammy get-rich-quick schemes many affiliates choose to promote.
(To be honest, this reputation of the affiliate marketing industry is somewhat well-deserved).

We’ve all scrolled Facebook and seen someone post a link boasting some new six-figures in six weeks program. If you haven’t, peek into your email spam folder and see the world I’m talking about.
It’s really too bad that some do this because the affiliate marketing model is actually one of the most value-driven business models on the internet today.
When done correctly, affiliate marketing is a win-win-win situation.
How it works is:

  • The consumer gets their questions answered or discovers a quality product that can solve their problem
  • The affiliate gets a commission from a company
  • The company gets another customer

So how does all of this apply to email?
Primarily because a big piece of affiliate marketing is done via email. If it’s done wrong, you will not only be unsuccessful but you will likely be banned by your email autoresponder for damaging their deliverability and reputation.
Many affiliates find rules to be annoying but they should look at it from another perspective. The rules are in place to help email autoresponders maintain not only their deliverability and reputation but your deliverability and reputation as well.
If you find an autoresponder with no compliance rules, you likely found an autoresponder with poor deliverability that won’t help your business much anyway.
So let’s talk about how to do email marketing properly in terms of affiliate marketing. By the end of this post, you’ll know how to avoid having compliance issues and improve your bottom line with 6 best practices of affiliate marketing.

6 best practices for killer affiliate marketing success

1. Focus on value

As mentioned above, affiliate marketing is really all about creating and providing value to an audience. When applicable, affiliate marketing revenue will come naturally.
Let me explain what I mean.
I often send emails out teaching my audience about email marketing and email automation. These emails may be about improving open rates, deliverability, automation, or a myriad of other things.
As I do this, I often naturally will bring up ActiveCampaign. For example, I might teach about automations, provide a screenshot, and say “Here is an example of my automation sequence. It is done in ActiveCampaign.”
It is only natural to link to ActiveCampaign at that point.
I am not spamming, I am not forcing ActiveCampaign on anyone, nor am I focusing my email on trying to sell ActiveCampaign.
Rather I am teaching and providing value to my audience, and the affiliate link comes naturally.

2. Don’t throw affiliate links in every email

As with all of these rules, this is just as much for your business success as it is for compliance.
Imagine you signed up for two email lists on January 1 of last year. Each person emailed you once a week for the entire year.
In one person’s email, there was always a link to a product. There was always a subtle sell.
The other person had a wide variety of emails. Some of them just showed their personality and gave insight into their life or business. Others were motivational and helped you get out of funks you were in. And yes, some focused on products that they sold or perhaps affiliated with, but you clearly meant a lot more to them than just a number to be sold to.
Whose list do you stay on long-term? Who are you more likely to buy from when a new product is launched?
I think the answer is clear.

3. Focus on high-quality products

The first two points don’t matter if you are promoting spammy, low-quality affiliate products. You will probably get in trouble by:

  • Compliance
  • Losing the trust of your audience

Either way, you won’t be making much money with your emails.
Low-quality offers are a dime a dozen. They typically show up on low-quality broker sites that connect affiliates with products. They sell get-rich-quick schemes, lose-weight-overnight schemes, and of course the all-too-common male-enhancement drug market.
They are hosted on domains with poor reputations, and when email service providers (Gmail, Yahoo, etc.) see links to these sites, your reputation can be permanently harmed.
Be careful about anything you link to because it reflects directly on your reputation. Not just in the virtual world of domains, IPs, and email, but the real world, where real people see sending them to low-quality products and unsubscribe.

4. Valuable emails

Well, that’s a vague headline.
But really, there is no one formula for a good email. I always say to focus on providing value or building a relationship.
Providing value is mentioned above. Writing emails that actually benefit your audience in some way. If you consistently provide value, you build yourself up as an expert in your field. People buy from those they trust. And people trust those that have helped them in the past.
Entrepreneurs often complain when I tell them to focus on value, telling me that is a cliche statement. I always tell them about the company I run called Buildapreneur.
The company focuses almost exclusively on free content, including:

  • Free courses
  • Free software
  • Free Chrome extensions
  • And more

It is able to bring in seven figures of revenue yearly with this business model by simply including relevant affiliate links when their correlating products are discussed.

5. Build relationships

For building relationships, create emails that show who you are as a person. To many of your subscribers, you are just a name that shows up in their inbox a few times a week.
Help them put a face and a personality to those words. Help them see that you have a passion for the same things they do, and you are a person with dreams and ambitions just like them.
If your audience connects with you, trusts you, and believes you are an expert in your field, good things will happen.
One big no-no is to never use email swipe files. For some reason every affiliate program provides them and hundreds of people use them.
Avoid this tactic. Not only is it a poor email with no personality, but it is pretty easy for an ISP to detect and filter.

6. Ask for responses

I love asking for responses every couple of emails. Not only does it help with deliverability, but it gives me a chance to see how my audience is feeling about the emails they are receiving.
I get multiple responses every day from people in my automations expressing thanks for the value they are getting from the emails they are receiving and letting me know they liked the email.

I don’t have to ever sell, be pushy, or force products on people in order to be successful. I simply share and provide value and when a link naturally arises, I use it.
Change your mindset and much of this will come naturally. Focus your efforts on helping those in your niche and solving their problems and links will naturally find their way into your emails as you do so.
Spencer Mecham took his side project of being an affiliate marketer and turned himself into one of the most successful affiliate marketers in the world. He has since created Buildapreneur, a business dedicated to helping budding entrepreneurs discover themselves and what they want to focus their entrepreneurial efforts on.