Affiliate marketing and email marketing seem like a perfect match. Yet a lot of email marketing services don’t allow affiliate promotions at all.
Promoting third-party brands through blogs, YouTube, and social media is big business. Affiliate marketing generates more than 15% of all digital media revenue. You can earn a lot of money from affiliate commissions.
Email marketing is perfect for sending affiliate offers straight to loyal subscribers. But a lot of email marketing platforms are wary. Promotional emails often get flagged as spam. Some providers don’t want to take the risk with their sender reputation.
You must choose an affiliate-friendly ESP to avoid a potential email marketing disaster. Like getting your account cancelled or suspended. Nobody wants that.
Don’t use any marketing software that has unclear rules and policies around affiliate marketing. We asked vendors and dove ourselves into the legal documents of more than 20 popular ESPs. To make the selection easier for you.
In this article, we’ll share which email marketing platforms welcome affiliate marketers and what they offer.
Overview: The Best Email Marketing Software for Affiliate Marketers
I spent some time digging through the terms and conditions of leading email marketing platforms. Here are the nine best options for affiliate marketers and what they’re best at:
- GetResponse: Advanced marketing automation features that give affiliate campaigns more impact.
- EmailOctopus: Great value if you have a large subscriber list.
- SendX: Easy-to-use email marketing platform for great value.
- Moosend: Flexible automation options that help to simplify complex affiliate funnels.
- Benchmark Email: Intuitive email builder that makes it easy to create visually impressive emails.
- Sendinblue: Great free plan for promoting your affiliate marketing business without any extra cost.
- AWeber: Simple email marketing software to send newsletters and build basic automations.
- ConvertKit: Commerce tools let you sell directly from your emails.
- Sendlane: Email + SMS marketing for multi-channel affiliate campaigns.
9 Best Email Marketing Software for Affiliates
Different email marketing services have different rules on affiliate marketing. To pick the right one for you, you need to know the details. Here’s what I found out.
GetResponse welcomes affiliate marketers with open arms. Affiliate marketing has its own page listed under industry solutions. Search ‘affiliate marketing’ in online resources and you uncover a treasure trove of tips and how-to guides.
They are very positive as they talk about affiliate marketing. That sets GetResponse apart from many email marketing services.
So what does GetResponse offer? GetResponse is a very impressive email marketing platform. It scored 8.5 out of 10 in our full GetResponse review. It offers the basics you’d expect from any email marketing service. There are customizable templates, a drag-and-drop email editor, list segmentation, and campaign analytics.
But GetResponse’s email marketing tools go much further. Its marketing automation and funnel features are some of the best available.
GetResponse has a super flexible workflow editor that lets you build sophisticated automations. Build a sequence of emails based on pretty much anything your subscribers do. Similarly, tag and segment contacts based on their actions. This improves your targeting and personalization.
Some other great tools GetResponse offers for affiliate marketing include:
- Time optimized email campaigns: Use data to send emails when people are most likely to open them.
- Contact scoring: Know how engaged your subscribers are based on campaign activity. Target your promotions based on their activity.
- Publish product reviews: Use an RSS feed to add reviews of the products you’re promoting.
- Personalization: Customize campaigns with merge tags and dynamic content. This includes sending different promotions based on a subscriber’s preferences.
- In-depth click analysis: See how subscribers respond to your email campaigns through web and social media clicks.
Cost-wise, GetResponse has a Free plan. This lets you send unlimited emails, but you’re limited to 500 contacts and just one landing page. The paid plans start at $15 a month for up to 1000 contacts. But this only gives you access to core email marketing features.
You need to be on at least the Plus Plan to unlock the tools that will make a difference to your affiliate marketing. This plan starts at $49 a month for up to 1000 contacts. There is a 30% discount if you pay for 12 months upfront or a 40% discount for paying for 24 months.
If that wasn’t enough, we’ve got you an additional 10% off of any plan. Sign up here to get the discount.
EmailOctopus welcomes affiliate marketers but they will review your account. They’re very open about what this involves. They make sure you’re subscribers gave you permission to send emails to them. And some simple checks to make sure that your business is valid. Simple right?
EmailOctopus is a basic email marketing service. There’s a drag-and-drop email builder with 30 premade templates to choose from. Build simple automated email sequences and time-based drip campaigns. Track open and click rates but that’s about it for analytics and reporting. One plus is that you can build unlimited landing pages.
As we found in our full EmailOctopus review, they are a great ESP if you want to send newsletters and create some simple automations.
The main reason to pick EmailOctopus is value for money. There’s a generous free plan that lets you have up to 2,500 contacts and send 10,000 emails a month. Paid plans start at €20 for up to 5,000 contacts. That’s great value for larger lists. But the number of emails you can send per month is limited to 10x the number of contacts you have.
There is no annual payment discount. But EmailOctopus is confident about beating most of its rivals on price anyway. It even features a savings calculator that shows you how much you save compared to other services.
Save even more! Sign up through this link today and get 50% off your first 3 months.
SendX is a small email marketing service with around 3,000 active customers.
But like GetResponse, SendX welcomes affiliate marketing. In fact, it goes as far as saying: “We will never ban or block your account because you are an affiliate marketer.” That’s a clear reference to all the email marketing services that do ban affiliates.
That’s good to know. But what about features? SendX is a pretty straightforward service. It sticks to the basics of email marketing with few advanced features. Highlights include:
- Unlimited emails on all plans
- A drag-and-drop email builder and 50+ templates
- 500,000+ free stock images
- Signup forms and landing pages
- Drip campaigns and behavior-based automation
- Segmentation (very important if you’re promoting different products to different audiences)
- Basic campaign analytics (open rate, click rate, and unsubscribe rate)
SendX offers great value for a low price. Its Business Plan starts at $9.99 a month for up to 1000 contacts. There’s a 25% discount for paying annually. There’s no free plan, but there is a 14-day free trial.
Moosend doesn’t exactly shout about allowing affiliate marketing. Not in the clear, obvious way GetResponse and SendX do. But it does drop a heavy hint with an article called The Ultimate Guide to Affiliate Marketing:
“Quality content along with an interesting newsletter is key to a successful online marketing strategy. Fortunately, there are tools that allow you to manage your list, automate your emails to your subscribers as well as create cool forms. One of them is Moosend’s email marketing and marketing automation service.”
So what does Moosend offer? Again, all the usual things you’d expect from an email marketing platform. A drag-and-drop editor, email templates, sign-up forms and landing pages, list segmentation, analytics.
Where Moosend really impresses is its email marketing automation options. It features a visual workflow builder like GetResponse. But the most important thing is it lets you build sequences with many conditions.
That’s perfect for affiliate marketers. You’re dealing with lots of different conversion pathways. Who to send what, when. It all gets very complex. You need flexible and scalable automation options to take the load off. It’s a remarkable email platform with a score of 9 out of 10 in our full Moosend review.
Moosend also has an AI-powered product recommendation tool. This suggests products based on what similar contacts have browsed or bought.
Moosend pricing starts at $9 a month for up to 500 emails. If you pay for a year upfront, that comes down to $7. There’s a single Pro tier that gives you access to all features, and a 30-day free trial.
We’ve got an awesome deal for our readers, get 10% off any Moosend plan when you sign up through this link.
5. Benchmark Email
Benchmark Email does allow affiliate marketing. But your campaigns will be subject to an extended review.
The attraction is that Benchmark is a very good email marketing platform. If you’re new to email marketing or you’re pressed for time running your own business, it’s very easy to use. But there are enough advanced features to grow your skills and your business.
Benchmark’s email builder is on par with some of the best standalone email editors. It comes with more than 200 fully customizable email templates. If that’s not enough, check out 99+ best free email templates that work with Benchmark.
The automation workflow builder of Benchmark Email is equally impressive. Build campaigns based on subscriber behavior. For example, set up emails to send when a link is clicked. The platform tracks opens and clicks to give subscribers a contact rating. This feeds into segmentation. Check out our full Benchmark Email review for more on automation, segmentation, and the email editor.
Benchmark has a Free plan that lets you have up to 500 contacts. But you can only send 3500 emails a month, you can’t create landing pages and automation is limited. The Pro plan starts at $15 a month for 500 contacts and unlimited emails, discounted to $13 if you pay for 12 months upfront.
We’ve got you a sweet deal for Benchmark Email, too. Sign up for free today and get a 15% discount with the annual plan. Also, you’ll get free list verification for your list, plus 100 inbox checkers powered by Litmus for free.
Sendinblue is another service that doesn’t exactly shout about allowing affiliate marketing. Then again, it doesn’t say it isn’t allowed, either. In fact, there’s no mention of it anywhere. So we can assume affiliate marketing is ok.
I may as well jump straight to the main reason for choosing Sendinblue. It’s one of the best value email marketing services out there. In particular, it has a fantastic free plan.
For no charge at all, you can add an unlimited number of contacts. You get full access to the drag-and-drop email editor, email templates, and sign-up forms. The segmentation options are excellent and you get CRM tools for managing customers. You can even set up basic automations. So if you’re looking for a free autoresponder for affiliate marketing, try Sendinblue.
The main limitation of the free plan is the 300 email sends per day. Paid plans start at $25 a month. If you’re looking to take marketing for your affiliate business up a notch, you’d probably want to start with the Premium plan. This starts at $65 a month. So more than GetResponse’s Plus Plan, for example. But you get unlimited contacts and unlock all of Sendinblue’s advanced features.
This includes the full suite of Sendinblue’s marketing automation tools. These are both very flexible and very easy to use, with an excellent visual workflow editor. A/B test your workflows to find out which version works best.
AWeber has over 100 native integrations. This includes several affiliate program platforms, like ClickBank and JVZoo. These platforms have affiliate marketplaces, where marketers find and join affiliate programs.
AWeber isn’t clear about what it does and does not allow with affiliate marketing. They have an article on their site about their integration with ClickBank. It gives lots of examples. They’re all focused on businesses that use affiliate promotions as a bit of a side hustle. Promoting other people’s products alongside their own to earn a little extra.
But what if affiliate marketing is all your business does? It’s not clear if this is or isn’t allowed. Services like Mailchimp and ActiveCampaign are clear on this. They don’t allow ‘pure’ affiliate marketing. They let businesses promote other people’s products in their campaigns. But only if the main focus is their own business. See the section Affiliate Marketing vs Affiliate Links below for more on this.
AWeber is a solid email marketing tool for beginners and small businesses. It’s very easy to use and particularly good for building and sending newsletters. It has a huge 600+ email templates to choose from and a user-friendly drag-and-drop editor.
The landing page builder in AWeber is great. While page templates are mainly for sign-up forms, you can add eCommerce functions to them, too. But don’t expect the functionality of specialized eCommerce platforms. Automation and segmentation leave some room for improvement compared to other services. For more details, check out our detailed AWeber review.
As for cost, AWeber has a very good free plan which is ideal for getting the hang of email marketing. You’re allowed up to 500 contacts and 3,000 emails a month. Paid plans start at $19.99 a month for up to 500 contacts. There’s no limit on emails and you get access to automation, segmentation and analytics tools. You can get up to a 20% discount if you pay quarterly or annually.
ConvertKit limits what kind of affiliate marketing it allows. If your business is purely focused on affiliate promotions, ConvertKit isn’t for you. As explained in their help center, “you need to have your own business/content outside of affiliate marketing.”
So ConvertKit is fine with people earning a little extra through an affiliate program. It even gives a ratio as a guideline. If 70%-80% of what you promote using email marketing is your own business, fine. You can use the rest to push affiliate programs you’re a part of.
As an email marketing platform, ConvertKit gives you everything you’d expect. The email designer is easy to use even if the templates are a little basic. Build as many landing pages and forms as you like. The landing page builder is good but not on the level of the best standalone landing page builders. Automations are simple but elegant. A visual workflow builder lets you build targeted campaigns based on contact behavior.
ConvertKit lets you sell digital products and subscriptions directly from within your emails. This is worth knowing if you want to sell third-party products or services alongside your own.
Contact scoring is available on higher tiers. Advanced analytics include reporting on deliverability. A cool feature is a free integration with the referral tool Sparkloop. This lets you incentivize your subscribers to get their friends and contacts to sign up.
ConvertKit has a free plan that lets you have up to 300 subscribers. You can start selling digital products straight away even on the Free plan. Paid plans start at $15 a month for up to 300 subscribers, with a generous 40% discount if you pay annually (so $9 a month). The Creator Pro plan starts at $29 a month. The discount for paying yearly is much smaller.
Sendlane’s CEO and co-founder Jimmy Kim himself dabbled in affiliate marketing. In fact, Kim claims that he set up Sendlane in 2013 because he recognised a gap in the market. He didn’t like the email marketing options available to affiliate marketers.
I like that Sendlane doesn’t shy away from affiliate marketing’s spam issue. Kim tackles it head on. “[A]ffiliate marketing [doesn’t] have to be considered such a grey, spammy industry, when guidelines are laid out and understood,” he says. In other words, with the right rules and guidelines, spam doesn’t have to be an issue.
As for features, Sendlane offers some neat email marketing tools. One that stands out is Sendlane Beacons. This connects real-time customer tracking to message automation. So the moment someone does something like click a link, you can send an email right away. This is perfect for sending timely offers and promotions.
Speaking of timely, Sendlane also offers send-time optimization. Another very useful feature for affiliate marketers is automated list hygiene.
Sendlane is quite pricey compared to the other software on this list. Its Growth plan starts at $100 a month for up to 5,000 contacts. If you’re getting started with a blog or a newsletter, there are cheaper services to start smaller. You get the equivalent of two months free if you pay yearly ($83 a month). There is no free tier, but there is a 14-day free trial.
Affiliate Marketing vs. Affiliate Links
Email marketing services make a distinction between affiliate marketing and affiliate links. What’s the difference? It’s a subtle one but important to understand.
What is Affiliate Marketing?
Affiliate marketing is a way of making money by promoting third-party brands. Affiliate marketers join the affiliate programs or networks of established companies. They then use their presence on the web to promote affiliate products and services. In return, they get paid a commission.
For some businesses, promoting third-party brands is their entire business. They don’t have their ‘own’ brand, products, or services to market. They make money exclusively from the commissions they get for promoting other brands. Other businesses use affiliate marketing as a source of extra income. They promote third-party products and services in their email campaigns alongside their own.
What are Affiliate Links?
So here’s the key thing to understand. Most affiliate marketing relies on affiliate links. Affiliate links contain tracking. With this tracking, the company running the affiliate program sees which affiliate brought a certain customer. And they pay commissions accordingly.
But posting an affiliate link doesn’t make you an affiliate marketer. Not as far as some email marketing software companies are concerned.
It’s easiest to explain this with examples. Say you run a photography business. You write about the equipment you use on various shoots all the time in your blog. Why not include affiliate links for your favourite products? It’s a win-win. Your favourite brands get a helpful plug. And you can earn some money if any of your followers buy on your recommendation.
Or say you run an artisan food company that sends out regular recipe newsletters. Every recipe needs a list of ingredients. Why not name the brands you use? And include affiliate links so your readers can cook just like you do?
The point in these examples is that the affiliate links complement the main business. The main goal isn’t to promote affiliate products or brands.
So to recap. Some email marketing software sees affiliate marketing and using affiliate links as different. It’s a grey area. It comes down to what your main business goal is. If you have your own business or blog, you can use affiliate links in your content. As long as your main goal is marketing your own business, you can promote others, too.
How to Choose the Best Email Marketing Software for Affiliate Marketing
So what’s the best email marketing software for your affiliate marketing business? To make that decision, you have to understand the differences between platforms. Knowing where they stand on affiliate marketing is essential.
My advice is to do your research. The above guide gives you a solid place to start from. When deciding on the right option for you, here are some things to think about.
- Terms and conditions: Make sure the service allows the kind of affiliate marketing you want to do. For example, ConvertKit lets businesses and digital creatives promote third parties as a side hustle. But it doesn’t allow users to run affiliate campaigns.
- Lead generation: Big lists make a difference in affiliate marketing. The more people you reach, the more chance you have of earning a commission. So what are the lead generation tools like? How many form options are there? How flexible are they? Do they look good? Are they easy to embed on your pages? Ask similar questions about landing pages. Sendinblue, for example, loses points for not offering landing pages until you reach the Premium plan.
- List management: With big lists, segmentation and list hygiene become even more important. Flexible segmentation tools help you target the right offers to the right people. Good list hygiene makes sure you aren’t wasting time sending emails to contacts who never open them. Or worse, have asked not to receive them. Automated list hygiene tools save you a lot of time and effort.
- Automation: Promoting an affiliate business via email can be a lot of work. You have to keep a lot of different plates spinning. Different affiliate programs, different offers, lots of subscribers. Automation is your friend. An affiliate-friendly email automation software is flexible, scalable, and easy to use. Look for options that let you create behaviour-based conditions and triggers. This means you respond to what your subscribers do.
- Value for money: Make sure the cost of email marketing software makes sense to your business. You might like the sound of more advanced automation and list management features. But can you afford them? Is your business in a position to make the best use of them? If you’re just starting out, you might not need them yet. Check on what things will cost as your business grows. Many email marketing platforms charge by the size of your contact list.
Email Marketing Software to Avoid for Affiliate Marketing
As I’ve said already, affiliate marketing is a bit of a grey area for email marketing software. What different services do and do not allow isn’t always clear. That’s not great if you do want to grow your affiliate business. The last thing you want is to have a campaign blocked after you’ve done all the work setting it up.
Mailchimp, MailerLite, and Constant Contact all allow affiliate links but prohibit affiliate marketing. MailerLite says recommending products and services to your subscribers is ok. But if your main goal is to earn a commission, that’s not allowed.
Constant Contact prohibits content “…for the primary purpose of affiliate marketing”. Mailchimp talks about affiliate marketers “generating business for someone else”.
If your main source of income comes from affiliate promotions, avoid these services.
Best Email Marketing Software for Affiliate Marketing Wrap Up
Ready to choose the right email marketing software for your business? This guide spells out all the main things you need to know and introduces the main candidates. All have something to offer. It’s up to you to decide what’s most important to you.
My recommendation? For me, there’s a clear winner. The best email marketing solution for affiliate marketing is GetResponse. It welcomes affiliate businesses openly. It offers clear advice and support. There are no restrictions on the kind of affiliate promotions allowed. And it has a great set of advanced features perfect for helping an affiliate business grow.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Which program is best for affiliate marketing?
For flexible and powerful automation tools at a low price, try Moosend. SendX and EmailOctopus are affiliate-friendly providers that are a good choice if you’re not looking for advanced automation.
Can you put affiliate links in emails?
The difference is about purpose. If your main focus is making money from affiliate links, then that counts as affiliate marketing. You have to find an email marketing platform that is happy with you building campaigns around third-party promotions. The best affiliate-marketing-friendly email software include GetResponse, Moosend, SendX, and EmailOctopus.
Is email marketing effective for affiliate marketing?
Other channels people use for affiliate marketing include blogs, YouTube, and social media. All have their strengths. But a blog or a YouTube channel often needs to be promoted to build an audience. Bloggers and vloggers often use email marketing campaigns to do this.
With social media, you can never guarantee if followers will see your post containing an affiliate promotion or not. You can optimize email campaigns to make sure they land in people’s inboxes. You can monitor who is opening your emails and who isn’t. Good list management means you’re always sending to an engaged audience. And you can personalise and target promotions to boost impact.