Email marketing has one of the highest return/cost ratios in affiliate marketing, with industry-wide returns of close to $40 for every $1 invested. Once you have a list of subscribers, you can market to them repeatedly across multiple related offers.
The problem lies in delivering your message to your subscribers. If you build your own lists and operate on a strict double opt-in, then congratulations. You’re ahead of the game.
If you’re just starting with email marketing, though, getting to the point where you have a big enough list of subscribers can take time, and to be honest, a lot of effort and investment. It’s worth doing, though, so the sooner you start, the better.
For most affiliates, starting out in email marketing usually involves an account with one of the big email providers, like AWeber or GetResponse. While both of these (and many more) are excellent, they can be very restrictive in what they allow you to do. Many of the big email providers prohibit things like adult offers, dating, forex, cryptocurrency offers, and even things like diet and weight loss.
Some providers prohibit affiliate offers full stop. Send emails with affiliate offers, even to subscribers that have expressly signed up to get them, and you risk an account ban.
Email providers will, for the most part, prohibit any kind of list uploads, so if you are sitting on some email contact lists, you probably won’t be able to use them. Terms of Service with email providers can also be prohibitively strict. If your bounce percentage is too high or you get too many spam complaints, your account will probably be banned.
As an affiliate marketer, that leaves a large portion of your business in the hands of someone else. Invest time, money, and effort in your email marketing, and at the slightest hint of anything against the provider’s TOS, all that investment could go down the drain.
We all know spam is bad, and we all know spam emails probably won’t convert for much. I’m not going to go into the rights and wrongs of spam here. What I do want to concentrate on is an alternative to email providers that will, at the very least, put the future of your email marketing in your own hands.
The alternative I’m talking about here is, of course, self-hosted email.
This calls for a server with Port-25 open (the sending port on any server) and emailing software.
Typically for a medium-powered setup, you’ll need a server with the following specifications:
- Linux VPS
- 4 GB of RAM
- 60 GB of storage
- Centos 7
A server with that kind of spec will come in below $30 a month. Throw in some extra IPs for better deliverability, and you’re looking at a monthly cost of around $40 for a server with enough power to handle millions of emails a month.
That’s for the sending infrastructure. On top of that, you’ll need software to send the actual emails.
There are dozens of options available for self-hosted email software. Some of the most popular include:
- Mautic (free!)
My personal favorite is MailWizz. InterSpire is also a very popular choice, but it’s not the most user-friendly piece of software I’ve ever used, plus the automation just plain sucks (without some costly add-ons, that is).
MailWizz has been around for a while now, and while earlier versions were a bit rough around the edges, the latest generations are excellent. The automations are very good, and there are enough segmentation options to keep you happy. Price-tag for MailWzz comes in at around $70 for a single-domain license and has all the bells and whistles you’ll need to make a decent-sized dent in your email marketing.
12-months of hosting @ $40 a month plus MailWizz, and you’re looking at something around $550 for the year. Contrast that to an account with an email provider, and you’ll be looking at something closer to $1,500 a year, with far smaller list sizes and sending volumes.
The upside of email providers are, of course, the sending reputation and deliverability. Companies like GetResponse, for example, send billions of emails e year, whereas your self-hosted solution will basically start with zero reputation. With the right IP and domain warmup process, though, you can achieve a good reputation and deliverability, plus you’re probably not going to ban yourself! Email providers will though for even the slightest sin against their TOS.
I won’t go into the intricacies of IP warmup here. There are plenty of resources available online. It’s pretty simple anyway. Start small (50 emails day one) and double that every day till you hit the volume numbers you’re looking for.
If you don’t want to send emails from your server, you can go the SMTP route and install an external SMTP server on your email sending software. Again, you’ll be spoiled for choice here with multiple options open to you, such as Amazon, Mailgun, InboxRoad, to name just a few. SMTP servers change by 1,000 emails sent, and prices can go as low as 10 cents for every thousand emails sent. Again, there is a warmup, and some SMTP providers (Amazon, most notably) will limit the number of emails you can send when you first set the account up till they see what kind of metrics you’re getting (bounce, spam, etc.)
There are plenty of resources out there to help you warm up your sending infrastructures, such as email verifiers, Email Testers, SenderScore, MXToolBox, GlockApps, and many, many more. Take the time to test your lists, warm up your sending reputation and keep an eye on your inboxing, and you could be on your way to a highly profitable email marketing venture.
Need help with your emailing? Get in touch with us today, and we’ll have you in-boxing faster than you can say “email deliverability.”