Best Email Marketing Providers for Affiliates and Content Marketers

Almost every content marketer or affiliate can benefit from an active email outreach strategy. As the cliché goes, “The money’s in the list.”

Even if you are not marketing directly to an email list you can benefit from using email. Email, along with social media, can be a valuable part of a multichannel content marketing strategy.

The majority of affiliates and content marketers will use an email service provider to manage and send their email campaigns.

Most email service companies will provide …

  • Opt-in forms
  • Popup forms
  • Autoresponders
  • Newsletter and other templates
  • List performance reporting
  • more …

It just makes sense to let someone handle that for you. Also, most email service providers do much more than just send out your emails. Many are full service marketing and CRM products now.

Want a quick look? Here is a pricing table …

Email Marketing Service Providers

Aweber affiliate-friendly

Convertkitaffiliate-friendly

Drip affiliate-friendly

Elastic Email affiliate-friendly

Email Octopus affiliate-friendly

GetResponse

MailChimp affiliate-friendly

affiliate-friendly = Affiliate Friendly

Email Marketing Functionality

Most bloggers and affiliates use an email marketing service to take care of all of this. The level of service and functionality you get from these companies is amazing. Most email marketing companies provide the following …

  • Opt-in forms — These range from simple widgets to elegant on-exit popups. Having engaging opt-in forms, preferably with a white-paper or other reward, is critical for maximizing subscribers.
  • Autoresponders and automations — You don’t want to manually schedule each piece of email that goes to a subscriber. Autoresponders will let you send a sequence of emails. For instance if someone signs up and requests a product white-paper, the autoresponder might have a 5 part series of information emails that ends with a product pitch.
  • Drag&Drop editors & templates — You don’t need to be a creative wonder to use these tools. You can start with a template and make changes or you can build from scratch in a simple WYSIWYG editor.
  • List management and analytics — You can create lists by interest or tag users with categories in some systems. You want to segment your lists and send only emails that will interest the segment. Analytics are used to understand your open, click, unsubscribe, spam rates, etc.

Affiliates and Email Service Providers

As affiliates it is important to understand the service provider’s rules on affiliate marketing. Affiliates and ESPs have a rocky history. There certainly were, and are, affiliate marketers that blast out offers daily to their scraped and purchased lists. In fact the solo ad industry exists to monetize this type of marketing. This is the opposite of permission-based marketing that ESPs support and reputable affiliates practice.

Unfortunately some ESPs just lump the good in with the bad and simply ban or heavily regulate affiliate marketing.

Even though almost all email service companies have affiliate programs to generate new subscribers, many do not allow you to send affiliate offers with their email service. Others let you send offers but not recruit affiliates or 2nd tier marketers.

These restrictions can be a complete show-stopper for some affiliates who want to send direct affiliate offers in their emails. Others, like me, rarely if ever put affiliate links in the email copy. I find linking back to a landing page is much more effective than sending direct links.

How Affiliates Use Email Service Providers

Affiliates use email marketing in a number of ways . In fact, the sending of single direct offers is the least frequent thing I do with email. Marketing efforts that can be done with email includes …

  • Direct Offers
  • Email sequences for specific campaigns
  • Source of traffic to funnels
  • New post notification (content marketing)
  • Sales and Promotions
  • Newsletters and other info to build trust

What makes an affiliate-friendly Email Service Provider

Beyond outright banning of affiliates there are other factors to consider when choosing an ESP, including …

  • Is there a free level
  • Can I send an unlimited number of emails or is it metered/limited per month
  • Are there multiple service/feature levels (landing pages, SMS, funnels, etc.)
  • How do they count subscribers (some include duplicates, opt-outs, archived emails, etc. in your billing count)
  • What industries are excluded (most exclude porn & gambling but some won’t accept CBD or make-money-online (MMO) lists.
  • Are direct affiliate links allowed

You can’t use email service providers for sending emails to scraped or other lists that were not built with permission. They will all also have list compliance levels. If you have too many opt-outs or spam complaints your account will be flagged and closed. ESPs must close questionable accounts to maintain their mail-server reputations and your inbox deliveries.

Email Service Providers for Affiliates and Bloggers

The good news is that there are many options — there are lots of email service providers out there.

We selected our favorite affiliate-friendly ESPs for you to get a look at. These companies range from services exclusively focused on email marketing to full CRM and marketing integrated tools. All have have free trials or a free level of service.

AWeber

aweberFocus: Ease of use for non-technical marketers

Best Feature: Great email and newsletter design tools

Pricing: Pricing based on subscriber count. $29/mo for 501-2500

Trial Policy: Free 30-day trial — credit card required

AWeber is a pioneer among email service companies. In fact, they invented the autoresponder. So they have some credentials for sure. They are easy to work with and have great features …

  • Drag and Drop — easy email and template creation
  • Automation — Automate when emails are sent, from onboarding new subscribers to lengthy campaigns.
  • Sign up forms — Popups, widgets and more to get new subscribers.
  • Great deliverability — get your emails to the inbox not spam or promotions.
  • Analytics — Learn what’s working with overall performance

Pricing Details

AWeber pricing is in the middle of the pack. Which is great for such a seasoned vendor. The biggest issue I have is that they count your unsubscribed users in determining your monthly charge. Vendors who do this typically have other marketing tools beyond email and the unsubscribes can be used in those. But for email only marketers it is an expensive option.

aweber-pricing

A 15% discount is available if you pay annually, and a 14% discount for those who pay quarterly.

ConvertKit afilliate-friendly-email

convertkitFocus: Email marketing software for creators

Best Feature: Landing page templates and tools

Pricing: Based on subscriber count $29/mo 1000 subscribers

Trial Policy: Free 14-day trial no credit card required

ConvertKit is focused on email marketing but they take you one step further with a nice landing page system. It is almost always best to send your email prospects to a landing page, not directly to the offer.

ConvertKit has designed its feature set to fit the needs of content or online creators which they define as …

” … a blogger, podcaster, Youtuber, maker, course creator, freelancer, coach, musician, or photographer? Do you make digital or physical products, provide services, build software, or have ads, sponsorships, or affiliate products and market or sell those things online …”

That sounds like me and all of my customers and colleagues!

ConertKit has all of the standard features you expect …

  • Drag & Drop email creator
  • Automations that send a series of emails
  • Reporting & subscriber segmentation

They also have a great landing page tool. This allows you to send your offers to an email list and have the prospects click to the landing page. You do not need any website to do this which is great for many marketers. Check out the landing page demo …

Free Landing Page Builder

Pricing Details

Pricing starts at $29/mo for 1000 contacts at the Lite service level. You can send an unlimited number of emails with all plans.

  • < 1000 users = $29/mo
  • 1000 – 3000   = $49/mo
  • 3000 – 5000   = $79/mo

Full feature and pricing list

Affiliate Issues

ConvertKit allows affiliate links in your email campaigns.They even have a nice article on affiliate marketing in their blog.

Drip afilliate-friendly-email

dripFocus: Email,  E-commerce CRM data and marketing automation

Best Feature: Integration with e-commerce backends

Pricing: Per subscriber. $49/mo 1000 subscribers

Trial Policy: Free 14-day trial no credit card required

Drip is now owned by the same people as Leadpages. Drip places a focus on e-commerce CRM. They use a tag based system for organizing your subscribers rather than than lists like most of their competitors. These tags can be used as triggers for segmenting an email campaign. For example,  if you want to send an email to everyone who clicked on a link in the last email it is easy to do.

  • Customer Data — Central store of contacts for multi-channel marketing
  • Personalization — create a 1:1 relationship with your clients and prospects
  • Engagement — Multi-channel marketing … email to social.
  • Optimization — Analytics and tracking to know what works

The best way to get started with Drip is to request a 1 on 1 demo. 

Pricing Details

Pricing starts at $49/mo for 1000 contacts at the Lite service level.

drip-pricing

Complete pricing matrix

Affiliate Issues

Drip allows affiliate marketing links in your email campaigns. With its powerful event-driven campaigns Drip is a great choice for affiliate marketers.

Elastic Email afilliate-friendly-email

elastic-emailFocus: Value based email services for developers and marketers

Best Feature: API and Pricing

Pricing: Per subscriber. $10/mo 10000 subscribers

Trial Policy: Free 14-day trial no credit card required

Elastic is one of the best values out there. Particularly for people with a few thousand email subscribers. The pricing for unlimited emails per month to up to 10,000 subscribers is $10 … amazing.

  • Segmentation
  • Autoresponder
  • Automations (requires pro package)
  • APi access via HTTP API or SMTP relay

Pricing Details

It does not get any better than $10/mo for unlimited emails to a 10,000 user subscriber base. The main thing missing from the $10 plan is the automations, that will require the $30/mo for 10,000 pro plan.

There is also a pay as you go plan for developers sending mail via the api. This starts at $0.09/1000 emails

 

Complete pricing matrix

Email Octopus afilliate-friendly-email

email octopusFocus:Email marketing for less

Best Feature: Many Integrations

Pricing: Great pricing $20/mo for 5000 users

Trial Policy: Free account with 10,000 monthly email limit

Email Octopus is a great value with solid tools that are plenty for most affiliate marketers. Where some of the other products in this roundup have lots of CRM and multichannel features, Email Octopus gets the job done at a great price for email…

  • Integrations — Zapier, Salesforce, Eventbrite, Survey Monkey and more.
  • Automation — From onboarding new subscribers to drip campaigns. Simple and powerful.
  • Designs — Templates and drag & drop forms
  • Analytics — Learn what’s working

Pricing Details

Email Octopus has some of the best pricing in the email service area. The sweet spot for many affiliates is between 1000-5000 subscribers. Email Octopus will let you send 50,000 emails per month to a 5000 subscriber base for just $20/mo. They even have a free plan with up to 10,000 emails sent per month for a 2500 subscriber base.

octopus-pricing

Complete pricing matrix

Affiliate Issues

One of the few email companies that actually promotes its service to affiliate marketers. They have an Email Marketing for Affiliate Marketers page you should check out.

GetResponse

getresponseFocus: CRM including; email, webinar, landing pages and more

Best Feature: Autofunnel

Pricing: Service levels and subscriber count. $15/mo 1000 subscribers

Trial Policy: Free 30-day trial no credit card required

GetResponse is a solid company with a large base of customers. I would put them in the value category AND they have a nice base of features for marketers including a funnel tool.

free-account-features

GetResponse is one of the companies that is much more than just an email service provider. They may not be best in class compared to dedicated products for each category but you have a solid toolkit. Capabilities include …

  • Marketing Automations
  • AutoFunnel
  • Webinar Tool (plus version)
  • Webforms and Surveys
  • Unlimited email marketing

Pricing Details

Pricing starts at $15/mo for 1000 contacts at the Basic service level — a really good value. Step up to the Plus version to get Webinar and Webinar funnels.

getresponse-pricing

Complete pricing matrix.

MailChimp afilliate-friendly-email

mailchimpFocus: Marketing Services Platform

Best Feature: Free and easy to get started

Pricing: Service levels.

Trial Policy: Free 14-day trial no credit card required

I know that many affiliate marketers have issues with Mailchimp. I used them for quite some time and often included affiliate links in my emails. I did get one warning that clarified their position for me. I was launching a product and soliciting an existing JV list of mine to join the affiliate program. That was not allowed.

With Mailchimp you can have an affiliate link in your email but you can not recruit affiliates in your emails.

MailChimp has evolved to be a marketing platform not just an ESP. They provide …

  • Sign up forms
  • Landing Pages
  • List Segmentation
  • Social Posts & Ads

Take a look at how a real customer is using MailChimp …

Pricing Details

Pricing starts at $20/mo for 1500 contacts.

mailchimp-pricing

What made MailChimp so well known is there free level of service. You can have 2000 subscribers with the basic service level for no charge. MailChimp recently changed the way they count subscribers. Now unsubscribes in your list are counted in your monthly fee calculation.

complete pricing matrix.

Affiliate Issues

The email marketing rules for affiliates at MailChimp are …

  • You can send affiliate offers
  • You can send updates to your affiliates
  • You can not recruit new affiliates. if you are a product owner.

Wrapping Up

Affiliate marketing needs to be a multi-channel effort. The most successful marketers reach their customers via websites, video channels, social channels AND email. The good news is that there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to Email Service Providers. You can find  many service levels, complete CRM suites or companies laser focused on email. The best part is that there are many free options to get you started.

Affiliate-Friendly Email Service Provider Pricing

# of Subscribers5001,0005,00010,00050,000
All prices on per month basis at entry service level.
Aweber free trial $19$29$49$69quote
ConvertKit free trial $29$29$79quotequote
Drip free trial $49$49$122$184quote
Elastic Email free trial $10$10$10$10$70
Email Octopus free trial $20$20$20$30$115
GetResponse free trial $15$15$45$65$250
MailChimp Free trial $10$20$50$75$260