How to make money with email marketing (10 expert tips)
By Sean Tinney February 9, 2023
When it comes to making money online, the most powerful tool in your arsenal isn’t social media or SEO or paid search ads . . .
Email marketing has the highest conversion rates of any marketing channel. In fact, transactions from email are three times more profitable than those made on social media, according to management consulting firm McKinsey & Company.
Want to start earning money from your email list? Then follow these 10 proven ways to make money with email marketing.
- Sell a product or service
- Offer a paid newsletter
- Sell other people’s products
- Upsell premium or exclusive products
- Cross-sell related products
- Get repeat purchases
- Have a cart abandonment plan
- Include sponsored content or advertising in your emails
- Ask people to spread the word
- Automate your email campaigns
How to monetize email marketing
1. Sell a product or service
Already have a product or service to sell? Awesome! You can skip this section.
If not, this is your very first step. Find a physical or digital product or service to sell.
Not sure what to promote to your audience? Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Training guides
- Online courses
- Private virtual coaching sessions
- Classes or workshops
Selling a product or service in an email example
Take a look at how this YouTuber promotes weight loss ebooks to her audience using email marketing.
2. Offer a paid newsletter
Offering a paid newsletter is a way for you to monetize your email marketing efforts by charging a subscription fee for access to exclusive content or additional features.
For example, if you’re a blogger who writes about personal development and productivity, you could use a paid newsletter to offer exclusive email content and resources to your subscribers. It could be called “The Productivity Boost” and include:
- Exclusive articles and tips on productivity and time management
- Access to a private online community where subscribers can ask questions and interact with you
- A monthly Q&A to discuss productivity challenges and strategies
- Access to a library of productivity templates, worksheets, and checklists
To promote the paid newsletter, you would create a landing page with information about the newsletter and its features, along with testimonials from current subscribers. You could also mention the paid newsletter on your website, social media, and in your other emails.
Related: How to create a paid newsletter
Paid newsletter example
Here’s a great example of a paid newsletter from “Lenny’s newsletter”. Lenny sends one free addition of his newsletter each month so his subscribers can see the amazing value the paid newsletter provides that his free version does not.
3. Sell other people’s products
You don’t always have to sell your products or services to monetize email marketing. Instead, you can be an affiliate for other businesses’ products or services. As an affiliate, you get commissions from a business that you generate for the company.
Here’s an example of a great affiliate connection: An online business coach offers planning advice to her clients. To help them turn her advice into reality, she recommends affiliate tools — like website builders and email marketing providers — to serve her clients’ marketing and sales needs.
Before you begin affiliate marketing, make sure you have a strong relationship with your subscribers and that you only recommend products and services that make sense for them. Otherwise, they may unsubscribe.
Many companies have affiliate programs you can join — like AWeber! You can sign up for our affiliate program here.
Plus, AWeber integrates with tools like ClickBank that makes finding affiliate products to promote to your audience easy.
Selling other people’s products in an email example
GetOrganizedNow.com, an AWeber customer, uses the ClickBank integration to find and sell products that are aligned with her audience’s interests. For example, GetOrganizedNow.com found their audience enjoyed home improvement projects so they decided to promote landscaping services to their customers.
Here’s an example of the email that they sent:
4. Upsell premium or exclusive products
One of the best opportunities for making money with email marketing is by offering additional products or services at the point of transaction — a.k.a. upselling.
Let’s say you’re a life coach, and your main product is an online monthly membership that includes access to a community of users, webinars, and a library of resources.
Once someone purchases your membership, you could then offer them exclusive one-on-one coaching sessions. A participant can pick the topic they want you to focus on and ask questions they may not feel comfortable asking in a live webinar in a virtual room filled with other members. Many people will pay top dollar to get this individualized attention.
Or it can be much simpler than that. If you’re an online personal trainer, you could offer a free downloadable upper-body workout. When someone requests it, they receive an automated email with the download — plus an upsell to a comprehensive 12-week program that guarantees them results.
Upsell email example
Here’s an example from the company FabFitFun. The email tries to upsell quarterly subscribers on an upgraded membership for the chance to customize their subscription boxes early and get more products.
5. Cross-sell related products
Every purchase a customer makes gives you insight into their likes and interests. You can use this info to entice them with other products they may also enjoy.
In fact, you probably have an email in your inbox right now that reads, “Because you bought this, you might be interested in this.” That’s because online shoppers who get targeted, personalized messages are more likely to purchase from you again.
Cross-sell email example
Here’s an example of a great cross-sell: A nutrition coach becomes certified through an online course. Once they complete the course, they’re automatically sent an email that cross-sells to other courses — this time about yoga certifications or strength and conditioning certifications.
I recommend sending an automated email with additional recommendations approximately one to three weeks after a customer’s initial purchase. It’s super easy to set up targeted, automated email sequences like these in AWeber. Create your FREE account today.
6. Get repeat purchases
Along the same lines as cross-selling, you may have a product or service that calls for repeat purchases. Sometimes a friendly reminder email is an effective way to keep bringing in a steady stream of sales.
This method to make money with email marketing works extremely well for businesses that rely on recurring, seasonal, or perishable goods. For instance, a window cleaning service may email a client at the end of every season to remind them to schedule their next appointment.
Offering a discount or coupon can also go a long way. Offering a person a discount off their next cleaning may give them the boost they need to book another session.
Or, simply remind your customers that they may want to book their next appointment, and give them the option to set up reminders if they’re not ready to purchase with you.
Repeat purchase email example
Here’s a great example from Salon and Spa by Kimberly Gider, they send this reminder email shortly after their most recent visit.
7. Have a cart abandonment plan
We’re all a bit forgetful, so it’s no surprise that buyers often get distracted or step away from a purchase because they weren’t ready to buy at that moment. But if you’re using an e-commerce platform like WooCommerce, you know what they left behind.
Automatically send highly relevant emails encouraging them to buy the product or service they were considering. Customers who received multiple abandoned shopping cart emails are 2.4 times more likely to complete the purchase than those who receive only one followup email, according to Experian.
Try sending the first message one day after, a second message 48 hours after, and possibly a third message within three or four days of abandonment.
Keep cart abandonment emails short. It doesn’t hurt if you inject some humor or personality to catch the reader’s eye.
Abandoned cart email examples
Check out this example from the clothing company Chubbies.
And this example from the Dollar Shave Club that quickly reminds the person of all the benefits they’re missing out on by not joining.
You can even offer relevant information to help address questions or concerns they may have, or highlight your great customer service team. Many companies will throw in a discount to tempt you even further or create urgency with a limited-time offer.
8. Include sponsored content or advertising in your emails
Another way you can make money from your email list is by selling ad space in your emails. To do this, you’ll need a minimum of 1,000 engaged subscribers on your list — people opening your emails and interested in your content.
When you’re first getting started the easy thing to do is go through a third party service such as Paved or Swapstack. These third parties are centralized marketplaces that connect companies looking to advertise with people or companies looking to accept advertisements in their emails.
How you allow those advertisements to be structured in your email is completely up to you.
Selling ad space in an email example
MorningBrew, for example, allows advertisers to add their logo to the top of their daily newsletter.
9. Ask people to spread the word
The last tactic I’ll write about is also one of the oldest marketing strategies: word of mouth!
This tactic is one of the oldest marketing strategies: word of mouth!
According to a Nielsen report, 84 percent of consumers say they either completely or somewhat trust recommendations from family, colleagues, and friends about goods and services. That makes personal recommendations the highest ranked source for trustworthiness when it comes to making a purchase.
So if you have an engaged, loyal customer base, send emails encouraging them to recommend your products and services to their friends and acquaintances. You can also go a bit further by asking them to give you positive online reviews and to “like” and share your social feeds.
Think about implementing referral links to incentivize your subscribers to spread awareness about your brand, too. Referral links allow your current customers to promote trackable links for your business. In exchange for sending new paying customers your way, you can give them incentives like discounts, coupons, vouchers, cash, prizes or redeemable points.
Referral email example
Check out how the Hot Chocolate 15k/5k race encourages runners to refer their friends to the race below.
10. Automate your email campaigns
Automated email campaigns — also called autoresponders — are a series of emails that are automatically sent to your new subscribers after they subscribe, saving you time and effort so you can keep your focus on your passion.
The first email in your automated series is your welcome email, which should set the tone for the types of emails your subscribers can expect from you. It’s also a great time to make a sale since welcome emails often see higher engagement rates than other types of emails.
Then, expand upon your welcome email with a welcome series to provide ongoing value to your readers.
For example, if you’re a podcaster, your welcome series could share top blog posts, more about you and your business, a survey of your subscribers to learn more about them and their interests, and more.
With a partner like AWeber, you can set up automated email campaigns to make money with email marketing easily.
How to close the sale with email
While all of these tactics are excellent ways to make money with email marketing, they’ll most likely fall flat without some killer email copy or content to win over your potential buyers. Check out our free What to Write course and you’ll learn how to craft the perfect email for every layer of your funnel, and get 45+ email content templates to copy and paste.
Plus, save money on your email marketing by signing up for AWeber Free — our 100% free pricing option to make email marketing and landing page services available at no cost.