Make money with email marketing: Ideas, tips, examples to increase your profits

Last year email marketers earned more than 8 billion dollars in revenue, and over half of the marketers polled by Statista reported a 100% improvement in their email marketing ROI.

So if you feel like there’s untapped potential in your email list, you’re probably not wrong.

If you’ve hit a plateau and are ready to jump-start your profits from email marketing, you’re in the right place. 

In this guide, we show you how to reach your potential with proven email strategies and tips, plus first-hand stories and advice from businesses that are currently making money with email marketing.

Give this guide a few minutes of your time and you could be on your way to bigger earnings more quickly than you imagined possible.

3 Steps to making more money with email

In this section, we share tips on how to build better-quality campaigns and improve your potential so you can generate higher profits. 

Step 1 – Improve your open and engagement rates

Are you already earning some money with email marketing, but not as much as you expected or hoped for?

Optimizing for better open and engagement rates is one of the best places to start. 

Improve your open rates

High open rates give your content a chance to engage readers and move them closer to making a purchase. 

Here are some simple ways to improve your email open rates.

Write compelling subject lines

  • Keep email subject lines to 50 characters or less: This helps ensure that your headlines don’t get cut off in the preview.

Avoid the spam folder

To avoid ending up in subscribers’ spam folders, improve your email deliverability rates by following email marketing best practices

For example, send your emails from a professional domain, and make it easy for people to unsubscribe. These simple practices will lower your chances of ending up in spam folders.

Higher email deliverability rates improve your open and engagement rates, resulting in more sales.

Riva Jeane May Caburog headshot

“We make it easy for users to unsubscribe from our emails to maintain a healthy and engaged list. Doing this helps avoid spam complaints and ensures our emails reach those who truly want to hear from us.”

Riva Jeane May Caburog, PR Director, Nadrich & Cohen

Deliver high-value content. Every. Single. Time. 

Consistently sending content that provides value to your subscribers helps you develop a stronger relationship with them. 

When you deliver interesting or compelling content every time, subscribers look forward to your messages because they know your emails are worth opening. 

Pierce Hogan headshot

We send out emails that tell engaging stories about travel destinations, complete with vivid descriptions and stunning images. 

This captivates our audience and encourages them to book travel packages through our partners, generating revenue for us through affiliate commissions.”

Pierce Hogan, Owner, Varied Lands

Boost your engagement rates

Higher engagement rates mean that people spend more time reading your emails — and clicking the call-to-action buttons that lead to you making more money.

5 tips for boosting your email engagement rates:

  1. Personalize your content. Use tags and segmentation to collect behavioral data and send customized email series to different groups of people on your list. 
  1. Include visuals such as images, GIFs, and videos, to make your content more fun and engaging.
  1. Include one clear call-to-action (CTA) in each message. While it’s important to deliver value, you also need to let your readers know what to do to support you. In each email, keep your goal of making more money in mind by including one income-producing call to action. To boost conversions, keep readers focused with only one CTA option.
  1. Check that your design looks great on mobile and desktop. Also, test your emails before you send them, to be sure they provide a delightful experience in different browsers, such as Chrome and Bing.
  1. Improve your email signoff. Choosing the best email signoff (and avoiding the bad ones) can help you build a stronger connection with your readers.

Step 2 – Promote your newsletter or email list

Growing your email list is another reliable way to make more money with email marketing. 

Try these quick tips to help you gain more subscribers.

  1. Create a lead generation landing page and share it on social media, in blog posts, on your website, and in your advertising.
  1. Use your Instagram link in bio and other social media profile links to drive subscribers to your lead generation landing page.
  1. Use website popups to promote your email list.
  1. Run a contest or giveaway that requires people to sign up for your list.

Step 3 – Follow the analytics

Use A/B testing and track your email open and engagement rates to create the most effective (and profitable) emails for your audience. 

Testing and analytics help you:

  • Create more valuable and engaging email content.
  • Drive more traffic from your emails to your website.
  • Make more sales.

By following these steps to improve the quality of your email marketing, you’ll likely increase the amount of money you earn from all of your future campaigns (like the ones below).

11 Ways to make money with email marketing

Here are eleven ways anyone (you included!) can earn more money with email marketing.

#1. Sell related products or services to email subscribers

In addition to your main product or service, consider selling related products that are a good fit for your audience. 

For example, if you own a coaching service, there are many physical and digital products or services that could support your coaching service, such as:

  • eBooks
  • Training guides
  • Online courses
  • Classes or workshops
  • Group coaching sessions
Baidhurya Mani, CEO and founder

“Selling a digital product is a profitable way to leverage the opportunities of email marketing.“

Baidhurya Mani, CEO and founder, SellCoursesOnline

Baidhurya Mani promotes his personal coaching and consulting services in his SellCoursesOnline newsletter. The services are a great match for his audience — and an excellent way to earn additional income through email marketing.

Mani explains, “This strategy yields high conversion rates because I’ve narrowed down my email list to high-quality leads, which means I’m marketing my services to an audience of genuinely interested prospects who see the value of my offerings.”

#2. Offer a paid newsletter 

Launching a paid newsletter can be a good way to monetize your email marketing

To do this, many successful paid newsletters offer some free content but charge a flat-rate monthly fee for access to exclusive content and additional perks. 

For example, Lenny’s Newsletter is a paid subscription model with a free plan option. The free plan includes one monthly newsletter, providing readers with a peek inside its highly-valuable content.

An example of a paid newsletter from Lenny's Newsletter"

Lenny’s free subscribers can upgrade to a paid plan anytime for access to all its newsletters, archives, and private Slack community.

Lenny's Newsletter subscription plan landing page

You might include one or more of the following benefits in your paid newsletter:

  • 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

Promote your paid newsletter everywhere you have an online presence, including your website, blog, social media channels, and ads.

#3. Affiliate marketing (selling other people’s products)

You don’t always have to sell your own products or services to make money with email marketing. Affiliate marketing allows you to sell other people’s products and services in exchange for a commission on each sale.

As an affiliate, you refer people to a product or service using a customized link that tracks the origin of your referrals back to you. This allows you to earn commissions on every one of your referrals that become a purchase.

Affiliate sales are an excellent way to make money because, unlike your own products, you’re not responsible for the burden of production, shipping, and customer service. 

Simply partner with brands and products that are a good match for your audience, then promote the products in your email messages.

For example, imagine you’re an online business coach who offers digital marketing advice to clients. Recommending your favorite website builders and email marketing providers would serve two purposes:

  • Serves your clients needs.
  • Earns income for you.

In this case, you’re earning money through affiliate sales, but also helping your clients turn your advice into reality by recommending products that genuinely help them.

However, you’ll want to build a strong relationship with your subscribers before you begin recommending affiliate products.

Otherwise, they may unsubscribe.

Many companies have affiliate programs you can join — like AWeber! You can sign up for our affiliate program here. AWeber email marketing platform also integrates with tools like ClickBank that make finding the right affiliate products easy.

Affiliate email marketing example

For example, GetOrganizedNow (an AWeber customer) is on a mission to “create happier, healthier, more fulfilling lives by helping as many people as possible get organized.” Its audience loves home improvement projects, so the company promotes relevant affiliate products. 

In the email below, GetOrganizedNow promotes affiliate landscaping services to its subscribers.

how to sell affiliate products with email marketing

#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”.

Once someone purchases your membership, you could then offer them exclusive one-on-one coaching sessions. 

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 company offers its quarterly subscribers an upsell opportunity: Upgrade to a Select Membership and unlock early access plus additional customization options.

Example of an email that's encouraging an upgraded membership

#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-promotes additional courses — this time for yoga certifications or strength and conditioning certifications.

Example of how to cross-sell with email marketing

I recommend sending an automated email with additional recommendations about 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 of making money with email marketing works 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. Sending a discount code for their next cleaning can often give customers the boost they need to book another session. 

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.

Reminder email to encourage repeat purchases

#7. Create 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 aren’t ready to buy at the moment. 

But if you’re using an e-commerce platform like WooCommerce, you know what they left behind.  You can automatically send cart abandonment emails encouraging visitors to buy the product or service they were considering. 

Abandoned cart emails have very high open rates — about 40%, and these campaigns can be very effective in generating sales.

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.

Tip: Keep cart abandonment emails short. It doesn’t hurt if you inject some humor or personality to catch the reader’s attention!

Abandoned cart email examples

Check out this example from the clothing company Chubbies.

Email marketing example from Chubbies

The abandoned cart email example (below) from the Dollar Shave Club quickly reminds you of all the benefits you’re missing out on by not joining.

Email marketing example from Dollar Shave Club

You can also provide 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 make money this way, you’ll need a minimum of 1,000 engaged subscribers on your list — people who open your emails and engage with your content. 

When you’re getting started with sponsored content, the easiest thing to do is go through a third-party service such as Paved. 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.

Email newsletter example from MorningBrew with an sponsorship at the top

#9. Ask for referrals

If you’re looking to increase sales through email marketing, ask your current customers and subscribers for referrals!

You can even provide them with trackable share links that allow you to offer incentives and rewards to people who share your emails or promotions with friends.

Referrals help you gain new email subscribers so you can send your promotions, updates, and newsletters to more people.

Referral email example

In the example below, Allstate’s Hot Chocolate 15k/5k race uses cash incentives to encourage people to refer their friends.

How to ask for referrals with email marketing

#10 Include social proof to boost sales

Including social proof in your emails, such as review ratings and case studies, can go a long way toward guiding people along the marketing funnel so they purchase from you.

For example, Sturgeon Christie of Second Skin Audio says his company includes customer testimonials in its email content as a natural way to promote its products.

“We send out emails featuring stories and UGC from satisfied customers who have used our products to solve their soundproofing issues,” Christie explained.

We don’t like hard selling, so we don’t bombard our clients with “buy me” emails, he says, “But we do use emails to INDIRECTLY sell. How? We use customer testimonials and before-and-after case studies.”

Sturgeon Christie headshot

Showing them real people doing their own soundproofing and expressing how much they love the results offers the social proof needed to usher those who are still on the fence. “

Sturgeon Christie, CEO, Second Skin Audio

Social proof email example

In the email example below, Gardencup spotlights a customer story, which includes a testimonial.

Email example from Gardencup, highlighting a customer story

#11. Personalize and automate your email campaigns

Automated email campaigns are email series that are automatically sent to subscribers based on their interactions with your email and website. 

Today’s automation capabilities go far beyond simply saving you a ton of time (and yes, they do!). 

Email automation can track interactions such as email opens, clicks, and activity on your website so you can send content that’s tailored to their interests and behavior, such as:

  • Recommended products (based on their preferences and shopping history)
  • Targeted product or service campaigns
  • Valuable content based on their interests
  • Welcome series, re-engagement campaigns, abandoned cart emails, and much more

When you pair email automation with behavioral data, the results are a powerful email marketing system that delivers personalized email content to your subscribers.

Brooke Webber of Ninja Patches says that, as an e-commerce brand, email marketing is a “bread and butter piece” of its overall revenue pipeline.”

Their approach, she explains, revolves around delivering the right content to the right people through personalized, automated email content.

Brooke Webber headshot

Gearing touchpoints around specific moments in the sales pipeline is how you pop into your customer’s attention but without hitting them over the head.

Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing, Ninja Patches

Webber recommends creating automated email sequences to match specific stages in the sales journey. 

“For instance,” she says, “our team has set up an automated email chain for first-time buyers that speaks to their specific interests and needs. We’ll even use language verbatim thanking them for their purchase and welcoming them to our site.”

Automation and personalization example

In the example below, Daily Burn encourages me to return to the platform, knowing my membership lapsed a while ago. Its 99-cent offer is hard to resist!

Email example from Daily Burn encourages me to return to the platform

Close the sale with AWeber email marketing

In this guide, we’ve covered strategies, ideas, and advice for making money with email marketing.

To put your plan into action and begin making more money, you’ll need an email platform that makes it all possible.

AWeber’s got you covered.

From automation to personalization, we provide you with everything you need to execute all of the tips, ideas, and strategies mentioned  above.

Plus, you’ll love how easy it is to create automations, tags, segments, and campaigns with our user-friendly interface. 

Drop by today and sign up for an AWeber account so you can begin making more money with email marketing campaigns right away!

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