How to do Affiliate Marketing Case Study: 18,503 Email Subscribers in 2 Weeks Flat

Are you thinking of starting an affiliate program? Learn what I did to start mine and what common mistakes to avoid along the way.


It’s the one thing you need to grow a successful business.

It’s the one thing you need to stay in business.

It’s the one thing you need to put food on the table as an entrepreneur.

But how do you get more sales?

The easy answer: GET MORE LEADS.

The fastest way to grow your business is by reeling in as many new leads as possible and converting them into customers.

So what’s the best way to attract sales for your business?

It’s a question I always get asked.

Well, I have an answer for you: affiliates.

Affiliates can be incredibly powerful for growing your business fast if you’re not an Organic Search or Pinterest expert.

It’s like tying rocket boosters to your company and lighting the fuse.

What I’ve found works best for building a huge list of leads in record time is recruiting affiliates with large engaged email lists.

With affiliates, I was able to grow a new list of leads from scratch to 18,503 prospects in less than 45 days.

I’m going to show you exactly how I did it in this step-by-step guide.

How to do Affiliate Marketing


From these leads, I was able to generate about $55,000 of revenue in that same period.

Dashboard September 11 2016

For someone who only started selling information products online in late 2015, this is a decent chunk of change.

Thank you, affiliates!

revenue growth

So what’s the point?

If you want to grow your lead list, there are a handful of ways to do it effectively…

… and tons of ways to waste time and get no results.

One of the fastest ways to get results online is through affiliate partnerships.

Mariah Coz, ConvertKit, LeadPages and Teachable all use affiliate marketing to grow their businesses faster.

It makes sense why Mark Cuban was in disbelief when he found out that two participants on SharkTank hadn’t sought out any partnerships for their product Locker Bones, a school locker organizer/shelving unit they were trying to get Mark to invest in.

Mark realizes that without partnerships with Staples or Office Depot, Locker Bones wouldn’t be able to scale up cost effectively.

When you’re trying to battery ram down the door of an industry as a startup, partnerships can give you massive leverage for scaling fast when you don’t have money to spend on marketing.

So who are these partners and how do you go about finding them…

That’s what you really what to know, right?

What is an Affiliate?

An affiliate is a partner (often called a Joint Venture (“JV”) Partner) who supports your products or services by referring customers to you from their audience for a cut or commission from each sale they make for you.

Affiliate programs have been around for a long time.

Some of the fastest growing businesses on the planet have used affiliate programs to amplify their sales velocity.

Here are some examples of companies that effectively rely on affiliates as a part of their marketing strategy:

  • Infusionsoft
  • Copyblogger
  • WP Engine
  • eHarmony
  • Zoosk
  • Grammarly

How does affiliate marketing work?

How to do affiliate marketing…

… well, it depends what type of business you’re running.

Affiliate marketing relies on a “cookie” that’s stored on a visitor’s computer to track their site visits, email optins and sales for the affiliate who originally referred that visitor from their email list.

Running affiliate programs is nothing new. They’ve been around for dozens of years, and have been used by companies even before the internet was around. (Hard to imagine, I know…)

Okay, now that you know other companies are using it, how can you get a piece of the action?

Well, get this: all you need to do is find people that want to promote your product or service.

Sounds simple enough but often it’s not.

There are a lot of negative beliefs out there about affiliate marketing.

And with good reason. Bloggers tend to associate them with lower cost per acquisition offers from ClickBank or JVZoo.

So I want to lay out for you in detail my experience with recruiting and working with affiliates.

Where do you find good affiliates?

Good affiliates are not easy to find.

Here’s the reality: at least 80% of referred sales will come from your top 5 affiliates.

That’s why it’s important to focus on quality over quantity when you’re starting an affiliate program.

Put your company’s time and resources into manually building relationships with the right people that have the biggest, most engaged email lists.

There are only a handful of reliable affiliates out there with big, engaged lists of email subscribers and even fewer who would be willing to email their list about your product or service.

But here’s the thing:

Some channels work well for attracting new affiliates and others are a waste of your time.

Here are the most reliable avenues I’ve found successful for finding new potential affiliates:

Facebook Groups

Step #1: Find the Names of Affiliates in JV-Related Facebook Groups

Type into the Facebook Search bar: “JV Partners” or Click This Link:

JV Partners Screenshot

Look for the members of each Facebook Group for any groups that look like the JV Program of a premium course or summit.

Copy and paste the members’ names into Google Sheets while noting the name of Facebook Group where you found them.

Navid Moazzez JV Partners Affiliates

Step #4: Get the domain name and email address of each person and add it next to their name in Google Sheets

You can use Rapportive, Voila Norbert or AWS Mechanical Turk to get the email address for each person based on their name and domain name or name and Twitter handle.

Facebook Group Partner Program Affiliates Google Sheets

Step #5: Send each prospective affiliate an initial outreach email

Here’s a basic template you can use for emailing people you find in Facebook Groups:

Subject: Quick question {{firstname}}

Hey {{firstname}},

I saw that you were promoting a similar product recently and thought of you for something we have coming up.

In two weeks, I am launching [Product Name]. It’s similar to past products/services you’ve promoted, but focuses on helping [Target Audience] [Achieve A Specific Result].

If you are interested, let me know. Love to share more info. with you.



Leaderboards From Other Affiliate Programs

Step #1: Join an affiliate program for a premium high-end course or summit

Reach out to a JV manager like Tom Morkes or Matt McWilliams and ask them if they have an upcoming affiliate launch that you can participate in.

You can also check out Matt McWilliam’s quarterly updates to find the best JV programs to join.

Cody’s Take: I don’t recommend JVZoo or ClickBank to look for affiliates. You should go after premium high-end JV launches to source potential affiliates.

Step #2: Look at the Top 10 Affiliate Dashboards or Leaderboards to scout potential affiliates

This works well if you are launching a premium high-end product or service.

Filter out the people you don’t think will promote your products based on your stage as an influencer or online entrepreneur.

Example: I wouldn’t go to John Lee Dumas or Pat Flynn asking them to promote my summit or product just because they’re on the leaderboard for another launch.

Use common sense when you’re reaching out to people asking them if they’d be interested in promoting your products.

If you don’t have any relationship with that person but you know they have a big engaged list, don’t turn them off by asking them to promote your little rink-a-dink product.

Instead, start small by providing value to that person before you just dive right in and ask them to promote your stuff.

Remember: It boils down to the give and take. Give first, ask later.

Step #3: Email each prospective affiliate asking them if they’d be interested in promoting a product you’re launching soon in their niche

Matt McWilliams suggests going as far as congratulating prospective affiliates on the success they had promoting a competitor’s launch.

I don’t recommend this if you’re performing cold outreach. I’ve tried it before and found that people get confused when you start congratulating them on the success they had with another launch.

It could put them in an uncomfortable position that inspires them to email the owner of the product they promoted in the past.

I prefer maintaining a low profile and not telling people where I found them online. It feel it makes you appear less transactional.

You can try this email template:

Affiliate Outreach Email Template

Cody’s Take: Other affiliate managers may recommend that you use a more specific template. I’ve found my conversion rate is much higher by keeping things a bit vague in the first email. If you mention the other product they’ve promoted in the past, they may get creeped out or assume you’re a part of that affiliate program and not that you’re just scraping the internet looking for new affiliates.

Pinterest Influencers

Pinterest is one of the best and least tapped source of affiliates that have engaged email lists.

Bloggers on Pinterest are often receptive to joining affiliate programs because they:

(1) Work from home

(2) Need a source of income

(3) Just had kids or are about to have kids

(4) Don’t have a full-time corporate job (okay, maybe this is a bad stereotype)

(5) Enjoy promoting affiliate offers

Step #1: Go to and search for the topic or sub-topic of the program or service you’re recruiting affiliates for

Step #2: Find Pinterest Pins (articles) with tons of repins and add the Pinners to Google Sheets

Tons of Repins

Click on the Pinterest username at the bottom of each pin you find that has at least 1,000 (> 1.0k) repins.

Then click through to that person’s Pinterest Profile page.

Look at the number of followers they have and whether they include a link back to their blog.

In this example, Debi Stangeland, a Pinterest user has lots of followers and her own personal brand as her domain name, which hosts her blog.

Pinterest Debbie Example

Add each Pinterest person you identify as a good candidate to a Google Sheets file or Excel Spreadsheet.

Include their first name, last name, domain name/blog link and their follower count.

Rank each person (from 1-5) that you add to the spreadsheet based on their blog’s engagement and niche.

Blog engagement factors to consider:

  • Comments per article
  • Shares per article
  • Global Ranking

Step #3: Narrow down the list of the Pinterest Pinners you found

Now that you’ve put together a list of prospective affiliates from Pinterest, add Filters to your spreadsheet.

Affiliate List With Filters Example

Filter out or delete people from your workbook based on these factors:

  • Typically get fewer than 5 comments on average on their blog posts
  • Less than 25 social shares on average per post
  • Global Rank exceeds 1,000,000

Step #4: Get the remaining Pinners’ email addresses

Either install the Rapportive browser plug-in, use Voila Norbert or check out SellHack to get each person’s email address.

Export the list of prospective affiliates from Google Sheets or Excel as a CSV formatted file.

Once you have a decent list of email addresses for the prospective affiliates in your workbook, find a mail merge program and import the CSV file containing at least their first name and email address.

I prefer to keep First and Last Name in the CSV file to make communication and tracking easier.

Here are some reliable mail merge programs I recommend:

  • Mixmax (My friend Dmitry Dragilev considers this his go-to)
  • Yet Another Mail Merge (I use this Chrome Extension because it’s really easy to use)
  • BuzzStream (I use it for content pre-outreach and sometimes link building outreach)
  • (I’ve used Connector and am a fan of Sujan Patel, the co-founder)
  • Contactually (I recommend this tool for managing your affiliate launch emails)

Mixmax Sequences

Screenshot from Mixmax for setting up mail merge and email sequences

Step #5: Email Your List Of Pinterest Prospects Using A Template Outreach Email

Here is an email template you can use to connect with prospective Pinterest affiliates:

Subject: Quick question {{firstname}}

Hey {{firstname}},

Just came across your blog and love the advice you provide!

In two weeks, I am launching the [Product Name]. It’s similar to past products/services you’ve promoted, but focuses on helping [Target Audience] [Achieve A Specific Result].

If you are interested, let me know. Love to share more info. with you. 🙂



Note: This email template was adapted from an email originally written by affiliate manager Matt McWilliams.

If they don’t follow up to your initial email, you can send them a follow-up email like this:

Hey {{firstname}},

Just wanted to send you a friendly follow up message.

If not interested, no worries, hope to find other win-win opportunities with you down the road.

Hope you’ve had an excellent week so far.



Baremetrics Open Startup Revenue Dashboards

Step #1: Go to Google and search for ‘Baremetrics Open’ or click here.

Step #2: Pick a company on Baremetrics’ list of open startups and click ‘View Dashboard’

Here’s a link to one dashboard as an example:

ConvertKit s Revenue Dashboard on Baremetrics

Step #3: Make a list of the people and brands you scouted from Baremetrics and get their email address

Affiliate Product Reviews

Step #1: Make a list of products in your industry

Evernote Premium and Choose a Theme and Related Industry Software Products Evernote Premium

Step #2: Confirm whether each software provider offers an affiliate program

Now, Google Search the name of each software product you listed + the phrase “affiliate program” to verify that they offer an affiliate program.


“SEMrush affiliate program”

BeRush com affiliate program for seo and web services and Evernote Premium

Narrow down your list of software products based on whether they offer an affiliate program.

Step #3: Look for bloggers that post often and have high blog engagement

Prioritizing Your Prospective Affiliates

Let’s be honest.

Some people on your affiliate list are going to be outright no’s.

Once you’ve made a big list in Google Sheets or Excel with 100’s of prospective affiliates on it, you need to prioritize that list.

Instead of wasting time and effort going after these people, put the absolute no’s on the bottom of your list or remove them.

With these people, you’re better off not wasting your time and energy trying to secure them as an affiliate with cold outreach.

semrush review Google Search

Recruiting Existing Friends Online

This may seem like the most obvious way to find new affiliates but it’s the easier one to write-off.

Similar to Bryan Harris, I experienced the same mental setback of thinking I could just reach out to any top influencer and ask them to promote the Content Promotion Summit.


Here’s why, most influencers schedule their email calendars months in advance.

Not only that but if they don’t know who you are, they’re far less likely to promote your stuff without a long-standing existing relationship.

So if you’re set on recruiting top influencers to promote your launches, there are a few things you can do:

  • Join a high-end mastermind run by a top online influencer
  • Get monthly business coaching from a top marketer
  • Attend the top conferences in your niche that influencers attend in droves and network

How to Avoid Burning Bridges with Your Affiliates

As you’re recruiting a team of affiliates, it’s important that you try to avoid burning bridges with them.

You’ll spend a ton of time looking for good affiliates and it’s much more cost effective to run future launches with the same group of JV partners without the added pressure of having to recruit tons of new affiliates to make up for the affiliates you burnt bridges with in the past.

Here’s how to avoid burning bridges with your affiliates:

  1. Over-communicate with your affiliates before, during and after your launch
  2. Thank them and show them how much you appreciate their participation
  3. Reciprocate the favor of emailing for them for their products if they’re a top 5 affiliate
  4. Uphold any commitments you made to them in exchange for their emailing their list
  5. Be a friend and don’t use people for their email list (no one likes this)
  6. Don’t run an affiliate launch for the first launch of your product (it’s guaranteed your sales conversion rates won’t be as high or well optimized as they could be)
  7. Don’t try to automate everything and eliminate all personal interaction with your affiliates
  8. Always pay out your affiliates on time! (I can’t stress this one enough… if you commit to pay your affiliates on or by a specific date, make sure you pay them on or before that day)

Running a Successful Affiliate Marketing Program

It’s one thing to do all the leg work to get people to join your affiliate program.

And it’s a whole different story to get those people to follow through on emailing their sacred lists at the risk of getting tons of unsubscribes and losing all the goodwill they’ve established with their tribe.

What can you do to reduce the risk of getting affiliates who don’t follow through on their promise to email for you?

Step #1: Setup and test your pre-launch content and funnel before you start affiliate promotion

First, make sure your entire sales funnel is in place and working.

Here’s a peak at the sales funnel I built for the Content Promotion Summit:

export 2

Setup Basic Conversion Optimization Tools

Next, add HotJar or Visual Website Optimizer and Google Analytics scripts to all your pre-launch pages (blog posts, videos, lead magnet landing pages), sales page and checkout order form pages.

Make sure the data is being received by each platform you install scripts for.

VWO CRO Heatmaps Screenshot

VWO CRO AB Testing Screenshot

Test Your Offer With An Internal Launch First

Then you should email your existing list of subscribers to put them through your sales funnel.

If you have pre-launch content, such as an eBook or 3-part video series, send your email subscribers to each of those pre-launch landing pages.

This way, you’ll get a real sense of what your conversion rates will be at each stage of your sales funnel.

Tag your subscribers through your email service provider (e.g., ConvertKit, Aweber, Mailchimp or Infusionsoft) as they go through each stage of your funnel based on whether they’re clicking the links in your emails or engaging with your pre-launch content.

Cody’s Take: If you make the plunge for Infusionsoft, you can get PlusThis and set-up their video triggers feature to even tag people who watch your pre-launch videos for a specific amount of time (such as 10 seconds).

Keep in mind that conversion rates from your internal launch will skew higher than your conversion rates from affiliates promoting your product to their lists.

So if your conversion rates are dismally low, you should do something to fix that before running your affiliate launch.

Here’s an example of how I segment and tag people who engage with my launch content in Infusionsoft:

IS Tags Example

And here’s another example of how I do this with ConvertKit:

ConvertKit Example

Segment and tag your email subscribers who you plan to send your pre-launch content.

How To Do Affiliate Marketing With Segmentation

At a minimum, differentiate between three buckets of people:

  1. High Interest – Most engaged prospects that click on a email link to watch your pre-launch videos or download your pre-launch eBook
  2. Low Interest – Least engaged prospects that get your pre-launch content but either requests fewer emails from you about the launch or that don’t click any of the links to your pre-launch content or don’t download your pre-launch eBook.
  3. Opt-Out – Reserved for email subscribers who request that you stop sending them emails about your launch.

Here’s another example of how I structure my launch sequences in Infusionsoft:

CMS Launch Sequence Example

  • Subscribers on the High Interest list can move to the Low Interest list by clicking a link at the bottom of any launch email.
  • Low Interest subscribers can request to stop receiving emails about your launch all together.
  • Launch Opt-Out subscribers will not receive any emails about the launch.
  • Unsubscribes won’t receive any emails from you going forward.

Here’s a simplified flow diagram of the above launch email campaign:

Launch Sequence Example Mockup

Don’t forget to set-up Conversion Goals in Google Analytics for email optins (folks that reach your optin thank you page) and purchases (folks that reach your thank you for purchasing page).

You can also setup funnels in HotJar to quickly assess where people are falling off or leaving your site in your sales funnel.

Step #2: Analyze Your Sales, Maps and Data Collected by HotJar + Google Analytics

Hotjar and Gamma Explained The Options Futures Guide

Hotjar Funnel

Look for opportunities to improve your launch content before you start your affiliate launch.

As an example, Brian Moran of SamCart first ran an internal launch of 10kFans before he decided to run a full-fledged affiliate launch.

How To Do Affiliate Marketing: Building Anticipation and Excitement

It’s critical that you build anticipation and excitement with your affiliates if you want them to email for you.

They may agree to email initially because they don’t want to say no or your enthusiasm worked so well that they agreed to promote but then lose that energy closer to your launch.

People may have reservations about emailing their tribe on your behalf.

To build anticipation with affiliates, you should start engaging them at least 3 to 6 weeks before you kick off your product launch.

Here is a good example of Navid Moazzez engaging affiliates ahead of his List Building School launch:

List Building School Boost Engagement

Then as you get closer to the start of the event (1-2 weeks before you start the affiliate pre-launch), send them an email to set expectations straight and keep them informed.

Here’s an example of an email you can use that worked wonders for me:

Affiliate Pre Launch Email Template 1

Running Optin and Sales Contests and Top JV Leaderboards

One of the most valuable things you can do to incentivize your affiliates to send you optins and sales.

That’s where optin and sales contests play an important role in enticing them to mail for you.

Figuring out the right prizes for optin and sales contests is always time consuming and difficult.

So hard that Matt McWilliams even sells a database containing affiliate prize ideas (No, I’m not kidding). Matt’s blog revolves around teaching readers how to do affiliate marketing.

The upside of running optin and sales contests is substantial. That’s why most big affiliate launches you see use contests, like Stu McClaren, Michael Hyatt and Ryan Levesque.

Getting Affiliates To Email For You

What should you offer your affiliates to get them to email for you?

Well, if you’re just starting out with running a JV launch, I recommend using guaranteed contests.

By guaranteeing your contest prizes, you protect your downside risk in event no one promotes for you.

This gives you the opportunity to offer more attractive prizes without losing money on the deal.

For Content Promotion Summit, here are the prizes we offered affiliates:

Sales Contest

#1: Tesla 3 or $40,000 cash (Guaranteed Sales = $140,000)

#2: Jet ski or $10,000 cash (Guaranteed Sales = $50,000)

#3: 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display or $2,000 cash (Guaranteed Sales = $10,000)

#4: Samsung 60-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart Led TV or $1,000 cash

#5: 4th Generation iPad or $500 cash

#6: Kindle Oasis or $250 cash

Optin Contest

#1: Epson Home Cinema 1040 1080p, 2x HDMI Home Theater Projector or $3,000 cash (Guaranteed Opt-ins = 10,000)

#2: HP Envy 34-Inch Desktop (Intel Core i5, 12 GB Ram, 1 TB HDD) or $1,500 cash (Guaranteed Opt-ins = 5,000)

#3: DeLonghi ECAM22110SB Compact Automatic Cappucino, Latte and Espresso Machine or $900 cash (Guaranteed Opt-ins = 2,500)

#4: DJI Phantom 3 Standard Quadcopter Drone with 2.7K HD Video Camera or $500 cash (Guaranteed Opt-ins = 1,500)

#5: Amazon Echo or $150 cash

Random drawing: $1,000 cash

And here are the top 3 overall prizes from SamCart’s September 2016 affiliate launch:

blog samcart com september

Prizes incentivize people to email but it’s important not to rely on them as a crutch for personal 1:1 interaction with your affiliates.

The most effective strategy I’ve found so far for getting affiliates to email is lots of repeated contact + personal interaction.

Many affiliate managers will try to automate the whole affiliate follow-up process but I can say that when we tried to set things on autopilot by emailing affiliates through Contactually and merge fields, few people were really pumped up to email.

It took a lot of massaging to get all our 130+ affiliates emailing.

If you’re just starting out with product launches, I don’t recommend recruiting more than 10-15 affiliates.

Again, if it’s your first product launch, I wouldn’t recommend recruiting affiliates at all, unless you’re running a virtual summit and don’t have a list of at least 5,000 subscribers.

Cody’s Take: Don’t try launching your first product with a list size of fewer than 2,000 to 5,000 email subscribers.

Affiliate Commissions

Commission rates for each type of product or service you sell should be different.

So what’s the right commission math?

Here’s a table that lays out what the “norm” is for product and service commission rates:

Product Commission Rates:


The Value of Engaging Pre-Launch Content

Your best tool for making a big splash with your launch is good pre-launch content.

Without strong pre-launch content, your launch won’t build up enough anticipation and you will fail to position yourself as the go-to authority on your launch topic.

A strong pre-launch content strategy often includes:

  • 3 to 5 short and long-form blog posts
  • An eBook
  • 1 to 2 live webinars
  • 3 to 5 teaser emails

For each piece of pre-launch content, create a separate email that can be sent to your affiliates to mail to their list.

Affiliate Swipe Copy

Writing affiliate swipe copy without a copywriter is a daunting task.

It can be done, and we managed to do it for the Content Promotion Summit and Content Marketing school launches…

… but if I were to do it over, I would have hired an email copywriter off the bat.

There are a few reasons why I recommend hiring an email copywriter:

  1. Your affiliates will see higher open and click rates when they mail their lists
  2. Your launch will run more smoothly and you won’t be overwhelmed writing copy for your list plus additional copy for your affiliates’ lists
  3. You won’t burn out other people’s lists with bad copy

Here is an example of affiliate swipe copy we used for the Content Promotion Summit:


SUBJECT: Watch 65 smart marketers help you be a better marketer.

SUBJECT: I got you a free ticket to a big upcoming marketing event…

SUBJECT: Get your free ticket to The Content Promotion Summit. Details inside

SUBJECT: Here’s precisely what top marketers do differently…

SUBJECT: The content marketer’s guide to crafting content that wins hearts and minds

Everyone’s creating all this content online: from blogs to podcasts and videos. But does it matter?

More importantly, are you accomplishing your goals with the content you deliver? Or are you simply spinning your wheels in the mud?

Well, if you’re doing it right, your content is effective and tied to your goals. Otherwise, you’re just filling up space and creating more noise.

I don’t want that to happen to you.

That’s why I want to let you know about an upcoming event to help you create and promote better content.

12 days. 12 panels. 70+ interviews with some of the brightest marketers and entrepreneurs.

Featured speakers include Jeff Bullas, Sujan Patel, Andrea Vahl, Larry Kim, Laura Roeder, Brennan Dunn, Carol Tice, Nathan Chan, Matthew Woodward, and many others.

Register Now For The Summit: {{ reflink }}

The speakers will give you a step-by-step process to go from a “no name blog” to creating a lead-generating machine.

Here’s the best part:

These guest speakers have never been together at one event before. And some of these speakers charge thousands of dollars to attend ONE of their live events.

But you can see all of them in one place for free — you can watch them all from the comfort of your home (saving you hundreds on airfare, room, and board).

The event’s broken down into the 12 stages of content marketing. Here’s just a few of the speakers’ presentations:

  • How a yoga gym used contests to generate over $12,000 in revenue.
  • The key foundation to creating Facebook ads that can generate a 4,000% return on investment.
  • How one marketer used digital empathy to get Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to read his article.
  • The magical sauce that will turn a bland blog into captivating content.
  • How to use content hubs to outrank the best-of-the-best in any niche.
  • A simple step-by-step process to get featured on the publication of your dreams.
  • How to build a magnetic community and connect with the industry elite.

Pretty cool, right? And it’s all actionable. No fluff. Just pure meat you can sink your teeth into.

Grab Your Free Ticket Now: {{ reflink }}

Hope to see you there,

{{ first_name | fallback: “”}}

PS: I recommend checking out the Summit All-Access Pass: {{ reflink }}

You’ll get instant access to all the videos, downloadable transcripts, over $1,000 in bonus resources for free, and access to several premium marketing tools. Learn more once you’ve registered for the event.


How To Email And Manage Affiliates During Your Launch

The hardest part of running a successful affiliate launch is managing and emailing the affiliates while you’re in the middle of launching your product.

To alleviate some of the anxiety and stress if you’re not using an affiliate manager, try to automate as much as you can of the affiliate management and emailing process.

Otherwise, you end up like we did during the Content Promotion Summit launch trying to write email launch copy and affiliate swipe copy in the middle of the launch.


Here is the step-by-step process I suggest for automating your affiliate management:

Step #1: Make a list of your affiliates in Google Sheets with their unique links

First, you need to issue affiliate links for each person or company that agrees to promote your product.

Next, you should add those links to a Google Sheets file. It’s easier to use a formula to speed up this process than manually exporting the links from your shopping cart software.

You can use the =CONCATENATE(“{{LANDINGPAGEAFFILIATELINK}}”,F2,”/”) to get the merged version of the partner code and any landing page link you create for your affiliates.

Then you can hit CTRL or COMMAND + the ‘D’ key to fill down the cells in that column with the unique affiliate link for each person.

Where you would replace {{LANDINGPAGEAFFILIATELINK}} with or whatever your landing page affiliate link format is excluding the unique ID for the affiliate.

As an example, using the above formula, =CONCATENATE(“”,F2,”/”)

Assuming the IS Referral Partner Code in Cell F2 is adamrotman (his first name + last name), then that formula would result in this link in Cell I2. 

CPS Affiliates

After you’ve filled up your sheet with the unique links for each affiliate, then you’ll want to export the entire Google Sheets file as a CSV and then import your data into Contactually.

Step #2: Import your list of affiliates into Contactually and assign to a bucket

In Contactually, go to Contacts and then click the Import link in the top right corner of the Contacts’ page.

Contacts Contactually and OptionsHouse Trading Application

Once you’ve successfully uploaded the file, go to the Buckets tab in Contactually and create a new bucket called [PRODUCTNAME] Affiliates.

In this case, we used [CPS] Affiliates as our bucket name.

Then, you go back to the Contacts’ tab and select the contacts you wish to add to the affiliate bucket.

I prefer using Buckets in Contactually because it helps keep things organized and you can see what affiliates you reached out to for each product launch without getting mixed up.

Another option is to use Tags but I use Buckets and then tag contacts based on their status (Active Affiliate, Inactive Affiliate, Former Affiliate, etc.).

Contacts Contactually

You can also use this system of Buckets and Tags to manage speakers you’re reaching out to and following up with for a summit and even use it to manage your relationships with friends, family and clients.

Contactually Affiliates Bucket

Step #3: Setup Email Templates in Contactually

Add all your email swipe copy as separate email templates in Contactually.


Step #4: Add Your Email Templates in Contactually to a Program

Once you’ve setup email templates in Contactually, add all of your templates to a new Program.


Go to the Programs tab in Contactually and click ‘Create Program’.

Name your new program something like “[PRODUCTNAME] Affiliate Sequence”.

Assign your Affiliates Bucket to the Program by clicking ‘+ Add bucket’ and then click the relevant Bucket name.


Next, click ‘+ Add Step’ and change the Action dropdown menu to ‘Send Message’.

Find the first email template you saved as your affiliate email swipe copy and select that as your ‘Email Template’.

Choose the email account you wish to send from.

Change ‘Delay (Days)’ based on when you initially add that person to the Affiliate Bucket.

Affiliates will be sent emails from the Program based on the delay (in days) you set for the first step in the series.

Enable ‘Open’ tracking for each step so you can see when affiliates open your emails.

I recommend Requiring approval before executing each step in your program in case you need to change an email before you automatically send it out to your affiliates.

After that, add the remaining steps in your affiliate program, creating a new step and different delay in days for each swipe copy email you plan to send your affiliates.

That’s pretty much all there is to it to setting up and automating your affiliate email sequences with Contactually.

But I don’t recommend just relying on it to get your affiliates to email, since affiliate engagement boils down to:

  • Program reputation
  • Product commission payout rates and timing
  • 1:1 engagement during the launch
  • Your relationship with each affiliate
  • Pre-launch optin and sales contests and leaderboards (Top 5 and Top 10 prizes)
  • Promotional calendars and checklists

Why You Should Use A Promotional Calendar And Checklist

Your best tool for getting affiliates engaged and emailing according to their original commitment is by making the program as easy as possible.

Here’s a calendar example from SamCart’s recent launch:

blog samcart com september launch calendar

Matt McWilliams suggests taking this a step further by sending your affiliates a checklist that lists out each piece of launch content with your recommended mailing dates.

Anything you can do to make things super easy for your affiliates will ensure they promote for you as promised.

Here are some things you can do to enhance your relationship with your affiliates:

  • Create and send them a launch content calendar with mailing dates
  • Create and send them a checklist listing each piece of launch content with mailing dates
  • Setup a 1:1 Skype call or meet them in person if they’re located in your area
  • Text them leading up the launch to get them excited about it
  • Start a Facebook Group for your JV Partners only
  • Test and optimize your sales funnel conversion rates before they mail their list
  • Offer a reciprocal email solo email promotion (solo email is a single dedicated email)
  • Sweeten the deal for top affiliates by offering a faster payout (e.g., 10 days instead of 60)
  • Promise to promote one of their future launches or co-host a webinar with them
  • Be a good friend and don’t use them for their list like a sleazeball (obviously)

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Cody Lister is the Founder of MarketDoc. He gives businesses of all sizes the tools and advice they need to leave a bold mark on the web.


  1. Hi Cody, just wanted to say this was a great read. I’m a copywriter, and I wade through trash masquerading as useful content on a daily basis. This was useful, detailed and well-written. Well done.

  2. Nice post Cody Lister!
    Email searching is a huge part of affiliate marketing. I have found a plugin of Google Chrome named “FindThatLead” by which we can find the direct email addresses of any twitter account within few seconds. Just want to share with the community.

  3. That’s an incredibly deep dive on affiliate marketing Cody and easily the most transparent product launch sequence I’ve ever seen! More power to you for doing something like this…

    You certainly weren’t kidding about not writing fluffy posts filled with air shaped like words!

    1. Thanks Avinash!

      Hopefully you find the information useful and can apply it to your own launches. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the very informative post, Cody. I just listened to you, Andy and Sujan on the summit. I appreciate that you reminded everyone that we are all human and that some with the same goals are just a bit further along and not to think we don’t have value. So refreshing in this space!

    1. Thanks, Tammy. Glad you enjoyed our segment on the List Building School summit. We had a good time! I try my best to keep it real. Look forward to seeing you on the blog more often.

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