If you have done any exploration in the realm of “working from home” or “being your own” boss, then it is highly likely that you have considered doing affiliate marketing. While there are different kinds of affiliate marketing, one of the most common is to embed a link to a popular product into your text, with commissions coming your way if customers make a purchase after following your link. This has become commonplace with platforms such as Mailchimp.
Mailchimp does allow affiliate links in its marketing content. However, it does not allow affiliate marketing. While the two appear to be the same and are, in fact, closely related, there are some subtle differences that are critical in you being able to use Mailchimp to grow your online business.
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Affiliate Marketing vs. Affiliate Links
Affiliate marketing is a type of business where you earn a commission from promoting other companies’ products.
Mailchimp prohibits this practice because it does not engender a culture of customer loyalty. The purpose of Mailchimp is to help businesses grow through establishing legitimate business leads and customer retention, and affiliate marketing campaigns can come across as spammy if they use email blasts to “take the commission and run.”
While closely related, affiliate links, in and of themselves, are not affiliate marketing. Affiliate links are ways for one business to recommend the products or services of another company by linking through its content.
Affiliate links are allowed by Mailchimp. As described on the Mailchimp website, “affiliate links are often used in the context of a partnership between two independent contractors or businesses.”
How to Avoid Getting Flagged as Affiliate Marketing
If you are still confused by the distinction between affiliate marketing and affiliate links, that is understandable, as it is a very nuanced difference.
The main concept to understand is that affiliate marketing and affiliate links are viewed as the same thing because most affiliate marketers use affiliate links.
However, that does not necessarily have to be the case. Any type of marketing material—digital or otherwise—that has the primary purpose of promoting a product or service that is not an integral part of the marketer’s own business is considered affiliate marketing.
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This is regardless of whether the marketer has experience using the product or has simply read about the product and is trying to sell it.
Affiliate links, while certainly capable of being used as part of an affiliate marketing structure, are meant to be helpful tools for a business to grow and/or enrich its current customer base by directing them to similar or complimentary products, services, or information.
To avoid having your affiliate links flagged as affiliate marketing and getting your Mailchimp account suspended, consider the following pieces of advice:
Have an Established Business Before Joining Mailchimp
One of the best ways to avoid having your content cited as affiliate marketing is to have a business in place before joining Mailchimp.
If you have a trustworthy website established and a track record of being able to do business in a specific field, Mailchimp will help you grow your customer base. It is more likely to view any content that links to other sites as a way for you to expand your own business, which is very much encouraged.
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However, if you do not have your own business and are simply pushing content through Mailchimp that includes a ton of links, then this will be viewed as a spammy effort to get affiliate commissions, which is prohibited by Mailchimp.
Make Your Links Closely Related to Your Own Business
Keeping your links relevant to your own business is another way to remain in favor with Mailchimp.
For example, if your website is about health and nutrition, then a link to a dietary supplement will be viewed as a way for you to grow and expand your own business, regardless of whether you receive a commission for linking to that supplement.
On the other hand, if you have a health and nutrition business and you use Mailchimp to send out email blasts linking to a snowmobile vendor, then this will assuredly be flagged as affiliate marketing.
Do Not Stuff Too Many Links into Your Content
When adding affiliate links, be sure to space them out and make them flow as naturally as possible within your Mailchimp content.
A general rule is to include no more than one link per paragraph, with multiple paragraphs between links preferable. If you have a link after every other word, then it is likely to alert the mods of some spammy activity.
Avoid Linking to Any Suspicious Websites
When making your affiliate links, make sure that none of them direct subscribers to suspicious, prohibited, or deny-listed URLs. If you have any doubts, it is best to confirm with Mailchimp directly before sending out any linked content that may get you in trouble.
Affiliate Marketing: An Example
The following example is an activity that would be prohibited by Mailchimp:
A public school teacher is looking for a way to supplement her income and sees a promotion online where she can get a 50% commission by referring sales to a company that sells asphalt roofing shingles. Using email leads generated through Mailchimp, she emails all contacts with an infographic that is heavily linked back to the roofing company’s sales page.
Affiliate Links: An Example
The following example is an activity that would be allowed by Mailchimp:
A plant-based fitness instructor uses Mailchimp to send out his weekly newsletter reminding his subscribers of creative recipes for how to incorporate plant-based protein in their post-workout meals. One of the nation’s premier plant-based chefs is coming to town that weekend, so in one of the recipes, the fitness instructor links to the chef’s website so his subscribers can search for appointment times.
As you can see, the first example is clearly using Mailchimp (and affiliate links) for affiliate marketing. In contrast, the second example effectively demonstrates how Mailchimp (and affiliate links) can be adroitly used to grow a personal business, regardless of whether the fitness instructor receives a commission for appointment referrals.
Mailchimp is an innovative platform that allows business owners to optimize their marketing and communication using automated analytical software.
In its attempts to help business owners grow their businesses and foster enduring business relationships, affiliate marketing is prohibited through Mailchimp content. However, while affiliate marketing is not permitted, affiliate links are permissible.
Although most people think the two terms are the same, there are some critical differences between the two.
While affiliate marketing can include affiliate links, it is concerned primarily with earning a commission through sales referrals for a third-party company. Affiliate links, in and of themselves, direct Mailchimp subscribers to complementary or closely-related sites that can help the target business grow and enrich its business interest.
To ensure that affiliate links do not get prohibited by Mailchimp, make sure that you have a business established, make your links are relevant to the focus of your business, avoid stuffing your content with too many links, and don’t link to any suspicious URLs.
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