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Interview with a Pro Affiliate: Emanuel Cinca


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Staff Member
Community Leader
Apr 17, 2018
Emanuel Cinca is a name you should already know. Whether or not you know who Emanuel (Manu) is, you are going to enjoy this interview! :)

I've known Manu (@manu) for a few years now. He was previously the Head of Business Operations at one of our biggest competitor forums, STM. So, when he reached out to me about his new project (then called WHAT THE AFF) shortly after I launched affLIFT, I was very interested in what he had to say and connecting with him.

He joined affLIFT late in 2018 and we've been friends since :D

Manu now runs one of the top marketing newsletters that every member of affLIFT should be subscribed to, STACKED MARKETER:


I am subscribed and as you can see from my screenshot above, I read it every day ๐Ÿ‘

Anyway, while Manu is not necessarily running his own affiliate marketing campaigns anymore, I still consider him a pro affiliate and he has grown his business at STACKED MARKETER beautifully over the past few years. He was an obvious choice for an interesting interview. I asked our Community Leaders to help me put together some questions for Manu and sent them over last week. Here is our interview ๐Ÿ‘‡

Interview with Emanuel Cinca​

๐Ÿ‘ How much was the most you have made in a single day with affiliate marketing?

I actually don't remember exactly but I think it was near $10k revenue and 50% profit on it, just roughly. This was like 5+ years ago so I'm not completely sure.

๐Ÿ‘Ž What is the most you lost in a single day?

I can't remember any big losing days. I might have been more conservative than I should. I think the biggest losing day in reporting was around $2k.

Small note here: We did have one time a quality issue that was reported late that cost us $15k or so. We got the news in a day so I guess that was the biggest loss. That said, this was for traffic across a month.

๐Ÿ“š What is one book, article, or podcast that you think has helped you get where you are?

I can't name one book, many had an impact over time. My favorite is probably The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson. When it comes to social psychology and human behavior, you can read that book and gain as much as reading 5 other popular books on the topic (which mostly cite Aronson).

That said, other books that helped me a lot were The Poker Mindset by Matthew Hilger and Easy Game by Andrew Seidman when I was playing poker. Poker helped shape my thinking so it was very impactful after I stopped playing as well.

Next I'd mention Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman and Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman. Helped with understanding myself and others better. Even though The Social Animal is good, these two look at our own behavior from a more practical standpoint.

One last mention, a book that I should perhaps re-read now, that I certainly try to apply since starting Stacked Marketer is Tony Hsieh's Delivering Happiness.

โšฝ What is your favorite hobby?

I don't have a favorite anymore, to be honest. I enjoy the work I do, it almost always feels way more exciting than any hobby.

That said, I still enjoy video games (mostly watching these days though), football (the European kind, aka soccer, but only the late stages of big competitions), and working out.

๐Ÿ’ฐ What is 1 skill you've learned when you were doing affiliate marketing that has helped you the most with your new business adventures?

I think understanding incentives between different businesses.

Learning about buying traffic, writing strong ads and such helped but not as much as being able to understand incentives in business relationships.

๐Ÿค‘ Were you a full-time affiliate? If so, how long did it take you to accomplish that?

Yes, and I technically started full time already. To make a long story short, affiliate marketing was a pivot from what we were doing already so I dedicated myself for at least one month to see if I can make it work.

2-3 weeks in after grinding 12-16 hour days including weekends, I had my first profitable campaign and affiliate marketing then turned from a test into the next step.

๐Ÿš€ What is 1 thing we can add to affLIFT to make it better? This can be something the community does or something I do personally to make the forum better.

That's the most difficult question probably, haha. Because what I like might not be what others like nor the best for the community overall.

I do think some virtual hangouts every now and then might be cool, so people can share some wins and struggles with a face and voice next to their name.

๐Ÿ˜ข What was your least favorite part about affiliate marketing?


๐Ÿ˜ƒ What was your favorite part about affiliate marketing?

Quick feedback and iteration for campaigns. Doesn't happen as much when you advertise a free product like our newsletter, haha.

๐Ÿ”ฎ Where do you see the industry in 3-5 years?

It depends a bit on how Apple's ATT rollout really affects marketers. Affiliates that own their traffic might get a nice boost because of it.

I do think the cat and mouse game will continue for the most part but there should be a better future for those affiliates who build a direct connection with audiences (email, SMS, push, etc.)

๐Ÿง” Who is someone you are friends with in the affiliate space that you think we should get on affLIFT?

Paul Jeyapal.

๐Ÿฅ‡ Are dedicated IP addresses necessary? How many?

If you do clean stuff, not necessary. The domain (and even sending address) has more impact than the IP from my experience. We never used dedicated IPs so far but I did talk to both Campaign Monitor and Active Campaign about it.

๐Ÿ› Could you tell us about some list cleaning best practices? How often, what should be removed, etc.?

Think of cleaning frequency based on campaigns sent. I will describe what we do and then everyone can think how it can be adjusted best for their case.

We have two re-engagement segments:
  • New subscribers who haven't opened newsletters.
  • Old subscribers who stopped opening.
New: If someone doesn't open any of the first 5 newsletters, we send a re-engagement email and delete them the next day we send if they don't re-engage. We do this every day we send a newsletter so it's always "fresh".

Old: If someone doesn't open any of the last 2 months' newsletters, we send a re-engagement email and delete them the next day we send a newsletter if they don't re-engage. We also do this every day.

You can adjust to balance it better between time and the number of emails you send but please do it continuously with every email you send.

๐Ÿ‘ฎโ€โ™‚๏ธ How should affiliates deal with GDPR? Should they even care about it?

Well, not a lawyer (standard disclaimer, lol) but the key point is to make sure people opted-in and that you use their data only for what they opted in - no "extras".

๐Ÿ’ป If someone wanted to start a newsletter, what would be the top 3 points youโ€™d recommend them to do?

1. Building a minimum viable product.
Ask 10-20 friends relevant to the niche you start it in to sign up. Send 5-10 newsletters to them, every time ask for feedback and implement as much as you can in the next newsletter.

Once you have a good product, you now have 10-20 friends who saw you make quick progress, saw you took their feedback and they can help you launch publicly.

2. Craft a welcome email with purpose. Especially for Gmail, you need that first email to get a click and even better a reply if possible. You should also ask for people to move it to Primary if it's in Promotions (it should stop being in Promotions after a while).

3. Collaborate with other newsletters. Newsletter readers read newsletters. They will be the most engaged readers you can get.

๐Ÿ“Š If the newsletter isnโ€™t about any risky vertical, would you set up your own email server or just go with any recommended ESP?

If you come from a technical background, maybe. Otherwise, just go with any ESP that suits your needs. They all have good deliverability - that will be mostly based on your sender address and domain rather than the ESP.

In choosing an ESP, it's more important to look at price, features, workflow, integrations than any deliverability analysis you see online, at least from my experience.

๐Ÿš— Do you recommend using platforms for newsletters? (e.g. substack)

No. It's OK to test your writing style maybe but you should have your direct connection with your audience.

All those platforms are very much rented land, no matter how nice it sounds at first.

Speaking of which, make sure you back up your subscribers regularly in case you run into ESP issues.

โœ… What would you recommend to someone who wants to validate their newsletter idea? How much would they need to make a test for validation?

Well, point 1 from a question above applies. 10-20 friends that will give you constructive criticism is a good start. You then slowly expand and iterate on the newsletter. We also changed a lot in 3 years since we sent out the very first newsletter, haha.

๐Ÿง  How do you avoid mental churn when you have to write 250 (approximately) newsletters per year?

Luckily, we curate news as part of the newsletter so as long as there is news in the marketing world, we have something to write about.

๐Ÿ’• Is there any other platform besides email where you would prefer having your audience? (social network, forum, Telegram Channel, etc?)

Forum would be the only one because it's also a direct connection.

โ“ What is one question I should have asked you that I haven't? Please answer it as well.

Hmmm, I guess something that people are generally curious about but it's always awkward to ask (or answer): How much money do you make?

In this case, I can ask it myself and also say it's been answered in our yearly report here that anyone can read for free (not behind a form or anything, just an open PDF): https://www.stackedmarketer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/2020-Annual-Report.pdf

Thank you for the interview, Manu! Keep up the great work with STACKED MARKETER ๐Ÿš€

Some awesome threads from Manu:

and make sure to check out our previous interviews with pro affiliates!
I can't name one book, many had an impact over time. My favorite is probably The Social Animal by Elliot Aronson. When it comes to social psychology and human behavior, you can read that book and gain as much as reading 5 other popular books on the topic (which mostly cite Aronson).
I started The Social Animal last week. Amazing book. High recommended too ๐Ÿ‘
Excellent read, I've just signed up for the newsletter too.

I do think some virtual hangouts every now and then might be cool

I 2nd that! perhaps since I just got the Oculus Quest, chatting with people on VR is really amazing, think of a branded AffLift room and hosting a VR conference for AL's members.