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The Amazon Affiliate Program (also known as Amazon Associates) is something that every affiliate marketer should have in their arsenal – but it is not without its fault.
Amazon is the world’s largest online retailer, and offers just about any physical good that you’d want to promote. While it’s not the ideal choice in every situation, you would be foolish to ignore the power it can hold for you.
In fact, there are people who build entire companies – pulling in hundreds of thousands of dollars per year – solely around promoting products on Amazon.
In this article, I’d like to talk more about the pros and cons of Amazon’s affiliate program in detail, as well as answer some of the most common questions regarding the program.
This way, you can better idea on how you could benefit from signing up, and how to make more from Amazon’s affiliate program once you choose to do so.
The Benefits Of Amazon’s Affiliate Program
Let’s start out with the positives. There are plenty, and they’re very powerful.
Extremely Wide Selection
If I had to pick one benefit that trumps them all, it’s got to be this one.
Amazon’s commission rate isn’t that great (we’ll talk more about this later.) However, for many items, Amazon may be the only company that allows you to earn money promoting them.
If you were to do a full audit of your website, how many products have you casually mentioned, without any sort of promotional link in place to earn you money? Chances are, that product is available on Amazon, and you can began monetizing that content right now by inserting natural affiliate links.
This makes Amazon a wonderful ‘catch-all’ option when there are no other affiliate programs available for specific products.
In fact, you aren’t required to link directly to product pages either. You’re also able to link to search results pages, to let buyers browse on their own.
Actually, almost any page can be linked to – even specific sections of pages (such as reviews.)
Combined with the other benefits that I’m about to mention, you may want to link to Amazon even if alternatives are available.
You Earn Commissions On Everything Purchased
This one’s pretty neat.
If you refer somebody to Amazon and they go on to purchase, you don’t just earn a commission on the product that you promoted.
You earn a commission on everything. Even if they decide to purchase a $5,000 watch.
I still remember one of my first experiences with Amazon’s affiliate program. I was running a technology blog at the time, and quite honestly, was hardly earning anything.
I began to wonder if Amazon’s affiliate program was even legit, as I really wasn’t earning that many commissions.
Then I checked one day to see that I somebody bought the hardware to build an entire gaming PC, totaling over $2,500!
Needless to say, I was pretty freaking happy – especially since it was one of my first times making money online, period.
Instances like these are rare. People don’t tend to spend thousands of dollars at one time, unless you’re in a very expensive market.
However, it’s not uncommon for people to buy a myriad of other odds-and-ends items along with their purchase.
And you earn money from all of them.
Earn Money Globally With OneLink
One of the drawbacks of many affiliate programs – especially those selling physical goods, is that they may be restricted to customers in one country.
This means that traffic from other countries does not have the ability to earn you commissions – and sending traffic to sales pages that aren’t applicable to them provides a poor user experience as well.
Amazon rolled out a program called OneLink in 2017 that solves this problem.
Using OneLink, Amazon will automatically redirect the customer to the correct version of their website, if a matching offer is available.
Unless you’re targeting a specific country, you’re still likely to receive most of your earnings from the United States. However, this is still a great way to earn additional commissions that you otherwise may not have.
Across my website here as well as for my baby product brand, international marketplaces account for just over 20% of our total commissions.
Customers Trust Amazon
This is another huge one.
Amazon affiliate links are likely to convert better than links pointing to other retailers, simply due to the fact that consumers trust Amazon. In fact, they likely already have an account on Amazon and are completely used to the experience that Amazon provides.
According to NPR, 92% of American consumers that shop online have purchased on Amazon before. 40% buy on Amazon once or more per month, and 44% start their search for online products on Amazon – even bypassing Google entirely!
Is it really that surprising? After all, Amazon…
- Offers a very generous return and refund policy, reducing risk.
- Often ships items to people’s houses in two days or less.
- Protects people’s credit card information (which is still a major concern.)
- Often has the highest sales volume for a particular item, leading to more reviews for consumers to browse.
- Is set up for conversions. Amazon runs thousands of split-tests to improve their sales.
If there’s one site people are going to complete their purchase on, it’s Amazon.
The Drawbacks Of Amazon’s Affiliate Program
As mentioned earlier, Amazon’s affiliate program isn’t without its cons as well. It’s important to keep these things in mind, especially when determining alternatives to Amazon’s affiliate program.
Low Commission Rates
Unfortunately, you have to push a decent volume in order to generate meaningful revenue with Amazon’s affiliate program, unless you’re promoting very expensive products.
Amazon’s affiliate program pays out a variable range depending on the product’s category, ranging from 1 to 10%.
Most product categories fall between 3 and 4%. This means that on a $20 product, you’d earn a commission of only 60 to 80 cents.
It’s not that great.
But let’s look at it further. At a commission of 4% (which is standard) you would need to sell $100,000 of product a month, or nearly $3,300 a day in order to generate $4,000 / month in commissions.
I chose this number because it is roughly equivalent to the average household income in the United States.
Generating that many sales – even on a platform as powerful as Amazon’s, is difficult. This is why I typically recommend Amazon’s affiliate program as a supplemental income source, in addition to other affiliate marketing channels you’re pursuing.
Short Cookie Length
Amazon has a shockingly short cookie duration, of only 24 hours.
This means that if the customer leaves Amazon and buys within 24 hours, you still earn a commission on the purchase. However, if they purchase later than 24 hours – even if they purchased the exact product that you promoted, you won’t earn anything from that sale.
This is much shorter than the majority of affiliate programs out there.
It’s particularly a problem if you’re selling expensive products with a longer buying cycle, as people may think long and hard about these purchases before committing to them.
In this instance, it’s very important to target buyers late in the buying cycle, and utilize your content to help sell the reader on the product.
Amazon’s Return Policy
After you earn a commission, it’s not eligible to be paid out until the return period for that product has passed. Typically, this is 30 days.
Amazon buyers are well-known to abuse Amazon’s return policy, and may purchase products with the full intention of returning them later. As an Amazon seller myself, I experience this first-hand on a daily basis.
Amazon has taken steps to combat this, but it’s still a glaring issue – particularly if you’re promoting products that are prone to this, such as event items, clothing, or electronics.
Remember however, that it is the same generous return policy that aided with conversions in the first place. If not for the risk-free nature of buying from Amazon, there would surely be less buyers overall willing to make those purchases.
In this instance, Amazon’s goals and your goals are aligned. They want you to earn commissions (and keep them), because it also means that they’re earning money from it as well.
Amazon’s Affiliate Program: Q&A
Now that you know a little bit more about the pros and cons of Amazon’s affiliate program, I wanted to take some time to answer some of the most common questions about it as well.
What Are The Requirements To Sign Up For Amazon’s Affiliate Program?
You’ll be required to supply an active website, blog, application, or YouTube channel when you apply. It will help your chances of being approved dramatically if this already has original, quality content available.
How Does The Amazon Affiliate Program Work?
Using their website, you’ll be able to generate links to most pages on Amazon. These will automatically have your affiliate tag added onto them. When a link is clicked, a cookie will be placed in the visitor’s browser, notifying Amazon that you were the one that referred the sale.
What Are Some Similar Alternatives To Amazon’s Affiliate Program?
There are very few programs that offer the same selection as Amazon. However, eBay and Walmart both offer affiliate programs for their stores.
It may be worth looking at who the biggest digital retailers are for your specific industry, other than the mass-market stores mentioned so far.
Are Amazon Affiliate Links Allowed On Social Media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, etc.)?
Yes, Amazon affiliate links are allowed on social networks. However, you’ll want to ensure you’re compliant with each network’s policy regarding spam and promotional links. Additionally, Amazon may change their guidelines at any time, so it’s worth looking back over them frequently.
In regards to Reddit in particular, most subreddits ban Amazon affiliate links. Rules may differ between individual communities.
Can You Add Amazon Affiliate Links To… (WordPress, Shopify, WooCommerce, etc.)
Amazon affiliate links work the same way as any other links, so there aren’t any restrictions. Similarly to social media, you’ll want to check with the individual platform you’re using to ensure it’s allowed by them.
How Much Money Can I Make With Amazon’s Affiliate Program?
This is dependent on you. Like most strategies to make money online, the majority of people make very little, and a few people make the bulk of the earnings. Prioritize building a long-term, scaleable business rather than churning out cheap promotional content, and your earnings are likely to grow steadily over time.
How Can I Apply?
Amazon’s affiliate program is not perfect by any means, but it’s certainly worth signing up for.
The simple fact that nearly every physical product is available on their store, combined with the sheer trust that the Amazon website provides, makes it possible to earn steady commissions from the traffic your website or channel is already receiving.
It won’t make you rich overnight, but as you continue to add more links to your website, over time the commissions can add up to a sizeable amount.
If you’re already utilizing Amazon’s affiliate program, I’d love to hear about your experience. Additionally, if there are any further questions that I can answer from you, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
Finally, if you want to maximize your earnings from Amazon’s affiliate program, I highly recommend investing in my Amazon Affiliate blueprint. It covers everything I know about building significant income with Amazon Associates, and covers several advanced tactics and strategies that drastically increase the amount you earn – even with the same level of traffic.
Wishing you success with it!
– James McAllister