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A Comprehensive Insight to the Amazon Associates Program

When it comes to selecting a top performing affiliate network to earn a decent and recurring income from…one of the top hitters up for consideration is the Amazon Associates Program.

It’s been a long running success for many, and it’s been a hardcore expensive learning period others.

There’s a few things you need to know about Amazon, if you’re considering using it for monetizing your website(s).

Within this review of the Amazon Associates Program, you’ll discover all the ins and outs of what goes into an Amazon affiliate campaign, and uncover the answers to the questions that you should have, before you decide to link into Amazon for affiliate commissions.

First up on the agenda is to establish the reputation

That’s where the companies background comes into the equation.

The Amazon company was incorporated back in 1994, before launching its Amazon.com e-commerce store in 1995. Founded by Jeff Bozos it wasn’t long to take the internet by storm. Back then it was mainly focused on selling books online.

Setting out on a mission to construct the world’s largest online bookstore, the goal was soon accomplished, and new horizons reached beyond that.

The company is now by far the world’s largest online retailer, with thousands of stock available for purchase.

All made possible by the thousands, if not millions of retail merchants, and advertisers combined together, splitting revenue.

It’s estimated that on average about 40% of sales on the Amazon platform are as a result of their associate program. In other words, affiliates account for 40% of all Amazon purchases, earning a percentage of each sale.

It wasn’t until the past few years that Amazon really amped up their business by expanding the original company concept for the books side of things, when they launched their own digital book reader in the form of the Kindle.

That’s gone onto take the Amazon store even further, creating an additional product line for advertisers to earn commissions on. It’s also made self-publishing easier and accessible to anyone who wants to see their information published online, and ready to sell repeat units.

In fact, publishing would appear to be a passion of Jeff, given that he has bought over the Washington Post newspaper in August of 2013. That came at a cost of a whopping $250m USD.  A good investment on Amazons part, considering that the ad free version is available on the Kindle, under subscription of course.

That’s just one of the millions of products you can find in the Amazon marketplace. Any product you can imagine, you’re more than likely to find it on the network..

The why behind the advertising hook into the associates program

This is a mysterious question, but it boils down to the reputation the company has. Any reputable brand that every consumer knows and trusts is sure to increase the conversion rates.

That’s something that makes promoting products through Amazon relatively easy. Although it’s not to say that it’s suitable to everyone.

The commission rates versus the effort it’s going to take you to make your earnings

As you can see from the graphic above, Amazon is all about volume. For those experienced in affiliate marketing, then shifting over 3k units per month may be something you can achieve. Some do but for the most, it is extremely difficult.

After putting all the work in to achieve an 8.5% commission, you’re really lowering your standards as there’s far higher paying commission structures attainable elsewhere.

As a good point of reference, the conversions are higher on Amazon as it is a household brand name. Unfortunately, for advertisers, the company seem to play that card to their advantage.

They’ve certainly done the marketing to build the brand, and now it’s up to you if you want to go for an affiliate network, who aren’t paying decent commissions, or to go with a higher payout tier? That’s something you’ll have to decide for your marketing business.

Another thing you have to consider is the reputation that Amazon has with consumers. They’re renowned for having the best pricing.

Unless you’re selling a product with market exclusivity, as in it’s not available for purchase elsewhere, you are going to have a price battle with retailers.

In that respect, Amazon can be a bit like a bargain basement.

Let’s take a real example of competition in action on the Amazon marketplace.

Say you want to promote the Horizon Fitness Recumbent bike from a health and fitness related website you own, or a post a Web 2.0 property. If you were to make 1 -6 sales on that, you’d earn 4% of the total sale. $17.50 per sale. Not too shabby, but what if you’re no expert and you’re audience isn’t primed to buy this particular product, but they’re still in the frame of mind to buy a recumbent bike…

As they scroll down the page, there’s a “customers also viewed” section.

 

To the left is a screenshot of what customers also viewed. This is great for assisting in the conversion aspect and recovering the sale before a customer heads elsewhere, but you’ve also cut your commission down furthermore.

That’s the bargain basement shopping style kicking in. While you expected to earn $17.50 per sale, you’re now earning $6.68 per sale.

When it comes to volume sales, and reaching targets you set yourself, such as $100 per day, you’d have to double your efforts to reach that target. The program is unpredictable in that respect.

 

 

The cookie length, duration, and location for affiliates

This is a shortfall on Amazons part and could be improved upon. When a customer clicks your associate link to arrive on Amazon, they’ll be cookied up with your referral ID for 24 hours. If a purchase isn’t made within 24 hours, you don’t earn a commission.

On top of that, many a consumer will use the wish list feature if they aren’t ready to buy, or simply have to wait for payday to make the purchase. That’s actually something that could help you use the platform. Running your promotional campaigns, or ramping up your marketing efforts closer to the end of the week or month, when people are due their pay checks and have the funds to make the purchase.

What can happen though, with the wish list is that the consumer will go to Amazon, taking you up on your recommendations, and instead of buying, add it to the wish list and buy it within a few days, week or a month later. That doesn’t count towards an applicable referral that you made.

The customer has to buy within 24 hours for you to earn the commission. That’s why there’s rave reviews about product after product on Amazon. Reviews convert the best, and when they’re accompanied by scarcity marketing, such as x% off, free delivery when you order today etc, all can help increase your conversion on that visitor session. If the sale doesn’t happen within 24 hours, you’re out of a commission.

Another way you can be screwed on your commission is by your country location. If you’re hooked into the Amazon.com associate program, and someone makes a purchase from the UK, you won’t earn.

The site is designed to help consumers get they want the fastest, so the instant you arrive on the site, you’re IP address identifies your country. A UK purchase is from Amazon.co.uk. A US purchase is on Amazon.com. A French customer would go to Amazon.fr… you get the picture.

You need to know your audiences locations to make sure your referral links work. If you’re receiving visitors from US and UK, then you’d need to have two associate accounts. One for each country.

To ensure that you don’t lose sales to the geographic location aspect, it’s best to use stuff like…”in the UK…click here” US residents, check this offer here”

That sort of thing. For those with the traffic from the two locations, try a separate account for the different country and you could find yourself earning commissions that were previously being lost to the systems set up.

You really need to know the ins and outs of Amazon to make the referral programs work for you. There seems to be too many catches that work against the new affiliate marketer, by capitalising on the lack of knowledge.

It’s all about testing and refining your campaigns to get the most out the platform, and all too many times it can take years.

Unless you use the vast amount of tools that are at your disposal.

Before you can access the tools, you need the account, so here’s how that part works.

It is simple and there’s not too much needs to be done on your part, apart from having somewhere to publish content online.

The signup page will look like:

One of the neat features that makes it easier is that if you’ve shopped with Amazon, they already have your details. Obviously the screenshot there has personal information cut out for privacy reasons, but that’s where your address would be.

From there, you simply give your company name, or if you aren’t running your own company, you’d use your own name.

You’d then put in your best website URL, and give it a description. For those who don’t have a website, you can simply use one of the many free platforms, such as Blogger to create a few user friendly posts about a specific theme. Something related to cooking, pets, books, films, games…anything that you like, just put some content out there, and then use the URL to sign up to Amazon as an associate.

The only thing you can’t do is adult related content, gambling, or anything that could cause offense to others.

Once that’s done, it’s relatively fast that you’re signed up to use the platform and get your promotions up and running.

That’s when…

The tools that Amazon gives associates help increase sales volume.

This is the core that’s lead to advertisers making use of the platform. There’s a myriad of tools that work to make your job easier.

  • The site stripe linking tool

When you’re signed up with the associates program and have your account approved, when you log into your Amazon account, the above bar will show at the top of your web browser.

Any product you’re interested in promoting, you simply use the link to this page, add to widget, add it to your aStore, or share the link via social media. There’s plenty of options.

Let’s take a look at them individually.

Link to this page feature will give you a few options. Create a contextual link, a text link, or a text and image link.

Take this product for example

If you were to be running a weight loss website, you might make a post to discuss an FAQ on weight loss with saunas. In that post, you could have a link to a home sauna for a couple of grand, earning a decent commission.

However, it’s unlikely to generate a ton of sales. Not everyone will have the money for such an extravagant purchase, but you could tie in about using a sauna at the local gym. Instead of buying your own, for a few bucks, you can use your local sauna and what can help lose weight, could be the weight loss sauna suit.

It’s costing way less than a home sauna and in comparison to an extravagant purchase over a grand, the $79.95 price tag will feel like a drop in the ocean. You’d be sure to sell more sauna suits than you would home saunas. You might even hit a home run if the two items were to be purchased.

To get the link, you’d go to the top and click on “link to this page.” That would bring up…

You can select to have the text link, a text and image link, or the image only. All you have to do with that is click on highlight HTML, copy to your clipboard, and paste where you want your link to be shown.

If you want the image only to link over to where your customers can purchase, you can see in that pop up box a preview of what your link will like.

  • The widget option for displaying products

The image on the right is an example of what a widget could look like.

It’s an option that’s there for you to display more than one product. It’s an ideal advertising tool for adding to the sidebar of a WordPress blog, or perhaps adding into part of a blog post to display different products related to the theme of your post topic.

In the example above, you could be displaying a widget with a variety of sauna suits for your customers to choose from.

That’s the search widget that’s used in that example. It allows customers to search directly from your site.

 

One of the neat features is that the ad is served from Amazons servers. So no matter how many widgets, or images you’re pulling in from Amazon, they don’t incapacitate or otherwise interfere with the efficient running of your website performance. In other words, they don’t hog the bandwidth on your site, as you’re not hosting the widgets or images.

There are other widget types to choose from and if you are going to be using the Amazon affiliate program, you’re best to test different variations to find out what works best for your conversions.

Widgets to choose from are:

Carousel - where the product images are displayed in the widget with navigational controls for your viewers to interactively shuffle the products that you’ve selected to be displayed.   

My favorites – Display your top recommended products

Deal widget - Select any category or go with the best deal on Amazon to display on your site. Updates with daily deals for your viewers

MP3 clips - This one is super neat as it adds music to your website. Each of the MP3 songs contain samples, so your viewers are able to use the widget and listen to tunes directly from your site.

With the play symbol in the middle displayed prominently, it's certaily eye catching, and encouraging for viewers to click on.

You could find some viewers heading over to purchase the songs, or you could find that the widget plays an important part of increasing your time on site, just by engaging your viewers more.

If you're running a site about music, you won't want to be without this widget. Fully customisable of course.

 

 

 

 

Latest blog updates - If you're in a niche that's supported by Amazon blogs, you could have a widget on your blog displaying the latest posts from your category, with your affiliate ID embedded.

When a reader clicks through to read a new recipe that's been published, and then goes onto buy a product mentioned on that blog post, you can earn a commission from that.

Create slideshows - With this widget, you simply select the products and the slideshow widget will display the images only, with each one being linked to the page on Amazon where your customers can purchase them if they like what they see.

Others include:

Auto parts widget - dedicated to automotive parts

Product cloud - displays product titles relevant to the keywords of your content

Wish list - Let your audience see what you love and want from Amazon

aStore widget - This is only applicable if you have an Amazon store to link to. More on that to come.

The search widget - Simple but can be effective. Customers can search the amazon marketplace directly from your site. Only when they find what they're looking for will they then use the link with your affiliate ID to head over to Amazon and make that purchase.

The aStore for Associates

Running an e-commerce store on your own site can be a frustrating task. Especially if you don’t know how to code, add shopping carts, update category listings etc.

With the aStore feature, you can add a separate store to your website, or you can create one from Amazon, where they host your store, and you direct your customers to the custom store you created.

Here’s a sample of a customised aStore for a body building site.

You can add as many products as you like and you can name it whatever you want. In that sample, the name displayed is “the bodybuilding store,” but you can call it anything you want.

If you’re looking to brand your website, perhaps if you have xtrememebodybuildingequipment.com, you could use that in your aStore name. That would be displayed up top, and you can then personalise a shopping experience suited to your target audience.

You can display different categories, with products for each.

  • Fitness equipment

  • Nutritional supplement

  • Training shoes

  • Magazines

Just to name a few categories you could be using. The purpose of the store is mainly to create tightly knit product categories where you can tailor the descriptions to match the purpose of your site.

Here’s an example of one customised category:

As you can see directly below the category, you can input whatever text you want. In that example above, it’s constructed in a way to encourages trust with your customers. You’d be letting them know you have their back. You’re explaining why the products are there and how they come recommended. Not because you’ve tried everything personally, but because you’ve been out into the marketplace and already researched the user reviews previously published.

Here’s a custom added product:

The product you hand select can be added to whatever category is most suitable to your store.

When you’re adding the product, you can add your own product description to the bottom of the product.

As you can see in that image to the left, there is the average customer reviews shown. Directly below that is the custom description. In that example, the content displayed there is designed to encourage your reader to click to view the user reviews.

That link is embedded with your affiliate link and will direct the customer over to Amazon to read the actual reviews of real users. Although, for those who stick around on your store, they can scroll down and read the product description, and some reviews, before being shown another link to read the rest on the official site. With your affiliate link being used.

That’s something that can also help you increase your conversion rates.

The aStore can be tinkered with to include anything you want, big, small, expensive, or just downright the weirdest stuff available in Amazon.

Whatever you’d like to have in your store, if it’s on Amazon, you can create your own custom aStore and make your commissions from any sales generated from there.

What’s more is that when a customer decides that they are ready to buy something, they aren’t directed straight over to Amazon to make the purchase. Each aStore has its own shopping cart.

With that feature, your customers can click the “add to cart” button, and instead of a direct link to Amazon, they can continue to shop on your store, adding as many products as they like. Once they’re ready to checkout, only then are they directed over to the Amazon checkout process.

It’s a good method for increasing revenue based on more than one product.

The downside to it is that while the stores are customisable, they aren’t the prettiest of places and there’s little you can do to make the appearance more aesthetically pleasing to your customers.

 

The Advantages to using the Amazon Associates platform for affiliate advertising

  • It’s a known household brand

  • Reputable organisation

  • Fast delivery to customers

  • Real reviews can increase your conversions

  • Fast approval time to get started

  • Prices are competitive

  • Millions of products to promote

  • Easy to use and link to

  • Plenty of tools to make your job easier

  • Social sharing in a click

  • The site is great at cross selling related products – increasing your earnings

  • Site is compatible for mobile shoppers so you don’t lose sales opportunities

  • High conversions

  • Timely payouts

  • Increased earning potential on seasonal shopping (Halloween, Back to School, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter with promotions run regularly)

  • Cookies are site wide, so if Amazon is able to cross sell other products, commissions are earned on those too.

 

The downside to Amazon Associates

  • The commissions are extremely low

  • $100 threshold ($10 for direct deposit)

  • Extremely competitive

  • 24 hour cookie duration – shortest in the industry

  • No Exclusives – There’s thousands of affiliates competing to promote Amazon products, and you will not get an exclusive deal for your readers only. It is a competitive platform which is why the commissions are so low compared to other networks

  • Percentage capped in electronics where high-ticket items are located. Restricted commissions to 4%. Although in comparison to others like Walmart that is higher but better will be attainable on specific, specialised networks.

  • Buyer traffic is necessary due to the short cookie duration. That involves mastering keyword research

  • Links are country specific, raising concerns of lost sales due to traffic interception, by altering the links.

  • To make decent money on Amazon Associates, you will need to know about traffic generation. Without traffic, there are no conversion rates applicable. That’s a given for any affiliate network, but with Amazon it’s quite a bit different, because you have to account for the lower fees you’re paid. You need plenty of traffic.

 

Of course, none of that is going to be relevant if you find yourself among the “Amazon Banned States”

Due to the controversy surrounding Amazons tax situation, there’s been a number of states across the US had the associates program abandoned. Without going into the political side of the debate, the following states are unable to participate in the Amazon Associates program.

Applicable as of August 28th 2013 (subject to alteration, check the latest operating agreement. You’ll find the disclosure at the end of the policy)

  • Arkansas

  • Colorado

  • Illinois

  • Minnesota

  • Missouri

  • North Carolina

  • Rhode Island

 

Overall objective of the Amazon Affiliate Program: B

As you can see from the above, it’s fairly balanced with pros and cons. As with everything, there’s always a downside. There’s certainly improvements could be made, but at the same time, you don’t want to disregard potential sales.

Due to the enormous amount of products available on the Amazon marketplace, if you aren’t an associate, you’re probably missing an opportunity. People turn to Amazon as a place they trust and value, so the name itself has people pulling out their wallets because they feel secure, and are probably familiar with the buying process on Amazon.

It’s a buyers’ market on Amazon so when people go there they are in the buying mindset. It’s just a case of when. For you to be paid, that when needs to be TODAY because of the cookie duration.

Is it worth focusing all your efforts on Amazons program though?

By far…no way! The commission structure is far too low, and you need to diversify your income as much as possible. Especially given the tax situation on the company.

If you fall into the pit of building an affiliate business with Amazon, only to find that the state you live in gets bumped onto the banned operating states, you’re going to be dead in the water.

You’re best to get started with Amazon, and use the links sparingly. Only earning on recommended products, while focusing your efforts on more profitable ventures, until you can afford to really work the e-commerce industry, driving traffic in the droves over to Amazon, and especially ensuring you take advantage of the seasonal shopping trends.

Amazon is by far the largest retailer and has the largest pool of affiliates helping them increase revenue year on year. That effort isn’t rewarded as much as it could be, but they are tremendous for converting your targeted traffic into sales that earn you commission.

 

 

 

B
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go to amazon associates - Overview

A Comprehensive Insight to the Amazon Associates Program

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Overall verdict: B

Due to the enormous amount of products available on the Amazon marketplace, if you aren’t an associate, you’re probably missing an opportunity. People turn to Amazon as a place they trust and value, so the name itself has people pulling out their wallets because they feel secure, and are probably familiar with the buying process on Amazon.

It’s a buyers’ market on Amazon so when people go there they are in the buying mindset. It’s just a case of when. For you to be paid, that when needs to be TODAY because of the cookie duration.

Is it worth focusing all your efforts on Amazons program though?

By far…no way! The commission structure is far too low, and you need to diversify your income as much as possible. Especially given the tax situation on the company.

If you fall into the pit of building an affiliate business with Amazon, only to find that the state you live in gets bumped onto the banned operating states, you’re going to be dead in the water.

You’re best to get started with Amazon, and use the links sparingly. Only earning on recommended products, while focusing your efforts on more profitable ventures, until you can afford to really work the e-commerce industry, driving traffic in the droves over to Amazon, and especially ensuring you take advantage of the seasonal shopping trends.

Amazon is by far the largest retailer and has the largest pool of affiliates helping them increase revenue year on year. That effort isn’t rewarded as much as it could be, but they are tremendous for converting your targeted traffic into sales that earn you commission.