Amazon Associate (Affiliate) Program Review: Why I love them

by Yang Yang on August 12, 2010

Go to Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com

There are tens of thousands of different affiliate programs out there you can use to monetize your traffic. A few of the biggest players are ClickBank, eBay, Amazon, CJ and Google Affiliate Network. Unlike CJ and Google Affiliate Network who are simply brokers of merchants and affiliates, Amazon and eBay are independent merchants. I tried CJ with no luck at all – when I say at all, I mean it. Maybe it’s because I’m not an AdWords type of marketer. Never tried Google Affiliate Network though, but we’ll soon find out how that goes. I’ll keep you updated on what I’m doing. ClickBank has too many information products that require strong marketing skills or generous AdWords spending to get ahead. eBay doesn’t let me sign up in the first place because of my location.

I’m currently averaging around $100 bucks per month (Update: as of Mar. 2011, I’m making about $400 / month. ) via the Amazon Associate Program. It’s not much but believe it or not, I’m really enjoying it. It’s terrific products they have there and the money is easy because what I did was just a few posts on Kavoir.com that recommends good development books to my readers. They end up buying more than what I recommended, 70% of the time I’ll say. Although they started on books, Amazon is such a huge independent merchant with such a massive inventory of almost everything you can name that you need in the daily life. So they are a rather easy start for novice affiliate marketers. All right, here goes my review of the Amazon affiliate program.

What are great?

  1. amazon associate program earning statsAmazon is a globally recognized brand. And because of this, the conversion rate is pretty high when you are sending traffic to them. Chances are the visitors you refer to Amazon used to shop there or at least heard of / known them for some time. Take my earning stats of the first 10 days of August for example, over the 622 clicks I sent to them, I have an overall conversion rate of 4.66% – that’s not bad for casual, non-targeted traffic (as opposed to traffic gathered from AdWords). Roughly speaking, 1 sale was made in every 21 people who visited Amazon via my link.
  2. People are already familiar with the products at Amazon because they are all recognized brands. It just makes the sales even easier to make. People follow and trust brands. It takes tremendous time and commitment to build a brand, but once you establish it in the market, your products and services will sell themselves. With other affiliate networks, the hard part is the pre-sale. With Amazon, you don’t even have to do that at all. The only thing you need to do is to send them to the product pages at Amazon. They are already optimized to attract the maximum sales possible.
  3. Amazon has such a diversity and abundance of products you can sell. It has a huge selection of almost everything you can think of that you may want to sell online. It covers almost all the niches that you ever have the time to build. No matter what you are interested in and the topic of your website, you are certainly to find something at Amazon that fits into it. In fact, Amazon itself has inspired me to build more niche websites in the months to come. For a start, yesterday I launched Standing Desks and Military Fiction Books. Will keep you posted on how they are doing and how I’m doing them.
  4. Many people I refer to Amazon end up purchasing much more than what I recommended. They may not buy the things on the landing page (the referral link you give them to arrive at Amazon), but the Amazon Associate Program will always credit you for anything else they purchase, even on partner sites. As long as they make the purchase(s) within 24 hours of clicking your referral link, they are are going into your affiliate credits.
  5. Amazon has a rather sophisticated and usable associate / affiliate platform. I don’t need to even start counting the number of ways you can put Amazon affiliate links up on your site: product links, banners, pages (any page on Amazon can be linked and attributed to you) and widgets (product search, Carousel, deals, mp3 clips, favorites, slideshows, auto part finders, blog updates, product cloud, wish list, Omakase and so forth) in a variety of different forms. You can also create an aStore to exhibit and sell a selected set of products to a targeted group. However, the best stuff in their arsenal is the Product Advertising API by which you can have a niche site up in minutes. You can do mass queries to get any kind of information regarding a specific product or a group of similar ones, the title, price, manufacturer, brand, publisher, description, features, availability, customer reviews, you name it. I’m going to create a script to do just that, or perhaps a WordPress plug-in to do the dirty work for you.
  6. Amazon products are rarely returned and customer payments rarely refunded. In all the sales I made until now since I started the associate membership, over 400 of them in total, only 1 return happened. It goes without saying that this is a very good sign that you will be guaranteed of the reward for your referral efforts. You certainly don’t want to recommend products that are frequently returned to your visitors and readers.
  7. Amazon Associates is absolutely the best program for beginning Internet marketers. They are easy to use and easy to get started. Sign up, visit any page on Amazon.com and you can build a referral link in 10 seconds. Post the link on your website or blog and write a genuine review. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get your first sale. Stuff on it are needed by many people and you have ocean-broad options. Best of all, for reasons I put forth above, they are really easy to sell, especially the books. For example, you can quickly start a books website with millions of pages by these books ISBN databases and link to Amazon sales page in this manner. These sites are not pretty but believe me, they are pulling adorable figures of monthly income via Amazon affiliate sales and Google AdSense.
  8. 5 times higher eCPM than AdSense. I can’t disclose any eCPM information of my AdSense performance as per the TOS, but I’m having 5 – 10 times the average eCPM with Amazon products (mostly books) than with Google AdSense. I’m not saying AdSense is inferior to Amazon associate program in this regard but you have to do it right. AdSense is a perfect money maker on large traffic that is not quite optimized and targeted, but on products sites, Amazon program rocks way better!

What are not so great?

  1. The commission rate is pretty much the lowest across the industry. They have a performance structure of variable commission rates (they call it advertising fee rates) that as the number of items you sold increase, the commission rate increases. Starting at 4.00%, the highest possible rate you can achieve is 8.50%. Some affiliate program such as those from ClickBank offers 75% or more commission rates.
  2. The cookie lifespan sucks too. It’s just 24 hours. What this means is that if the person you refer to Amazon doesn’t purchase anything within 24 hours of clicking through you referral link, you earn nothing and the referral is history. You get nothing neither even if he orders something after the 24 hours period. Other affiliate network / merchants typically have a much longer cookie period such as 60 days.
  3. Pain for foreign marketers. Amazon provides direct deposit to American residential marketers who receive their earnings almost instantly, but for foreign residents who live outside of US, check becomes the only venue to get the money. And it usually takes more than a month to arrive. It sucks. Sometimes it can really kill the motivation of foreign associates, me included. I guess they just don’t quite care about this. I would be very much glad to see them offer wire transfer as an additional approach to send the affiliate rewards.

So what do you say? I’m certainly going to create more Amazon niche websites soon! Subscribe to this blog to read more tips on making money online with the Amazon Associate Program. I’ll keep you updated on how I’m doing.

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David Hobson September 17, 2010 at 11:51 am

Hey, that review almost sounded like you were going to get commission off of it! But the end made it a little more realistic. However, just getting into the affiliate business, that’s a superb and concise summary! Thank you!

Quick question. Does the customer or “referee” have to purchase directly from Amazon, or can they purchase from an Amazon seller on the site? I think you know what I mean, but you know how under almost every product is says what the prices are of new and used models of the same item, from independant sellers? Ya, that! Thanks Yang Yang!

Yang Yang September 18, 2010 at 2:18 pm

No they don’t have to. You will still get the commissions no matter what they purchase on Amazon.com. I got rather different commissions for the same book title, so I’m sure they pay commissions even if the customer orders a used one from there.

They also have many partner sites / satellite sites such as endless.com. You will also get the commissions when the customer makes the purchase on them. Pretty cool.

The only thing that I know that they wouldn’t pay commission for is those digital books for Kindle.

christmas gifts September 17, 2010 at 6:02 pm

So, Could you advice better affiliate programs other than amazon. More earnings and better rates are more welcome.

Yang Yang September 18, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Maybe CJ.com? Never had any luck with them, though. lol~

wide format printer September 24, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Sep is very bad month for me so far, Does people buy less items in Sep ?

power led September 24, 2010 at 10:25 pm

Regarding Point 7,

I still need to wait 2 months to get my Amazon comission.

You get it right after the end of a month ?

Yang Yang September 24, 2010 at 10:35 pm

You are right. I saw my total earnings and thought they were all available for cash out.

Tefakano January 2, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Hi thanks for the Amazon review, I have been earning from amazon as well, but for the amount of traffic I feel you dont earn as much as compared to other affiliate programs :(

Anyways i have a Q

What happens when a customer clicks on one link, gets a cookie from Affiliate #1 and one hour later clicks another link and gets a cookie from affiliate #2 – which affiliate will get the money?

Thanks in advance!

Yang Yang January 3, 2011 at 9:14 pm

No idea how amazon actually addresses this but I believe it’s the latter one who gets the credit.

Frank January 9, 2011 at 10:57 am

If I am an Amazon affiliate and someone clicks on my ad but doesn’t order anything, then a few minutes later goes to their own Amazon account, would I get credit, if they are placing the order just through regular Amazon.com, not clicking on Amazon through my link?

Yang Yang January 11, 2011 at 11:04 am

You will get your credit if the referral orders within 24 hours after clicking your link.

Goz January 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I found your post very informational. Please I would like to know if you can run multiple affiliate programs on a single website.

Yang Yang January 26, 2011 at 9:03 am

Of course you can. Everybody can. Except for some programs that may exhibitly prohibit other programs on the same site or page. Adsense did this a few years ago but not any more. Never heard Amazon had such a term.

Genevieve May 4, 2011 at 8:08 am

You’re a real deep thinker. Thanks for sahirng.

howfixcomputer January 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm

Nice article. Just signed up for the amazon affiliate program. We’ll see how it goes. It’s interesting how customers may get a little carried away with their amazon and end up buying different or more than you suggested.

Martijn February 1, 2011 at 9:15 am

Interesting article. While signing with the Amazon Associate (Affiliate) Program for my website I noticed that your point 2) of “What are no so great?” may have changed since December 2010. From what I read it seams that Amazon has extended the 24 hours to 89 days.

Also worth noting that for those just signing up and anticipating a lower traffic and income at the start; Amazon UK (which covers all of Europe) has a £25 before payout while Amazon US offers a more attractive starting point of $10.

Yang Yang February 1, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Thank you for the information. Are you sure they have extended the cookie period from 24 hours to 89 days? That’s A LOT more!

Donato July 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm

Thanks for the indepth and honest review. It is hard to find honest people out there these days. It is not a get rich quick scheme, but can provide a decent revenue stream for your efforts. I will give them a shot.
Thx again for the honesty.

Mia September 14, 2011 at 4:19 am

Thank you for being honest and sharing everything. You are THE BEST!

I have one question
If somebody cliked your refferal link and didn’t buy anything in the next 24 hours, but after a few days that same pearson clicks again on your link and this time buys something do you get commision?

Than you

Yang Yang September 14, 2011 at 2:13 pm

If he clicks your referral link again and buys something within 24 hours of that click, I believe you WILL get the commission.

Androidage September 27, 2011 at 2:00 am

Hi Yang,

Amazon affiliate is a suitable programme for each and every on who run a blog or website, in order to get maximum conversion, we need to write some good review of the products about our niche topic and turn the traffic to our site. After that we need to handle some tips to convert more people in to sales.

Thats fair enough I believe to become a top Amazon affiliate soon.

Thanks to the post.

Azhar Khan November 22, 2011 at 11:37 pm

I live in South Africa but my bank allows me to use a routing number. Does this mean I can get Direct Deposits??? Or should I switch to Cheques. I’m still setting up and haven’t even published my site but when the first $100 comes, I don’t want to lose it.

Ashley January 27, 2012 at 9:43 am

After reading your post i will be adding a few amazon books to my website. Time to give out some amazon cookies!

Danielle October 7, 2012 at 3:58 am

This is a really excellent article. I’ve been making money as an Amazon affiliate for a while, but recently my little boy asked me if he could have his own blog… I couldn’t say no, so I set him up with a blogspot blog and we monetized it with Amazon and AdSense. He gets to keep any earnings. ( I also use it as a homework and study tool, too, plus it’s great for the ‘family business’ ideals I’m trying to instill in him and his brother). I do most of the work (all of the writing) but we all sit around and browse Amazon (and Pinterest too) for cool products and then we write about them on our boys’ blogs.

For me I focus on building Authority, e-commerce type sites populated with Amazon products… but I have the most fun with my boys’ blogs.

Gopal Iyer December 13, 2012 at 7:00 am

Amazon Associates is a great program. So many products to promote and great name recognition. But, one should keep in mind that promoting low cost items is not that good. One should promote items with value $150 or more

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