Amazon Affiliate Marketing- Setup, Earnings, Commissions for Associates
The Amazon Affiliate Program is not perfect …
- Amazon does not have the highest commission payments.
- They can change the rates at anytime
- They can be fussy at times with their rules.
- They are a huge company and sometimes can be bureaucratic in their decision making.
Amazon is the 800 lb gorilla in the room. They are the largest affiliate program in the world. If you are a niche marketer the Associate program is hard to ignore. They have enormous trust in the marketplace and that rubs off on you.
The billions of products mean that no matter how obscure your niche, they have products. You want to be an Amazon affiliate.
Getting Started with Amazon
Getting started with Amazon couldn’t be easier. Simple go to the Associate program page and signup. You will be enrolled in the program within five minutes. You can start adding affiliate links to your site immediately. You will have 180 days to make 3 sales. After your first sales Amazon will inspect your site and check for terms of service compliance.
We have a great post with all of the usual things that will get you banned from the Amazon affiliate program.
Setting up an Amazon Site
The easiest way to start with Amazon is with a WordPress website. you first need to select a niche that you want to market to. You make the selection based on search volume for your niche’s keywords. Try to find a niche that is not so big that there are many large sites already dominating it. We have a lot of information about keywords and niche selection in our Affiliate SEO area.
Once you have settled on a niche, you need to just perform a couple of very straight-forward steps.
1- Register a domain. Be careful selecting a name, some things to consider:
- no long exact name (EMD) domains. Google has a penalty for this, Stick to two words three at max.
- always .com if marketing to US audience
- names should be as short as possible
- partial match and brandable names are best
2- Get a hosting contract. Don’t skimp on this. use it as an affiliate challenge and add a blog-post about your choice and experience. Hosting affiliates pay great commission and you will be providing a better service and get SEO benefits. We have an in-depth guide to choosing a hosting partner in our SEO and Hosting Area.
3- Install WordPress, a free theme and start creating content. Look at other affiliate sites for design ideas. Keep it simple and easy to navigate.
4- Create content that answers user queries at Google. Choose content that you can compete for.
5- Create social channels and be active in related FaceBook groups, Reddit etc. be helpful don’t push your links.
6- Add affiliate products. After you have a bit of traffic focus on some buying-intent content and add the affiliate products to these money pages.
Your big task is to create a body of content that attracts search volume. You need both information keyword posts and buying or commercial intent keywords. You need to pay extra attention to buying links in your “money pages”.
You work hard to create lots of great content. All of your money pages are optimized. The call to action buttons are well placed. There are plenty of information posts to show your authority to Google.
Now is the time to start earning.
So how much will you be paid for sales as an Associate when you refer a sale? How long do you have to get your referred customer to purchase from Amazon? How and when will Amazon pay you? Let’s get into the details of the earning side of the Amazon affiliate program.
Amazon pays you a commission on the next purchase that your visitor makes from Amazon. The purchase must be made within 24 hours of their arrival at Amazon via your affiliate link. Your referred customer doesn’t need to purchase the item that brought them to Amazon.
Amazon has recently updated most of their commission rates. Most categories have gone down to 3%. They are still a strong affiliate program. They are the #1 retailer in the world and can’t be overlooked.
It is a good time to consider non-Amazon affiliate programs.
Here is the full commission rate card:
If I was creating a new niche site I would only select a niche that paid at least 6%. Do some keyword research to find niches in these higher commission departments. You can check-out our Keyword Tools for Affiliate Marketers post in the SEO Section for more info.
These higher commission niches would include:
High Commission Rate Product Categories
6% — Headphones, Musical Instruments, Beauty, Business and Industrial Supplies
7% — Amazon Echo and Fire Devices, Apparel, Jewelry, Luggage, Shoes, Handbags, and Watches
8% — Furniture, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products and Pantry.
10% – Digital Video Games, Luxury Beauty, and Amazon Coins
Amazon also has bounties for getting people to sign up for services. If your cookied visitor signs up for a trial or full membership for Prime, Kindle, Wedding Registry, Baby Registry, and other select programs, you will receive a few dollar flat fee for each signup.
Cookie Tracking Policy
The devil is in the details as they say. There is a very specific cookie and crediting policy for an Amazon affiliate. Amazon gets criticized for having a short cookie duration – 24hrs. But this is offset by paying you for any item purchased in that 24-hour window. Associate often get totally unrelated sales.
Let’s get into the details of how Amazon cookies work with affiliates …
- If a user goes to Amazon from your link Amazon will give them a cookie with your id. However, if the user clears their cache of cookies and then returns – you get no credit.
- The next purchase the customer you sent makes at Amazon – you earn a commission. Your customer must purchases in the 24 hours after going to Amazon from your link.
- The referred customer does NOT need to purchase the item that brought them to Amazon.
- After they purchase any item the cookie goes away. You get no credit after the first purchase, even if the next purchase is still within the 24-hour window.
- If the customer goes to Amazon from someone else’s affiliate link after yours you get no credit. The second affiliate cookie replaces yours.
- When a customer puts something in their Amazon shopping cart you will be credited for that item if the purchase is completed within 90 days. This is not a cookie but something Amazon tracks.
- Your purchases at Amazon, family and friends purchases – these are excluded from generating commissions. Amazon looks at the computer IP address, past shipping to/from physical addresses and more to determine this.
There are plugins that will add items from your affiliate store to a local cart and then transfer these items to the customers Amazon cart. We make one of the best of these Amazon store building plugins – Prosociate. This means that all of those items in the cart are going to be commission eligible for 90 days instead of 24.
So you should clearly have all of your customer’s items put into the local cart and transferred … right?
Well not so fast. You have created some “friction”. You have added a step before the customer gets to see products at Amazon. This can lead to cart abandonment and lower your Amazon conversion rate.
For many applications, the primary goal is to get the customer shopping at Amazon. Amazon is a conversion machine. Best to get them at bat as soon as possible.
Checking out local carts and Amazon cart confirmations slow down the process. You also do not get credit for extra purchases they may make when they return and check-out the cart with your item. Unless they returned with your link – the previous 24-hour cookie has expired.
There are applications where the add to cart capability makes a lot of sense. Affiliates are always experimenting trying to find the next first-mover advantage. If you have a website for your trade group or other close-knit community, you can benefit from having the 90 days to finish the sale. The members are committed to buying via your link/cart.
With Prosociate we give you both direct to Amazon or transfer to cart options.
How are you paid?
So you had a great month, now how and when will Amazon pay you. You have three options for payment:
- Amazon gift card
- Bank Transfer
Associates can also use Payoneer who will act as an intermediary getting the bank transfer and then forwarding to you as arranged. This is what affiliates use who do not have a US address for a check/gift card or US bank account for wire transfer.
People often ask about PayPal payments to affiliates. Wouldn’t that make life easier?
There is no PayPal option. After all, PayPal is owned by rival eBay.
When are you paid?
The payments come approximately 60 days from the end of the month with your sales activity. So …
- Payment for January is made in late March.
- Payment for February is made in late April.
- Payment for March is made in late May.
There is a minimum payout threshold of $100 for check and bank transfer though you can make this amount higher if you prefer. If you do not meet the $100 minimum the earnings will roll into the next month. You can request an Amazon gift card payment if the amount is less than $100 but more than $10.
Being Successful with the Amazon affiliate program
Like all affiliate marketing your money is made when you attract an audience and traffic that is referred to the seller. So you need to attract visitors that will ultimately go to Amazon and make a purchase. It begins with niche selection, you need to find a niche that is large enough to generate traffic and small enough to not be competing with larger sites with more authority.
Try to leverage Amazon’s sliding commission schedule if possible – 6-8% commission items are the earnings sweet spot.
Don’t limit yourself to just putting affiliate links on your website. Consider YouTube reviews, social media outreach, and email campaigns that send the user to your site.
Try going after high-priced items. We have a post that goes into detail about these expensive niche products.
The related articles below have lots of additional information on earning with Amazon.
Every marketer should try the Associate program. You know you are working with a conversion machine in Amazon, so your job is to send them buying traffic. In fact, if you ask any successful Internet marketer chances are good they have experience as an Amazon affiliate. You will acquire great skills that are transferable to any online business and there’s a good chance you will make some money.
Go for it!