The Real Power Of The Amazon Affiliate Program

by derek on December 19, 2008 · 58 comments

There are many of us that are trying to learn the ins and outs of affiliate marketing. As we discussed last week after I shared what not to do when it comes to affiliate marketing, success often comes down to sharing relevant products and/or promoting products that you personally recommend.
One of the affiliate programs that I have had the most success with has been the Amazon Affiliate program.
Why has the Amazon Affiliate program been so successful?
Getting people in the door!
As Darren Rowse from ProBlogger recently shared, and my numbers clearly support, simply getting people in the “door” at Amazon.com can lead to an increase in sales and determine your success with the program.
The way that the Amazon Affiliate program works is that when you refer someone to the website via a product link, widget, or search box, you earn a commission on anything that is purchased within a 24-hour period after clicking your link.
Reviewing my numbers, simply getting people in the door is in fact critical – and responsible for much of my earnings. Of all the sales that have been generated through my affiliate account during the last quarter, only 25% of them resulted from the original product link.
That means 75% of the sales, and subsequently 75% of my commissions, have been earned simply by getting people to Amazon’s website.
Now, it is important to remember that your initial link to Amazon must still be relevant to the topic at hand, otherwise your readers will not be interested in following your affiliate link and the opportunity for these additional purchases will not exist.
As an example, one post that has generated a fair amount of Amazon product clicks is this post on how to record a cell phone conversation. While people have bought the products linked in that post, they have also made additional purchases once they land on Amazon’s site, including:

As you can see, these products aren’t necessarily related to the original product link at all. But once a consumer follows your link through to Amazon, you never know what other products might catch their interest and generate a commission for you.
That is the real power of the Amazon affiliate program.
Speaking of affiliate programs and learning more about affiliate marketing, here are a few of the best-selling books on affiliate marketing that you might find interesting:

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{ 56 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan December 19, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Very useful information, thanks for sharing. Also, thanks for letting us see some real numbers behind this, in the form of the 75/25 split you’ve seen with your own referrals. I had no idea Amazon’s affiliate program worked this way, hopefully I can put this knowledge to good use 🙂
PS – Are those links to affiliate marketing books affiliate links themselves? Very meta.
Ryans last blog post..Is Palm Still in the Game?

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:13 am

Yes, those links to the books on affiliate marketing are affiliate links. I figured that I might as well put the real power of Amazon into practice, lol.

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Franklin Bishop December 21, 2008 at 12:18 pm

You are doing awesome! How much have you made
Franklin Bishops last blog post..How I Got 700 Followers on Twitter

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derek December 22, 2008 at 11:47 am

Not too much, I’ve only been making about $10-20 per month from Amazon.

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Niche Titans December 19, 2008 at 10:46 pm

That’s crazy…. I just calculated my Quarter 4 2008 Amazon stats, and I had 26% for the actual product click bought, and 75% for other products… that has resulted in $10,000+ this quarter for me… (My goal back in early summer was $360/month, to pay my car payment… guess i blew past that, huh?)
I LOVE Amazon!
Niche Titanss last blog post..List of Free Blogs and Article Submission Sites

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

Impressive! If you’d be interested in writing a guest post here on your tips to making the most of the Amazon affiliate program, let me know.

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Internet Strategist @GrowMap November 8, 2009 at 6:09 pm

Amazon’s program has the shortest duration of any affiliate program I’ve ever seen and their commission is one of the lowest. That said, they probably have one of the strongest conversion rates of any ecommerce store so you can make money with it.
One suggestion I’ve always remembered is to think beyond books. Since the commission is small there consider focusing on higher dollar products. Here are some ideas:
If your blog is about home improvement don’t forget power tools, appliances, and electronics.
If you write about music include the latest stereos, CD players, DVD players, etc. in your posts. Here’s an even stronger idea: use sites that have reviews on them to research the best products and make specific recommendations. Be sure to quote what the reviewers have mentioned.
Any product that offers tons of choices is perfect for a review because consumers will really appreciate you warning them away from lemons and helping them select the best.
I’m looking for bloggers who want to collaborate with me to promote gifts. Read the post featured in CommentLuv and contact me. I can provide far more information than the average affiliate ever sees and will even send you traffic.
.-= Internet Strategist @GrowMap´s last blog …How to Evaluate a Merchant Gift Affiliate Program =-.

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Ling@Uptake December 20, 2008 at 12:40 am

I did sign up as an Amazon Affiliate, but never did use it seriously. One time I added a few links to books fron Amazon on my blog’s sidebar, but that never got me anything in the first couple of months, so I just removed the links.
From what you say, looks like I shouldn’t have been focusing on selling those specific books, but just adding more links to Amazon where ever possible, so there’s a better chance of getting visitors to click over to Amazon.

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:18 am

Yeah, as an example, I’ve got the search widget in the sidebar and that doesn’t really generate much traffic to Amazon at all. But the post that I mentioned with targeted links generates almost all of my Amazon traffic on a recurring basis.
If you can tie links into your post, as I had done when I wrote about the gifts that I bought for my wife’s birthday earlier this year, you stand a much better chance of having people click through.

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Nick@romandock dot com December 20, 2008 at 1:19 am

Wow, those are some interesting stats! Thanks for sharing this information. It seems like affiliate marketing really is where it’s all at, I just need to learn a bit more about it and get going in that direction so I too can get my piece of the pie 🙂
Nicks last blog post..Chrysler’s Temporary Plant Shutdown: My Quest For More Information – Part I

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:20 am

Absolutely, I had previously mentioned (at least I think I did) that many of the bloggers that I met at BlogWorld indicated that affiliate sales were quickly becoming their primary source of revenue.
I am trying to squeeze in time for education as well and hopefully all of us can get our piece of the pie.

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Sarika@Balding December 20, 2008 at 5:09 am

This does sound pretty amazing. Is it too good to be true? Will it work for anyone or do u use some tricks that we don’t know about?
Sarikas last blog post..Tips to Color Hair at Home

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Nicole Price December 20, 2008 at 8:37 am

I did not know that Amazon worked this way. Thank you.
Nicole Prices last blog post..Tips to Save Money During the Holidays

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:21 am

You’re welcome!

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Steve@Trade Show Guru December 20, 2008 at 9:24 am

hey Derek,
Thanks for the reminder about how Amazon works. I used their program years ago, and was regularly surprised that people wouldn’t buy the book I recommended but would buy other books instead and I’d still make the commission. I’ve got to check them out again.
~ Steve, aka the former-Amazonian trade show guru
PS. Yeh, it was many, many years ago… back when Amazon just sold books! 🙂
Steves last blog post..The Ultimate Christmas Gift

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:22 am

Amazon sold just books? Lol. 😉
Back in those days, I believe the purchasing window was longer than the 24-hours it is now too. I want to say it was something like 3 days, which opens the door for even more affiliate sales.

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Steve@Trade Show Guru December 21, 2008 at 1:27 pm

hi Derek,
Yeh, I also remember the days of dial-up and when AOL was king, and google was probably something a baby would say. The affiliate window probably was 3 days back then, which is better than 24 hours for sure. But one thing I don’t understand is, if someone doesn’t have cookies enabled on their computer (and I think a lot of people turn them off), then once they leave the site, how does it give credit for a sale if they return? Do you understand how affiliate sales work for people that do not allow cookies?
~ Steve, aka the I-prefer-my-cookies-to-be-chocolate-chip trade show guru
Steves last blog post..Top 3 Trade Show Display Design Mistakes

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Neil@PS3 December 20, 2008 at 9:31 am

Great information, I am going to try to incorporate the amazon afilliate system into my next venture into the world of blogging to try to make some money out of it.
Thanks

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derek December 20, 2008 at 11:22 am

Good deal, hopefully you will let us know how it goes!

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Neil@PS3 December 22, 2008 at 4:13 am

I will do derek, I am thinking of doing a blog about PS3 games and gaming in general so will be able to get plenty of product links into the posts.
I have bought the domain name and am building the site with wordpress at the moment so watch this space.

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Jayson December 20, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Yeah nice tips Derek –
Amazon, and many other sites, know how to sell and “upsell” products so just getting people to their sites could easily result in other purchases.
Jaysons last blog post..Ivory Homes Staying Positive… Despite a Bleak Future for Housing

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derek December 20, 2008 at 5:20 pm

That is one nice thing about Amazon, it is a brand that just about everyone trusts and is a little more willing to make the additional purchases when shopping.

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Sean Terry December 20, 2008 at 5:05 pm

The only problem with Amazon is that the commission structure is so low, you have to do a ton of volume to make any money.
Thanks for the great post!!!
Sean Terrys last blog post..Fannie Mae 4 Property Rule…We Have a Solution!

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derek December 20, 2008 at 5:21 pm

Yeah, I had mentioned that in my previous post as I had generated roughly $1700 in sales yet had a commission of about $70. The trick is to get enough volume per month to continue moving up the commission structure.
As an example, I have moved up to the 6% commission this month and could possibly hit 6.5% before the month ends. But it does require a good deal of volume to generate anything substantial.

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Nick@romandock dot com December 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm

Every little bit helps though. Even if you get $30 a month from 7 different sources (Amazon and such) that comes out to over $200.
Nicks last blog post..Chrysler’s Temporary Plant Shutdown: My Quest For More Information – Part II

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Bromalite December 21, 2008 at 7:22 am

Yeah Amazon has a pretty sick program, I’ve used it for a lot of my affiliate sites.

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Oliver December 21, 2008 at 7:43 am

Woah, I’m gonna have to look at doing this Amazon stuff! Does it actually take much work?
If anyone would reply to my comment I would love some advice 😉

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Nick@romandock dot com December 21, 2008 at 10:15 am

Any webmarketing/affiliate venture is going to take some work. Just look at Derek’s numbers, he drove nearly $1800 worth of sales and only made $80.
The adding of the code and such to your site is pretty simple if you’re into that sort of thing. Then, the really challenging part is getting people to click-through!
Nicks last blog post..Chrysler’s Temporary Plant Shutdown: My Quest For More Information – Part II

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derek December 22, 2008 at 11:50 am

If you’re thinking you will be able to slap up a quick site with affiliate links and rake in the cash, you’re likely going to be disappointed. It does require a healthy amount of traffic and the ability to direct that traffic through your links – which I would consider to be a good deal of work.

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Steve@Free iPods December 21, 2008 at 1:15 pm

What sort of money are we talking about Derek?
I’ve just hit top five in Google UK for the term “PS3”, might be worth something to Amazon?

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derek December 22, 2008 at 11:52 am

It really depends on the amount of traffic and how targeted that traffic happens to be. With a high rating for “PS3”, I would think you might be able to have some nice results though.

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Khaled December 21, 2008 at 3:34 pm

Have to be honest I really don’t understand how all the affiliate stuff works and more to the point I thought it was just something where you could earn a few pounds extra cash, not make a living from it. Maybe I have been looking at it in the wrong light. Amazon do offer some great services though, not sure if you are aware, but if you have a retail business, they will look after all your goods for you and pack + send them to customers when you get online orders, which is working out very well for a local business I know.

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derek December 22, 2008 at 11:53 am

There are plenty of people making a living, or at least making a nice compliment to their earnings, from affiliate marketing. That is what I am striving to learn and do.

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Jessica W December 22, 2008 at 2:54 am

Yes, Amazon has very wide product list so it covers all needs of every visitors. So when you lead visitor to Amazon, pretty much everything is done if he really wants to spend some money at that moment :-). Also people know Amazon as largest store on internet and have trust in it. That’s also big plus for Amazon.
Jessica Ws last blog post..Why is Professional Web Design so Important

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peter@Peter Answers December 22, 2008 at 9:49 am

This month has been a record for me with Amazon, I’m really looking forward to pushing more next year.
One question though, can you confirm the 24-hour cookie? Is there a reference to that anywhere on Amazon?
peters last blog post..Peter Please Answer – Who Will Win American Idol?

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derek December 22, 2008 at 11:55 am

Do you have an account? In the Help section, you will find the following:
How long do visitors have to add an item to their Shopping Cart after clicking on one of my Amazon links until I no longer earn a referral fee on their purchase?
You earn referral fees on any qualifying items placed in a customer’s Shopping Cart within 24 hours of their arrival at Amazon.com via your Associates link. However, this 24-hour window closes once the customer submits his order or reenters Amazon.com through another Associate’s link. Once the window is closed, you will not earn referral fees on any subsequent purchases. However, if the customer then returns to Amazon.com through one of your Associates links, this opens a new 24-hour window.

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peter@Peter Answers January 6, 2009 at 10:30 am

Thanks again for the info Derek. I ended up selling 115 items in December and I’m already at 29 for the first 5 days of January. I’m really starting to push more Amazon! And because they are so great to work with as a consumer (I have shopped with them for many years) they are a trusted vendor and I have no problem pushing readers to them.
peters last blog post..Peter Please Answer – Is Hypnotism Real?

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derek January 6, 2009 at 10:35 am

Impressive! That is great to hear and I hope you smash those numbers from December.
Is all of this from your blog? I just took a look and like the way you have one book featured with each post.

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Erik December 22, 2008 at 3:38 pm

I totally agree with you, relevancy is the key. If you make a blog about cars, I suggest doing something related to it like car parts or automotive clothes. You’re not going to sell anything not related to your blog. This is why so many people fail with affiliate programs.

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Neil@PS3 December 22, 2008 at 4:32 pm

I will be doing a lot of PS3 related stuff soon so hopefully will be getting some more income from it.
Hope you dont mind if I mix my comment link up a bit derek. Gonna have to start building backlinks for the new site soon so gonna have 2 identities if that is ok with you

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derek December 22, 2008 at 6:34 pm

Not a problem, although it does make the end of month comment count a little tricky when compiling the top commentators.

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Neil@PS3 December 23, 2008 at 10:29 am

I will probably do one month as PS3 and the next month a different name.

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Steve@Free iPods December 30, 2008 at 12:23 pm

Wondered how long it would be before people in similar niches followed me here 🙂

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Timon Weller December 26, 2008 at 1:26 pm

Good to hear you are doing well with them, i tried them out but seemed to be getting really low CTR and ROI so gave them up.. 🙂
I might try them out again in future..
Timon Wellers last blog post..Why do some Websites or Blogs get away with Selling Links…?

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CvilleBirder@DJ Consoles and Music Mixers December 30, 2008 at 4:02 pm

My best results from Amazon have been with books about investing, and books about data center design. My best performing ad is usually a direct product link, where I may customize the background color a bit, and write a little comment about the book. Their coolest-looking ads are the carousel and slideshow widgets, but, alas, visitors don’t seem to click through and buy, so I removed them.
Once, someone bought an expensive camera thru one of my links, so that was a nice surprise.
CvilleBirders last blog post..Numark Introduces New DJ Mixers and Turntables for iPod Users and Vinyl Collectors

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will@broncos head coach fired December 30, 2008 at 5:17 pm

I have yet to try the amazon affiliate program. Ive been using the ebay affiliate program a lot though and really like that one. Although I hear now that it is really hard to get into.
wills last blog post..Mike Shanahan and dirty blue widgets

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carchit January 10, 2009 at 12:22 am

What is the best way to promote my amazon affiliate marketing website ?

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derek January 12, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Hmm, I might suggest the use of a name with your keyword in order to keep your link active per the note about KeywordLuv being used here. 🙂

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Alan February 9, 2009 at 7:27 am

I have tried various Amazon affiltating links through various sites in the past, I agree it takes an awful lot of hardwork & dedication.
I never could find my niche market though!

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Steve@Free iPods February 9, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Alan, or dare I say MoobsUK. Best check your PM box on the old forum!
Steve (Furb)
Steves last blog post..Is there a new iPhone around the corner?

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Alan February 10, 2009 at 3:05 am

Sorry Steve,
but I do not partake in that forum anymore hence my lack of postings.
send mail to admin@apple3g.co.uk

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Fred March 16, 2009 at 4:28 am

Awesome! I haven’t tried any affiliate program but I’m searching for one. I think this is the one I’m looking for. I will try to Amazon Affiliate Program and see how it works for me. Thanks for sharing.

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Jennie@join affiliate programs August 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Hey, you’re outing the best kept secret about the Amazon affiliate program 😉 John Chow had a rant about why he wouldn’t use Amazon, but like you pointed out, more savvy entrepreneurs have figured out that the program often leads to more sales than of the product you are referring.
.-= Jennie@join affiliate programs´s last blog ..Teaching Sells Review =-.

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Michael Hoppal December 9, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Interesting split there. I suppose their window really is useful. I haven’t made anything with Amazon, because I never bothered to take it too seriously. I think I could if I tried, but I’m lazy. Perhaps on my new blog…
Most of the money I make online has been through surveys and mindless, tedious work. I want to change this, but don’t know where to start. I think I’ll take a look around here.
.-= Michael Hoppal´s last blog …How to Control Yourself =-.

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AlanAllport@learn internet marketing February 6, 2011 at 9:52 am

I’ve had a bit of success mainly in seasonal markets with Amazon e.g. Christmas toys.
Quick tip for UKers like myself – don’t bother trying to market to a UK audience using .co.uk domains – for the same time and effort you’re much better off targeting the much more mature and net-savvy US market – just from my experience anyway.
Although the commission percentages are pretty low – which puts a lot of people off promoting Amazon’s Associate program – I have found truth in the statement that the trust factor with Amazon means more people are prepared to click through your affiliate links and, once they’re on Amazon’s site, there’s a good chance that they’ll buy multiple items – even stuff that’s totally unrelated to the product you’re promoting in your affiliate link.
Amazon seem to spend a lot of time researching stuff like ‘customer psychology’ and the design of their Website with stuff like ‘Other people who bought this item also bought…’ etc. do a good job of getting people to buy other stuff.
If you’re new to affiliate marketing, or you have tried it and haven’t had much success, I’d certainly recommend that you give the Amazon Associates program a go. In my experience it’s easier to sell Amazon stuff than most other affiliate programs.

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Gadget and Accsessories December 25, 2011 at 3:45 am

thanks for ur information, i know Amazon is a wonderful affiliate program, and now i’ll try it.. thanks

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