The Bigger Picture When Considering Who To Affiliate With
I see it all the time:
"Amazon aren't the best affiliate program, they only give 4% commission and it's only a 24 hour cookie, don't waste your time with them."
It's true that Amazon only gives you 4% (but you only need 7 sales in a month to get to 6%), and it's true the cookie is only 24 hours, but I'm going to repeat what Steve (IveTriedThat) said to me once when I was a relatively new marketer, and was moaning about how lame the Amazon affiliate program was:
It would be foolish to ignore the world's biggest online retailer.
And he was, as he usually is, correct.
I've made more money from Amazon's affiliate program than I have from any other program, including ones that pay out 70% and offer a 30-day cookie. So let's not write Amazon off just yet shall we?
I'm not saying you HAVE to affiliate with Amazon, you don't. There might well be some fantastic private affiliate programs out there in your niche, and that's fine.
I just want you to consider everything and remember the bigger picture is to make the most money.
So What Does The Picture Look Like?
Here are some things to consider when scouting for affiliates:
1.) How well does it convert?
You can probably find an affiliate program that will pay you 99%, give recurring commissions, and a lifetime cookie if you look long enough, but if the product they're promoting is garbage, you're going to make nothing.
I've sent decent traffic to poor offers more times than I care to think about because of this very reason.
When it comes to Amazon, those guys have invest billions of dollars into getting conversions. Most of the time you just need to get the click to Amazon.com and you'll make something.
2.) How reputable is the vendor?
I once sent people to Clickbank to buy a DVD that they could also find on Amazon. The product is 100% the same, and cost 100% the same on both platforms, but when people saw it was also available on Amazon, they often bought it there instead. I got a smaller commission, which sucked, but it was much easier to get a purchase because everybody trusts them.
On top of that, some of those customers bought something else from Amazon at the same time, so I made a little bit more.
I'd choose the other affiliate program every time of course, but I learned that it's much better to promote products people trust.
"This dude wants me to buy some product off this clickbank thing? Never heard of it, not sure if his site is legit or not now.."
3.) Do you need to only promote 1 product anyway?
There's a lot of black & white thinking with Internet marketing (there literally are things called black and white hat SEO for a start), but the best strategy is not to think "Which one?" it's to think "Can I have both?"
Why not test products on Amazon and other products and see which ones convert better?
I helped a WA member a few months back make a lot more money by telling her to put more Amazon links on her site. She wasn't keen at first because another product offered a higher commission elsewhere, but I asked her how often it sold. It turns out those Amazon ones were selling a lot more, so when she doubled down and optimized her site for Amazon, she started making more money.
Of course, if that other program had converted well, then the best course would have been to double down on THAT one instead and remove Amazon links. You only find out which one works if you're promoting both equally.
The same was true for my shaving site, I promoted amazon products and non-amazon products, but of course I tried to steer people to the non-amazon ones because I'd make $44 commission instead of $6.
Once I realized that I was making 50x more sales from the $6 than from the $44 though, I removed the $44 product, increased my promotions of the $6 one, and made 300% the money.
In many places I promote multiple products from multiple platforms, because the end game is really to create a PANORAMA of opportunities for your site and its audience.
4.) Does your audience need to think?
Again, when you send people to some marketplaces, the audience are much less likely to hesitate on their purchase. This means the 24 hour cookie is a non-issue, because people will have bought the product or not, within that window.
If they hesitate and need more time, chances are they're going to read someone else's review and get their cookie anyway.
I'd rather a 24 hour cookie that makes money than a 90 day cookie that doesn't.
Of course, I'd rather Amazon paid me 15% on a 48 hour cookie, but c'est la vie.
I'm not going to ignore them either.
Make Your Own Choice
Reading through this post again I can see it's clear that I'm biased towards Amazon. Obviously that bias comes from the money they've made me though. I'll hold my hands up, I love making money from Amazon. You got me.
The purpose of this post is to teach you to consider more than just cookie length and commission %, because there's more at play here.
I recommend you to at least test different products from different platforms until you find what works for you, and you'll eventually learn how to do your own reasoning and dig deeper.
I know some of you are going to comment that you live in Colorado or another Amazon banned state, but again, the point of this post isn't to tell you to affiliate with Amazon. It's telling you to consider all the factors that go into making money via affiliate links.