The Bigger Picture When Considering Who To Affiliate With

Last Update: February 09, 2016

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.

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SongbirdDL Premium
I know when to listen. Thank you Dom. This post is really helpful for me as I was debating about affiliate links. Zeroing in on one thing helps with my efforts too. Thank you.

~Danielle
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dylanrieger Premium
I love Amazon.. most people have their credit cards saved into the system!
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Dmk71152 Premium
good info for everyone
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Nick-at-WA Premium
Yes I also wants to join Amazon.:)
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NWTDennis Premium
There's no question ... Amazon has become an eCommerce force and Bezos continues to make it so. There's a reason why his net worth is right up there in the top 5. He's a smart guy ... an internet innovator.

I suppose there are product niches for products not offered by Amazon, but I've not found any. Amazon has become sort of a fair pricing standard. It becomes a course of habit for folks online. People trust Amazon. Prime membership means you never pay for shipping ... coming or going back ... no questions asked.

Their recent purchase of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion means that healthy, organic foods will soon be available, delivered right to your front door. Drone fleet delivery is coming.

So what's the down side ... 4% to 6% commission and 24 hour cookie? The potential for unintended sales easily compensates.
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abdul11 Premium
Have tried to join Amazon but with no luck it was only for activation which never happened even they send activation Number and i had to do the application more than one time,
any way Have joined Amazon UK and I am selling their product on my website,
I do not know why they are like that but find a different option to use other affiliate program and for get about them
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JohnBochtis Premium
Really informative. Yesterday I signed up for Amazon Uk and De. I think that Amazon is by far the best affiliate program because they have millions of products to advertise. I can find anything I want on Amazon and e bay
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iscool78 Premium
Thanks for the tips, Dom! Very helpful!
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dylanrieger Premium
Amazon is a good program.. nothing better than getting commission for random things people buy there.
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TraeH Premium
Great info for us beginners...thanks for sharing your insight :)
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WTucker1 Premium
great great advice. thanks for the perspective
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wknudtson Premium
Great information! Thank you for sharing!
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Sbuddgirl247 Premium
Can you please define to me what a 24 hour cookie or a 90 day cookie means?
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mickeyb123 Premium
A 'cookie' is a bit of computer code that goes onto your computer when you click on an ad or affiliate link. Say you click on a link for something advertised from an Amazon affiliate. Let's say you do not want to buy it, you click away, but the 'cookie' tells the Amazon system, when you click on it again, you were originally attracted by the affiliate you first clicked and they still get the commission!

(this, of course, works in your favor if your link was the one that was originally clicked on...)

Mickeyb
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Sbuddgirl247 Premium
Awww, I see. Thank you for clarifying that so well. I fully understand now.
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CraigUKTV Premium
Nice reading Dom.

I struggled to make any sales with Amazon in the first 3 to 4 months but have since made a couple of sales. I now know that was because my site is still in its infancy. I haven't checked my associate accounts for a few weeks so that may be more now.

I love using Amazon for several reasons. One of them is referring to customer reviews on products that I am reviewing. I think readers probably trust your review more if they can also refer to other customer reviews. I sometimes quote a couple of positive and negative comments, just so they know I am being unbiased.

I'm hoping this does the trick fro more conversions. Time will tell.

Cheers,
Craig.
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HoraceT Premium
Great post! Thank you for the education.
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Cindy624 Premium
Dom,

You are a trusted source of information! Thank you for confirming that Amazon is a great affiliate program. Really appreciate your expertise.

Blessings,
Cindy
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Marcel92 Premium
Great info, Dom. Thank you for sharing.

Marcel..
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It-Is-John Premium
Thanks for the insightful post Dom!

All the best, John
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paulkaz Premium
Fantastic post and really puts things in perspective. I too was an Amazon doubter - low commissions, short cookie life etc...

However, when I think of my own buying, probably 90% is from the giant known as Amazon! It simply has the sheer breadth of products to course from and that crucial trust factor.

Another thing to consider, if someone buys through your cookie then you get commission on all that they order in the session. That means you could earn alot more than you expected.

All in all a great post.

I have a question: do you prefer to have simple text links or Amazon widgets embedded on your pages?
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luigiblack91 Premium
Very useful information, thanks for sharing.
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Hani Premium
Just the information I was looking for. Thanks for another great post Dom!
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Just81 Premium
Great info Dom. Thanks!
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pparadise Premium
great information and the post will help many people thanks,

Best Wishes,
Iris&Sam; Richardson
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Dinh Premium
I completely agree with you to look at the big picture.
I have stuck to amazon because it's so well known and trusted so any potential buyer is not going to be scared off.
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SteveCrozza Premium
Good blog to point out what we probably know but just can't remember. Timely reminders help a lot here and this one is certainly timely.
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jkryscynski Premium
Question for you Dom, how many amazon links do you recommend per page? For example, 1 or 2 direct links of the product I am reviewing in the review plus an amazon product widget (it's on every page). Is that too much? not enough? Would love your thoughts on this.
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DomW Premium
I would probably do something like I outlined here: https://www.humanproofdesigns.com/increasing-amazon-affiliate-commissions-by-300-case-study/ make some big call to actions and get those clicks. There's no real limit as long as it's not spammy.
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jkryscynski Premium
Awesome. I will take a look. I only have 4 posts of content on my site currently and 2 of them are in the 12th position (3rd on page 2) so I'm pretty happy there but pushing to get them higher. Hopefully i can transition into some sales pretty quickly. Thanks
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cbarnes1 Premium
Great advice for someone like me just getting started here with WA!
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HPrimer Premium
Compelling and rational advice. Thanks for sharing.
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dvilla410 Premium
This is great advice. Thanks!!
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kymmie99 Premium
A good read, thank you.
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Loubelle Premium
Thank you that's helpful. I'm following you
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KatieMac Premium
wonderful post and it makes sense better to have regular turn over than one or two larger payouts
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speedicut Premium
Great post and well put Dom...thanks!
David
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Chrisss Premium
Hey Dom, i am building an amazon site at the moment, when do i apply to be an amazon associate? because as we all know if the associate account does not generate any sales, amazon will suspend it, so is it fair to say that i have to put all articles up first and have X amount of traffic before applying for associates and inserting all the links?
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speedicut Premium
I'm not as expert as Dom but I'd apply when you have your site up and running with some quality posts, comments, and pages.
You can always ask a friend to click on one of your Amazon links and then navigate to whatever they want to buy. That will generate a few sales and keep Amazon happy.
I don't have any organic Amazon sales yet but I've added links on emails and other sites and have sold about $200 worth ( around $12 for me). That keeps me from worrying about getting dropped.
David
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Seahawk8058 Premium
As long as you have an active website, they won't close it. So go ahead an apply and place things on your website.
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dj-drea Premium
Good advice Dom, as usual :) I wonder who this person is that you speak of ;)
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AriefWibowo Premium
Thanks, Dom. Another great insight from you.
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VonnieOh Premium
If the same product is available in both Amazon and Shareasale but more than double the price in Amazon, which would you affiliate with?

Would you put both the Amazon and Shareasale link in your CTA or go with just one?
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TanjaRita Premium
I am with Amazon and Shareasale. I typically link to Amazon because I feel most people are comfortable buying via amazon. However, if the product costs twice as much with Amazon, I would link to the merchant directly (which in that case would be shareasale).
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HPrimer Premium
Well stated and insightful information. Perhaps a posting about how to optimize for Amazon would be a fine follow-up topic.
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BrianManning Premium
Thanks, really useful!
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HPrimer Premium
Great observations and helpful insights. Thanks, Dom
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RaeAnnePond Premium
Very good points. Thanks for this post.
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KPIR11 Premium
Awesome information, thanks.
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Gymbulk Premium
Great info, thank you for writing
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jastewart Premium
I seem to be working through all your blogs this Sunday morning - and there's a good reason : each one is helping me to refine and simplify my workflow for my website. I had been thinking of giving up on Amazon and concentrating on affiliate programs that pay 10% or more with 60 or 90 day cookies. But now I won't because what you say here made me put myself into a buyer's shoes and I realise that I choose to buy from Amazon 90% of the time that I buy on-line.
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NWTDennis Premium
Encouraging post Dom. I recently committed my niche site to Amazon after watching my traffic plunge during December. The only thing I could figure was this was the "Amazon Effect" during the holiday season. I was promoting products on my niche site that are readily available on Amazon.

As you said, sure I'd like to have a 30 Day Cookie, but what about the power of getting credit for non niche related purchases. Is anyone stronger at this than Amazon?
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TonyMonzon Premium
hi DomW,
I agree, most people trust Amazon and would rather buy from them than some other unknown company. The CJ Affiliate program has some great advertisers as well. Cheers!
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Allen616 Premium
Thanks for the tip Dom...I am still very new to the whole experience and this has been helpful for me to figure out where to go now
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rosieM Premium
I realize what work I still have in front of me before re-applying to Amazon....lol, I 'signed up' before the 'publish now' click had time to cool off....big mistake....hahaha. Advice to one and all, before starting with Amazon make sure you are 'ready' for it. It is indeed one of the best ways to make residual income out there.
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Michelle2016 Premium
Thanks Dom, you give me hope! I have enjoyed reading your blogs.
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Defiant6 Premium
I really think I should give Amazon another try. I was kicked out of their affiliate program because I passed their 90 day window without having a single affiliate sale from my site, but they always said I could rejoin when I get more traffic. My site at the time was fairly new and I didn't have as much content as I do now.
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Spectacular1 Premium
Hi DomW! I'm sold. Enjoyed your analogy of $44 vs $6 earnings. Creative experiment. Always enjoy your blogs. Cheers, Bunny Oldridge
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EddySalomon Premium
Hey Dom.

I'm definitely one of those affiliates that have always avoided Amazon because of their crappy cookie policy and their low rates. But now you've given me something to think about. I'll give it a shot and see what happens.

Eddy
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magistudios Premium
I think you should Eddy as they have even have apparel for Italian Greyhounds! ;)

See attached.. lol
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EddySalomon Premium
Lmao Jay. We're over the dressing our dog stage. Now we have real kids to dress that grow like weeds. Lol
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dickw Premium
Hey Dom. This was really a helpful post. I had mixed messages on Amazon. You cleared them up.
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NORZ Premium
Wow! Thank you for the advise Dom. It helped me clear up some of my thoughts about affiliate sites. :D
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mckm Premium
Great post. You justified any bias you may have :)
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johnhevans Premium
Great post.
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firstborn Premium
Nice post Dom
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LLiu Premium
Awesom Dom, This blog told me some things that made me think and what is the better thing to do and not to do.
Thank you for your blog.
Linda
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AchuthanN1 Premium
Great blog. I like the way you reason it out.Thank you for sharing.
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JulietAA Premium
Thanks Dom,
You are right. Amazon is the only program I have made any money from so far.
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TJ Books Premium
Amazon pays me in gift certificates. I'm always blowing money at Amazon so that works for me. Good article, Dom! J
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maxser67 Premium
Great advice Dom!
I really believe in Amazon and has set up an account from Sweden, so it works perfectly well from outside the US, it was a little bit harder to set it up than other affiliate program but it works :)
I haven't earned any money YET so I don't know how it will work with my checks but I have taken some help to build a proper Amazone site so I'm sure that I will learn soon ;)
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Haymanc75 Premium
Great advice.

Sometimes you have to consider the exponential profit margin when considering the affiliate site the same as you would if you were choosing to price a physical product lower but sell more vs. higher but sell less.

It's also similar to considering interest rates on mortgages (term vs APR) or savings in a retirement account that grows exponentially over time.
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DarleneB Premium
Yes I'm definitely for Amazon. It doesn't take much to sell 7 items for the 6% commission. It's surprising how many items a person sells that aren't promoted on their website. It can add up pretty quick
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Dmorrow Premium
Great advice.. Thanks for putting it in perspective.
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Ruthchicago Premium
I just opened an Astore from Amazon on a new site based on credibility and trust.
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dj-drea Premium
I agree Dom! Once I started promoting Amazon, I started making daily sales! I am a believer!
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bsmith1222 Premium
Amazon works best for me as well.
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Marith Premium
Agree Dom. 2 months ago I "fired" my 4 affiliates and went with Amazon. In 2 months I have earned more from Amazon that I did with my "old" affiliates in over a year. Trust is importent!!
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RaeAnnePond Premium
Oh, by the way, this is a GREAT post! I am not to the point of adding affiliate links yet, but it never hurts to think ahead, well unless you're in WA training. Then it can confuse the heck out of you! Lol...
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RaeAnnePond Premium
Hey Dom, how do I find out if I am banned by Amazon because of the state I live in? I had heard something about Amazon being banned for affiliate marketing but at the time, I wasn't with WA, so I really didn't pay any attention to the article. I wish now I had. Can you help me find out? Probably Google, right? I always forget to turn to them first.
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Maestrob Premium
Per Associates Program Operating Agreement:

In addition, if at any time following your enrollment in the Program you become a resident of Arkansas, Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island, or Vermont, you will become ineligible to participate in the Program, and this Operating Agreement will automatically terminate, on the date you establish residency in that state. In addition, you must promptly notify us in writing of your Arkansas, Maine, Missouri, Rhode Island, or Vermont residency, which you may do via the Contact Associates Customer Service form available here.

Bryan
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RaeAnnePond Premium
Thank you!
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dickw Premium
RaeAnne thanks for asking this question....Dick
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RaeAnnePond Premium
Sure!
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TanjaRita Premium
I am with Amazon (along with other programs that allow the customer to purchase via the retailer directly). I promote amazon more often on my site because of how well known it is. I know that personally, if I clicked on a link and it took me to the retailer's website (the company that makes the product), the first thing I would do is go to amazon to see what the cost is there. I usually have a few other things I need to get from amazon so I would get that product there as well (assuming it's available).

However, in one of my articles, I have links to a specific product going to amazon and the retailer directly. I have sold 4 of these items through the retailer and only one through amazon. I need to check to see where the links are located and if I have more pointing to the retailer.
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rufat Premium
Great post Dom. I live outside the United States. Can I join Amazon program? BTW, I'm planning to buy your ready made niche site soon.
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TanjaRita Premium
Are you able to shop via amazon? As long as your country is available in the list, then you can check to see if there is an affiliate program. Just got to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com and see if you can apply.
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DomW Premium
Pretty much every country can join, if you're unsure, ask them.
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LH-CLUB Premium
Hi Dom,

I am getting ready to apply to Amazon for my hi-fi site and with the links when somebody clicks say a review and price link to check out the product what takes them to Amazon do you say on the link its Amazon or just leave it with the highlighted word.

Like my link says customer views or check out prices and reviews
I haven`t put the Name Amazon, is it ok or is it best to actually put Amazon.

Cheers,

Lou
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Chris Lee Premium
Hey Dom. I can attest to that. I have a niche jewellery site and I used to sell through an online store on ShareASale and used to get 10%. I've now switched all links to Amazon and I get 6.5%.

The 3.5% difference is made up by the more sales I do because Amazon is a trusted, well know site, rather than a relatively "unknown" online store.

My only problem with Amazon is that there is no PayPal option yet which takes me months to get and cash my cheques since I'm outside US! :(
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DomW Premium
I'm outside the us too and get a check every month, just gotta get more sales man :)
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OldMCSEGuy Premium
You seem to have your methos down.
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DomW Premium
Always room to improve though!
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EricBray Premium
Hi Dom,

I think Amazon is one of those quiet, reliable and underrated engines you have running in the background that just continues to produce because it is big, well known, dependable and has endless opportunity.... I see it as the foundation and from there I may place other offers if they fit, but Amazon remains the main base for what is offered

if you know what you are doing. Amazon can also be a great base for other offers you can add that are related to the core product. What I have been experimenting with is an Amazon based site but I am beginning to add some other related products/offers that are clickbank based or private because Amazon does not offer these, but keeping Amazon as the core and backbone. All the little sales at Amazon add up, as you said in your article... but is it possible to turbo-charge Amazon??? The answer is YES!

What marketers need to think about is being more strategic with Amazon, not just in doing review comparisons on products but also think about clustering or bundling products: that is to offer the addition of an alternative cluster/bundle pack of items that sensibly fits items together with the item of interest. This can actually be beneficial to the buyer and the buyer also get a bonus with an overall discount from Amazon for all the items in buying the group. For the associate it means a bigger dollar spend overall. There is a plugin people can buy that does this automatically by selecting the products for your and generating the bundle offer in Amazon. When the buyer clicks to buy the target item they will see the bundle, what is in it and the discount, but they can still go for the single item if they want.....smart way to up-sell with this plugin.

Thinking further out of the box with Amazon, marketers can use Easyazon which I use. Basically it puts an item selected straight into shopping cart, it then asks the shopper straight up if they want to add it to the cart...the HUGE (and I add HUGE again!) advantage of this is that your go from a 24 hour window to get commissions to....90 days (3 months) if the item is added to the cart!!!!!!! If people just click on an item to buy, it does not get automatically added to the cart and so you are stuck with only 24 hours. By this prompt occurring every time with Easyazon it bumps the Amazon opportunity considerably, especially if people use Amazon a lot and are likely to be back to shop. 90 days is bound to get you another commission or more with a regular shopper even if they don't go back to your site and are looking for something in another search that is totally unrelated to what they bought from you from your site!

Being even more strategic with the Amazon opportunity - with Eazyazon - is the ability to select the same or similar items in regional fulfilment centres for shoppers in other countries. That means that if you have a site offering US based Amazon products but a shopper from France or Germany visits your site and clicks to buy, they are then taken to Amazon France or Amazon Germany to the same or similar product from their own Amazon store, so you don't lose a sale and you still get the 90 day advantage again if they use the cart. This also is good for the customer if it means the freight component is regional rather than international and many vendors do not ship internationally too. Everyone wins and you don't lose a sale if the vendor states they item is only for the US.

This is really important because if people track their stats properly they will see the pattern of visitors from other countries, English speaking and non-English speaking, that also visit the site and potentially want to shop. If you don't add this important feature you can lose a valuable percentage of potential customer sales on search engines, depending on what your site is selling and the universal appeal. An obvious Amazon centre associates want to consider is the UK as it is very large, English speaking, and fulfils orders for many other countries such as those in Scandinavia.

So.... to wrap it up... the Amazon opportunity is much richer and larger than the basic added Amazon link for a product in your own country IF you know how to extend Amazon to get the most out of it and have a good site and products to sell. You can still add related products from other programs....but for me Amazon remains the diamond amongst the other offers I may have.

Hope this helps the discussion,

Eric
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DomW Premium
Some good ideas there. Bear in mind the 90 day cookie is ONLY for the product added, and not a universal cookie, which is where 30% of my Amazon commissions come from. I'd make less money by using the 90 day cookie, so it's not a huge advantage.
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EricBray Premium
Hi Dom,

I humbly stand corrected and apologise if I have mislead anyone.

Yes, the 90 day cookie is for the product added to the shopping cart only. So the advantage is that if the customer does not buy the product in the cart at that moment or day the cookie keeps the option open for the sale with commission for a further 89 days. This does mean that if the customer comes back to do other shopping in the next few months and sees the item still in the shopping cart, they may well act to buy at that moment and the commission is still active.

Seeing the item still in the cart seems to me a bit like a follow-up email. It is still there in the cart so the prompt is re-established to close the sale. This ads a sort of insurance by reminder to the customer to remember their initial interest and follow through.

I agree it will not be the bulk of sales but it does mean that some sales can be put back on the table that would otherwise be lost in the 30% bracket.
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AriefWibowo Premium
I just did make money from Amazon. The customer bought totally different items from what I shown on my sites. Well.. I am not complaining. Money is still money.
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DomW Premium
That's another advantage of Amazon.
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mergie1 Premium
Overall I have made more on Clickbank, but more sales on Amazon.
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DomW Premium
As long as you're considering all the factors and figuring out what makes you the most money, you're all good!
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smb11 Premium
Glad I read this :-)
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Tirolith Premium
I lost money and time on ebay.
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DomW Premium
yeah I got excited about the ebay program once but it never made me more than a few dollars.
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