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10 More Amazon Associate Program Lessons I Learned on My Way to Six Figure Earnings

Yesterday I shared 11 of the lessons that I’ve learned in my journey to earning over six figures from the Amazon Associates program. Today I want to share 10 more. This time we’re going to drill down a little with a few more specific tips on some of the techniques I use within posts (many of yesterdays were quite ‘general’).

I hope you find them useful.

1. Multiple Links Per Post

Lets start with a simple yet powerful technique – linking to the product you’re promoting on Amazon more than once in a post.

When I used to write reviews of products with affiliate links I did so with one link. I’m not sure why but for some reason I thought a single link would be enough and I didn’t want to run the risk of annoying readers with more. However one day it struck me that the reviews I were writing were quite long and by the time people got to the end of them they’d scrolled down the page so that the link to Amazon was no longer visible.

At this point I started to experiment with a link at the top and tail of the post. I did some heat map tracking of which link proved to be most clickable and also used Amazon’s tracking codes to see which one would ‘convert’ to a sale more often. The results were interesting:

  • both links got clicked quite a bit but the one under the article was clicked on slightly more than the top one (despite being under the fold)
  • the lower link converted better than the top one
  • those who clicked on the top link still made sales (although not as many) – but interestingly it wasn’t always the product I reviewed – often it seemed to be related products

I concluded that having read a review of a product that people were now better informed to make a purchasing decision. As a result, if they did click a link after reading the review they were more likely to buy the product.

Those clicking on the top link seemed to be more in a ‘surfing’ mode. They clicked on the link less because they wanted to buy it but more out of interest to learn more. Some bought the product and some bought other products once they were ‘in the door’ at Amazon.

These days I generally use two links per review post. The first one is usually a link on the first time I use the product’s name – the second one usually has a stronger call to action (‘check it out on Amazon’ or ‘get a price on XXXX’ or ‘buy your own copy of XXXX here’.

Live Example: Let me illustrate it with a quick video that also picks up my next point.

2. Link Images to Amazon

One of the things I learned when doing some heat map tracking of where people were clicking on my reviews is that there was quite a bit of ‘click activity’ on images of the products in the reviews – even when those images were not linked to anything (note: I use CrazyEgg for creating heatmaps – it has the option to track clicks on all areas of your page, even where there’s no link to click).

There’s something about an image that people are drawn to and that makes them click. I began to experiment with linking images to Amazon with my affiliate links. Again I set up a tracking code to test whether they converted. While they didn’t convert as well as text links they still did convert in some instances and to this day I still use this technique most of the time.

3. Buy Now Buttons

buy-now-button-amazon.pngThis is a technique I need to experiment more with but which I’ve heard others having real success with.

It basically involves using a ‘buy now’ button in your post (I’d suggest below a review would be a good place to start using it). I’ve written more about the technique here but the blogger I first heard was doing this actually used the yellow Amazon Buy Now button in his posts – the familiarity of the button seemed to help increase conversions.

Again – it’s not something I’ve done much of but it could be worth a try!

4. Multiple Promotions Per Campaign

I’ve talked above about using multiple links in a post – but another way to increase conversions on a particularly hot product is to promote it more than once over time. I only do this on very popular or highly anticipated products – but it certainly works well. The key is to find a number of different ways to post about the product over a few weeks (or longer). I wouldn’t do all of the following for a single product but here’s a few ways I’ve done it on occasion in the past.

  • If a highly anticipated camera is announced by one of the manufacturers I immediately publish a post announcing it. Amazon often has advance notice of these announcements and will usually have a page up for it where it can be pre-ordered on the same day it’s announced. I link to it immediately in my announcement post.
  • A few days later I might post a post asking readers what they think about the camera or one of its features (for example I recently wrote a post asking readers what they think about the idea of a camera with a projector built into it after the release of the Nikon Coolpix S1000pj).
  • When the camera hits stores I might post a short post announcing that it’s available.
  • When we get a review product we’ll post a review of it with our recommendations.
  • We might at some point post some other reader reviews of the product if enough of our readers have it.
  • We might put together a compilation of quotes from other sites who review the product.
  • We might pull in and embed some videos from YouTube that show the products features

Again – I wouldn’t do all of these things with a single product but if it’s a significant product release and newsworthy over a month or so around its release we might cover it in 2-3 posts. You know your readership best so tune in to where they’re at and whether you’ve posted too much on the same product – you don’t want to over do it but if it’s a product your readers are discussing and are interested in there’s plenty of ways to bring it up (and promote it on Amazon) more than once.

5. Focus Upon the Holidays

amazon-associates-christmas.pngIf you check out the chart that I shared of my earnings in yesterdays post (also pictured to the right – click to enlarge) you’ll notice that 4th Quarters of years usually were bigger than those proceeding them. The reason is simple – Christmas.

The only December that I saw a downswing when my first site was temporarily de-indexed for a few weeks by Google. Each other year there has been healthy rises for the later half of November and all of December (last December was massive).

The upswing in sales around Christmas is partly natural as people are more in a ‘buying mood’ at that time of year – but I also create content at this time of year that is specific to the holiday season.

Such content includes buying guides, reader questions getting people talking about what they’re looking to buy or would like to receive for Christmas, lists of popular/recommended products etc.

6. Promote Related Products

One of the challenges I came up against when writing about cameras regularly is that while a certain percentage of my readers were actively shopping for a new camera – many already had them. In fact writing a ‘photography tips’ blog kind of means you attract more people wanting to learn how to use a camera that they already had rather than buying a new one.

As a result I often do more promotions on ‘related products’ than cameras themselves.

In my space that means promoting lenses, flashes, memory cards and other photographic accessories as well as photography books (which is strongly related to my core ‘tips’ focus).

One great way to get suggested related products to promote is to look at the stats/reports that Amazon gives you to see what products readers are buying. After a while you’ll start to notice that they’re not only buying the products you directly promote but other products. Some will be completely irrelevant to your niche – but many times trends will emerge that could signal other products that it might be worth promoting.

Lets look at an example of this. Following is a screen capture of a small part of the orders on my Amazon account for last quarter. I have arranged them in order of how many were sold.

Hot-Products-Amazon.png

What you can see in this screen grab is that the #1 electronic item sold in the period was a Canon 50mm lens. You can see that in the ‘product Link Clicks column’ that people came to Amazon directly through a link from my site to this item – it’s something I promoted on DPS.

However look at the next most popular item (the Tiffen 52mm UV filter). You can see in the ‘Product Link Clicks’ column that there is a ’0′ figure there. I never promoted this product directly on DPS – yet 44 people bought it.

The next two items were things I promoted but the next 8 were things that people bought in number by themselves without me promoting them at all. To me knowing about these items that people buy without my prompting is GOLD! These are hot products that almost sell themselves for one reason or another.

The reason may be that Amazon is promoting them heavily or that one person is buying a lot of the one product – or they just could be great products. Whatever the reason I’m sure to look into them further and see if they could be products I should be promoting somehow.

7. Promote Pre-Orders

I’ve mentioned this one above already – but one of the things that I do that I see some other bloggers don’t do is promote the ability to Pre-Order products on Amazon.

It doesn’t happen for every product but I find more many significant ones that Amazon will create pages for new products before they’re even available for purchase.

pre-order.png

When I post an article announcing a new camera I always check Amazon first to see if they’ve already created a page for that product. If they have I make sure to mention that the product is already available for pre-ordering on Amazon.

For example last year when Canon Released the Canon EOS 50D DSLR I used this technique. This post generated 10 sales of the camera before it was even available in stores. While two of them cancelled their orders later 8 sales of a $1000+ product certainly add up!

8. Track Your Campaigns

Until a bit over a year ago I was lazy and just promoted every single Amazon affiliate link with the one tracking code. As a result while I saw what products were selling I never really knew what links on my blog were converting and what ones were not.

I eventually decided that I needed to know more about what was working for me and decided to start tracking campaigns. Amazon allows you to create 100 tracking ids (once logged into Amazon Associates you manage them at this link). I didn’t realize there was a limit until a month or so back when I hit the maximum and wish Amazon would increase it. To be honest I find their tracking system pretty messy and think it needs an overhaul – however it is great for testing what works and what doesn’t – most of what I’ve written about in other tips in these articles was learned through tracking.

Because there’s a 100 tracking code limit I would suggest creating a few general tracking codes – one for each blog, perhaps one for each category on your blog – and then use other codes for major promotions that you’re doing. This way not every Amazon link will be tracked but important ones will.

Note: I’m told that Amazon do give more tracking codes if you email them – however it’s a bit of a drawn out process. If you need more it’s worth a try (I know I’ll be trying).

9. Small Ticket Items Add Up

One of the most common criticisms that I hear of the Amazon Associates program is that it’s just too many small commissions. Getting a commission of a few % on a $15 book just doesn’t cut it for many. Some people use this to justify not using Amazon at all while others just promote big ticket items and ignore the smaller ticket products like books, DVDs, CDs etc.

While I agree that these small commissions are not much on their own – they do add up.

Yesterday I earned $401.49 from Amazon. It was actually a pretty good day, higher than average. One might think the higher than normal figure came from selling some big ticket items – but that was not the case. The highest commission for the day was a $21.34 commission. The vast majority of the sales were books sold from my list of photography books which went up on the blog recently.

The other beauty of getting lots of smaller ticket sales is that they go towards increasing the commission tier that you’re on. The more items you sell (not the more $’s you refer – but item numbers) the higher % commission you make from Amazon.

amazon-tiers.png

As you can see from the above screen capture – when you go past 6 items referred you move from a 4% commission to a 6% commission. Keep referring more and the commission increases. The only category of product not included in this is consumer electronics (frustrating for a camera guy!).

This means that if you refer enough small ticket items you can double your commissions.

Note: Amazon lets you choose two types of payment structures – ‘Classic’ and ‘Performance’. The classic one has a 4% flat commission – while the ‘performance’ one has the tiers. I’m not sure why anyone would select ‘classic’ so make sure you choose ‘Performance’!

10. Big Ticket items are the cream on Top

While I strongly advise promoting small ticket items to help boost your sale numbers and for the commission that lots of such sales can generate – it’s also worth
doing some bigger ticket promotions too.

In my experience they don’t convert anywhere near as well as cheaper items – but when they do they can give your revenue a real boost. As someone promoting cameras that can sell for several thousand dollars – I’ve had single commissions in the hundreds of dollars range (even when the commission is limited to 4% on consumer electronics). Here’s a few from the last week:

amazon-earnings.png

I hope that today and yesterday’s tips have been of help to you in growing your Amazon Associate program income. I’ve decided to wrap up this series tomorrow with a few last thoughts – 10 more slightly more general and over arching tips (update: you can read my 10 last tips for making money with Amazon here).

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Excellent tips, I’ve already put into practice some of the tips from yesterdays post. Somewhere in there should be something about how to balance you affiliate posts with your regular content.

  2. Asswass says:

    Great tips Darren. You know that yesterday I wrote a comment on your other post that I had only made $9 in 3 months. Surprisingly I logged in my account yesterday and I notice that I’ve just made more than $22 in one day.

    I’m going to write a post about it today.

  3. Tuesday Hall says:

    Thanks Darren for refreshing us on the basics of salesmanship! #3 and #5 are (from what I’ve learned and heard) are part of the cardinal rules for selling. Well, that and, “location, location, location”. :)

  4. Kelly says:

    As usual, great tips. I use affiliate links from Amazon Associates in my blog, always for small items (usually for the books I review). So far I’ve made very few sales, which I guess is normal in the first couple of months of a blog. For people like me, for whom making money out of the blog is not the most important issue in the beginning, I think promoting small items can work pretty well -no matter how small the commission, it’s always nice to get a couple of dollars after spending an afternoon writing a post.

  5. Yasmine says:

    I’m building a free WP plug-in for affiliates that includes Amazon integration for bloggers and will re-examine these tips for my specs. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Jon says:

    With regards to #9, it is good to note that when you reach the next tier of commissions and get a higher rate, they apply that rate to all the previous commissions for that month as well.

    So hitting the next rate level can result in a big jump in earnings.

  7. Mike says:

    Thanks to these tips, I’m going back and redoing a review post I wrote last night. The way you do the linking, including using the button, gave me a great idea.

  8. Chris says:

    Solid gold tips Darren!

    I’m just starting to realise the potential of Amazon for regular earnings, but having read these tips (and your previous list) I will be concentrating on them even more.

    The one thing that still bugs me (and probably every non-US affiliate) is that they still insist on paying be $ cheque. I really wish they’d follow the likes of Google and pay by direct deposit.

  9. Great advice. Some of these are common sense (target holidays) but i’ve never thought of that before.

  10. Bruno Auger says:

    I never really thought of using amazon links in my posts. I always thought sometimes that putting too many links in posts looked spammy.

    With these tips Darren has posted here has inspired me to add at least a few into most posts every now and again.

    Thanks Darren

  11. Akila says:

    A great post!
    Thanks for giving all these details.

  12. Tony Harion says:

    This stuff is gold!!
    I never thought about using this option on my blog (soon to be), mainly because the blog intends to bring sales to our own online store (based in Brazil).

    You really got me thinking:

    Well, I can´t carry all the items amazon can! So I might as well make some money from some “competitor” as well for the items I can´t carry. We I came to think of it, it´s a good idea. Even if your online store don´t convert you still make money (better than nothing right?).
    And since amazon is a “respected” retailer the chances on you getting burned out by readers not being satisfied is pretty narrow.

    I wish you would link to the program´s page, and/or where you can know more about this from them – I couldn´t find a link.

    Some basic info would also be nice to read for the last post, such as:

    Do you also get paid just for clicks and not only for purchases made?
    How do you get paid?
    Can people from other countries join too?
    Is there a down side for this? All I can see are pros…
    What other online stores offer programs like this one?
    Thank you very much for sharing this info!

  13. FFB says:

    Now here are some meat and potato tips for Amazon! Buy Now button, linking more than once, related products…I need to work on these all more.

    One think I’m working on is a product page with a list of products I would personally endorse (with links to Amazon). I’m setting this up as a page on my site for all viewers to see. Wish me luck!

  14. paul says:

    I haven’t had a chance to go through evry each post on your blog. I was looking for “detailed ” tips on AM. And right now, I find this post to be the most helpful ( personally for me) post on AM on your blog.
    Thanks!

  15. Very useful tips from a guy who has got the t-shirt when it comes to affiliation. Thanks a lot!

  16. Hi Darren,

    That was a great tips, thank you very much.

  17. Wow! Nice to read a post about a topic that hasn’t been covered a great deal that was really useful.

    I’ve found, in using older versions of WP, that the Associate link doesn’t work very well in embedded links. That’s stopped me from pursuing this as fully as I could. Generally the link doesn’t work very well. Just input. Haven’t tried in awhile. I certainly will now!

    Steven

  18. Dan Cosgrove says:

    Nice post! I’m actually a new Amazon affiliate and have been doing the ‘one link per post’ thing as well.Some easy tips here that people can actually put into effect right away.

  19. John says:

    Great advice. My amazon banners were doing nothing. I’m going to use some of your tips on contextual advertising and hopefully I will see results.

  20. Wow, great tips! I love how you use different tracking codes to determine the best way to link.

    About the Tiffen 52mm filter though… I think it was purchased so often because the two 50mm lenses you sold a lot of both use the 52mm filter size.. if you look at the Amazon pages for both lenses, you’ll see that Amazon “recommends” that tiffen filter. What’s really interesting though is that 42% of the people who bought the 50mm lens ALSO bought that UV filter (or at least I think it’s safe to assume that).

  21. I. like others in your comments, appreciate you sharing your tips about Amazon. Looks like I should be getting to work in this area. More reviews with muliple links should help, thanks again!

  22. digijoe says:

    Sweet – a gold mine of conversion information from someone who has taken the time to analyze the kind of data you can get using tracking ids.

    I’ve found amazon are pretty good with giving you more IDs fairly easily, we’re using 1000s of them now..

  23. Inspiring.

  24. Will says:

    Another amazing post, thanks for sharing. I’ve used amazon links and adsense and made a bit of money. The funny thing is I’m seeing some success with adsense on my youtube videos.

    I think a lot of us ‘fail’ because we don’t get enough traffic and we also don’t believe we can make money with these links so we give up. Just your posts alone have boosted my confidence and given me a new burst of energy, so thanks for that!

  25. Jada says:

    Thanks for this and the previous post. I noticed that am getting a few commissions for product I didn’t link to. Could this be because I linked to a search rather than a specific product page? Does anyone have insight? Thanks!

  26. Awesome stuff, thanks :) Will try it out!

  27. Quick question – do you use Amazon US only? If so, do you have a US bank account or do you receive the money by cheque?

  28. Eric C says:

    Again, I love this post. Literally, I will be implementing this on friday.

  29. Dean Taplin says:

    Thanks for sharing this information Darren. I’ve been using Amazon Associates for a couple of years now but you’ve showed me a few tricks I was unaware of.

    I too find a lot of people click on images within reviews so that is something for me to look into, as well as promoting related products, I get a lot of purchases on those too.

    The Buy Now button works well for me, I introduced it a couple of years ago after a tip from you, and it helped increase my conversions. I find a text link at the start and end of the review works well. Image links don’t convert as well, text links work best for me.

  30. Ivete says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for these two articles, I’ve been haphazardly using the Amazon affiliate links and trying to grasp some sort of information from my random earnings. Now that I’ve read your articles I have a much better idea how to move forward! I really appreciate it, thanks for your help!

  31. Paula Mooney says:

    Such great tips, Darren, especially since I’m all in Amazon mode and was up till 3 a.m. studying the strange and wonderful and never-knew-that-existed-and-i’m-not-selling-that products moving up Amazon’s movers and shakers lists.

    I made $19.65 yesterday from Amazon sales and considered that a happy blessing. Some days see nothing…this year-to-date in 2009 I’ve made $3,817.86 thru Amazon sales (not sure how much I spent for Adwords advertising before they stopped us from doing that.)

    But I love your “Buy Now” button tip. I’m trying that ASAP!

    And I hope tomorrow’s part 2 post of your Amazon Associates earnings and sales includes how much you’ve made YTD with them in 2009…seriously, Darren, we won’t consider it bragging. Wink, wink.

    You inspire us.

    Thanks,
    Paula

  32. Darren, hi,

    Just wanted to say a quick thanks for both today’s and yesterday’s posts on your Amazon program.

    They’re pure gold..! :)

    Cheers,

    Martin.

  33. Kind of sucks how they’ve decided to disallow PPC advertising for their products. I was making a KILLING on that for a while.

  34. Darren,
    Do you know what is amazon’s cookie livetime?

  35. A good expansion on your previous post.

  36. BTW how did you join amazon.com ? They don’t have Australia listed, only US, Canada, Japan,. Germany, UK and France.

  37. Ian Byrd says:

    Great tips! You’ve revived my interest in Amazon’s program :)

  38. Chris Mollo says:

    This is great! I think if one could apply all 21 tips that you have proposed, along with having adequate traffic of course, then the conversion rates would be pretty high. I also think that promotions and reviews should not be a major part of the blog. I have a personal opinion/current events blog and every 7th or 8th post I’ll talk about a movie, book, or television series I like, That’s how I make my money from Amazon. Although it’s not anything substantial yet, I’m making about $100-$150 ecery 3 months. Again, nothing big, but I have a free blog and so every little bit helps.

  39. Tremendous advice about promoting big ticket items (point #10).

    I’ve previously only focused on topical literature.

    High-end electronics is definitely a great way to boost earnings (assuming of course they convert).

  40. Great post, Darren :D
    Thanks for sharing!

  41. Thanks for your generous sharing , Darren, with excellent tips. I had almost given up on Amazon but you have inspired me to give them another go. Thanks for the encouragement.

  42. keith cooper says:

    Great tips – thanks for sharing.

    One slight ‘problem’ for me is a 60/40 split between visitors from the US and UK, so ad duplication is needed.

    Amazon UK have also just added an unpopular £7 ‘cap’ on commission from items, which has killed my ‘big ticket’ UK income

  43. luca says:

    excellent information that I wanna adopt for a new site I’ve created for local activities about kids and families. Selling products via Amazon is a way I wanna follow and your tips have been really useful and timely, at this point.
    Thanks again and… let us know if you have additional tips to share :)
    Luca

  44. OneDiabetic says:

    two, thoroughly eye opening post’s about amazon affiliates. My blog is based on information, and personal experience rather than promoting products and making sales, so my Amazon links have not been greatly successful, but hopefully with some of these tips i can make a few changes!

  45. For me, just use Google Adwords to campaign the links or products.

  46. Great tips, especially #1 & 2 concerning links. I have been focusing on the Amazon widgets in my sidebars, but I am going to rework some of my older, more popular posts to include text links.

    The tip on related products will work very well for me on my movie blog, since I do a weekly post on new DVD releases.

  47. fas says:

    Wooow those are some amazing lessons. Amazon can covert well if your site is related to products like in the case you review cameras.

  48. teratips says:

    interesting and superb post, thanks Daren
    http://teratips.com

  49. Dean Saliba says:

    Again I’m going to bookmark this post for when I get my new blog up and running. I’m hoping Amazon will be my main earner form it.

  50. randy bragg says:

    Yes I am going to put this on favorites as well…