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What’s the Weirdest Thing You’ve Sold on Amazon?

Some days when I check what was bought via my Amazon Associate’s affiliate program the previous day I just have to laugh. Here’s a random sample of 10 items from yesterday’s sales which I think has to be the oddest collection of sales I’ve every had in a day.

You’ve got to love Amazon – considering all I ever link to are camera gear and books!

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve sold via Amazon’s Affiliate Program?

How to Drive Traffic to Your Affiliate Programs

christmasOne key to affiliate programs succeeding is that you have enough traffic that actually sees your affiliate links. There is little point in actually deep linking to products on pages that no one actually visits. So how can you increase the chances of people seeing and potentially clicking your affiliate links?

  • Cross Linking - a technique that I use quite a bit on some of my blogs is to cross link between posts. I don’t do it for the sake of it but if I’ve written previously on a topic I’ll link to it – particularly if that page is one that I consider to be a page that will convert well.
  • Highlight Key Posts – identify those pages on your blog that have the highest potential to convert and then highlight them in your menu or sidebar. Also check out TLA’s Feedvertising program that lets you set up advertising to any site (including pages on your own blog) in your own feeds.
  • Advertising – if you have a page that converts particularly well consider actually advertising it using programs like Performancing’s Ad Program, BlogAds (blogads.com) or AdWords.

Fine Tuning Tips

So taking all of the above into consideration – a few take home assignments for you to put into place in the lead up to the end of the year:

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Amazon Include Gift Certificates in Referral Program

Amazon have just announced that they are now allowing publishers to earn commission when readers that they refer buy a gift certificate in the Amazon store as part of their Associates program. This is only the case up until the end of the year and commissions will be a flat fee of 6%.

To get your Gift Certificate link (aff) simply head to the ‘build links’ section and choose ‘gift certificates’ either in the text link or banner sections.

Techniques for Improving Affiliate Program Performance

christmasOnce you’ve chosen an affiliate product or program to promote on your blog you cannot just slap a link to it into your sidebar and forget about it. The task then is in thinking about how you’ll drive readers to it.

Similarly to contextual advertising – positioning of your links to these programs is essential – as is the way you actually link to it.

Keep in mind that with affiliate programs you have two tasks that need to be completed in order for you to earn something from them.

  1. Get readers to click on the link/ad to visit the affiliate program’s page
  2. Have readers actually purchase the product

Here are a few techniques that you might want to keep in mind as you fine tune your affiliate programs for the end of the year:

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How to Choose Affiliate Programs for Your Blog

christmasAnother task that is worth doing in order to prepare your blogs for the end of the year is fine tuning your affiliate programs.

Affiliate programs are quite a different way of monetizing your blog than advertising and while there are some similar principles that come into play when optimizing them they also take a different mindset to fully realize their potential.

The beauty of affiliate programs is that they have the potential to pay a lot more than most advertising programs (if you choose the right product) – the challenge is that you only earn money from them IF your reader actually takes an action (usually when they buy the product).

Choosing Affiliate Programs

There are literally hundreds of thousands of products and services that you can promote with affiliate programs on your blog. When you consider the array of products that Amazon has available (just one of many affiliate programs you can use) it is easy to feel overwhelmed by the choice. How do you make the decision what to promote? Here’s a few things to look out for:

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AdSense Referrals Program – 1 Year Review

It’s time for another earnings update on AdSense referrals.

It’s now been almost a year since they were introduced (I think it was 4 November 2005) and so we’ve all had plenty of opportunity to test them. Referrals are Google’s first venture into CPA (cost per action) advertising and I’m interested to get some discussion going over whether it’s been a good first year?

How have they gone for you?

I’ve concentrated largely upon using the AdSense referral system (and in more recently the AdWords one – coinciding with my own experimentation with AdWords) and link to them both at the base of each ProBlogger post.

I started using the AdSense referrals on the first day that they were released. I’m not sure I’m allowed to disclose actual numbers but in that time the AdSense ads have had several million impressions – several thousand clicks, several hundred sign ups and several (a handful) of conversions to the $100 payments. The total payments have just tipped into the ‘four figure’ range.

Now I could probably improve the CTR rate by positioning them more prominently – but I’m reluctant to do so knowing that the eventual conversion rate is so low.

My AdWords Referrals are on a similar track but really it’s too soon to tell (I’ve only been using it a month or so) as there are no actual conversions.

I also played around with the Picasa referral program for six or so months but the CTR and eventual conversion rate was so low (plus the earnings was just $1 per download) even when I linked to it prominently on my Digital Photography blogs that I gave up on it completely – it was wasted space really.

So all in all – my own experience with Google’s AdSense referrals is pretty poor.

I’ll hang in there with the AdSense and AdWords ones for a little while longer (at least they have a higher payout) but in comparison with other similar programs (like that of Text Link Ads and Chitika for example) I’d have to say that the conversion is simply too low to justify hanging in there much longer.

How have you found Google’s referrals program?

PS: Of course the advantage of systems like TLA and Chitika is that they are new systems – however their terms are also more generous and achievable in my humble opinion (ie the reality is that many (most?) new AdSense publishers don’t earn the $100 required to trigger a payment in their first 180 days and that most new AdWords advertisers don’t spend $100 in their first 90 days).

Amazon adds features to aStore

Astore-Beta-Logo-Announceme
Bloggers using Amazon’s aStore will have received an email today announcing some updates which include (the below is a direct quote from the email):

  • For those of you linking from your website to your aStore rather than embedding it, we have added the capability to put a link back to your website in the store navigation.
  • Advanced users can now remove both the header and category navigation when embedding the aStore within existing websites.
  • The custom product description length has been extended, allowing you to say more about the products you recommend to your customers.
  • Product detail pages now display a “crossed-out” list price followed by the Amazon.com price.
  • The page title in the browser now displays the name of the aStore combined with the category name or product name, making aStore more search-engine friendly

Amazon launches Product Preview to Associates

The Amazon Associate Program emailed their publishers today to let them know that they are officially launching their ‘Product Previews’ service to all Amazon publishers.

This has previously only been a beta test with a select group of publishers.

The ‘Product Previews’ allow you to promote Amazon products and give your readers more information about the product that you’re linking to without them leaving your site through a small popup window that opens up when readers hover the cursor over Amazon text or image links. Here’s a screen cap of an example (click for full size).

Amazon-Product-Previews

To add Product Previews you need to a script to your page’s templates and it will automatically convert image and text links that you’ve already got on those pages.

I’m not really a fan of any type of ad that pops up over a page although these ones are not nearly as bad as some other pop up ads which the user has little or no control over. At least with these ads the reader can make them disappear after they open up.

I’ve included the information page on Product Previews that Amazon provides publishers below instead of regurgitating all of the information.

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New Features Coming Soon for aStore

Astore-Beta-Logo-AnnouncemeAmazon have emailed participants in the aStore beta test (my review here) with a sneak peak of what will be included in the next version of aStores. Here’s the list:

  • Build and maintain multiple aStores using a single Associate ID
  • Specify products to feature on Category and Sub-Category pages
  • Create multiple instances of individual categories and sub-categories (e.g. Beatles Music and Rolling Stones Music)
  • Feature up to 54 products on the front page of your store rather than the current limit of nine
  • Write longer custom product descriptions
  • Better control the layout and design for use in frames by providing the capability to remove the store header and category navigation

Looks like some nice improvements but what would those of you testing aStore like to see included?