You’ve heard about a new trend called affiliate marketing and want to get in on the action. After all, you’re already promoting things through your blog, so why not make money on those recommendations? Amazon is the largest online retailer you know of, and everyone trusts them for purchases. This is why you decided to use their affiliate program for your website.
The tricky thing is that Amazon isn’t as easy to use as other affiliate programs. They’ve built a reputation that they work hard to protect, and they don’t want their affiliates damaging that reputation. Because of this they regularly audit their affiliates and their rules can be difficult to navigate.
This article will tell you how to get started on Amazon as an Amazon Associate and how to promote your products within their rules and regulations. It can even help you get out of a jam if you get the dreaded Amazon audit email!
What’s Amazon Associates?
Amazon Associates is the Amazon affiliate program. It’s a way to make commission off of sales you refer to them. Amazon Associates is a massive program that represents 8% of Amazon’s total traffic. This is a huge percentage of online sales because Amazon represents nearly half of all online sales.
How it Works
This is a referral company. Refer customers to Amazon; make profit; repeat. You get a percentage of anything that your followers buy on Amazon for the 24 hours after they click to Amazon from your site link.
Amazon is a great program to join because of how big they are. They’re masters at what they do. If your niche sells physical goods, there’s a huge chance that the goods can be purchased on Amazon. They sell everything from clothing to electronics, and even groceries! The right niche hobbyist will buy nearly everything you recommend, too.
Amazon can also work for you. Unlike other affiliate programs, your referral isn’t restricted to the product itself. If your follower buys anything at all on Amazon within 24 hours of clicking through from your link, you make commissions. Amazon wants you to make that commission because it means they made a sale. Once you get them to Amazon’s website, they will work really hard to get a sale and they are amazing at converting clicks into sales. They even know how to up sell for you!
Amazon also has a lot of different ways to promote your links. You can use regular product links, sure, but you can also create native ads. These ads look like multiple product carouses. They have product recommendations placed side by side in an attractive window that encourages clicks. They also have mobile ads.
Being fully transparent, there are a few issues with Amazon Associates. Here are some things to look out for.
Their Amazon Associates Operating Agreement (ToS) is extremely difficult to understand. It’s very full of legalese and meaty. If you don’t follow this difficult to understand agreement, you’ll get banned. This agreement is also frequently updated, which makes it hard to catch everything.
They also don’t offer the best commission rates. In some niche markets, like games, electronics, and groceries, the commission is terrible – topping out at 2 or 3%. In fact, any gift cards, alcohol, digital products, Prime purchases and subscriptions, and wireless plans pay NOTHING. 0%.
How to Start
Okay, the strengths clearly outweigh the weaknesses of the program. You’re ready t join. Here’s how to get started.
First, you have to sign up. Unfortunately, this isn’t a guarantee of acceptance. They are very difficult to join and vet approved from if you’re a new blogger with a small following. The sign up application is pretty straightforward, but you do need to verify your identity. Make sure your website looks legit or you won’t be accepted.
Once you’re accepted into the program, it’s time to start making money. To do that, you need to promote your affiliate link and get some click through traffic. There are a lot of different ways to do this – social media, YouTube, and blogging.
One of the easiest way bloggers earn commission is by rounding up the “best of” products in a given niche category and writing reviews. This creates a lot of different click throughs and backing your round up with reviews helps people narrow the focus of their purchase and make a decision… a decision to buy from your list!
Keep in mind that Amazon’s hefty ToS does NOT allow you to use their star rating or customer reviews on your site. Be careful to call it Editor’s Rating and generalize feedback. Make sure users don’t consider your ratings to be Amazon’s or you’ll get banned.
Another great product comparison is a head to head battle. You show 2 products, review them, and choose a “clear winner”. This will draw people in when they search for a specific product.
Listicles are crazy popular right now. They are dominating Internet articles. Write a listicle with several different products and you’ve once again created tons of opportunities for users to click through and purchase products from you without blatantly marketing them. Be wary of using these if you’re a small site because they can look bad to search engines. If you do these, then be sure to include internal links to full product reviews on your site as well.
Another great way to sell through affiliate links is by creating a tutorial that shows people how to do something where a product is part of the solution. These include how to guides for DIY crafters, ways to get rid of stains, and more
Following a listicle format for solutions can be great to promote. This works well for things like stain removal, home organization tips, and healthy living tips. In these, it’s important not to blatantly market too many products.
Just make sure you link to something as a casual aside in the list. For example, articles on kitchen organization tips might suggest maximizing cabinets by linking to a rack that allows you to pull out your pans when opening a cabinet instead of having to move them all over to find the pan you want. It will be buried in an article wit non-sales tips like how to pack Tupperware or arrange your pantry.
Linking with Amazon Associates
Your product-linking tool is the typical way to add links to your blog. You simply search for a product and it will generate a unique link for your affiliate ID. You can copy and paste the giant link or choose a shortened link.
The site stripe also allowed you to grab links from product pages on Amazon. This is a really easy way to add links. Just navigate to the page, and the bar widget on top will allow you to grab a text or image link or create an ad and share on social media.
If you have a WordPress site, Amazon has a plug-in that will build links for you. Install it and you can create text links and ads. They also have an API if you’ve got a skilled developer who can automate your tasks.
Understanding their Terms of Service
Amazon’s ToS is one of the largest and most complicated pieces of documentation to read. It’s got tons of rules and they’re all buried in a mess of legalese that isn’t really easy to understand.
One of their biggest regulations is that you must let people know that you are an Amazon affiliate. You have to copy and paste this sentence directly onto your site: “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”
No Downloading Images
This is the hardest one to comply with and the most frequent error. The language in their contract about images is pretty convoluted and confusing. Most of the time, their support warnings all seem to agree that you can’t use Amazon images even to promote their products.
No email marketing.
This one is a killer. Email marketing is one of the best ways to get content click throughs, so it’s odd that they would restrict this method. The easiest way around this issue is to promote the product review for your affiliate link. Let users click from your email to your blog and have the blog direct them to Amazon.
No price details.
Unless you pull it directly from the API so the price is always up to date, you can’t mention it. You can talk about affordability or use a $ to $$$$ range of pricing, but do not directly mention exact numbers.
Amazon is insanely strict so they regularly audit stores. If you are even suspected of being non-compliant they’ll send you an audit warning and you better scramble to figure out if everything is compliant with the current Agreement.
Their warning emails are usually extremely broad and don’t give you specifics when it comes to your violations so you have to make your best guess based on the broad category.
If you end up audited or banned, then be transparent. Admit your mistake and let them know what you have done to fix the mistakes across your site. At the end of the day, Amazon is a business. They understand mistakes can be made and they still want tier commission money but they’re subject to a lot more scrutiny than the smaller businesses so they don’t want their reputation ruined.
If you’re reasonable and cooperate with them, they will more than likely reinstate your account and let you continue selling through their site.
The Amazon Associates site is huge and can be difficult to manage and understand, but if you comply with the Terms of Service it can also be incredibly rewarding. Although their commissions are small, their sales are massive so you’ll be very likely to make money through then than with larger commission rates that don’t know how to close sales or up sell for you.