Many bloggers feel the need to flock to the Amazon affiliate program when they begin their affiliate marketing journey. Can you blame them? Most affiliate marketing advice out there pertains to joining this program as soon as you can. I am here to shed some light on why this program isn't all it's cracked up to be. Here's why the Amazon affiliate program may not be that great after all.
1. Amazon's Affiliate Program Has Awful Commission Rates
First, let's chat about the commission rates. Amazon has an awful commission structure, which makes it challenging to make money with Amazon's program. The Amazon commission structure is so fractured; it can be difficult to tell if your promotions will make a dent in your pocketbook.
For example, if video games are on your list of things you promote, you can expect to make a pretty modest amount with Amazon's program.
Another example of how weird their commission structure can be is beauty. Luxury beauty has a 10% commission rate right now, while regular beauty has a 6% commission rate. How do you tell the difference when you are promoting Amazon?
Last example: Amazon coins can make you 10% commission, but gift cards or even Amazon Appstore purchases make you 0% commission. This difference is confusing to the blogger who wants to promote more of their digital products. At best, you can hope that they shop for a physical product while they pick up a digital product.
Here's the thing: you may be able to find better commission rates somewhere else. For example, if you want to promote an Xbox on Amazon, you'd earn 1% commission, but if you join Microsoft's affiliate program, you will receive a 2% commission on those products. When promoting a product on Amazon, be careful, and make sure that Amazon is offering you the best affiliate income for that product. You should do this if this is a product you are promoting on a popular post. Once you start making a ton of commission from a product, go affiliate shopping. Can you support this same product somewhere else and pocket a higher commission rate?
2. Amazon's Affiliate Program Doesn't Have A Traditional Program Manager
One of the best parts about joining an affiliate program is the connection you make with your affiliate marketing manager. The relationships you build with various managers are so helpful as you produce more affiliate marketing content. Your managers can help you negotiate higher rates for your work, get your blog brand sponsorships, and so much more. Working with an affiliate marketing manager is fantastic because it allows you to make a genuine connection with the brand.
Amazon doesn't have a traditional program manager. They give you a live chat, a discussion board, and other helpful resources, but you are not assigned a person you can contact 24/7 with questions. You cannot make a connection with one manager who will be your go-to contact and keep up with you. This can make excelling at the program challenging because you don't have anyone you can turn to for advice, help to promote the brand, et cetera. Program managers do great work, and you won't be able to build that relationship with the Amazon affiliate program.
3. Amazon's Affiliate Program Lets Too Many People In
It seems like Amazon lets everyone and their mother have an Amazon Associates account. If you have ever looked up any information about making money as an affiliate, you've probably been directed to the Amazon affiliate program. This program has a ton of notoriety, and that ultimately hurts many bloggers chance of success with the program. Even though there are millions of products on the Amazon website, it can be challenging to dig through it all or stand out.
Amazon Is Well Known Enough On Its Own
Another challenge you might face as an affiliate for Amazon is that the site is already well-known. You have to go out of your way to make sure that your Amazon content is well done. Why would someone shop through your link versus checking out their Amazon page where Amazon already gives them stellar recommendations? You have built a connection with your audience, so there is a chance that they will appreciate your curation. You've got to take your time to stand out and offer them something unique, though.
In Amazon's Defense, You Do Have To Make A Certain Amount Of Sales To Stay In The Program
I do want to share that Amazon makes all their affiliates make a certain amount of sales to stay in the program long-term. You have to make at least three sales during the first six months to remain in the program. This rule can weed out some people who aren't very serious about the program, and it weeds out some of your competition over time. This is the only actual time when Amazon culls anyone from their program. Even so, you can always reapply even if you end up getting kicked out due to low sales.
4. Amazon's Affiliate Program Has A 24-Hour Cookie Window
One of the worst parts of Amazon's affiliate program is their cookie window. Amazon only stores cookies on your reader's computer for twenty-four hours. This means you have just twenty-four hours for your reader to decide to purchase the product before the cookie is no longer on their computer. Once the cookie goes away, you won't get credit for the sale, even if they go back and purchase the product five days later.
If you have a product that's expensive, like a camera, for instance. I would see if the camera company has an affiliate program. Canon has an affiliate program, and while the commission is only 2.5%, you get a 30-day cookie window. This window gives you more time to make a connection with the reader and clutch the sale. Plus, the Canon affiliate program is likely smaller so you won't be competing with many other affiliates to make the sale.
5. Amazon's Affiliate Program Has A Last Click Policy
Last, but not least, we have to talk about the worst part of Amazon's affiliate program. Amazon's last click policy is probably the worst part of their program. So, what does it mean when a company has a last click policy?
Last Click Policy Example
Your reader checks out your blog in the morning. You showcase your favorite handbags on Amazon. Your reader loves bags, and they head to Amazon through your link to check one out. They are excited about a handbag, but it's a bit pricey at $150, so they need to think about it.
Your reader goes about their day, checking out other blogs and browsing the internet all the while thinking about the bag you recommended. Through their surfing, they unknowingly click on someone else's Amazon affiliate link.
Because Amazon has a last click policy, they are no longer using your Amazon cookie to shop. They are using another blogger's cookie. So, when they inevitably go back to purchase the bag you recommended, you don't get credit, another blogger does.
More On Amazon's Last Click Policy
If you've seen your Amazon Associates backend, you've probably seen a variety of random things you didn't promote. This is because Amazon gives you credit for everything in a person's cart, whether you promoted it or not. This policy is excellent when it works in your favor, but what about when it doesn't.
So, I do want to add that last click policies were common years ago. For many years this was the only way that affiliate marketing was done. The issue came because of coupon sites. Coupon sites like Swagbucks or Ebates are affiliates for the products they share coupons for. You get those points back because that company makes a larger amount due to affiliate marketing. This can be at odds with regular content affiliates, though because it means that the coupon site often gets the commission because they are usually the last click over the content affiliate.
There are various technologies that Amazon could implement, such as leapfrog transactions or conversion lines which would allow for Amazon to create a more even split amongst the various affiliates who might drive traffic to a sale. This might be challenging for Amazon to implement, though, because of how many affiliates they have.
What To Do Instead Of Joining The Amazon Affiliate Program
So, I just spent a ton of time chatting about Amazon's affiliate program. You may be wondering, if the Amazon program is not all that it's cracked up to be, what do I do instead? Well, there are a few options out there.
Some of my favorite affiliate sites are ShareASale and Impact. I wholeheartedly encourage bloggers to join these two sites. I've made the most money with these two affiliate marketing companies. These two affiliate sites house some heavy hitters.
On ShareASale, for example, you can find brands like:
- Erin Condren
On Impact, you can find companies like:
- Too Faced Cosmetics
I want to be fully transparent. I have been paid to create a piece of content for Impact on do's and don'ts for influencer marketing. It was a fantastic piece I got to create, but I was already in love with Impact before I published this piece on their website. I think you are leaving money on the table if you don't sign up with Impact and use their affiliate marketing platform. They have some of the best brands and a beautiful backend with tons of data to explore. ShareASale is my first love, though. They have an abundance of programs from big and small brands alike. They pay at a consistent time every month. You honestly can't go wrong with either, but I encourage you to sign up for both!
Okay, I talked about a ton of topics in today's post. I know that this was a pretty complex topic to walk through.
Here's the thing, Amazon can be a productive affiliate marketing sources, but you have to be careful about how you promote their products. Most people don't consider these thoughts when publishing Amazon affiliate content. You don't have the same commission levels or cookie window that you have with most affiliate programs. You have to be ready to create actionable content if you want to make the most income with Amazon.
Above all else, I don't want you to feel like Amazon is the end all be all of affiliate programs. Amazon is a tougher program than most people would like to let on. You may not find much success with Amazon, but find tons of success with other affiliate programs. Don't see affiliate marketing through Amazon colored glasses.