Most affiliate marketers start off with Amazon affiliate marketing.
But do you know that most of these affiliate marketers are violating the terms of Amazon in some way or, the other?
Yes, you heard that right. In fact, I too was doing it all wrong until one day I got a stinker from Amazon. But more on that and all the details about where you as an Amazon affiliate marketer could be going wrong, a little later in the post.
I will also show you a simple solution to solve most of the policy violations that an Amazon affiliate marketer would unknowingly do.
But this post is about some of the advantages and disadvantages of the Amazon affiliate program and why you need to be cautious when you are joining them and promoting their products on your website.
Before that, let us take a quick look at what is Amazon affiliate program.
What is Amazon Affiliate Program?
One of the best and easiest affiliate programs to start off as an affiliate marketer is the Amazon affiliate program.
At the same time what if I tell you that this could also be one of the worst affiliate programs to start off with?
I will come to that in a couple of minutes.
Firstly, what is the Amazon Affiliate Program?
The Amazon affiliate program is also called as “Amazon Associates” and this is how Amazon describes it on their associates page –
Amazon Associates is an affiliate marketing program that allows website owners and bloggers to create links and earn referral fees when customers click through and buy products from Amazon. It’s completely free to join and easy to use.
Provide consumers the convenience of referring them to a trusted site where they can immediately purchase products you advertise. And when they do, you can earn up to 10% in referral fees.
Amazon is huge ecommerce site and hence their affiliate program is also the biggest with a ton of products to choose from. Most products that are sold on Amazon pays you a commission ranging from 4%-10%, if your referrals buy then from your link.
See the below image of a snapshot of how their commissions look as on date (this is subject to change based on Amazon’s decisions).
But then, it isn’t all that simple as it sounds.
While they claim it is “easy to use” and I agree that setting it up and starting to make money looks pretty easy, it actually isn’t that easy at all.
Because of the very fact that Amazon is a huge company and their affiliates are their least of the worries! (I might sound a little negative here, but you will understand the reason in a little while. But then I also do not mean that you should quit Amazon associates because of this).
But before we look at that, let us look at some of the positives of starting affiliate marketing with Amazon.
Advantages of the Amazon Associates Program
Amazon is the single largest marketplace on earth and there isn’t anything that you cannot find on Amazon. That itself is one of the biggest advantages of starting affiliate marketing with Amazon.
Let us look at some of the other advantages of the Amazon associates Program –
Easy to find products in any niche
Whatever the niche you are in, you are sure to find a product on Amazon because of the sheer magnitude of their marketplace. Search for anything and you will find some product in your niche which you can market.
Easy to get links to promote
Once you are accepted into their Associates program (Hubspot has a nice post on how to submit your request), promoting products is about copying and pasting the affiliate link to the products that you wish to promote. This simplicity is simply incomparable.
Multiple ad formats for your website
Unlike any other affiliate program, the Amazon associates program gives you a variety of options to place product ads on your website. You can place them in your sidebar, within your posts, in the footer of your post, etc.
And there are many different high converting ad formats as well. While these are highly customizable, placing these on your website is again a very easy job. Just copy and paste the code they provide and you are done.
Ease of getting paid
Amazon’s affiliate program is probably the easiest to get paid. You can set the limits and get paid without minimum requirements unlike in a lot of other affiliate programs.
There are multiple payment methods also available. So getting your payment is also easy.
In addition to all of these there are a lot of other advantages like the 90 day cookie period, handy analytics, use of different associates ID to track your sales etc.
All of these make the Amazon associates program and attractive one for newbie affiliate marketers.
But, in all of this you might want to keep in mind some of the disadvantages of the Amazon affiliate program as well.
Disadvantages of the Amazon Affiliate Program
Does the Amazon affiliate program have any disadvantages?
I know what you are thinking.
While the entire world is busy preaching that newbie affiliate marketers should start off with Amazon affiliate marketing, here I am talking about the “DISADVANTAGES” of the program.
Because I have had some real bad experience with the Amazon affiliate program and when it comes to affiliate programs and making a living off it, I would absolutely not recommend a program that doesn’t respect the affiliates who generate all of those sales for them.
But more about that experience in a little while. First let us look at some of the disadvantages of the Amazon affiliate program.
Low Affiliate Commissions
This is one of the biggest disadvantages of the Amazon affiliate program and which is why I do not recommend using them as a full time affiliate option.
The Amazon associates program pays the lowest commissions of any affiliate programs.
You would have seen that payout-chart up there with the commissions on each product category. You get measly payments on every sale and even worser is the fact that they have a crazy way of evaluating a sale and deciding if you should be paid a commission on a specific sale.
I will talk about an experience of mine, in some time.
Nevertheless, if you are planning to use affiliate marketing as a full time business, then there are 2 things that you need to keep in mind –
- A business solely based on the Amazon associates program will mean that your site has to have referral links to thousands of products that are being sold on Amazon and a ton of traffic being generated to these product links. The effort involved is going to be huge.
- It is important that you pick high value products to promote because at the rate at which Amazon pays a commission, these products are the only possibility of you earning a decent amount from the affiliate program. But then keep in mind that the competition is going to be huge in this case.
Affiliate Payment Options
Getting paid is another big problem with Amazon. Let me explain this.
Amazon operates in different market. Every market hence, has a different Amazon website.
Let us assume that the traffic to your website comes from the US, Australia and India. If you are promoting Amazon products on your website, these traffic will have to directed to their own Amazon website, meaning the website of their specific country.
Now comes, the tricky part.
The Amazon associates program for all of these 3 different Amazon websites are distinct and operates from a different Associates website. They aren’t connected to each other.
Assuming you manage to drive the traffic to the country specific Amazon website using a geo-targeting tool, you still end up with 3 different associate dashboard to manage and your income is tracked in 3 different currencies at 3 different places. So the earnings in all of these 3 different accounts cannot be combined.
So how do you get a payout?
This is where the problem is. I know that this problem exists at least for anybody operating out of India.
You have only 2 payment methods available – A check or, a gift card.
A direct transfer is not available for some strange reason. And the check never reaches you.
Amazon.com had issued a check to me for a January 2018 payout in the month of February 2018. The check never reached me. And Amazon doesn’t provide you any tracking number.
So when I reached out to them, they said they will cancel the check and reissue it which took another 45 days.
Again the reissued check never reached me and I had to contact them and the cycle continued until December 2019 when I was finally frustrated and ask them to change the payment mode to a gift card.
It was then that I realized that this gift card can only be used on the Amazon.com (meaning the Amazon website of that specific country from where you earned the commissions).
So that is still lying there in my account with me not being able to use it.
I am sure you wouldn’t want to go through all of this after working hard to promote products and earn a commission.
What’s the workaround, you ask?
The workaround is to only promote products from your own locale to your audience. which means you would be losing out on a possible commission from any of the other purchases.
For your audience from any other country who clicks over to Amazon and buys a product, Amazon still makes money.
Shorter Cookie Period
The Amazon affiliate program has a very low cookie period. A cookie is basically, a simple way of tracking your referrals. You can read more about in my affiliate marketing guide.
The cookie period for the Amazon associates program is 24hrs which is the lowest among any merchants.
That essentially means that if a customer who clicked over to Amazon from your website or, blog purchases the product after 24hrs, you lose the possible commissions from the sale.
So, while Amazon still make money, you don’t get the credit for the sale that you generated.
A Pathetic Customer Support
If you are an Amazon associate, then pray that you don’t have to experience their customer support ever.
They have the most pathetic affiliate customer support who treats you (who generated the sale for them) like a piece of junk.
Most of their responses are like, “This is how we do it. You either take it or, leave”.
And add to it some of their crazy policies and you will find yourselves banging your heads.
Let me narrate one of my experiences here.
We run a website to which we get a lot of local traffic. Some of this traffic is also our friends, contacts, acquaintance, social media followers etc.
When I logged into my Amazon associates dashboard, I found that there were numerous products and some high value products that were sold through a referral from my website. But none of these generated a commission.
I reached out to the Amazon support who had a very unusual reply, “These looks like people you know or, are related to and who has deliberately clicked on a link on your website to buy a product”.
Hows that for a response?
So almost 75% of all the sales that I generate, don’t get paid a commission. And I am still wondering as to how many relatives and friends of mine are clicking on links in my website and buying products from Amazon. Looks like the entire world is my friends and relatives, at least from Amazon’s perspective.
What’s the workaround?
At least I couldn’t figure out anything other than asking your friends, relatives and social media circles to not visit your website or, at least not click on any Amazon link on your website and buy.
Conclusion – Is the Amazon affiliate program good?
The Amazon affiliate program is probably the easiest one to get into and to promote. With the wide range of product options you have, you can promote a ton of products on your website.
In fact some niches might even have to rely solely on promoting physical products and for them Amazon is the best option available.
While there are some drawbacks to the program, it still is one of the most preferable ones by affiliates and you too could use it with some workarounds.
The only thing you need to keep in mind is that you need to operate within their policy guidelines, which has a lot of fine-print and you could easily end up violating one of it.
There are a lot of affiliate who gets penalized because of these policy violations.
To prevent this, I use a simple little plugin which is not only easy to use but also gives you a ton of options. You could build comparison tables, showcases, product images etc. pretty easily with this plugin.
This plugin is Amalinks Pro. The best thing about it is that it works for you even if you do not have the Amazon API access, which Amazon usually restricts due to low sales.
You can check out the plugin here.
I my next post I will do a details Amalinks Pro review.
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