During my online “career” I have built several sites monetized with Amazon Associates. In fact, 3 of the largest case studies I've done on my site here (Niche Site Project 1, Niche Site Project 2, and NSP 3 ) all involved building Amazon affiliate sites from scratch.
During my years of building these sites, I've picked up a few tactics and techniques to help me earn more in affiliate commissions from Amazon. Some of these strategies are simple on-page “hacks”, while other are bigger pictures ways of thinking about your business.
I originally published this list near the beginning of 2015, and while many things haven't changed I thought I should share some additional strategies that are working in 2016 and beyond.
First Things First
I've heard stories of different marketers who have had their Amazon Associates accounts banned because of violating terms of service. While I've done my best to ensure this guide is up to date and all of my tips are in compliance with their latest requirements for Amazon affiliates, here are a couple of excellent articles to check out that help clear up some of the mistakes people make (sometimes unknowingly) that result in a banned account:
Now that we've moved past the disclaimer portion of the article, let's talk about how you can maximize your Amazon Associates earnings:
Personalize Your Recommendations
One strategy we've implemented this year on a site that currently makes over $3,000 per month is actually “quizzing” our visitors to find out what kind of product would suit them best.
By using Thrive Leads (made by one of our favorite theme developers) we set up a multi-step pop-up box that starts by asking a question about a problem that we know many of our visitors have. If they say “yes” we then ask a couple more clarifying questions about their personal preferences, and then at the end we drop them on a landing page that delivers a personalized product recommendation (Amazon affiliate link) based on their answers.
While it sounds complicated, setting up a multi-step opt in is actually fairly simple with Thrive Leads. The beautiful part about it is that you're also giving yourself a chance to not only get a click, but also convert better since you really are delivering value to the reader by showing them a product that can help.
Follow-up via Email
While adding Amazon affiliate links directly into an email is a no-no, that doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't follow-up with your readers and drive them back to your blog (where you do have affiliate links).
We actually use this in tandem with the first strategy of quizzing our visitors and delivering personalized recommendations.
So at the end of our 3 question quiz, we ask people to put in their email address in order to see their results. When they do, we take them straight to a landing page, but we also use an email auto-responder to deliver an email.
The great thing is, you don't have to deliver a generic email because you do actually know a few things about your visitor and what they want. So you can send an email that says something like “Thanks for sharing what your needs are in a gas grill! We hope our personal recommendation was a winner, but if not click here to read our full guide to buying the right gas grill.”
By doing that, you've got another opportunity to show products to that person who is a very targeted visitor.
If you don't already have an email service, click here to check out one of my favorites, Aweber.
Target “Buying” Keywords
When people shop online, they go through a process of general queries to more specific queries. You want to target phrases that people are searching for when they are closer to that buying stage.
For example, let's say you have a site about sleeping bags. Instead of targeting phrases that are more general like, “sleeping bags” or “what is a sleeping bag”, you should target phrases where you know people are likely shopping…such as “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bags under $100”.
These searchers are clearly looking for more information in order to make a purchase decision. You will get a much higher conversion rate (commissions!) when you get this kind of traffic on your site.
Target Long Tail Keywords…Even with Low Search Volume
Yes, this is similar to the first point; however, it's important to take this one step further. Don't just stop at “best sleeping bags” or “sleeping bag reviews”! You should target phrases that are even longer tailed, which could mean going after keywords with very low search volume. I do that here on Niche Pursuits and every blog or website I've built.
That's okay! Even though you may get less traffic per article/keyword, these are HIGH conversion type keywords.
For example, we could be targeting “best sleeping bags under $100” or “cheap sleeping bags for toddlers”. These are some excellent long tail phrases that people would be using that are close to a buying decisions.
Also, if you listened to my podcast with Claire Smith recently, you will know that she does VERY well (over $10k per month) by targeting these very long tail, very low volume type of keywords. These keywords takes less links to rank for because there is just so much less competition.
As an FYI, I used Long Tail Pro to find these long tail phrases in this sleeping bag example.
Don't Miss International Commissions
If you are using only the standard Amazon US affiliate link, then you're missing out on potential commissions when you get clicks from international visitors from countries like Canada, the U.K, and many more.
By using these services, your affiliate links will automatically change based on the location of your visitor. So a Canadian reader will click your link and end up on Amazon.ca, and you can still earn a commission if they purchase.
Jake actually used this for one of his sites when he discovered that he was getting about 14% of his visits from the UK and Canada:
I know Jake uses the aforementioned Genius Link on his site and just by signing up for Amazon Associates UK and Canada he has made hundreds of dollars that would have been completely missed.
Note: You do have to sign up for each country's Associates program individually, so it might not make sense to do every single country/region you get visits from. However, check out your Geo Location report in Google Analytics and you just might find that you are leaving big money on the table.
Affiliate Link to Images
A simple but often overlooked tactic to improve you Amazon affiliate sales is to link to Amazon using all the images in your post.
When people are reading your product review articles, they will very often click on the image. If the image link simply pulls up the image file on your site, that's potentially one less visitor you could have sent to Amazon.
However, if your image is actually an Amazon affiliate link, you increase the chances that more people will end up on Amazon looking for products to buy. The more clicks you send to Amazon, the more buyers you will end up with.
If you have ever tried to upload images, position them, label them, and then add an Amazon affiliate link, you know how time consuming this can be. It's worth it. However, luckily there is a tool that makes adding Amazon affiliate image links much easier.
I have been using EasyAzon for a few years now, and it honestly just makes building an Amazon affiliate site much easier.
So, if you want to add images that already have your affiliate link in-place, I highly recommend that you check out EasyAzon 4 right here.
Use In-Content Links
Similar to using affiliate links for your images, you can send more people to Amazon by using in-content links. In fact, these in-content links are the most likely links to get clicked!
Unfortunately, many people think that just inserting an amazon banner or an image link will be enough to make decent sales; however, this is not the case. If you are writing useful content, then people will actually read it and will click on your links within your content.
All I mean is this: If I was talking about sleeping bags, I might simply say…”And to see the my top recommendation of a sleeping bag for a toddler under $50 click here. The link in that previous sentence is an “in-content” link.
I also use EasyAzon 4 to make inserting these types of in-content links much faster. (The above link was inserted with EasyAzon).
Rather than going over to Amazon, finding the product I want to link to, going through the process of finding the affiliate links on Amazon, and then pasting into my website; I can just stay in my WordPress backend and pull up the product and add the link using EasyAzon.
I really like the fact that I don't have to leave my blog post to find and insert product links.
Use Heat Maps To See Where People Click
Heat maps are a tool that show you very clearly where people click when they are on your website. Something that stuck with me from a conference I attended last year was a speaker who was talking about heat maps and said “I guarantee people are clicking on things that aren't clickable.”
Your heat map will start tracking clicks on a given page and then you can check out the results like this:
Whether it's making your images clickable like I mentioned earlier, or even just getting a sense of what might be the best place to put your ads and comparison tables, it certainly won't hurt to have this knowledge.
There are a number of solutions out there, but an easy one I've used is from SumoMe. (They also have some other cool tools for your website.)
Test Using “Add to Cart” Option….Longer Cookie
Did you know that you can get a 90 day cookie when you send someone to Amazon through your affiliate link? When you use a regular affiliate link, the cookie is just 24 hours.
However, if you create a special link that automatically adds the product to someone's Amazon cart when they go through your affiliate link, Amazon will lengthen your cookie to 90 days! (If they buy in 90 days, you still get the commission).
Now, I would like to clarify that I think you should test this option. It may or may not work better in your niche. Each market and website is different, so this option may or may not be the best for you.
To be honest, I don't know how to create an affiliate link that auto-adds a product to someone's cart without using a tool. This is just a simple option in EasyAzon that you can turn on or off.
Here's a screenshot of several of the options in EasyAzon; including the Add to Cart Option:
Produce Quality Content
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the fact that if you produce great content, not only will you rank better in Google, but more people will actually buy from you.
This is an entire process in and of itself. Luckily, Perrin has written a few ideas on creating content that engages and converts right here.
A big part of creating “great” content is just understanding what your audience is really looking for and meeting those needs. Some of this can be done through highly targeted content and research; but part of it also just comes with seeing what your competitors are doing and deciding what you can do better.
A couple of simple areas that you can often do better than your competitors is creating comparison charts and best seller lists.
Create Fair Comparisons
Another long tail keyword we like to use is Brand A vs. Brand B or doing articles on which type of product you should choose. When you write those, do your best to be very fair and honest with your readers.
Trust is a big part of conversion, so the more people feel like they can believe what you say, the better your chances are that they'll actually make a purchase based on a recommendation.
Most people understand that products aren't perfect, so don't be afraid to make a list of “cons” or things that could be improved about a product when you're review it or comparing to another model.
The odds are, if you write about every product like it's the best thing since sliced bread, readers will tune you out because you just sound like someone who really wants them to buy something.
Don't be that person!
Use Eye-Catching Comparison Charts
When I first started my survival knife site (from Niche Site Project 1), I wanted to make my site better than the others that were ranking at the top of Google. One of the ways that I decided to make my site stand out was by creating a comparison chart of the top survival knives on the market.
This produced great results for me not only in terms of quality content, but I found that more people starting buying as they compared using the chart I had created. Since then, I don't know if I started a bit of a trend, but nearly every Amazon affiliate site I see now uses many of the same comparison chart tactics.
I've written an in-depth guide on how to create your own Amazon product comparison charts right here.
Another option that has just been released is to use the TableZon extension for EasyAzon 4. I just recently got to check out TableZon from Chris Guthrie and it's a pretty cool way to create comparison charts quickly and easily right within WordPress.
TableZon is only available to those that buy EasyAzon 4. It's an upsell immediately following purchase.
Create Best Seller Lists
Another way to increase your amazon affiliate earnings is to create best seller lists within your blog posts. This is a bit different than a comparison chart. A comparison chart might only focus on survival knives under a certain price point for example.
A best seller list will focus on the products that sell the most in your given category.
For example, let's say I wanted to create a list of the top 5 selling point and shoot digital cameras on Amazon. One option is to go to Amazon.com/BestSellers and select the correct category to start creating your best seller list. This is the current list of best selling point and shoot digital cameras:
You would then have to take the information from each of those products and insert some kind of list on your site. This could get time consuming.
Or you can use the BestSeller Azon extension for EasyAzon 4 (it's sold as an upgrade after initial purchase). I don't know of any other simple ways to create these best seller lists.
I could create a much more comprehensive best sellers list or change up how the links act. But overall, I was able to quickly create a list of the best selling products on Amazon for my chosen category, and they are immediately inserted into the post with my affiliate link.
Cash in on Competition
As you may know, one of my affiliate sites makes some of its money by promoting my own brand of products sold via Amazon FBA. However, we don't hesitate to talk about and even recommend some of our top competitors on Amazon.
Because people aren't going to buy my product 100% of the time.
So in addition to having articles that feature our own products, we also have articles where our product really isn't a good fit based on the topic. In those cases, we don't hesitate to recommend different products on Amazon via our affiliate link. Hey, if someone wants to buy from a competitor I'd rather get 7 or 8% of that money than 0%.
So if you also sell products on Amazon in addition to using Amazon Associates, don't get stuck only writing about/promoting your own products.
There are some big time sites out there like Dealnews.com that pretty much do nothing other than scour the internet for discounts and deals and then list them out for their readers. In most cases, they are affiliates of those sites so when people purchase, they make money as well.
This model works because we all love getting a good deal!
So you can do a smaller version of the same thing by checking out Amazon on a weekly or monthly basis and finding products that fit your niche which are being sold below retail price.
You can even have a dedicated “deals” page on your website in your navigation menu so visitors can easily find it. Plus, sending a regular deal alert email using an auto-responder service like Aweber to make sure the people on your list get used to coming back to your site on a regular basis to find the best deals on products they're interested in.
Don't Forget the Small Fish
One of the cool things about Amazon's Associate program is that the commission percentage goes up based on how many products you sell in a month. So you start at 4% but can go all the way up to 8.5% per sale.
That is a HUGE difference!
So while most people spend their time focusing on higher dollar products, it's also important to not forget about the ‘smaller fish' low dollar products that people buy.
While the individual commission on an $8 product isn't much, if you sell a few hundred $5 – $10 products per month in addition to the big money items, your overall commission goes up.
So be sure to have a nice mix of products, both low dollar and high so you can maximize both volume and commissions
A Few Closing Thoughts…
Overall, hopefully some of these tips that I've shared can help you increase your affiliate commissions on Amazon. These little tactics can ensure that you send the greatest number of people to Amazon.
Amazon has such huge brand awareness and trust that once you get people to the Amazon page, you just let Amazon do the rest.
In addition to the tactics and strategies I've mentioned, I do think a tool like EasyAzon can be quite valuable in speeding up the process of implementing lots of these strategies. Just so you know, I have been using EasyAzon for over 3 years now, and I've never had an issues.
Version 4 of EasyAzon is just being released for the first time this week. Chris Guthrie (the creator) has given me an advanced copy of v4 and I've been very happy with the updates I've seen.
In addition, the 2 extensions I mentioned (TableZon and Best Seller Azon) are only available to buyers of EasyAzon 4. These 2 extensions are some great upgrades that can just further streamline the process of managing your affiliate links.
As always, I'd love to hear any comments or questions that you might have in regards to increasing affiliate commissions on Amazon. Do you have any other tactics that you use that I haven't mentioned here? Let us all know!