Last updated on September 21, 2020
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Amazon launched in 1994 as an online bookstore, and much has changed since then. It generates billions in sales annually, and it ships millions of different products around the world. It competes in various industries, including online and offline retail, consumer electronics, entertainment, gaming, home services, publishing, web services, product fulfillment, and more. Where Amazon doesn’t have a presence, rest assured its developing plans to enter those markets, for example, pharmaceuticals and healthcare.
- Founded by Jeff Bezos in 1994
- Headquarters: Seattle, Washington, USA
- Stock ticker: AMZN
- Amazon employs 900,000 people worldwide
- Its most significant sales events include Prime Day and Cyber Monday
- More than half of the units sold on Amazon worldwide are from third-party sellers
- Prime members exceed 150 million globally
What Is the Amazon Affiliate Program?
The Amazon affiliate program, also known as Amazon Associates, is a way to earn money by referring customers to Amazon. Bloggers, YouTubers, marketers, and influencers use affiliate links to advertise products that are listed on Amazon. When customers click on those links and buy products, affiliates can earn commissions (or referral fees).
Suppose you want to promote coffee makers on your lifestyle blog. You would select a few coffee machines that you want to recommend, generate affiliate links for them, and place those links on your blog. If you have a YouTube channel, the links can go in your description.
Amazon Associates is one of the first programs many new bloggers and affiliate marketers come across. The program is self-hosted and uses in-house affiliate tracking software.
Amazon Associates launched in 1996. Undoubtedly, it’s one of the largest affiliate programs by the number of active members. The program has generated millions for Amazon making it a successful performance marketing strategy.
How to Become an Amazon Affiliate
Amazon Associates is free to join. You must have an active, established, and suitable website, mobile app, YouTube channel, or social media profile to participate in the program. Amazon currently accepts Facebook (excluding personal pages), Instagram, Twitter, and Twitch accounts. Organic followers should total at least 500.
Amazon’s list of unsuitable sites includes those that:
- promote or contain sexually explicit or obscene materials, such as pornography,
- promote violence or include violent materials,
- promote or contain false, deceptive, libelous, or defamatory materials,
- promote or include materials or activity that is hateful, harassing, harmful, invasive of another’s privacy, abusive, or discriminatory
- promote or engage in illegal activities,
- target children; knowingly collect, use, or disclose personal information from children under 13 years of age or another applicable age threshold; or violate child protection laws,
- include any trademark of Amazon or its affiliates, or a variant or misspelling of a trademark of Amazon or its affiliates in any domain name, subdomain name, in any “tag” or Associates ID, or any username, group name, or another identifier on any social networking site; or
- violate any intellectual property rights.
Steps to Join Amazon Associates
- Visit Amazon Associates
- Click on Join Now for Free
- Enter your account information, such as your name, address, and so on.
- Enter your website(s), mobile app(s), and YouTube channel(s). Only enter digital properties where you plan to advertise Amazon. You can always update your details later.
- Describe your digital property and complete the traffic and monetization questionnaire.
- Verify your account with your phone number.
- Enter your payout details (bank account info) and complete the tax information interview.
After you sign up, the Associates’ team will review your application once you’ve driven qualified sales (they require at least three within the first 180 days). Personal orders do not qualify. During the review process, they’ll check your sites (websites, mobile apps, and social network pages) for compliance with their operating agreement. You should have a minimum of 10 high-quality blog posts that are publicly available/visible.
How to Create an Amazon Affiliate Link
Creating a standard Amazon affiliate link takes seconds.
- Log in to your Amazon Associates account
- On the Home tab, search and create links for any product by using keywords or product identification numbers (ASIN/ISBN). You can also browse for products or do an advanced search. Click the Go button for search results.
- Amazon provides a few link types, including text and image, text only, image only, native ads, and short links. Copy the link you want. For instance, many YouTubers use short links.
- The Product Linking tab also supports link generation and includes banners and mobile popover ads.
- SiteStripe allows you to create links directly from Amazon.com without having to visit Amazon Associates.
What is OneLink?
OneLink is a script-based solution that allows you to monetize your international traffic from the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy, France, Spain, Germany, and Japan. When visitors on your web pages click your Amazon links, OneLink will redirect them to their local or nearest Amazon marketplace where they have an account, can see pricing in their local currency, and have reasonable, if not free, shipping costs.
What are tracking IDs?
Tracking IDs allow associates to track the performance of their links from their different web and digital properties. For example, you might create tw43tr-20 to monitor your commissions from Twitter and tu56be-20 from YouTube. There is a limit of 100 tracking IDs per associate account.
What is the Idea Hub?
The Idea Hub allows you to browse content ideas such as inspirational promotions, events, deals, and products throughout Amazon in one place. The suggestions cover a wide range of content types, for example, Best Deals and Deals of the Day. When you see opportunities and ideas that interest you, click on the Get Link button to copy the link to use on your website.
Policies & Disclosures
Amazon Associates, like most affiliate programs, has rules to follow. Adherence to their guidelines will allow you to remain in the program.
Disclosures and transparency are the cornerstones of affiliate marketing. To meet Amazon’s requirements, you must include a declaration with your links and identify yourself as an Amazon Associate where applicable. As per their operating agreement, they recommend stating, “As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.”
To comply with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regulations, your disclosures must be:
- A clear disclosure could be as simple as “(paid link)”, “#ad”, or “#CommissionsEarned”.
- It should be placed near any affiliate link or product review in a location that customers will notice quickly. They shouldn’t have to hunt for it.
On a website, the standard practice is to add a disclosure to the top of the page (review mine for an example). On YouTube, the common practice is to add a disclosure at the bottom of the description. What’s important is that you conduct your affiliate marketing activities in good faith.
Pros of the Program
Affiliates can earn variable and fixed commissions. Associates can earn up to 10 percent on sales. The Amazon bounty program pays fixed advertising fees (bounties) when visitors try or sign-up for services and programs. For example, you will earn a $5 bonus for every Amazon Fresh trial sign-up and a $3 reward for every Amazon Music trial conversion.
Associates can promote discounted items. Promo codes enable customers to get discounts on eligible products at checkout. Merchants must create promo codes for publishers to use.
Amazon gives you many monetization options, including standard links, OneLink, native shopping ads, banners, and the Product Advertising API (PA API). The PA API provides programmatic access for advanced users to Amazon’s product selection.
Deep linking is available. Deep linking is how an affiliate creates a link to a specific page on the merchant’s site. For example, instead of using a generic homepage affiliate link, I can link to a product related to my post.
Reporting and analytics are above average. You can monitor clicks, conversions, and commissions on a user-friendly dashboard. Also, you can select periods, download reports, and view your payment history.
Amazon’s payout threshold is low. If you elect to receive payments via direct deposit or gift card, the payment threshold is 10 USD. Payments issued by check have a threshold of 100 USD.
The program is available in 13 countries and 10 languages, which makes it a global affiliate program.
Amazon is a well-established company that is trusted by millions of customers globally. It has millions of products to promote. It’s an online department store with over 20 product categories, including books, computers, luggage, pet supplies, and more. That makes promoting and directing traffic to Amazon easy, and shoppers don’t hesitate to buy. Affiliates in any niche can easily find goods to market.
Cons of the Program
The affiliate landing page needs work. An affiliate landing page is supposed to be informative, but Amazon misses the mark. It does a subpar job of disclosing critical program details such as the cookie duration and payout options. Instead, it provides many links to “learn more.” The point of a landing page is to learn more about a program, not to point users in many directions, or have them hunt for details. Lastly, Amazon could simplify and improve the page by adding an FAQ.
Amazon pays a meager commission rate of up to 10 percent (three to five percent for most transactions). For all that Amazon is, its program falls short of rewarding affiliates generously. Although you might convert a high-ticket/expensive item and receive an excellent payout, low commission rates will work against you.
|Product Category||Commission Rates|
|Luxury Beauty, Amazon Coins||10%|
|Digital Music, Physical Music, Handmade, Digital Videos||5%|
|Physical Books, Kitchen, Automotive||5%|
|Amazon Fire Tablet Devices, Amazon Kindle Devices, Amazon Fashion Women’s, Men’s & Kids Private Label, Apparel, Amazon Cloud Cam Devices, Fire TV Edition Smart TVs, Amazon Fire TV Devices, Amazon Echo Devices, Ring Devices, Watches, Jewelry, Luggage, Shoes, and Handbags & Accessories||4%|
|Toys, Furniture, Home, Home Improvement, Lawn & Garden, Pets Products, Pantry, Headphones, Beauty, Musical Instruments, Business & Industrial Supplies, Outdoors, Tools, Sports, Baby Products||3%|
|PC, PC Components, DVD & Blu-Ray||3%|
|Televisions, Digital Video Games||2%|
|Amazon Fresh, Physical Video Games & Video Game Consoles, Grocery, Health & Personal Care||1%|
|Gift Cards; Wireless Service Plans; Alcoholic Beverages; Digital Kindle Products purchased as a subscription; Food prepared and delivered from a restaurant; Amazon Appstore, Prime Now, Amazon Pay Places, or Prime Wardrobe Purchases||0%|
|All Other Categories||4%|
The cookie duration is insufficient. Associates are credited with qualifying purchases that occur within 24 hours–a 24-hour cookie–through standard links. The cookie/referral period extends for a product that is added to a shopping cart and purchased no later than 89 days after the initial click. Regarding cookies and qualifying purchases, Amazon states,
(a) a customer clicks through a Special Link on your Site to an Amazon Site; and
(b) during a single session, which is measured as beginning when a customer clicks through that Special Link and ending upon the first to occur of the following: (x) 24 hours elapse from that click, (y) the customer places an order for a Product, other than a digital product (as determined in our sole discretion; for example, an Amazon software download or items sold under the name “Amazon Music,” “Amazon Shorts”, “eDocs”, “Amazon Prime Video”, “Game Downloads”, “Amazon Coin”, “Kindle Books”, “Kindle Newspapers”, “Kindle Blogs”, “Kindle Newsfeeds”, or “Kindle Magazines”) (a “Digital Product”), or (z) the customer clicks through a Special Link to an Amazon Site that is not your Special Link (a “Session”), any of the following happens:
- the customer purchases a Product via our 1-Click feature, or
- the customer purchases a Product by adding a Product to his or her shopping cart and completing the order for that Product no later than 89 days after their initial click-through of the Special Link, or
iii. with respect to Digital Products, the customer purchases such a Product by streaming or downloading it from an Amazon Site; and
(c) the Product is shipped to, streamed or downloaded by, and paid for by the customer.
There isn’t a team of dedicated affiliate managers. Instead, random customer service representatives are responsible for addressing your inquiries. The use of CSRs is an inefficient way to manage such a massive program.
How Much Can You Make?
Can you make four figures a month as an Amazon affiliate? While Amazon is a top ecommerce company, it’s unlikely that you will make that amount or a significant income. Low commission rates and a 24-hour cookie will constrain your earnings and conversions.
Some affiliates report making six-figures with Amazon Associates, but many of those claims are either outdated or untrue. At a 10 percent commission rate, you would need to sell $100,000 to earn $10,000. Selling that much while flirting with 24-hour referral periods and small commission rates leads to the highly improbable. Moreover, anyone who could covert that much would probably make more money selling products through Amazon FBA or using online store software like Shopify. Secondly, generating that much for Amazon only to take home a small part of the pie is a win-lose scenario (you end up as the loser).
Where should Amazon Associates rank in your marketing activities? It should be a low priority. Although you can earn money and promote millions of different goods, you must be practical and maintain low expectations. I’ve made $503.11 since 2014 (no, that’s not a typo) and don’t expect monthly payouts.
Is Joining Amazon Associates Worth It?
Amazon Associates isn’t a program I recommend joining, or that excites me. Many other merchants provide cookie durations of 30 to 60 days, which is more advantageous. Also, more appealing commission rates are available from numerous retail and ecommerce companies. Amazon Associates is continually being diluted with changes and policies that make it less lucrative than it once was. Alternatively, review my list of the top 40 affiliate programs to reach your goals and income targets.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Amazon's affiliate commission rate?
Amazon pays affiliates up to 10 percent. It can be more for high-performing affiliates.
What is the cookie length?
The cookie is 24 hours.