Getting started in the Amazon Affiliate program can be overwhelming, so we’ve put together a few commonly asked questions for all of you considering affiliate marketing or the Amazon Associates program.
We recently played around with a tool that sums up Google searches around the phrase “Amazon affiliate”, and here are some of the most common questions we saw people asking about the Amazon Associates Program and affiliate marketing in general.
What is affiliate marketing?
In the words of Pat Flynn, “.. affiliate marketing is the process of earning a commission by promoting other people’s (or company’s) products. You find a product you like, promote it to others, and earn a piece of the profit for each sale that you make.”
What is affiliate marketing Amazon?
Amazon offers a special marketing program, called the Amazon Associates Program that when you send traffic to the Amazon stores, via a specialized link, you can earn a commission for purchases made. In other words, when you recommend a product to an audience, you get rewarded when you help drive sales to Amazon.
How does the Amazon Associates program work? (Also phrased as “How Amazon Affiliates work?” and “How does Amazon affiliates work?”)
1. Sign up
First, you need to sign up for the program. Most bloggers, creators and affiliate marketers sign up for Amazon.com affiliate program because they typically see their largest audience in the US.
However, there are 13 independent Amazon affiliate programs, one for each of the main storefronts around the world. It’s best to start with whatever country or region represents your biggest audience. You can sign up for the Amazon Associates program(s) in the following locations:
- North America (the US, Canada/ CA, Mexico/ MX)
- South America (Brazil)
- Europe (United Kingdom/ UK, Germany/ DE, France/FR, Italy/ IT, Spain/ ES)
- Asia (Japan/ JP, China/ CN, Indonesia/ IN)
- Oceana (Australia/ AU)
The signup process is essentially the same for each program. If you choose to sign up for multiple programs, then you may want to copy/paste your questions and answers to save time.
Pro tip: Signing up for the UK program allows you to automatically apply for the other four (4) programs in Europe. However, if you are filling out the applications in a foreign language, try switching to the Chrome browser that has language translation built in!
When you’re ready to dive in, we have put together lots more details and a step-by-step guide to applying: How to Double Your Amazon Affiliate Commissions.
2. Update your Amazon links
Add your new affiliate tracking information (commonly called your “Tracking IDs”) to every Amazon link to identify the traffic as yours which will ensure you get rewarded for sales you help drive.
The Amazon store you link to must correspond to the Amazon Associates tracking ID. In other words, to earn commissions from sales on Amazon.com your links must point to Amazon.com and use the tracking ID found in the Amazon.com affiliate program, and so on. For example, you can’t use your Amazon.com affiliate tracking ID to earn commissions from sales on Amazon.ca or Amazon.co.uk.
3. Get Paid
Keep doing what you do best, and as your audience makes purchases through your affiliate links you will begin to earn commissions in your Amazon Associates account(s). You can review reports of your account’s performance at the same place you signed up for each of the affiliate programs, the Amazon Associates Central dashboard. More on getting paid below.
It’s all about the benjamins. Let’s talk money.
Amazon Associates — What are they paid?
(Also “What does Amazon pay affiliates?”, “How much does Amazon pay its affiliates?”)
Amazon pays a commission or bounty on referred sales. The commission is a predefined percent of the sale price of a product. A bounty is a set fee for referring someone who completes a certain action, like signing up for a Prime account, after clicking your affiliate link.
The structure for determining your payout from Amazon has evolved over the years.
- Before 2017, there was a tiered system from approximately 4% to 8.5% based on your sales volume. This is similar to many affiliate program fee structures.
- In March of 2017, Amazon rolled out a significant change to their commission payouts that are detailed here.
- More recently, Amazon has started rolling out a more complex commission structure whereby your payout is based on what specifically was recommended, and what was purchased. If the product you directly linked to is bought then you get a significantly higher payout than if a different product is bought. While limited in its rollout, this overhaul also includes commission rate changes based off of where you link to. For example, you get a higher payout for linking to a product “details” page than to search/ deals/ category/ home pages of Amazon.
So, how much does Amazon pay its affiliates?
The answer is that it changes nearly monthly, and varies by the storefront.
With all of this variability, do Amazon Affiliates make money?
Yes! Top affiliates are making six to seven figures a month from the Amazon associates program.
What percentage do Amazon affiliates make?
Previously, affiliate payouts ranged from 4-8.5%. With recent changes, payout percentages vary by the category of the product recommended and span 0% to 10% commission. These rates change frequently, so make sure to consult the Amazon Associates Program Standard Fee Schedule to get the latest.
How often does Amazon pay affiliates?
Under Program Fee Reporting and Payment, Amazon states:
“We will pay Standard Program Fees and Special Program Fees in the default currency for an Amazon Site approximately 60 days following the end of each calendar month in which they were earned.”
In other words, they pay out monthly, approximately 60 days after the close of the month. So the commissions you made during January would be paid out in late March / early April. This roughly two-month delay is to account for returns and allow time for other items you recommend to be purchased. As a reminder, once someone adds an item you recommend into their cart, they have 89 days to complete the purchase and still earn you a commission. As a result, you may see some commissions paid out months after someone in your audience clicks your affiliate link.
How does Amazon pay affiliates?
Three (3) payment options are currently offered: direct deposit, gift card, and check. However, it’s important to note that these are not offered in all countries.
But read the small print….
Make sure to read the small print. There are minimums and processing fees associated that vary by program. If you plan to use international programs, you might find Payoneer and Cuelinks helpful and save you time depositing your affiliate commissions.
Pro tip: If you’re not in Japan and opt to be paid in Amazon.co.jp gift cards, make sure to check out these tips on spending Amazon Japan gift cards internationally.
Do Amazon Affiliate links expire?
When an affiliate link is clicked, it starts a timer called a “cookie window”. The cookie window is a fancy way of saying “the time period over which you can earn a commission on items added to cart”.
In the Amazon Associates programs, there is a max. 24-hour window after a click where you can get credit for items added to a shopping cart.
What can make your cookie window shorter? The bad news is that cookies can be overwritten after a click on another affiliate link (this is called “last click attribution”). If the shopper happens to click another affiliate link (assuming it’s not your affiliate link), the last click wins, if it was your link then the timer restarts.
The good news is that anything added to the shopping cart within the cookie window gets a new 89-day window for the purchase to be completed and the product to ship.
Can Amazon links break?
It’s important to note that Amazon’s product catalog is very dynamic. A link to a product may not work after a period if the ASIN has been removed. As a result, you should always monitor your links to ensure they are still working.
Remember, a broken link has a 0% chance of earning a commission, so the health of your affiliate links is very important. There are some link health monitoring tools out there to help. I like Geniuslink’s Link Health monitoring because it’s integrated with auto-affiliation and link shortening, but there are other options.
Also worth noting, Amazon’s Operating Agreement states that you can’t link to pages or deals that are out of date. Learn more in this guide to Amazon Associates compliance.
How do you get started with Amazon Associates?
(AKA “How to join Amazon affiliate”, or “How to be an Amazon affiliate”)
Here’s a quick overview of how to become an Amazon affiliate.
- Sign up
Typically you sign up for the US program, but we recommend that you start with the country/ region where you have the largest audience.
- Affiliate your links
After you’re accepted in a program, you want to add your tracking ID to your Amazon links. Note: Your Amazon store link needs to be for the same country as the Amazon Associates ID you’re adding. In other words, you can only affiliate Amazon.com links with a US Amazon Associates ID, and so on.
- Apply to additional Amazon Associates programs
As you build your audience and click traffic grows, consider applying to additional Amazon Associates programs. Look at the global distribution of your audience, and chose the 2nd biggest country/ region to apply to next. Hint: keep an eye on your site/channel’s analytics to see where people are coming from and quickly identify your next biggest target.
- Expand affiliate earnings to more countries
After you’re accepted to more Amazon Associates programs, you need to start affiliating clicks from those countries. If you’re smart about it, you won’t have to update any links.
With a link management platform, like Geniuslink, you simply add your new program ID into your account, and click traffic for that country will automatically be affiliated for every link you’ve ever built in your account.
When to apply for Amazon affiliate program
(Also: “When should I apply for Amazon Associates program?”)
Unfortunately, Amazon often closes accounts that haven’t generated a sale within the first few months of being set up. Because of this, we encourage you to have already done some of the work building an audience and recommending some products before you sign up for the Amazon affiliate program.
A general rule of thumb is that you’ll have a ½ to 1% conversion rate so this means you’ll need 100 to 200 clicks on your links before you see a sale. Once you start getting close to this benchmark you are probably ready to sign up for the Amazon affiliate program.
Can I be an Amazon Affiliate without a website?
(Also “Can I put Amazon affiliate links on Youtube or Facebook?”)
You don’t need a website to sign up for the Amazon affiliate program, an established social media presence works as well. Read more about acceptable ways to leverage the Amazon Associates programs in social media. This post also includes important tips on how to ensure you are compliant with Amazon’s Affiliate Operating agreement and Program Policies.
If your focus is on social media there are a few extra things that are important to be cognizant of to stay in the good graces of the Amazon affiliate program. A quick synopsis of the dos and don’ts below, but please read the full post on using Amazon affiliate links in social media.
- No Spamming! Amazon requires that “You are the sole moderator of the account that you plan to post to.” (source)
- Public posting. Amazon’s compliance team must be able to access your posted affiliate links.
- No paid ads or “boosted” posts. If you wish to affiliate this traffic, you will need to send them to your website or a landing page first. Geniuslink’s Choice Pages are a great option, especially if you want to offer your audience options beyond Amazon.
- Don’t ask for bookmarks or clicks on your affiliate links. Your click traffic needs to be organic. This one mistake could get your Amazon Associates account closed.
- Transparency. Always make it obvious to your readers where a link will send them. If your link is not a simple Amazon link, be sure to mention Amazon in close proximity to the link.
- Affiliate Disclosure. Again, transparency with your audience is important. In order to do this Amazon strongly recommends you use this sentence — “As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.” If you are posting to social media, you are permitted to add this statement to your “About” or “Info” section of the posting account.
- Listing Channels. Amazon’s Associates team wants a heads-up on everywhere you plan to use affiliate links. Be sure to add all social media channels to the “Websites and Mobile Apps” section of the Associates application.
Can I have more than one Amazon Affiliate account?
Yes, you will want one per region/storefront to earn commissions from all of your international audience.
Technically, you could probably have more than one account per country/storefront, but previously this was frowned upon and wasn’t helpful as there was a higher payout based on volume. The tiered payout model is now gone, but it’s much easier to have just a single account from a reporting and payout perspective (remember there is a minimum payout threshold!).
Want to segment clicks/earnings across channels? Pro tip: Amazon’s Associates program allows you to create up to 100 unique tracking IDs per account so if you previously wanted to create two separate accounts because you had two different web properties you should just use one account and create additional tracking IDs. This approach is far cleaner/ easier than spreading earnings across multiple accounts.
Thank you for reading, and I look forward to your questions! Post them in the comments and we can add on this document.