Is the Amazon Associates Program a Scam? – What To Know Before Joining
The Amazon Associates program is the largest affiliate program out there, but is it any good? Is it worth your time or is the Amazon Associates program a scam that is just going to be something that you work hard at to only be rewarded with pocket change?
I have been a member of Amazon Associates for a couple years now, as well as an affiliate of a few other programs out there. I’ve gone to know the program well and because of this have decided to write this review to help out other people looking to potentially join.
As of now I am only using Amazon Associates as somewhat of a last resort. Why? Well… Because as you will see in this review, it really is and all that great of a program.
Amazon Associates Program Review
The Amazon Associates program is their affiliate marketing program. Since you are reading this review and looking into it, I’m guessing you already are well aware of what affiliate marketing is, but if not here’s how it works…
Affiliate marketing is when you market products online by promoting affiliate links. When people click these links they are directed to the sellers website, in this case Amazon, where they can purchase the product. If they purchase the product you then get paid a commission on the final sale because you are the one who referred them there in the first place.
Just about every business has their own affiliate program now… Walmart, Best Buy, JCPenney’s, as well as small retailers. Affiliate marketing is beneficial for both parties, the seller in the affiliate. For the affiliate it is obvious… You get paid for promoting products. And for the seller it is also obvious because affiliate programs bring about an army of affiliates going out and promoting products, helping make sales.
But anyways… Amazon’s affiliate marketing program is the biggest out there and is used by many people. However, a lot of people that join end up quitting because of the downsides to this program.
The Commissions Suck
The commissions that Amazon pays are really low. They have always been low and recently they have made them even more low, which is why I am using Amazon less and less.
Below you can see their fixed standard program fee rates (they called their commissions “fees”) , which are the commission rates paid out per category of products you are promoting. As you can see the chart is absolutely horrific. The most you can earn is 10% and that comes from fashion products. If you are thinking about selling a video games or gaming consoles then you will have to settle for a 1% commission… Which is a joke.
In the screenshot below you can see that I earned an average of 5.8% commissions over the last 30 days (at the time of this screenshot). This comes from selling a variety of different products from multiple websites that I have. Pretty crappy and disappointing. I helped bring and over $1000 in sales and ended up making a measly $62…
Only 24 Hour Cookies
Not only are the commissions a joke, but Amazon also only offers 24 hour cookies.
What the heck is a cookie? A cookie is a little snippet of data that is sent from a website and stored in a user’s browser. Basically it is like a little tracking code that Amazon puts in people’s browser is when they come to Amazon.com.
This tracking code is then stored in their browser for 24 hours so if they leave the website and come back later to make the purchase, you can still get credit for referring them as long as it was within 24 hours of the initial visit.
Now this may sound pretty good, but in reality it is not… Certainly not when compared to other affiliate programs. There are other affiliate programs out there that have weeklong, month-long, or even lifetime cookies. The longer the better because that just gives you more of a chance of earning some commissions.
Amazon of course wants to pay affiliates as little as possible, so 24 hour cookies is all the offer
Can’t Use Email Marketing
When I say you can’t use email marketing, I don’t mean that you can’t use it at all, I just mean that you can use it as effectively as I wish you could.
Something that I found out recently is that you can’t use referral links in emails. If you are to use email marketing to promote products on Amazon, you would first have to refer them to your website and then refer them to Amazon from there. This just creates an extra step and is going to ultimately lead to less conversions.
Okay… Sounds pretty bad so far. Are there any upsides to using the Amazon Associates program? Or is this is a program that everyone should be avoiding at all costs?
The truth is that there are a few upsides, some of which often go unnoticed. If you upsides that are worth mentioning include…
Good Conversion Rate
Amazon’s conversion rate is about as good as it gets. People trust Amazon because everyone knows about it and the site is laid out in a way to maximize sales.
I have actually seen increases in conversions firsthand one switching from another affiliate program to Amazon. At the time is promoting a health supplement through another affiliate program that really wasn’t converting all that well. I was using the affiliate program because they paid out high commissions, but the website just wasn’t all that great and not many people would buy after I referred them. I then switched over to promoting a similar product on Amazon and instantly saw a decent increase in conversions. Nothing else changed… Just me switching from one affiliate program to Amazon.
This is something that doesn’t get talked about much. The trust that people have for Amazon goes a long way.
As mentioned, the way Amazon’s website is laid out is not just random. Much thought and testing has went into this. It is laid out to maximize conversions and one of the ways they do this is by cross-selling.
You know when you are buying something on Amazon and it says something like “frequently bought together” and then it will show you a bunch of related products? Yeah… Well this is how they get a lot of people to purchase more than they were intending to in the first place.
Below I looked up dog toys, clicked on the famous Dog Kong, and you can see what they are trying to cross-sell me on.
The good thing about the affiliate program is that you earn commissions on your referrals purchases as a whole. So if you refer someone to buy a dog toy and they end up buying the dog toy along with a computer, you will also earn commissions from the computer. In fact, they don’t even have to purchase the product you originally referred them to purchase.
Loads of Products
Amazon has somewhere around 450 million to 500 million products in the US alone. This is an absolutely massive selection and this is the reason they are the biggest e-commerce store in the world.
This immense product selection has a lot of upsides. First off, this is good for the cross-selling I just talked about above. Because I have so many products, they have many closely related products that they can cross-sell effectively. Second, as an affiliate marketer you can always find something to promote on Amazon. If you are looking to promote a product and can’t find in affiliate program for that product elsewhere, you are bound to be able to find the product on Amazon, which means you can promote it.
As in Amazon associate you will get paid via direct deposit. Upon signing up you will submit your bank account information so that they can make these deposits.
The direct deposits are given out monthly, but you will have to reach a minimum threshold in order to actually get your deposit, which I believe is $20.
Scam or Not?
The Amazon Associates program is definitely not a scam… Just in affiliate program with a lot of downsides, that’s all. They do pay and you really can make money with them.
That said, many people calling it a scam are doing so because they have had their accounts banned, for what they consider little to no reason. I do know that Amazon is rather harsh when it comes to banning people’s accounts. They think nothing of closing someone’s account was making a living with the Associates program. You could be making $5000 a month and then the next day have your account closed in making $0 a month. (very few people make this much by the way)
Final Thoughts – Good Opportunity or Not?
As a full-time affiliate marketer I think that everyone should be a member of the Amazon Associates program, but I do not think that you should use this program all that much. As I mentioned throughout this review, I use Amazon Associates as somewhat of a last resort. What I mean by this is that if I’m trying to promote a product and can’t find elsewhere, I will just find on Amazon and use my affiliate link from there.
The Amazon affiliate program is a good backup to have in your arsenal because you can find any product to promote there. But other than that, I would avoid it. I would always suggest first looking for a higher paying affiliate program elsewhere. Sure, being affiliate of Amazon does have its upsides such as the high conversion rate and cross sells that I talked about above, but this does not make up for the incredibly low commission rates and the crappy 24 hour cookies.
So if there is one thing you should take away from this review it is to look for other affiliate programs before using Amazon. There are much better out there.
Recommendation From a Full-Time Affiliate Marketer
I started out affiliate marketing back in 2015. And I know that it can be quite a hassle finding the right way to do things. There’s a lot of information out there and finding a good solid path to take that actually works can be tricky.
My advice to any beginners out there would be to start out at Wealthy Affiliate. Wealthy Affiliate is in affiliate marketing training program that provides step-by-step training for making Money with affiliate marketing (duh). And not only does it provide training but also provides the tools needed, such as 2 free websites, for this type of online business.
I have been a member since late 2015 and now, as I said, I make a living doing this stuff which goes to show that it does work. But anyways… You can click the button below to read my full review of Wealthy Affiliate to learn more…
By the way, Wealthy Affiliate offers a free starter membership which is nice because it allows you to get some training for free and test out the program without any risk.
I hope you enjoyed my review of Amazon Associates. If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Also, if you are a member of Amazon Associates and would like to leave your own review, you can also do that below. I am sure other readers would appreciate that 🙂