Fact: Amazon needs affiliates less.
Initially I was stunned.
We’ve been plugging away at niche sites and a huge part of our game plan was to utilize the Amazon Associates program.
Now, we’re exploring additional options to monetize the sites so that we’re not entirely dependent on Amazon.
Who knows what they’ll throw at us next.
I recall a few years back when Amazon added some major updates to the affiliate back office.
I also remember thinking how neat it was to see changes being made in favor of affiliates.
But now, here we are.
While most are up in arms over the changes, there are still some positives takeaways from this all…
Seeing The Positive: Amazon Affiliate Fee Changes
Due to recent changes to Amazon’s affiliate fees, or commission payouts, lots of affiliates feel betrayed.
And rightfully so.
Here’s a look at the changes and new Amazon associates program policy:
Amazon’s pre April 21, 2020 affiliate commission rates, if interested.
I guess I understand why Amazon did it form a business stand point.
But I also understand the history of how Amazon grew to the ‘ecom’ giant that we know today.
They grew off the backs of affiliates, and now, everyone has an Amazon Prime subscription.
They were able to grow a devoted customer base largely in part of affiliates recommending people to their business over the years.
We’re talking over 1 million affiliates and billions of dollars.
They’ve grown massively. So? Why keep paying affiliates? They already have their devoted members/customers.
I don’t think these changes are fair.
And know MANY others who feel the same way.
Some are referring to these changes as “rug pulling antics” or calling it a “deal breaker”.
I’ve seen the headlines and videos like “Amazon DECIMATES Affiliate Commissions” (below) and even one article flat out saying “Fuck Amazon“.
The video above makes a lot of valid points
Lots of people got screwed over night and the timing couldn’t have been worse on Amazon’s end (currently dealing with COVID-19 and a looming recession).
One person even shared during a YT live video how they predict these changes will cause an estimated $175,000+ drop in earnings for his business. Ouch!
Folks are mad. I get it.
But sadly, these changes are the new reality.
If anything I am grateful for this move by Amazon.
It serves as a stiff reminder of the importance of not concentrating all of your efforts into one thing.
Or in this case, all of our income streaming from one source, like Amazon.
Amazon or any other single affiliate program should be used as a tool to connect your site’s visitors with awesome products.
A single affiliate program should never be the business itself if you’re an affiliate.
I think lots are aware of this now as they slowly turn their visitors away from Amazon and to other businesses.
You wouldn’t rely on one source of traffic to your site, I hope.
But if that traffic source were to end suddenly, so would your business.
To counter this, you diversify.
Don’t rely solely on Facebook ads to bring traffic to your site. But maybe mix in Pinterest and SEO, for example.
I think you get the point…
Diversifying your traffic is just one way to help “weatherproof” your online business.
There’s also other things you can do to help keep you moving forward despite any unforeseen changes in the future.
Making Your Affiliate Site “Weatherproof”
Like I said, this move by Amazon isn’t all bad. More on that soon.
If anything it should serve as a wake up call.
If all of your eggs were in one basket and you were impacted by this at all, I’m sure you realize the importance of “weatherproofing” your site for times like these.
Here’s what we recommend:
1. Diversify – Join More Affiliate Programs
This one’s quite obvious and I think a lot of people who weren’t doing this are starting to realize the importance of doing it.
We talked about diversifying traffic above.
By diversifying your affiliate accounts and not relying on one program like Amazon, you:
a) Show Amazon they are NOT the only choice and there are many great programs for us affiliates to choose from
b) Will realize there are better programs out there which offer higher affiliate commission rates, better cookie life when someone clicks on your link(s), etc.
Yes, this means more work on your end. More analytics and data to track. More record keeping of earnings, passwords, etc.
But it will benefit you in the long run as you are now not dependent on one income stream.
If one shuts down, cancels your account, or makes drastic changes giving affiliates only a one week’s notice (Amazon).
Look, Amazon is a great option to start with and we’re not suggesting to completely shun them, but being prepared will help you and your business in the long run.
Another option would be looking into multiple monetization opportunities as well – not just affiliates.
2. Other Revenue Streams
Other revenue streams you could implement on a niche site include:
- Display Ads
- eCommerce/Dropship Store
- CPA or Cost Per Action
- Creating Your Own Product
- Add Digital Products Into The Mix*
I would strongly consider looking into the last one for an opportunity to add digital products to the mix – IF you’re not doing so already and IF it fits your niche.
Digital products historically pay higher affiliate commissions because the cost to make them are significantly lower than creating physical products.
Yet, many great digital products are out there for just about any industry. Check out these categories on Clickbank:
For example, if you are in the health/fitness area there may be great weight loss or meal planning digital “info products” out there that you can offer to your audience.
CJ Affiliates and JVZoo are other popular affiliate programs that offer digital products.
3. Tools To Help
Another way to help with diversifying your affiliate offers would be through the use of certain affiliate tools.
Two tools come to mind: Choice Pages and Lasso.
Choice Pages allows your visitors to click on one link then gives them the freedom to choose their favorite store to complete the purchase.
Meanwhile, your affiliate link is encoded in each option ensuring you don’t miss out on the sale.
Lasso has a similar feature where you can add single or multiple links to your affiliate products.
These tools ultimately allow you to gauge where your audience is choosing to buy from.
You can then take this valuable information and only offer the best programs and places where your audience wants to buy from.
OK. We made it.
Some positive outlooks regarding this whole change.
Yes it sucks.
But at the end of the day, you have to be willing to adapt in this business.
Be prepared but also willing to adapt. Those who fight through these little hiccups with changes to social media and affiliate platforms, and Google’s constant algorithm changes, usually go on to do well.
Ok, some positives to Amazon’s changes:
1. Amazon Is Growing
Whoop-de-doo, good for them!
How does that help any of us?
Commissions have been reduced but Amazon is growing.
While your getting a smaller serving (sadly) the opportunity to get more and more of these smaller servings is currently there.
Commissions are reduced, but more online spending is taking place (not just with Amazon, but all online commerce) than before.
Somehow, the increased activity may make up for the change in commission rates.
2. Amazon Has High Conversion Rates + Related Product Sales
People love buying from Amazon. Just because their have been changes to how much they pay affiliates, doesn’t mean online shoppers will stop buying there, or notice.
There great at converting.
Another thing that can’t be overlooked is the related product sales.
If someone clicks your affiliate link and is taken to Amazon, you get credit for any purchases made within a certain time frame (24 hrs) regardless if it’s the item your promoting on your site or not.
Or let’s say they do purchase the exact item after clicking your affiliate link. You also get commission for any other items they add to their cart and purchase.
So with no extra work on our end, Amazon could yield “bonus” sales to us.One of the great things about being an affiliate is the flexibility and vast amounts of choices you have, yo don’t have to go 100% all in with one program3.24 Hour & 90-Day Cookies
Like we said earlier, some programs offer a WAY better cookie life than Amazon does.
With Amazon, anything your visitors purchase within a 24 hour period, you earn commissions.
Realistically, some purchases, especially big-ticket purchases, might take several days before someone makes a decision.
Which results in missed opportunity for the affiliate.
On the flip side if a visitor places one of your advertised products in their shopping cart, yo’ll get commission for those purchases for 90 days.
Amazon Is Here To Stay
Whether or not you choose to continue doing business with them and promoting them as an affiliate is up to you.
If not, I totally get why.
A lot of the things they’ve done have been ‘anti-affiliate’: product image bans, short cookie life, account closures with little to no explanation, dicing affiliate commissions to name a few.
On the flip side, Amazon is here to stay. That we know.
Here’s some points proving backing that statement up:
(Disclaimer: I don’t work for Amazon and don’t have any official or legal “insider scoop”)
- Amazon is 25 years old and their associates program has been around for over 20 years. They’ve been around along time.
- Amazon’s affiliate program is one of the highest converting, though commission rates aren’t generous
- There are over 100 million Amazon Prime members in US alone
- Considering the shoppers, Amazon makes shopping easy and people will continue shopping there
- Amazon remains the #1 ecommerce retailer in the US with 38% or 39% of share in sales. (Walmart comes in second with around 5%).
Amazon has been around for a long time and isn’t going anywhere.
Yes, these slashes to affiliate commissions suck, but they still remain as a legit way for affiliates to earn income from their sites.
Don’t like it?
Try implementing other revenue streams or joining other programs – it’s that easy.
How Your Site’s Visitors Will Be Impacted
This won’t impact shoppers at all.
A question you need to ask yourself is where do your customers like to shop?
The tools we shared above can help with tracking which stores your visitors are clicking and ultimately buying from.
Maybe it’s Amazon. Maybe it’s somewhere else.
At the end of the day your job as an affiliate marketer is to recommend helpful products.
Where your audience buys is up to them.
Commission rates have dropped but Amazon’s customer base and conversion rates won’t change.
This means less money for us if we stick with Amazon but is there more revenue elsewhere?
How are customers buying behavior and how are your conversion rates utilizing a different affiliate program?
One way to find out is to do some testing of your own.
Who knows what you’ll find?
So, I’ve done my best here to offer some positive outlooks and strategies to help anyone impacted by the Amazon affiliate fee changes.
Personally, I’ve done well promoting digital products and am not too invested into Amazon.
Though we have been working on a few projects and planned to (still plan to) utilize Amazon associates as well as other affiliate programs to our niche site.
As you already know, this can be a tricky business.
Constant algorithm updates, social media platform policy changes, and Amazon restructuring their affiliate fees
Will other affiliate programs follow suit?
What do you think? We’d love to hear from you.