Amazon, Affiliate Marketing, and 10 Ways to Benefit from It

Amazon, Affiliate Marketing, and 10 Ways to Benefit from It

Do your products sell well on Amazon but you would like to take things one step further and build a direct relationship with your buyers? Perhaps you already have the online store and are looking for ways to drive more traffic and sales. The solution employed by 81% of brands, including Amazon – affiliate marketing – could work for you as well.

As we’ve explained in the past, brands can benefit from an affiliate program in numerous ways. However, with Amazon already running the largest and most successful affiliate program, with 200 million websites active in it, reaping those benefits is a little more difficult. Here are a few reasons for that:

  • While the average merchant sees conversion rates of 2.35% Amazon conversion ranges from 13% for non-prime shoppers to 74% for Prime members.
  • Amazon Prime has close to 100 million users in the U.S. alone. Many of those accounts are used by several persons in the same household. This makes it a challenge to convince those users and others as well to shop with other merchants.
  • Amazon has the largest product inventory (over 12 million) and offers excellent customer service. Their affiliate program is also very intuitive, and affiliates have access to great creatives, deep linking options, and ad resources.

Does this mean that you should give up? Under no circumstances! It just means you should play your cards carefully. We know exactly what you need to do, as we’ve already done it for numerous clients.

From Selling on Amazon to Affiliate Marketing Success:

As mentioned above, you can and should launch your own affiliate program even though you’re already selling on Amazon. Our Step-by-Step Guide to a Successful Affiliate Program Launch covers everything you need to know about that. The trick is to adapt it to your particular situation. We will explain how you can and should do that in the following lines.

Before we get there, though, keep one thing in mind: Amazon is not the enemy but your ally. Your goal is not to steal their affiliates but rather to engage as many as possible of the publishers who are not already promoting your Amazon-listed products or services. Through them, you can then introduce more people to your brand and products or services and turn them into paying customers.

In the end, it’s better to have your audience buy from Amazon than not buy at all. But, of course, as a merchant, it is best to drive traffic to and grow your own website rather than send traffic to Amazon. That is where the affiliate program comes in handy. It will also allow you more control over who, where, and how promotes your services, which is not possible with Amazon.

Here are the ten tips to guide your steps on your affiliate marketing venture:

1. Ensure Optimal Conversion and No Leakage

online affiliate marketingTraffic leaks and poor conversion can bury any affiliate program. No one will promote you if you redirect traffic to another website or untracked channels like phone numbers, chat services, etc. Also, if you’re not able to convert affiliate traffic into sales, all affiliates will end up switching their links to Amazon or promoting competitors that convert better.

Therefore, before you start worrying about your affiliate program, make sure your website is aligned with your goals.

2. Study Amazon’s Offer to Buyers and Affiliates

We advise all merchants wanting to launch an affiliate program to perform a competitive analysis. You should do the same. While at it, make sure you cover the following:

  • Amazon offer and benefits for Prime and non-prime customers
  • Buyer reviews and ratings of your products and/or services
  • Amazon affiliate marketing program terms and benefits
  • Competitors who sell on Amazon and run their own affiliate programs
  • The offers of other third-party websites selling your products
  • Terms of competitors’ affiliate programs on the affiliate network you plan on joining

You may want to include all the information in a spreadsheet, to have all numbers within sight and be able to see the big picture.

3. Come Up With a Better Offer for Buyers

Put yourself in your buyers’ shoes and ask yourself a simple question: why should they buy from you? You need to offer something that exceeds Amazon’s offer. It can be anything from free shipping to permanent discounts, extended warranties, one-on-one support, or video tutorials. Without a reason to turn their attention to you, buyers will always prefer Amazon. That’s not necessarily bad but it does prevent you from building that personal relationship you are after.  

4. Beat Amazon’s Affiliate-facing Terms

best affiliate offerYou have a better offer for buyers and that is great. However, you depend on affiliates to spread the word about that offer.

What’s in it for them? Why should bloggers, influencers, and other affiliate types bother to promote you when you are already on Amazon, where excellent conversion and customer service are guaranteed?

To convince them, consider the following when conceiving your offer:

If your conversion rate is four times lower than Amazon’s, consider paying four times higher commissions to compensate. Amazon recently dropped their commissions considerably, so that should not be too difficult. You can check their commission level for your products’ category here. This guide on how to determine the affiliate commission rate covers everything else you need to know. 

Amazon’s cookie life goes up to 90 days for items added to the cart within 24 hours from clicking the affiliate link. You should beat that offer, especially since it will probably not cost you anything. Most transactions take place during the first 24-48 hours from the click. However, affiliates feel better knowing that they have more time to turn their referrals into cash.

If you only offer a flat commission rate, your affiliates may set up their ads or publish their reviews and forget about them. However, if they see that they’re one step from getting a bonus or reaching a higher commission threshold, they will be more tempted to intensify their promotional efforts.

  • Free Products to Review (or Demo Accounts)

Many publishers, especially influencers, have a hard time recommending products and services they haven’t tried. Let them test yours. It will give them confidence and allow them to get to know your products or services better. Knowing that they receive a product or service for free and get to keep or use it after the photo or video session is over could convince them to promote you. Consistent discounts may help for high-end products that cannot be offered for free.

It is easier to sell when you give the buyer the impression that they’re getting something special, created exclusively for them, unavailable anywhere else, and affiliates know that. A discount code personalized according to their name or website, or, better yet, a co-branded landing page could work miracles for them, and, implicitly, for you as well.

As you settle the above, keep in mind that, although you want your affiliate program to be more attractive than Amazon’s, your main goal is to win over your competitors. So, remember to make your offer more attractive than your competitors’ as well. When affiliates project their earnings to decide whom to promote, the balance should tilt in your favor.

5. Manage Your Affiliate Program

affiliate program managementUnmanaged (and under-managed) affiliate programs are vulnerable to affiliate fraud and parasitism. Good affiliates avoid them because they know their transactions could be overwritten by their more unscrupulous peers. As a merchant, the last thing you want is to find yourself with cancellations or returns and not be able to reverse the corresponding commissions. Besides, you surely do not want to entrust your brand reputation to just anyone and not keep track of their activity.

Active affiliate program management brings about numerous advantages, all the more when you work with a reputed affiliate management agency with experience in Amazon sellers’ programs. It can cover everything from competitive intelligence to affiliate program launch, promotion, recruitment, affiliate policing, and reporting, and often makes the difference between affiliate program success and failure.

6. Stay in the Spotlight

Having an affiliate program is not enough. You need to promote it, to let publishers know about it (and the better terms it offers compared to Amazon and your main competitors), and to remind existing affiliates of what they’re missing by not promoting you. You also need to draw buyer attention, and the best way to do that is by organizing regular contests and promotions.

These affiliate program promotion ideas should come in handy. One important thing to remember is to organize regular promotions and holiday campaigns for buyers, and send their details and corresponding creatives to affiliates through newsletters. Those who already promote you will have something new to share with their audience. Those who are not yet doing it will be reminded and motivated to begin.  

7. Choose Your Affiliates Carefully

We’ve already covered the most important aspects in our guide on finding and recruiting quality affiliates. The important thing to remember is that not all affiliates are desirable, so it is important to review them individually and only accept those who can add value to your affiliate program.

A huge opportunity to step out of Amazon’s shadow is to work with content monetization platforms and sub-affiliate networks. Amazon turned their back on them but we’ve seen them drive significant results in many affiliate programs. Common examples include Skimlinks, Viglink (now SOVRN), rewardStyle, and FMTC.

While it is true that you will not have full control over the publishers promoting your brand through them, they will work with you to make sure that your offer reaches the right type of publishers and the latter comply with your program rules and policies. Of course, it is important to have a solid agreement in place. Our affiliate program agreement guide should come in handy.

8. Manage Complaints & Reversals Carefully

affiliate managementJust as you trust your affiliates with your brand, when promoting you, they put their reputation on the line. Make sure they won’t receive any complaints. Invalid discount codes, broken affiliate links, website and tracking downtimes, unsatisfied customers, etc., these are all issues that may seem small to you but could weigh heavily on your affiliates’ decision of whether to start or continue to promote you. Do your best to avoid them and, when you cannot, focus on compensating for them and minimizing the damage.

Also, when reversing commissions, look at the reason why the transaction was canceled or the product was returned. If products were returned for reasons unrelated to the affiliate’s activity, think twice before reversing their commission. Those couple of dollars that you recover could cost you a valuable affiliate and all the transactions they could drive. Moreover, such returns should represent a warning sign that something related to your product or service needs improvement.

9. Welcome Feedback and Act on It

Affiliates can bring a new, fresh perspective of your business and products or services. Encourage them to share their opinion and act on it. Show your willingness to improve and learn from your mistakes. No one expects you to be perfect but affiliates appreciate merchants who care about and respect their opinion. After all, you share a common goal: to sell as much as possible and earn as much as possible. Therefore, why not work together to achieve it?

10. Keep Learning from Amazon

Affiliate marketing is always changing, so you should never sleep on your success. On the contrary, you should continue to learn and try to improve your offer to buyers and affiliates, your internal processes, etc. There is always room for improvement, and you can learn a lot in this sense from giants like Amazon – affiliate marketing worked wonders for them and others too. One way to make it work for you is to learn from the best. You’ll find a few important lessons to learn from Amazon and Walmart here.

Do you need help with your Amazon and affiliate marketing strategy?

Starting and managing an affiliate program and implementing all the above advice can be challenging for someone with no or little experience in affiliate marketing. However, you don’t have to do it alone. At AM Navigator, we love challenges, and we love helping merchants reach success independently of giants like Amazon. Affiliate marketing is our specialty, and we will gladly use our experience and skills in your interest.

Whether you have unanswered questions about Amazon, affiliate marketing, and how to make the two work together, or need help starting your affiliate program and steering it in the right direction, we’re here for you. Contact us now, tell us more about your project and your needs, and let’s schedule a free consultation!

6 Alternatives to Amazon For E-commerce

6 Alternatives to Amazon For E-commerce

With a net worth of  $1.7 trillion, Amazon has dominated the e-commerce sector for years, leaving many of its competitors in the shade. But are there alternatives to Amazon?

With an audience as vast as Amazon, small business start-ups and solo entrepreneurs flock to the site to sell the products, get established, and build their enterprises. Despite the audience Amazon offers, you may want to look for other online venues to list your items.

There are many good reasons to broaden your e-commerce horizons.

First, it makes little sense to put all your eggs in one basket. Second, selling on a wider range of marketplaces gets your products in front of a larger audience. And finally, looking at the other choices available could save you money on fees, or get you closer to your target buyers.

Below are some viable alternatives to Amazon. We’ll look at their advantages, their fee structures, and what makes them different.

Why You Should Use an Alternative to Amazon for Your E-commerce Business

We already touched on one of the main reasons to seek other venues: the perils of depending on one sales platform.

It’s not unheard of for sellers to have their accounts blocked. If you haven’t already established yourself on one of the alternatives to Amazon, your business could tank.

However, by setting up multiple accounts with different marketplaces, you’ve got greater flexibility if things go wrong. Plus, you can use other online platforms to test out which ones are the best for your products.

And there are other benefits in finding additional marketplaces, like:

Greater Flexibility 

All e-commerce sales platforms have some measure of control over your business. They determine:

  • What products you can list
  • The terms and conditions of doing business
  • Your payment options
  • Shipping fees

These terms might not be suitable for your business. So, If you’re looking for greater flexibility, then seeking alternatives to Amazon is a good idea.

Better Customer and Vendor Support

Perhaps you feel the vendor or customer support is lacking. Amazon provides useful resources for sellers, like its university. But some sellers feel seller support is sometimes thin, especially when things go wrong.

More Shipping Options and Lower Fees With Some Amazon Alternatives

Amazon has changed its fee structure over the years, bringing frustration to some.

Amazon sets its professional selling plan at $39.99, with individual plans available free. And referral fees differ, depending on which category you’re selling in.

Shipping is a further reason to consider seeking alternatives as individual sellers on Amazon lack flexibility over their shipping costs.

If you’re looking to cut fees or branch out, then signing with some alternatives to Amazon may allow you to further scale your business while reducing costs.

Amazon Alternative Payment Choices

If you’re a seller on Amazon, you’ll know it makes payment via ACH or electronic funds transfer. Amazon distributes these payments to your bank account every two weeks, and they can take up to five days to clear.

But that doesn’t always work for everyone. If you’re a small business and cash is tight, signing up to e-commerce platforms with a broader range of payment options can improve your cash flow.

What to Look for in an Amazon Alternative

Before you search for alternatives to Amazon, you need to decide what you want from your business. You’ll need to consider the products you’re selling and your target customer, too.

For example, if you’re selling printable products, Etsy could be an excellent choice. Or, if you’re looking for consumers who understand tech, you may find Newegg works well for you.

Other areas you’ll want to think about include:

Ease of Use

Marketplaces that allow you to add items efficiently mean you can list more products in less time. But you’ll want to view any alternatives to Amazon from your customer’s perspective too.

How important is the ease of use? Well, if you note some recent research from Digital Commerce 360 and Bitrate, you’ll see this is a significant factor in the buying decision.

When researching new platforms, perhaps test them out for yourself and consider areas like:

  • Navigation
  • Ease of checkout
  • Payment options
  • Shipping choices

User Types

Think about your ideal consumer and the type of users the platform attracts. For example, eBay is huge, with 182 million active buyers. It’s great for snapping up limited-time deals, brand name products, and pre-loved items.

However, it’s not always the first place shoppers think of when looking for handmade goods or unique items. They’re more likely to head somewhere like Etsy.

Fees

Fees can take a considerable chunk of your profits if you’re not careful. Depending on the fee structure, some sites may not be suitable if you’re selling smaller, lower value items.

If you need some help in this area, fee calculators are helpful. Here’s a list of the well-known ones.

Best Alternatives to Amazon for E-commerce

What are some of the best Amazon alternatives when you’re looking to sell your products online? Let’s look at some of the top options, in no particular order.

Bonanza

Established in 2007, Bonanza has built itself a loyal following, with a vast range of categories. Sign up is free, and fees are straight forward. Final offer value fees are 3.5 percent for sales under $500. Sales over $500 attract an additional 1.5 percent fee.

Although it’s much smaller than Amazon, Bonanza has some advantages over its larger rival. They include a greater emphasis on building customer relationships and developing a sustainable business through repeat customers.

Equally appealing to sellers is the marketing tools Bonanza provides. These give you access to valuable data about product performance, allowing you to spot trends, optimize listings, and better market your items.

Other features include:

  • Automatic syncing with eBay, Amazon, and Shopify
  • Customized marketing tools
  • Image editing tools
  • Google integration
  • High level of customer support.

But what makes Bonanza stand out is its focus on unique items. It’s not trying to be another Amazon. As Bonanza puts it, it’s a site where you’ll find “everything but the ordinary”.

eBay

One of the most prominent alternatives to Amazon is eBay. Like Amazon, eBay has made considerable changes since its launch back in 1995. Over the years, eBay’s focus has moved away from the collectibles market it used to cater to, and it’s now more product-based.

Many famous brands like Rolex, Hasbro, and Microsoft make their goods available via ebay.com brand outlet site, enabling consumers to bag a bargain. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for more unusual or collectible items.

On eBay, listing fees and final value fees vary, but it sets many of its final value fees at 10 percent or less. If you need to calculate fees before listing, use an eBay fee calculator.

Some advantages of selling on eBay are:

  • A more comprehensive range of categories
  • More payment options for shoppers, like a credit/debit card, PayPal, and local collection. Sellers can also accept Apple Pay, Google Pay, and gift cards through managed payments.
  • Improved branding through eBay stores and marketing materials

What makes eBay stand out, though, is its auctions. Auctions may not be ideal for every business. However, sellers who specialize in collectible or rare items may find the bidding pushes their final sales price up higher than they could’ve imagined.

Etsy

If your business primarily sells printable products or art and craft items, then Etsy might be for you. Of the many alternatives to Amazon, Etsy has perhaps one of the most affordable and straightforward pricing approaches.

Each listing costs just 20 cents, and the listing is good for four months. Then there’s a five percent transaction fee for goods that sell. Payment processing fees are variable and depend on location. If you want to grow your business further, Etsy Plus is available at $10 a month.

Re-listing is simple, too. Just select the auto-renew option, and there shouldn’t be anything else to do on your part.

Advantages of selling on Etsy are:

  • Greater customization over how your store looks
  • Ideal for beginners
  • Lower fees
  • Sellers can list collectibles and vintage items on Etsy

That’s the advantages, but there are a couple of possible disadvantages worth mentioning. First, Etsy is much smaller than Amazon, which means there’s intense competition, so your products need to stand out.

Second, although fees are cheaper, you may make more sales on Amazon Handmade because of its larger audience share.

Walmart Marketplace

Amazon dominates e-commerce, but Walmart is gaining ground. Recent sales figures show Walmart’s e-commerce sales have soared by 74 percent. This stat means if you’re looking for alternatives to Amazon, Walmart could be promising.

Like Amazon, Walmart now offers a fulfillment service. Although storage and fulfillment fees apply, Walmart’s fee structure is less complicated than Fulfillment by Amazon, and referral fees are competitive.

In addition, with Walmart’s marketplace, there’s no start-up or ongoing monthly fees. However, you’ll want to factor in other costs, like unique product codes (UPCs).

Advantages of selling on the Walmart marketplace include:

  • Lower costs
  • Less competition due to buyer/seller ratio
  • Price control over inventory

What makes the platform different? Unlike Amazon, Walmart’s marketplace is only open to invited brands. You can’t just register and start selling. But you can sign up.

To register your interest in selling, Walmart asks businesses to fill out the interest form.

Newegg

Newegg has gained a reputation as the top global tech marketplace online. But it also sells apparel, home and lifestyle products, sports/health-related items, TVs, and plenty more.

As for fees, non-elite membership is free. Elite membership has two tiers ranging from $29.95-$99.95 a month. Commissions vary, with the highest being 12 percent.

Advantages of selling on Newegg include:

  • Can be cheaper for tech products
  • Attracts tech buyers who are knowledgeable about products
  • The Newegg search engine makes finding electronics and components quicker
  • Customized marketing for businesses
  • Various payment choices for sellers including weekly ACH payments, PayPal, Wire Transfer, PingPong, Payoneer, and World First
  • A wide range of payments for buyers, including PayPal and BitPay

But it’s the multi-channel fulfillment option that may interest sellers the most. If you’re selling from various platforms, Newegg provides a central point to manage all your orders.

Shopify

When you sell on a third-party platform, you have limited control. Many online sellers favor setting up their stores the Shopify platform.

The site offers new sellers a 14-day free trial to get them started. After that, a basic Shopify store will cost you $29 a month. Online credit card rates are 2.9 percent + 30 cents. And you should find it easy enough to start selling.

Once you’ve signed up for the free trial, the next steps are to:

  • Add products
  • Selecting images
  • Set shipping details
  • Customize pages for search engines using keywords
  • Create main pages
  • Customize store

The benefits of Shopify include:

  • Highly-rated customer support and selling features
  • Greater customization
  • Large range of e-commerce tools and apps
  • Access to the e-commerce university
  • You can accept a large range of currencies

Conclusion

There are a variety of reasons you might be looking for alternatives to Amazon. Maybe you want a platform that provides a wider range of payment options, a site that’s more niche, or you just want a more extensive selection of online marketplaces to sell your wares.

As you can see, there are many venues available, and they all have their advantages. Sites like Bonanza have established a loyal audience, and Walmart’s e-commerce presence is growing strong.

Niche sites such as Etsy and Newegg are ideal for specialist items, and eBay offers greater customization and various selling methods, including auctions.

If you want to go it alone, there’s always Shopify, where you can set up and market your own e-commerce business.

Are you an online seller? Tell us about your favorite platform and your experiences below.

Amazon Dropshipping 101: 3 Expert Guides to Start Selling on Amazon

Amazon Dropshipping 101: 3 Expert Guides to Start Selling on Amazon

Amazon is the ultimate beast for buying and selling anything in the world today. With their massive reach and billions of customers, it’s no wonder they are quickly becoming the number one destination for everything. What started off as just books, quickly turned into movies, DVD, music and now consists of pretty much everything else you can think of. Not only is the site a dream for anyone looking to make a purchase, it’s also become an opportunity of a lifetime for entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking to sell through Amazon and their marketplace in the process.

While the concept of Amazon is simple enough (buy products through their site), what most people don’t realize is that a huge portion of the products and sales done through the site are actually from outside parties, dropshippers, and independent sellers. Amazon is simply providing the customers and platforms to such sellers.

With all of this in mind, it’s important to make sure everyone is as well informed as possible when it comes to selling on Amazon. To help with this process, I’ve hand selected some of the best Amazon dropshipping and selling guides out there to help you get started.

Free Amazon Dropshipping Guide – How to Dropship on Amazon

When it comes to selling anything online, Oberlo has become one of the ultimate tools for importing and fulfilling product orders on e-commerce sites, as well as an actual marketplace for researching and selling products. With that being said, they also have one of the best blogs out there for walking users through the process of how to sell more online and set up new accounts and businesses through the likes of platforms like Amazon and Shopify.

In their Amazon dropshipping guide, you will not only get to walk through the process of creating a Seller Account on Amazon, you will also find everything you need to know about drop shipping and how it applies to Amazon sales, marketing, and fulfillment of orders. Once live with your Amazon account, Oberlo recommends you focus on your seller rating and keyword research, while not expecting Amazon to simply start sending a flood of sales your way. The customers are there, but you still need to put in the time, work and effort to get your products in front of them.

In addition to Amazon drop shipping, there are also many other alternatives to selling online with different drop shippers and wholesalers. This can be done by setting up an online store of your own, then simply finding the right supplier for your product. Unfortunately, this is the hardest part in the process. To learn more about such options, you can see more dropshipping tips here.

How to Make Over $10,000 a Month Selling on Amazon

Not all resource guides need to come in the form of long-form content and with the intention to sell an individual product or service. In the case of Quora, the question “How can you make over $10,000 a month selling on Amazon and through drop shipping?“.

The end result was over 42 different in-depth responses that break down a number of winning methods for making serious money with Amazon. Ed Tyson, Author of “How to Sell More on Amazon” broke his answer down to three simple rules for finding success on Amazon.

  1. in making lots of cash: sell a ridiculously good product.
  2. in making lots of cash: find cheap, effective and cheap ways to market your product. Then do more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
  3. in making lots of cash: give ridiculously good service.

Jan Steen also had three recommended tips of his own, which were:

  1. Sell something nobody else sells or ensure the customer thinks you are the cheapest and the best.
  2. Drive your traffic and conversion. It’s all about GOOD numbers.
  3. Try to automate even yourself.

Be sure to check out the full Quora page, as it’s loaded with useful information on not only how to get started with an Amazon dropshipping business, but also how to scale it in size and hit that nice monthly five-figure mark.

Debate: Drop Shipping vs. Amazon FBA

When it comes to selling products online, there are plenty of options to choose from. You can create an e-commerce site of your own where you physically create and ship your own items, you can dropship, or you can sell through Amazon FBA (Fulfillment by Amazon). Everyone has their own preference on which is best, and in this recent article on Empire Flippers we get to hear two players from both sides debate the issue.

In this exciting piece, two industry experts and successful entrepreneurs share their own expertise and history of what’s been working best for them. Anton Kraly has years of experience in the dropshipping, while also generating over $1.8 million in sizes by the age of 24. On the other side, they have Mark Brenwall, who has found some great success with Amazon FBA. Both players started their business from scratch and focus on providing their audience with the best products and sales process possible.

By the end of this article interview, you will have a good idea of what it takes to start an online business through both dropshipping and Amazon FBA. Be sure to read through til the end of the article to see if both Anton and Mark would stick with the same business models, should they get to start from scratch all over.

How to Make Millions Selling and Dropshipping through Amazon

When you think about a million dollars and the massive volume of customers and sales being generated on Amazon today, that number really isn’t that big at all — especially if you are trying to hit that seven-figure mark in sales. It only takes $2,740 a day in sales to generate a million dollars over the course of a year. When you factor in the reach, marketing and automation possible through Amazon, this definitely looks more attainable than ever before.

The toughest part about selling on Amazon is finding the right product to sell. The platform and marketing are already in place. Be sure to read through each of the Amazon dropshipping guides above and see how you can get started with your own e-commerce/dropshipping business today.