Image: Matthew Loffhagen
You should be making a proactive effort to track your marketing efforts, identifying areas that need improvement. Taking advantage of the Amazon associates affiliate marketing programs as an author allows you access to an under-utilized tracking tool, while earning a higher percentage royalties on some of your book sales.
Affiliate marketing, in simple terms, is being paid commission to promote other people’s products. When that product is sold as a result of your promotion, you earn a small percentage of that sale.
If you sign up for the Amazon affiliate program, (Amazon associates), you can earn around 4-6% commission on each sale made when people visit Amazon through your links. This includes your own books. You will also earn commission for every other product that person buys within a 24-hour window, even if these products are from different sellers or completely unrelated to books. This can add up to a regular income stream.
When you share affiliate links for your own products, you can attach unique tracking codes to each link. This way, you can track the effectiveness of each link shared, comparing which of your book marketing efforts are most successfully enhancing your sales.
How is this beneficial to authors?
The Amazon associate program allows you to compare the success of different promotional efforts for your books, down to each link that is shared. This allows you to see if your sales are coming from links on your website, Twitter, Facebook or other sources.
Tracking your book sales is compulsory if you want to stand any chance of increasing them. You need to understand where your customers are coming from, so that you know where you need to focus your promotional efforts in the future. It also identifies any areas that need improvement. It may be that no one is visiting Amazon from your blog; this could mean that you need to move the link to a more visible place or improve your call to action.
Being an Amazon associate and sharing your own links also means that you will earn a small commission every time someone buys one of your books. Although the commission on selling your own books isn’t huge, it is a free service with a lot of advantages, so why not earn a little more money whilst you’re at it?
How do I become an Amazon associate?
To register for the Amazon associates program, you will need an author website. When setting up your account, add all of the websites that you intend on promoting your books on.
Once you have a webpage, you’re ready to get started
- Log into Amazon with your usual account.
- Once you’re logged in, scroll down to the bottom of the page. Under the heading “make money with us” click the “Associates program” link.
- Follow the instructions to make an Amazon associates account. Your page should now look something like this:
- On the left hand side, select “manage” (Within the ‘Tracking ID’ box.)
- Once the Tracking ID section appears, select “Add tracking ID”.
- You can then choose the name of your tracking ID. I like to use the name of the website I will be sharing the link on – this makes it easier to track later on.You can choose any combination of letters and numbers that you like. The system will then have to check if the name is available, so you may have to try a few options.
Creating a link to track your sales
Before creating a link, you must first make sure that the correct tracking ID is selected in the system.
For instance, you may be about to create a link to share via Twitter.
To do this, look at the tracking ID box at the top left of your page. The drop down menu will show all of your existing tracking ID’s, made in the previous step.
Simply use the drop down menu to select the tracking ID for your chosen website.
No matter which of the following methods you use to generate your link, they will use this tracking ID. If you want to share links on multiple websites, you must come back and change this tracking ID selection each time. Otherwise the same tracking ID will be used across different websites, and your sales will become impossible to track.
Creating the link
Amazon offers multiple tools to help you promote products to your readers. These tools can create widgets, text links and image links; so it’s worth exploring the options to determine which method produces the best results for you. Most of these tools can be found under the ‘links and banners’ and ‘widgets’ tab at the top of the page.
Personally, I like to use the tool bar on Amazon
To do this, locate your book on Amazon. Once you open the product page, you will notice a small gray bar at the top of your screen, this appears for anyone who has an Amazon associates account.
To share your book on your website, select “link to this page”. A pop-up will then appear, instructing you on how to create and embed the code into your website.
You can choose to share either a small advert for your book, or just a text link. You can embed either of these on your website.
This is what the advert looks like
This is what the Text Only link looks like
You can click on either of these if you want to see how your readers will see the link. (I’d also recommend buying the book if you don’t already have it.)
If you wanted to share the code on Twitter or Facebook, select the share button instead. This will automatically open a Twitter page to share your link with your tracking ID embedded within it.
If you just want a clean link to use yourself you can go back to the associates homepage and use the product finder.
You can then get a shortened link to your book that looks like this:
Which you can share anywhere.
Although this seems like a lot of steps, it is very easy to set-up and once you have created one link, sharing links to your books will become second nature. The Amazon associates toolbar is great for simplifying the linking procedure. Once you have linked to a book with your associate ID and a Tracking ID, you can begin to track your sales progress.
Tracking your sales.
From the main Amazon website, you can select “Amazon Associates” in the top right corner, to return to the associates homepage. From there, select ‘reports’, then ‘tracking ID summary report’.
Once you begin selling books through your tracking ID links, this table will keep track of which websites are most successfully generating sales. This is where naming your tracking IDs carefully comes in. If you name all of your tracking IDs a series of numbers, it may then be difficult for you to decipher this table. However, naming them with a title of the website within the name, will help you better identify your sales efforts along your different platforms.
A basic setup would be to create a different tracking ID for your website, for Facebook and Twitter:
Then if you only use the respective tracking ID for each site you will easily be able to see the effect that your marketing efforts have.
You can also create ID’s for individual campaigns, say for an email campaign to your email list.
Once you get into the habit of tracking your sales, you will notice your promotional behaviors begin to change. Being aware of your audience’s behavior will inevitably result in an increase of sales. Amazon associates is a great tool for monitoring this. Plus it’s free, so what’s the harm in trying it out? You might just earn some extra money while you’re about it.
Remember this won’t mean you get extra royalties on every book sold through Amazon, only on the books that you link to personally so it will never be completely accurate as far as showing your sales.
If you want to earn commission in your international sales then you need to sign up to the international Amazon associates programs as well. To make things easy for you, here are links to all of the current programs:
United Kingdom https://affiliate-program.amazon.co.uk
Do you have any ideas of products that you can promote that aren’t your own books? If you do then I’d love to hear from you in the comments.