Twenty Percent Conversion Rates on Amazon Associates – WTF!?$

This week I experienced a fluke.  I had a run on sales of books on my Amazon Associates account.  I experienced 20% sell through from clicks.  That was amazing.  I’ve never sold anything through Amazon Associates before, and I’ve dabbled and worked at it for over 3 years.

I’ve tried a number of things over the years. 

  • I read a lot of fiction books, and I’ve tried writing reviews of the books that I have read myself, while including a link to the book on Amazon.  Result – Zero Sales.  :)
  • I’ve tried covering movies and DVD’s and including image links to the DVD movies on Amazon.  Result – Zero Sales.  :)
  • I’ve tried covering gadgets and electronics that I have written about including image links to Amazon.  Result – Zero Sales.  :)

I have never spoken with anyone that has been able to employ the midas touch or even witness it second hand themselves.  The conventional wisdom is that Amazon Associates just doesn’t work, and that from a publisher’s perspective it will return very little revenue if any at all.

A FEW Lessons Learned from my Amazon Success

Now, I have just experienced some success with Amazon Associates.  This could very well be a fluke and it may not repeat.  Maybe some crack smoking nut job just happened to click on my Amazon link and buy some books.  :)  Then again, maybe I did something right and stumbled upon a formula that might repeat.  I’m writing this to share my experience and see if anyone else has had similar success.  As you can see from my previous results above, I have nothing to lose from sharing my notes! 

The Key was in the Carousel Widget

Using the embedded flash object of the Carousel Widget, which you can set up in Amazon Associates, I was able to display about 7 products in a moving rotating carousel.  From this widget, one of my readers saw something they were interested in, went to Amazon, investigate some other books and bought some. 

Below is an Example of an Amazon Carousel Widget

Getting Your Readers Engaged

One thing I really like about the carousel is that it gets your readers engaged and doing something.

Always be clicking!

It helps them to turn their vision into a mouse action and rotate their view to consume more content.  It gets them clicking.  It moves them one step closer towards clicking their way to Amazon where they might move from reader to clicker to browser and buyer.

Now, I’m treating my success like a fisherman.  I have felt the nibble of a bite.  It could have been chance or it could have been something done well.  So I’m throwing additional lines out into the water to test some of this and try and determine if there is something there. 

One of the things that seems to have worked in this case is that I offered up books, that were How TO or DIY in nature.  Furthermore these books covered topics that were a little too complex to cover on a website.  The articles were also targeted towards people that do have or will typically have limited internet access.  Ergo, they come online from time to time to do research, but then have to go offline to dig in and finish their knowledge gathering from a book.

In a globally connected world, that is likely a somewhat small audience.  Furthermore, I suffer from being over connected so it is not easy to think like a reader that is not connected.

Unlike the example above, I experienced my success with vertical skyscraper like carousel widgets.  These were in the sidebar of one of my sites and not within the article itself.  I have the theory that these could work inside an article, so I’m going to keep experimenting with the layout, size and form to see what might resonate and work better.

To Widget or Not to Widget and the Server Speeds that Spoil Them

This weekend I am catching up with Utterz and came upon a great question by Matt Thomas of and

BTW he has a great article on Zoho Metting at PainInTheTech.

His Question in Audio below, asks what people think about Widgets and whether or not they should be used on sites at all as many of them reduce the load time of a website down significantly.  Websites that have many of these widgets can load painfully slow sometimes and that translates into a bad reader experience.

Bad reader experience is bad for publishers most of the time unless you are running an insult site or something.

So first let me ask you Matt’s Question, do you think widgets are bad? 


My Perspective – It Depends on the Server Speed of the Service

Tip!  Listen to my perspective and you will find out why I think widgets can enhance and add value to your site and I’ll give you a hint, you are looking right at it!

So if you listen to my perspective, you will see that my response to Matt simply indicates that you have to find a balance and monitor it.  If you are running a blog say on Dreamhost and paying $50 a year and you are loaded on to a server with 3000 other sites, you may not have the fastest load time in the world even if you are just sporting a Hello World page.

OK, that was an exaggeration.

But seriously, if you are picking up a widget from say Google or Yahoo or maybe even Flikr, which I do not use. Odds are these companies have better and faster servers than what you are paying for.  They are not likely to be culprits in slowing down your website.

Your reader is on the internet and has to hit your server already, another server will add some load time but if its a fast server it will not be noticeable.

The real issue to look out for is

  1. Do not put too many widgets on your website that slows down performance all the way around
  2. Pay attention to what is there, if you see a degradation you may need to pull something from your site.

Here are some follow up questions for you

  1. Do you have widgets that are slowing your site down? 
  2. Do you have Java script or a stats tool slowing you down?
  3. Do you have a button or two that came with a hot linked image that loads notoriously slow?

Tip of the Obvious

You have probably heard this tip before, but if you are including a button on your site for something, download the graphic and host it yourself.  then change the code and load it on your site.  Do not hot link the graphic!  You can still give someone a recommendation link with the button if you choose (Google considerations aside).

So with that go forth and be happy.  This is something that I run into on a regular basis myself, especially with annoying button requests and more frequently with stat tools that run on javascript like google analytics.  When someone else’s server runs down like a rechargeable flashlight that has seen a few too many charging sessions, its time to swap out that code, that hot link, that button, or that widget for some new batteries and get yourself something that will keep your readers happy!


Check Out Matt’s Blog

Lastly, I do not know Matt from the next person, but he does have some good insights.  I’d recommend checking out his blog and some of his conversations.  The comment above by Matt is part of what may become a series of conversations.  In part 2 he talks about a concept that I use all the time on almost all of my sites and that is Feed incorporation of content.