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How to Dramatically Increase Amazon Affiliate Sales with Bestseller Lists

Posted By Darren Rowse 20th of June 2007 Affiliate Programs 0 Comments

A sales technique that many businesses and industries employ is to create ‘Best Seller Lists’ to highlight to consumers what others like them are purchasing.

A few examples spring to mind:

Of course there are many more we could list. Virtually every music, video and bookstore have their own version of these sorts of lists, as do newspapers, magazines and other kinds of stores.

Another recent local example was a department store here in Australia who had the Top 10 Selling Mens Fragrances strategically placed next to the sales counter of their mens clothes section.

Best Seller lists work in many industries for a number of reasons

  • As much as we like to think of ourselves as unique individuals, we’re social creatures and like to know what others are doing
  • We like to feel a part of trends and don’t like to feel left out
  • We are lazy and any short cut to finding something of a good quality appeals to us
  • We know that there’s some truth to the idea of The Wisdom of Crowds

How to Create Your own Best Seller List

A number of months ago I realized the power of best seller lists and decided to start exploring them on my blogs. It struck me that my readership might just like to know what they were buying collectively and that I actually had those figures at hand – in my Amazon Affiliate Program Reports.

At the end of every day publishers in the Amazon Associates program are presented with a number of reports for the previous day. These can be viewed by day, month or any time frame. These reports not only tell you how much you earned over the timeframe selected but shed some light on what items people are purchasing.

This information is both interesting and useful – particularly when you present it back to your readers.

Here’s how I last did it over at DPS – as a Popular Digital Cameras and Gear post.

The post identifies 6 major categories of products within the niche that DPS readers buy. I manually listed the top 10 products in each category, listing each with an affiliate link back to Amazon. I explained that they were affiliate links and that the commissions earned from purchases were sown back into improving the blog.

The Results

There a number of tangible results of producing such a list:

  • Sales – every time that I produce one of these lists (and I tend to do it on a quarterly basis) I see an increase in sales at Amazon. Users do take the recommendations of their wider community seriously.
  • Conversation – as you’ll see on the post at DPS, there’s been a reasonable amount of conversation as a result of the post. We’re up to 20 comments on the post – with an array of responses (most positive).
  • Increase in Commissions – one of the side benefits of driving up the number of sales is that you also drive up the percentage in commissions that Amazon pays out if you’re tier payment system. I find that the months that I do these types of posts that the number of sales goes up and I generally see my % payout increase a percentage point or two (it’s just a pity that Amazon don’t include consumer electronics in the tiers – they stay at a flat 4%).

A Word of Warning

Do keep in mind that making these types of posts too regularly could leave some readers feeling a little disillusioned. I tend to do them on a quarterly basis (they work particularly well in the lead up to Christmas) so as not to seem too greedy or take the blog too far off topic.

A Tip for Increasing the Longevity of the List

Using this type of post can be an effective technique – but once it drops off the front page of your blog it converts significantly less. One way to increase the length of time that the post is effective is to link to it prominently. You’ll see I’ve added a link in the DPS top menus to ‘Popular Cameras’ which links to the post in question. Initial testing shows that this is a fairly well clicked on link in the menu and drives good traffic to the post over time.

A Wish

One of the things that I’d love to see Amazon develop is to have some way of automating this process. To be able to have a way to automatically compile such a list of purchases made through a publisher’s account would be a pretty useful thing.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. Thanks for another well done tip. I’ve been reading your posts about Amazon and I think I’m going to try it when I have my blog up and running. Your advices are trully a-must read for all bloggers. Especially for those who are still starting.

    Thanks and more power to Problogger!

  2. Great advice as usual. Never had too mcuh success with Amazan Affiliates, I’ve been experimenting with all kinds of different monetization, still can’t seem to hit the right chord.

  3. My blog is not about blogging but I found your blog to be very helpful. With all the information I got, I become a better blogger everyday. Thanks for the help.

  4. Terrific ideas here. One more thing I need to implement on my storm chasing site. I should probably check out your DPS site too!

    I don’t suppose you would be interested in throwing something like that into a WordPress plugin, would you? :o)

  5. Since signing up with Amazon. I’ve had over 1,000 clicks and 1 sale. My CTR is so bad I was thinking of giving up. I’ll look into this though

  6. It’s all about trial and error and tracking your results. Imagine trying to do all of this without great advise from Darren Rowse and some other high priority blogs. I am using a program right now that is getting some great results. I don’t think it’s fair to mention it here but you can contact me through my blog.

  7. More good stuff from Problogger! *=) Great Amazon advice! I never knew about those reports!

  8. More good stuff from Problogger! *=) Great Amazon advice! I never knew about those reports!

  9. Problogger has been a great resource for me although I’m not having much luck with Amazon either. I keep plugging away though, eventually I’ll sort it out lol.

  10. A Tip for Increasing the Longevity of the List

    Might i suggest using the wp plugin that makes a topic sticky ? :) It’s even better than having a link on the homepage , although , i have to admit , that works pretty good if placed well .

    @Billy Mac

    People usually tend to go for a pros opinion , now imagine what if you were to have a great article on a top 10 camera reviewed that everyone in the market were to link to it . Comments of gratitude would start showing up , your commissions would sky rocket .

    Don’t worry anyway , my point was to underline the fact that , if you have already built a strong community , Amazon Affiliates could work for you . As for an unestablished community , is harder , because frankly people have to trust you first .

  11. It’s funny, I had to stop using the Amazon Affiliate program. I think I might stop using auction ads too. Here’s why. My blog is about personal finances for the military. I’m constantly discussing how people should save their money instead of spending it. I even discuss why personal finance books only get the authors rich; only you can get yourself rich.

    For this reason, “selling” products doesn’t really work. Adsense works well because my topics are financial in nature. So Google often has great ads coming up.

    So to make a short story long…make sure selling books on your blog makes sense for Amazon to work for you.


    Brandon J
    Money for Military

  12. I am in the Amazon affiliate program and I think that is a great tip. Thanks Darren.

  13. Simply awesome, thanks for the tip!

  14. Darren,

    Thanks for this timely tip. I just re-activated my Amazon Associates Account but don’t have any conversions. Since I set it up, I really haven’t paid any attention to it. Just like anything else, if you ignore it, your results will show it.

  15. Great article. I would add that creating an aStore through Amazon Affiliates is a way to put together the top titles in the field that you are covering, and looks professional too. Another way of utilizing the best-seller list technique is simply to list the top selling titles on your aStore home page.

  16. What you could do also is to get advertising of blog books :) from affil’s

  17. “One of the things that I’d love to see Amazon develop is to have some way of automating this process. To be able to have a way to automatically compile such a list of purchases made through a publisher’s account would be a pretty useful thing.”

    That would be great, wouldn’t it. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did something like that since the more recent experiments with Context Links and Omakase Links.

  18. Utilizing bestseller lists is an interesting idea. I’ve considered doing it with my Amazon affiliate program, but haven’t. Why? Believe it or not, bestseller lists are very arbitrary, and often don’t truly reflect the “true sales” of most books. I actually wrote a blog post about this (sorry for the shameless self promotion):


    Thus, I concentrate more on my adsense program than Amazon.

  19. What a great idea for generating interest and drawing in customers! That is why I love this Blog! Thanks so much!

    God Bless!

  20. Is it easy to set up one of these accounts? I would love to whore out books on my site.

  21. Excellent idea. While we mention the Amazon kickbacks often enough and link out when we’re talking about products, the me-too of seeing a list of bestsellers might generate some coin. Looks like I’ll do another one around the holidays at year-end. Thanks.

  22. I am stil struggling to get my Amazon widgest to display properly, I think it is a conflict with the size of my layout.
    Thanks for the post, gave me some good ideas.

  23. I did make a list already in 2 posts.

    Any ideas on how I could get Amazon referrals from them more specifically? Thanks.

  24. One of the things I did in the lead up to Christmas 2007 was write a post that was my personal writers wishlist based on Amazon products. It wasn’t intended to encourage readers to send me stuff (and nobody did *pouts*) but instead to get feedback from my fellow writers on what THEY wanted for their Christmas stockings.

    I love the idea of doing a quarterly Best Buys or What Readers Are Buying type post. I don’t currently get a great deal of sales through my affiliate links and posts like these would certainly help improve things in that regard but they’re also offering valuable information for readers. Because if readers are buying then other readers probably want it too.

    Great tips and thanks for Plurking the link!

  25. Ron duke says: 01/13/2009 at 12:23 am

    Great informational article.!! I searched a bit more and found many site who actually selling products of amazon along with their own product or services. Some blogs too display “Recommended Product Links” related the post topic. I notice some full fledge sites only setting amazon products..like http://www.amazku.com althought they call it startup.

  26. This is a great idea. Almost dumb not to think of it. It would fit in perfectly with one of my sites. I will implement this, but like you said, I will wait for the right moment do it in the best context.

  27. Kittykatang says: 06/06/2009 at 12:38 pm

    Hi Darren, I’m in the process of setting up a blog and live in Australia too. As Amazon does not have an Australian site, could you please explain to me how you use the affiliate program. Thanks.
    I’m following your 31 day challenge and it’s just fantastic – thank you.

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