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Use Reader’s Previous Amazon Purchases to Drive Future Sales

Posted By Darren Rowse 1st of December 2006 General 0 Comments

Reader-Quick-TipsThis reader ‘quick tip’ is from David from Strobist (one of my favorite digital photography blogs that focusses upon the sub-niche of ‘lighting’.

I have gotten so much from your blog that I wanted to pass along a tip that might help your readers.

My primary income streams on Strobist have evolved from the initial typical Adsense structure to about 50:50 CPM banners and Amazon affiliate sales.

My traffic is still in the high growth phase, and shows no signs of levelling off anytime soon.

But even that does not explain the growth I am seeing in the Amazon affiliate sales. My core is a series of specially selected books on the right sidebar – this works far better than the computer-generated ads.

But the best idea I have come up with yet is to feature a monthly “Hot List” of the top ten items purchased by readers. I list it at the beginning of each month, as compiled from the previous month. See the October Hot List here.

The publication of that list has the effect of sending my Amazon sales through the roof for a few days. And it happens each month.

I do some minor commentary on the month’s new list entries and such, and archive the latest on an aggregation page.

It’s a simple thing, but it really works for me.

From Darren: David’s tip is actually something I’ve done from time to time in different ways. For example I recently put together this Digital Camera and Photography Gift Ideas list based upon reader purchases at Amazon.

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. Could you describe what actually drives the recommended count in the first place?

  2. David is onto something here. I’ve actually done something similar based on page views. It may be driving a bit of a bump in sales, but I’ve also gotten a pretty high ranking for “Top 10 GPS” as a result. It may not be a huge search phrase, but it’s my fifth highest search string in terms of traffic right now.

  3. I’ve recently worked with setting up an amazon astore account. I was actually pretty impressed with the entire concept. I am yet to put any affiliate ads on my blog yet but after checking out Strobist it seems worth a shot. If you haven’t checked out David’s blog, its pretty impressive. Amazing how someone can get a PR7 and a ton of traffic on a free source like blogspot. I have a lot to learn!

  4. Very interesting. I’ve noticed on my blog that Amazon revenues at this time of year far outstrip my relatively meager Adsense earnings, possibly because I have a very focused (Sinatra-related) blog that tends to do well with product-specific links. I’ve just posted a top-5 list to the blog and we’ll see how things go. Thanks for the tip.

  5. But doesn’t the popularity list breed popularity? How does he deal with a lack of change in the list month after month.

  6. To a certain extent, Hashim is right. My list is heavily dependednt upon my Google rankings for various units. But I’ve got enough traffic, and get new posts ranked quickly enough, that it seems to work.

    I find that my list does change and that it reflects industry trends pretty well. Amazon’s best-seller list is a good point of comparison, even though it changes hourly.

  7. That is a great tip and something I am going to experiment with.

    My own recommendation with Amazon is to link to your own review of a book from next to the book cover and details link that Amazon displays.

    I have definitely seen an increase in sales when I’ve featured book reviews this way.

    All the best


  8. That’s actually a really good tip. I can’t tell you how many places or links to amazon products or books I have around my sites – yet I seem to be only selling certain items about Papillons on one site. Commission sucks of course, and I’ve been trying to earn that first $100 payout in over 2 years – so I can quit using them~!! .. I’m at $98.33 and hoping to get some payout before I retire.

    Another good experiment for December – something like a ‘Hot List’ might actually work! Who knows .. if it’s successful, maybe I’ll keep using Amazon until $200 level // Thanks to David from Strobist for sharing this tip.

  9. Hashim – I actually find that my lists changes quite a bit from month to month.

    Obviously my ‘hot list’ does spur some sales of items on previous lists – but it also sends people to Amazon where they end up buying other things also (or instead of my recommendations). So over time it changes quite nicely.

  10. I like this tip. sounds like a good way to promote items that are very specific to what you are writing about, and to overcome readers’ tendency to ignore obvious ads

  11. I use this method a lot. Not only does it show me which of my recommended products/reviews are working out, but also leads me to new products to feature.

    It’s a great way to start a Top 10 post as well.

  12. @James-

    I total and rank the previous month’s affiliate sales on Amazon from my daily and monthly reports.


    Uh, what’s a “PR7”? (I am not a blog coding wonk – I’m a shooter.)


    You’d think that, but the list does change every month. I do a couple of reviews a month, too. Also, I get great book ideas from my readers’ meandering purchases.

    FWIW, I am very choosy about what I allow on the AMZN ads – only specifically chosen things that I think are very approrpiate. A great book is the best money you can spend if you want to learn about something, IMO.

    Except for Darren’s blog, of course…

  13. Thanx Darren for this hint from David have give it further to german amazon purchasers

  14. Question for Darren or any other AMZN affiliates:

    Is there a workaround for being an affiliate for all of the various AMZN foreign sites? As happy as I am with AMZN’s general handling of the affiliate program, I think the fact that they do not carry your affiliate coding to the foreign sites is basically tantamount to skimming what should be the affiliates’ commissions.

    Clearly, they could integrate all of the sites. But instead, we are supposed to

    (a) sign up for each country’s program, and

    (b) provide separate links for each reader based on their country?

    The latter is even more impractical than the former. AMZN is a great company, but that policy is a tad predatory WRT the affiliates, IMO.

    I would be curious to know what you guys think, and if there is a decent workaround.


  15. DH-

    I think its worse than that. You have to have a bank account in each country! That’s my understanding anyway.

  16. David. I first signed up with Amazon.ca because that made sense to me at that time. I was up recommending products on my 1-800-HART’s Picks and (i.m.o.) readers were coming and buying stuff in the early days. I say that, based on posting about 10-15 items per day and exit traffic results. I’m not 100% certain of course.

    But as you know- this is what happens when someone in USA buys my Amazon.ca product. It defaults to the local Amazon.com checkout. And, because that’s not Amazon.ca who gets the final sale – no commission even though I did the referral.

    Someone should come up with a better wordpress plug. I never liked that Media plugin, and prefer the wp-amazon plugin. The options allow you to select a default Amazon country, but only one fixed field for your Associated ID. There should be some way to associate an ID for each country. Why would I want my USA Associate ID and use the Great Britain site? And, all my stats shows GEO tracking .. somehow a good plugin should pick up what part of the world the reader is and somehow give the readers an option. Maybe a popup or something that says .. (It appears you are from Japan- Click here to convert this code to Amazon.jp) or something like that. That would be my “Wish List” from Amazon or a developer.

    I’m sure someone at high up the ladder at Amazon is quite aware of all of this – .. ‘Ways to get sales but not pay associates, besides low commission rates … (1) quarterly pmts (2) $100 thresholds (3) different country affiliateds . (4) etc

  17. Off-Topic // HART (1-800-HART) Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation. December 1st, 2006 at 7:03 pm //

    I’ve been getting a lot of that. I kind of expect that on sites for first time postings, or included links in the comment – but multiple posts on the same thread? *sniffles*

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