In the world of affiliate marketing, Amazon and Clickbank are the behemoths that dominate most of the intrigue, debates, scepticism.
Amazon is the 700 pound gorilla and Clickbank is the 6 foot tall eagle.
The majority of blogs that are considering monetization usually look towards these two programs, or running ads through Adsense.
But joining an affiliate program is the usually the simplest route because ads slow down your site, reduce user experience and you need a ton of traffic (11K visitors a month) to make it worth while.
So it comes down to Amazon vs Clickbank usually.
Bear in mind there are many other ways to make money with Amazon, not just affiliate marketing, but we'll focus only on affiliate today.
Most people spend days or weeks trying to decide which one they should apply for and it only made sense to create an article where you could make a solid comparison between the two.
We're often presented with this very question from our own customers since we create both Amazon and Clickbank sites for them and many just don't know which is better for them.
So here's what we can do to help you decide:
We'll be going through the differences in commissions, product considerations, rules, and what's necessary to be successful in both.
Sound good? Let's get started then.
Differences in Pay For Amazon Affiliates vs Clickbank Affiliates
The differences in these will give you an idea of what we're comparing.
Amazon itself is the affiliate program so they have a defined fee structure. Which is available below in the picture.
This means that your commission is determined by the category for which the product purchased is within.
Clickbank, on the other hand, is an affiliate network which takes care of vendors' affiliate programs.
This means that all of the products on Clickbank have various commission structures.
Typically, you can expect between 30-50% of the product but the range that vendors can choose is between 1-75%.
Clickbank vendors are also allowed to choose commission tiers, this means that affiliates can actually raise their own affiliate commissions by hitting certain milestones or having a special relationship with the vendor.
Super affiliates, you could say, have the best advantage for this.
Which doesn't mean much when you're starting out, but it's food for thought in the future.
In terms of the dollar amount per sale, Clickbank wins because the commission percentages are significantly higher than with the typical Amazon rates of 1-10%.
Clickbank comes out swinging with payment schedules. Their weekly or bi-weekly payment options are hard for anyone to match.
Even though, you're only able to take advantage of weekly payments through direct deposit and although there's a sale minimum of at least 5 sales intitially - this is pretty good.
Another factor with payment thresholds is that you need a minimum is $10 before getting paid.
But it's almost not relevant because if you hit 5 sales then your commissions would likely be over $10 minimum since the commission rates are bigger per sale on Clickbank.
Each Clickbank payment also has an "allowance" deducted, which means that they hold a certain amount of your commissions in order to combat refunds.
This is usually 10% because all Clickbank products have a 60 day money back guarantee.
Amazon, on the other hand, pays monthly through various ways but the most common are direct deposit or check.
The downfall with their payout schedule is that they don't pay you until 60 days after the product has been shipped.
But this also means that they don't normally hold any allowances for refunds since the refund dates are well in the past.
If you choose to be paid by direct deposit, there's a payment threshold of $10 before Amazon will pay you. For checks, the threshold is $100.
In my opinion, Clickbank is the winner for payment schedules. Having weekly or bi-weekly payments are nice for any affiliate and will keep the early momentum going. Even with Clickbanks hold for refunds, it's still a system that favours affiliates.
Who Converts More Customers
I'm going to go right out the gate and say that Amazon's conversion rates are significantly higher than the majority of Clickbank products.
Amazon is a household name and this brings an invariable trust from customers. In 2016, 43% of all online sales in the US were from Amazon.
Think about that for a second...
Absolutely no one hesitates to buy from Amazon (as a brand.)
But they certainly do when presented with Clickbank's checkout process.
As mentioned above, Clickbanks conversion rates dwarf in comparison to Amazons and the refund rates are a lot higher as well because the products are digital.
It's easy for a customer to reach out to the support desk and ask for a refund with a digital product.
With a physical product, it's a bit more complicated.
Plus, Amazon can afford to replace items without asking the customer to send the product back.
They've done it millions of times and will continue doing so to keep customer rapport positive.
So how much does Amazon pay affiliates?
It's not an easy answer since every site is different.
But after looking at the fee structure, conversion rates and the sheer amount of online sales they own in the US. It's likely a lot more than what Clickbank pays it's affiliates.
As for conversion rates, Amazon just crushes Clickbank by a huge margin.
You can expect around 5-9% conversion rates on average with Amazon but with a normal Clickbank product and their checkout process - you can expect 1-2%.
It also helps to understand that the Clickbank marketplace is a somewhat open system, whereas Amazon's entire checkout process is completely controlled by them.
A "cookie" is a data file that's placed in visitors browser after they've clicked on an affiliate link.
This allows for vendors to track who sent them the customer so they can pay them.
The longer a cookie stays around, the better. As most cookies have expiry dates.
Amazon's cookie length is 24 hours but if someone adds the product to their shopping cart then it's extended to 90 days. Which is really good.
Clickbank offers a 60-day cookie for all of its marketplace products and vendors also have the ability to allow for lifetime cookies.
Clickbank is the winner for the cookie competition.
They're 60-day cookie obviously gives affiliates a better chance to capitalize than Amazons small 24-hour window.
But, you can't rely on a cookie to provide you commissions alone. There's still marketing involved on your end to guide visitors to make the purchase.
Types of Products
At this point, both Amazon and Clickbank provide digital and physical products.
However, Amazon is mostly known for it's physical products and Clickbank is known for it's digital products.
Both marketplaces contain products from 3rd party vendors but I would say that the "right" product selection is going to vary based on your niche.
If you are in the finance niche, then Clickbank would likely have better products for you.
However, if you're in the computer gaming niche then Amazon would likely be a better affiliate program for you.
Currencies & Marketplaces
Both platforms will accept multiple currencies, but Amazon is quite a bit different because they have separate marketplaces.
Meaning that there's a Canadian version of Amazon, but not of Clickbank.
So from a customers perspective, they would want to purchase from their local Amazon marketplace to avoid paying extra foreign exchange fees.
But many of the marketplaces simply don't have the selection that the US does.
To combat customers from manually choosing their local Amazon marketplace, Amazon has created their OneLink tool whereby affiliates can send traffic to several different marketplaces with one link.
This certainly affects affiliates because just like a brick and mortar store, some products simply don't sell well throughout the year.
In the camping niche, products sell very well in the summer months and then search volume decreases in the off-season.
Amazon.com has a huge selection of over 398 million products, whereas Clickbank has 5,554.
With that in mind, Amazons affiliate program is a lot more equipped to help you combat seasonality.
We mentioned above that Amazon has a higher conversion rate than Clickbank but I believe that it's mostly due to Amazon's publicity.
Everyone knows them. Not everyone knows Clickbank so fewer people trust their checkout process.
One major difference between the two is that you'll always be directing people to Amazon's single product page layout. All of them look the same.
However, with Clickbank, you'll always be directing people to a different sales page.
This is the reason why Clickbank has less consistent conversion rates when Amazon is fairly consistent.
It doesn't mean that you won't find a Clickbank product that converts super high but it's just not as dependable as Amazons sales page layout.
At the end of the day, Amazon's product pages are dependable so we'll have to give it to them because of consistency.
They pour a lot more money into figuring out the best checkout process to increase their revenues (and yours) so it makes sense to give the sales page winner to them.
Even though some Clickbank products really do have highly converting sales pages.
At the end of the day, it's all about month-to-month consistency.
Extra Marketing From Product Owners
One of the benefits of being an affiliate is taking advantage of the product creators own marketing efforts.
This means that the products you promote also have their own marketing engine behind them.
On Amazon, there are tons of 3rd party sellers trying to grow their business off of Amazon.
Usually, this means that more people are aware of the product and this leads to more searches for them online.
Get where I'm headed with this?
Essentially, the more popular a product is, then the more likely you'll find commercial keywords to go after (reviews & vs.)
Clickbank products don't usually have as much search volume.
But that's simply because many of these businesses on Clickbank are reliant on the marketing efforts of affiliates.
So you'll be competing with other affiliates rather than the company itself.
The clear winner for piggyback marketing is Amazon.
Almost every physical products business is on Amazon.
There are certainly a few exceptions, but most of these brands don't rely purely on Amazon - even if it is their biggest revenue stream.
They're investing into other channels and this means you're able to take advantage of their popularity with good keyword research.
Which Countries Can Promote?
Amazon allows you to be an affiliate in any country. You could be a .com affiliate but be located in Japan. Or vice versa.
In order for you to gain maximum commissions though, you should register with the countries your audience likely comes from.
Here are the registration links to become an affiliate with all of the Amazon associates programs:
There are a few exceptions in the US where you can't be an affiliate because of certain tax issues that Amazon has.
Those states where you can't be an Amazon affiliate are: Arkansas and Maine. Earlier in 2017, Amazon lifted the ban on affiliates from Missouri, Rhode Island, and Vermont.
While both Amazon and Clickbank battle fraud every day, Clickbank is a much smaller business and can't invest in the security infrastructure like Amazon does.
Therefore they don't serve every single country.
Here's an unofficial list of places where they won't accept payments from and I'd assume aren't likely to send affiliate payments towards either.
Policies and Promotional Guidelines
It's no secret that Amazon's terms are unclear in many ways, so the best way to protect yourself is to read the guidelines over a few times and talk to customer service as much as possible.
Here are two documents to look over:
You should definitely read through both, but here are a few things to keep in mind:
That's just a few off the top of my head, but for a more in depth understanding - read the policies.
Reach out to associates support and source some consensus from our outstanding Facebook group.
Clickbank is a lot more flexible with its terms but of course, there are still rules.
One of the cool things about Clickbank products is that you're able to run ads to their products.
Which allows you to take advantage of other traffic sources besides SEO and social.
Getting your ad in the right keyword search could be very advantageous to conversions.
The terms that apply to a specific product will either be customized to that product by the vendor or they'll use the Clickbank policies casually.
So make sure you get to know them as they can be different by each product.
Here's a look at the Clickbank terms for affiliates:
Once you've read through the legal terms, there are also some best practices found here that should help.
One interesting point in there was that you shouldn't use negative advertising campaigns.
Meaning that you shouldn't bid on or create content around keywords like "Is product X a scam?"
You can save yourself a lot of headaches if you just read through the policies thoroughly.
There isn't much you can do when Amazon or Clickbank bring down the authoritative hammer, but as long as you're mostly on the good side of the rules then hopefully they'll ask you nicely to clean up your mess before kicking you out of the program.
Both Amazon & Clickbank have certain rule you'll have to abide by.
It's their rules and they create the platform, so one of the downfalls of being an affiliate is not having as much control.
But you also get to benefit from not holding inventory or doing customer service.
One thing that's allowed by both platforms is the ability for you to create content based around products in their marketplaces.
Meaning that both programs allow you to take advantage of targeting keywords through SEO.
That will always be an avenue for you to exploit as an affiliate.
What Will Help You Be Successful
There is only one essential ingredient to success on both platforms.
That's a home base.
I bet you weren't expecting me to say that. But it's true.
I could say that a blog is necessary but then there are Amazon affiliates creating unpacking videos on Youtube.
One thing that's common is that they all have a home base that they drive all their traffic towards.
A home base is usually a website and consist of either a blog and/or a landing page.
But it's also applicable for Youtube too.
A landing page is somewhat different and isn't part of a blog.
It's just a simple page with the purpose of converting a visitor into a specific action.
Yes, the concepts both want you to convert to a buyer but a landing page is a bit different in that it's not reviewing a product but rather showcasing it's features and benefits.
Both review content and landing pages require persuasive writing, but landing pages are more obvious.
Another essential ingredient in my eyes would be an email autoresponder service.
Not all affiliates utilize an email list, but I think if you're going to be taking your brand seriously - then it's essential.
There are plenty of people in our community that are doing well without collecting emails, but to me - it doesn't hurt and gives you a good purpose for creating more interesting content.
Once again, what you need to be a successful affiliate is a home base (Youtube channel, blog, landing page) and, in my opinion, an email autoresponder to bring back traffic.
What's the Verdict? Clickbank or Amazon
Both Amazon and Clickbank scored well and although Clickbank scored higher in many of the realms, you should consider using both.
There aren't any rules that say you can't.
Amazon will give you a lot more search volume to attack commercial keywords but Clickbank will offer you more products to solve informational keywords.
So it's a good idea to take advantage of both since every site should have both types of content on it.
It's ultimately up to which products will serve your audience out the most.
If you chose a niche that's fairly wide and expandable, you'll have the options to promote physical and digital products to them.
Giving you the opportunity to earn commissions from both Clickbank and Amazon.
One thing I'd urge you to check out is our ready made affiliate sites.
We've done a lot of the niche research and we create both Amazon and Clickbank sites.
Sometimes we even utilize both in a single ready made site, if it's requested.
Remember this, you don't need a lot of traffic to earn commissions.
What you need is the right people seeing your affiliate offer.
Often times the means going after highly relevant traffic through SEO. Even low volume keywords.
A small amount of traffic can earn you a lot of money if the offer is setup correctly and the commissions are big enough.
Clickbank and Amazon both offer upsells into their sales funnel so you'll benefit from higher commissions than you originally intended.
I hope this article has helped clear up some confusion on which direction to go towards, when in doubt choose Amazon and stack Clickbank products onto your site.
If you guys have some questions or want to tell us about your experience stacking both affiliate programs - leave a comment below!