Promoting Physical Products As An Affiliate

promoting physical productsI came across some questions this morning regarding how to sell physical products as an affiliate. They were the result of a conversation we had on Twitter if I remember correctly.

I'm not sure how they got tucked away, but since they're sitting here on my desk now... I thought we'd discuss the subject. :D

To the left you see an example taken from one of Rosalind Gardner's affiliate blogs where she promotes physical products. Rosalind Gardner is THE super affiliate, and author of the well- known Super Affiliate Handbook.

Rosalind gives live affiliate site examples throughout SAH, just like the one you see to the left, that you can click through for yourself page by page. It's what inspired my first affiliate site for physical products, vs services & digital products (ebooks, membership sites, etc). That was quite a few years ago, and of course the first of many more since...

Q&A: How To Promote Physical Products

There were some great questions on the topic of promoting physical products as an affiliate, so we'll just dive right into those. If any of these topics raise more questions, or you have additional questions about promoting physical products, be sure to leave those below in the comment section.

Here goes - (and forgive me for not giving credit to the author of each question - many of them asked to remain anonymous)...

Ellen says: Lynn, I've done lots of promoting of physical products, but I end up with 5% of the revenue that I get from selling the same amount of info products. ie- if I sell 100 ebooks at $27, I get 50% commission, = about $1,350. On the other hand, if I sell 100 books on amazon, I'll earn about .30 per book, = $30! Thus, it seems to take a LOT MORE (maybe 100 times as much traffic!) to earn via physical products (at least earn more than a cup of coffee per day!) then to earn via info products.

The commisson rate for physical products IS lower, but they convert at a higher rate than digital products. Imagine trying to explain an ebook or info-product to someone who is not online as much as we are, or not familiar with them.

One of the reasons that physical products convert higher, outside of the obvious: familiarity, is because traditional media is doing much of the pre-selling for you.

Consider the book "Eat, Pray, Love" which has hit bestseller charts again with the new movie out starring Julia Roberts. It's being heavily promoted and basically pre-sold by offline traditional media, and should be converting very well for anyone promoting it online right now.

I am on a tiered structure with Amazon. I believe there are multiple structures, so that's something you may want to look into. The more you sell, the more you earn. So far this month I am only earning 6.5%, so a physical book at $12.95 earns me 84 cents in commission. That's almost 3 times what you said you were earning.

Considering it would only take 15 minutes, half hour at the most, to write a review - why would you not invest that time to make ~$1 sale? If you sold 100 copies, putting you in a higher earning tier, and earned $100 for that 15-30 minutes, is it not worth it?

I know what you're thinking: 100 copies of a $27 ebook would equal $1,350 in commission (gross, before payment processing fees). But let's consider the EPL example above, and the fact that the book is literally flying off the shelves at the moment with little to no sales work. It's MUCH harder to sell an "ebook", requiring more time on sales copy and resulting in a lower conversion rate. Meaning it also requires more traffic, and more marketing to get that traffic.

Try selling an "ebook" to that exact same market: women looking to enrich their lives, find deeper meaning and more fulfillment.

Keep in mind that the market is growing and evolving, and more people are shopping online than ever before. Those numbers will only continue to rise. You can now buy physical products from your mobile device! In fact, my daughter recently bought a pair of shoes from my smartphone while we were on our way to the grocery store... Time is short, people are busy, and convenience will win over.

Sidenote: A high commission rate for physical products would be 10-12%. You'll generally find 5-8% the norm.

"I would like to know how to create affiliate sites for physical products. I guess we could create articles around each product but if we're selling shoes, there are like a million shoes and I didn't know exactly how to write content for those million pairs of shoes. That's why we used Datafeedr. But I would love to hear (or see) how you go about creating content for a physical product affiliate site?"

datafeedrI recently signed up for Datafeedr myself, and look forward to testing it out on one of my affiliate sites. I've heard great things about it. Expect my review on that soon. ;)

To answer your question, I'll address the "million pairs of shoes" part first. You'd do well (read: better) to focus on a specific niche such as athletic shoes, women's designer shoes, basketball shoes, childrens shoes, etc.

It's hard to become a market leader in your niche when you can't define your ideal visitor very specifically.

You asked about writing content for physical products. You can easily get by with proper on-page optimization and a strong link building strategy. For even more ideas, including content solutions, see: How to Optimize an Ecommerce Site

How do you write product reviews without buying every product?"

You don't. And you won't necessarily need a product review to sell every type of product. You can do your research though and share that data with your visitors. For example, where they can get the best deal or free shipping on that product. You can compare specs between two similar products and point out the strengths and weaknesses of each. You can share a general analysis of consumer reviews.

You can also elicit reviews from consumers and even host contests. Off-site, you can ask on sites like Yahoo! Answers and MyLot.com and request permission to reprint their responses.

Of course personal reviews and case studies are going to convert better, but they aren't always practical. Particularly in the case of a site that features "a million pair of shoes". Read: How to Write a Product Review

"Is it okay to promote products from more than one affiliate in one blog post?"

Outside of a side-by-side comparison type review, no. Each page (or post) needs one specific call-to-action. Options create confusion, and your job as the affiliate is to make a strong recommendation. Know why you recommend one product or merchant over the other, and convey that to your visitors. They visit your page because they need help with their buying decision. Don't let them down! ;)

"What is the best promotion tactic... build your own e-store like wp-amazon? reviews? or any others? Also, what is the best traffic method - paid? seo?"

There are a variety of affiliate site options, from ecommerce style to blogging to squeeze pages. They all work. Which type you use depends on your product, your market, and the best way to reach them. I have examples of these in a recent post on Affiliate Site Examples.

Also see Affiliate Site Options for a more detailed explanation of the different types, and their best uses.

-----------

My own buying habits are what prompted me to promote physical products online. I purchase just as many, if not more, physical products than digital products. Do you shop online?? And if so, what were your last 3 purchases?

My last 3:
- a thank you gift (physical product)
- a baby shower gift (physical product)
- clothes (physical products)

And... I recently bought a video camera, ordered various cables & cases for my gadgets, and have another book order in queue! :)

Best,

p.s. Also read: How to Sell Products Online (as an affiliate).

About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»

Discussion

  1. I started out promoting digital products and quickly converted to physical product only. We all buy right? Why not position yourself to be the person selling? I earn 8 or 8.25% from Amazon every month and I think the reason why Amazon can be such a great program is because people click through to buy the product you recommended and they stay to shop for other stuff. Everyone wants that $25 free shipping deal right? So right away my site visitor is paying more than the book amount, increasing my sales. And they don't always purchase small things. This month I saw that someone purchased $1600 worth of camera equipment via my affiliate links and I have never linked to that brand of camera anywhere on my sites. Perhaps they bought some things from their wishlist while they were there. And of course you don't HAVE to promote books and small products. You can promote high end products and get high end commissions. I promote a kitchen gadget frequently that pays out $67.50 per sale and I have consistent monthly sales. Unless you are in the Internet marketing or affiliate marketing niches, which I am not, I see more future in physical products.

  2. Great info as usual. I'm totally with Tiffany on this one. I always check my Amazon sales stats and most times will see a product I promoted but then the shocker is all the other items that have nothing to do with what I was promoting that they purchase too. And of course we love the high ticket product sales. Those are fun!

    The last 3 things I bought online
    1) books from Amazon
    2) itunes music
    3) flowers

  3. Hi Lynn! Long time no comment. Sorry! :P

    Anyway... I've recently been on the "Physical Products" bandwagon in a big way. I have learned some pretty incredible stuff lately that I didn't know before such as what Tiffany said about your referrals to Amazon end up buying more stuff and you get a commission on that too! :)

    Also, specific SEO strategies that one "can" use for promoting physical products that I did not "Fully" understand like I do now. I DO expect to learn even more ;)

    Thanks Lynn!

    Gary Anderson II
    aka- Silly Head :P

  4. This is one of my favorite topics to hear you talk about because it's what I want to do on the affiliate marketing side of my business as well. These are fantastic questions and I just made a few notes in my notebook for me to work on next week.

    Thank you for providing such great information and easy to understand answers for these questions. (and have a safe trip to and from NAMS this weekend!)

  5. Elizabeth Ashe says:

    Great Info Lynn, and some great tips! I have more affiliate sites now that promote physical products and they do convert alot quicker. I also have datafeeder and in the process of setting it up and growing through the motions with that to add a store to a already established site. Just figuring what products I would like to promote.

    Great Stuff Looking forward to more!

    You know this topic would be a great info product for you:)

    xoxo

  6. Regarding Amazon:
    Focusing on the expensive products is not too bad, but you also should promote some very inexpensive products that everyone needs or buys easily, so that you get into higher tiers for your commissions.
    It changes from 5.0% to 5.5% at 25 sales per month and the comissionis calculated retroactively, so you get the higher commision for all sales in that month.
    In short: more sales, higher rates

  7. I have good experience in affiliate book sales, not digital, but real books :-)
    It works more better than any e-book sales.
    Money making and reciepes books are sales leaders.

  8. I'm looking forward to your review. I saw it when I read the SAH, and it looked very interesting.

  9. I have been contemplating making a from being an affiliate for info products to physical products. It does sound that promoting physical products would be a tad easier than info products. Although there will still be a wealth of work required.

    Thank you Lynn for the very informative post.

  10. Janis Miller says:

    Hi, Lynn ~
    Thank you for some really good guidance on promoting physical products as an affiliate. It really gave me a better understanding of many of the aspects involved. I also followed Tiffany's link and read her post about different states taxing products sold by affiliates. What do you think will happen with this? It is insane that the governments wants to put its thumb into every pie!!

    Last three things bought on the Internet:

    1)Physical product - batteries and charger

    2)Physical product - cell phone cover

    3)Physical product - computer parts

    Enjoy NAMS, Lynn, wish I could be there.

    Janis

  11. Wah! Lynn you shared a goldmine here and the information given are simple which shows why we need to do affiliate Physical Products.

    Thank you Lynn

  12. Great post (as usual).

    I'm still trying to connect all the dots on promoting trendy products.

    You spend 30 minutes creating a review of a trendy item (“Eat, Pray, Love”), which presumably will convert well. However, who's going to find the review? Do you crank up SEO and work on getting backlinks for the page so you can get listed well in organic Google search? Are you relying on the fact that you've got a reasonably large audience to start with?

    How do you get traffic to your review?

    Thanks!

  13. Very cool - I found the bit under "How do you write product reviews without buying every product?" particularly useful.

    Lynn, when you want to review something in particular, or if you want to try out something in exchange for a review, do you approach the product owner and ask if they'll sell it you at a reduced price in exchange for the review? Sorry if you've already answered that one before.

    Isha

  14. I've always wondered about the content aspect of promoting physical products. The suggestions you provide are helpful. This post is so timely. I just made the decision to focus primarily on physical products after having a hard time making consistent sales with digital products. I shop at Amazon regularly and decided to go with what I know works. Amazon has built in traffic(buyers),upsells, and even copywriting which eliminates a lot of the heavy lifting of affiliate marketing.

  15. It doesn't matter if you promote physical products or digital products, there are highs and lows.

    However, If you have been struggling to grow your online income and make some real online cash, then there is one good reason why. And don’t worry, it happens to us all. Even the best online marketing coaches have gone through this and have been right where you are today.

    One of the key reasons you could be struggling to grow your online income is because you have not realized how to turn your defeat into victory. Just think about that for a moment. There was some failure in your online career that has stopped you, and you have not learned from it yet. And until you take that defeat as a learning experience and grow from it, you’ll continue to struggle online.

    It should come as no surprise that there are a lot of people on Skid Row these days. Face it, the economy blows. But do you know what most if not all the people on Skid Row have in common with a wealthy online marketer? Well, the person on Skid Row and the wealthy online marketer both had set backs and failures. However, the person on Skid Row let their set back or failure beat them, and the wealthy online marketer took the set back or failure as a learning experience and turned it into victory.

    When the person on Skid Row got knocked down, he failed to get up again. However, when the wealthy online marketer got knocked down his reaction was much different. He bounced back up, learned a lesson, forgot about the beating, and moved upward. Period.

    Don’t get me wrong, some of the failures we face are really, really painful. Losing your job, no money in the bank, wife leaves you, work 12 months online with nothing to show for it. All those things are painful. And you know what? I’ve been through all of them, so I can tell you from experience that they all stink.

    But quitting would not be an option. That would be like a quarterback in a key football game getting sacked and then say “well, I tried my best and failed. I think I’ll just sit this one out now.” That’s rubbish.

    A quote from Rocky Balboa sums this up better than I’ve ever seen.

    “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!”

    In a nutshell, nobody said it was going to be easy to grow your online income and create the lifestyle you want. You have to be willing to “take the hits” and keep on moving. That’s when you’ll succeed beyond your wildest dreams.

  16. ellipsis dive says:

    Hi. I t is harder to promote and advertise physical products as an affiliate in the online environment. Services are easier to be promoted. However, if it is done right, this may be a good way of getting extra cash from something not too spectacular.

  17. Michael - Web Traffic Today says:

    Great stuff as usual lynn. I have made some commissions with bestbuy.com selling their physical products. I think it's rewarding but I have found selling digital products easier and I think it converts well.

    • ellipsis dive says:

      Hi. Sounds interesting. Do you have any website where you present and examplain what you do? Thanks.

  18. This is one of my favorite topics to hear you talk about because it’s what I want to do on the affiliate marketing side of my business as well.

  19. One additional thing about physical products is that in many cases they have a much longer "shelf life" than digital products.

    So, although there are some notable exceptions such as certain software products for example, they offer internet entrepreneurs a special opportunity as far as the potential sustainability and "active life" of a specific business or affiliate promotion.

  20. Good stuff Lynn, I have tried the Amazon route. I have hear of people making money with them, but can't seem to make it happen. Commission Junction on the other hand has much higher payouts with less restrictions.

  21. Lynn....I have been at a struggle for quite sometime now regarding whether I wanted to, or whether it was worthwhile, to market physical products as an affiliate. Info products do have great commissions. However, I am finding it true that the conversion rate of info products is quite low. But when a sale occurs the earnings are nice. However, I have not yet compared to see if the conversion rate for physical products is as good as I'm reading here.
    But this is fantastic information to consider from someone experienced with selling physical products and it has convinced me to build a couple of sites to test from.

    Thanks for the fantastic information. And thanks for giving me the push to try selling a physical product.

    Doug

  22. Lynn, thanks for the reminder about SAH. I have it printed out and in a binder on my desk. I will have to re-read the parts about physical products and may have to change my new and 1st e-commerce store. Building this store has been a lot more fun for me than working with digital products as it's almost like shopping when searching for the right products to put into the store, but until it takes off and begins making sales, I will still have to rely on the digital product sales that bring me the monthly checks. It is a work in progress, so we will just have to see what happens when the site has "aged" a bit.

  23. Steve Thomas says:

    You hit on my main problem! I am not going to recommend a product I have no familiarity with and I cannot afford to buy every product. That means I can only, in good conscience be the affiliate for a very limited number.

  24. Gabrielle says:

    I like that concept for the Datafeedr. I've been trying to sell mostly digital products and books from Amazon. I have a store set up with the Amazon plug in on my blog. I was wanting to add a product store, but not sure exactly what writers need for physical products (besides paper and pen). I'll have to think about it. Maybe if they have hypnosis products on the site, I can look into that. Thanks!

  25. Great question. Last three purchases were books from Amazon, and copy of Joe Marsh's Traffic Sponge software. Wish I got an affiliate commission on my own purchases!

  26. RK Castillo says:

    Really appreciate you answering my question! So lets say you choose a niche like Hiking Boots.

    Would you then write an article for each Hiking Boot? Or would you take the vendors explanation about the hiking boot and then build links to it?

  27. Hi Lynn
    Thank you for this great post. OK the challenge is up for you Lynn, what would you do with my physical site? I sell gifts ordered from customers around the world, for delivery throughout New Zealand. I've been looking to monetize my website and at present I do no advertising whatsoever on there. How would a good affiliate programme benefit my business? As you will see I sell to corporate customers and individuals both in New Zealand and around the world. I would be more than willing for you to use my site as your sample to show others how this can be done with an affiliate programme and I look forward to having you as my first affiliate partner Lynn!! I am very serious about implementing this next stage to my business snd would love your ideas and help.

  28. Thanks for the encouraging post, Lynn.

    One major issue I've run across in promoting physical products is the need for a vendor that allows deep linking to a product page within their site. While Amazon.com has a very sophisticated link prep system, it seems like the majority of smaller online vendors only provide affiliates with home page links. You don't really want to pre-qualify a prospective buyer of a particular product, then send them digging through some poorly laid out website. It's too bad more vendors don't realize this. Their affiliates could be sending them ready buyers rather than wandering shoppers. In fact, I've learned the hard way to line up at least one quality deep-linking vendor before going much past the idea stage for a project.

    • Excellent point Wade. If you go with Shareasale, Linkshare,or Cj.com you have the option of using product specific links. If they don't provide them, you can make them. VERY helpful!

      • Thanks for the thought, Tiffany. I may just start using those services as a starting point for choosing a niche. Starting an affiliate site can be a bit of a chicken/egg dilemma when it comes to matching a niche with vendors.

  29. ellipsis dive says:

    Thanks Tiffany for your comment. I will try those websites myself. Thanks again for your helpful comment :)

  30. This is one of my favorite topics too since I do affiliate marketing but I wanted to address Ellen's question about ebooks vs. Amazon books.

    I wrote an ebook several years ago to a market outside of the internet marketing niche and I've sold quite a few copies but I'm convinced that it would do a lot better if I were to sell it on Amazon as a physical product, in fact I've had several requests for this.

    Just as Lynn said, there are lots of people that are not familiar with ebooks per se and my target audience certainly fits this example.

    It can depend on your audience, your products and your sales approach but overall physical products do seem to convert better.

    • I have had a similar experience Liz, in helping my sister get her HCG Easy Gourmet cookbook online as an ebook available through clickbank I think it would e great to make it available as a printed book to people who are not familiar with ebooks.

      I agree with Lynn that physical products convert better. I shop online for both ebooks, software, and physical products, but by far the greatest majority of purchases I make online are for physical products so it makes sense that others are the same way too.

      There's something about the anticipation of something coming in the mail that just gets to me and I love it, it's like opening up a gift to see what's inside!

      • ellipsis dive says:

        The truth is that it would be better to print it and sell it only as a physical product, instead of an e-book. Just my 2 cents.

  31. Tony Funderburk says:

    Well, I started out selling physical products...not as an affiliate mind you...as a creator of kids music CD's. I've been selling them online for almost 11 years, and recently I created a digital download product of 3 CD's in one download.

    It's a bit early to tell, but so far it seems like a lot of people really love the physical product in their hands still.

    I think as technology advances, though, that will shift. I could be wrong. It has happened to me before. ;-)

  32. Dorothy Ray says:

    Lynn,a big reason I follow you is because you're the affiliate queen of physical products. That's the way I want to go. Well, as soon as I figure out how to find my way around WordPress Direct and find my saved posts and videos. Don't anybody laugh. Aargh!

  33. Tommy Patterson says:

    Great information and I really enjoy reading the other readers comments. Thanks for sharing this great wealth of information. I learned a lot.

  34. Great article... and timelly! I've been working mostly on digital products but am now preparing to move over to physical products in some unrelated niches. You always provide great resources for how to get things done. Thanks again!

    One

  35. Me again. Sorry, forgot to mention that one point that is bugging me about the physical side. It doesn't seem that you would be able to build or maintain as strong a relationship with folks buying a physical product via an affiliate link. An ebook has more opportunities to be self-reinforcing than a physical product manufactured by one firm and sold by another.

    Unless, of course, you really build a leadership brand as you have with ClickNewz!

    Andy

  36. Rick Wilson says:

    One REALLY good thing about selling physical products instead of digital products is that you get rid of the "serial refunders" that abound in the digital info world! They would have to actually send the product back to get a refund. ;-)

    But I wouldn't write off digital products just yet. They STILL work VERY well for me as an affiliate.

    Rick Wilson aka CorpRebel 8)

  37. Great article! Shopping online is truly amazing. The last 3 things I bought:

    1. Books
    2. A flight ticket
    3. Clothes

    Great blog Lynn!

  38. I was wonedring how to make an offer for other affilaites as an owner of a physical product. How to make it available for the large masses of affiliates to earn commission of from selling my product.

  39. I agree to focus on a specific niche or even better sell products that you love. I was an Amazon affiliate for a short time until they closed my account due to some kind of "war" between Amazon and State of California. I didn't follow exactly what had happened. However, couple of months ago, Amazon emailed me and said they accept California affliates again. I'm wary whether or not to join back.

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