In this post, I’m going to take a look at the Staples affiliate program. I’ll show you some Staples keyword research and examining its viability as an Amazon Associates competitor.
According to Wikipedia, “Staples, Inc. is an American B2B company that provides businesses and customers with office products and solutions through eCommerce and direct sales. The company consists of three distinct legal entities – its digital and delivery business, referred to as Staples, Staples U.S. Retail and Staples Canada” (Source).
It’s evident that their glory days are behind them (Source), but they were responsible for some pretty creative advertising in their day, including this Alice Cooper gem:
As well as their snazzy ‘Easy Button’ campaign, which might have annoyed the hell out of you:
but seems comparatively less obnoxious than some modern marketing campaigns.
How To Join
If you want to join their affiliate program, you can apply here:
The program is managed by CJ.com.
How Much Can You Earn?
At the time of this writing, Staples is paying 1% – 5% on eligible products (more on whats eligible and ineligible below).
The 3 month EPC as of 3/2019 is $65.95 USD and the 7 day EPC is $96.46 USD. That means that for every 100 clicks you send, on average for the last 7 Days affiliates are earning $96.46.
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If you want to participate in the Staples affiliate program, a good way to start is to do some basic keyword research.
Below, I extracted 1,000 of their top performing organic keywords, filtering out any keyword that included the term “Staples”.
This way, I can see all of the products they rank for rather than a bunch of branded search terms.
Some of their top keywords include: desk, office supplies, laptops, office furniture, printers, wedding invitations, envelopes, gaming chairs, and more.
Look at a keyword like “avery labels”, for example. Doing a simple auto-suggest search on Google reveals some decent long-tail search volume:
You can see there are great keyword opportunities for modified “avery label” terms like “template”, “5160”, “8160”, etc.
Easy pickings for an affiliate. Just create a page that targets all those terms in H2s with an H1 that includes “Avery Labels” and you’re primed for solid rankings.
As you can see, they have a lot of Home Office Products that you can promote.
The question is, is it worth promoting Staples over the Amazon Associates program? Speaking from experience, Amazon converts better than any other physical product retailer available.
While Staples may offer a higher commission here or there for a specific product, when you factor in the superior conversion rate, Amazon is really a better option.
However, there are cases where Amazon doesn’t offer a certain product and other affiliate programs do. In this case, it does make sense to use an affiliate program like Staples to monetize content that otherwise you couldn’t.
One interesting avenue for a Staples affiliate- you might be able to promote Staples by email. Amazon is notorious for banning affiliates who use their affiliate links in emails.
Amazon does whitelist some big name people and brands. For example, I get an email from Tim Ferriss every week that oftentimes includes an Amazon affiliate link.
But if you aren’t a big-time celebrity or affiliate, it’s unlikely that you would get whitelisted this way.
On the other hand, at the time of this writing, I don’t see that Staples prohibits email promotion of affiliate links. So, if you have a decent sized email list, it might be worth experimenting with email promotion.
According to their affiliate application page, below are their commissionable/non-commissionable items. However, within CJ, as you can see below, a bunch of items like printers & laptops are actually eligible. I would trust CJ’s information- but I would also consider pinging Staples’ affiliate support email (email@example.com) to be completely clear about what’s eligible to promote.
CJ Affiliate Commissionable Items
Affiliate Application Page Commissionable Items
Staples Affiliate Commission Structure
- 5% For: Tape, clips, rubber bands, calendars, planners, pen refills, binders, staplers, punches, trimmers
- 4% For: Mail & ship supplies, batteries, surge protectors, lighting, paper, file folders, pens, writing and correction, boards & easels, labels & label makers, computer bags and cases, cables, digital media, rolodex, drafting & school supplies, envelopes, stamps, forms –
- 3% For: Ink and Toner, shredders, business books, safes, telephones & communication, medical supplies, bookcases, pc components & MP3, desks, mice, keyboards, GPS accessories, retail supplies, calculators, snacks, janitorial & cleaning supplies.
- 2% For: Storage/media cabinets, armoires, monitors, digital projectors, file/storage cabinets, tables, carts, stands, iPod accessories, office décor, chairs, shelving –
- 1% For: GPS, GPS Accessories, hardware, software, cameras, scanners, digital frames, software, drives, memory –
- 0% Copiers, fax machines, printers, laptops, desktops, PDAs, printing & copying services, premiums, business cards, special order stationary and other business services
It’s important to note- before you begin participating in an affiliate program, make sure you know which items they won’t pay you on.
I recently encountered this with GoDaddy– someone bought a premium domain through one of my links for five figures but I didn’t earn anything on it because it is considered a non-commissionable item.
As you can see, some of the higher-end, pricier pieces of electronics equipment, as well as unspecified Business Services, aren’t eligible for commission.
Read More Of My Niche Reports
If you run a website that specializes in small business content or tech products- it might make sense to experiment promoting Staples.
If I were to enter into this affiliate program, I would probably look to see what specialty products or exclusive brands Staples has that Amazon doesn’t.
They might have exclusive access to a particular brand or model of laptop, for example.
While Amazon certainly seems to have every product under the sun, in my experience they often lack depth in some categories.
Which is why Wayfair as a home and garden solution sometimes has a leg up on Amazon because they have more products in a particular vertical.
One way you could quickly experiment pushing traffic to Staples is by using the Ad Inserter plug-in.
This is a premium feature of the plugin- but one that I find extremely useful.
One of the things that you can do, you can decide to link to Staples automatically from any keyword on your website.
For example, say you wanted to link to a Staples laptop from every instance of the word “laptop” on your website, you could do that.
If you have a website with sizable traffic, you’ll be able to push a decent amount of users to Staples without having to try too hard.
The downside is that this traffic won’t be super high quality. It’s generally better to presell a bit before pushing an affiliate link. And in this case, the user is somewhat blindly clicking through to a product page.
That said, it can give you a quick and dirty look at potential performance.
Amazon obviously has the superior affiliate program, but it’s not a bad idea to investigate the Staples affiliate program a bit to see if there are things it can offer you as a publisher.
As I mentioned before, they seem to accept email promotion- so that might be a legitimate and logical reason to experiment with it.
Otherwise, Amazon’s conversion power is always going to outperform Staples, even if you can find a product category with a higher percentage commission rate.