Target is the second-biggest discount store retailer in the U.S., placing just behind Walmart (Source).
If you're running an authority site, could Target be a viable alternative to the dominant Amazon Associates affiliate program?
In this post, we examine the Target affiliate program, comparing it to Amazon's affiliate program, and discuss promotional strategies.
Target's Keyword Rankings
Before we dive in, let's take a look at their keyword rankings. Below is a list of 1,000 of their best-performing organic keywords:
Use this keyword table to get a sense of their most popular products. I recommend cross referencing it with Amazon to see if there's any gaps in Amazon's product coverage that Target can fulfill.
In this video, I'll walk you through an overview of the Target affiliate program. Leave a Like if you find it helpful!
Hi guys- Ryan from NicheFacts here and today I’m going to discuss the Target affiliate program. So I’m going to review the commission structure, how it compares with the Amazon Associates Commission structure and general strategies about how I would promote it.
So, overall, it is the second biggest discount store retailer in the United States, placing just behind Walmart. You can sign up through Impact.com and I’ll have a link in the description, also a link to my site here, where you can see the full write-up of how I would promote it and also some keyword, research that I did use Ahrefs to see you know what Target is actually ranking for.
So the first thing we should take a look at is the Target commission structure, and I have a link here where you can see an up-to-date payout structure for the referral program.
So it is actually a volume and category based Commission structure, so you can see over here the number of orders and then the corresponding Commission structure. So basically the more the more that you’re selling obviously the better your Commission structure is going to be.
I will say that, as somebody that you know, one of my main sites is a product based site. So I rank you know or over one hundred and fifty thousand keywords, product keywords, I’ll just say that it’ll be kind of difficult to get into this upper bracket.
You know it, you really have to be kind of a big player, so I would think, like you know, very large sites like imagine like Oprah or Martha Stewart like that would be somebody that could really cash in on a program like this, because you know to really get into the better earnings potential of it you’ll have to be moving a lot of product, and so how does that actually compare with Amazon?
So down here compare the commission percentages. You’ll also see down here that Amazon is providing better commission rates for beauty and health and also you know it really is going to depend on how much product you can move? That’s the main criteria. So I also wanted to take a look at the keyword research, so I just put Target into Ahrefs, just to extract some of their top performing organic keywords and they removed a lot of the target brand terms because obviously, it ranks for target.com.
So what I would do like if you were really intent on promoting this program, I would take a look at this. Basically, I would be contrasting the volume with the difficulty- you can see keywords that have a low difficulty and then I would, for instance, I don’t actually don’t know what this person is, but for whatever reason, Sonia Kashuk, maybe it’s some sort of brand.
Actually, that’s a twenty thousand searches a month for this brand that target has so that that’s the sort of that’s the way that I would consider promoting something like this, especially if you had a website and you’d like to produce content – and you understand you can sort of see the SEO opportunity here.
Another one is this: this one right here “Elf Cosmetics”. So you can see, there’s really a lot of interesting opportunities. So I don’t really know much about this world, but that’s that’s the beauty of Ahrefs and doing keyword research like this. You can really pick out some very low competition terms that have high search volume, so I would recommend just heading over to my site and examining this table. You could also download the whole thing right over here. Download CSV it’s another important thing that I wanted to discuss about the target affiliate program.
You can see if you go over to their site, you can take a look at the category drop-down. You can see all the different products that are available to promote, but there’s some things that you can’t actually promote and that’s something that’s very important. If you join any sort of affiliate program, you want to really look into the program details, so in this case, they exclude grocery household commodities and essentials baby care items, pets, electronics, toys, sporting goods actually is a lot of stuff that you can’t promote.
So that’s something you really want to consider before you get involved with them or start trying to create custom affiliate links, because I guarantee you that that you could probably generate a link to one of these categories and it’ll. Look a ballad but you’ll be ending up. Sending traffic that you can’t get paid on so that’s an important thing to keep in mind. So we’ve also we’ve already looked at the target versus Amazon commission rates. Another interesting thing: there are some qualified action payouts and that’s basically, you know unique things: unique, youth, affiliate opportunities that offer a higher Commission rate, so they have a credit card, a debit or credit card called target red card.
That’s something that you can get high payouts for and then that that’s something you’d want to look within the affiliate program about the rates for that they also payout on creating wet wedding registries with target creating a new baby registry or a new college registration. So those are other, you know unique affiliate opportunities within the program, so that would you know it’s kind of niche dependent if I ran a wedding blog, this would be something I would consider promoting. If you know I again, if I had something something about raising kids, some sort of a niche site and that in that space, this is something I would consider promoting and then I would just dive into the you know there.
They are managed by impact.com. So that’s where I would kind of dive in and see what the current payout structure is for that because that could be subject to change, and I also include the link to the generic target affiliate landing page.
So it’s actually pretty robust. You know they have a lot of information here. A lot of affiliate programs aren’t that robust- they don’t they don’t have a ton of information about the program, but definitely you know you could try just joining up through the Impact link- and you know seeing what the current affiliate structure is, what sort of special deals and promotions that they have going on, what the current affiliate rates are for things like their credit card or the different registry options. The other aspect – that’s kind of important, is the cookie link.
So it’s seven days which compares to Amazon Associates, which is you know, famous for its 24-hour cookie, so any traffic you send it you get paid out or anything that converts within the 24 hour window so 7 days. You know it’s it’s better than what I looked at actually Best Buy recently, and they have it one day, but with Amazon that one day is pretty good, because people are always on there buying there cuz constantly getting redirected back to Amazon and purchasing. So there’s so much so many transactions happening there that the one day window for Amazon is really not a problem and it’s actually pretty great.
But when it comes to things like Best Buy where you know, people aren’t on there constantly buying and searching, and you know so that’s an instance where this is much less, not as much transaction, not as many transactions occurring on it. So a one-day cookie. You know it’s not as generous, so usually you’ll see a lot of these fully appropriate sites to expand the cookie lengths into something like 30 days, oftentimes, but seven days it you know, gives you a relatively robust window to convert traffic- so onto how I would look to promote something like this one of the obvious ways is, you know, you could just use the keyword research up here and just write 1500 words on this brand term right here, Sonia Kashuk, something like the best Sonia Kashuk makeup accessories, something like that.
It would just capture a bunch of the long tail traffic for brand related search terms, so something like this one, let’s see so, for example, on my main product review site. I do a lot of a lot of tech products and things like that, and I build one of these comparison tables. So one way I would consider kind of promoting the secondary affiliate program like target would be to link. Do a link like this. So I’d have my main products, and this is all Amazon Associates stuff, because that’s really the main, the main earner for me currently, but then I would insert a little option here.
You know, click view Target prices and then I would just redirect it to a search path. That way, you would sort of get a little trickle of traffic onto the target affiliate program, while not diverting from the main money-making affiliate program that you’re a member of, and then I would also really try to find unique products. So I had a link to where there’s a page here that talks about the exclusive brands that they have. This is actually from December 14th, 2017, but it was the most up to date, information I can find you know about some of the exclusive brands that they have there’s one called a “new day”.
So these are things that that Amazon isn’t going to have in stock. So that’s you know, that’s important. You know if, if you’re able to promote things like this amazon isn’t going to be able to compete with it because obviously they don’t have it. So that’s that in any of the affiliate programs, I’ve reviewed if there are a physical product retailer. One of my primary recommendations is always to find unique products.
That’s one way that you’ll be able to beat Amazon. I’d find, you know, affiliate opportunities within an affiliate program that may not be ultra lucrative or a company that’s just struggling to compete with Amazon. This is the only way to really go. Another way is to find deals. So I link to some of the areas on Target where you can find some of the deals that they offer. So if we go back to Target, they have a deal section right here. This lends itself more to two email lists, because you’d want to be kind of blasting or broadcasting to your email list, so the options that you could find at clearance there’s a weekly ads that they they circulate.
There’s top deals so that, like I said this is more of an email list thing, because obviously, if, if you’re just ranking for thousands of product terms, you’re not going to be logging in to target every day – and you know creating a custom affiliate link for the Next 24 hour is on you know: patio furniture, it’s it’s more about being able to promote to a list, and you know, sort of direct response. Marketing and I’ve already touched on the credit card. Signup is another unique thing that you can take a look at as well as the the different registrations that they offer for a college and wedding and baby products.
So overall I mean it actually does have a pretty generous affiliate commission structure, which is nice to see a lot of the other affiliate programs I’ve looked at are very lean when it comes to the payouts are willing to offer, and I rarely see a lot of you know this volume based pricing, which is our Commission structure, which is what Amazon used to have until their revision of the affiliate program back in March, you know what they paid: they really they undid the volume based commission structure for the Amazon US affiliate program.
I will say that if I made an effort, I could probably, I’m guessing on my main affiliate side, if I really tried, I could probably potentially get into the 51 – 301 monthly net orders category. But it would take a lot of work and I may even lose money in some respects. If I’m pushing too hard for a program that doesn’t converge as well as Amazon, that’s really where Amazon shines its conversion power.
Getting Started With Niche SitesUse the strategies on this page in conjunction with my niche site process. Here it is in a nutshell:
- AuthorityHacker's Authority Site System (my review): a complete, step-by-step system to start growing your own highly profitable affiliate & authority niche site.
- A cloud-based on-page optimization tool: Surfer SEO makes your on-page SEO easier, faster, and more effective than ever using data-driven, real-time signals to rank in search engines.
- A reliable and fast hosting solution like SiteGround (my review)
- A brandable domain name from GoDaddy (my guide)
- A premium theme- I use GeneratePress but there are some cool niche themes on ThemeForest
- SEO Friendly Article Writing ($8-$12 / 1,000 words) from HireWriters (read: my HireWriters review)
- Powerful Backlinks from Authority.Builders (read: my Authority.Builders review)
- An automated social media drip campaign from MissingLettr
- An auto-responder to build your email list– ConvertKit is what I'm using (read: my ConvertKit review)
- Finally- you can always refer to my free step-by-step niche selection guide and all of my free niche reports for inspiration
The Commission Structure
The Target affiliate commission structure is volume and category-based.
Meaning, the commission structure will vary by category, and the more Target products you sell, the more you earn.
|Monthly Net Orders*||Apparel & Accessories||Home & Outdoor Living||Baby Gear & Furniture||Health & Beauty|
According to Target, their Estimated Earnings per 100 Clicks is approximately $12-$13. This means that the average payout for every 100 clicks is $12-$13 (Source).
As you can see, Target has a variety of product categories:
It's essentially competing with Amazon on all of their product verticals, as opposed to the Best Buy affiliate program, which competes with Amazon on electronics goods.
However, if you read the fine print on the commission structure page, you'll see that there are a variety of excluded categories:
Excluded: Grocery, household commodities and essentials, baby care items (diapers, wipes, food, and toiletries), pets, electronics, toys, sporting goods, movies, video games and consoles, Target Pharmacy and OTC, Target Photo, Target Optical, Target Café, prepaid and gift cards, music, books, SweetJOJO, contract mobile (Source).
What that means, is that you'll need to focus on promoting products from the following categories: Apparel & Accessories, Home & Outdoor Living, Baby Gear & Furniture, and Health & Beauty.
Target VS Amazon Commission Rates
How does it compare with Amazon's commission structure? You can always get the up-to-date commission structure for the Amazon Associates program here.
As you can see, if you're able to move Target products, the volume-based commission structure can outperform Amazon.
For instance, if you can sell over 10,000 units of Target apparel, you'd get an 8% commission rate, beating Amazon's 7% commission rate for the Apparel category.
How likely is that? Very unlikely- unless you've got a massive amount of traffic. Think: Oprah or Kim Kardashian.
From my experience running traffic to both Amazon and non-Amazon retailers, Amazon converts at such a comparatively high rate that you would have to send an exorbitant amount of traffic alternative affiliate programs for it to even approximate the earnings you would get from the Amazon Associates program.
Qualified Action Payouts
Besides their generic affiliate offerings, their are some specialty affiliate opportunities you can promote, including getting users to sign up for a Target REDcard (debit or credit); create a wedding registry with Target; create a new baby registry; or create a new college registry.
The cookie length is 7 days, which is better than Best Buy's paltry 1-day cookie window. So, according to their affiliate page, you get credit for any order within 7 days of the original click placed by the customer (Source).
How To Promote
One generic promotional strategy I have used for Advertisers like Walmart, Wayfair and Jet is, whenever I write a product review, I'll have one prominent affiliate link to a search path for the product.
So, for example, if I was promoting "juicers", I might have a comparison table featuring 5 different Amazon juicers. But I would add an additional link to the Target search path for juicers.
Shop for juicer online at Target. Free shipping on purchases over $35 and save 5% every day with your Target REDcard.
This is easy enough to do with the 'Deep Linking' capabilities most affiliate networks provide for their programs.
I generally use generic anchor text like "Check Target Prices". That way, if users find a lower price on Target for the juicer, I get a commission on the sale. Here's an example:
Find Unique Products
As I wrote about in my Best Buy affiliate program review, one promotional strategy I would consider is finding unique products Target sells that Amazon doesn't.
For example, this page details some of their exclusive brands, including: A New Day, Goodfellow & Co, JoyLab and Who What Wear.
Still have a few loved ones left on your holiday shopping list? We hear you! Last-minute shopping can be stressful… which is why we’ve rounded up a few must-have clothing, shoes and accessories from Target exclusive brands A New Day , Goodfellow & Co , JoyLab and Who What Wear .
For instance, the term "a new day target" gets 4,400 searches a month, according to KeywordsEverywhere.
Find Deals (Price Arbitrage)
Another strategy is promoting Target sales & deals to your email list. As you can see, Target has a Deals section featured prominently in their menu navigation:
You could mine these deals for price discounts and alert your audience when there's a good buying opportunity.
Credit Card Signups
You could also promote the Target credit card- if your audience signs up, they get discounts on a range of products, like 15% off of Baby product subscriptions.
Again- this would be something you could promote to your list. You'd obviously want to be transparent about the pros and cons of signing up with the Target REDCard- but it is a viable way to monetize with the Target affiliate program.
Target Mobile Gift Cards
In January 2010, Target rolled out an innovative Mobile Gift Card program.
At the time, Target said "Target guests no longer need to carry their Target GiftCards in order to redeem them, thanks to the innovative Target Mobile GiftCard."
Whether you like them or not, gift cards remain an incredibly popular gift idea, which is why the new Target Mobile Gift Card program is incredibly cool. The new feature allows you to convert any Target gift card into a digital barcode that can be used from any Internet connected cell phone — no extra fees involved.
The program doesn't appear to be active anymore- and remember, Target doesn't actually pay commissions on gift card purchases.
You can check out some of their mobile-eligible gift cards on their website.
Read More Of My Niche Reports
It's tough competing with Amazon.
For Advertisers, in order to attract affiliates away from Amazon, it's difficult incentivizing them without dipping too deeply into thin margins.
They aren't going to beat Amazon on price, shipping speed, or ease of use, so they have to compete in other areas- leveraging brand equity, developing proprietary products, generating attractive exclusives, etc.
If you'd like to test whether Target is a viable affiliate partner, you could use Thirsty Affiliates for link-tracking purposes and measure how many clicks Target's URL gets.
You can cross-reference with this with Affiliate Network Traffic Reports and then use ThirstyAffiliates to change the URL and test conversions on a different platform for the same product.