Amazon Marketing – new flow

Who can discuss e-commerce these days without an Amazon strategy? That’s right, no one. Amazon is getting some recent bad PR mixed with all the Prime stats presented in 87 colourfully alternative ways, but it remains a growing household name.

It is not just that it accounts for 60% of all US ecommerce, 40% of UK, has the second largest adoption in Japan, is in the top 3 in Germany, or that it’s launching new regional-specific Amazon entities in numerous countries including Turkey, Switzerland, Sweden and more. Actually sorry, that’s exactly why it’s a household name. No one can ignore them on a global stage. Be it domestic or international, your ecommerce plans can’t really avoid Jeff’s empire.

With such a wide-reaching ecosphere spanning regions, cultures, languages, currencies and time zones, Amazon has developed, likely by design as much as by necessity, a marketing suite of tools. Evil genius comes to mind. But as more and more Brands and resellers funnel more energy, money and time into these tools, those not doing so are getting left behind. Amazon’s double-dipping aside, a seller can’t really avoid skipping these tools.

But, what are they? What do they do? Do they really work? Yup, that’s why I’m typing and you’re either about to stop reading or continue.

Glad you’re still here.

Many Amazon-experienced sellers know of the perks Brands and Manufacturers have historically. If you register your trademarked name with Amazon, you get special tools resellers or non-trademarked sellers don’t. Why on earth wouldn’t you leverage them if you can.

Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) allows you to make product pages look pretty. Really, that’s it. You can add extra images, banners and copy in the description area, which Amazon tells us causing a 10-15% sales bump on the ASIN. While that rate is questionable, a Brand should take advantage of this at scale. The reasons are simple:

That listing page is what buyers see. This is their visual impression of you. This is how you present yourself and the closest thing to a shop window display you would have on the high street. Use it. If you don’t (and your competitors will), buyers will see a very big visual difference.

Save the CS and refunds. This allows you to add extra detail about your product. Arguably, there is only so much you can say about a new bottle of shampoo… but electronics, tools and other more complex products can cause sellers and buyers headaches which turn into refunds and irate emails if some detail wasn’t present or clear upfront. If you’re in fashion, you know you’re selling an image as much as a product. EBC is your chance.

But EBC is the tip of the iceberg. Near, far, wherever your Amazon listings are, we need to let go of the fears of embracing Amazon’s tools. Akin to fighting the tide, sellers don’t really have a choice but to paddle into the hot and cold currents of this vast deep platform of buyers.

Many experienced sellers also know about Sponsored Product Ads. Similar to Google’s PPC engine from 2008, you can bid on keywords to drive extra paid-for traffic to your listings. I won’t dive into the detailed strategies you can use on this tool in this article, but safe to say there are many ideas out there. Ours are the best, naturally. But that’s for another article. Sponsored Product Ads are available for everybody, not just Brands.

Why pay Amazon a cost per click, on top of the 10-15% sale commission, on top of the monthly fee? Well, its herd mentality; if you don’t, others will. And those others will have an advantage over you which, over time, will become harder to claw back. As much as it might pain you to pay Amazon more, effective strategies should pay for themselves in sales increases.

Amazon is all about relevance and conversion. The more a single ASIN (product listing) gets found and converts to a sale, the more Amazon’s algorithm thinks “that’s cool, let’s boost it in search a bit more and see if the trend continues”. Amazon wants a good buyer experience. If the buyer is buying, Amazon wants that to continue and grow. The seller is rewarded as an afterthought with more sales.

But a new listing on Amazon is an unknown to the algorithms that match it to search queries. Amazon doesn’t want to take a risk with an unknown, when it has known performers already converting on those keywords. Why would it? It’s focused on the buyers.

If you’re launching a product or brand new to Amazon, you’re starting behind. With this in mind, Sponsored Product Ads allows you to adopt a combination of many strategies:

New Products in need of a boost. These products are in a catch 22 situation – they need to be found to convert and they need conversions in order to be boosted in ranking to be found. If you leave these listings to grow organically… good luck. You may be waiting a long while to sell. Depending on your overhead costs, a waiting game may be fine… or it may be a cost you need to balance against budget to market these products with PPC. By boosting them, you’re jumping the queue. You’re using that annoying ‘fast lane’ at the airport that others begrudgingly wish they could or should have used to get ahead of the pack. Once you gain some history on the listing, you can tone down the campaign spend and ride the wave of organic history you’ve built off the back.

Old dying products. If those products didn’t sell well historically, they won’t sell very well now either. You can drop prices, but that is not always a possible strategy for Brands who need price establishments or to keep their wholesale department happy. You can avoid a race to the bottom and simply try to artificially increase the prominence of the product. No guarantee it will convert, as that’s where your EBC needs to be solid, but at least it being found more.

Analysis and optimisation. A lot of sellers miss this surprisingly. We never thought it would be a valued part of our service, but hey-ho, allow me to share something to both sellers and our competitors alike. Campaigns have reports. In those reports, you can see exactly what your buyers are searching for, and how you’re being found. If you are converting a high amount of sellers on your “Tom Cruise anti-ageing space lord cream”, but you don’t even mention ‘Tom Cruise’ in your search terms, you’re engaging in risky business. Why wouldn’t you want core search terms you’re paying for embedded in your organic optimisations of the listing! Many digital marketing agencies never think this far ahead, or lack access and experience to update your listings with this important relevant information. We have you fully covered in all areas.

Competitor targeting. Everyone is targeting Brands and specific models from Brands to bring buyers to their items. You can directly compete with competitors on very detailed phrases or terms.

At this point, many Amazon sellers might think that’s it. Nope. Grab a coffee or tea or whiskey because we still have more to discuss, and more celebrities to poke.

The next big one on the list is new – Sponsored Brand Ads. You likely are starting to see these more and more on Amazon while you order those Nespresso capsules for next day delivery. When you enter in a search, at times you’ll see a little banner appear below the search bar. That’s what we’re talking about.

There are loads of things we can do here, but lets cover a few top strategies:

Brand protection. Wait, what? Yes, Brand protection. Despite the stories, you can leverage Amazon’s own tools and system to protect your name there. There are a number of brands already doing this. Its simple; build a Branded storefront landing page, herd a campaign focused on your Brand name and any variations around it, like key model names, point the campaign to the Branded landing page and set your budget and spend. Now, any buyer who enters your Brand will see your banner appear below and be guided to your Branded page where you can reinforce your company culture, highlight top sellers, new products or combinations of both. No one else can do this, because you registered your trademarked Brand with Amazon. You just gained control over your name and being searched for on Amazon in a big way.

Amazon Stores. Just like the old school world wide web, Amazon allows you to create small landing pages with specific targets. These might be promoting a big Summer sale or showcasing a brand-new range of products. Or they may be to highlight a big sale for older season stock. And all the variations on this theme in between.

Attacking competitors. Simply put – a buyer searched for something on a competitor term, and you pop up on-screen with your version.

But wait, there’s more. Like a rash that won’t fade, Amazon’s marketing tools give you one more way to burn more money for itchy traffic – Display Ads.

As the name suggests, you’re likely doing one of two things:

You’re plugging a little advertisement on a competitor listing. If you sell Arnold Schwarzenegger gym socks, unfortunately you cannot target Sylvester Stallone’s gym socks directly. But by associating the types of terms you are competing against, you can cast a wide but loose net against competitors. I’m sure you can smell the value here.

Cross-sell against yourself. If you have a large range of similar items, or many complimentary items that don’t neatly fold into bundles, kits or variation listings, cross-selling them is a legitimate ongoing exercise.

I guess at this point its profoundly simple – Amazon are creating their own mini internet entirely focused on driving a buyer to a product. Sellers have a growing range of tools, strategies and ideas to stay competitive in the vast landscape of traffic.

As a Brand, to protect and manage your image, these tools are your weapons. After all – if you don’t, others will.