October 7, 2020 KahnMedia

KM101: 9 Best Practices For Marketing Your Business On Amazon

Written by: Jason Reiss

As the world’s largest online marketplace, Amazon.com offers small, medium, and large businesses the opportunity to present their wares to the world in a one-stop-shopping experience, regardless of whether the company has a D2C website of its own. The efficiencies offered by the Amazon shopping experience virtually guarantee a purchase of some sort, as shoppers arrive in its search box looking for a particular item or group of things they want. 

Amazon has done the hard work of creating the marketplace, advertising it to its users, and presenting additional value through its Prime, Video, and other related services that go along with the platform. Is there anyone in the developed world who hasn’t heard of Amazon? 

via Pixabay

Amazon’s growth over the company’s 25-year history is massive; it’s grown from a two-bit online bookstore in 1995 to the world’s largest online marketplace, with reported revenues of $280.52 billion in 2019. More importantly, Amazon’s market capitalization as of October 2020 is a whopping $1.56 trillion and has grown by $640 billion just this year alone. It is in a constant battle with Apple in the back-and-forth to determine the world’s largest company by market cap. 

During the pandemic, the company’s growth has been massive as it continues to take market share from brick-and-mortar stores, and many observers believe that revenue will never return. The seismic shift in consumer behavior was underway, and the pandemic’s lockdown conditions have only accelerated the change.  

Historically, Amazon has had negative blowback from manufacturers because of its customer-centric attitude, where the customer can return an item for any reason. Amazon reaches into the supplier’s pocket to take the money back, whether it’s an installation issue or the customer doesn’t like the color of the product. This strategy on Amazon’s side puts the onus on the manufacturer to develop high-quality product directions, instructional videos, and other assets that give the consumer everything they need upon purchase. Some manufacturers are very good at this, and others are not. If a manufacturer understands that the volume offset in products sold will be exponentially larger than the number of returned products — especially if they minimize the opportunity for returns through quality installation directions and the like — the pain point of those unexpected returns is diminished. 

For the shopper, Amazon is the store with every retail product in the world sitting on the shelves, just waiting to be plucked, deposited into the shopping cart, and purchased. And for the retailer or manufacturer, Amazon is a place that offers virtually limitless opportunity to reach customers — but only if the correct strategies are employed to do so. We’ve dug through the depths of Amazon’s guidance and present to you nine solid tips on achieving success with your business on Amazon.com.


via Christian Wiediger on Unsplash

Product Titles Are Critical
Think of Amazon’s marketplace as your virtual selling shelves. To make a great first impression, the description you choose should mirror what the customer would search to find the product. There are several important factors to include in the title, but one must also be mindful of length limitations. Amazon has four main criteria for its titles:

  • Titles must contain product-identifying information, such as “hiking boots” or “umbrella.”
  • Titles must not exceed 200 characters, including spaces.
  • Titles must not contain promotional phrases, such as “free shipping” and “100% quality guaranteed.”
  • Titles must not contain characters for decoration, such as ~ ! * $ ? _ ~ { } # < > | * ; ^ ¬

This guidance gives the seller plenty of flexibility to develop descriptive titles that include several keywords and other product information. Brevity is also important — you want the buyer to be able to parse the information quickly. An excellent strategy to follow has a title with the following information included:

  • Product brand name
  • Color
  • Quantity per package and size (if relevant)
  • Notable keywords

There is more to writing a compelling, eye-catching title, but to cover the topic thoroughly, we’d need an entire blog post dedicated to that subject. Ultimately, the goal is to get your products within the top three spots of the first page of relevant results. 


Details, Details
Along the same lines as developing quality titles, you must invest time and effort into providing customers with an abundance of detail regarding each product you offer. By some measures, up to 70% of Amazon sales happen on page one through the search function. Provide the right title keywords and the right search terms, and the sky’s the limit, but get it wrong, and your listings could plummet several pages back. You’ll be left wondering what happened to your efforts. It’s critical to get this part right. 

A great source of knowledge for Amazon SEO optimization is Bryan Bowman’s article on BigCommerce


via Pixabay

The Pictures You Choose Matter
In a retail store, you’d display the products you want to sell the most right at eye level, in a visually appealing package. This position will catch the consumer’s eye, but if you have a product with outdated packaging, you’re probably not going to sell too many of them. Consumers want modern, updated products that appear to be the latest and greatest. It’s the same when you sell on Amazon. 

When we think about product placement and what attracts the consumer, we must consider the product’s appearance and how the consumer will view it. Properly lit, well-composed, clean — and edited — photographs of your products are crucial to your success. Your listings should provide these photographs from multiple angles and include mounting diagrams and other relevant information so that you have a leg up on those sellers who don’t understand the value of photography. Think of the listing as your virtual shelf. 

Additionally, building your brand into a long-term success will open up the “Customers who bought this also bought” section for Amazon to show buyers your other products. 


Reviews Can Make Or Break You
It’s against Amazon’s policies to offer a monetary incentive for five-star reviews, but we all know companies do it by dropping a card into their packages that offer a percentage discount for your positive feedback. Or the endless emails they send after your purchase — sometimes within minutes of order placement — looking for your positive response. We wouldn’t suggest doing that, because it can earn you a slap on the wrist or worse from the folks at Amazon. 

However, we will emphasize that ensuring your customers are happy with your products and subsequently tell other people about it through the Amazon review process is a critical component of your success. People want to feel good about what they are buying, and if there are genuine reviews of the product’s capabilities, they are far more likely to pull the trigger on a purchase. 

Working with influencers can provide your business with organic exposure outside the Amazon ecosystem. Their use of Amazon affiliate links within their content (from links in YouTube descriptions to inclusion within blog posts on their sites) can help you get more eyeballs on your products. Those external links help to push your content up in the rankings. 


Leveraging Deals & Offers
Kahn Media’s digital marketing manager, Russell Stacey, says that it’s essential to leverage your storefront to provide your customers with deals when they are available. One of the keys to long-term success is to build repeat business from your customer base. We all know it’s far more challenging to attract new customers than to keep your existing customers happy. If you want them to come back to your storefront instead of hitting the first product that pops up when they are looking to make a purchase, you need to give them a reason to do so. 

“By nature, listings with an offer almost always have a better click-through-rate because they are more eye-catching and create a sense of savings. Adding a sale or deal offer to your product is a surefire way to make your listing stand out against the competition in search results. If you were going to do a big seasonal sale or promo, you have the option to build out a separate store version that features creative and branding around that offer that will show temporarily for the time frame you set. It creates better visibility for your offer and a more enticing look,” explains Stacey. 


Price Your Products Competitively
Whether you are the manufacturer selling direct-to-consumer or a retailer, ensuring you’re in the ballpark with your pricing is crucial to your success. 

“By default, Amazon’s algorithm considers product price when ranking search results. By offering a lower price than the competition, you’re much more likely to appear at the top of the page or in the comparison buy box that appears on the right side,” says Stacey.

Beware, though: if you’re a retailer and you’re selling products that have a Minimum Advertised Price policy, you could get yourself into hot water with your supplier. 


You Can’t Sell It if You Don’t Have it In Stock
Likewise, it’s essential to use your planning calendar to ensure that you have the products in stock and available for shipping before you offer a deal to your Amazon customers. Remember that selling on Amazon can reach an exponentially larger audience than the one visiting your business website, and ensure that your inventory can support your efforts. You also don’t want to get a slap on the wrist from the Bezos police for offering items in a sale that aren’t in stock. 


via Pixabay

Paid Marketing Is Growing Rapidly
Stacey believes that the paid marketing competition is swiftly developing on Amazon, as it is on every other pay-per-click platform. 

“Putting budget behind paid ads to promote your top products helps them stand out from the sea of other retailers so they can get more traffic, which usually means more sales. In my time using paid Amazon ads, I’ve found that the campaign auto-targeting is sufficient if you’re just getting started with PPC marketing, but to get the maximum return on investment, you need to use manual keyword targeting or manual product targeting. It’s a little extra work to set up, but pays off substantially if you do it properly,” he explains.

Amazon has recently started promoting its Sponsored Brands videos, which appear at the top of the Search page with multiple products. There are several benefits to using Sponsored Brands Video, which includes increased reach, separating your brand from the noisy pack, and easy setup using the creative builder. Amazon says that the Sponsored Brands video ads are keyword targeted cost-per-click ads that link customers directly to your product details page. Consumers are demanding video content among all else. Now is the time to exploit this concept. 

Sponsored display ads can target cold audiences or retarget people who have viewed your product pages but have not purchased your products. These ads can appear on Amazon and other third-party websites in their partnership network. 

The importance of paid search results also cannot be overstated. Paid, targeted advertising can help you reach the consumers most likely to buy your products. When working with paid search ads, think in broad terms as well as those narrowly targeted ones. For example, you may have one user search for “Aeromotive 11542 fuel pump,” and another user who already has their 2006 Subaru WRX programmed into the site and simply searches “fuel pump.” Both of these types of users should be accounted for when developing your search terms. 


Be Ready For The Future
Amazon recently released a new feature: Store Versions. This feature permits you to create multiple versions of your store, which means you can do several things more easily. Take advantage of seasonal promotions, schedule product launches on release day to hit your storefront right as you unveil the product to the world, and even pre-approve major design updates to go live on a specific day using this feature. 

Amazon suggests using its self-service Store Builder to help with the process by adding videos, lifestyle images, and stories that reflect your brand’s heritage. Authentically tell your narrative, and your customers — both current and new ones — will respond to your efforts. 

Amazon provides excellent guidance on how to use Store Versions in this Best Practice Guide.

There are many tools available to the entrepreneur and business owners. Still, it can also be helpful to partner with an agency that works with Amazon every single day to maximize the ROI for your business. 


via Amazon

Conclusion

As the world’s largest online marketplace, Amazon offers you and your company a wealth of opportunity if you position yourself to take advantage of its incredible market share, regardless of whether you’re a retailer or manufacturer selling direct-to-consumer. 

Prime Day — Amazon’s massive two-day sale — stretches over 48 hours, and in 2020 occurs October 13–14. In 2019, Amazon reported that Prime Day sales were higher than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined and was the largest shopping event in Amazon history. It said independent third-party sellers recorded more than $2 billion in sales during the Prime Day event, with more than 175 million items sold. 

Ultimately, your success on Amazon’s platform is directly related to the level of effort you put into exceeding your customers’ expectations. It’s no different than building success anywhere else. It takes focus, foresight, and a plan.