The Secret Weapon That Targets Your Customers Whether They’re on Amazon or Not

Find out how to use Amazon’s demand-side platform to target your customers wherever they are online.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

One of the most significant opportunities to extend your advertising reach on and off Amazon is to participate in Amazon’s demand-side platform, Amazon DSP. With Amazon DSP, brands can target shoppers in real time as they browse the internet. This approach allows brands to reach customers on and off Amazon through programmatic display advertisements.

Through Amazon DSP, Amazon can partner with third-party sites to place ads across the internet. Because these ads can show on Amazon and on other sites, brands can exponentially increase their reach through Amazon DSP. These ads can show in the following placements: desktop and mobile web display ads, mobile banner ads, mobile interstitial ads, and video ads.

This option might be a great opportunity for you if your brand is awareness-driven and you value the reach of your ads over the initial return. This isn’t to say you won’t see a return from your advertising efforts through Amazon DSP, but your expectations should be much different from your expectations of your search advertising efforts. Search advertising aims to increase awareness and sales from people who are already searching on Amazon for products like yours and are therefore likely to convert. With DSP, you can reach customers throughout the purchase cycle using a variety of retargeting and programmatic display methods. You may be targeting a customer who’s very early in the research process, who was a cart abandoner on your website, or who’s of a certain demographic that is of interest to you and your brand. Targeting based on demographics or interests will lend itself to more of a brand-awareness play.

Many companies use DSP primarily in two ways: programmatic display ads and retargeting ads. Through programmatic display ads, brands can reach a larger audience both on and off Amazon by targeting specific audiences and segments with real-time bidding. Brands can also use DSP to reengage site/page visitors, cart abandoners, and past purchasers by placing pixels on their own websites to track the customers. Amazon Advertising can also track and engage customers based on the ASINs they viewed and/or purchased on Amazon.

Now let’s look more closely at programmatic display and retargeting ads in DSP.

Related: How Amazon Prime Day Can Bring in Prime Sales for Your Business

Programmatic display strategies

Amazon DSP allows advertisers to target various audiences on and off Amazon through Amazon-exclusive sites (Amazon and IMDB), Amazon Publisher Services, and open exchanges such as AppNexus, Rubicon, and OpenX. You can build audiences to target using Amazon’s first-party data, which provides insights into shopping behaviors on Amazon-owned and -operated properties.

Additionally, you can target specific segments of shoppers. For example, if your brand sells high-end purses, you might want to target the fashionista lifestyle segment or the health, beauty, and fashion in market segment. The types of segments available to target include:

  • In market: customers who are browsing in a specific market (e.g., parents shop­ping for baby products)
  • Lifestyle: customers who are in broad categories based on their interests (e.g., pet lovers)
  • Demographic: customers who fall into specific categories based on their character­istics (e.g., age, gender, income, etc.)

You can layer multiple segments on top of each other to create a unique targeting approach. Within the DSP interface, you can also see the estimated reach of each segment defined in terms of estimated number of impressions per day.

Related: 5 Amazon Ad Settings You Shouldn’t Ignore

Retargeting strategies

DSP also allows you to retarget shoppers who’ve visited your website or viewed your products on Amazon. You can reach and reengage existing customers through pixel and ASIN retargeting. With pixel retargeting, you can track your customers with pixels that are placed on your brand’s website and linked to your DSP account; you can then follow customers on and off Amazon to show them ads for your product. ASIN retargeting is similar to pixel retargeting in that you can target existing customers off Amazon, but instead of tracking them via a pixel on your website, you’re tracking them from their initial viewing of your product detail page on Amazon.

There are a variety of ways to use DSP’s retargeting capabilities to grow brand awareness and increase sales. Some of the most common retargeting strategies include:

  • Targeting cart abandoners: Reengage site visitors who added a product to their cart but didn’t purchase the product within a specific time frame.
  • Cross selling: Target previous purchasers or site visitors by promoting complemen­tary products or new versions of products.
  • Increasing brand awareness: Reengage previous site visitors to promote brand value and influence them using calls to action.
  • Highlighting new product launches: Target previous purchasers or site visitors and announce a new product they may also be interested in.
  • Reminders for renewals: Reengage previous customers when the product they pur­chased is at the end of its life cycle, and remind them they’ll need to purchase again soon.

Amazon DSP data and supply sources

Amazon uses their first-party data to target specific consumers based on their shopping behaviors and interests. You can build off this data by adding any data you have on your existing customers through email lists.

There are three primary supply sources Amazon allows you to choose from when setting up your ads on DSP. You can have your ads run on Amazon-owned and -operated sites, Amazon Publisher Services, and/or open exchanges. Amazon-owned and -operated sites include Amazon and IMDb. Amazon Publisher Services consists of direct publisher inventory for high-visibility impressions. Open exchanges are real-time bidding exchanges, including sources such as AppNexus, Rubicon, and OpenX.

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How Amazon Prime Day Can Bring in Prime Sale for Your Business

Get your products ready for one of the biggest online shopping days of the year with these four tips.

4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

Nothing indicates that a company is fully ingrained in ecommerce consumer culture and behavior quite like inventing a sales holiday in the dog days of summer that ends up raking in more than $4.1 billion in global sales in 2018 ($2.6 billion of that U.S.-driven) on a single day. Amazon has done just that with Prime Day. Created in 2015 to cel­ebrate their 20th anniversary as a company, Prime Day offers Amazon Prime subscribers very large discounts on a wide variety of Prime-eligible products. With the exception of 2015, when the first Prime Day fell on a Wednesday, Prime Day has always fallen on the second or third Monday or Tuesday of July.

For 2018’s Prime Day, which spanned 36 hours from July 16 to 17, nearly 28 percent of all U.S. online shoppers made at least one purchase on the site. Of these shoppers, 52 percent were first-time Prime Day shoppers, signaling that the explosive growth of this new shopping holiday is far from over.

Needless to say, Prime Day is a huge opportunity for advertisers to promote their products to an eager, high-converting audience. Following are a few strategies you need to consider to make it a success for your brand and your products.

Prime Eligibility and Inventory

The first step to unlocking the growth opportunities Prime Day can deliver is to ensure that all your catalog’s products are Prime-eligible. The most direct way to achieve this is by sending your inventory to Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), but depending on your business goals and profit margins, this can prove costly given the various fees Amazon charges for this service. If you have your own fulfillment system that can deliver within Prime’s two-day window, your products can become eligible through Seller Fulfilled Prime (a program that allows you to ship to domestic Prime customers with two-day delivery from your own warehouse). You may need to price your products at a premium to cover these shipping costs, but earning Prime eligibility can be more important than listing a price-competitive product without free two-day shipping—especially on Prime Day.

If you have a product or a mix of products you know will convert very well on Prime Day, you’ll want to ensure you have more than enough inventory set aside to meet the demand, especially since this shopping holiday is considered “out of season” for most brands. Considering that it can sometimes take up to a month for your products to ship, be processed in FBA, and go live on Amazon, you really should start planning for Prime Day in the early spring.

Lightning Deals and Coupons

A Lightning Deal is a “too good to pass up” deal that typically runs in four-hour blocks or until all available items offered on the promotion have been purchased. This can create a situation where certain deals last only minutes due to consumer demand. Any product listed with a Lightning Deal can experience a bump in sales and conversions throughout the day, even after the deal has expired. Of course, Amazon charges an extra fee for running Lightning Deals, which increases on high-traffic days such as Prime Day. Within the Lightning Deal interface, your eligible products will automatically populate the product selection window.

Don’t expect all your Prime-eligible products to be approved for Lightning Deals— based on their algorithm, Amazon chooses a select number of products with high inventory from each seller’s catalog to ensure better visibility for sellers who choose to employ this option.

Coupons are also a great way for sellers to push sales on high-traffic days such as Prime Day. Coupon promotions can be accessed under the “Advertising” link in Seller Central. Here you can select products to advertise a coupon for, set their budget, and then activate your coupons.

Amazon has a 60-cent referral fee for each coupon used, so the budget you set for coupon usage should be based on this metric and your anticipated traffic. Coupons have visibility on these portions of Amazon: product detail pages, the Amazon Coupons page, product search results, email campaigns, shopping carts, and your coupon landing page.

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5 Amazon Ad Settings You Shouldn’t Ignore

You can’t just set up your ad campaign and expect them to bring in customers day after day. Here are the five settings you should review and tweak as necessary to improve your sales.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

Auditing your advertising campaigns (in other words, conducting a critical examination of your campaign structures and settings) can help determine if they’re aligned with your business strategies and your goals for advertising on Amazon. It may seem daunting at first, but having a proper campaign structure in place will prove invaluable to your success in advertising on Amazon. Here are the most common issues to look for when performing a self-audit on your account.

1. Create a balanced automatic and manual campaign mix 

First, ask yourself if you’re employing a mix of both automatic and manual Sponsored Products campaigns. While it’s a popular belief that manual campaigns are more important (because of the clarity and control these campaigns give advertisers), each campaign type serves a different purpose, and it’s best to use both automatic and manual campaigns to have full advertising coverage.

Automatic campaigns provide broad coverage, and manual campaigns are more targeted and typically produce a higher return. It’s ideal to include all products you’d like to advertise in an automatic campaign — with similar products in the same ad groups — to ensure at least some advertising coverage for them. Since manual campaigns are more targeted, most of your spend should be flowing through them, but employing both ad formats in unison will maximize the amount of traffic to your products.

2. Check for structure around the three traffic types 

Ask yourself if your campaign is structured in a way that separates the three traffic types: brand, category and competitor. Creating campaigns that feature keywords specific to one traffic type is essential for clearly understanding the performance of your account. Because brand keywords usually produce a better return, if they’re grouped in a campaign with category or competitor keywords, they could artificially drive up the overall revenue of the campaign. Meanwhile, the category keywords may not receive nearly as many impressions. Separating these traffic types is imperative for allocating your ad spend correctly. It also allows you to more easily see how each traffic type is performing.

3. Use all three keyword match types 

Using all three keyword match types (broad, phrase, and exact) for each keyword in your account is another opportunity to maximize your advertising reach. By implementing broad and phrase match keywords, you could potentially uncover top-converting search queries as keyword opportunities. Most of your spend should ideally flow through exact match keywords since these should be the most relevant keywords with a higher conversion rate. You can achieve this through a tiered bidding structure for each term, with the exact match keyword having the highest bid, followed by phrase match and then broad match.

Related: 5 Higher-Level Optimizations You Can Make to Drive Better Amazon Ad Performance

4. Use ad formats that make sense for your advertising strategy

The number of ad formats available to you will depend on whether you’re a seller or a vendor. It’s important to take advantage of all the ad formats that align with your overall goal for advertising on Amazon.

Sponsored products for traffic and flexibility

Sponsored Products ads typically produce the most traffic, given the number of placements they receive and the fact that they have the highest sales per click compared with the other ad formats. I recommend always running Sponsored Products ads, as they can be tailored to any of these strategies: brand promotion, rapid growth, and achieving a target ad cost of sale.

Sponsored brands campaigns for “top of funnel” growth or branding

Sponsored Brands campaigns can be a great “top of funnel” or branding opportunity if you’re focused on promoting your brand or even growing incremental sales by extending brand reach to new consumers. The prominent banner placement, in addition to having the option of driving traffic to your Amazon Store, is a great brand-awareness opportunity to tell shoppers more about your brand or products. However, since CPC is typically higher than that of Sponsored Products campaigns, due to the limited (but prominent) placements, and since there is a much higher clickthrough rate, Sponsored Brands ads aren’t as beneficial for achieving a low ACoS metric.

Related: The 4 Most Helpful Reports You Can Run Using Amazon Ad Data

Product display ads for targeting interests and product pages

Similarly, Product Display ads can be another opportunity to inform shoppers about your brand by targeting interests and product pages, including those of your competitors. However, Product Display campaigns should be reserved for strong brand promoters since these are generally the most expensive ad format and typically produce lower attributed sales.

5. Limit keyword duplication

Duplicate keywords throughout the same ad format can lead to inefficiencies in account management and make it difficult to know which products are receiving traffic for a specific keyword. Since keywords across the account will have varying bids, duplicate keywords compete for the same placements, and it’s likely that one instance of the keyword will receive more traffic than the others.

Analyze Amazon’s Targeting Report for duplicate keywords and consider eliminating the lower-performing ones. In the ideal Sponsored Products campaign structure, a keyword is only featured in one ad group within one campaign. A select group of high-priority products that are closely related to the keyword would then be featured in this ad group.

The same is true for Sponsored Brands campaigns. A specific keyword with the same match type should only be included in one campaign. The top related products can then be featured in the banner and on the landing page.

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5 Higher-Level Optimizations You Can Make to Drive Better Amazon Ad Performance

Learn how to tweak your campaigns to get the most out of your Amazon ad budget.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

Let’s cover five higher-level optimizations you can make to drive better performance out of your Amazon ad campaigns.

Adjusting bids by placement

Because bidding is an ongoing process where the competitive landscape is always changing, it can be difficult to ensure that your bids are high enough to get the top placement without overpaying for clicks and losing control of profitability. Amazon allows you to increase bids for certain placements. You can enable these advanced bidding strategies in the campaign settings of any manual Sponsored Products campaign.

We recommend adjusting bids by placement for your top-performing manual campaigns as well as any campaigns in which you want to bid more aggressively either on top of search placements or on product detail pages.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make in Amazon Product Listings and How to Fix Them

Adjusting campaign budgets and campaign status

Regardless of your brand’s investment in Amazon advertising, you’ll need to regularly adjust your campaign budgets. Even accounts that are spending the maximum daily budget will still need to make adjustments. If you’re working under strict budget constraints, it’ll be more a matter of reallocating spend within the account than simply increasing or decreasing budgets based on individual campaign performance.

If one of your top-performing campaigns is hitting its budget limit every day, you should increase its budget to make sure those ads can run for the entire day. The last thing you want is to put your time and energy into building a killer campaign only to have it run for just a few hours a day before maxing out its budget.

One way to check whether your budgets are adequate is to take the average daily spend for each campaign and compare it to their daily budgets. We recommend setting the daily budget about 20 to 40 percent higher than the average daily spend so your campaigns have room to grow. This cushion can be increased during times of peak seasonality or decreased for campaigns with an objective other than profitable growth (e.g., brand awareness).

Reviewing historical trends in performance

Although it can be tempting to get buried in the weeds, doing keyword research, bid changes, and the like, it’s equally important to take a step back and periodically review account performance trends over time to see if you’re accomplishing the goals and objectives you set for the account.

While Amazon now allows you to select dates in both Seller Central and Vendor Central, making it easier to see ad performance over a specific date range, users can only view the past 90 days. The interface also isn’t conducive to viewing trends over time. Although Amazon now provides an interactive graph to show trends for the selected date range, the limited amount of data makes it nearly impossible to analyze quarter-by-quarter and year-over-year trends. Sellers and vendors have come up with some creative workarounds to this problem.

For example, my company works with a well-known brand manufacturer in the toilet and bath fixture industry who was running campaigns in Vendor Central and wanted to compare historical monthly performance. They designed their campaigns to start and end on the first and last day of each month. At the end of the month, they copied all their active campaigns using the copy feature within the Campaign Manager interface, and then updated the start and end dates to reflect the following month.

Related: How an Amazon Store Can Increase Shopper Engagement

Comparing monthly performance past 90 Days

You can track advertising performance over time by creating an Excel workbook so you can track and compare monthly performance and spot trends at the campaign level. We recommend doing this once the full attribution window is complete for the previous month (seven days in Seller Central and 14 days in Vendor Central).  

Each month, review and record the previous month’s campaign-level performance data after the full attribution window is complete. Maintaining this Excel file will help you keep track of your historical advertising performance. Although the interface does now include graphs of historic performance, recording the data allows you to have the actual data at your disposal for as far back as you began this process. This will also allow you to more easily spot campaign-level trends as well as trends in traffic or keyword type.

When looking at historical performance trends, you should look at the ad’s performance as well as your business’s performance on Amazon as a whole (including organic sales). By looking at both, you can examine how your advertising strategies are impacting your business.

Related: Using Amazon’s Sponsored Brand Advertising to Get Customers Interested in Your Brand

Analyze impact of prime status changes

When looking at historical performance trends, keep in mind any changes that have been made to fulfillment and how they may have affected performance. For example, if products that were previously Prime-eligible lose the Prime badge, you’ll likely see advertising performance fall. On the other hand, you’ll likely see a boost in performance when products gain Prime status.

If any of your products lose their Prime eligibility, you should focus your advertising spend on your remaining Prime products. It’s essentially the only thing you can do on the advertising side when your products lose Prime status.

If you don’t manage the fulfillment piece yourself, I encourage you to work closely with your fulfillment team to learn what steps are necessary to get Prime eligibility for your products. Amazon highly favors Prime products, and if you lose that status, it can be hard to make up the lost ground.

Rotating advertised products with seasonality

Seasonality is present in almost all categories, and you need to make sure you’re in a position to make the most of it. To capitalize on a product’s seasonality while still having coverage on the entire product catalog, prioritization is key. This can be accomplished through campaign structure where products are grouped by theme and through implementing a tiered bidding approach.

From time to time, you’ll want to take a step back and “inspect what you expect.” Self-auditing your own account can uncover waste as well as provide insights to grow revenue.

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The 4 Most Helpful Reports You Can Run Using Amazon Ad Data

Amazon collects data on almost everything happening on their site. Discover the data that will help you improve your ad results.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

To make optimizations in your Amazon Advertising account, you must first pull together the data you’ll need. The data in the Amazon interface is fragmented, so you’ll need to grab data from multiple reporting menus and compile it in a meaningful way before you can analyze it.

Most reports available on Amazon tie back to Sponsored Products ads because they’re Amazon’s oldest and most established ad format. In addition, because Sponsored Products ads take shoppers to a single product detail page, reporting on product performance is much easier.

There are fewer data insights available through reports for Sponsored Brands and Product Display ads. In the case of Sponsored Brands, these ads still have relevant reporting on keyword performance and ad placement analysis, but they don’t include any reports that touch on the performance of individual products since these ads can direct consumers to a product list page or Amazon Store page containing multiple products to convert on.

Finally, Product Display ads can also target multiple products, so Amazon doesn’t release any granular reporting on which product eventually drove a conversion. As time passes, it’s likely that more reports will be released for each of these ad formats. 

Related: Using Amazon’s Sponsored Brand Advertising to Get Customers Interested in Your Brand

With that said, you can carry over some of the insights you find in Sponsored Products data to your Sponsored Brands campaigns. For example, there’s currently no search query data available for Sponsored Brands, so new keyword opportunities from Sponsored Products can be helpful starting places. Although you can test out new keywords in Sponsored Brands campaigns based on data from Sponsored Products, it’s important to keep in mind that keywords and products will not always perform the same across ad types. Let’s look at how to find the most helpful reports for Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads.

All the reports you’ll need can be accessed either through Seller Central (for sellers) or Vendor Central (for vendors). Look at a combination of advertising reports (e.g., search term reports, targeting reports, advertised product reports, etc.) and account-level reports (e.g., business reports).

Seller central performance data

In Seller Central, you can find the advertising and business reports under the “Reports” link.

Vendor central performance data

Vendors can find advertising reports by clicking on the “Advertising” link at the top of the page. Often in Vendor Central, you have to request business reports from your Amazon representative. If you’re a vendor and don’t have access to a business report, you can analyze performance data and make optimizations based on advertising performance reports alone. Most optimizations will come from the advertising reports, but if you do have access to account-level reports, I recommend using this data as well to see the full impact of advertising.

Related: How an Amazon Store Can Increase Shopper Engagement

Attribution sales against ad clicks

An attribution model is a rule, or set of rules that determine how credit for conversions (i.e., sales) is assigned to touch points along the conversion path. Amazon uses something called last touch attribution to track a shopper’s activity after they click on an ad in case they purchase the product later. In last touch attribution, credit is given to the final touch point (or click) that immediately preceded the sale. That is how sales can be attributed to a click even if the purchase occurred days after the initial click. Attribution in Seller Central and Vendor Central varies, so it is also important to keep the attribution window in mind when making optimizations.

In Seller Central, the standard attribution window is seven days for Sponsored Products and 14 days for Sponsored Brands, while in Vendor Central, the attribution window is 14 days for Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Product Display campaigns.

Attribution example for a sponsored brands campaign

Let’s look at an example of attribution for a Sponsored Brands campaign. Let’s say that your brand sells high-end kitchen appliances. Because your products have a high price point, it’s not unusual for shoppers to do some research on Amazon before purchasing. If a shopper clicked on your Sponsored Brands campaign on August 1 but didn’t purchase until August 8, this would be captured by the 14-day attribution window in both Seller Central and Vendor Central.

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make in Amazon Product Listings and How to Fix Them

Additionally, sales data has a 48-hour lag, so recent data can sometimes seem misleading if looked at on its own. In the example above, if you looked at month-to-date performance data on August 4, the data wouldn’t represent actual performance since it would show four days’ worth of spend but only two days of sales. In this case, it would be more helpful to look at the past week’s performance rather than the month-to-date performance.

At the time of this writing, there are no Product Display reports available under the “Advertising Reports” link in Vendor Central. However, you can download a report of daily campaign performance metrics from the “Reports” link after clicking on an individual Product Display campaign.

If you have a connection to Amazon’s application programming interface (API), a system of resources that allows developers to create data connections for building software, the data you see through the API might vary from what you see in the interface or in Amazon’s reports. This API connection could be through a tool that helps manage your Amazon Advertising account, or it could be through an agency or similar resource. Just remember that the numbers you see in each of these may not always match exactly, and that’s to be expected.

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Using Amazon’s Sponsored Brand Advertising to Get Customers Interested in Your Brand

Find out how to increase brand awareness of your Amazon products.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | Apple Books

If you’re looking to increase your brand awareness and are eager to build marketing momentum, don’t miss the opportunity to use Sponsored Brands on Amazon. This banner-style ad allows you to express your brand message using logos, customiz­able ad copy, and featured products. The Sponsored Brands format is available to vendors and those sellers who are enrolled in Amazon’s Brand Registry.

With Sponsored Brands, you pay only when a shopper clicks on your ad, but these ads tend to carry a much higher cost per click (CPC) than Sponsored Products ads because of the more prominent placement of these ads on the search results page. Sponsored Brands ads can appear at the top of, alongside, or within the search results. Amazon determines where your ad appears depending on your bid.

When you build a Sponsored Brands campaign, you’ll need some sort of baseline for bidding to begin to capture traffic. Amazon will recommend a “suggested bid.” While you can certainly adjust up or down from there, I’m generally comfortable getting started with Amazon’s suggested bid with two important caveats:

  • You have an airtight daily campaign budget that does not exceed what you’re will­ing to spend. This is critical.
  • You observe your campaign’s performance over the next few days and weeks against those “suggested bids” and adjust your bids up or down based on those results.

Think of Sponsored Brands as “top of funnel” marketing, building awareness for your brand and buyer discovery for your products.

Related: How an Amazon Store Can Increase Shopper Engagement

Before you get started, determine how much you want to spend, what products you want to advertise, and what keywords you want to target. Sponsored Brands campaigns should be structured around keyword themes.

If you’ve already created an Amazon Store, you can direct traffic from Sponsored Brands campaigns to your store. This means that when a shopper clicks on a Sponsored Brands ad, they’ll be taken to your Amazon Store instead of a product list page. You have a couple of options for driving traffic to a store. You can choose to send traffic to the store officially associated with your account, but you can also send customers to a different store. For example, if you have a hybrid account (i.e., if you run ads through first- and third-party accounts), you can use Sponsored Brands in both accounts to drive traffic to your store even though your store lives in only one of those accounts.

Capturing new customers through sponsored brands

To help you see now a Sponsored Brands campaign can work for you, let’s look at how one of my team’s clients used a Sponsored Brands campaign to catch the attention of potential customers.

Burke Brands is a high-quality organic coffee company. At their core, they are coffee growers; they have multiple small-batch coffee roasting and packaging facilities while also boasting a state-of-the art cupping lab. Their mission is to “create value for our customers by using the highest-quality green coffee and roasting it to order to ensure maximum freshness.”

Related: The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make in Amazon Product Listings and How to Fix Them

But as we all know, having a superior product is only a small piece of the marketing puzzle. Because buying on Amazon is becoming second nature to many consumers, they’re more likely to start by searching for organic coffee on Amazon before going to a traditional brand’s website. The CEO of Burke Brands, Darron Burke, was trying to grow sales and defend the company’s position from its competitors. He knew Amazon was only going to become more important in this equation. But with little digital presence and unfamiliarity with Amazon, he and his team reached out to my team for guidance.

“Amazon had become a full-time job, but it was definitely worth it,” Burke said. “We could see the return, we could see the sales and the building of brand equity, but we were learning as we went, and it was not extremely organized.”

They had found the limits of what they knew how to do, but they thought they could gain better traction through a targeted campaign. Our team helped them realize that Sponsored Brands was the way to do it. They were just missing the step of targeting category terms through their ads.

By implementing this strategy, Burke Brands reached a previously untapped gold mine of new potential customers who knew what they wanted but didn’t yet know who to buy it from.

Since implementing Sponsored Brands in April 2018, Burke Brands has had five of their best months ever on Amazon. Their flagship offerings, Cafe Don Pablo and Subtle Earth Organic Coffee, have begun to establish themselves as prominent coffee brands. “Overall sales have been growing basically nonstop, every day, every week, and every year,” said Burke.

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How an Amazon Store Can Increase Shopper Engagement

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

Building an Amazon Store helps drive shopper engagement with a customized destination to help customers learn more about your brand. This is a free, self-service option that was introduced in 2017, and Amazon has been releasing new features and capabilities since its launch.

We often tell our clients that it’s a no-brainer when it comes to having an Amazon Store for their brand. The main benefits of an Amazon Store include:

  • Ease of creation and use
  • A multipage experience for shoppers to learn more about your brand and products
  • Integrated promotional features

Let’s now take a deeper look at each of these benefits.

Ease of creation

Amazon has made it fairly simple for companies to create an Amazon Store for their brands with pre-designed templates and an easy-to-navigate interface. Although it may sound daunting, no coding or site-design skills are needed to launch an Amazon Store. To create your store, use the store builder in the Amazon interface. You can get to the store builder within Vendor Central by clicking on the “Stores” link at the top of the Amazon Advertising interface.

The store builder allows you to choose from pre-designed templates and then customize your design using tiles. Start by creating your main page and then create additional pages to expand on your different product categories.

Almost all of this can be done through the self-service portal. One thing that can’t, however, is the ability to shorten your store’s URL. A shortened URL makes it easier for customers to find your store, especially for shoppers who are familiar with your brand and want to go to your store directly without having to click through Amazon to get there. It can also be useful for marketing materials, since it is short, simple, and easy to remember. Once you have your Amazon Store up and running, ask your Amazon representative to help you with this.

A multipage, brand-centered shopping experience

Shoppers can navigate to your Amazon Store from your brand name, which appears as a link on product detail pages. You can also send traffic to your store from Sponsored Brands campaigns or ads from other sources (e.g., Facebook ads).

Once a shopper lands on your Amazon Store, they can use the store’s navigation tools such as the navigation bar to explore your content and learn more about your brand message, products, categories, promotions, etc. Use your main page to showcase top products and introduce your brand, and then use sub-pages to dig deeper into your products and categories. Since you get to design the store, you control what shoppers see, where they see it, and how it’s positioned. This level of control and creativity allows you to create a brand-centered shopping experience.

If you already have marketing materials (images, videos, descriptive images, etc.) that you have used on other platforms, you can save yourself some time and energy by using these same assets on your Amazon Store.

Integrated promotional feature

One major benefit of Amazon Stores is that you can send traffic from Sponsored Brands and other channels (such as Facebook) to your store. This is a great opportunity if you’re using Sponsored Brands to generate awareness for your products because when a shopper clicks on those ads, they’ll be directed to a store that’s custom-built around your brand’s story. Additionally, you can drive traffic to your Amazon Store from other channels through your store’s URL (e.g., by including it in a blog or social media post).

Amazon Stores also include links that allow shoppers to organically share your Amazon Store on their social media accounts. This feature includes the ability to share on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. These social sharing buttons allow shoppers to tell their friends or followers about a brand they have found on Amazon that they really love.

Another key benefit is the ability to feature active promotions on your store. If your brand has any active promotions, you can add a widget to your store that will automatically showcase those products on your store. This is a great opportunity to increase the visibility of these deals, especially if you place the deals widget on the main page of your Amazon Store. This feature is especially useful during periods of high seasonality, as this is a great time to feature any active deals on Amazon.

For example, if your brand has promotions or deals running for Cyber Monday and another round of deals running for the first week of December, this widget will automatically populate with the available deals for each round of promotions. You can easily add or remove this widget on your Amazon Store and then resubmit to see the change.

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The 5 Biggest Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make in Amazon Product Listings and How to Fix Them

Sloppy mistakes in your sales listings equal low sales on Amazon. Find out what you can do to polish your product listings.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

It’s a haphazard world. If you insist on being sloppy, careless and inattentive to detail, you can usually get away with it. But people who settle for this spend much of their time being disappointed, frustrated and poorly compensated as a result. That’s as true on Amazon as it is in the real world, especially when it comes to product listings.

The range of quality is vast: from product listings with a single, grainy photograph, a few vague bullet points and zero reviews to highly optimized, lengthy listings with professional photographs, extensive and highly descriptive copy, and thorough technical details.

You want to err on the side of excellence. The more expensive or technical your product is, and providing the market volume exists for it, the more you’ll want to increase the time and effort you pour into these listings. Make them your masterpiece.

Related: 2 Quick Steps to Getting Started as an Amazon Seller

Provided you’ve already nailed product quality and have rave reviews from your customers, you’ve developed inspired branding and product packaging, and you have the supply chain and customer-service infrastructure necessary to support strong sales growth, your success on Amazon starts with a strong catalog product listing.

Sometimes you can fix a not-so-great product listing by doing a little troubleshooting. There are five shortcomings I commonly see with Amazon product listings:

1. Poor product/Brand representation

Take a moment to look at a listing on Amazon for an Amazon-owned product — for example, an Echo smart speaker with Alexa. Because Amazon owns that brand, they optimize all the selling tools available to them, so looking at their products is a good way to see what best practices for a product listing look like. Note the number and quality of photos, presence of video, and thoroughness of the product description in the top section. Then scroll down; look at the media testimonials, rich sections with very large photographs and additional descriptions, technical details and the number of customer questions with answers.

While not every product needs the same level of detail that a new piece of technology does, it gives you some insight into how to make a product listing that’s on-brand, thorough, and beautiful. It’s clear that Amazon has run countless tests to maximize their conversion rates and determine exactly what types of images and information can turn a visitor into a customer.

Related: 3 Keys to Achieving Brand Success on Amazon

2. Inaccurate or misleading product claims

Good business practices on Amazon (or anywhere) mean making accurate and truthful statements. Back in the Wild West days, a traveling snake-oil salesman could say anything he wanted about his product and then move on after pocketing his profits, never to return.

But today, with customer reviews, social media, and the importance of repeat and referral business, every listing requires the utmost honesty and transparency. Scour your existing Amazon listings and make sure they represent your product as well as your brand’s main catalog does.

3. Unanswered or poorly answered questions

Amazon gives buyers and potential buyers an opportunity to ask questions on each product detail page. It’s under the “Customer Questions & Answers” section toward the lower part of the page.

In some cases, the questions posed will be answered by existing customers, who already have experience with your product. In other cases, you’ll provide the answers. Either way, periodically check for new questions on your pages and proactively answer them.

Related: How To Win in Today’s Amazon World

4. Negative reviews

The review score for each of your products should be the consumers’ honest reflection of the product’s quality, usefulness, packaging and overall gratification. Obviously, the higher your score, the better. This is why it’s key to pay attention to negative reviews and take action where appropriate.

Think about negative reviews in three ways:

  1. As an opportunity to get valuable feedback on your products directly from cus­tomers so you can learn from them and improve.
  2. As an avenue to provide customer service whenever your product, packaging, or documentation has fallen short. You can offer to fix the problem in a way that is visible to other customers.
  3. As a chance to spot when a customer may have received a counterfeit product. If you determine this is the case, you can report the situation to Amazon (to cut off the supply of counterfeits going forward) and publicly offer to replace the coun­terfeit product with a genuine one (which should earn you some goodwill with your customers).

Countering negative reviews in one of these ways will help you maximize the selling potential of each listing.

5. Duplicate listings

Amazon’s system works by assigning a single ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number, a 10-character alphanumeric code used for product identification) per unique product on their marketplace. It creates a poor experience for the customer if the same item is accidentally listed twice under two different ASINs. Someone in your organization may have listed it again, or perhaps it was one of your distributors.

If the additional ASIN is causing a duplicate product listing, you should delete it. This is simple if your company created both listings. Another option is to merge the duplicate product detail pages. If someone outside your team created the duplicate listing and you’re the brand owner, you can report the offending duplicate as a violation with Amazon Seller Support. You can merge, delete or report duplicate violations through the Help menu in Amazon Seller Central.

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2 Quick Steps to Getting Started as an Amazon Seller

Once you’ve decided to begin selling your products on Amazon, you can jump in pretty quickly by following these two steps.

6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

There are many reasons to begin selling your brand’s products on Amazon, from the millions of active customers on the Amazon worldwide marketplace to the extremely high conversion rates many businesses experience. If you have a new brand, you can start selling on Ama­zon quickly without the need for a stand-alone website.

Amazon offers two Selling Plans to get you started. The Individual Selling Plan carries a fee of $0.99 per item sold (plus other fees, which vary by category), and the Professional Selling Plan has a subscription fee of $39.99 per month plus other selling fees.

Those other fees include referral fees (usually taken as a percentage of revenue from products sold, which varies based on the product category and may carry a minimum fee of $1), and for sellers who let Amazon handle product warehousing and shipping for them, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) fees. These include such fees as order picking and packing, shipping cost, packing boxes or envelopes, inner “cushion” packaging, and monthly storage fees.

Not all selling categories are open to Individual Sellers (e.g., fine jewelry, personal computers, and professional services). In addition, the use of feeds, spreadsheets, and other tools to load inventory are only available to Professional Sellers.

Related: 3 Keys to Achieving Brand Success on Amazon

If you plan on selling more than 40 items a month, want to sell your products in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (rather than simply one of the three), or offer special promotions and a gift wrap option for your products, then go with the Professional Selling Plan.

Once you’ve decided on a Selling Plan, it’s time to open your Amazon selling account. To open an Amazon selling account (of either type), simply register for the account of your choice by clicking on the “Sell as a Professional” or “Sell as an Individual” button on the Amazon Services site (

After you sign up, you’ll be asked to complete a two-step login verification process. Once that concludes, you’ll officially have an Amazon Seller Central account. Now let’s walk through the basics of what you can expect with that account.

Amazon seller central

Amazon Seller Central is where you’ll spend much of your time as a seller; it’s also where you’ll find the tools you need to manage your inventory on the Amazon marketplace. This is where you’ll create listings, manage orders, correspond with buyers, get feedback from Amazon about your performance, run reports, set up Sponsored Products campaigns, and more.

Once you’re in Seller Central, you might want to use the Settings menu/User Permissions to add more users from your company if you have other employees who will be working on your Amazon account. By adding users, you can give them access to Seller Central and customize their permissions so they’ll have the appropriate system rights for their role at your company.

If you’d like to learn more about Seller Central and selling on Amazon in general, and you prefer a more formal learning process, open an additional tab in your browser and go to the Amazon Seller University: Seller University (a curriculum of instructional videos designed to help you master the Amazon marketplace), available to users within Seller Central, will help teach you the details of selling on Amazon, tools and policies for sellers, and the products and services that can help you grow. These instructional videos and PDF learning documents are very thorough. I highly recommend you and the other members of your team dive in and explore!

Related: 2 Quick Steps to Getting Started as an Amazon Seller

Amazon brand registry

There’s one final step that’s key to controlling your brand’s content on Amazon, and I strongly recommend any brand owner with a registered trademark enable it in the “getting started” section of Seller Central: signing up for the Amazon Brand Registry program.

According to Amazon, Brand Registry helps protect your brand’s intellectual property and create an accurate and trusted experience for customers on Amazon. With Amazon Brand Registry, you can have your trademarked brand’s Amazon product detail page content locked down so only one marketplace seller (i.e., you or someone who works for you) can alter it.

If you don’t register your brand, you can still submit updated or enhanced product content (including images); you’ll just have to contact Seller Support for each individual product and have Amazon make the changes for you.

In addition, Amazon says your enrollment in the program gives you access to text and image search tools, predictive automation from your reports of possible intellectual property rights violations, and increased authority (and therefore control) over product listings with your brand name. Finally, Amazon Brand Registry can give you access to Enhanced Brand Content, Amazon Stores, and Sponsored Brands, which all allow you to share your brand’s unique story and educate consumers about your products.

If you don’t take control, resellers (authorized, unauthorized, or both) will set up product listings for your products, and they, not you, will determine how your brand promises are communicated to Amazon customers. A reseller will never represent your brand exactly as you would. And because Amazon product page listings often get highly ranked on Google, it’s common for many of those listings to show up higher on the Google search results page than a brand’s own organic listings.

Once you’ve locked down your trademarked brands through the Brand Registry program, you can remain responsible for content maintenance or align with a reseller to create and maintain thorough and accurate product listings for your brand.

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3 Keys to Achieving Brand Success on Amazon

Discover why branded businesses are more successful on Amazon and what you can do to create a stronger brand.

5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The following excerpt is from Timothy P. Seward’s book Ultimate Guide to Amazon Advertising. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound

When considering Amazon’s scope, one critical fact is hidden from the average consumer: Amazon only makes about half their sales as a first-party retailer. As of Q3, 2018, 53 percent of all paid units on the site were sold by third-party marketplace sellers.

So Amazon takes half the deck and then splits the other half among roughly 2 million sellers competing in their marketplace. If you want to know how to get a piece of either deck, you should understand how the infrastructure for selling on or to Amazon caters primarily to brand owners.

Stacking your deck

The first step toward stacking the revenue growth deck in your favor is to realize that consumers are loyal to brands, not retailers or sellers. Resellers make one-off sales. Brands can create loyal customers. So you’re already one step ahead if your company owns one or more brands.

If you are a reseller of products in a specific category, why not begin the journey toward building your own brand?

In our hometown of Raleigh, North Carolina, the month of May kicks off the summer concert season. There are so many bands and artists to see. The energy and excitement that comes from hearing your favorite music performed live by the original artist while you’re surrounded by friends and neighbors is almost indescribable.

But for every top performer who is hugely successful at what they do (and rich because of it), there are thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of musicians who are struggling, pounding the pavement, and working gigs at small clubs hoping to hit it big.

The same is true in business generally and brand commerce specifically. For every Apple, Staples, Amazon, and Macy’s, there are thousands more companies that are just doing OK.

As you consider how best to build your brand on Amazon, think broadly about your game plan for optimal success. Here are a few key strategies to help you focus your efforts on finding even greater success in commerce — whether you’re celebrating your fifth year in business or your 50th.

Related: How To Win in Today’s Amazon World

Key 1: You understand the mind of the buyer

You sell products and services where you keenly understand the mind of the buyer. The more you understand the buyer — their needs or desires, what they’re willing to pay good money for, why they buy — the easier it will be to make great decisions. If you don’t know what they want, then survey them until you do.

At ROI Revolution, we’re always asking questions to better serve our clients, and you should do the same. We ask questions like:

  • Would you recommend us to your friends and colleagues?
  • What about your business keeps you awake at night?
  • What was the specific pain you wanted to address just before you hired us?
  • What enabled you to eventually trust us?
  • What other marketing services do you need or want?

Think of questions to ask customers or potential customers so you can better address their needs and wants.

Key 2: You’re doing something you have intense enthusiasm for

Have you ever studied the tour calendar for a major band or artist? Lubbock, Texas; Dallas, Texas; Lafayette, Louisiana; St. Louis, Missouri; Noblesville, Indiana; on and on it goes as they crisscross the country in their tour buses and big rigs. Night after night, it’s the same performance, the same songs, again and again and again.

But when your favorite band comes to play, even if it’s the 37th stop of the tour for the artist, for the audience, it’s magic. It’s as if they came to play just for you and your friends. How do they stay fresh?

In two words: intense enthusiasm. A talented artist bemoans the end of the tour. Make sure you’re doing or selling something for which you have, or can develop, an intense enthusiasm for. And if you’ve already created success but lose enthusiasm for your work, the success soon leaves you.

For your brand, develop and market products you truly believe in and are excited about.

Related: Advertising Is Growing Amazon’s Business, So Let Amazon Help Grow Yours Too

Key 3: You build and promote your own brand

Virtually every artist starts out performing covers of other artists’ songs in small clubs. However, name one major band or artist who makes performing other bands’ popular songs their core repertoire. You can’t. Sure, most artists perform some songs by other bands, but it’s not their whole act.

The same rule applies to products. It’s fine if you start off selling other companies’ products, but focus on getting to the point where you’re selling your own trademark-protected products (i.e., under your own brand or label).

A well-designed Amazon brand strategy does three things:

  1. It controls pricing and product distribution (because if you sell products to dis­tributors, you’ll likely find some or all of them on Amazon, even if you don’t deal with Amazon directly).
  2. It enhances product listings so your brand is well-represented and consumers are fully informed of what your brand offers.
  3. It accelerates sales (on and off Amazon) with advertising.

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