The State Of The Industry
It’s no secret that Amazon has made advertising one of its biggest focuses in 2019 and beyond. The marketplace is on track to snag 50% of the e-Commerce market share by 2021 and estimated to reach $520B in ad spend by 2023. Amazon’s new one-day Prime shipping and ongoing disruption of the digital retail space has influenced customer and industry expectations alike. As today’s shopper seeks a more convenient, cost-effective retail experience, smart brands will respond in kind.
The Customer Journey
Understanding goals and meeting shoppers wherever they are in the customer journey is key to success. With half of product searches starting on Amazon, it’s imperative that brands take a comprehensive look at their business and figure out the importance of a click on the marketplace in the context of their full digital marketing strategy. If a brand is not on Amazon, realize what benefits are at stake, from building and defending brand value to optimizing return across touch points. Best practice is to employ a solid cross-channel plan that meets consumers in their ideal platform.
Brands new to Amazon can start by comparing performance potential on the marketplace to other channels and re-allocating resources accordingly. Foster synergy throughout all platforms in order to own the customer journey. If a brand evokes interest on social, are they ready to capture demand when shoppers search products on Google and Amazon? By clearly determining overall digital advertising goals, brands can easily build congruous Amazon strategies and adjust budgets to reach the best total return.
If a brand aims to increase awareness, they can employ push marketing tactics on Facebook and Instagram, leveraging creative assets like videos to tell a story to consumers. These social channels allow brands to collect customer data to score shoppers and build lookalike audiences for targeting based on behavior and lifetime value. On Amazon, brands can create custom audiences using their marketplace data, as well as leverage Amazon’s proprietary data to identify in-market audiences and promote their brand. Working in tandem, these brand awareness campaigns can reach new customers and boost interest.
When the goal is to build customer loyalty, focus should remain on shoppers who leave reviews, make repeat purchases, and advocate for the brand — the most prominent influencers, who deserve appreciation. Brands must also manage reputation by resolving any issues with unhappy customers before they leave negative feedback. Using a mix of Facebook and Amazon advertising, keep existing consumers captivated with exclusive content in retargeting ads.
Lastly, to drive sales, it works to place ads across search, social and Amazon strategically. Brands can analyze results from these ad campaigns to assess bottom-of-the-funnel direct response tactics and compare the return on ad spend to define the ultimate digital advertising game plan.
Optimizing The Marketplace
Delving deeper into Amazon strategy, there are several primary moves to take into account. First and foremost, put a paid search strategy in place to promote listings, defend brand terms and drive traffic to product pages. By placing Sponsored Product ads and establishing a strategic keyword and bidding process, brands capture relevant queries, increase traffic and ensure higher search results. A paid plan creates a halo effect that can boost organic traffic to listings as well. Furthermore, running Sponsored Brand (or Headline Search) ads on brand terms helps to protect from competitors that may otherwise target these keywords.
From an organic perspective, a winning Amazon listing takes into account a strong title, relevant keywords, succinct prioritized bullet points, engaging product descriptions, Enhanced Brand Content for bestsellers and thorough backend optimization. Review management is another crucial element, which doesn’t just affect organic ranking, but can drastically improve conversion rates. It’s best to obtain at least 100 reviews on every product and maintain a 4-star rating or better, ensuring customer service is up to snuff to stay in good standing.
Next, product and pricing will impact margins and conversions. Consider how Amazon pricing compares to the brand’s e-Commerce site and whether to offer exclusive items on Amazon. Will resellers be able to provide the full suite of products, and is a MAP policy enforced? Brands with a registered trademark can take advantage of Amazon Brand Registry to avoid competing against resellers or other channels.
Depending on how long a brand plans to advertise on Amazon, strategy should shift. For a short-term advertising cycle on Amazon, focus on increasing visibility and conversions. If the brand plans on advertising long-term, it needs to differentiate from leading brands on Amazon, as well as private label products. Amazon uses its wealth of data to compete on commodity products with private label, so double down on a unique value proposition to cut through the noise.
Having an explicit offensive and defensive strategy in place, and knowing the goals for each, will help brands drive discoverability and accelerate their Amazon program significantly. As such, brands selling on Amazon should look to dedicate about 40% of their budget to defense — targeting keywords directly related to their brand — and about 40% to offense, which includes going after keywords the brand would like to own, including competing brands. The remaining 20% should typically be reserved for harvesting and testing.
As Amazon continues to be paramount to digital marketing success, examine margins across channels with all components factored in, balance the budget with every platform working harmoniously, and ultimately promote better business decisions across the board.
Jason Roussos is SVP of Strategy at Adlucent. He is an executive with over 20 years of experience in business development, e-Commerce, technology, B2B & startups. He thrives in a fast-paced environment where leadership, innovation and problem-solving skills are vital. As the SVP of Strategy at Adlucent, Roussos is focused on helping clients improve both revenue and profit growth through innovations in technology and marketing strategy. Roussos has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from the University of Texas. In addition, he has a Master’s of Business Administration from Arizona State University.