How often have you been to a grocery store, Walgreens, or Target looking for supplements? Say it’s cold and flu season and you want to find vitamin C with Zinc to boost you and your family’s immune system. The supplement category in any of these retail chains has a vast amount of options but, depending on who you are, you probably aren’t going to look at every single vitamin they carry to seek out the ingredients and benefits. That would take hours and honestly, who has time for that?
More than likely, you will choose a bottle that is eye level with you. Why? Because supplements that are showcased on that particular real estate are easy to find and usually are best sellers. This isn’t an accident. Supplement companies often bid for certain spaces on shelves to ensure they are found more easily. Nobody wants to bend all the way down nor get up on their tiptoes to search for what they are looking for.
This is the same reason that the best selling products on Amazon are among the first 3 pages of a certain SERP. Much like crouching down or not being able to reach the top shelf at a brick-and-mortar store, Amazon users don’t want to have to shuffle through dozens of pages to find what they are looking for. Customers want convenience. And just like in real-life stores where the highest selling products obtain the best placement, so do the products on Amazon.
But as any Amazon seller can attest to, achieving real-estate on the first pages of your targeted keyword is incredibly hard to accomplish. It requires effective PPC reach, sales, and great reviews to rank on page 1.
In the past, the utilization of Amazon’s sponsored ad program seemed to be the best way for newcomers with no established sales volume or ranking to show up on the first page of their targeted keywords. Through PPC, sellers could start converting sales, collecting reviews, and thus begin ranking. However, with the staggering pricing of PPC in recent years (combined with an inundation of ads and competitors filling up Amazon’s catalog, sellers are finding it harder to achieve improvement via just using PPC.
In recent months, PPC has increased (on average) to $1.20 per click. This is an uptick of 30% from $0.93 at the start of 2021 and up over 50%, year-over-year. Demand for advertising and coveted placements is rising faster than the ad availability on the platform, creating an inundation of advertisements and driving up advertising prices.
According to this article by Marketplace Pulse, the average cost-per-click (CPC) was $0.85 in 2020. It reached the lowest point of $0.70 in early May of 2020 when COVID caused supply chain disruptions, making inventory availability impossible for many retailers which caused them to pause running ads. Rounding into Q1 of 2021, the average cost per click exceeded $0.90.
The average ACoS for most retailers in 2020 hovered around 22%, rising to 25% in the first 2 quarters of 2021. The average advertising cost of sale (ACoS) was 22% in 2020. It has now risen upward of 30%., not taking into account brand new sellers whose ACoS typically is significantly higher due to low sales and reviews.
To make matters worse for SMBs, larger players with deeper pockets have started taking over the ever-popular marketplace, bringing with them insatiable advertising spends. As a result, they can afford to compete for more ad space AND afford higher bids.
The Surge of Aggregators has Influenced Ad Spend
With the recent surge of M&As and aggregators buying up hundreds of third-party stores, there is little doubt that their existence has inadvertently driven up CPC values. According to Nozzle, “Sellers that choose to independently run their Amazon brands face massive competition from brands operating via Amazon Aggregators. These companies have huge funding which means they can scale more quickly due to increased investment in that brand.”
That funding allows acquisition firms to steamroll a lot of money directly toward ad placement, making it near impossible for individual sellers to compete for coveted ad placement. The increase of aggregators dominating the platform combined with their ability to invest exorbitant amounts of money into PPC, puts SMB’s at a disadvantage. Seeing as PPC not only helps drive sales but also drives organic rank, this new form of business acquisition has effectively widened the profit gap between individual sellers and larger-operated companies.
While you will probably always have to run PPC on your products, there are advantages to using omni channel funnels to encourage sales on the Amazon marketplace. However, you have to know what you’re doing because not implementing smart strategies can impede any progress and actually hurt your ranking. Why?
First, it’s important to remember that Amazon is an end-of-the-funnel shop. This means that people go to Amazon to look for something in particular. People come to the Amazon platform with intent to buy, even if they ultimately don’t purchase something. The average conversion rates on Amazon are very good: around 13% for regular Amazon customers and over 70% for Amazon Prime members.
In comparison, the average e-commerce conversion rate across all other mediums hovers around 3%. When you advertise your product on social media platforms, you risk the chance of not converting a sale because most users of social media aren’t in “buy now” mode. Even if they show interest in your product, many aren’t ready to purchase just yet. Say you are running ads on Pintrest and one of your videos captures a handful of potential customers. You’ve piqued their interest but not their need to purchase immediately. Interested customers might click over to your Amazon listing to see what your product is all about but the bounce back rate will be high because they are still in the “research” mode.
With conversion rate being a big part of the Amazon search algorithm, sending a lot of non-converting traffic to your listing can easily tank your search rankings, and put you worse off than when you started. CTRs that don’t convert are not what you want, so you want to ensure that by the time the customer gets to your page, they already are very knowledgeable about your product. Then use your images and persuasive sales copy to finalize the transaction.
As mentioned above regarding PPC costs, finding new ways to advertise that isn’t so expensive or so competitive is a good strategy, provided that you are doing it correctly. This is particularly true for unique, patented, or brand new products to the market. Remember: Amazon relies on buyers putting search terms to find a certain product. If you have a very unique product that people may not know about, you should spend most of your marketing focus on creating brand awareness so that potential buyers A) know that your product exists and B) know how to look for it on Amazon. Remember: you can’t look for something you don’t know exists. Thus, you have to provide knowledge about your product via compelling videos and creatives on multiple social media platforms. Then drive them to Amazon.
By utilizing channels outside of Amazon to drive traffic to your product listings, you are expanding your pool of potential customers. You are no longer just marketing to people that are currently shopping on the Amazon platform. By expanding your marketing streams, you effectively increase your pool which is great for a few reasons. 1) You are creating a wide-reach for brand-awareness and brand-building. 2) You can collect emails and information so that, if interested customers aren’t in the “buy now” mood, you can still market to them via email blasts after-the-fact. 3) You can use 2-step URLs to drive traffic to your Amazon listing that emulate a typical Search Find Buy (helping improve ranking on the embedded keywords). 4) You can split test the market to really understand who your customers are and who you should be re-targeting.
As mentioned above, selling on Amazon has become exceedingly competitive and expensive. By driving external traffic to Amazon, you gain an advantage over competitors, circumventing sponsored ads and competitors among the thousands of SERPs on Amazon.
If your goal is to utilize omni channel marketing tools to drive traffic to your Amazon store, you really want to make sure you are utilizing 2-step URL codes when doing so. 2-step (or Super) URLs add your main keyword phrase you are targeting to the link so that it emulates what would happen if a person on Amazon plugged in your keyword phrase, searched through the pages to find your listing, and then purchased your product. This method is just easier than having to have all your customers go through the process.
Utilizing the platform Rebaid is a really great way of achieving this. First and foremost, Rebaid is a discount platform, so people that go to the site are already looking to purchase. You don’t risk attracting people that aren’t in the “buy now” stage, so the conversion rate is higher on this platform than, say, Facebook or Instagram.
Customers love it because they can purchase products at a discount. Sellers love it because those exact products send the customer to their Amazon pages via a 2-step URL. This, in effect, means that 1)You have customers already ready to purchase 2)You can go after your target keywords through the 2-step URL and 3) It will increase sales on our Amazon store which will improve ranking.
Another effective way sellers thrive and survive on Amazon is with their strong, distinguishable brand; something special and/or unique that separates them from others.
However, the catch-22 here is that Amazon provides fewer opportunities to achieve brand-building and creativity on it’s actual platform due to the magnitude of sponsored ad displays, competitors, and rules that set pretty restrictive parameters.
Advertising outside Amazon allows you more creativity and the ability to capitalize on your brand’s voice. Turn memorable content into something the viewers won’t forget.
Once you’ve established the value of your brand and products, customers will become more engaged and go to Amazon strictly to find your product. It’s important to remember that buyers don’t bond with products; they bond with brands and the people selling them. So capitalize on this opportunity by really distinguishing your brand from others - something that is difficult to do on Amazon but not omni channel solutions.
Utilizing social media to bring awareness to your brand is incredibly effective (provided you do it correctly). This is efficient whether you are a newbie seller or a veteran.
Rather than depending on Amazon solely, external traffic paves the way for you to take control. By mastering the various ways to drive traffic to Amazon listings, you’ll have successful launches, boost your sales, and have a long-term relationship with your customers.
Applying the right Amazon SEO strategies and achieving sales through PPC makes sense. However, know that when the customers purchase your product on Amazon, they are not your customers. Instead, they are Amazon’s customers. It isn’t until you are able to achieve brand awareness that you can start redirecting your omni channel advertising to your own website, thus making them YOUR customers - not Amazon’s.
In order to be successful, it is vital to have a sustainable business model. You’re not just there to sell products; your goal should be to build a powerful brand that resonates with customers that hopefully will become loyal buyers. This can only be possible if you leverage external mediums.
As we all are aware, there are a million different ways you can promote your brand and products - from common sources like Facebook and Instagram to more newly-established platforms like Reddit and TikTok. Even advertising on other websites, blogs, and articles is a creative and good way to expand your reach. Just remember: aside from great use of creatives and persuasive sales copy, you need to make sure you are answering the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How for the customer:
Who is the company?
What is your product and what value does it bring to the customer?
Where can the customer purchase your product?
When is this product used? When is the best time to purchase it?
Most importantly the WHY and HOW - Why should your customer care about this product and HOW does it better his/her life?
An email list is one of the most important brand assets for an online business. Yet, you’re not able to collect emails selling only on Amazon. Amazon protects its customers’ details. Any attempt to collect your customers’ email addresses will put you in violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service.
The solution? Drive traffic to a landing page, or similarly a sales funnel first so that you still can capture leads. You can then use these emails to reach out to interested customers via newsletters or dedicated emails that highlight discounts, new products, or any exciting news about your brand and/or product
With a customer list, you have so many more possibilities to grow your brand. You can:
• run marketing campaigns
• push cross-sells and up-sells
• build long-term relationships with your customers
• launch products for much lower costs
• create newsletters to inform your clients of new products and sales
Additionally, your list gives you a fallback plan if you find yourself unable to sell on Amazon in the future. Whether because of a TOS violation, black-hat tactics from other sellers, or just a desire to have more control and sell on your own site, collecting leads is like building a community and the more you nourish that community, the more it will grow and remain loyal.
While email has long been the go-to for building customer communication, Facebook Messenger and chatbots have become effective and popular in their own right.
With much better open rates and engagement rates, Messenger is proving to be an effective marketing channel for many online stores, particularly for reaching promotions and deals. Just be uber careful not to incentivize others for reviews. While it hasn’t been officially established, there is probable evidence to suggest that Amazon can follow fake or incentivized reviews and label them unverified based on the inundation of sellers’ use of Facebook to launch their products.
Chatbots like ManyChat are also widely popular among Amazon sellers to emulate SFB and to try and offer discounts in exchange for reviews. While many merchants have found this tool to be incredibly useful (particularly during launch), people speculate that Amazon (at some point) will completely shut down reviews coming from bot systems.
The mistake many sellers do is spend so much time stalizing their marketing and sales channels, that they don’t provide their actual listing or storefront with the attention it needs. if your listing isn’t set up properly, then all your hard work is null-and-void. It’s kind of like having billboards and road signs to your shop. Sure, you can direct a lot of people TO your store, but if the inside looks like crap, nobody is going to buy anything. So, it’s a lot of time wasted.
Here are the key steps to ensure the biggest return from Off-Amazon traffic.
Before you begin building campaigns around your product, you have to ensure that your actual listing makes people want to follow-through with a purchase. External traffic doesn’t make up for a poor product listing. If your listing is a hodge-podge of keyword stuffing, unpersuasive sales copy, and poor images, nobody is going to purchase your products - no matter how great your Facebook ads looked.
Once your listing is primed to send traffic to, you need to figure out where it’s going to come from.
Not all traffic sources are created equal. They all be effective in their own right, but certain products won’t do well on certain social media platforms as others will. For example, if you sell makeup products, IG might be your best strategy for advertisement. If you sell homegoods or baby items, Pintrest might be the right market for you. If you sell supplements or clothing, maybe TikTok is the right avenue to take. In other words, know your niche and your market before you decide which platforms to advertise on.
Influencer Marketing is another powerful way to drive traffic. Find people related to your niche who already have an engaged audience, and partner with them to promote your products. Amazon even has their own program to connect brands with influencers as does TikTok.
Other channels you might want to test include:
• Google Ads (formerly AdWords)
• Blogs & Google SEO
The quality of your sales funnel is a big factor in whether you achieve significant results via the traffic you drive.
A proper funnel will:
• Qualify your traffic
• Filter out those who aren’t ready to buy
• Allow you to retarget
• Capture contact details
• (Optional) send an incentive for people to buy
For example, you can utilize Facebook messenger or a chatbot flow to achieve all of this. Your customer can click on your facebook ad which sends them through your bot (not directly to Amazon right away). Via their communication with the bot on messenger, you can capture their information on your messenger list so you can build a relationship with potential clients that can be used in the future.
As more competition joins Amazon, third-party sellers need more unique ways to achieve rank, sales, reviews, and brand recognition. This is no easy feat particularly when in 2021 alone, Amazon gained 469,000 new merchants.
Take the time to really understand the pros and cons of using different platforms for promotions and advertising. Part of this means really understanding your niche/target audience. Figure out what sites they visit often, what kind of content they respond to, what kind of ads they are more likely to click, etc. Once you’ve established this information, you can fashion your funnels around a specific strategy that is likely to work.
As the marketplace behemoth continues to grow, it’s your responsibility to come up with granular marketing strategies and streamlined funnels if you want to succeed on Amazon.