Amazon is a complete ecosystem. If you do only one part, there’s no way you can be successful.
For example, you can invest in advertising your products on Amazon, but if you haven’t already optimized the content, you have a much smaller chance of getting the conversion.
There are plenty of aspects of selling on Amazon that may seem like they’re ‘optional’, but missing them out massively decreases your chances, no matter how much money you put into advertising – from the set-up of your team, to the number of bullet points in your listings.
Advertising and promotions are what will really help your products fly off the shelves, but before you set up your campaigns, you should make sure you’re advertising-ready.
The Right Strategy
You always have to have a strategy for Amazon. If you don’t have a strategy, Amazon will have one for you – and you don’t want that.
You can start by deciding which country(ies) it’s best to sell and advertise a particular product in. It might be a no-brainer – it might be your own home nation.
But different countries offer different market opportunities – and Amazon makes it easier than ever to set up international sales and ad campaigns. So think carefully about what market your product fits. Toilet training products for toddlers, for example, tend to sell really well in the US. We know UK manufacturers of potty products that have benefited greatly from a secondary launch in America.
There has been loads written about the differences between them, and the pros and cons of each.
In terms of advertising, the difference will come from you owning your brand or not – and having it registered. Vendors are opened only to brand owners, and if you are on the Seller side, the advertising options will be the same on both options.
One difference though in Europe: sponsored display ads are only available to Vendors, not yet to Sellers, but should be made available soon (the sponsored products ASIN targeting anyway offers a similar approach).
The next thing to consider is the price. Pricing is a much more complex business than people who have never done it believe.
You have to consider your target audience – are you aiming for bargain-hunters, or big spenders? Do your prices use ‘magic numbers’ to make them simpler and more attractive? And how do your prices compare with your competitors’? If the price isn’t right, people won’t buy the product being advertised to them.
Finally, you need to think about the product itself. Simply put, the most profitable goods on Amazon are fairly small but not cheap. Things in the fast-moving consumer goods category – a classic example is tech-type products such as headphones. These will work best with the basic sponsorship and promotion options.
For other types of product – clothing, groceries, home decorating, etc. – Amazon offers new ways to promote and sell them. Groceries, for example, can be sold on the special program Amazon Pantry, or launched with samples as part of the new sampling program. These programs are only available to Vendors – so you need to factor them into your strategy.
The Right Operations
After strategising, you need to organise your operations.
Your internal team should come first. Managing Amazon can be very time-consuming and demanding of brain power – managing Amazon ad campaigns can be another job entirely. So everyone involved should have a clear idea of what their job is, and how much time it should take. It’s almost certain that some training will be needed.
Plenty of brands selling on Amazon outsource parts of the operation to agencies – from the initial training needs, to content uploading and SEO, stock management, warehousing facilities, and advertising. There is lots of software available too, for pricing, paperwork automation and more.
It’s good to have an idea from the start of what parts you might like to outsource, and what tools you might need.
Be mindful that if your advertising works, you’ll have more work to do. You need to make sure your teams, processes and stock are ready for a potentially large increase in demand.
The Right Content
The content might seem like the easy bit, especially if you’ve been in business for a while and have good marketing copy. But successful content on Amazon follows a fairly strict formula, and if customers don’t see it the way they expect to see it, it makes the sell that much harder – regardless of how much money you put into advertising it.
In fact, if you are advertising a product that doesn’t follow the formula, people are even less likely to click on it, and more likely to actively mistrust your brand.
Good Amazon content means having several images, videos and gifs; it means a certain character count in the headline, including keywords; it means five bullet points under the headline clearly outlining the benefits of your products to customers; and it often means A+ content in the description. Good content leads to conversion.
But first, customers have to find it – which means decent keyword research, which takes time. A good range of long and short keywords incorporated well into the text – using correct grammar – will make advertising so much more effective.
The Right Traffic
Now all that stuff is sorted, you can get started with driving traffic to your content. There is no way around it – the quickest and most cost-effective way to get success on Amazon is to advertise.
You’ll be familiar with Sponsored Products on Amazon – they’re at the top of the search results, with the word ‘Sponsored’ above the headline. They’re pay-per-click, and it almost goes without saying they make your products and brand much more visible.
You can start with automatic Sponsored Product campaigns; with these, Amazon chooses your audience based on customer searches and your product information. This will allow you to test it out, check your keywords, find new keywords, and improve your listings.
Then you can move to manual Sponsored Products, in which you choose your own keyword options. You can start at the category or sub-category level, and refine the campaign. It’s more time-consuming than the automatic option, but you have more control. For the best results, you can use both automatic and manual.
There are more sophisticated types of advertising. A big growth area for Amazon at the moment is its DSP (Demand-Side Platform), which allows you to programmatically buy display and video ads, targeted to Amazon audiences both on and off Amazon.
There are some free methods of promotion as well. Amazon has recently improved its Brand Stores offering: it allows a brand to group their products together in one page with a unique URL, with shoppable images featuring more than one product.
Amazon needs to be thought of as a whole, complete ecosystem. If you plan it well, and accept from the start that advertising is crucial, you’re more likely to succeed – but it works the other way too; you need to ensure your strategy, teams, operations and content are ready for advertising.
About the author
Jérôme de Guigné is the founder and Managing Director of e-Comas – eCommerce Made Simple. He’s an e-commerce expert with 20 years’ experience in brand management and distribution.
He and his team of experts work with major multinational brands to develop strong Amazon strategies, coaching their management and operations teams to carry them to success, and improving their agility in tackling the everyday challenges.