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Croud Academy Live: Four steps to Amazon success7 min read

7 min read

This article is part of our Croud Academy Live series.

Being successful on Amazon comes from optimising the different owned, paid and earned components in a really integrated way. Optimising each individual component well and understanding the feedback loop that exists between them is key. An integrated approach drives more sales and those sales feed Amazon’s algorithms. It’s that momentum that gives you the edge.

In our recent Croud Academy session, which you can watch in full here, we talked about four steps that are really important on your journey to success on Amazon. The Amazon ecosystem continues to evolve and become more complex and competitive. The model we used in that session is designed to group some of the most fundamental areas of optimisation together in a simple way under the headings of being… Available, Visible, Engaging & Competitive. Here’s a quick overview below but please head over to the webinar or get in touch if you have any questions…

1. Be available

Amazon has an incredible stranglehold on ecommerce. Much of this is down to the irresistible force it creates by finely balancing a huge level of opportunity with a fear of missing out and the risk that comes from not being there. 

The lure of opportunity is strong. Sellers, Vendors and even non-endemic advertisers get access to huge audiences of high-intent, brand in-different consumers. If you can engage and win over these consumers with your brand, products and advertising, you can also expect incredible levels of repeatability driven by prime subscriptions.

If you choose not to be there, customers who are searching for you on Amazon will be greeted by competitor products and ads. It’s also possible your products will be available through third-party sellers anyway. In this scenario, you must trust those sellers to manage your product content as they will be controlling the brand and customer experience on Amazon. It can start to feel like too much of a gamble.

We should also never underestimate the impact an optimised Amazon presence can have on sales being recorded in other channels – nearly 80% of all ecommerce sales include at least one Amazon interaction. Amazon product information, content and reviews are like the glue that bond other channel touchpoints together.

2. Be visible

Visibility of your products and brand are essential to success. Optimising for Amazon algorithms should be seen as the baseline for organic search performance and we must remember that shoppers’ expectations often go beyond these when it comes to multimedia, product information, rich content and reviews. 

Sponsored placements now dominate Amazon search results pages and as a result, advertising has become an essential part of winning. This is evidenced by the strong ROAS we see and fact that so many advertisers are planning to increase Amazon ad investment again this year.

The self-serve Amazon ad proposition has developed significantly over the last 2 years and is no longer just a lower-funnel tactic. It’s possible to meet consumers at a variety of different moments across different devices with search, display and video formats. Amazon’s rich data makes it a powerful way to reach users in a highly targeted way both on and off Amazon.

3. Be engaging

Not everyone thinks of Amazon as a good environment for rich brand and product content. However, the opportunities for more engaging content are growing all the time. Optimised product imagery, video and A+ content are key to driving conversion rates and with Amazon Stores starting to play a bigger role in the typical Amazon shopper journey, we can build a brand, encourage same-session basket building and boost repeatability. 

Building effective, engaging content in these places leads to incremental sales and this is increasingly measurable. Amazon are keen to reassure brands that it can help them to reinforce brand messages and build lasting relationships with customers.

4. Be competitive

It’s no longer enough to just turn up and expect results on Amazon. This is particularly true for those key seasonal and promotional peaks – we must now prepare meticulously and flex in real-time to beat the competition.

Amazon advertising is now highly competitive and costs are rising. The brands that will win in the long term are those that understand the true value of the customer and are therefore able to compete more aggressively for premium ad placements at the top of the auction. If we understand and optimise the levers that feed into a growth mindset it helps us to futureproof our strategy. 

The availability of LTV data and metrics has improved and it is now possible to bring them together in a way that is actionable. If you’re interested in finding out more about this then we’d love to connect you with our Amazon specialists.

Q&A

What impact have you seen so far as a result of everything going on with the pandemic? 

The impact so far has been quite interesting. For those with established Amazon channels already it’s been about watching the situation closely. In some markets, fulfilment centres have closed and others have been deprioritizing ‘non-essential’ items. This is to ensure Amazon has the maximum capacity for faster-moving items and slower-moving items are not taking up valuable space.

If you are an FBA seller or a vendor and your products are classified as ‘non-essential’ it’s creating a worrying slow down even before we consider the impact of lower consumer confidence generally. If you are not fulfilling orders via Amazon warehouses this should create a short term advantage in relevant categories. However, there were some issues at the start of the lockdown with Amazon’s buybox algorithm still favouring FBA products which understandably frustrated those using other fulfilment methods. Amazon has made a change now to correct this so we are watching with interest.

For those who are not currently selling on Amazon or those who are there but have never seen it as a key channel, we have seen a bit of urgency to get optimised. It’s clear that some are now prioritising Amazon as a good option to offset the impact of lower sales in other channels and as an alternative fulfilment route.

Are we able to launch new products and brands on Amazon at the moment?

This has to be taken on a case by case basis. There are tighter restrictions in some markets. In theory, as long as products don’t fall into the non-essential classification, then you could press ahead. Even if they are classified as non-essential, there are some things you can still be doing so you can hit the ground running when restrictions are loosened. Be aware that lead times at Amazon and support services are slower right now which is impacting the speed at which things can move.

If you have a client who would like to run their products on Amazon, would Amazon promote these via their Google PPC too?

Amazon does invest significant amounts in PPC on Google. We have actually heard recently they have pulled back a little to protect capacity due to COVID19. It’s really difficult for us to know when Amazon will choose to push PPC for a product or category so it’s difficult to factor this into planning. There are some tools and data sets we can use to monitor this activity though and also some interesting ways to factor this into our ongoing optimisations.

When it comes to owned media, does Amazon provide much guidance on the production of content? i.e. does and don’ts etc?

There are many third-party resources that speculate on Amazon SEO direct and indirect ranking factors. The main ones are fairly well known but like Google, the actual algorithm is always a closely guarded thing. Amazon themselves do provide some guidance on best practices in regard to product page style guides and more top-level recommendations on text match and back-end search words. In terms of rich content like A+ and Stores, there are some Amazon resources and examples but we tend to apply our own best practices here. It’s possible to continuously test and learn with different experiments and analytics. Please get in touch if you would like us to point to you towards any of those resources mentioned.