Amazon’s competition among sellers continues to get increasingly fierce as time goes on and the platform grows in popularity. This past holiday season (2016), Amazon shipped 50 percent more items than the previous season for third-party vendors and doubled the amount of items shipping for 2016 overall. This information comes as no surprise, considering that more than half of U.S. online consumers begin their product searches on Amazon.
The platform has become more than a simple marketplace—it has transformed into a product search engine rival Google or Bing. It has its own “version” of search engine optimization (SEO), which many refer to as Amazon’s SEO, that can be comparable to Google’s SEO in some factors. Additionally, like other search engines, it is becoming more and more difficult to rank for top product-related searches.
Therefore, if you want to be a successful Amazon seller, you must be on top of all Amazon marketing best practices to win over the competition. Otherwise, your product will end up buried in search results, and you’ll lose revenue to your competitors. Get started with these 30 Amazon marketing hacks!
Product Listing Optimizations
Optimize product titles.
Product titles are one of the most important elements in an Amazon listing. It will not only help you rank for product-related searches, but it will also help increase CTRs. In other words, if your product titles are optimized, more people are going to click on your listing instead of your competitor’s, and Amazon will rank you higher.
Amazon recommends including all the following attributes in your titles: brand and description, product line, material or key ingredient, color, size, and quantity. The key to optimizing product titles is to include important keywords at the beginning of the title. In this way, you’ll prevent vital keywords from being cut off on small displays like mobile devices.
Also, don’t over-stuff your title with keywords. Titles should be 200 characters or less. Take the product listing below as a good example of an effective title.
Use compelling product descriptions and bullet points.
After your title catches the user’s attention and they click through to your product, you need to convince the user that your listing is better than the rest. Compelling bullet points and descriptions can help you get the job done.
Use a combination of answers to anticipated objections, additional product features, and benefits. Using this key mix, you’ll be able to differentiate your listing from the competition. If your product is virtually identical to another one, but yours was more successful at answering the user’s questions, he or she will have more confidence in your product and more likely choose yours. Also, add keywords related to your product but do so in a legible manner.
Tell descriptions like a story.
In the description, provide more compelling reasons to buy your product. Ideally, enter your description as a story. Provide readers vivid examples of how they can use your products to improve their life. Focus on benefits instead of features. Also, add a call to action such as “order now” at the end of your description to encourage readers to take action. Finally, create urgency by mentioning that products are selling out fast or there are only a few products available.
Use keywords on the backend.
Similar to Google’s SEO, using the right keywords in your search terms will enable Amazon to know which searches should retrieve your listings. These keywords are not visible to the public, so they don’t have to be entered in a “salesy” way; they just have to be strategically chosen. Since space is limited, the key is to use entire fields as effectively as possible. Follow these rules:
Use the entire field. Instead of in-ear headphones, use a longer-tail keyword, such as in-ear Bluetooth headphones sports.
Don’t use filler words such as “for,” “by,” “a.”
Don’t repeat the same words. It’s unnecessary. Instead of adding “blue shoes, yellow shoes, red shoes,” you would add “blue shoes, yellow (on a separate line), red (on a separate line).
Put simply, a canonical URL is the URL you want visitors to see, and it’s the main URL linked to a specific page. By including your main target keywords in your canonical URL, you’ll increase your chances of improving your ranking on Google and Amazon. See an example of an optimized canonical URL highlighted below:
To get this done, only put your main keywords in the back end; don’t include other less important keywords such as your brand. After getting the canonical URL, you’ll be able to add more keywords.
Choose product categories wisely.
This tip only applies to private label products. Products already registered in Amazon with the same UPC or brand will automatically be placed in a product category. Start by researching what categories have your type of products. Then, choose the product category with the least competition but best potential exposure.
Have a flexible pricing strategy.
One of the most competitive ranking factors in Amazon is pricing. Having a responsive pricing strategy that allows you to change prices quickly and remain competitive is key to increasing exposure and sales.
You can opt for having a manual, rule-based, or algorithmic pricing strategy. Choose the one that best fits your business’s stage. For example, if you have many SKUs, an algorithmic pricing strategy may be the best option since it will allow you to change multiple prices fast without extensive manual labor.
Use precise values.
Consumers are used to seeing marketing prices ending in $.99, which creates the perception that the price is more like a sales strategy than an actual price. Thus, when having a sale on a product ending on $.99, it can be perceived as less of a deal than seeing a sale on a precise value.
To solve this issue, simply experiment using numbers that don’t end in $0.99. It provides more perceived value in comparison to a sales price. See the comparison below between a precise value product sales vs. a more “salesy” pricing deal ending in $.99:
Finding New Potential Products to Sell
This hack only works if you can find the same product at a more affordable price. Basically, you just need to find a successful best-selling product, locate its ASIN, and find out if you can sell the same item for less. This process entails contacting the same manufacturer to get a quote.
Then, you’ll have to add up all the additional expenses, such as FBA or personal shipping fees to the price estimate. If you can sell it for considerably less than the best seller for the same ASIN, then you may have a good product to sell. However, if the price difference is nominal, it may not be worth the effort because the existing competitor may just modify their price.
Find opportunities on Amazon.
This is the more traditional way of finding a good potential product to sell. Start by browsing categories that do not need permission to sell. Then, find a product that meets all the following requirements:
Best-selling rank of under 5,000—this helps to make sure the product is in demand
Less than 50 reviews—higher numbers of reviews can make it tougher to compete
Not fragile—to prevent breakage while shipping
Less than 2 lbs.—ideal to prevent additional FBA storing and shipping fees
Top 3 keywords have 100,000 or more searches per month—to ensure people are searching for such product
Once you find a product or products that meet these requirements, make sure that the product can be made for 25% or less of the selling price. This is not a definite percentage, but it will give you enough room to allocate product-related fees.
Build your own mini photography studio.
There’s no need to buy expensive equipment to take professional-looking photos. If you’re working with a low budget, try using a portable studio kit to increase the quality of your photos. It can cost you less than $200 to get the complete kit with lights and the white background required to fulfill Amazon’s image requirements.
If you don’t own a professional camera, try using your smartphone with a tripod to prevent any blurriness from sudden motions.
Use visual tools to avoid confusions.
Product images can sometimes be misleading by making the product appear bigger or smaller than it actually is. This can create customer confusion and ordering issues when it doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations.
Visual aiding tools like silhouettes can help potential customers visualize your products and avoid confusions. Alternatively, use measuring units next to your products to show the exact dimensions of your items. Any of these tools will be useful in reducing return rates.
Outsource photo editing to save money and meet Amazon’s standards.
Amazon has specific image editing requirements that might be tough to fulfill in a short period of time and limited resources. To scale your whole workflow, you can send your product images to an outsourcing company to be edited for less than a dollar per image.
Choose one that is familiar with Amazon image requirements so you don’t have to know the requirements yourself. It’s best to send a small batch of images for editing initially so you can evaluate the work before sending all your photos.
Select the right type of ad.
This tip mostly applies to vendors since they have more advertising options to choose from than third-party sellers. In case you’re not familiar with all Amazon marketing options, there are three main ad formats: Amazon Sponsored Products Ads, Amazon Headline Search Ads, and Amazon Product Ads (a.k.a. “Product Display Ads”). Vendors can choose any of these formats and third-party sellers can only use Amazon Sponsored Product ads.
Ideally, you’ll want to test different ad formats to find which produces the most results. Another way you can choose a good fit is by analyzing your current listing position. For example, if you don’t have the buy box, product display ads may be the best option since they’re displayed in competitor’s product detail pages.
Ensure your target keywords are in the product listing.
Similar to Google AdWords, Amazon won’t show your ads if it believes they are not relevant to your target keywords. Ensure your target keywords are in the copy of your product listings to let Amazon know your products are relevant to the ads.
Set different bids according to performance.
Having your Advertising Cost of Sale or ACoS in mind, set different bids according to profitability. Underperforming products should have lower bids than well-performing ones. Also, jumpstart new keywords with higher bids to get search history.
Opt for manual, but test with automatic targeting.
Create automatic targeting campaigns to test the market and find out what search terms people are using to find products like yours. Analyze the search terms result you get and add the ones with most potential to your manual targeting campaigns.
Use sticker products for FBA.
If you choose to sell with FBA and send stickerless products to an Amazon facility, they will commingle (or mix) your items together with the same type of products from different sellers. This means that if you sell an item in your store, Amazon can fulfill that order with any stickerless item in the same category, regardless if it’s yours or not.
As you can imagine, this can represent various issues such as being commingled with other competitor’s counterfeit or damaged inventory. To prevent mix-ups and avoid bad reviews, simply add stickers to your products or have Amazon do it for you for a small fee.
Repackage unsellable customer returns.
By default, Amazon repackages customer returns for FBA sellers. Therefore, if a returned item is resold, it may be shipped in packaging different to the original. This can create customer complaints if the person considers the difference in packaging as being sold a damaged or counterfeit product. To avoid customer returns, make sure to modify this feature to handle repackaging yourself.
Use tools to manage feedback.
Feedback management software like Feedback Five can help you increase the amount of feedback you get on product listings and help increase your overall organization.
Consider your own shipping plan.
If you don’t tell Amazon where to send and store your products, Amazon can ship it to different fulfillment centers, costing you additional shipping fees. Luckily, you can create a personalized shipping plan.
Consider all the additional expenses related to selling your products. There are FBA or personal fulfillment costs, advertising cost of sale, or ACoS if you advertise on Amazon’s platform, and maybe other tool-related expenses. These numbers have to be clearly defined and organized to make sure you can be profitable at all times.
Getting the Buy Box
Improve your seller performance.
Improve your seller performance to increase your chances of getting the buy box. Factors involved in the seller performance metric are the following: Order Defect Rate (ODR), pre-fulfilment cancel rate, and late shipment rate. The minimum requirements you need are an order defect rate of less than 1%, pre-fulfilment cancel rate (Canceled Orders)/(Total Orders): < 2.5%, and late shipment rate less than 4%.
Have a good-sized inventory.
Amazon wants to make sure you have enough inventory to fulfill orders if you were to win the buy box. Therefore, having a decent inventory size can help you win the buy box.
Offer faster shipping options.
Sellers that can offer fast shipping options are preferred for the buy box. Thus, consider FBA or seller-fulfilled prime. FBA may be your best bet, although not guaranteed.
Improve your seller’s customer feedback.
Customer feedback is one of the most important metrics Amazon considers when selecting a buy box winner. Good feedback will help you win the buy box and encourage more customers to buy from you rather than buying from your competitors. Use the following tips to increase positive feedback:
Send timely feedback requests.
Address bad reviews by fixing any issues.
Ask Amazon to remove bad feedback that’s not your responsibility. E.g.: getting bad feedback from late shipment and having FBA.
Confirm keyword rankings.
Checking your keyword rankings will help you ensure your listings are set up properly, or, alternatively, help you find any issues. Simply, type your ASIN and the keyword you’re trying to rank for in the Amazon search box. If your product shows up, you’re ranking for that keyword. If your product doesn’t show up, you’re not ranking for it, and you’ll need to make changes.
Get the Best Seller Badge.
To increase your chances of getting the best seller badge, place your product listings in the least competitive but relevant category to your products.
Analyze and optimize your performance.
Schedule performance reports and analyze them periodically. You may not be able to see results right away, but be patient and make optimizations as necessary.
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Ronald Dod is the Chief Marketing Officer and Co-founder of Visiture, an end-to-end eCommerce marketing agency focused on helping online merchants acquire more customers through the use of search engines, social media platforms, marketplaces, and their online storefronts. His passion is helping leading brands use data to make more effective decisions in order to drive new traffic and conversions.
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