What’s Going On with Amazon Search Results?

Recently, Amazon search results have gotten a little wonky. What’s the deal?

Over the weekend, attentive Amazon sellers started noticing strange, extreme changes in organic rank for their products. Suddenly, products that were mainstays atop organic search results vanished. Instead of appearing in the most desirable digital real estate on Amazon, they could be found deeper in the seldom seen pages of search.

As a result, sales plummeted for many top sellers as visibility severely declined. Meanwhile, product listings that typically don’t receive much traction benefitted from taking up top spots usually held by competitors.

Destaney Wishon of BetterAMS discovered the issue early on, and made a quick and helpful explainer outlining an example of the issue with Amazon search results.

At first, the sudden change flummoxed Amazon sellers. Was Amazon continuing to crackdown on sellers generating fake reviews? Did the ranking algorithm change?

According to Amazon, it’s simply an error that’s in the process of being corrected.

We are aware some customers are having issues with search results. We are working to resolve this as quickly as possible.

Amazon Technical Support

While many Amazon sellers state things have returned to normal for them, some sellers report the glitch has not been resolved as of Tuesday. Additionally, Amazon has not released a statement indicating that the issue has been completely resolved.

As any Amazon seller will tell you, organic rank remains the holy grail for Amazon sellers. Any rise or drop will significantly impact a product’s bottom line. With this in mind, monitoring your organic or advertising rank can be vital for tracking your product’s performance.

ALWAYS know when your keywords are rising or falling within Amazon search results with Keyword Manager

Of course, we’ll continue to monitor the situation as more information becomes available.

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter to stay in the loop with all things Amazon.

Drive Sales on Amazon: Amazon Keyword Ranking Tips

Driving sales on Amazon and ranking products in the organic search results is more challenging than ever. As more people chase the Amazon gold-rush, products are flooding the market, increasing competition, and making it more difficult for a product to stand out. Is it possible that the immense opportunity that Amazon provides has disappeared… lost in the endless sea of products?

Absolutely not.

While competition continues to increase, Amazon continues to carve out a larger portion of eCommerce as a whole. Getting your product in front of your customers is an increasing challenge, but the amount of customers, and the dollars being spent, are increasing as well.

Amazon is still a limitless pool of potential, but the tactics that made people overnight millionaires back in 2015, spurring a movement of ‘gurus,’ expensive courses, and inspirational videos, are no longer effective. The ability to simply list a product on Amazon and find success diminishes with each new day… and each new product. That said, the ability to use Amazon to make money and build a successful business is still extremely viable.

Luck is not replicable. Strategy is.

It may take more time and effort to drive sales on Amazon, but if you learn how to source, launch, and rank products effectively, you’ll be able to do it again and again and again.

As a company dedicated to driving success for Amazon sellers, Viral Launch has constantly evolved to meet the demands of an ever-changing marketplace. We’ve delved into the markets, analyzed our data, tested our strategies, and are now bringing you the guide to launching and ranking products on Amazon in 2019. More than giveaways, this comprehensive strategy will walk your product from listing to first sale to success!

Table of Contents:

  • Phase 1: Advanced Keyword Research & Listing Optimization
    • Step 1: Keyword Research
    • Step 2: Review Your Competition
    • Step 3: Listing Builder
    • Step 4: Analyze Your Listing
    • Step 5: Track Your Keywords
    • Step 6: Photography
  • Phase 2: First Profitable Sales Generation
    • Step 1: Early Reviewer Program
    • Step 2: Competitive Pricing
    • Step 3: Analyzing Your Competitors
    • Step 4: Product Targeting Campaigns
    • Step 5: Amazon Auto Campaigns
    • Step 6: Discovery Campaigns
  • Phase 3: Aggressive Amazon PPC & Pricing
    • Step 1: Aggressive Pricing
    • Step 2: Aggressive PPC Campaign
  • Phase 4: Accelerating Rank With Outside Traffic Promotions
    • Option 1: Promotional Launch
    • Option 2: ManyChat Facebook Campaign
  • Conclusion

Phase 1: Advanced Keyword Research & Listing Optimization

To preface the first section of this guide, I’d like to reiterate that this article will focus on ‘launching and ranking’. For this reason, I will be skipping over the stages of product research and sourcing, beginning with listing creation.

Having said that, making intelligent sourcing decisions is a crucial first step towards success on Amazon. Because of this, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide with new strategies for Amazon product research. If you’re just starting on your Amazon journey, or are looking to expand your business, this guide has invaluable tactics to help you think tactically when making sourcing decisions.

As Amazon becomes increasingly competitive, the need for a great product at a great price becomes increasingly important.

Without further ado, Phase 1:

As Amazon has become more crowded, the importance of a product’s listing has dramatically increased. Policies regarding listing content continue to become more rigorous, and market saturation continues to limit potential visibility. Because of this, making sure your listing is strategically optimized is key to building the foundation for visibility and sales while providing valuable selling messages and quality assurance for your customers.

When writing the listing for a product, it’s important to note that this is likely the sole information that customers will read. The title needs to describe the product and lure in shoppers, the bullets need to highlight relevant features, and the description needs to provide a carefully crafted selling message. It’s a minimal amount of information but it has to be enough to tip the scales in your favor.

Even more importantly, listing content serves as the foundation for search engine optimization within the Amazon marketplace. The content used in a listing is the content that Amazon will use to determine relevance for shopper search terms. While the content of a listing may influence purchasing decisions, it will similarly determine whether or not a customer is even seeing the product.

Both sides of this equation are important. Your copy obviously needs to make sense and establish a value proposition, but in order for customers to find your product, you need to meet shoppers where they’re at by establishing a strong network of keywords.

Because Amazon is crowded, it’s unlikely that a well optimized listing alone will provide you with favorable ranking, but it does provide an absolutely crucial foundation for driving success. To use a fishing analogy, a big net will catch more fish than a small net. Simply casting the net doesn’t guarantee a catch, but if you’re in the right location, a wider net will lead to a larger haul. A well-optimized listing allows you to cast a larger net. You still need to find the consumers, but showing up in more searches allows you the opportunity to drive sales on Amazon.

Step #1: Keyword Research

When creating a listing for a new product, developing a list of important keywords is a crucial step towards ensuring well-optimized content. Finding the right keywords allows you to make sure you’re using the right keywords. While the development of your listing content may seem obvious, outlining what the product is, what features it has, what it’s made of, etc., without performing thorough keyword research, you may be missing thousands of potential shoppers who are looking for your exact type of product.

It is critical that you use the exact language your prospective customers are using when searching for your product. You may call your product a “posture corrector”, but thousands of potential buyers refer to it as a “posture brace”. Knowing the exact keywords customers are using when shopping is critical to getting your product in front of them.

For this reason, it’s highly recommended that you utilize software for this process. Your main keyword may be obvious, but understanding what other terms are relevant, how competitors are using keywords, and if there are any underutilized terms can give you an incredible competitive edge. The right keyword software will allow you to easily compile a list and maximize your potential exposure, saving you time and providing you with the best possible content. Viral Launch’s Keyword Research is an industry favorite and can make this process painless.

When looking at keywords, it’s important to look at them from three different perspectives: search volume, relevancy, and opportunity.

Search volume is going to involve purely looking at the keywords that are generating the most traffic. In other words, these are the terms searched most often by shoppers through Amazon’s search bar. These keyword markets are likely to be the most competitive, but if you’re able to drive organic keyword ranking for these terms (and you will by the end of this post 😀), you’ll likely be able to drive a large volume of sales on Amazon. Despite the fact that high volume keywords are typically accompanied by stiff competition, this is where the bulk of your audience will be shopping.

Using the example ‘white paper bags’, you can filter by Exact Search Volume in Keyword Research to see the most utilized search terms in a market.

While terms like ‘bags’ and ‘paper bags’ are keywords that would obviously be prioritized, terms like ‘goody bags’ and ‘party bags’ could have been easily missed without using a keyword tool, thus missing out on access to a large pool of customers.

You may also notice that the column titled Broad Search Volume next to the Exact Search Volume. This metric refers to searches which contain the keyword phrase (including those which don’t exclusively contain the phrase). So where the keyword ‘bags’ holds an exact search volume of 60,622 searches per month, terms like ‘party bags’, ‘diaper bags’, or ‘nylon bags’ would contribute to the broad search volume, which explains why this term receives almost 8 million broad searches per month.

It’s important to note that just because a keyword has a large search volume does not explicitly mean that you should prioritize it. A keyword also has to be relevant. For instance, the keyword ‘diaper bags’ receives over 17,000 searches per month. However, if you’re selling white paper bags, your product is going to perform horribly for this keyword. In broader context, if sellers were solely concerned with finding large search volume, regardless of product (and disregarding Amazon’s restrictions), their listings would just include terms like ‘Nintendo switch’, ‘Legos’, and ‘iPhone’. The product may show up somewhere in these search results, but it’s not going to convert because it’s not finding the right audience.

This brings us to the next point: targeting keywords based on relevancy. Keyword Research provides a relevancy score based on how related that term is to your seed keyword. With that said, you will also want to review and consider the keywords for relevance. Returning to the example of ‘white paper bags’, a keyword like ‘white paper bag with handles’ may show a high relevancy score based on your seed keyword. That said, if your product does not have handles, you probably want to avoid this keyword because the product won’t convert well. Noting the search volume related to bags with handles may be a valuable insight when making sourcing decisions, but assuming that you’re already selling this product, your keywords have to align with the product that is actually being sold.

While relevance is the second consideration for compiling a keyword list, it’s recommended that you sort by Priority Score, instead of relevancy score if you’re using Keyword Research. The priority score will sort results based on a combination of relevance and search volume. It doesn’t matter how relevant your product is for a given keyword if no one is searching for it. Considering search volume can help to ensure that you’re actually reaching shoppers. So through this metric, we’re helping you prioritize your truly important keywords.

Finally, you should analyze keywords based on Opportunity Score. The opportunity score within Keyword Research assigns a numerical value to the level of competitiveness within a keyword market. Essentially, if an opportunity score has a perfect rating of 1,000, it means that none of the products on the keyword’s page one search results are using the exact keyword in their copy’s front end. This means that, by including the exact search term within your content, you will have an advantage with regards to ranking.

Again, this has to be considered alongside search volume. It’s easy to find high opportunity keywords (severe misspellings are unlikely to be used by competitors), but it doesn’t matter if you’re on page one for a keyword that no one searches.

It may take a few extra minutes to review this section, as you’ll want to typically review the opportunity score between 750-1,000, looking for any keywords that have an exact monthly search volume of 1,000 or more. You can identify high volume keywords that also have high opportunity by using filters in keyword Research. These keywords can provide quick wins to help stimulate sales in the early stages of selling.

Step #2: Review Your Competition

Another important tactic for conducting keyword research and understanding your market involves understanding the strategy of your competitors. While there are a lot of important insights to be gained from your competition, knowing how your top competitors are positioning their product in the market can clue you into where they’re spending on advertising, where they drive sales on Amazon, and what keywords are being missed (which your listing can target for easy wins). Viral Launch’s newest tool, Competitor Intelligence, can help you review and use this data to maximize your keyword strategy.

If you’re not familiar with reverse ASIN tools, conceptually, Competitor Intelligence is a tool that can pull keyword and ranking data from a specific product to reveal insights into the performance of your competition. However, Competitor Intelligence differs from comparable tools through its use of Viral Launch’s Reverse ASIN 2.0 technology. In addition to being able to view the keywords a listing is ranking for, Reverse ASIN 2.0 makes it possible to also see relevant keywords that your competition is not ranking for!

Competitor Intelligence allows you to input your a competitor’s ASIN and review market and keyword data while comparing it to your product. Through this, you can see your competitor’s ranking for each keyword, their ad placement, and what keywords they are (and are not) indexing for. Using this information, you can review your top competition and either know how to go head to head with them, or easily drive sales on Amazon by circumventing their strategy.

If there are keywords that your top competitors are not indexed for, which have reasonable search volume, these keywords may be low hanging fruit for you to capitalize on. Additionally, there may be some surprising keywords that your competitors are ranking well for that you may want to target as well. Through Competitor Intelligence, you can easily identify keywords based on your competitor’s strategy and pull them into your keyword bank for reference, listing optimization, and tracking. Along with this, the alert system built into Competitor Intelligence can send you notifications if the ranking or strategy of your competition changes.

If you have an existing product, Competitor Intelligence allows you to measure your product against your competitors, allowing you understand any variables that can be targeted with your market strategy. It will help you to understand what keywords your competition is emphasizing, provide side by side price and review comparisons, and historical performance metrics.

If you’re utilizing Competitor Intelligence for initial keyword research (prior having a product live on Amazon), reviewing your market’s competition can help you to build a keyword framework for effectively launching your product and gaining early sales. While Keyword Research is a great starting point for understanding your market and associated search terms, Competitor Intelligence can take your research to the next level by contextualizing your opportunity in relation to your competition.

In all, Competitor Intelligence provides another tool for researching and implementing keywords. By allowing you to review the strategy of your competition, it can help to inform your tactics for efficiently driving sales as your product’s history on Amazon evolves. Early on, prioritizing quick wins may help you to drive sales on Amazon while avoiding head-to-head strategies. As you develop sales, reviews, and traction, understanding how your competitors drive sales on Amazon allows you to efficiently cut into the direct market share of your competition. Using Competitor Intelligence, in combination with Keyword Research and Listing Analyzer, you can ensure that you don’t miss a single valuable keyword.

Step #3: Listing Builder

Once you’ve conducted your research, you’ll want to use your list of keywords to build out your listing. Viral Launch makes this process easy. While you’re conducting your research, you’re able to select and migrate keywords to a bank, using the buttons at the bottom of the page.

When all of your desired keywords are added, you can click on the ‘Create Listing’ button to navigate to Listing Builder. Listing Builder will allow you to create your listing while checking off keywords from your bank. As you write, the tool will automatically cross off used words and calculate your reached search volume, while providing a quality score based on the percentage of total volume reached.

While Listing Builder will cross off words that have been utilized in your copy and automatically update your reached search volume, it’s important to note that not all content fields are created equally. Because of this, keyword priority should also be considered during listing construction. Though you will index for keywords used throughout your listing, your title will hold the most indexing ‘weight’, meaning that you will find it easier to drive keyword ranking for terms included in the title in comparison to other sections.

By utilizing the ‘Sort By’ option in Listing Builder, you’re able to arrange your bank by volume, priority, and opportunity. Priority should be your first view, ensuring that you’re reaching keywords that are relative, opportunistic, and have search volume. From there, you’ll want to review keywords with high search volume to verify that your title is covering searches which generate the largest audience of shoppers. Finally, you’ll want to review opportunity (while still keeping an eye on search volume) to make sure you’re not missing out on any potentially easy wins.

Even with all of the right keywords, by building your listing with keyword priority in mind and using your keywords in the right way, your listing will likely see additional benefit.

Additionally, if you’re already selling on Amazon and your listing is already live, you’re also able to import your current listing to see how it stacks up to your keyword list. Once you’ve got a perfectly optimized listing that will set your product up for success, simply export the copy and upload it to your Amazon listing.

Step #4: Analyze Your Listing

While establishing great listing content is achieved through thorough keyword research, it’s also advantageous to perform comparative analysis. You want to make sure that your listing looks and reads better than your competition. You also need to be aware of your listing’s strengths and weaknesses. Certain variables such as review quantity may be harder to influence, whereas other elements may be improved. If you don’t exceed your competition’s quality or quantity of photos, you might need to improve this content.

While it can be done manually, there are options to streamline this process using software, such as  Listing Analyzer. Where listing builder helps you to construct your listing content, Listing Analyzer helps you to delve deeper into validation.

If you have an existing listing, the research process can be started with Listing Analyzer and you can use its data along with Keyword Research and Competitor Intelligence to more or less work backwards to improve your listing quality. If you’re starting with a new product, Listing Analyzer can be a good reference point for ensuring the quality of your research.

This process begins by opening the Listing Analyzer page within your Viral Launch dashboard and running an analysis. This process can take up to 24 hours to pull relevant info and generate your report, but will typically complete in 5-10 minutes. Once completed, you’ll be able to view your results.

When viewing the ‘report card’ for your listing, you’ll see three tabs at the top of the page: ‘View Analysis’, ‘Find Keywords’, and ‘Find Competing and Complementary Products’. The default View Analysis tab will show a graded score for your listing. Based on listing copy, photography, revenue, and reviews, this data is compiled into a score between 1 and 100. The total score can provide an overall perspective on how strong or weak the listing content is, while the specific sections of data give perspective on where you can make improvements on your content.

In the next tab within Listing Analyzer, you’ll find relevant Keyword data for your product. This data is generated based on the content of your listing and will show you comparable data to Keyword Research with the addition of noting whether or not each keyword is included in your listing. For convenience, there is also a toggle to include or remove keywords containing competing brands names. While it’s definitely important to understand the competitive landscape, because you typically can’t index for (and in a lot of cases should specifically target) competing brands, being able to filter out these terms can be helpful in order to focus on building your listing and strategy around your product.

Note: Using trademarked terms in your listing’s content can lead to the product being suspended. You can target trademarked names in PPC.

The final tab allows you to look at competing and complementary products. Though this is conceptually simple, this tab allows you to view statistics on listings that compete with, or complement your product. If you were selling a white paper gift bag for instance, a competing product would be another white paper gift bag whereas a listing for wrapping paper or tissue paper would be complementary.

It’s valuable to review competitive information because you can see how well your competitors sell, cluing you into market potential, while also allowing you to compare your product’s review quantity and rating, price point, etc. This can be informative when determining needs and advantages. Is there a consistent variable driving a low review rating? Is your price competitive? Are there products that are selling well with lower review quantities, or does a large quantity of reviews appear to be necessary in order to be competitive? Understanding these questions can help you to frame your strategy. You can highlight a feature in response to a negative quality of your competition, ensure that you’re being competitive on price, and employ a focus on review generation if necessary.

While you’ll work against your competition, complementary products are more likely to be purchased with your product, potentially providing you with more unique marketing/advertising opportunity. Utilizing opportunities to align your product with these complementary comparisons can potentially help you to generate additional sales. While it can be difficult to achieve, obtaining a ‘frequently bought together’ label bridging the relationship between your product with a complementary can provide a unique benefit.

Step #5: Track Your Keywords

Whether through Keyword Research, Listing Analyzer, or Competitor Intelligence, you’re given the option to add keywords to a keyword bank for your product. Adding as many keywords of value to this bank can help to provide you with as much ongoing data as possible as your product progresses.

This tool can provide you with relational keyword data, specific to your product. On top of general search volume data, you’ll be able to see whether or not your product is indexed for the term (visible somewhere in search results), and where your product is showing in the organic keyword ranking and where your sponsored ads are positioned. You also have the option to track keywords within keyword manager and set up notifications which will alert you when ranking fluctuates. This can allow for rapid response if you’re noticing declining trends.

Because Amazon continues to get more competitive, quickly responding to market conditions can provide a crucial competitive edge.

Pro tip: Track your top 5 keywords hourly with notifications to respond in real-time to changes that could be impacting your sales.

Step #6: Photography

Along with Listing Analyzer’s ability to review content, it will also provide a quality assessment with regards to photography. This assessment is algorithmic however, and is therefore only able to assess the quantity of photos, file size, resolution and whether photos are on white background.

That said, due to the scale of Amazon and the depth of competition, it is incredibly important to have quality photography. Pictures taken with a cellphone or pictures of your product photoshopped into a stock image will not cut it. It’s easy to find products that sell well with bad listing photography but this should not be used as justification for taking shortcuts in this department. A product with extensive sales history and a stockpile of reviews may not need to rely as heavily on photography. However, as a new product, you need to take every competitive edge possible to succeed.

Because humans process visual information first, ensuring that your product is visually represented well allows you to draw in more prospective buyers. Top notch photography provides quality assurance to shoppers along with the impression that they’re buying from an established brand. A great set of images can help your product stand out from the crowd and drive an increase your conversion potential.

Photography is one aspect of your Amazon listing that we highly recommend you to outsource to professionals. Viral Launch does offer photography services but there are many options to explore. The primary considerations should be that the product is photographed (rather than photoshopped) on a white background, that you’re also including lifestyle (in use) photos, and that you are not utilizing any stock imagery.

Phase 2: First Profitable Sales Generation

After following the steps to developing quality content for your listing, it’s time to start selling. When launching a new product – with no sales history, no reviews, and minimal visibility – it can be a challenge to get things going. Even with a well-optimized listing and a great network of keywords, it can be hard to get your product in front of consumers. And with no reviews, it can be even harder to drive sales on Amazon.

During the early phases of a product’s life cycle, there are crucial steps that can be taken to set yourself up for success.

Step #1: Early Reviewer Program

Growing a product’s review base is probably the single most difficult aspect of launching a product. Over the past 2 years, Amazon has enacted strict policies on review generation in an effort to combat the practice of purchasing reviews.

With each new policy, sellers have been developing more creative tactics to circumvent Amazon’s policing. The truth is, review manipulation is still frequently implemented, but it is a dangerous game. Amazon tends to shoot first and ask questions later when it comes to review policy violation. There are still methods of buying reviews, but Amazon frequently deals swift justice, suspending accounts and withholding revenue.

As the landscape gets more competitive, and options for review generation become more limited, the reality is that it’s very difficult to catch up to established players in the market.

The majority of shoppers use reviews as social proof to verify the quality of the product they’re looking to purchase. At the same time, the majority of shoppers are unlikely to return to Amazon to leave a review on purchased products.

While this isn’t the most ideal solution, Amazon has developed a program to provide sellers with an early start.

Essentially, you’re able to enroll in the early reviewer program for $60 per SKU – assuming that you’re brand registered, your product is priced at more than $15, and you have less than 5 reviews. As your product sells, Amazon will send emails to shoppers, requesting that they leave a review while offering a $1-3 Amazon gift card as compensation. Amazon will continue to solicit for early reviews for one year, or until you’re able to generate 5 reviews (whichever comes first).

This program won’t help you to drive 100+ reviews in a short period of time, but it provides initial assistance (which can be few and far between in the Amazon world). Taking advantage of this program will help to drive a bit of early social proof, which can help to get the ball rolling and assist in sales generation.

To learn more, check out our blog post on Amazon’s early reviewer program.

Step #2: Competitive Pricing

If the previous step didn’t provide enough evidence, Amazon can be a bit of a popularity contest. When starting out, it can be challenging to draw the attention of shoppers without the social proof provided by reviews.

Because of this, finding other ways to draw the eyes of customers is crucial for getting some early sales and helping to begin the forward trajectory of a product. With sales history being a major factor in a product’s ability to obtain favorable ranking within search results, finding ways to stimulate sales early in a product’s life is key to building momentum.

One of the most effective ways to cut through the reviews of your competition is to undercut them on price. While it’s not always advantageous to severely lower your price (causing your product to be labeled as an ‘add-on’ or damaging the quality perception), pricing your product strategically low in the early phases can help appeal to more price sensitive shoppers.

Your product may be of higher quality than your lead competitor, but if you have zero reviews, your competitor has 100, and you’re selling at the same price, your competitor will get the sale every time.

In some cases, pricing competitively can even mean selling at a loss. This can be hard to stomach, but if it provides you with a better chance of being successful in 3-6 months, it can be worth it.

As you establish some sales history, reviews, and organic ranking, you should be able to increase your price to a profitable level. Shoppers will buy products at higher prices if they’re convinced of quality (i.e. shoppers will buy your product if you have visibility and reviews to reassure them). In the meantime, it’s important to grab the sales that you can get, and providing a bargain to shoppers who are willing to put faith in your product can be well worth it in the long run.

Step #3: Analyzing Your Competitors

When launching a new product, your listing will not have the sales history or review base of your competition. For this reason, understanding how to competitively position your product to drive initial sales and successfully grow is critically important. Competitor Intelligence can help you to review this information and properly position your product.

By highlighting a few competitors to compare your product to, you can review different metrics such as their sales, reviews, price point, and history. You can also set up automatic notifications to alert you to any changes in these conditions. For instance, If a competitor recently raised their price, you may want to increase your ad spend and/or target their product through a product targeting campaign to draw shoppers away from their listing. If they received additional reviews and/or lowered price, you may want to divert your efforts away from the competitor to better allocate budget and/or implement additional tactics to increase your value proposition.

More broadly, if your comparison have a lower price and/or more reviews, you may need to make adjustments if you’re looking to target them head on. If they have more reviews, you may be able to beat them on price. If they have bad reviews, you may be able to highlight an advantage to your product that may be a disadvantage in theirs. If you can’t necessarily beat them on any head-to-head comparison, you may want to review their keyword data and target keywords that they are ignoring in order to gain some traction.

Along with this, it can be advantageous to be a bit selective with your competitive analysis. Reviewing the top contenders in a market can help you to isolate some advantageous positioning but if you can find competing products that are performing relatively well which have an obvious disadvantage (like a higher price point, less reviews, or poor reviews), you may be able to piggyback off of their visibility through product targeting to drive sales on Amazon.

In all, understanding the strengths and weaknesses of your competition can help to inform your strategy as your listing develops on Amazon. Picking battles in the early phases of your product’s life can help you to drive some early momentum. As you become more competitive, your tactics can become more assertive, leveraging more market advantages that come with a listing’s age.

Step #4: Product Targeted Campaigns

Amazon allows you to not only target keywords with advertising, but to target specific products as well. Product targeted campaigns can help you drive visibility for alongside your competition. This tactic can be especially valuable in instances where there is a strong differentiator between your product and the majority of the market.

Product targeted ads will be presented within the detail page (product listing) of the targeted ASIN. Ads are presented below the listing’s bullets points, providing shoppers with an opportunity to view additional/alternative products when reviewing the details of a listing.

Particularly relevant when targeting complementary products, if your product receives enough sales through a product targeted campaign, it is possible for your listing to be highlighted within the ‘Frequently bought together’ section, allowing for additional sales potential through providing ease of purchase to the consumer. As you can see in the above example, an extension cord and HDMI cable are recognized as being frequently purchased with his product. While it’s difficult to directly influence this, being able to align your listing with a complementary can provide you with some additional visibility, which, in turn, can drive additional sales.

If you have a higher price point, a unique feature, or some other aspect that may make it hard to compete in the high volume/low price market, you can run product targeted campaigns to align yourself with comparable competitors and potentially piggyback off of their success.

Returning to the Competitive and Complementary Products from Listing Analyzer, you’re able to quickly put together a list of advantageous target competitors as well as looking for strategically related products.

The filter menu can be utilized to sort by different metrics such as selling price, revenue, review count, etc.

We suggest applying filters to find products with:

  • Higher price point
  • Less reviews
  • FBM
  • and/or lower review rating

The higher the sales quantity for each ASIN found, the more potential traffic you may receive by showing on that product’s listing. The trick to driving the most efficient and effective traffic is to have a better offer than the product your ad will be showing on. By using the filter criteria listed above, you are able to help guarantee your product is more enticing than the competitor’s

Using the arrows to the right of each column heading, you are also able to sort by value. This can be helpful to toggle between complementary or competitive listings (allowing you to organize your strategy), as well as sorting by revenue to find products that are generating a large quantity of sales, thus providing you with opportunity to meet more traffic.

When identifying valuable competitors and/or complements to target, you’re able to select individual products and export your list to a CSV file to reference when establishing your campaigns.

Using the ‘white paper bags’ example, your bags may have handles (which justifies a slightly higher price) while most of the competition does not. As a way of circumventing the bulk of the competition, you could focus on running product targeted ads against well performing competitors that also have handles. If your price point is slightly lower, you may be able to grab some of the sales from customers who are viewing your competition. This tactic allows you to reach customers that are looking for a very similar product.

Additionally, product targeted campaigns can be used to focus on complementary markets as well for similar results. If your white paper bags are primarily designed as gift bags, running ads targeting gift wrap tissue papers might help you snag some auxiliary sales. A shopper may be looking for gift wrap items, and will be able to kill two birds with one stone when viewing your ad alongside the other gift wrap items that they’re shopping for.

While it’s highly likely that white paper bags would convert poorly for a campaign targeting a keyword like ‘tissue paper’, there still might be opportunity to drive some sales through aligning your product with specific products in a complementary market.  

While Listing Analyzer can provide you with products to review, it’s important to employ a bit of critical thinking along side the data as well. If your product is a white paper bag with handles, it may not be the best strategy to focus on competition without handles. You may also want to avoid lower priced competitors and/or competitors that sell packs of 50 bags if you’re selling in packs of 5. By targeting asymmetrical competitors, you’re likely reaching a less receptive audience. With regards to complementary products, this point is equally relevant. If you’re selling white paper bags, you may want to avoid (or at least test the effectiveness of) targeting white tissue paper as opposed to color options. Understanding your product and how people are shopping for it will help to drive success for these campaigns

As a final (but critical) point on this topic, while product targeted campaigns will not provide the same degree of benefit to organic ranking that you’ll find with keyword based PPC, a major advantage to product targeting is that it’s typically one of the most cost effective advertising options.

In the above example, by targeting competitive and complementary products, we were able to generate $1,095.60 with less than $200 in spend and an average cost per click of $.40. Because it’s newer and less understood, and because targeting a product is typically less competitive than targeting a keyword, product targeted campaigns are usually relatively cheap and can be a really effective method of driving additional visibility and sales. There are definitely additional benefits to keyword targeted campaigns (which will be discussed next), but a sound strategy using product targeted campaigns can be a great tool in your belt for driving low cost sales.

Step #5: Amazon Auto Campaigns

When listing a new product, regardless of listing quality, it’s likely that it will be buried in a sea of similar products. The listings with strong sales history are the listings that rise to the top of Amazon’s search algorithm. Because of this, it’s important to try to get your product in front of consumers through pay-per-click advertising.

Reflecting on Phase 1 of this article, keyword optimization was heavily discussed. Ensuring that you understand your product market and the keywords utilized will help to ensure that you’re opening yourself up to as many sales as possible.

That said, in practice, you can’t necessarily dictate the search terms that will generate the highest returns for your product. Sometimes, well converting keywords can be a bit of a surprise. In other cases, you may convert well for high traffic keywords, but it may be incredibly costly to actually obtain visibility, thus nullifying the benefit.

Early on, running closely monitored automatic pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns can help you discover profitable keywords. These can be quick wins to help drive ranking and build momentum.

Amazon’s algorithm is primarily based on sales generated through a specific search term, regardless of whether or not that traffic is purchased. By running PPC, you can start to drive keyword ranking. While it may take an immense amount of traffic to drive ranking for some of your high volume keywords, you can sometimes drive ranking for lower volume/longer tail keywords with relative ease.

It’s recommended that you set up an automatic campaign with a manageable daily budget. As the campaign runs (and hopefully generates sales) you’ll want to download your advertising reports and review the search terms that drove sales at a reasonable ACoS (advertising cost of sale). As you find profitable (or at least effective) keywords, you’ll want to start setting up manual campaigns targeting those specific keywords. You may also consider adding the word as a negative keyword to your automatic campaigns to avoid redundant spending, however in some instances, we find that the automatic campaign will continue to deliver cheaper traffic than the manual . This strategy will effectively ensure that you’re continuing to drive visibility for the keywords that work, while allowing your automatic campaign to continue to seek out new terms.

The above example is an automatic campaign for a product being managed by Viral Launch. As you can see, ACoS has stayed extremely low, along with CPC, while generating fair volume of sales. While great keyword targets may be identified through this campaign, it is also can drive sales on Amazon through really efficient spend. While it may make sense to break out keywords into individual campaigns, an average spend of $.18 per click is really low, meaning that it may also make sense to leave these keywords in the campaign.

In some instances, advertising may not be initially profitable (particularly if you’ve lowered your sales price in tangent) but getting your product in front of your market and driving early sales can benefit the long-term sales history of the product and provide you with some powerful insights on how and where to focus your efforts.

Step #6: Discovery Campaigns

While an auto campaign can be helpful to identify keywords for which your product will convert, the major downside is that you can’t focus your spend. Auto campaigns will push ads through a wide breadth of keywords, meaning that while you can add negative keywords to your campaign, some of your ad spend will inevitably go to non-advantageous searches. It can also sometimes be hard to get enough data on a specific keyword to understand whether or not they’re profitable.

This is where your keyword research will yet again come to your rescue. In addition to setting up an auto campaign to help clue you into any surprises, what we refer to as a discovery campaign can help to more quickly isolate beneficial PPC targets.

Through the phases found in keyword research, you should have collected a list of high volume, high priority, and high opportunity keywords. Using this list, you can establish manual discovery campaigns targeting 10-20 keywords to test conversion potential.

With regards to high opportunity keywords, you may find instances during research where low-mid volume keywords have a high opportunity score, meaning that they’re underutilized by your competition. In these instances, paying attention to these keywords can pay off, allowing you to exploit them with PPC. High opportunity keywords may not have a large volume of searches when comparing to other terms, but they’re typically easy to drive ranking for. Because your competition isn’t prioritizing them, typically being indexed (including the term in your content) and driving some engagement through PPC can quickly improve your ranking for the targeted terms.

Additionally, it’s relatively common to find that high opportunity keywords are affordable to target (again, because of lower competition). Therefore, driving traffic to drive ranking for these terms can regularly be pretty cost effective. You may not be able to drive a large volume of sales with a high opportunity keyword, but, provided it’s affordable, an extra few sales still make sense to go after.

To do this, you’ll want to select manual campaign, input your keyword list, and run a campaign with broad or phrase match targeting (which will allow for slight variations on your search term list).

Using your keyword research to your advantage can drastically improve and expedite the discovery of profitable keywords. While an auto campaign can be a great opportunity to gain insights, a discovery campaign uses research to better focus your strategy. By isolating search terms that quickly convert, you can begin to construct profitable campaigns which can help to jump start the success of your product.

Phase 2 Conclusion: In very low competition markets, or micro-niche’s as we call them, simply scaling a product through Phase 2 of this guide can be sufficient for achieving keyword ranking and maximizing sales potential within the given product market. Within no time, successfully completing Phase 2 will have allowed you to build a very solid foundation of efficient and effective sales. If this traffic is not enough to move the needle and/or you want to move faster, then Phase 3 is the next step in growing a product’s success on Amazon.

Phase 3: Aggressive Amazon PPC & Pricing

At this point, the foundation for establishing your product should be underway, some sales volume is presumably being driven through PPC advertising, and reviews are (hopefully) beginning to trickle in. Perhaps most importantly, you’ve gained some valuable insight into your market and where your product performs best.

It’s now time to be aggressive!

Step #1: Aggressive Pricing

While you may want to start raising the price for your product, you still want to be careful at this point. It’s likely that you still don’t have a large depth of reviews in comparison to the competition, meaning that the primary sales proposition is going to have to be value (outpricing your competition).

Any increases in price should be carefully monitored to gauge market reaction (changes in click through rate, conversion, etc.). Keep in mind that the primary objective is still sales volume. You’re trying to establish a product for long-term success.

For this reason, you want to carefully review your market when setting your price. Make sure that you’re pricing competitively in comparison to all of your keyword markets. While one keyword, such as ‘white paper bags with handles’, may have a higher average price, another keyword, like ‘paper bags’, may have a lower price. Because you’re competing in both spaces, you need a price that is competitive in both spaces.

Reviewing your initial keyword research along with your advertising performance can help you determine the markets to prioritize (and the prices that you need to beat). As you start accumulating reviews and drive a reliable flow of sales, you can start slowly stepping up your price point to see if you can squeeze more revenue out of your products, but if this price increase leads to a decline in sales, you should always opt to drive more sales until the product starts to really gain momentum.

Step #2: Aggressive PPC Campaigns

Along with a competitive price point, now that you have collected some early insights from your advertising, it’s time to get aggressive with PPC as well. At this point you’ve presumably collected some data on your advertising campaigns. You should be looking for keywords (or products) that have led to continued sales without an astronomical ACoS.

When reviewing this data, you’ll want to begin to isolate keywords that perform well and break them out into their own manual campaign with a dedicated budget. Targeting a single keyword will ensure that you’re continuously providing a budget to the term, increasing your impressions. As long as keywords continue to perform well, targeting these keywords will provide you with a steady stream of sales.

When doing this, you’ll create your own list of keywords that are targeted by your campaign. You can absolutely create multiple campaigns and it’s recommended that you put each keyword into its own campaign, or at the very least, keep the keyword list to a minimum. You want to be sure that the keywords that are driving profitable sales have the necessary (and dedicated) budget to reach their potential.

Additionally, you’ll have the opportunity to select broad, phrase, or exact targeting for these terms. Broad match will run ads for any search term that contains all of the keywords from your target, in any order and including plural/singular form (ex. paper white gift bag). Phrase match will run ads for any search term that contains the full keyword in correct order (ex. white paper bags with handles). Exact match will only run ads when the exact keyword is searched (ex. white paper bags). Typically when trying to direct ad traffic through specifically profitable keywords, you will want to run exact match campaigns. It can sometimes be worth testing to see if variations of the keyword perform comparably well.

It’s also important to understand the broader context of your cost and spend during this phase. Rather than solely reviewing your ACoS when looking at your campaigns, you should also be noting how total sales are affected. When running steady campaigns, you should ideally be seeing organic ranking improvements for the keywords that are driving sales. Through this, your organic sales potential is similarly increased.

Even though your ACoS may not be at a profitable level, if it’s contributing to an upswing in organic sales, the overall impact of the campaign may be profitable. In many instances, you may find that even when your product is ranking on page one, running ads to a keyword may still stimulate an increase in organic sales. Because repetition impacts consumer behavior (which is why you see the same commercials several times), you can usually see an increase in organic traffic if customers are seeing your ad first. While advertising on Amazon still proves to be very effective, savvy shoppers may mentally filter out the sponsored product results when conducting their search. That said, seeing the same product more than once still has the potential to leave more of a mental impression.

Overall, many sellers make a huge mistake by not reviewing advertising data. The data can be one of the most valuable aspects of advertising in general. Through it, you’re able to learn where your product competes well and where your specific target audience is most receptive. Through this, you can advantageously direct your advertising and ranking efforts to reach markets where you’ll see the most benefit.

Learning from your automatic campaigns and aggressively targeting valuable opportunities can be the key to driving success for a product long term. While these tactics are a strategy for stimulating growth for a new product, this method is something that should be utilized throughout a product’s life in order to continuously maximize success and retain competitiveness in a dynamic market.

Viral Launch Results:

At Viral Launch, we have been experimenting with new ways to increase ranking and drive sales on Amazon since our foundation. Knowing that Amazon would become more saturated, it has been a crucial emphasis to understand how to remain competitive in an ever changing market.

Employing the tactics we’ve covered, we have been able to drive success for several recently launched products:

Category: Toys and Games

Date Listed: October 16, 2018

VL Start Date: October 26, 2018

First 30 days performance (10/26 – 11/24)Next 30 days (11/25 – 12/24)
Ad performance:
Spend: $2,503.73
Sales: $7,508.83
ACoS: 33.34%
Clicks: 3331
Average CPC: $0.75
Orders: 330

Organic sessions: 1676
Organic orders: 277
Organic sales: $6,084.13
PPC/Organic sales: 54.37%
PPC cost/sale: $4.12
Ad Performance:
Spend: $2,583.19
Sales: $14,135.14
ACoS: 18.27%
Clicks: 3,455
Average CPC: $0.75
Orders: 509

Organic sessions: 7,312
Organic orders: 2265
Organic sales: $71,149.87
PPC/Organic sales: 18.35%
PPC cost/sale: $0.93

Category: Grocery & Gourmet Foods

Date Listed: October 10, 2018

VL Start Date: October 15, 2018

Lifetime Performance Prior to VL (10/05 – 10/14)First 60 days performance with Viral Launch (10/15 – 12/13)
Ad Performance:
Spend: $341.67
Sales: $2,275.06
ACoS: 15.02%
ROAS: $6.65
Clicks: 699
Orders: 93
PPC cost/sale: $3.67

Organic Performance:
Sessions: 2,239
Units Ordered: 184
Organic Orders: 91
Revenue: $3,959.16
PPC/Organic Sales: 50.54%
Ad Performance:
Spend: $2,320.17
Sales: $11,950.80
ACoS: 19.41%
ROAS: $5.15
Clicks: 4,592
Orders: 564
PPC cost/sale: $4.11

Organic Performance:
Sessions: 33,208
Units Ordered: 4,196
Organic Orders: 3,632
Revenue: $90,247.15
PPC/Organic Sales: 13.44%

Category: Baby

Date Listed: June, 2017

VL Start Date: June 15, 2018

Lifetime Performance Prior to VL (3/15 – 5/14)Last 60 days performance with Viral Launch (11/8 – 1/7)
Ad Performance:
Spend: $1,382.76
Sales: $5,963.3
ACoS: 23.2%
ROAS: 4.31
Clicks: 3249
Orders: 336
PPC cost/sale: $4.11

Organic Performance:
Sessions: 12832
Units Ordered: 2890
Organic Orders: 2554
Revenue: $48,866.60
PPC/Total Sales: 11.6%
Ad Performance:
Spend: $17,645.86
Sales: $30,840.04
ACoS: 57.22%
ROAS: 1.75
Clicks: 14066
Orders: 1525
PPC cost/sale: 11.57

Organic Performance:
Sessions: 70623
Units Ordered: 12474
Organic Orders: 10949
Revenue: $236,709.61
PPC/Total Sales: 12.23%

The third example is a perfect representation of how this strategy can work. As you can see, upon taking over managing ads for this product, spend and ACoS skyrocketed. Assuming a profit margin of 50% (for simplicity) while only looking at ad performance, it would appear that this campaign has been unsuccessful. Our campaigns were in the red and the client would not have seen a return on investment for their product.

What is frequently overlooked, however, is that advertising also impacts organic performance. While spend and ACoS increased dramatically under our management, organic performance similarly increased. Where the product previously saw a total revenue of $48,866.60, our methods generated 4.8 times more revenue over 60 days ($238,709.61).

The end game of any business should be generating profit. In this example, while ad spend may have been less efficient, the total effect drove more profit for this product. Again, assuming a 50% profit margin, the initial performance resulted in a profit of $23,050.54 after ad spend. Using our tactics, total profit was $87,514.77 after the first 60 days of management.

Phase 4: Accelerating Rank with Outside Traffic Promotions

Now that the foundations for launching a product and establishing early sales has been covered, there is one last tactic that can help accelerate your products growth. While typically costly, a promotion to drive external traffic can rapidly drive organic keyword ranking, pushing your listing to page one and opening you up to a massive inflow of sales.

There are numerous options for driving external traffic and certain functionalities and implementations will vary, however the overall strategy is relatively consistent. The intent is to reach an audience of traffic outside of Amazon, provide an incentive (typically an exclusive discount) to stimulate buyer interest, and funnel the traffic to Amazon to drive a high velocity of sales.

Option  #1: Promotional Launch

An external promotion essentially involves advertising your product to an audience of customers (most commonly through social media or a third party deal site), typically while promoting a dramatic limited-time discount. As customers see your offer, they’re directed to Amazon to purchase your product. If targeted, an external promotion can direct the flow of traffic through a specific keyword target, resulting in a large influx of sales associated with keyword. As sales volume increases, your product’s relevance for the search term increases within Amazon’s algorithms, thus leading to a ranking improvement.

It is important to note that any sort of promotion can only directly increase visibility. If your product or price is not competitive, if you’re targeting a keyword with low search volume, or a keyword for that your product does not convert well for, it is unlikely that you will see a dramatic increase in sales. However, when run properly, this tactic can rapidly unlock sales potential.

Viral Launch’s foundational Launch platform is a quick and easy way to implement this tactic. Using a cultivated buyer group, the Viral Launch platform, and guidance of trained Amazon coaches, this tactic can be harnessed to quickly and effectively improve your sales potential. For reference (and without revealing client information), here are a few examples of recent results:

Category: Vitamins & Supplements

Units Given: 175

Keyword Search Volume: ~4,000 searches/month

Starting Rank: 42

Ending Rank: 4


Category: Office

Units Given: 225

Keyword Search Volume: ~8,000 searches/month

Starting Rank: 56

Ending Rank: 11

If you’re looking for more information on how our launch platform work and/or would like to discuss strategy for your product, feel free to reach out to us through service@viral-launch.com, or by opening the chat window in the bottom right corner of the Viral Launch website.

Option #2: ManyChat Facebook Campaign

If you’re looking to utilize social media to drive sales velocity, a Facebook campaign using a chatbot like ManyChat can also be an effective strategy. ManyChat is a platform which allows you to build a chatbot in order to engage with consumers and distribute coupon codes.

While requiring a bit more tech savviness (and while results can be a little less reliable than a promotion platform), utilizing social media campaigns can provide you with more control over your promotion and provides you with more ability to create a brand voice and social media presence.

Essentially, the process works by creating a Facebook ad which offers a discounted product. In order for customers to receive the discount, they’re asked to click the send message button within the ad.

When customers engage, a chatbot initiates, guiding customers through the steps of receiving the coupon before leading them to Amazon to finalize the purchase.

The ManyChat platform allows you to establish quick reply buttons to simplify customer engagement. It would provide the discount code, and instruct them to copy it before clicking on a button to be directed to Amazon.

When crafting this type of campaign, it’s important to develop copy that will draw in customers and make the process simple.

The following steps can help simplify this process:

1) Start with a question that grabs your customers’ attention.

2) Use emojis to enhance emotions and help the customer engage with the ad

3) Use the “send a message” feature to drive the customer to your ManyChat sequence

4) Keep it simple and explain how and why this offer is so great

5) Use scarcity to get the user to redeem the promotion quickly

Keep in mind that the objective is to drive engagement while minimizing customer effort as much as possible. The process has to be quick and easy to follow while hitting on main value propositions.

This process can allow you to run promotions yourself, while simultaneously establishing some social media presence. It’s important to note that this will require some understanding (or homework) on how to establish an effective campaign. You will also need to utilize an additional service such as Zapier to distribute unique coupon codes to your buyer. This can require a bit of technical work.

When using a launch service, you’re able to better control the flow of traffic to drive sales on Amazon consistently in accordance of a daily schedule. A campaign through Facebook, on the other hand, is subject to organic demand. Because you’re not reaching active shoppers/deal seekers, consistent engagement can be harder to achieve.

As a point of caution, Amazon’s ToS is ambiguous with regards to use of external promotions. While the promotions themselves are technically ToS compliant, applications of them are not. Using a promotion to drive reviews, spamming customers with marketing messages, etc. has the potential to lead to a suspension.

Think of external promotions like a power saw. It can be a powerful tool to rapidly get the job done, but if you’re trying to use a saw as a hammer, it’s not going to fix your problems. A promotion can rapidly drive visibility and ranking, but if your product isn’t poised to convert well, or if you’re targeting the wrong market, it’s may not drive sales on Amazon.

When used correctly, a power saw can make work quick and easy. When misused, it can cut your finger off. When a promotion is used properly, it can make ranking fast and simple. When misused, it can get your Amazon account suspended.

All in all, an external promotion is a tried and true method for increasing sales velocity, providing an opportunity for a product to realize sales potential. In the face of ever increasing competition on Amazon, ensuring that you have a solid foundation provides a greater assurance of long-term stability. Beginning to establish a review base while developing a strategic PPC strategy is key to fostering a successful product in 2019. External promotions can provide the extra push to allow a product to take off, the history and data provided through the previously mentioned tactics will help you to better understand your product and your market while setting you up for success.

Drive Sales on Amazon: In Conclusion…

The Amazon landscape continues to change and a new product inevitably faces more difficulty than the products launched in previous years. Amazon continues to be more restrictive, markets continue to get more saturated, and competition continues to increase.

If you’re making intelligent sourcing decisions and using your resources to your advantage, there is still an immense opportunity to launch new products. The gold-rush may be all but over, but there’s still plenty of gold in Amazon’s river for savvy sellers with a good eye.

When launching a new product, it’s important to be aware of Amazon’s Terms of Service, generate reviews wherever you can (within Terms of Service), take opportunities to drive sales on Amazon (through increasing visibility with PPC), and learn from the data to refine your tactics.

These strategies may keep you from making immediate profits, but you’re not panning for gold, you’re building a business. You can succeed but you need to play hard and smart while thinking long term.

Build your base, understand your product, use data to your advantage, and invest in making the product successful. Working on stimulating growth early in a product’s life will plant the seed for future success.

If you have any questions about this process or how Viral Launch can help you to drive sales on Amazon, we’d love to hear from you! And to get started with Viral Launch tools, loaded with capabilities to help you take your business to the next level, create a free account here.

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