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.
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.
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Advertising can be utilized to help drive sales and ranking while providing you with incredibly valuable data regarding how your product interacts with the market. By taking the time to test and fully understand the abilities of the Amazon advertising platform, you can begin to build out more complex strategies to truly accelerate growth in a competitive landscape.
That said, while advertising can be an incredibly effective way to drive ranking and increase sales, there are instances where you may need an additional push to truly dominate your market. In these instances, external traffic can be implemented to aggressively drive a product to page one for a high value keyword.
While your product can be relevant for (and drive sales through) dozens of keywords, in most markets, one to five keywords are going to provide the majority of the audience market-share. Therefore, having favorable organic ranking for these terms is crucial for maximizing the sales potential of your product.
There are different methods and strategies when using external traffic and it’s important to know that while incredibly useful, these tactics can be costly and certain applications can be a violation of Amazon’s Terms of Service. Much of the language in their Terms of Service is vague and up for debate but ultimately, anything that improperly accesses or uses data from shoppers, routes traffic away from Amazon, or seeks to artificially inflate reviews will be seen as a violation.
Another thing to note is that Amazon’s SEO tends to work in equilibrium. The products on page one are there because they sell best. While driving ranking through PPC provides your product with opportunities to organically sell better and more naturally progress it to a competitive level within the market, using aggressive external traffic to drive ranking ultimately forces the product to page one through a manufactured demand. While this can be effective in pushing the product to the first page, if the listing is not competitively positioned (with an adequate number of reviews, attractive price, etc.) it is likely that it will not continue to organically sell the same volume of units as the naturally ranking competitors. In this instance, ranking can decline when the manufactured traffic from your external campaign is cut off. Thus, an external campaign can be a bit of a gamble as you’re pushing a product’s ranking to page one and relying on the increased visibility to lead to organic sales growth, which will in turn help the listing to retain ranking.
While there are several different methods for setting up external campaigns, this article will cover the basics of the two most common tactics.
Sometimes referred to as a giveaway, a promotional launch involves the use of a service such as Viral Launch’s Launch Platform in order to drive ranking for a high value keyword. Essentially, you select a keyword to target, determine how many sales need to be funneled through that keyword over a period of time, and provide that number of products at a deep discount (typically through one time use promotional discount codes) to an audience of shoppers. It is also crucial that you connect the offer with a URL that is tied to your targeted keyword so that as shoppers navigate to Amazon to purchase your product, the traffic is directed through the proper search term.
By doing this, Amazon sees your product generate a large flow of sales through a specific keyword. In time (anywhere from 3-14 days), Amazon begins to recognize your product to be more relevant for that keyword than the current page one competition, and your listing’s ranking begins to improve. Ideally, once the promotion ends, your listing has favorable ranking and is able to generate enough organic sales to help the product ‘stick’ on page one. Because you can’t control Amazon or organic market fluctuations, there is no guarantee that a specific ranking will be obtained, however at Viral Launch, we regularly review data to ensure that launches are effective at driving organic ranking.
While there are different ways to execute on this strategy, they will all involve a keyword target, a necessary sales volume to drive ranking, a URL to funnel the traffic to your target keyword, a discounted offering to persuade buyers, and a group of shoppers to market your offer to. Without each of these elements, it will be unlikely that your campaign will succeed.
Keyword Target – The search term that you wish to drive ranking for. You can typically target any keyword that your listing is indexed for. That said, considering that this tactic typically involves selling products at a price below break even, it’s advantageous to target keywords that have a high search volume, thus enabling an organic sales potential to make the campaign profitable.
Sales Volume – In order to effectively drive ranking for a keyword, you need to use the promotion to outsell the current page one competition for a number of days. It’s important to understand how many sales are being accumulated by your targeted competition and outpace that in order to effectively overtake their ranking.
Targeted URL – While generally selling more units will provide some positive movement for your product, aggressive ranking improvement is largely contingent on sales being driven through a specific keyword. When running an external promotion, it’s important to direct your traffic in a way that drives traction for your targeted keywords. This can be achieved by providing buyers with a targeted URL. There are several variations of targeted URLs but all of them must in some way link to an Amazon page which uses your targeted keyword as a search term.
Discounted Offering – Because your campaign’s ability to drive ranking is centered around being able to generate a volume of sales that surpasses your competition, you need to provide an offer to shoppers that will lead them to immediately purchase your product. While you can technically offer any discount (provided that you can still obtain the quantity of sales needed), it’s typical to offer a limited number of products at a discount which hovers around 90% off. While this may seem dramatic, the intent is to provide these units at a steep discount in order to ensure that you can generate the number of sales necessary.
Buyer Group – Finally, you need an audience to provide your discounted offer to. You can use social media, email lists, or a service which has cultivated an audience of discount shoppers. It’s important to acknowledge what you’re looking for in this audience. While possible, it’s unlikely that these shoppers will be repeat customers and/or specifically interested in your product or brand. Ultimately, in most cases, these shoppers are using your offer to receive a cheap product (and hopefully have some interest in it), and you’re using them in order to drive keyword ranking for your listing.
While it is possible, given the resources, to run an external promotion of this type by yourself, there are several different options for services that can help to simplify this process. For instance, when using Viral Launch for an external campaign, our coaches can assist in keyword selection and necessary sales volume, and the platform will generate an appropriate URL and distribute your offer to a cultivated buyer group.
Though this tactic can obviously be costly, it is a very aggressive method to drive keyword ranking and help take a product to the next level of organic sales.
For reference, here are a few examples of campaigns recently run through Viral Launch:
Keyword Search Volume: ~9,000 searches/month
Starting Rank: 188
Ending Rank: 13
Category: Beauty & Personal Care
Keyword Search Volume: ~11,000 searches/month
Starting Rank: 159
Ending Rank: 8
Category: Health & Household
Keyword Search Volume: ~66,000 searches/month
Starting Rank: 174
Ending Rank: 15
Facebook Campaigns (Using ManyChat)
If you’re building a brand, running a promotional campaign can be frustrating in that you’re driving the sales traffic, but you’re failing to connect these discount shoppers with your brand. Essentially, your promotional campaign creates a give and take relationship with the buyers. You use the buyers to ranking for your product, and the buyers use you to receive a discount.
Using social media however, you are able to make a closer connection with your audience and by running an external campaign. While a social media based campaign can be more advantageous from a marketing campaign, it can be a little more complicated to set up and it can be a little less reliable in its ability to drive an effective amount of traffic as the campaign is tied to the amount of engagement that your social media posts and advertising are able to generate.
If you are looking to utilize a social media based campaign to drive keyword ranking for your listing on Amazon, ManyChat is typically the best/easiest way execute on this strategy.
ManyChat is a chatbot software that allows for heightened engagement with your social media (Facebook) audience. Basically, to run an external campaign through ManyChat, you would set up ads which offer a discounted product through engagement with your brand’s Facebook Messenger. Once the chat dialog is opened, ManyChat walks the user through the steps of claiming and redeeming a coupon code for the product, driving the traffic through a targeted URL.
Either using posts through your facebook page or advertising, driving external traffic through ManyChat begins by establishing an offer and presenting it via social media. In this offer, you’ll want to lay out the discount being offered and request that the user clicks on ‘Send Message’ button to receive their discount.
When the chat window is opened, ManyChat takes over with a pre-scripted process for providing the discount and funneling the traffic through your targeted keyword. When developing the copy for your ManyChat campaign, it’s important to understand that you do want to have some level of engagement (a step or two) before receiving their coupon to ensure that your buyers are receptive, but you want to avoid being too wordy or complicated in order to hold their attention. Making them click a button or respond with a simple message is a good way to draw in your audience.
Once you have drawn in a buyer with an engagement statement, you’ll need to provide them with a coupon and instructions for claiming the offer. You also want to make sure to provide a link to Amazon through the offer and you’ll want that link to be a targeted URL for the purpose of driving rank.
One thing to note is that you will need to integrate your ManyChat campaign with another service such as Zapier to deliver coupons from a list, thus making the process a bit more technically complicated. You should also factor in cost of advertising on Facebook when comparing and contrasting a launch platform with a social media campaign. If you have a large audience and a good amount of engagement on social media, this method may be cheaper/more effective. Additionally, while you will have more control over price and the ability to target a more beneficial audience, you’ll also have a bit less control over the scheduling and redemption of your campaign than you would with a launch platform.
To recap the basic steps for a ManyChat campaign:
Create ads and posts to provide an offer to your audience and direct them to messenger for engagement with ManyChat.
Develop a ManyChat script, first implementing some sort of simple engagement step.
If someone engages with the chat, provide them with the coupon code, steps to claim the code, and a link to purchase (using a targeted URL for the link)
While ManyChat gives you a lot of control over the messaging and branding, it’s important to keep in mind that you still need to abide by Amazon’s Terms of Service when driving traffic to their site. It can be tempting to ask for reviews through the ManyChat process and this was initially a very popular way to offer incentives for review generation. That said, Amazon is aware of this tactic and given the recently unveiled information that Facebook has been sharing information with Amazon (and sellers have been suspended in the past for using ManyChat to drive reviews), it is highly recommended that you avoid using ManyChat for any review generation purposes.
While advertising on Amazon is really the best sustainable way to drive growth for a product, it’s common to need an additional push to really maximize your visibility and sales potential. In these instances, using external traffic can provide you with the aggressiveness needed to drive your product to the front of the pack for high value search terms.
When advertising isn’t enough, a launch or social media campaign can give your listing an added boost. Though there is a degree of risk (considering that the effect of the promotion is dependent on Amazon’s SEO algorithms), using a proper strategy and an external campaign is an extremely effective method of generating peak visibility for your product, providing the opportunity to maximize organic sales. While there are several different structures and services to assist with external promotions, these processes can be a bit complicated and ensuring that you have a proper strategy is the key to being successful. If you’re thinking about exploring this option to help drive your product to the next level, feel free to reach out with questions to firstname.lastname@example.org to speak with one of our coaches.