The updated guidelines go into effect on November 3, 2020. Wise sellers will familiarize themselves with these changes to avoid being left behind during this hectic Q4.
Violating Communication Guidelines risks limitations on Permitted Messages or even a suspension of selling privileges. It’s important to remember these guidelines exist to maintain the mutually beneficial relationship between sellers and buyers on Amazon.
Perhaps the most significant, actionable update, sellers maintain the option to directly ask customers for a review or feedback.
“You may send proactive Permitted Messages for the following reasons: resolving an issue with order fulfillment, requesting additional information required to complete the order, asking a return-related question, sending an invoice, requesting product review and/or seller feedback, scheduling the delivery of a heavy or bulky item, scheduling a Home Services appointment, verifying a custom design, or any other reason where the contact is required for the buyer to receive their purchase.”
In terms of timeframe, sellers can only send messages to a customer within 30 days of the order being placed. Sellers can send 1 message per order placed. After 30 days, contacting them is a no-go unless they are to place another order with you.
You retain the option to include instructions or warranty information, but not messages that simply say “thank you” without approval.
Sellers can breathe a sigh of relief, as they can still utilize third-party applications to help simplify the review generation, provided those third-party applications utilize Amazon’s “Request A Review” button. Viral Launch’s Review Automation tool, included inside of Market Intelligence, automates this process to make it simple and effective for sellers to maximize their review boosting efforts.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that Amazon still handles much of the communication with sellers to set a standard across the marketplace and streamline the buyer and seller experience. Amazon requests that sellers promptly confirm shipment of all orders, primarily completed in the Manage Orders feature. Once you’ve confirmed shipment, Amazon fires off a confirmation email to the buyer.
What’s NOT Allowed?
While most of the updated policy remains the same in practicality, it’s worth reviewing as a refresher. Amazon continually tweaks its policies, and staying aware of these changes can be a great advantage.
One of the eye-catching notes also included in the policy is that “spelling errors or grammar issues” may not be included in messaging.
As always, it might be worth running your messages by a second person or through an app such as Grammarly to make sure you’re figuratively crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s when it comes to spelling and grammar.
If you sell internationally, Google Translate is a free app that may come in handy. This is especially notable for those who sell outside of their residence and may not be fluent in the customer’s language. Sellers must respond to buyers in the customer’s Language of Preference.
The updated guidelines dictate no tracking pixels or images, links to opt-out of messaging, or external links for formatting purposes. Additionally, approved message and graphic sizes are specified in the guidelines, so ensure your layout is within Amazon’s recommendations.
For questions regarding your communication methods, it’s best to contact Seller Central Support.
Verify your messaging templates are in line with the updated Communication Guidelines by November 3 to optimize your selling experience! Lastly, be sure to drop your email below to stay informed about the latest Amazon updates and news.
While coronavirus has impacted nearly every aspect of the global economy over the past few weeks, e-commerce brands have been hit especially hard. Retailers with major ties to China have struggled to deal with significant interruptions to the supply chain as well as travel limitations between countries.
The good news for e-commerce brands is that the spread of coronavirus in China has been slowing down, allowing factories to reopen. The bad news is that coronavirus is still a major concern worldwide and it is difficult to predict how its spread throughout the world will affect business.
Because of the continued concern for the world population’s health, it’s imperative that e-commerce brands take careful steps to navigate this global issue, minimizing risks and maximizing opportunities. Here’s how you can revitalize your brand, despite any recent effects of this recent disease.
Increased Customer Communication
With the frequent shipping delays, inventory shortages, and unknown an unknown timeline for the end of the coronavirus, some businesses have been worried about dealing with upset customers. But even the best brands can’t control for unexpected events like global disease. Customers will understand this as long as you keep them in the loop.
It’s true that upset customers can wreak havoc on your brand. Fifty-two percent of customers tell others to avoid a brand after a bad experience, and 47 percent of customers have switched to a different brand due to bad customer service. It’s essential to take care of your customer, so when circumstances are out of your control, the best thing to is update customers as the situation evolves.
You’ll earn the trust and loyalty of many people simply by being honest and showing you care. Share your estimated timeline for progress with customers and be clear that you will continue to update that timeline as you receive more information. When your operations are back to normal, you’ll have an even more solid customer base than before.
The Online Advantage
Rising anxiety about coronavirus is causing many customers to stay at home. This means e-commerce brands have a major advantage over brick-and-mortar. This is an excellent moment for online retailers to reach out to customers who need products, but don’t want to expose themselves to germs in public spaces.
In fact, e-commerce has helped the economy during disease outbreaks in the past. During the SARS outbreak of 2002 and 2003, Alibaba, China’s biggest e-commerce company, took off. Cell phone and Internet companies also thrived at the time. Due to the lack of reliable information about the disease provided by broadcast news, many people turned to their phones and computers to learn how to protect themselves.
The SARS epidemic was tragic, causing numerous deaths throughout Asia. While millions of people were confined to their homes, however, the e-commerce sector worked to allow life to go on by offering services online.
E-commerce has the chance to help the world economy during the current coronavirus outbreak in the same way that it helped during the SARS epidemic. It’s important to capitalize on this moment in order to keep your business alive as well as help those people who need your products.
Allowing Remote Business
The spread of a global disease is one of the many reasons to be grateful we have 21st century technology to work with. While there are plenty of aspects of business that must be conducted in person, administrative work, client meetings, and company-wide communication is possible to be conducted remotely.
Especially if you are located in a region with a growing number of coronavirus cases, the more people who stay home, the easier it will be to contain the disease. The worst thing for your company would be for an outbreak to spread through the ranks of your entire company, completely immobilizing business.
For those positions that require in-person work, be sure to emphasize the importance of employees watching for symptoms of sickness and staying home if they suspect they may not be fully healthy.
Diversify Fulfillment Centers
Many e-commerce retailers have seen benefits of having fulfillment centers in a variety of geographic regions. It leads to faster shipping times and the ability to hold greater inventory, avoiding products being on back-order.
Diversifying your location for this centers is best practice in business at all times, not just during a global disease. But the rise of coronavirus has shown that if you are following this diversified location model already, the disease’s impact on your company will not be quite as harsh.
Although multiple regions in China were hit by the coronavirus, some experienced more severe outbreaks than others. If you have fulfillment centers and warehouses in multiple locations, you increase your chances of being able to keep some of your company’s operations running during an outbreak.
You’ll also benefit from using multiple fulfillment centers during a disease epidemic because you’ll be able to hold greater amounts of inventory in order to make up for a potential slowing of production in factories. Many businesses are currently seeing products run out without the ability to replace them due to the interruptions to the supply chain caused by the coronavirus. If you can inventory shortages, you’ll be able to win over the customers from other businesses that were not able to meet customer demands. Strong inventory management during a time like this is one of the biggest things that will set you apart as a brand.
Now that you’ve got both feet on the ground as an Amazon seller, the tricky part is finding what products will put you ahead of the pack. You can look at snapshot estimates from a random collection of sourcing tools, piecing together what you hope is an accurate picture of the market and product — or you can improve your chances of sourcing only the right products by making use of the right Amazon market intelligence.
Viral Launch’s Market Intelligence tool gives you the most comprehensive access to Amazon-wide insight across billions of different data points. With it, you can make truly informed decisions and validate any product before you ever launch it.
What Real Amazon Market Intelligence Looks Like
Intelligence is nothing without data, which is what makes our Amazon Market Intelligence tool so valuable. It’s the only tool that can collect and leverage data points from across Amazon’s entire market. With the data the tool gathers for you, you can glean the kind of insight and analysis that can help you almost predict the success of any product launch. For example, the billions of data points you’ll have access to can help you assess markets and products by:
1. Name brands: See whether any big household names or Amazon itself is selling in the market. It will be easiest for you to compete against other smaller brands, so stay away from markets that are dominated by one brand or a few dominant brands.
2. Sales spreads: If a few products are claiming most of the sales in the market, it’ll be harder to claim a piece of the pie, especially as a newcomer. Look for markets where sales are spread pretty evenly between the products on the first page.
3. Competitors’ intelligence: Finding a few products dominating sales spreads isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Use the Market Intelligence tool to reverse-engineer their strategies. For example, track what keywords the dominating products use in sponsored ads and make a list of your own variations.
4. Market trends: Sales trends tell you a lot, but if you want to determine which trends are fads and which are actual depictions of the market, you’ll have to look at data from across a few years. Use market trends to avoid investing too heavily in the next fidget spinner.
5. Price margins: Even with a great product, you won’t make a profit unless you can cover Amazon’s fees and still stay price-competitive. You can research the cost of sourcing units from a site like Alibaba, then plug it into our Amazon FBA calculator.
6. Product reviews: Speaking of being competitive, you can enter the competition a lot sooner in a market where mediocre performance is the norm. Research reviews throughout the market and pay special attention to those that are generally low.
7. Product fulfillment: Finally, stay away from markets filled with FBA (fulfilled by Amazon) or AMZ (Amazon original) designations. If your products are FBA, then you can compete more effectively in markets that are mostly filled with FBM (fulfilled by merchant) products. Data can mean the difference between entering a market and thriving in it — or sinking fast due to poor intelligence. With our Amazon Market Intelligence tool, you can make sure you end up on the thriving side every time. To learn more, sign up for a free trial today!
Creating a successful Amazon PPC campaign isn’t just a matter of spending money on some keywords and then hoping to build sales. The strategy, research, and structure of a campaign are what determines its success. And even if you’ve done some thorough preparation, not keeping an eye on how well it’s doing will be a recipe for failure.
Every business has a specific vision of what an effective PPC campaign is. It could increase organic rank, drive sales of a seasonal product, or be consistently profitable. However you define PPC success, knowing the full scope of what’s possible within each of Amazon’s advertising channels will help you devise the ideal campaign for your brand. The keywords you target, the spending thresholds you set, and the performance metrics you use are all crucial to building a strong campaign.
As you juggle these different tasks, Viral Launch’s PPC tool, Kinetic, can make managing your campaigns easier and help you achieve your Amazon advertising goals. The data it provides on your ads’ performance can ensure your PPC campaign is structured effectively, targeting the right keywords, and spending efficiently.
Kinetic also offers automated features that will help you save time by taking bidding adjustments off your to-do list. It doesn’t force predefined rules on your campaign automation or only provide limited data. Similar to Viral Launch’s other software tools, Kinetic gives you the customization, flexibility, and data to make your ideal Amazon PPC ad strategy a working reality.
Here we’ll cover the various Amazon advertising channels—Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Product Display ads—and how Kinetic can provide benefits to each kind of PPC campaign.
Breaking Down the Amazon PPC Ads: SponsoredProducts, Sponsored Brands & Product Display Ads
The goal of an Amazon ad is pretty simple: convince a consumer to purchase your product. Yet making that happen is both complicated and expensive, and Amazon provides sellers with three different advertising channels for increasing brand awareness and gaining sales opportunities. Whether you choose to use one or a combination of them, each one provides different avenues for reaching consumers and specific advantages.
Sponsored Products Ads
The first thing you’ll likely see on a search results page is a Sponsored Products ad. They appear at the top of results, as well as alongside them and at the bottom of the page. They provide an excellent means of generating visibility and enticing people to check out your product. As the name implies, these are product-focused ads meant to increase sales.
Sponsored Products ads feature your product’s photo, your title (or part of it), the average reviews, and your price. These components alone are enough to draw a consumer’s attention and give her enough information to know if the offering is worth pursuing. When it appears next to competitors with weaker reviews or higher prices, the ad can really stand out and steal some sales from those other brands. These ads primarily target consumers who are weighing different options and are ready to make a purchase. Brand awareness can be generated here as a bonus, but the primary objective is to drive sales.
Where a Sponsored Products ad shows up relies on a variety of different factors. It isn’t just your keywords and your bids (although you still need to target the right keywords and offer a competitive bid). The impressions and clicks it earns also play a factor. The better your ad performs and the more sales your earn, the higher your ad placements will be.
Also, an increase in sales will also help boost your organic rank. Having greater visibility in organic search results will lead to receiving more impressions, views, and conversions. Our CEO Casey Gauss has often spoken about how sales and rank create a flywheel effect in which sales help increase organic rank, which helps boost sales, and the self-perpetuating pattern builds from there.
Sponsored Brands Ads
Being a recognizable brand means a great deal. Promoting your products is essential, but promoting your brand can help create a personal connection with consumers that paves the way to brand loyalty.
While Sponsored Products ads will help with product promotion, Sponsored Brands advertisements will allow you to show the personality behind your brand. Previously known as Headline ads, these ads appear as a banner ad on a search results page (at the top, middle, or bottom). They include your logo, a headline, and three featured product ads, each of which link to their product pages. By clicking the ad, a consumer will be taken to your brand’s Sales page or a customized landing page that showcases your three products and some information about your business.
Because of their size the information they convey, Sponsored Brands is an effective way to gain attention and establish your business as a market leader. This kind of presentation conveys the legitimacy of your brand and gives people a way of learning something about your brand. By telling a little about the story behind your business, you can motivate consumers to support your brand. These ads can also be used for seasonal campaigns. If your brand’s products go through sales spikes at certain times of year, running Sponsored Brands ads can start generating some attention to help ramp up your usual sales increases.
The target audience for these ads would be top-of-funnel consumers who are learning about the possible choices within a market. The goal is to plant a seed of awareness about your business and make a strong impression that can eventually lead to a sale when a consumer is ready to make a choice.
Product Display Ads
If you’re looking for some widespread exposure across a number of different placements, Product Display ads can make that happen. These ads appear not only on search results pages, but on product pages, the customer reviews page, and in Amazon’s follow-up emails to customers. So they cover a lot of ground and reach people at different stages of the sales process.
Product Display ads are essentially a combination of Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads. They’re used to promote a specific product, similar to Sponsored Products, but they’re similar in size and appearance to a Sponsored Brands ad. A Product Display ad will showcase one item, along with a headline, the product photo, your review count, and price. Similar to a Sponsored Products as, the aim is to gain some visibility and drive some sales.
Unlike either of these ad types, Product Display ads don’t target keywords. Instead, they target products and consumer interests. When targeting products, you focus on competitors’ products or related products within your main category. Interests refer to the categories and subcategories a consumer has searched within. The more specific your target is, the better. Rather than just targeting “Pet Supplies” for a dog leash, you could specifically target the subcategory of “Standard dog leash” or “Retractable dog leash.” By focusing on one of these detailed subcategories, you’ll have a better chance at connecting with your ideal customers.
How Kinetic Can Help
Each of these ad choices offers effective ways of getting your products in front of consumers, but they each have various challenges, which Kinetic can help you solve. By providing you with a complete overview of all your PPC campaigns, you’ll be able to verify what’s working and discover what isn’t so you can build on your successes and make improvements where necessary.
Knowing the right keywords to target is vital to your ads’ visibility and performance. Otherwise, you’re wasting your budget on keywords you can’t compete for or that aren’t relevant to your product. Using Kinetic, you’ll be able to accomplish the following:
Find which keywords are performing the best for you and capitalize on their results.
Discover new keyword opportunities that previously missed and expand your campaign’s visibility.
Create automated tasks around your new targets. These customized keyword-related rules can raise or lower your bids based on your ACoS, orders, and clicks. The control is in your hands.
Once you have the right keywords targeted, you’ll need to ensure you’re spending efficiently. You might have an ad that’s getting some good exposure, but if it’s eating up your budget, you’ll be reducing your profit margin. Kinetic can help you avoid those problems in the following ways:
Monitor and control your bids to maximize your budget.
Create a strategy for lowering, raising, or maintaining your ACoS, depending on your campaign goals.
Set thresholds based around a specified number of clicks or your break-even ACoS using Kinetic’s automated rules.
Locate and pause any unprofitable keywords or add them as a negative.
One of the big PPC misconceptions today is that once a seller has an Amazon ad campaign underway, the hard work is over and all that’s left to do is watch the sales roll in. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple and this kind of approach will only lead to wasted spending and little to no success. Kinetic gives you the ability to view your campaigns at a broad overview perspective as well as at a deeper detailed level:
View a list of all your products with snapshots of each of their campaigns. Unlike any other software tool, you’ll have an easily viewable presentation of your products’ data, including total sales, organic sales, and ad performance.
Monitor the metrics for each of your campaigns, such as Sponsored ad rank and keyword performance. Without knowing where your ad is showing up, you won’t have a good handle on your ad’s success, and without seeing your keyword performance, you won’t know which keyword markets are the most valuable for your campaigns.
Control your campaign spending, keep tabs on sales from ads, and make adjustments when needed
Filter data by any date range to view specific certain timeframes. Kinetic’s search term data feature also offers ranges of search term data that’s easier and less time-consuming to access than having to create a report within Amazon.
Benefit from Kinetic’s recommendations on the rules you set up for your campaigns. If you choose to manually run the rules yourself, rather than automating them, you’ll receive recommendations from Kinetic that will help you better monitor what’s working and what needs improvement. The automated option will enable Kinetic to carry out its own recommendations for you, saving you time and effort. Both options will help in monitoring your campaigns and pinpointing where to make adjustments.
Click here learn more about how Kinetic can energize your PPC campaigns and connect with your ideal consumers. Not interested in managing things yourself, let us do it for you with Kinetic Assist.
Good Amazon PPC decisions can’t happen without good data. Any opportunity to gather valuable data about your ad campaign is an opportunity to grow your business.
So if you’re struggling to build a profitable PPC campaign, analyzing the right data will help you develop some effective solutions. Or if you’re hitting your PPC goals, your data will be a crucial resource in keeping that success going. You may even find that your ads are missing some growth potential you weren’t aware of.
Each ad placement—top of search, rest of search, or product pages—will deliver different amounts of traffic and could require different amounts of spending. The traffic you get on page 1 will be much different than on page 5. Understanding how your ad’s placement is paying off (literally) will help you know how well your campaigns are increasing your visibility.
Whether you’re keeping a close eye on your ad placement or unsure of how to start, Viral Launch’s software tool Kinetic will give you the data you need to monitor your performance. It provides a simplified and agile means of managing your ad campaigns, allowing you to make improvements or adjustments quickly. Whatever your PPC goals, Kinetic will help you pinpoint the most effective placements for your ads and create sales-driving campaigns for your brand.
Why Amazon Ad Placement Data Matters
When you’ve got a good ACoS, you might consider your PPC campaign a success and want to leave everything exactly as it is. Why fix what isn’t broken? All you need is some automation so you can set it and forget it.
The trouble is that what’s successful on Amazon now won’t deliver the same results a month, a week, or even a day from now. Taking a hands-off approach will inevitably lead to a loss in visibility and be a gift to your competitors. Monitoring, analyzing, and adjusting are all necessary tasks in a successful PPC campaign, and you’ll need to know which placements are giving you the best outcome and which keywords or ASINs are your best targets.
Know Which Placement Leads to the Best Results
After some effort, your ad is now finally appearing at the top of page one. You’ve taken a step up from the middle of search and expect to see a boost in visibility. As it turns out, you unexpectedly find that the middle of the page was better for your campaign, as it consumed less of your budget and led to a greater number of impressions.
Your ideal ad placement will be dictated by your budget and PPC goals, as well as the data you collect. You’ll need to examine your ACoS and click-through rates, and determine which placement will deliver the best performance. An ad at the top of search will increase your product’s visibility, but the cost per click (CPC) will be more expensive. With lower placements, you’ll drive a lesser amount of traffic, but the clicks will be less expensive. Without knowing what each ad placement can deliver, you’ll be missing opportunities to connect with customers and narrow down your best placement spot.
Know the Keywords or ASINs That Deliver the Best Performance
Keywords aren’t just important to your products’ organic ranking. They’re also vital to getting your ads in front of your target audience. Your ad placement data can convey which search terms you’re competing the best for. You can then focus on those that will deliver the best return while pausing those that might not be very effective.
Let’s say your ad is targeting three different search terms:
Garlic press stainless steel
Garlic press and slicer in one
For “garlic press,” your Sponsored Products as is showing up on the middle of page 5 and not getting many impressions. “Garlic press stainless steel” is giving you some visibility the middle of page 3, and “Garlic press and slicer in one” is the best of all on page 1. By knowing what’s getting the best performance, you can focus on maintaining that success and start creating plans to make improvements for campaigns that are struggling.
In addition to ad placement data, other performance metrics will be crucial to growing the success of your campaigns, and Viral Launch’s Kinetic provides all of those metrics in an easily accessible format. This PPC software tool will allow you to gain insights into your campaigns to help you continue to meet your goals and pinpoint where any adjustments should be made.
Kinetic: Simplified and Efficient PPC Campaign Management
Your ad’s placement will tell you a lot about your campaign, but it’s up to you to unpack the data behind it. Our PPC tool, Kinetic, provides an efficient and in-depth way to evaluate your keywords, budget, structure and overall performance. By providing a full range of data no other tool provides, Kinetic will give you better control over your campaigns and strengthen their performance.
Sales, Spending & Placement Data
Knowing your best opportunities for growth should be an underlying goal for all your PPC campaigns. By telling you exactly where your ads are showing up, Kinetic can determine which placements are giving you the best performance.
You can also learn whether product pages or search results are giving you the most visibility. If product pages are best, you can devise a strategy for targeting competitors’ products with a more expensive price than yours. With your ad running next to them, you could potentially steal sales from those brands. By using Kinetic in combination with Viral Launch’s Competitor Intelligence, you can research your competitors’ products and locate some untapped opportunities for growth.
Kinetic also provides organic sales data, so you’ll be able to determine how your ads are helping boost your organic search rankings. The greater visibility your ads provide, the greater your sales will be, and an increase in sales will help improve your organic rank. Making improvements to your PPC campaigns will help increase your products’ visibility, and monitoring your ad placement data will be important to knowing where and how to make adjustments.
Manage and Maximize Your Bids and Budget
You can’t have a discussion about PPC management without talking about bids and budget. Keeping your spending as efficient as possible is an ongoing challenge, and Kinetic can help you tackle your budget challenges.
Kinetic’s customized automated rules will enable you to create thresholds for each campaign based around ACoS, clicks, orders, and ad rank. This customization isn’t limited to a few predefined functions. The flexibility it provides is unique to PPC software and puts all the control in your hands.
You can set your bids to increase or decrease based on specified conditions, such as if your ACoS is less than your breakeven ACoS and the click rate is larger than a certain amount. Or you can pause keywords that aren’t performing over a certain target. You can also add bid modifiers to target top or bottom of search and make adjustments to improve or maintain your PPC campaigns.
All of these automation features will help you reach your PPC goal, whether that’s a profitable campaign, a lower ACoS, increased organic rank, or all of the above. Kinetic gives you an endless amount of possibilities in the automation you can create to use your budget more efficiently and strengthen your ROI.
Monitor the Performance of Your Keywords
Targeting the right keywords is absolutely essential for your ad campaigns. Keyword research is an indispensable task and one that shouldn’t be thought of as something you only use at the beginning of a product launch. Making sure you’re targeting the right keywords for your products and ads should be an ongoing process.
The data Kinetic provides will tell you how well your ads’ keywords are performing and their profitability. You’ll be able to make decisions on which keywords should be paused, set as negatives, or broken out into their own campaigns. Any keywords driving a large amount of sales or consuming the majority of your budget are good candidates for having their own campaigns. By breaking them out, you can then increase your visibility and conversions, and Kinetic can help you manage those new campaigns.
Kinetic also offers search term reports you can view, so you don’t have to rely completely on Seller Central. Unlike Seller Central, you can easily compare and flip between different date ranges within the tool, instead of having to download one report at a time. Whenever you need to compare your seasonal data to previous months or years, Kinetic is an ideal solution. The tool also enables you to more easily aggregate your campaign’s performance by search term, which is more complicated in Seller Central.
Improving and Refining Your Amazon PPC Campaigns
Making the right decisions about your PPC ads depends on your ability to evaluate your keywords, budget, and performance. It’s vital to know how many impressions, views, or conversions your ad receives at different placements, whether top of search, rest of search, or product pages. By analyzing your spending data, click-through rates, and impressions, you can have a clear idea of how well your ads are performing.
Whatever challenges you may be facing with your PPC campaigns, Kinetic will help you develop customized and effective solutions. In addition to ad placement data, the tool provides quality data on keywords, campaign performance, spending, and Sponsored ad rank. Designed to make your PPC management more efficient, it will help you find weaknesses, develop improvements, and put them in action.
The team here at Viral Launch is committed to providing Amazon sellers of all sizes with the resources for attaining long-term success. Our expertise has been built on tens of thousands of product launches, and Kinetic’s sophisticated but easy-to-use capabilities will help your brand achieve their PPC goals and simplify the challenges of advertising on Amazon.
Landing an Amazon PPC ad at the top of page one of organic search results is no small accomplishment, and it’s the result of a series of smaller accomplishments. Targeting the right keyword, knowing the best placement, having a strong sales history, and making a winning bid are all essential to creating a successful campaign.
And even after making those accomplishments, your work isn’t over. When it comes to bidding for Sponsored Products ads, you have to continually monitor your bids to ensure you’re not missing good opportunities or overspending for the conversions you’re getting.
Avoiding the PPC pitfalls that will drain your budget and lead to a weak performance depends on following the right bidding strategy. Navigating Amazon’s PPC ecosystem is both complicated and expensive, so It’s important to have a complete understanding of the bidding capabilities Amazon provides and how you can take advantage of them.
Amazon’s Dynamic Bidding Strategies
Earlier this year, Amazon made news when it released three new ad bidding features that enable Amazon sellers to place bids on their Sponsored Products ad placements. These “dynamic” bidding capabilities take place in real time and will raise or lower your bids for you, based on a variety of factors, including your sales history and review count. These features help sellers compete in auctions where they’re likely to win or avoid spending budget where they’re not competitive.
The three options are as follows:
Dynamic bids – down only: Your bids will be decreased when Amazon determines your bid won’t likely win the auction. This is based on historical campaign data.
Dynamic bids – up and down: Amazon will raise or lower your bid, depending on the competitors’ bids and whether you have the likelihood of winning.
Fixed bids: Here your bid remains static without changing.
Making the best choice depends on your PPC goals. What you plan to achieve will guide your choice, such as if you’re looking to boost your sales or to run a profitable campaign.
Amazon also provides the Adjust Bids by Placement settings, which allow you to increase your bids even further depending on the placement. Top of search on page one and Product pages are the two offered settings, so you can enter a percentage, depending on how much you want to spend. When aiming for these specific placements, these adjustments can make your bids more competitive.
Once you’ve got a strategy in place, Viral Launch’s new PPC management tool Kinetic can help you gather more data than any other software can provide and strengthen your campaigns. Being successful on Amazon requires more than just offering a great product at a competitive price. PPC ads are essential to having a profitable business in the Amazon marketplace, and Kinetic will help simplify the complexities of this challenging but vital task.
How Kinetic Can Help Your PPC Bidding Challenges
Monitoring and adjusting your PPC bids can be the most time-consuming part of your entire campaign. As an in-depth PPC management solution, Kinetic can simplify your monitoring activities, locate weaknesses, and help you make improvements. The tool provides an overview of how all your campaigns are performing and gives you an efficient means of controlling your PPC spending through its customized automation, saving you both time and budget.
Working with Amazon’s Bidding Strategies
Choosing the best strategy depends on your PPC goals and which stage your campaign is in. You also need to anticipate how competitive you’ll be in the auctions you’re bidding in. Doing some research will be a necessary step, and Kinetic will provide accurate, helpful data for structuring your ads. As your campaign grows and build some history, you’ll likely move from one Amazon bidding strategy to another.
We recommend starting a new campaign with Fixed since you don’t have any ad history built yet. Fixed bids are a good way to prevent spending money in auctions that you won’t likely win. This strategy will keep all your bids at the same amount.
Amazon recommends using this strategy as a way of increasing product awareness, rather than conversions. The goal here would be getting your brand and products in front of as many consumers as possible in order to start earning sales later on.
Once you’ve begun developing some ad history, the Down Only option will help you start becoming more competitive. As the name implies, Amazon will only lower your bids in auctions where you aren’t likely to win. This is a good way to prevent spending money in auctions where you’re not competitive.
As your ads begin generating some performance data, Kinetic can tell you which keywords are delivering the best performance so you can start devoting more of your budget to them in order to build on those gains.
Up and Down
Once you’ve got some keywords driving a lot of conversions, this two-dimensional strategy is the best option. An Up and Down strategy should only be used if you’ve been in the market for at least a week and have built some ad history. If you use this for a new campaign, Amazon won’t have any basis for knowing if you’re able to convert for a particular keyword.
By letting Amazon increase or decrease your bids depending on the auction, you’ll be giving the keywords a greater chance to deliver. With this kind of strategy, you’ll need to plan to increase your spending, so you’ll come closer to, or actually reach, your spending threshold.
If Up and Down is working well, you can create an automated rule in Kinetic to increase your budget to maintain the success. You may find that your cost per click (CPC) will vary, with some clicks being more expensive than others. You’ll be getting slightly fewer clicks, but for high-converting keywords, and spending more than you were at earlier stages of your campaign, but gaining more sales.
Turning Non-delivering Keywords into Delivering Ones
Running an efficient campaign requires adding any non-delivering keywords as negatives. You don’t want to devote any time or budget to anything that isn’t working. Although adding under-performing keywords as negatives is a necessary task, Kinetic can help with determining what isn’t working and if the fault is in your spending, not the keyword itself.
If you verify that you’re targeting a keyword that’s relevant to your product, any problems are likely due to your bid or budget being too low. As an example, if you have a 50-keyword set with a $20 per day budget, that means you’re spending less than a dollar for each of those keywords. By increasing your budget, you can start seeing some delivery on those keywords and use your budget more efficiently.
Also keep in mind that how much you bid determines which auction Amazon will put you in.
Using Kinetic’s automation, if the impressions or clicks your ad is getting are less than a certain amount, you can increase your bids and participate in a more valuable auction. When that occurs, you’ll likely see some improved performance. Sometimes just increasing your bid, while staying within a certain range, can help an ad’s performance for a keyword or when trying to attain a certain placement.
Eliminating Overspending and Lowering Your ACoS
Increasing your spending isn’t always the right solution, and you might discover that you’re spending way too much for the impressions or views that your ad is getting.
Kinetic’s automated functions can help you control and improve any inefficient spending, such as any keyword that’s spending but not converting. If you’re working with a 50-keyword set, you may find that only 12 are converting. Based on Kinetic’s data, you can automate Kinetic to pause the other 38 keywords that aren’t converting and then determine whether they’re relevant to your product or if you need to adjust your price.
Controlling your ACoS is a typical challenge and if it’s too high, you’re paying too much per click or your conversion rate is too low. Let’s say you were targeting the first Sponsored Products ad position and seeing a low conversion rate there. The best solution would be to lower your bid to attain a lower ad position where you can pay less per click. Once you can achieve a relatively constant conversion rate, your ACoS will decrease, but the trade-off is that you’ll get less traffic at that position. This same kind of strategy can help when trying to create a profitable PPC campaign. The result will be a lower ad position, but one at a more profitable level that still drives enough traffic to earn a strong amount of conversions.
As another example, if bidding on a keyword is getting you to the first row of ads but with a high ACoS, you can set a rule to improve your spending. In Kinetic, you would create a rule that would decrease your keyword bid by 30 or 40% whenever your ACoS is greater than your breakeven ACoS and your click rate is greater than 20. Once this rule is in place, you can begin gathering data on its performance to see how well it’s working. When your ACoS drops, you can create a rule for maintaining that level of spend.
Reducing Your Monitoring Frequency
Although Kinetic isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of tool, it can free you up from checking your campaign’s spending, keyword performance, and placement throughout the day. Its automated rules can adjust or pause your spending based on the conditions you create, so you won’t be making manual adjustments in Seller Central.
If you usually monitor your campaigns on a weekly basis to see how certain adjustments have performed, Kinetic can provide all the data you need and enable you to download search term reports, rather than using Seller Central. However frequently you choose to monitor your campaign, Kinetic will help you optimize it with adjustments that will improve your visibility and conversion rates.
Learning Where You Can Best Compete
The keywords you target play a huge role in how successful your PPC ads are. Keeping a constant eye on the keywords your ads are targeting is one of the crucial tasks of monitoring your campaigns.
In the past, the usual strategy was to bid for the top keywords in a product category. Since those were the main keywords, that was the most logical thing to do, but the outcome would be a low click-through rate and an even lower conversion rate. To add insult to injury, your organic ranking for that keyword would drop.
A smarter strategy is to discover which keywords you can best compete for, and Kinetic can help you verify your targets or find missing opportunities. By targeting the right keywords, you’ll be giving yourself the best chance at conversions and avoiding wasted spend on the wrong choices. You’ll then be able to achieve some visibility and sales for your products, and in turn help boost your organic rank.
Amazon’s algorithms are paying attention to every aspect of your PPC performance, so if you target keywords you can’t compete for, it will actually have a negative effect on your campaign. Instead, examine your data, find your best targets, and adjust your spending.
Streamline Your Bid Strategies, Strengthen Your PPC Campaigns
Having a huge budget at your disposal, as great as that might be, doesn’t automatically mean your PPC ads will be successful. It’s your overall PPC strategy, including your bidding decisions, keywords and placement targets, that will determine the success of your PPC campaign.
Whether you’re aiming to increase sales, boost brand awareness, or run a profitable campaign, Viral Launch’s Kinetic will help you achieve your PPC goals. Its automated features will give you greater control over your bidding tasks and help you use your budget more efficiently. You’ll also be able to quickly pinpoint weaknesses in your campaigns, make improvements, and increase your ads’ impressions, clicks, and conversions.
Amazon’s PPC advertising ecosystem is complicated, and PPC is a major challenge for any Amazon sellers, no matter the size of the business. Each of Viral Launch’s software tools can help your Amazon selling efforts, and as PPC becomes more important for business growth, Kinetic will be an indispensable asset in simplifying your advertising challenges. With this customizable tool, you can ensure your PPC campaigns are built on accurate data, an optimized structure, and competitive bidding strategies.
Click here learn more about how Kinetic can energize your PPC campaigns and connect with your ideal consumers. Not interested in managing things yourself, let us do it for you with Kinetic Assist.
The average Amazon consumer probably doesn’t know much about Amazon PPC advertising, but the ads themselves will be a familiar sight.
The average Amazon consumer probably doesn’t know much about Amazon PPC advertising, but the ads themselves will be a familiar sight. When scrolling through search results and viewing product pages, a series of product ads is always competing for the buyer’s attention
Every Amazon seller wants their products to be found as easily as possible, and Amazon pay-per-click (PPC) ads are one of the central tactics in making this happen. Optimizing a product listing is crucial to having a strong ranking, yet it requires much more than that to be competitive, and PPC will play a huge role in getting products in front of their intended audience. Knowing how to start an Amazon PPC advertising campaign can seem intimidating, but understanding the basics is the first step in learning how to take advantage of its inherent sales possibilities. Here we’ll provide an overview of Amazon PPC advertising and the advantages it can provide for increasing product exposure and sales.
Learning the PPC Facts
Let’s start with some fundamentals. The advertisements that appear on Amazon’s search results pages and on product pages are what Amazon refers to as Sponsored Products ads. “Sponsored” refers to the fact that these ads are paid for by the product’s seller.
The ads appear based around keywords entered during a product search. As a seller, you’ll bid for a keyword related to your product, such as “thank you cards.” Whenever someone searches for that keyword, the amount of your bid will determine the position of your ad. If you have the highest bid, you’ll win the first position. The second-highest would claim the second spot, and so on. You don’t actually pay for the bid until a consumer clicks the ad to view the product page, which is why these ads are known as pay-per-click.
Another important topic is CPC or cost per click. This cost reflects the efficiency of your ad spending based on how many consumers clicked your ad. If you spent $80 on an ad, and 40 people clicked the ad, your CPC would be $2. The significance of CPC is that it indicates how well your ad is performing. To differentiate, PPC is the overall advertising plan, whereas CPC is the performance gauge of your plan. Note that Amazon PPC ads are available only to sellers on the Professional plan.
What You Can Gain from PPC
Sponsored ads enable a great means of exposure with your target audience. PPC ads draw attention to your product, providing a photo, price, and title (or the first part of it). It also shows if you’re a Prime member, when the consumer will receive it, and your review rating. These basics all form the hook that will intrigue someone to click the ad to learn more. Consumers can then compare your offering with those of your competitors and become familiar with your brand.
Greater visibility leads directly to greater potential for sales. In some cases, sponsored ads have enabled no-name businesses to steal sales away from larger, more established brands. By doing so, a smaller business can build enough sales to compete with those large brands and take market share away from them.
Within Amazon’s Seller Central, you can monitor your Sponsored Products performance and make adjustments depending on how well you’re doing. You can reduce or increase your bids on the keywords you’re ranking for or choose to stop bidding on keywords that aren’t going well. All this allows you to use your ad budget wisely and fine-tune your campaign.
Not everyone searches for products using the exact same keywords. Giving your ads the biggest potential for exposure requires connecting your ads with the different possibilities of search terms. Keywords are categorized in three different groups:
Exact: Just as it sounds, this would consist of an exact match of a keyword, such as
“thank you cards.” In this category, your ads would only appear for searches for this exact match.
Phrase: This category would be a step beyond exact match but include the phrase itself in the
same order as exact match. Many different derivations may exist, but the keywords must appear
in the right order. Here are some phrase match examples:
Thank you cards with envelopes
Thank you cards baby shower
Thank you cards wedding
Broad: This category provides the broadest potential for your ads to appear. Keywords can
appear out of order and include modifiers. Examples would be
Card thank you funny
Gift cards thank you
Cards thank you religious
By using a combination of all three categories, your ads can appear in front a wide array of consumers and increase your chances of clicks and conversions.
Using Automatic and Manual Campaigns
As you start your campaign, you have a couple of different campaign options when it comes to targeting keywords. You can either take a manual approach and choose which keywords you want your ads to target, or you can allow Amazon to do the targeting for you automatically, based on what it considers the best keywords to be for your product.
Automatic is the best place to start and will enable you to compete in the auctions that make sense for your product. When using an automatic campaign, you’ll set your budget limits and Amazon handles the rest. After you’ve begun, Amazon will send you a report breaking down your performance, listing your keywords, clicks, and conversions. You can determine how frequently you’d like to receive the reports, which can be generated every 12 hours.
A manual campaign will put all the control in your hands, but you’ll need to do your research before choosing your keywords. It’s best to use a manual approach after you’ve had an automatic campaign under way and now you want to target specific keywords that you’re ranking well for. You’ll also be able to bid for exact, phrase, and broad matches, and you’ll be able to set your bids depending on your budget and performance.
Weeding Out Negative Keywords
As your campaigns grow and certain keywords are performing well, you can start eliminating those keywords that are no longer relevant or aren’t leading to conversions. Amazon’s algorithms will monitor any keywords that you’re bidding for that aren’t generating clicks, and your organic rankings will consequently suffer. Removing those poorly performing keywords will help your spending be as efficient as possible and help you focus on the keywords you can compete well for.
Also, when it comes to those keywords you’re converting well for, you can devote an entire campaign to that specific keyword. In order to do so, you’ll need to remove that keyword from an existing campaign by making it a negative one. You’ll then create a manual campaign devoted to that keyword.
Putting Your PPC Campaign in Action
Now that you have an understanding of what PPC can help you achieve, you’re likely already thinking about how you can put it to use in your Amazon selling endeavors. In addition to being something any seller should put into practice, PPC can have distinct advantages when launching a new product or for getting seasonable products some attention during specific times of year. Taking advantage of the advertising channels that Amazon provides is crucial for giving your products some valuable exposure and a reliable means of increasing your chances for sales.
As you get started learning your way around Amazon PPC advertising and get some hands-on experience, the team here at Viral Launch can answer questions and provide help when needed. Our Amazon PPC expertise and insights have been built on years of launching thousands of products. We’ve helped new brands establish themselves in the Amazon marketplace by using our sales and rank strategies to lay the groundwork for long-term success.
Are you interested in putting some of this strategy to work for you? Start your free trial of Kinetic, or learn more about how our team of in-house experts can run your ads for you with Kinetic Assist.
The title of a product on Amazon carries a lot of weight when it comes to organic rank and click-through rates, and if your listing isn’t in step with the official style requirements, the upcoming Amazon policy enforcement should motivate you to make some changes.
Amazon recently announced that on July 22 it will be “suppressing ASINs from Amazon Search that violate Amazon’s title guidelines.” According to the announcement, the reason behind this new enforcement is that titles that don’t comply with Amazon’s guidelines “result in a poor customer experience.”
As shown in the news release above, the announcement mentions some specific requirements:
No promotional language can be used, such as “free shipping” or “100% quality guaranteed.”
Other examples would be “Best Seller” or “Hot Item.”
No non-readable characters can be used, such as HTML code.
The length of a title can’t exceed 200 characters. Titles must include “product identifying information,” which describes what the product is, such as a garlic press or first aid kit.
Although not mentioned in the announcement, the Amazon Style Guide also contains a number of further requirements, such as prohibiting the use of all caps or special characters (such as ! or $.)
No one wants their business disrupted, so it’s important to understand the effect of what this new level of Amazon policy enforcement may have on your brand, and then take some practical steps to ensure you can maintain your visibility and sales.
What This Means for Amazon Sellers
The most important element of a product listing is its title, and having it optimized for organic search is a vital part of gaining visibility under any conditions.
The “suppression from search” for those who violate the title guidelines is open to interpretation, but the announcement indicates that this suppression would actually be a removal from search entirely.
Amazon mentions that if a product title is penalized, “[o]nce the issue is fixed, we will remove the search suppression and the ASIN will appear back on Amazon search.”
From this statement, the penalization wouldn’t be a matter of your product taking a drop in organic ranking and be languishing many pages deep in a search. It would be an outright elimination from organic search, and the effect on your product’s visibility and sales would bring your business to a halt.
Considering the amount of products that exist in Amazon’s marketplace, how quickly they will be able to roll out this tighter enforcement is uncertain. It likely won’t happen immediately, yet ensuring your title is compliant with the style guide so that your product remains searchable should be your current top priority.
Getting Your Listing Ready for Compliance
To avoid losing visibility, ranking, and sales, we’ve provided a list of crucial steps for becoming compliant with the title guidelines.
In case you aren’t clear on the guidelines or need access to them, we’ve created a downloadable spreadsheet, Amazon Style Guides by Category. It breaks down what the title counts have previously been for each category and provides links to the style guides for each category. The announcement states title character counts cannot exceed 200 characters, so it remains to be seen if certain categories will continue to be limited to 50 characters.
Another requirement in some categories is that businesses must include their brand name in their product titles. Although this helps promote your brand, it essentially restricts the character limit even more, forcing business to balance visibility, precision, and helpful information.
How To Stay Compliant
Before the deadline arrives, follow these five tasks help you stay compliant and avoid any issues:
1. Access your style guide from our spreadsheet and track down the category-specific limitations for your title. Find the exact character count and if you’re exempt from having to include your brand name. Keep in mind that Amazon updates style guides regularly, so be sure to stay up-to-date.
2. Write a new title, staying within the new limit for your category and including your brand name, if required. Our tool Listing Builder can help you quickly devise a new one and move any previous info from your title into your bullet points.
3. Set up organic rank notifications for a particular keyword in Keyword Manager. Go to the Notification Settings, and under Rank Change Notifications, choose to receive messages based on whether the rank increases or drops, or only if it drops. You can then specify how high or low you want the rank positions to be and in this instance you should set wide parameters for the notifications. The tool will then message you if your organic rank changes after the new policy goes into effect. (You can also receive notifications on your Sponsored Rank, as shown in the GIF below.)
4. Set up buy box and Best Seller Rank notifications in Competitor Intelligence for your ASINs. If any changes occur, we send an alert to keep you informed. Using CI, you can track keywords a competitor is targeting and indexed for, and see the keywords’ organic rank. You can then choose to receive change alerts for the keywords’ ranking. This can occur on an hourly basis, as shown below.
5. If notified that your ASIN is affected, implement your new title and bullets to your product listing. After you make this update, Amazon will re-index your listing. As a result, you’ll temporarily see a drop in your organic ranking. But based on your sales history, reviews, and traffic, you’ll see your rank resume its position.
Stay Compliant, Stay Successful
The recent announcement regarding titles has received a variety of different reactions. And many sellers may be asking why it took Amazon so long to enforce its own policy. No matter how you feel, ensuring your title meets Amazon’s policy requirements safeguards your listing. Since visibility remains crucial, avoiding penalization and a loss in visibility helps maintain your sales opportunities.
For any help getting in step with Amazon’s product title guidelines, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team ensures your product listing complies with Amazon’s style guide and remains optimized to increase your visibility, conversions, and business growth.
Prime Day is right around the corner, and in true Amazon fashion, they’ve rolled out a brand new feature just in the nick of time.
As an Amazon seller, you’re probably quite used to visiting the Advertising tab in Seller Central. For US accounts, you’ll now see a sub-tab called Prime-Exclusive Discounts. This is a new way to offer a discount on your products exclusively to Prime members. These discounts can be offered all year long, and they’ve been unveiled just in time for Prime Day (which has been rumored to be July 15th, 2019). But hurry up… the deadline to run these new discounts on Prime Day is July 5th!
Prime Day will provide sellers with an incredible opportunity to jolt their sales. We even put together a step-by-step guide to help you prepare. Now is the time to take action, and Prime Exclusive Discounts are an easy opportunity for you to set your product apart from the pack… or at least to make sure you’re not left behind if everyone else sets them up too.
What are Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Prime-Exclusive Discounts are offered on Prime-eligible products sold through FBA, which are only available to Prime members. These products will show strikethrough pricing plus a savings message in the search results and in the buy box.
Amazon is giving sellers like you the ability to create Prime-Exclusive Discounts specifically for their upcoming holiday: Prime Day. You can do this by checking the corresponding box during setup. On Prime Day, these discounts will even include an extra badge that reads “Prime Day Deals” in the search results and on the detail page.
What are the requirements for Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Many Amazon.com products are going to be eligible for Prime-Exclusive Discounts, and they are free to create. In order to set one up, your product must meet the following criteria:
Prime shipping eligible in all regions in the US
No rating or 3+ stars
The discount must be 10%-80% off of your listed price. For a Prime Day discount, it must be 20%-80% off
The discount must be the lowest price in the past 30 days
How do I set up a Prime-Exclusive Discount?
The process for creating Prime-Exclusive discounts is quite manual, but it only takes a few minutes. Don’t forget: the deadline for Prime Day discounts is July 5th, so take action now before it’s too late!
1. Find the discounts in Seller Central
Sign into Seller Central and navigate to the Advertising tab. Inside, you’ll find the option for Prime Exclusive Discounts. To get started, click “Create Discount.”
2. Name your discount
A name is required, and it will be used internally for your reference. Give the discount a name that corresponds to the product(s) you’re setting it up for so that, in the future, you can look back and quickly recognize what the discount was for.
3. Decide whether or not to run the discount on Prime Day
From what we can tell, you cannot uncheck the box labeled, “Is this a Prime Day discount?” So for now, it seems the Prime-Exclusive Discounts are being initially rolled out for Prime Day specifically. We assume that, in the future, you will be able to set a timeframe and date range for these deals. (If you’re seeing something different, please let us know in the comments below!)
4. Upload your product template
This part is a little bit manual, but don’t let it scare you away. It’s pretty easy to set up. Click the “view upload template” link, and it will download a spreadsheet for you to read through and fill out. There are three tabs:
Instructions: Learn how to use your Price Loader Template. This is pretty straightforward, but read through it so that you’re fully informed.
Data Definitions: Get specific instructions on what exactly to put into each field.
PrimePriceLoader Template: Enter your discount information, including SKU, amount off vs. percentage off, price discount, minimum discounted price, and the action (whether you’re adding, editing, or deleting the discount).
Don’t worry about deleting or renaming any tabs. If you do, it will cause an error. Simply fill out the information, save the Excel document, and upload the file. In the next step, you will find out if your inputs are valid.
5. Validate products
Here, you can make sure you’ve filled out the template correctly, along with seeing any issues that may make your product ineligible. If there are issues, the status will show why. You can edit the Discount Type, Prime Discount, and Minimum Price to resolve the problem. From here, you can add more products or Submit the Discounts. Next, you’ll be taken back to the main page where you can view discount details along with the status of each deal. Amazon states that if your start date is today, then the discount may take up to 120 minutes to go live.
Do Prime-Exclusive Discounts overlap with other deals?
Yes, they do overlap! Regular promotions or coupons will stack on top of these Prime-Exclusive Discounts. Please review your products carefully before scheduling to prevent customers combining them for significant discounts. And keep in mind that if you are running a Lightning Deal during the Prime Exclusive Discount, it will impact the maximum Deal Price of your Lightning Deal.
What do you think about Prime-Exclusive Discounts?
Prime-Exclusive Discounts are brand new, so we’re not sure how they will impact conversions. Some sellers are frustrated, calling this another way for Amazon to make money while sellers dig into already-slim margins. Others are hopeful this will help set their products apart.
What’s our suggestion? Well, we know that shoppers will be flocking to Amazon in mid-July during Prime Day, hungry for the best deals on products across all categories. And honestly, the more you can appeal to these shoppers, the better. So, our suggestion is to try these out. The volume here will hopefully make up for the cost (of course, this depends on your market, your conversion rate, and your visibility). If your margins are already pretty thin, consider raising your price and then discounting it to appeal to the discount-nature of Prime Day. The extra badge on your listing should help draw some meaningful attention to your product (especially if you missed the Lightning Deal deadline). And since you cannot set these up for Prime Day after July 5th, schedule them now and keep an eye on your clicks and conversions during the holiday.
To make sure you’re fully prepared for Prime Day, check out our free guide: How to Jolt Sales for Prime Day 2019. We’re excited to see the results for those of you that take action on these new discounts, and we can’t wait to hear of the successes that Prime Day brings.
We’re interested… what do you think of these new Prime-Exclusive Discounts? Will you be using them in your strategy?
For brands and entrepreneurs selling on Amazon, 2018 was a whirlwind of change with increases in competition, old success tactics becoming obsolete, new Amazon programs, and so much more. If history is any indicator, then we can expect even more of these changes in the new year. But what sorts of changes should we expect? How will these changes impact your Amazon business? And what steps should you be taking to prepare for these changes to best get ahead of the competition?
Here at Viral Launch, through helping drive more than $7 billion dollars in Amazon sales, we’re equipped with a vast amount of insight and data. This experience working with thousands of brands (from small private label sellers, to $100m+ 3rd party sellers and world renowned Fortune 100 brands) has enabled us to predict some of the biggest things to come in 2019. And we want to share them with you so that you can prepare for what’s ahead this year.
Not only that, but we teamed up with more than twenty 7, 8, and 9 figure sellers and Amazon thought leaders to get their unique perspectives on what to expect and how to prepare for success in the coming year. So, here are 11 predictions for Amazon in 2019 to inform your business decision making, formulated by Viral Launch and informed by top industry experts.
1. Major Brands Get Smart About Amazon Organic Ranking & Sales
We are predicting there will be more major brands that get smart about Amazon success tactics, putting even more pressure on Amazon sellers!
The reason third-party sellers (the small private label sellers) have had the opportunity to become ecommerce giants (we have a couple private label customers and personal friends that surpassed $100m on Amazon in 2018) is because when Amazon changed the ecommerce game, they changed the necessary tactics that drive success.
In a lot of ways, the primary tactics used in traditional retail – such as paying for shelf space, good in-person packaging, and branding – gave way to lower prices, organic keyword ranking, and pay per click/direct response advertising.
Amazon third-party sellers have been able to drive massive success because their only chance of driving sales among such established players was to become students of the new paradigms of retail success tactics. These sellers have worked diligently to understand the key drivers of Amazon organic keyword ranking and conversions, which has led to significantly greater visibility than their household name competitors.
Major brands continue to use deprecated success techniques, leaving the door wide open for third party sellers to reap the benefits of their Amazon expertise. Major brands typically only pay attention to Amazon PPC as their most impactful lever of driving sales. However, in general, only 15-40% of a product’s sales potential comes from Amazon advertising, while the remaining 60-85% can be found in the organic search results. It’s within this uncontested 60-85% space that third-party sellers have thrived and grown.
We are seeing more of these larger brands realize that there is far more potential beyond just Amazon advertising sales. They are beginning to hire successful Amazon sellers and/or software providers as consultants in order to help them become experts, much like successful third-party sellers. This is causing them to shift their focus from the 15-40% of sales potential to 100% of sales potential.
2. Amazon PPC Becomes Less Profitable But More Important
We are predicting that advertising on Amazon will see an increase in efficiency, significant increases in cost, and a significant increase in importance to success for brands on Amazon.
As Amazon increases their dominance in ecommerce and retail, brands are forced to move more of their budget to Amazon advertising. Significantly increased demand, combined with inefficient spend of untrained brands, will absolutely result in increased CPCs (cost-per-clicks). We’ve been observing this trend for quite some time in many markets, but we expect it to increase in velocity and ubiquity. It’s hard to go more than a week without seeing a new post in the media about Amazon’s advertising platform. With that said, we do think that while costs will increase, efficiency will improve.
Viral Launch still sees significant inefficiencies in general Amazon advertising campaign management, largely due to the limitations of Amazon’s in-house advertising tools and programs as well as a lack of sophisticated ad management and automation alternatives. However, we expect new tools/improved sophistication and functionality in Amazon advertising tools and programs will allow for an improvement in advertising spend efficiency. We also expect Amazon to continue improving their ad targeting technology with new programs and tools which will help brands improve overall spend efficiency.
Additionally, we believe that advertising on Amazon is and will continue to be increasingly more important to being competitive on Amazon. With more ad placements per page, we expect advertising to continue increasing the share of an individual product’s sales potential versus organic sales potential. Advertising can also be an important tool in affecting organic sales. Brands that have been using purely organic traffic to build their business will be forced to become experts at Amazon advertising in order to remain ahead of the competition.
3. The Reign of Building Brands Off Amazon
We are predicting that more Amazon sellers will focus on building brands off of Amazon as the effort/reward ratio continues to improve relative to the ratio of focusing solely on Amazon.
Up until 2018, Viral Launch has been a major advocate for focusing on Amazon and delaying true brand building until you crossed the $10m mark on Amazon. While we had obviously seen a few brands build success using a multi-channel strategy (selling outside of just Amazon), it was extremely rare. Much more frequently, sellers hit 7 and 8 figures ($10,000,000+) while focused almost exclusivelyon selling on Amazon. Opportunity cost is a powerful metric for optimal decision making, and for the vast majority of sellers, the opportunity cost was too high when focusing off of Amazon. The reason was because selling on Amazon still presented a lot of low hanging fruit and provided revenue growth rates you could hardly ever reach anywhere else.
As selling on Amazon has become increasingly competitive, we feel that the scales of opportunity cost are shifting to point to true brand building as the greater opportunity. Now don’t get me wrong, there are more people spending more money than ever on Amazon. The opportunity is greater than ever, but the cost and effort of seizing the opportunity is also greater than ever (in most markets).
4. Successful Brands Will Continue to Grow Significantly
We are predicting successful sellers/brands will see unparalleled sales volume on Amazon!
While it’s true that selling on Amazon has become more difficult than ever, there are more people spending more money on Amazon than ever before. This trend will continue into 2019, meaning those brands that are able to achieve/maintain top organic ranking positions, as well as perform well in advertising, will see sales volumes at unparalleled levels. The stakes are higher than ever! It truly is an exciting time to be selling successfully on Amazon.
5. Fewer New Entrepreneurs Begin Selling On Amazon
We are predicting fewer new Amazon seller accounts will be created in 2019.
According to Marketplace Pulse there were 1,200,000 Amazon seller accounts created in 2018 (a good portion never saw a sale). We are expecting new account creation to slow down quite a bit.
There are three primary reasons we expect this to happen.
Reason 1) Increased Barrier to Entry: the cost and complexity of driving success on Amazon has increased. While we still believe there is a massive amount of opportunity on Amazon still (see Amazon Product Research in 2019), the opportunity generally requires larger budgets and more complex strategy.
Reason 2) Market Fatigue: There are only so many aspiring entrepreneurs and mom and pop shops that are interested in selling on Amazon. We are predicting that the interest peaked in these two demographics in 2018.
Reason 3) While we are not economists or fortune tellers, the possibility of a global/US based financial downturn is looming. In the event of a financial downturn, we expect people to have less “free cash” available to start an Amazon FBA business.
6. Major Changes in Reviews and Rankings
In 2019, we think Amazon will continue to improve the security/integrity around many systems/processes including their coveted reviews.
While we have been expecting Amazon to make a major systemic change to their review system, we are guessing (and hoping) that 2019 is the year we see this change come to fruition. In 2018 we have seen some review changes, specifically around review locks, in which receiving too many reviews will trigger Amazon to put a lock on new review activity.
We expect many unforeseen changes to take place, however our greatest hope/prediction is for Amazon to change the review system to a LinkedIn-style review cap presented on search results. By this, we mean that on search results pages, we expect Amazon to begin showing review quantities over 1,000 reviews as 1,000+ (or some similar number). You can check out our Amazon review podcast covering why we think this is necessary to protecting the quality of products purchased and the integrity of Amazon’s review platform for more on that topic.
In short, sellers are incentivized to achieve the highest review quantity relative to their competitors. A higher review quantity indicates greater popularity to potential buyers. If a product has been selling for 10 years on Amazon, it has a distinct advantage over new, and potentially better, products that have not had as long to generate reviews. Let’s say Product A has been on Amazon for 5 years, has a 4.4 star rating, and 6,000 reviews. While Product B has been on Amazon for 6 months, has a 4.8 star rating with 1,000 reviews and a price point $1.00 cheaper than Product A. While most may think Product B is a better product at a better value, there is very little hope of Product B gaining the sales necessary to acquire the reviews to outperform Product A. Product A could allow the quality of their product to decrease because they have such a large review quantity built up that it will be very difficult for others to catch up. It creates a stale market favoring age over quality and value. Limiting to 1,000 reviews shown in the decision process would allow customers to know that a statistically significant number of other customers have purchased/reviewed the product so that review rating must be legitimate.
While we do not have many specific predictions we feel comfortable sharing, we do expect there to be rather significant shake ups in the key drivers of Amazon’s organic keyword ranking algorithm. As in the past, having access to significant amounts of data around key ranking factors/metrics while constantly testing will be the key to staying ahead of any algorithmic changes. Fortunately, Viral Launch has been able to stay abreast of any changes thanks to our wealth of data and brilliant R&D team.
7. Facebook Begins It’s Path of Becoming The Second Largest Ecommerce Site
We are predicting Facebook begins making big moves in ecommerce by subsidizing sales through their platform for merchants to sell direct through their platform.
For the last couple of years, we’ve consistently considered Facebook to be the entity with the greatest potential to challenge Amazon in the world of retail. We’ve lost quite a bit of hope in Walmart and Google over the years. If you think through the core building blocks to a successful ecommerce platform, attention, data, trust, and web/mobile capabilities/technology are top of the list. With more than a purported 2 billion monthly active users, unparalleled data around it’s users, and significant web and mobile technology, Facebook is more than well equipped to help brands sell their goods directly through their platform at a massive scale.
I’m not talking about Facebook’s peer-to-peer marketplace. I’m expecting a full fledged Amazon competitor, and we’re beginning to see the early stages. In some instances, Facebook is reimbursing merchants $5 for each product sold to cover the cost of shipping with no additional marketplace fees, making Facebook a cheaper place to move product already. We’re expecting Facebook to start making some big moves in the e-commerce world in 2019.
8. International Markets are the New Gold Rush
We are predicting a substantial movement of third-party Amazon.com sellers in offering their products and brands on Amazon’s international marketplaces in 2019.
Selling on Amazon.com (the US marketplace) still poses massive opportunity if played right, but there is no denying that it is certainly more difficult to grasp that opportunity than ever. We expect the real mad rush for low hanging-fruit sales (Amazon “gold”) will come in Amazon’s international marketplaces. Viral Launch has been a strong advocate of sellers expanding internationally for the last two years, which is why we invested in hiring domestic listing optimization specialists in each country containing a major Amazon marketplace, as well as expanding our tools to work internationally. We have seen success after success with minimal effort and marketing budget in Amazon’s international markets over the last couple of years (check out this incredible story of two 21 year olds achieving 8 figures on Amazon in 2 years, while selling internationally).
As creating and expanding a profitable and high-growth Amazon business becomes more difficult to achieve on Amazon.com, we think 2019 will finally be the year that third-party sellers look to international markets in droves! Selling internationally certainly has some drawbacks, but in general, Amazon advertising is significantly cheaper, driving organic keyword ranking is significantly easier, and growing top line revenue are all much less competitive relative to Amazon.com. Experienced Amazon.com sellers are able to use their learned success tactics and easily apply them to their brands in International markets.
9. Seller Fulfilled Prime Comes Into Vogue
We are not denying the importance of 1-hour and same day delivery, but we predict we will see a significant amount of sellers over the $1m mark moving to a hybrid fulfillment model.
Over the last 6-9 months, we’ve started to observe a trend in larger/more experienced Amazon third-party sellers moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime (SFP) model using a combination of their own warehouses and 3rd Party Logistics providers (3PLs). The most compelling reason to move from fulfilling through Amazon’s FBA program to a self-regulated SFP model is cost savings.
We are not seeing only sellers with large items such as furniture moving to SFP, but sellers with products of all weights and dimensions. A customer of ours, selling more than $40m/year on Amazon, claims moving to the Seller Fulfilled Prime model has been his single best investment yet!
The second most common reason sellers are taking up SFP is to support fulfillment for other ecommerce channels that may not allow using Amazon’s Multi-Channel Fulfillment program. Having a dedicated 3PL network allows sellers cheaper fulfillment and greater channel flexibility.
10. More Amazon-Owned Brands
We are predicting there will be a significant increase in the number of Amazon owned (not “sold by Amazon”) in 2019.
We have seen a significant push from Amazon in their own private label brands, and we expect to see this trend continue into 2019. Amazon now has over 80 of their own private label brands, and those brands are receiving better placement than ever (Amazon’s “Our Brands” section now shows above organic results for many search terms).
Amazon kicked off a new program near the end of 2018 called their Accelerator Program, which essentially stands as a partnership between third-parties and Amazon to establish new Amazon-owned brands using existing product performance data. This presents the potential for the number of Amazon owned brands to sky rocket! It will be very interesting to see how this progresses in the new year.
The largest threat to Amazon’s private label brands is likely the government presiding over the country in which each marketplace operates. For example, India has banned Amazon from selling any of its own products on Amazon.in.
11. Less Ads Showing on Page 1 of Search Results
We are predicting Amazon reduces the Amount of clutter in Amazon search results which distracts shoppers from the organic search results.
This is not a common opinion, and we’ll admit that there is a decent amount of logic/data pointing to an extremely high probability that this prediction does not come true, however, when we really try to get in the mind of Amazon and Jeff Bezos, this feels right! I (Casey Gauss) want to walk you through my logic on this one.
As I think through what has made Jeff and Amazon so successful, it’s been their relentless focus on the customer experience (think lower prices, faster shipping, return policy, etc.).
In my opinion, in 2018, the actual shopping experience for customers suffered at the expense of Amazon’s advertising revenue and the promotion of their owned products. There are two contributing factors to what I believe is a lower quality shopping experience.
(One key point to understanding my thoughts below is the difference between “organic results” and “sponsored results”. “Organic results” are the items presented to a customer after typing in a given search term that are showing in the results out of merit. Organic results have been selected by Amazon’s A9 ranking algorithm based on performance factors such as conversion rate, number of units sold, etc. “Sponsored results” are items showing with a “sponsored” denotation, and are showing in the results because merchants have paid for the placement. Theoretically, organic results are the best selling products for a given keyword which is why they are showing in the results. The products most likely to best satisfy the customer’s request. While Sponsored results are artificially placed based on how much the merchant is willing to spend.)
1) Overwhelming Information in Results: In general, our data shows that anywhere between 60-85% of a product’s sales potential come from placement in the organic search results. This means the majority of customers’ shopping experience consists of inputting search terms in the search bar (e.g. “fish oil supplement”), sifting through the results, and purchasing a product. In 2018, we saw an increase in the amount of information being shown on the results page which can be confusing, overwhelming, and a barrier to purchasing the products showing organically (the most likely to satisfy the customer’s request based on real buyer behavior).
The shopping experience is overwhelmed with information and creates a barrier to the shopper arriving at the best performing products based on real data from hundreds to millions of real customers. I feel this direct and indirect inhibition to the best customer experience does not align with Amazon’s mission and what has allowed them to be so successful to date.
2) More Sales Through Amazon Ads: There are more advertising placements on Amazon than ever before. Paid media sales are increasing their market share versus organic sales. When customers are purchasing artificially placed products (products presented through ads versus showing based on performance), the probability of the sponsored product being as high quality as an organically ranked product is low. By more sales being driven through advertising, Amazon is selling less of the proven and theoretically higher quality “organic results” to customers for the sake of driving more advertising revenue. More ad sales = more pay to play, versus quality & value to play.
Now, I don’t think that Amazon has nefarious intentions with advertising. They haven’t set out to create a lower quality shopping experience so they can make a few billion dollars more per year. My assumption (with almost no inside Amazon insight) is that this is a classic case of competition priorities between departments (i.e. the Amazon advertising business units are focused on maximizing their top line, without much focus on the overall customer experience).
Either way, I’m predicting that someone in Amazon, perhaps Mr. Bezos himself, will realize that there has been a slight deviation from the company’s overall focus, and will begin to peel back some of the excessive ad placement.
12. Amazon Significantly Outpaces Other Retailers in an Economic Downturn
We are predicting Amazon significantly outpaces competitors if/when there is a downturn in the US economy.
While we are not economists or fortune tellers, there seems a high probability that there will be an economic downturn of some degree at some point in the near future. If the next economic downturn occurs within 2019, we are predicting Amazon will outperform other retailers significantly. With unbeatable low prices, convenience for working families, and an incredibly large catalog of low priced necessities, we expect Amazon to be the go to store when budgets and time are tight.
Amazon changes the way they are indexing and ranking products, which means sellers have to be smart about their sourcing decisions.
As you’ve probably noticed, there was plenty of overlap between Viral Launch’s predictions and those of the included industry experts and thought leaders. I’m not sure if it is fair to say that this indicates the prediction is more likely to come true, but it does indicate that there is likely more data pointing to that assumption.
An underlying commonality throughout these predictions was increased competition, focusing on building traffic off of Amazon, and adapting your Amazon success strategies. There is certainly the opportunity to look at this with a negative outlook on the future, but please do not forget that Amazon is continuing to grow it’s ecommerce footprint significantly.
As the opportunity for incredible degrees of success continue to grow, so does the difficulty of achieving that opportunity. Instead of playing the victim to increased competition and “unfair” changes, the truly successful adapt with the times, play the long game, and focus on solutions.
I want to encourage you to focus on the solutions. How will you diversify your Amazon business? What strategies will you use to guarantee you and your team are staying ahead of the lastest success tactics? How can you drive sales, reviews, and keyword ranking in this new landscape?
While there are many components that comprise a winning strategy for the future, Viral Launch is focused on giving you the data, automation, and thought leadership around topics like driving sales, keyword ranking, and product selection. Now, it’s up to you to use these to stay ahead of the curve and continue growing exponentially on the world’s largest marketplace!