In this post we’re going to talk about how to differentiate yourself from the competition on Amazon by influencing Amazon’s search algorithm and compelling customers to buy more.
How Your Amazon Presence Impacts Your Sales
Unless you have a very unique product, there’s most likely going to be competition within your category. That applies even if it’s a patented product no one else can make. Reason being, there’s probably other ways to solve the same problem you’re trying to solve. Conversely, your product might not be novel, but you’re building a brand around it on Amazon and trying to grow from there.
Regardless of how either of these scenarios may apply to your business, here’s the question: how do you differentiate yourself from all that competition on Amazon? First of all you’ve got to put yourself in your customer’s shoes. When they feel a need, and they’re searching for the problem you solve on Amazon by typing in a search query, they’re met with hundreds upon thousands of products in the search engine results page. Because of that, you have to make yourself stand out in two different ways when customers are doing this:
- What does a prospective customer see when they get to your page and what’s compelling them to buy?
- You need to stand out to Amazon’s search algorithm too. Meaning you’ve got to influence the search algorithm so that you appear towards the top of the search rankings.
The more you sell, the higher you rank in the search engine, and these both play directly off each other and help drive the Amazon flywheel overall.
How to Optimize Your Amazon Presence
So this is something that I see brands struggle with all the time. Again, they have issues standing out on Amazon to Amazon’s search algorithm, and they have issues standing out to customers. So let’s break these two things down in more detail. First let’s talk about standing out to Amazon. What do I mean by that?
You’re not trying to build a reputation with Amazon employees, but rather with their search algorithm. You do that through different data points that Amazon is using to influence where products show up in search rankings. It could be in organic search rankings, it could be in ad rankings, and it could be in different areas on the pages. So how do you do this?
The number one thing that I think of, and number one thing that brands really think about is the content in their listings. Think areas like:
- The title
- The bullet points
- The backend keywords of the search terms.
This is where Amazon’s algorithm prioritizes sourcing keywords and keyword phrases that customers are using when they’re searching for their product on Amazon. Amazon is pulling out from those areas of the listing, so you want to ensure that you’re not keyword stuffing while still ensuring you have the right keywords and keyword phrases in your copy on Amazon.
Also, you want to make sure you have a good conversion rate for your page. Now you may think “what’s a good conversion rate?”. Well, there’s no good or bad conversion rate. It’s where you’re at now and improving it incrementally, right? Because you’ll hear in some categories a 10% conversion rate can be good. In other categories, a 30% or 40% conversion rate can be good. Knowing what a “good” conversion rate for your product depends on the market, and a few other factors, but focus on your current conversion rate today and how you can improve it. Why? Because Amazon’s algorithm uses conversion rate as a factor for organic rankings. The more people that are coming to your page and the more they’re compelled to buy it, the more that’s going to help influence your position overall in the organic rankings on Amazon.
The other way you need to stand out is with Amazon customers. One of the first ways to do that is putting an ad at the top of the search engine results page for your top keyword, your main keyword phrases, and also for your brand name. Frankly, we see a lot of brands don’t actually bid for their brand name keyword, so you’ll type in that brand’s name on Amazon and actually a competitor’s ad will show up at the top. Meaning when customers look for your brand, they see your competitors first. You can influence that by bidding on your own brand name in your ad campaigns.
Also, think about things that customers see when they first search for your product. The biggest things they’re seeing are:
- Main image
So let’s break those down:
- Main Image: you want that to be a high quality eCommerce focused image that’s in line with Amazon’s guidelines, meaning it’s on a white background and taking up a majority of that square space with a high quality, professionally shot photograph. Don’t do something in a light box with your cell phone. That’s a quick and dirty tactic to get things up and going initially, but long term, you want to have a great photo there (which is worth the expense).
- The Title: Some categories can have 150 or 200 characters in a title, but Amazon is truncating the first, 50-or-so characters in that title in the search page results. So you want to be able to shorten the first part of that title and have it be very descriptive in telling the customer exactly what they’re getting so they can see directly from the search results.
- Reviews: Reviews are a huge part of the Amazon ecosystem and they build trust with prospective customers. It’s not only the number of reviews, but also the quality of those reviews. So, using things like Amazon Vine to start out for newly launched products, but also continually messaging customers in an organic way to ask them to leave a review. That’s, again, what you want to think about is what the customer is seeing, how you can influence what they’re seeing when they look at the search results page.
What happens next? Well a prospective customer clicks into your listing. Then it’s a matter of creating a great looking Amazon page. You’ve got to have solid infographics to explain exactly what your product is and what it does without the customer having to read anything. You’ve got to have descriptive bullets in the product description so if they do want to read and find out some particulars about your product they can. You’ve added an A+ page that spells out more about your brand, the broader family of products you may have, or highlighting your single product. If you do this well, people will land on your page and they aren’t going back to the search results page because they’re clicking add to cart page and converting into your customer.
To get to this point you have to kind of engage two different parts of your brain (or your team’s skillsets):
- You’ve got your creative and branding side that’s thinking about more of how your brand is positioned on Amazon, the look and feel of how things are presented.
- Then you’ve got that digital marketing side of things where you’re talking about keywords, keyword phrases, conversion rate, things like that.
Creative teams focus on making a great looking page. That consists of things like what kind of content should we put on Amazon that matches the rest of our brand, while fitting the constraints of Amazon’s product pages.
The digital marketing team is focused more on the tactical elements of selling on Amazon. They’re focused on where our product is ranking in the search results page, your conversion rate, and ad metric performance as well as where your ads are appearing.
Both these functions need to be working together and typically it makes sense to carve out metrics to ensure you’re hitting on both of these. We already mentioned some of potential metrics to consider earlier (page conversion rate, on measuring top of search, or you can measure overall visits). We’ve also seen brands measure the click through rate of ad campaigns as a way to align both these functions.
The main thing I stress is you don’t want this to be a one time project. This needs to be an ongoing effort. Usually the larger lifts and changes you’ll make are going to be when you first roll out this initiative, but after that the changes are incremental. Still, these incremental shifts can drive enormous results for your brand. Always be on the lookout for ways to tweak things, especially as Amazon’s algorithm is always changing. Similarly Amazon is constantly adding new programs around the content on your listing as well.
Common Mistakes on Amazon Listings
So we usually see one of three scenarios play out with our clients or potential clients here at Charmac.
- They’re really good at the creative side of things. They have a great looking page on Amazon, their product looks great, but they’re not doing a great job with the digital marketing piece. They don’t have the right keywords in there, they’re not doing anything to influence Amazon’s algorithm, not running ads (or if they are, the campaigns are often ineffective). And ultimately, they’re not influencing Amazon’s algorithm to rank higher.
- The other end of this spectrum are brands who are great at the digital marketing piece, right? They know how to do that, but the content is really poor. The infographics don’t explain what the product does or they just don’t have the same look and feel as the rest of their brand.
- And the third scenario is, unfortunately, when a brand is bad at both these areas. There’s really nothing working at all from a branding and positioning standpoint, or a digital marketing standpoint.
We also have seen that when brands let distributors or maybe third party wholesalers handle Amazon entirely for them, both of these areas of optimizing an Amazon listing fall short. Why is that? Typically, these companies are resellers that have no incentive to advocate for your brand and drive long term growth for your products on Amazon. They’re there to capture a piece of the demand that’s already on Amazon. So, the content on your listing is poor because it’s what they can find on your site for free. Then nobody is driving the digital marketing aspects and some of the growth strategies there (things like on-listing SEO, advertising, etc).
So, when brands bring Amazon in-house and focus on the creative side, and influencing what the customer sees and how they buy, and then influencing the digital marketing side and how Amazon’s search algorithm can be influenced, that’s when we can see some really great success on Amazon.