This blog post is part of our 2017 Holiday Planning series. Be sure to check back often or, better yet, subscribe to the blog to stay updated with this year’s latest holiday trends, tips, best practices, reports and more!
Be honest: Are you excited for the holiday season? Or a little apprehensive?
To be sure, there’s a lot riding on a successful Q4 for many retailers and brands. Especially on Amazon, which has become the primary destination for US shoppers and a primary revenue stream for most sellers.
But even if you rode the wave of Amazon’s popularity last year and saw a nice uptick in sales, that doesn’t mean the same will hold true in 2017. The influx of shoppers to Amazon over the past year has brought an influx of sellers and even more intense competition.
You’ve probably already seen competitors creeping into your brand space in recent months by leveraging Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) ad formats like Sponsored Products and Headline Search Ads.
Competition will get even more fierce in the coming months, so start preparing your own AMS strategies now to ensure you’re connecting with the most potential customers.
There are plenty of ways to be proactive about your AMS strategies, but here’s what it boils down to: start early, resolve issues and test often.
Below, we’ve laid out our top five tips for getting your AMS campaigns ready for the big event:
1. Plan out your promotions and product details.
What discounts will you be offering for Black Friday? Or Cyber Monday? Or mid-December? Figure out your promotions and coordinate with your retail partners to make sure plans are in place for sourcing and fulfillment.
Also, remember that you can boost visibility with any number of programs via AMS, such as Deal of the Day, Lightning Deals or vendor-powered coupons (VPCs).
Consumers will have a lot of options this season, so make sure your product detail pages are as strong and engaging as they can be. A good detail page includes:
- High-quality images
- Accurate product titles
- No typos or misspellings
- A high number of reviews
- Products rated greater than 3.5 stars
2. Ensure that all product ineligibility issues are cleared up.
If your products are deemed “ineligible” by Amazon, they won’t be seen. You can’t promote them, sell them or measure the success of them. So make sure that your listings are in compliance and ready to be deployed.
Additionally, take some extra time to fine-tune all your product listing copy. Craft clear, engaging headlines using sentence-case styling and keep promotional copy actionable and direct. Be careful to avoid the pitfalls that will delay campaign approval, such as:
- Price callouts in copy (e.g., dollar value or a % discount)
- Time-sensitive copy (e.g., “Cyber Monday”)
- Unsubstantiated claims (e.g., “World’s best phone case”)
- Superlatives (e.g., “Best Seller,” “Best,” “Highest Quality, “Ultimate”)
- ALL CAPS or no capitalized first letter
3. Test out strategies now, so you can narrow your focus.
In addition to setting measurable goals and tracking them, you should start testing campaigns now to find the most successful keywords. So when the holiday season gets here, you already know what’s effective, what’s working, and you’re able to double down on keywords and products that you know will be successful.
Start by launching campaigns with many Broad Match keywords targeted across branded, competitive and category terms. Then, over the next few weeks, optimize those campaigns with the best-performing keywords and slowly shift from Broad Match to Phrase Match to Exact Match.
4. Monitor budgets so your ads don’t go offline.
AKA, don’t “go dark.” When you hit your ad spending limit, your ads will cease appearing — whether that’s a Daily Budget or a Campaign Lifetime Budget. The last thing you want is to invest in months of planning and optimizing, start seeing results, then lose out on mountains of revenue because you forgot to raise your budget limits.
According to Amazon, Q4 of 2016 saw an increase of 25%-75% in ad clicks compared to Q3. Prepare for the increased traffic and raise your budget caps at least 150%-350%.
5. Run reports consistently to best optimize performance.
Like any good digital marketer, it’s essential for you to stay organized as things heat up. Establish a systemized approach to reporting, analyzing and optimizing. Identify and start running your reports now, so you have a planned approach for applying campaign enhancements throughout the next several months.
This includes everything from your bidding strategies to landing page copy, image testing, headline experimentation and more. And the earlier you start testing, the more analytics you’ll have to optimize your strategy moving forward.
The clock is ticking on preparations for the big holiday season. If you’d like to have a quick chat about any of the ways you can prepare for the increased Amazon traffic in the coming months, feel free to reach out. We’re happy to discuss AMS, the holiday season or anything else e-commerce or Amazon related.
And for a complete list of the 10 tips you’ll need this holiday season, check out our recent webinar, Amazon 401: Preparing AMS for the Holiday Season, available on-demand.