Digital Marketing Bradley Hearn By Bradley Hearn

Marketplace Madness: What’s Your Amazon Game Plan?

When selling online, the Amazon search results page is pretty much the Big Dance. It’s competitive, unpredictable, and it can make or break your year.

But you’ve got your Amazon gameplan, right? Your e-commerce team is a well-oiled machine of marketplace best practices: proper categorization, SEO-friendly titles, proven keywords, optimized product descriptions and more.

Not so fast.

Just when you thought you’ve bested every opponent with your marketplace experience, preparation and execution, another young upstart brand checks in and starts boxing out your listings.

They’re here. They’re there. You can’t keep up. Even when shoppers search for your specific products, your competitor’s name appears.

Welcome to Marketplace Madness. It’s like March Madness, except it’s every day of the year.

So how does this scenario happen? Strategic advertising.

Advertising achieves two primary goals for you as an Amazon seller:

  • Reaching new customers
  • Protecting your brand

An advanced advertising program on Amazon has become “table stakes” for retailers and brands on Amazon. If you’re not paying to get your products seen, your competition certainly is.

The good news is that the market is still relatively small, compared to larger advertising giants like Google and Facebook, even though it’s growing at a tremendous rate. In fact, Amazon’s ad sales could increase 61% in 2018 and account for $4.5 billion in revenue.

So where do you start?

Your Star Players

Amazon Sponsored Products

Lately, it can seem like the entire search results page consists of Sponsored Products.  

Amazon Sponsored Products is a pay-per-click (PPC) program that can be used to promote individual listings. These ads appear alongside organic search results and are driven by search keywords you choose. Targeting with this type of accuracy gives you higher-quality clicks on your listings — since these shoppers actually searched for terms associated with your product — and will potentially yield a much higher ROI than many other pay-per-click programs.

Headline Search Ads

If you’re enrolled in the Amazon Brand Registry, Headline Search Ads is an impactful advertising option that will help you build brand recognition and drive more clicks. Headline Search Ads are found above the search results for maximum visibility.

These banner ads feature a customized design, a headline, your logo and a few product offerings.

This can be an effective way to reach consumers who are browsing but don’t yet know what they want to buy, and thus may be using broad keywords such as “sunscreen” or “sundresses.” Like Sponsored Products, Headline Search Ads operate on a pay-per-click pricing model.

Your Initial Game Plan

1. Start small and build from there

If you’re new to advertising on Amazon, start with some of your more popular products and use them to test the waters. Once you have a comfortable gauge on ad spend and ROI, expand your strategy.

The same applies to automatic versus manual keyword targeting. Try starting out small with manual keywords and slowly building up your glossary and your budget. That way, you’re not letting an algorithm pick keywords that aren’t optimized — and sometimes make no sense — and potentially blowing through your ad budget with no return. Start small, be strategic and slowly add in some of the automatic keyword suggestions after you’ve cultivated a good list of proven keyword coverage through manual choices.

2. Protect your side of the court

Does a competitor’s product show up when you search for your product? If so, that competitor is obviously bidding on your terms.

If a shopper is actually searching for your brand name, they’re likely pretty far down in the purchase funnel. Don’t let another brand swoop in and distract them. How? In addition to bidding up on necessary brand (and brand-related) terms, analyze search query reports and study how shoppers are finding your brand and your site. Perhaps you’ll discover a specific, popular term that you haven’t bid on. Also, think like a shopper and perform various searches on your brand. Complete the keyword puzzle. And above all, protect your brand space.

3. Set a clear “branded” versus “non-branded” keyword strategy

When auditing accounts for various retailers, we often come across promotions that have branded and non-branded keywords in the same ad campaign. Would you bid the same amount for your brand name as you would for a keyword that vaguely describes your product? No. There are huge performance differences between the two, and they need to be segmented in separate campaigns.

4. Use all your weapons

Like a good basketball team, you wouldn’t keep any good players on the bench and let one or two players do all the work. The same applies to your advertising strategy. Experiment with various combinations of Sponsored Products listings and Headline Search Ads in addition to a full court press of Amazon best practices.

5. Find an experienced coach

Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula for advertising success. The key is simply to get started, experiment and align yourself with a team of e-commerce experts that can provide you with the experience, the technology and the scalability to compete on Amazon.

With ChannelAdvisor’s proven multichannel platform and expertise, our Managed Services team works to understand the goals of each retailer and brand and constructs a strategic plan that delivers success day after day.

For more information on Amazon and the highly competitive search results page, check out our eBook: Owning the Amazon Search Results Page. Or if you’d like to talk one-on-one with one of our experienced e-commerce experts, request a demo today!

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