As far as e-commerce platforms go, there’s Amazon, and then there’s the rest. The online retail giant dominates such a massive share of the industry that it’s become an ecosystem of its own. An ecosystem that stands apart from the conventions and best practices other retail platforms are subject to.
Want proof of this? Try this on for size: more than half of online product searches begin at Amazon. That’s right – 55% of the world’s online shoppers don’t even consider looking for a product they need anywhere else.
On Amazon, buyers can find what they want easily, without leaving an environment they’ve become super comfortable with. There’s also so much competition for their attention in this closed retail ecosystem that prices are incredibly competitive. What this means for sellers is that they will need to learn and implement tactics specific to Amazon if they want to succeed. Digital marketing trends and strategies that work for standalone e-commerce storefronts are virtually useless in Amazon’s world of proprietary algorithms, integrated services, and UI mechanisms.
Fortunately, the internet is a very useful place for people who want to learn stuff, and we’ve got your back on this one. In this post, we’re going to do a deep dive into 11 strategies and tips proven to help you succeed or maintain the success you’ve already achieved on Amazon.
Let’s get started.
1. Differentiate Your Products From Competitors
This doesn’t mean you should choose different or better products in the same category. We’re writing this tip on the assumption that you’re selling quality products that compare well with those of your competitors. No, the issue we’re addressing here is optic – the impression you’re creating about your product’s ability to do what it does better than competing products.
For that, we’re going to be discussing the content of your product listing page. And prepare yourself, this won’t be the only time the listing page will come up in this article. From a communication and sales perspective, your product listing page is everything. Everything that a customer needs to know – everything they need to see and interact with before choosing to buy – is on your product listing page. So yeah, it’s gonna be a major talking point.
Basically, one of the listing page’s primary goals should be to give shoppers clear reasons why your product is a better option than another seller’s. Typical tactics apply here, some of which we’ll go into more detail later: use great imagery, write engaging descriptions, etc. But what we really want to focus on in this section are your product’s unique selling points.
In an environment as competitive as the Amazon marketplace, you cannot afford to hide these amidst visual and informational clutter. The reasons why your product will successfully address pain points and delight your customer must be front-and-center, there for all to see the instant they land on the listing page.
Novice sellers may be tempted into thinking that the product title or generic description suffices. After all, customers know what a smoothie maker does. They can draw their own conclusions. Sure they can – but if you’re not answering the questions that people looking for smoothie makers are asking, they could come to the conclusion that there’s a better product out there than yours.
So do some research. Look at the questions that are being asked on your competitors’ product pages. This is an excellent resource to find out more about what speaks to your target audience. Know what information they’re really after and give it to them. Place it above the scroll line. Get it into the product title, if you can. You are telling customers why your product is the right one for them – don’t hide this info.
Alternatively, you can also opt to enlist the services of specialists in this field. These companies offer remarkable returns on investment by performing a detailed analysis of your product listings, comparing them to best practices, and suggesting actionable changes that you can implement to boost conversion and organic visibility.
2. Use Keywords Intelligently
Getting your product found on Amazon and appearing in organic search results is one of your biggest challenges as a seller. As most experienced Amazon sellers will know, a great ranking is hard to get right, and it depends on many factors. Obviously, sales velocity and history are taken into account, as are some less obvious factors, such as price and the seller’s name.
Undoubtedly, keywords are one of the most important variables that Amazon’s SEO algorithm (referred to as A9) takes into account when calculating search result ranks. This refers to the search term entered by the shopper and how prominently these appear on your product listing page.
Amazon’s priority is to deliver search results that are most likely to sell. A9 has been designed with this goal in mind – to make transactions happen. They want to see conversions. While the exact workings of the algorithm are obviously a closely-guarded secret, many SEO experts have done extensive research into finding out exactly how the use of keywords on your product listing page will boost your rank.
The consensus is that sellers need to have a deep understanding of the search terms shoppers use when looking for a product like theirs. Knowing the popular search terms allows them to then intelligently populate their product listing with these terms. Not all keywords are created equal, though. It’s vital that the most popular terms are used in the listing’s most prominent content elements, like the product title, bullet points, and description.
There’s a delicate balance between cramming your listing page with every single keyword relevant to your product and making the content still readable and engaging. Remember that potential customers visiting your listing are there to be communicated with. If all they see is a clumsy mess of keywords strung together without any thought to their needs, your chances of converting them into customers will be severely compromised.
3. Use the Product’s Search Term Field
Keywords can also be entered into what’s sometimes referred to as the product backend, in a text field called “search terms.” When indexing all Amazon’s product listings, A9 not only logs the shopper-facing content, but also the values entered into this field.
This field is where Amazon allows you to capture more details about your product, in a format that represents how potential customers may search for it. Visitors to your product listing page won’t ever see this information – it’s captured purely to enable greater visibility via the Amazon search engine.
Using only 249 characters, you can enter as many search terms relevant to your product as possible. It pays to cast your net wide here. Put yourself in the shoes of many different types of customers. Don’t assume that all shoppers will use the same terminology when searching for something. As with using keywords on your listing page, do proper keyword research (more on this in the section below) to find out what Amazon shoppers are entering into the search field.
Here are some key tips on using the Search Terms field as effectively as possible:
- Avoid terminology that already appears prominently on your product listing’s front-end. You only have 249 characters in the Search Terms field, so don’t waste this space with info you’ve already got covered.
- Don’t use punctuation. Separate the terms with spaces, since they don’t contribute to the character-count.
- Use only terms that describe your product. There is no need for unnecessary words like for, and, with, etc.
- Don’t repeat terms in this field. Multiple uses of what you know to be the most prominent search term used by shoppers won’t boost your rank in any way.
4. Do Extensive Keyword Research
Successfully applying the two tips above relies heavily on understanding what search terms shoppers are using to find products like yours. You may think that your knowledge of a particular product or industry has this covered, but trust us: people’s behavior on the internet will never stop surprising you.
Remember that you’re dealing with a global community that’s constantly being influenced by memes, trends, fads, and other abstract motivators. This plays out in the language they use online. It affects their priorities. These are constantly in flux, too, so keyword research isn’t a one-off exercise. Fortunately, there are proven methods of conducting it. Let’s take a look at three of the most effective:
Use Amazon’s Autocomplete Feature
Like Google, Amazon’s search bar predicts what users are searching for and provides handy shortcuts to plausible search terms, based on what they’ve already captured into the field. Aside from saving their shoppers a couple of keystrokes and prompting them towards search terms that are most likely to result in sales, this feature can also be used by sellers to find their first batch of high-priority keywords.
Start by entering what you feel is the most relevant keyword for your product and simply see what Amazon generates as autocomplete options. All of these are based on the frequency of actual customer searches so you can be certain that they are legit. Simply log those that are relevant to your product, and there you have it – your first batch of keywords! If appropriate, you can also repeat the process with any other terms that you feel are highly relevant to your product.
Track Your (Successful) Competitors
Amazon makes it quite easy to find products similar to yours that you know for certain are selling better than yours. If your product is correctly categorized down to the lowest level of granularity, you’ll be able to find the best sellers within that category with one simple click.
Let’s say you’re selling an ice cream maker. The topmost category, or “department” you’ll be placed in will be “Kitchen & Dining.” However, there will be a subcategory unique to that product itself, labeled “Ice cream makers.”
In your listing’s Product Information section, you’ll see your current Amazon Seller Rank within that category. The category itself is a hyperlink that will navigate you to its top 100 sellers. While it’s likely that these top sellers haven’t achieved their success through excellent use of keywords alone, it’s a fair assumption that they’re doing something right in this area.
All that’s left for you to do is to analyze the content of these top-ranking products to see what keywords they have in common. Use these intelligently on your product page, and you’ve taken one more step towards emulating your competitors’ success.
Use Keyword Research Software
There’s no shortage of both free and paid Amazon keyword research tools available to sellers who want to go the extra mile in their quest for visibility. Each of these products entails their own unique methods of mining keyword information and features that allow you to perform your research.
What all of these tools have in common, though, is that they enable the most in-depth study you could possibly do on this crucial topic. If you’re serious about Amazon SEO, having one of these tools in your arsenal is an absolute must. Start with a free option and test it out. You don’t want to be left in the dust by competitors who are being more diligent than you.
5. Get More Reviews
The weight shoppers place in the opinions of existing customers is well-documented and should, by this time, be something all e-commerce specialists are aware of. Social proof for your product on Amazon carries immense importance, given how easy the platform has made it for shoppers to find similar products. Within one click, potential customers can view a list of your competitors to scope out their credibility.
Motivating customers to leave reviews on Amazon isn’t an easy task, however. On average, only about 1%-2% of customers write a review after making a purchase. There are, however, methods you can use to boost this figure. A lot of research has been done on this topic, with plenty of industry experts providing their two cents. Feel free to dive deeper here. There’s a lot to learn, and virtually all of it will be beneficial to your sales figures. Here’s a quick summary of our three favorite approaches:
Make Use of Product Inserts
A great way to buy a bit of after-sales goodwill is to include a physical insert that ships with your product. Typically, they are used to thank the shopper for making the purchase, remind them of the reasons they bought it, promote some of your other products, and request the customer to leave a review on the product page.
Follow up via Email
A well-written follow-up email is another excellent and very affordable way to reach your customers after completing a sale. The only problem with this tactic is that Amazon doesn’t provide sellers with customer email addresses, so you’ll need to get a little creative. The most effective way around this problem is to drive traffic to a non-Amazon landing page where you can offer a discount coupon to users who provide you with their contact details.
Use Amazon’s “Request a Review” Button
Introduced in late 2019, this is a relatively new feature that many sellers may not be aware of yet. When viewing a particular order in your seller account backend, simply click on the “Request a Review” button, and Amazon takes care of the rest. They’ll send a polite (but pretty generic) email to the customer, asking for their feedback.
6. Use Intelligent Repricing
When you’re selling a product in a marketplace flooded with competitors, it stands to reason that there’s going to be fierce competition to offer the lowest prices. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you shouldn’t be concerned with offering the lowest possible price your margins can offer. Beating your competitors in this arena while still remaining profitable is an objective that many sellers consider a crucial aspect of achieving sustainable success. Pricing also plays a critical role in winning the Buy Box, but we’ll get to that later.
So, to recap, the goal of repricing is to offer lower prices than your competitors while not selling your inventory at a loss. Another objective of intelligent repricing should also be the reverse: increasing your prices as your competitors do or when a very cheap listing that’s been driving your price down is taken off the marketplace.
When working repricing into your strategy, you have three options:
The Fully Manual Approach
Many first-time sellers with only a handful of listings often opt to start out with this approach. It’s ideal for sellers who have plenty of time for manual research and data entry and also for people who are extremely detail-oriented and unlikely to make calculation errors.
Going fully manual means that you will know who all your competitors are and constantly monitor their prices. You will then manually lower your prices while performing calculations to ensure that you’re still selling at the highest possible profit margin.
The Semi-automated Approach
This involves using third-party software to handle the competitor monitoring and reporting for you, while you still perform the repricing yourself manually. While this approach definitely takes a lot of the research legwork out of the repricing process, it’s still quite fallible in the sense that calculation errors can occur. It’s also not the ideal use of your time, since manual repricing is still quite an effort, especially if you’re managing a large inventory of products.
The Fully Automated Approach
This really is the ideal way to deal with repricing. Advanced repricing solutions are plentiful, and they offer Amazon sellers the most foolproof and efficient way to ensure that competitors are outpriced and that the highest attainable profit margin is maintained.
If you’re maintaining a large inventory of products and you want to ensure that you’re never selling at a lower price than necessary, we cannot recommend this approach highly enough.
7. Win the Buy Box
The Buy Box refers to a UI element that Amazon places on certain sellers’ product listing pages. Essentially, it is a call to action that includes a button labeled “Buy Now.” When a shopper visits a product listing page that doesn’t have the buy box, it may not be their product that gets added to the shopping cart when they decide to make the purchase. Less than 20% of Amazon sales happen this way.
If you want to see a significant boost in your sales, it is essential that you “win” the buy box, since it shortens your sales process and ensures that it is, in fact, your product that ends up being bought.
Amazon makes it quite difficult for sellers to qualify for the buy box. Firstly, you have to sign up for the Professional Plan when you register as a seller on Amazon. This may come at a monthly fee, but the enormous disadvantage of not ever qualifying for the buy box is eliminated.
Secondly, Amazon has to regard you as a seller of choice – someone whose product listing page converts regularly and also receives plenty of positive customer reviews.
We’ve already addressed how to achieve these two goals earlier in this article, but there are also other strategies that will help you win this extremely valuable piece of Amazon real-estate.
Use Fulfillment by Amazon
Sellers who fulfill their own orders are regarded as higher risk, since the companies themselves don’t have the certainty that a product will be shipped on time and without defects.
Keep Your Shipping Time as Short as Possible
If you do your own fulfillment, do everything you can to ensure that your products reach their destinations as quickly as possible. Amazon keeps a close eye on shipping times and, obviously, wants to create the best possible experience for their shoppers.
Sell a Great Product
If customers return a product frequently due to defects or if it doesn’t live up to the promises made on the listing page, it will be almost impossible to win that buy box.
8. Use Amazon’s Advertising Solutions
Advertising on Amazon is critical if you want to boost your sales. This is especially true if you’re a new seller and haven’t quite optimized your page for organic visibility yet. Amazon advertising operates similarly to your typical Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising campaign, and mastering it is crucial if you want to pick up some sales momentum.
Amazon’s advertising solution works much the same as Google’s, in that your product’s adverts are shown to the user based on the keywords they use when searching for a specific product. When a user performs a search, the first batch of results they are shown are the sponsored results. In other words, the seller will pay Amazon a fee every time one of these results is clicked on.
When running an Amazon ad campaign, you have three options. You can:
- manage your advertising campaigns yourself
- use an Amazon PPC software to automate most of the processes
- involve a PPC specialist agency that is familiar with the complex and frequently changing machinations of Amazon’s advertising solutions
If you choose to go it alone, be aware that your chances of success depend on a deep understanding of how PPC campaigns work. There’s a staggering amount of moving parts, and keeping abreast of changes in Amazon’s practices is also critical here.
If you’re new to PPC advertising, or you would like to see guaranteed returns on your advertising spend, we highly recommend using a software tool or involving a specialist partner to design and run these campaigns for you. If you choose a reputable company to assist you here, the benefits are virtually guaranteed to justify the cost.
9. Build an Audience Outside of Amazon
Despite its ubiquity, Amazon isn’t the alpha and omega when it comes to marketing your products. Sure, as we said, the majority of online shoppers go directly to the retail platform itself when searching for a particular product, but relying entirely on this segment of potential customers would be shooting yourself in the foot.
There are still hundreds of millions of potential customers who use other, more traditional avenues when shopping online. Here are some tactics you can use to reach them.
Understand who your customers are. Build personas for them so that you know how to sell to them.
- Create an engaging website for your product. Focus on building a trustworthy brand for yourself as a seller.
- Build an email list using your own website and use it to direct traffic to your Amazon listing.
- Use Facebook ads to run an Amazon Giveaway contest.
- Make intelligent use of all social media channels. Create and share engaging content and interact frequently with your followers.
- Use content marketing to drive traffic to your website. Understand what your audience wants to read about and create engaging content that isn’t focused entirely on selling to them.
- Use Facebook and Google ads to drive traffic to your website and boost brand awareness.
10. Pay Close Attention to Your Inventory
This is just another way of saying: “make sure you don’t lose a sale by not having enough items in stock.” The risk isn’t only to your revenue and missing out on a sale, but also the repercussions to your reputation on Amazon. Successful fulfillment is critical to winning and retaining the all-important buy box, and disappointing a customer who’s ready to convert is a sure way to compromise this.
Smart Amazon sellers will not only keep a close eye on their stock levels, but they’ll also apply extra diligence to ensure this never happens. Here are some tips to help you avoid this potentially disastrous situation:
- Firstly, ensure that you keep your sales data sufficiently detailed to predict a sudden influx of sales. This is especially true of seasonal products. If you’ve been selling for a long time, you should know what time of the year you see a sudden spike in orders.
- Secondly, have a solid relationship with your suppliers. Most Amazon sellers don’t manufacture their own products and are, to an extent, at the mercy of suppliers’ capacity to deliver new stock within a predictable timeframe. If you’re facing a possible stock shortage, it helps if you know who to speak to in order to call in a favor.
- Lastly, use an inventory management system. These tools take a lot of risk out of the equation by monitoring sales, predicting incoming orders, and notifying you and/or your suppliers when new stock is needed.
11. Expand Into International Markets
Amazon is continuously looking to reach new markets outside of the US and increase its global presence by launching country-specific platforms. The company is obviously highly motivated to bring their successful sellers with them into these new territories and actively promote these partnerships.
If you’re an established seller and want to grow your revenues dramatically, let Amazon guide you through the process. Unlike many of the other tips we discussed in this article, this is where Amazon is highly motivated to actively assist sellers to gain exposure. If you’re operationally ready for such an expansion, make use of their support and see how far you can take your business into international waters.
Amazon is undoubtedly the number one platform for e-commerce entrepreneurs. However, the amount of competition, and the company’s policy to reward sellers that have already achieved success, means that there is a relatively high barrier to entry for new sellers.
By applying serious diligence, following the advice of experienced sellers, and making use of specialist tools and services, there’s no reason why you can’t achieve the same level of success as your more established competitors.