2018 - etailz, Inc.

Amazon marketing falls into two main categories: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Cost-per-Click (CPC) ads (also called Pay-per-Click or PPC). Today, we’ll be diving into Amazon CPC campaigns. At etailz, we’ve seen Amazon CPC ads increase our partners’ sales up to 30%. They’re kind of a big deal.

If you want to learn more about Amazon SEO optimization, check out our posts on improving your organic discoverability and listing optimization.

How Amazon CPC Campaigns Work

CPC ads operate on a bidding system. Brands or marketing agencies choose keywords that relate to their product and then bid on it. When shoppers search a phrase that contains the keyword, Amazon weighs product relevance, or how well the product performs organically, with the bids. Of the products with high relevance to the search terms, the brand with the highest bid will win the ad placement on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). No matter how large your bid is, if you win the placement and a shopper clicks on the ad, you will only be charged $0.01 more than the next highest bid.

We suggest updating your keywords and maximum bids at least weekly, ensuring your keywords are still relevant and adjusting your maximum bids to elicit the results you need. Pay extra attention to your keywords and bids during peak shopping seasons, like Prime Day and the Q4 holiday season.

Types of Amazon CPC Ads

Conversion rates are higher on Amazon than on search engines like Google because shoppers have a stronger intent to buy when they go to marketplaces. Amazon CPC campaigns allow you to capitalize on marketplace traffic by placing one of three types of ads in front of potential customers.

Amazon Sponsored Products Ads

Sponsored Product ads give you the most bang for your buck because they offer nine opportunities per page for your ad to get a placement. That means there’s a good chance your ads will be seen and draw in shoppers, helping build relevance quicker.

Amazon Sponsored Brand Ads (formerly called Headline Search Ads)

Sponsored Brand ads appear at the top of the SERP, making them the first thing shoppers see after entering their search terms. Headline Search Ads are a great way to grow brand recognition, but because they have only one placement per page, they’re very competitive, making it tough to get traction.

Amazon Product Display Ads

Product Display ads are good for building impressions, but they have a poor conversion rate because by the time shoppers see it, they’re already in a listing and inclined to buy the product they clicked on. Nevertheless, Product Display Ads help build brand recognition with a targeted audience, helping you compete against rivals over the long term.

Determining Your Amazon Strategy

Before you start, define your objectives so you can create a purposeful Amazon strategy. With CPC campaigns, that means asking yourself do you want to focus on increasing brand awareness or boosting conversion rates?

If you already have good brand recognition, your marketing efforts can be more specific and focused on building relevance. Identify very specific keywords, branded and non-branded, to bid on. We call this “refining your traffic.” Consumers already know what products or services you offer, so your Amazon marketing can focus on winning ground in your category. This strategy also tends to be less expensive than the alternative because more specific keywords have less competition than more general terms.

If your brand is relatively unknown, you want to spread the word to as many people as possible. Rather than refining your traffic to a targeted niche group to drive conversion rates up, this strategy’s goal is making impressions. Bid on more general keywords, especially non-branded keywords, so that you can place your ads in front of as many shoppers as possible. Initially, your return may not be as high and bidding on general terms becomes expensive, but you will develop brand recognition, helping you gain a foothold in the market for the long term.

The Big Picture

Running and optimizing Amazon CPC campaigns is a crucial part of successful marketing, but their impact is magnified through a holistic marketing strategy.

Think about it: CPC campaigns are the midpoint in a consumer’s journey. First, off-site marketing draws consumers to marketplaces, where they see CPC ads. They then click on the ads and enter listings, where compelling photography and copy make the final sell, convincing shoppers to buy.

If you invest in quality marketing at every stage, you can increase the traffic entering listings and drive conversion rates up, ultimately growing your total orders.

Recently, vendors using Perispect have been spotting Amazon sellers advertising their products below MAP pricing. Many vendors do not realize that some of these sellers may be “scam sellers” who have many products in their Amazon inventory but do not ship anything to customers when they order and pay for products.

Here are 3 ways to spot a likely scam seller:

  1. “Just Launched” sellers with more than 200 products in their inventory

Sellers who have “just launched” in their profiles are starting out on Amazon with some inventory and are looking to be a part of the growing ecommerce market. However, some scam sellers will open up fake accounts on a daily basis with a huge amount of items in their inventory. If these items are not Fulfilled by Amazon, then the seller oversees shipping the products to the customer. Customers and vendors should look out for these kinds of sellers, as they may never ship the products they say they have on Amazon.

  1. Sellers with “shady” names

Perispect combs through a large number of sellers looking for contact and shipping information. Sometimes, the seller name can set off red flags. For example:

“!NOTE: Contact us prior to ordering>> SmartBuyPoint[at]GMAIL.COM!!”

“%BRAND NEW!!!%Mesmeric Fair% Please Contact me before buy → claudia66@reaagan.com”

“.BEFORE ORDER CONTACT: CLAYTON. 14D (at)GMAIL COM”

These are some examples of scam sellers. The seller name contains contact information, like an email address, that is poorly formatted. The seller asks that the customer contact the seller prior to ordering. Customers and vendors should not contact these sellers because they will most likely attempt to scam them.

  1. Sellers with poor customer reviews

Scam sellers can be identified simply by looking at what other customers have written on the seller review portion of the information page on Amazon. Scam sellers will most likely have all negative reviews noting that products have not been delivered, and they are unable to contact the seller for further comment.

>>Best practiceKnow your sellers.

When you know who is authorized to sell your products on Amazon, it’s easy to spot rogue and scam sellers. This is more manageable when you have a limited number of authorized sellers.

 

Having an unknown seller pop up in your Amazon product listing is a frustration that most brand owners have experienced. These one-off Amazon sellers can negatively impact your product by altering the content of the listing, undercutting prices of authorized sellers and providing poor customer service that can lead to negative reviews on the listing. So what can be done to keep these unwanted sellers away?

>>The solution is simple: communicate regularly and practice vigilance.

Let your distributors and authorized sellers know who is permitted to sell your products online. Authorized sellers want to maintain a good listing as much as you do, so they can be a great lookout for anything unusual and will let you know if anyone uninvited shows up to the party. Being vigilant of your brand is also very important. By monitoring your product listings, you will know if your product information is up-to-date as well as to help you keep track of any duplicate listings and counterfeit products that sometimes show up with unwanted sellers. Having a reliable seller tracking software can save you time by scouring Amazon to see who is selling your products and at what price.

While it may be difficult to gather and maintain up-to-date information on your sellers without a seller tracking tool, there is a way to manually check Amazon for sellers.

  • Navigate to your brand storefront page and scroll down until you find the refined search box on the left side of the page. Here you will see all departments that your brand is listed under.
  • Clicking into any department will redirect you to a new page with additional search refinements.
  • Looking through the options, you will find a seller section function towards the bottom of the search bar. You can click on “See more” to view the full list of Amazon sellers that are currently selling your products. (Keep in mind that this is not a complete list of sellers but rather a list specific to one category.)
  • To gather a list of all sellers you must perform a refined search for all departments that your product is listed under. This process is worthwhile but also time-consuming.

For brands that don’t have the time or resources to track sellers manually, utilizing seller and price monitoring software can be very helpful. Software like Perispect tracks sellers, monitors pricing, and provides actionable data in easy-to-digest formats. Whether you decide to monitor your listings manually or utilize a tool to do it for you, tracking sellers and pricing is a vital part of your brand strategy.

 

Creating and enforcing a Minimum Advertising Price (MAP) Policy helps protect brand image and ensure that authorized retailers are able to compete fairly.

Here are 5 steps to successfully implement a new MAP policy:

1. Determine your threshold

What is the lowest price that you would like your products to be advertised at? This might be a percentage under your MSRP or it could vary among your products. This is NOT the lowest price that your product can be sold at. This still allows retailers to offer discounts once products are “in the cart.”

2. Develop your policy

Draft a MAP policy that outlines your new policy and the actions you will take if authorized retailers violate it. Make your expectations clear. To play it safe, have a lawyer review your policy to ensure that is compliant with state and federal law.

3. Distribute your policy

Send your new policy and MAP pricing to your authorized sellers.

4. Monitor your pricing

Identify which sellers uphold your MAP policy and which sellers drop their prices first. Pro tip: Perispect can help with price monitoring and case management.

5. Notify violators

Let sellers know that you’re aware of the price violation and follow any actions outlined in your policy. Keep track of violations so you can identify repeat violators.

 

Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price, or “MSRP”

The price a product should be sold for, recommended by the manufacturer.

The price is supposed to reflect all the costs that happened during the manufacturing process, including retailer markup. MSRP is not necessarily the price that retailers use or that consumers pay for. Some retailers sell below MSRP to reasonably reduce their inventory.

 

Minimum Advertised Price, or “MAP”

The lowest price a reseller can advertise a partner’s products.

It is a way to protect brand image, and it levels the playing field between online sellers and brick and mortar stores. A MAP policy can reduce consumers going to a brick and mortar store to find a product but ultimately purchase the product online – a practice known as “showrooming.”

 

Maintaining a MAP policy is a great way for companies to maintain their brand integrity online. If you are interested in learning more about the prices your products are being sold at, get started with a free trial with Perispect today! Contact .

 

You spend a lot of time creating your brand. After all, your brand tells your company story. Through your logo, website, social media and advertising strategies, you craft the vision for customers and provide added value to your products. A significant component of your branding is product pricing. Your MSRP conveys product value to customers. A high price can indicate quality, exclusivity, and craftsmanship. A low price may indicate a bargain and accessibility. Whatever factors go into determining product price, you expect that price to be honored by retailers.

Often, traditional brick and mortar retailers do honor your pricing. But online, it’s a different story. Many product manufacturers discover that their products are being significantly underpriced on marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. This poses a threat to traditional retailers, whose customers are checking out the product in the store but making the purchase online, a practice called showrooming.

Additionally and perhaps more importantly, the under-pricing of your products online can lead to customers devaluing your products. If the MSRP is $50 but on Amazon, the product is $35, why would the customer pay more? Soon, the customer starts to believe that the product is worth $35, and not the MSRP value assigned.

The product price, which once demonstrated product worth, now devalues your brand.

How does this happen? Usually, this occurs when unauthorized or “rogue” sellers obtain your product, often from distributors. The Amazon marketplace is competitive. To gain sales, sellers will often start a “race to the bottom” with price. One seller drops and the rest soon follow.

To understand why a seller would lower price and decrease their margin, check out our next blog post Demystifying the Buy Box.

 

So, how can a brand protect itself from the race to the bottom?

Many brands have implemented a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy. This policy requests that retailers do not advertise prices lower than a designated threshold. A MAP policy is not price fixing. It still allows for retailers to offer coupons and specials for products that are in the cart. The major benefit of MAP pricing is that the product value and brand identify are maintained.

However, simply having a MAP policy doesn’t protect your brand if sellers don’t honor it.

It’s important to ensure that sellers are abiding by your policy, even when you aren’t looking. MAP monitoring software can help brands monitor pricing and identify MAP violators. This kind of price monitoring tool can provide insight into sellers, both authorized and unauthorized, and help to influence your competitive pricing strategy. Perispect is a minimum advertised price monitoring tool that provides these insights through an easy-to-use interface and email alerts. Perispect empowers manufacturers to take control of their brands’ online presence by identifying which sellers are selling your product and alerting you when your price policy has been violated.

Learn more about how Perispect can help you control your brand here.

 

So, how does a seller snag a sale? They try to get in the buy box. The buy box is the coveted real estate of the product listing that shows which seller is benefiting when a customer clicks “Add to Cart.”

Many Amazon customers are unaware that there are usually multiple sellers for products. When they decide to purchase a product, they click the yellow “Add to Cart” button, instead of viewing all purchasing options. The seller in the buy box gets the most sales.

So, how does a seller get in the buy box?

Each seller gets in the buy box a certain percentage of the time. Amazon has a proprietary formula that determines this based on these factors:

  1. Number of Sellers – The buy box formula is like a pie where each seller gets a portion. The more sellers that there are, the smaller piece of the pie each seller gets. But all sellers are not equal.
  2. Amazon Retail – Amazon is a marketplace, which means that there are many sellers. Amazon Retail is Amazon’s own seller. When Amazon Retail is in the listing, they always get priority and will dominate the buy box.
  3. FBA vs. Drop ship – Many sellers fulfill their product sales using Amazon’s warehouses and distribution system. This is referred to as Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA). Sellers use this service to provide the Prime 2-day shipping that many Amazon shoppers expect, and in turn, pay Amazon a fee. Sellers who ship their products directly to the consumer themselves are referred to as drop ship sellers. Since Amazon benefits from FBA, those sellers receive priority over drop ship sellers in the buy box.
  4. Product Price – Amazon prides itself on offering the lowest prices to customers. So, the seller offering the lowest product price will earn more of the buy box. This is the strategy for most sellers. 

 

Sellers attempt to earn more of the buy box by having lower prices than their competitors. This price dropping significantly harms brand perception by lowering the perceived product value, in addition to hurting traditional brick and mortar retailers who are honoring the product MSRP.

Next time, we will discuss how enforcing a Minimum Advertised Pricing (MAP) policy can level the playing field for your authorized sellers.

One of the most frustrating things for a brand is to find their product listed on Amazon or eBay by an unknown seller. Sometimes, this is a result of distributors selling to shady third-party resellers. Other times, it could be an authorized brick-and-mortar retailer who is just trying to stay competitive. But more and more often, brands are finding that the rogue seller is not a company with high inventory levels but an elusive individual, unloading a few units with no long-term plans to stay in the listing.

This individual in engaging in retail arbitrage, a practice where someone buys a product at a discounted price and sells it for a profit. To buy low and sell high is the goal. Increasingly popular and profitable, there are many blogs giving instructions and encouragement to those interested in making some money on the side. Those that are dedicated can even turn retail arbitrage into a lucrative, full-time career. We refer to this seller as Joe in his basement, a nickname that sounds friendly but can be very damaging to your brand.

How could retail arbitrage negatively impact your brand? Here are 3 ways:

1.      Pricing

2.      Damage to authorized sellers

3.      Listing content

Joe in his basement wants to make a profit, so he won’t want to price lower than he paid for the product. But if he bought the product at a steep enough discount, he still might be able to sell at a lower price than your authorized sellers. This devalues your product and makes other sellers less competitive. When authorized sellers don’t make sales, they place fewer purchase orders. Finally, Joe might think that he has some better ideas for your listing content and make changes. The changes could be minor or they could be seller-specific, for example a bullet point that reads “Buy from discountstoredave for the lowest prices on the internet” or perhaps they change the listing brand name to reflect their seller name. While these examples are against Amazon policy, they still happen.

But here’s some good news: you can take action to reduce retail arbitrage for your products.

The most important step you can take is to limit your sales to a small handful of trusted retailers. These retailers will agree to your partnerships terms and respect your pricing because it’s in their best interest – we recommend a MAP policy. Once you have limited the number of authorized sellers, you can monitor your listings to see who is selling your products and how much inventory they have by using monitoring software, like Perispect.

Another option is to allow buy backs from retailers who are having difficulty moving your product. This could prevent your products from being sold at clearance level prices. If products aren’t available at low prices, Joe in his basement will be out of luck.

 

According to Amazon, only 19% of customers will click onto the second page of search results when looking for products. Moving your product up on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) is one of the most powerful ways to increase your discoverability on the world’s largest marketplace. If consumers can’t find your product listing on Amazon, you risk being left with extra inventory sitting in a warehouse and loss of potential revenue. To prevent this from happening, we’ve recommended our top five tips for your Amazon SEO strategy to help increase the discoverability of your Amazon listings.

Demystifying the Amazon Search Engine Results Page

With the consumer view in mind, Amazon displays the products that they deem to have the best listings and prices. Amazon focuses the SERP on products and their prices, which creates a natural incentive for third party sellers to increase the overall number of sessions to a product detail page. Optimizing your listing is the easiest way to increase discoverability and drive organic traffic, which is, in many ways, the foundation of your Amazon marketing. 

Discoverability refers to how easy a product listing can be found on Amazon. To maximize the discoverability of your listings, you can optimize the following areas: Titles, descriptions, and images. However, there are additional factors that play a huge role in product discoverability, including: Inventory, price, product reviews, relevancy, sales history, sales performance, advertising efforts, and types of fulfillment. Since there are numerous factors impacting discoverability, many of which may be out of your control, it is vital to optimize the following aspects of your listing: 

1. Title

The product title is the most heavily weighted aspect of product content on Amazon, as well as the first impression customers will have of your brand when searching for products. By optimizing your product title, you have the ability to include more relevant product information as well as name variations right off the bat. For your best title content, you should consider the following: Brand and description, product line, material or key ingredient, color, size, and quantity. Perform keyword research to identify top keywords and include something that adds value, like a product benefit or a key element that sets it apart from competitors. Although Amazon has algorithms, your title should be written for humans, because the algorithms will be based on what real people are searching for.

2. Product Images

A service we provide and advocate for is high-quality, zoom-able product images. Regardless of the ecommerce channel, this is a best practice to represent your company well. Images influence click-through-rates on the SERP and the overall buyability of your listing. Depending on your product category, you can have nine additional images and we encourage you to use them. The images you add to your listing greatly impact customers’ opinions of your product. Make sure the images you use are high-resolution. Show your product from different angles, zoomed in and out. Show how your product can be used by providing lifestyle images. Overall, be creative and showcase your product well.

3. Product Features

It’s recommended to use all five bullet points in your listing. This is your opportunity to communicate your product’s value to your consumers. Most viewers skim the bullet section, so put your most important features at the top. You can use the product feature section to answer consumer questions that have come up or any objections that may surface. Be sure to mention what the product is made of; consumers want to know they’re buying a quality product. If your product solves a specific problem, be sure to highlight exactly how in a bullet point.

4. Description

When it comes to enhancing search relevance, the product description is heavily weighted. Every relevant product detail should be included. Use up your character count describing what your product is, what it does, and why it’s the best product on the market in your niche. Lead with an elaboration on your product’s features and the benefits to the consumer, then talk about the product. By making your listing relatable, you can make the visitor believe your product is something they need. A storytelling approach could be something creative you can use to catch the consumer’s attention.

Including relevant search terms within your description help you better target your customers. Amazon states, “By providing relevant and complete information for your product, you can increase your product’s visibility and sales”.

5. Back End Search Terms

In order to properly optimize your back end search terms, you want to ensure your main Amazon keywords are in at least your product name, bullet points, or description. It’s important to use variations of words consumers might search when searching for your product. For example, if you sell garlic presses, you’d want to prioritize putting popular keywords like ‘garlic mincer’ and ‘garlic squeezer’ into your listing. You can include many search terms in the back end but, do not include competitor names or products. In your back end search terms, you should eliminate all duplicate words. If the word is used once within the listing, that is enough for Amazon’s algorithm to pick up on.

While the ins and outs of the Amazon SERP can be confusing, optimizing your title, images, description, product features and search terms based on what your consumers will be searching for will improve the discoverability of your listing. Using our top five tips for Amazon SEO optimization, you can drive traffic and move your listing up on the Amazon SERP.

 

We see it all on Amazon: Bare-bones listings that give no product details and listings with novel-length titles and bullet points, so overwhelming you don’t know where to start reading. The detail of your page content has a huge impact on your product discoverability and conversion rates, so getting it right is vital.  Finding the right balance between sharing relevant information and keyword stuffing can be tricky, but it’s an important part of your Amazon marketing strategy. Now that you’ve gotten rid of duplicate product pages, here’s how we recommend optimizing each section of text in your Amazon listings.

1. Title

  • Check category guidelines for length – Each category has different maximum lengths. Even though you may find listing titles that clearly exceed the category limit, don’t try to do the same. Those listings risk being suppressed.
  • Keep the visual in mind – Customers are going to skim the title. Make sure that the title format allows them to digest the important information quickly. You always want to include brand, product name, type of product and relevant size or color information. Break up the information with dashes and spaces to make it easy-to-read.
  • Include important keywords – Determine which terms are the most relevant and most likely searched and try to include them. Do not go overboard. There are other places in the listing to add search terms.
  • Example: Domestic Corner – Vienne Automatic Milk Frother and Heater – Stainless Steel Electric Carafe – Frother, Warmer and Cappuccino Maker

2. Bullet Points

  • Highlight the important features – Most customers don’t venture down the listing page so the bullets may be your only chance to convert the shopper. Use the bullets to describe the most important aspects of the product and features that differentiate it from its competitors. Include information that answers commonly asked questions.
  • Place relevant keywords – Anticipate the common search terms that your customers are using and try to place them in the bullets. Thorough keyword research here can pay dividends. 
  • USE FORMATTING STRATEGICALLY – When you want to include a lot of text in your bullet points, consider using a format like in this bullet point. By putting the main idea of the bullet in caps and elaborating in lowercase, you allow the shopper to skim the bullets and still gain a basic understanding of the product.

3. Description

  • Give in-depth detail – The description is where you can give an even fuller picture of your product and its benefits. The description often contains similar information to the bullet points, and that’s okay. It’s helpful to have the keywords in the description for increased discoverability. This is also a great place to highlight additional uses, care instructions, and product warnings. The description character limit is 2500.
  • Tell your story – Knowing your brand story and company history can help promote customer loyalty. Was the product created in response to a common problem? Has the company been around for decades? Craft your narrative in a compelling way and it will resonate with consumers.
  • Take it to the next level – Though you will find many descriptions with custom HTML, it’s not technically allowed. Brands use HTML to enhance the appearance of the description to make it easier to read. Brands that have access can greatly benefit from Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) or an A+ Detail Page. Both of these provide text formatting and image options for superior product descriptions. A+ Detail Pages are free with a Vendor Central code and EBC is free with brand registry.

4. Search Terms

  • Stay relevant – Use descriptive terms like “organic” and “natural” but only if they apply to your product. Don’t try to pull in customers with deceiving terms that don’t apply. Those customers won’t convert anyway!
  • Don’t mention your competitors – Including other brands in your search terms is against the Amazon Terms of Service. Doing so puts your listings at risk of being suppressed.
  • No need to repeat – Unlike in a keyword cost-per-click campaign, you don’t need to include every possible phrase like “baby diaper” and “diaper for baby.” You can include “diaper” and “baby” and Amazon’s A9 algorithm intuits the different combinations.