[The post is the first of a multi-part ‘Be Seen’ series, all about advanced advertising strategies across the most competitive online channels.]
Be honest with yourself: Have you made the most of your Amazon presence in 2019? After the inevitable festive spike in late 2018, it’s tempting for brands and retailers to attribute a decline in sales to a new year’s retail hangover.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Yes, impressions and sales increase during the busy shopping seasons. But savvy sellers know how to get the most from the millions of Amazon shoppers every month of the year. Because on Amazon, every season is a busy shopping season.
Luckily, Amazon has unveiled plenty of new Amazon Advertising features recently — whether you’re a wholesaler through Vendor Central or a third-party retailer via Seller Central — to maximise your Amazon presence throughout the year.
But before we get into those new features and advanced functionality, we need to make sure your advertising campaigns have a solid foundation. Without one, trying to succeed on Amazon Advertising is like trying to lose weight without a diet or exercise plan — a good way to waste a lot of energy without seeing any positive results.
Below we’ll outline the elements of a well-run Amazon account, as well as basic Amazon campaign setup.
Elements of a well-run Amazon account
While every business is different, well-run Amazon Advertising accounts have certain common characteristics that make them successful. Does your account have all of these elements in place?
1. Clear goals
When deciding to set up a new campaign, or even deciding to start advertising on Amazon, do you know what you want to get out of it? And no, “more sales” is not a clear goal.
To be successful, you must be able to articulate exactly what success means to you. Think about your goals like a New Year’s resolution: “Lose weight” is not as effective as “Lose 4 kilos by 01 July .” The latter is a target you can aim for with true precision. Your advertising goal should be at least that specific.
Obviously, each goal is dependent on your business needs, and there is no blanket target that works for all business. However, when analysing which goals work best, we found a few “formulas” that might help you with the process of identifying key goals:
- We need to increase Amazon Advertising revenue by X%, by Y date, with a [daily, monthly, quarterly, yearly] budget of $Z
- We need to increase impressions by X% year-over-year for all non-brand campaigns.
- We need to reduce ACoS from X% to Y% by [date]. From there, we can spend Z% more each month as long as we maintain the Y% ACoS.
- In 2019, we are launching X amount of new products. We need to separate these products from the remainder of the campaigns and devote Y% of monthly budget to new launches at an increased ACoS of Z% to drive initial sales.
As you can see, these goals are much more than just “increasing sales” or “decreasing ACoS.” They are specific to your needs and give each campaign a clearly defined role to play.
2. Granular Strategies
Big goals, small strategies. Reaching any one of the goals above may seem like a huge undertaking. And it is. There isn’t a single way to get there, and growth on Amazon Advertising requires a number of moving pieces.
Developing granular strategies means knowing your products and being able to recognise where they can be differentiated from those of your competitors. Some questions to ask:
- Are some of your products high-margin? If so, you could spend a bit more to win some of your high converting keywords.
- Is your product reviewed really highly compared to your competition? Perhaps targeting competitor products with lower reviews makes more sense than keyword bidding.
- Launching new products in a new category? Mining keywords with auto-campaigns may be the quickest way to initiate sales.
- Do you have a strong brand and see a number of competitors bidding on your brand terms? Try breaking out your campaigns by brand and non-brand segments, so you can track key metrics and make sure you are adequately protecting your brand. Then, create an Amazon Store that locks the customer into a curated brand experience where you can control their shopping journey more closely. Lastly, drive customers to this store with Sponsored Brands ads that use keywords related to your brand.
3. Useful Reporting
What good is doing all the work if you can’t drive actionable insights? When setting up your advertising campaign, be cognisant of how you’re naming them.
If you don’t have access to a software like ChannelAdvisor, which allows for greater organisation, naming structures play a huge role in reporting. Each campaign should be named in a way that can give you at least three major takeaways, such as:
- Brand vs. Non-Brand (BR_)
- Product Type (BR_Shoes)
- Descriptor (BR_Shoes_Hiking)
Naming conventions like these give you a lot of information when you pull reports and start your pivots. For instance, using the example above, you could pivot for all brand campaigns (BR_), all shoe campaigns (Shoes), all branded shoe campaigns (BR_Shoes), etc.
These actions give you a quick takeaways of how broad categories are performing. But don’t stop at three levels. Do what makes sense and get granular with it:
4. Utilisation of All Ad Types
To cover 100% of advertising real estate on Amazon, you have to use 100% of the tools available.
For vendors (i.e., first party), you have access to Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, and Product Display Ads.
For sellers (i.e., third party), you have access to Sponsored Products and, if you are a registered brand, Sponsored Brands.
Each ad type has different strategies, reports and conversion rates. Get to know them and find out what works. And also get to know the variations within each ad type. For example, auto campaigns for Sponsored Products behave differently than manual campaigns, which behave differently than ASIN and Category targeting.
5. All Levers Pulled
Okay, so you’re experimenting with all the Amazon ad types. That’s great. But that’s just the beginning. Now, it’s time to start pulling all the levers available to you for making the most of these campaigns. That means continuous testing and optimising of all the various features to maximise your ROI. These features include, but aren’t limited to:
- Category and ASIN Refined Targeting within Sponsored Products
- Placement Bid Adjustments
- Dynamic Bidding
- New Automatic Campaign Match Types
- Automated Bidding within Sponsored Brands
- Brand Stores
Basic Amazon Advertising Campaign Setup
Basic campaign setup means clearly defined campaigns that are segmented by similar products or characteristics. Whether it’s pulling reports, product organisation, keyword segmentation, etc., it all starts with a structured account plan.
Once you have a plan in place and you know which products you want advertise, you need to get granular and determine which strategies to use. The name of the game here is “test.” Test everything to see what works. Test the ad types, test auto vs. manual, test copy, test Store page layouts, etc. The more you experiment with Amazon’s offerings, the better your campaigns will be in the long run.
To make all that testing insightful, make sure your account structure can tell a story. Use naming conventions that make sense to you and allow you to gain quick insights without confusion. Using campaigns names like “Campaign 1” mean nothing. I guarantee that in a month you will forget what that campaign was about. Instead, use very specific naming conventions like “BR_Shoes_Hiking_Sandals_Velcro,” so you know the purpose (and products) behind the ad.
Lastly, never stop optimising. You may think the campaign is in a good position and your ACoS levels have, for the most part, been consistent. However, there is always more to do. The longer a campaign has been active, the more data are available to conduct new tests or make new changes. For instance, are there negative keyword opportunities that you were unaware of? Did you see any Christmas keyword trends that you could take advantage of next year? Is there a specific ASIN in the search query report that is generating high sales that you could target?
Get creative with how you look at the data and try to find new and unique areas where you can use your competitive advantages to increase revenue.
Amazon gives advertisers a lot of information that they can use to make improvements. Leverage everything Amazon gives you, so you don’t waste advertising money or miss out on easy sales.
How the ChannelAdvisor Team Can Help…
ChannelAdvisor has a whole Amazon Advertising team in our Managed Services department that is dedicated to driving growth on the Amazon platform.
We work with clients to understand goals, targets, profitability and any pain points around Amazon Advertising. From there, we build a strategic account plan that becomes the foundation for advertising success. On a day-to-day basis, what we manage includes, but isn’t limited to:
- Account Structure
- Campaign Builds for All Product Types
- Keyword Selection
- Product Segmentation
- Brand Store Building
- New Product Launches
- Campaign Analysis
The ChannelAdvisor platform also integrates directly into Amazon’s API and allows us to do things not available through the Amazon UI, including, but not limited to:
- Automated Bidding — Real-time adjustments based on your sales and efficiency goals
- Bulk Keyword Bidding for Sponsored Products
- Bulk Negative Keywords — Using an interactive search query report
- Historic data records — Beyond the 90-day look-back window that Amazon offers
If you’re interested in talking to an e-commerce consultant about your goals for Amazon Advertising, reach out to us for a quick chat.