Are you looking to sell on Amazon, or have you already established a business presence and are looking to improve your Amazon advertising results? Then consider this cheatsheet your ultimate Amazon seller guide.
From providing guidance on how to get started selling on the hottest e-commerce platform to keeping you informed about new changes to Amazon’s seller platform, let’s take a closer look at what you need to know:
Getting Started with Amazon Advertising
Last year, it seemed like Google and Facebook were the kings of the advertising market, taking up a whopping 37% and 20% respectively, with Amazon trailing behind at a paltry 7%. With numbers like that, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Amazon isn’t worth your time, but during the same time period, Amazon’s ad revenues surged by 250% compared to the previous year.
That means, in short: move over Google and Facebook, Amazon is about to remind you who’s in charge when it comes to e-commerce.
As a reminder, it’s worth noting that 40% of all Americans buy at least one product on Amazon each month, with nearly half of them starting their shopping there. That means that if you’re involved in e-commerce, you need to make Amazon part of your advertising repertoire.
But for many people just starting out, the real questions is, “How?”
How Much Does it Cost to Start?
This is the first question many beginners to the world of Amazon selling have, and it depends on how many products you want to sell. If it’s less than 40, an individual plan may be the best option for you. Individuals pay 0.99 per item sold plus selling fees that vary by category. If you elect to use FBA or Fulfillment by Amazon to pick up, pack, ship and handle customer service for your product, then there are additional fees involved.
If you want to sell more items, there’s a $39.99/month subscription called the Professional plan. It also charges per-item fees that vary by category.
Of course, simply getting started is a great first step, but given the sheer number of sellers on Amazon, you’ll want to know what you can do to stand out from the competition and get your products noticed by active, ready-to-order buyers.
Increasing Orders with Amazon Sponsored Product Ads
If you’ve been selling on Amazon for any length of time, you already know that choosing the right products, carefully crafting compelling product descriptions and enriching your product pages with relevant graphics, videos and other engaging content to increase the likelihood of an order.
But you’re still competing with thousands upon thousands of sellers. Amazon’s Sponsored Ads are a way to get your product noticed even if you’re just starting out.
Choosing the Right Keywords
Like with other pay-per-click, keyword-focused advertising platforms, Amazon’s own advertising allows you to select certain types of keywords to target specific audiences. These include:
- Broad Keywords - A less-targeted option for keywords, such as “cat litter” rather than “clumping cat litter”
- Phrase Keywords - With this type of keywords, the phrasing matters. You might sell child football helmets but if someone searches for football helmets for kids, they may not see your specific results because you specified “child” in the phrase keyword string.
- Exact Keywords - This grouping of keywords lets you precisely target the exact words people are searching, in the order they search them.
If that’s all a bit overwhelming, you’ll be glad to know that you can use automatic keyword targeting. This lets Amazon’s own algorithm make decisions in terms of targeting the keywords that are the most relevant for your specific product.
You can then see the results in the Sponsored Product Ad reporting tool. This will tell you the number of clicks, the cost, number of sales and the advertising cost of sales (ACoS) of your ads.
This type of targeting works similarly to other types of PPC campaigns and platforms, so you’ll want to ensure that you’re targeting the right keywords, flagging those with low conversion rates and monitoring bids carefully so that you pay as little as possible while getting the best ROI.
HOT TIP: With manually-targeted ad campaigns, you can use Amazon’s Bid+ feature to intelligently manage your best performing campaigns. It only works on those ads that are eligible to appear at the top of search results pages, and you can increase your bid’s “leeway” up to 50% so that it stays competitive without you having to constantly go in and manually adjust your bid to stay at the top of the results.
But this isn’t by any means the only way that you can advertise on Amazon.
Amazon Sponsored Brand Campaigns
This variety of Amazon advertising lets your products show above, below and beside keyword search results. Like with other types of keyword campaigns you can target three specific types of keywords with sponsored brand campaigns:
- Branded product keywords - This is your brand name combined with the product you sell, like Acme Snow Boots.
- Complimentary product keywords - This combines two complimentary keywords together that are often searched for and sold together (peanut butter and jelly, for example)
- Sponsored product keywords with automated targeting - Wish you could just let Amazon take the wheel when it comes to maximizing targeting with the keywords and phrases that you’ve already gotten good results from? That’s exactly what sponsored products automatic targeting keywords do.
With these types of campaigns, you can showcase up to three products, customize the image and headline, and set the landing page. You can also test individual elements to see which one performs the best.
HOT TIP: Amazon recommends choosing your highest performing products for these types of ads, as well as including the number one benefit in your headline so that it’s noticed by both desktop searchers and mobile searchers alike. Just don’t get too carried away -- Amazon won’t approve ads that say things like “Best Seller” or “#1”.
You’ll also want to be sure you’re getting the best possible results from your optimization tests, so you should only change one variable at a time to see how it affects your ad’s performance. Run the ad for around two weeks and then compare its performance with your control.
Amazon’s Product Display Ads
These ads appear on product detail pages as well as pages of customer reviews at the top and bottom of the pages. These types of ads are designed to allow you to upsell or cross-sell your products, and they’re perfect for abandoned cart emails, product recommendation emails, and follow-up emails.
As these types of ads run on a pay-per-click system, you can target them using contextual product targeting (choosing certain products and their categories respectively) or interest targeting, that lets you leverage behavioral metrics to seize customer interest.
HOT TIP: Use these types of ads on your competitor’s product pages as well as on your own pages to cross-sell or upsell customers on products (or other versions of your products) that they might also find helpful or interesting. Here again, avoid using terminology on your creative that says things like “Best Seller” or “#1”, although you can use terms like “New” or “Exclusive”.
If you’re not new to selling on Amazon, but you’ve been involved on the Vendor Central side of things, you likely faced a bit of a surprising shock recently that has made you rethink your entire business model -- the sudden and unprecedented shift toward Seller Central.
The Big Change to Vendor Central That’s Got Everyone Talking
Until recently, Amazon had two separate sections: Seller Central and Vendor Central. Vendor Central could easily be distinguished by its “Ships from and sold by Amazon.com” label on products. Essentially, Amazon bought products wholesale and would then sell them directly to consumers.
But recently, many of the sellers on Vendor Central didn’t receive purchase orders from Amazon, and they didn’t receive a very concrete explanation as to why. The current belief is that Amazon is looking to move merchants from Vendor Central to Seller Central for a variety of reasons:
- Vendor Central requires more manpower. With Vendor Central, Amazon has to take care of the packing, supplying, shipping, and service. It’s a lot of labor and a lot of money, whereas a more self-serve option (Seller Central) allows them to enjoy greater profit margins without the overhead and work involved.
- Nobody knows your product like you do - Not even Amazon, with all of its big data and purchasing habits. Instead of dealing with inventory management on their own, Amazon frees up valuable warehouse space by putting the onus back on sellers. And that’s not even counting inventory and product management on an international scale!
If you’ve been accustomed to supplying retailers, it may come as a bit of a shock to see your business model upended by Amazon. However, Seller Central has a number of key benefits. For example:
You’re in Control
With Seller Central, you’re in charge of your inventory position, your pricing and more. This kind of control can seem overwhelming and unprecedented at first but by you’ll quickly come to love the freedom and ease of use once you’re up and running.
Access to Free Reporting
Oftentimes, you had to pay extra fees in Vendor Central to access things like your conversion rate or your keyword ranking. Many of the same reports on Seller Central are free, and if you find something’s missing, there are plenty of third-party tools that can help deliver what Amazon cannot.
Improved Customer Service
This presents a great opportunity to get in front of customers and deliver the best possible service you can. There are several strict metrics and rules you’ll need to abide by, such as how quickly you respond to customer inquiries, as well as how smooth your returns process is, that may add to your operational cost in the beginning, but can quickly grow into a much smoother and cost-effective routine that gives you an open communication channel that the typical Vendor Central option did not.
The Bottom Line When it Comes to Selling on Amazon
As you can see, getting started selling on Amazon doesn’t have to be overwhelming or cumbersome. In fact, Amazon has streamlined a great deal of the process, making it as easy as possible for even first-time merchants to sell their products on the e-commerce behemoth’s website.