One of the hardest things to do in today’s online marketplace is grow a brand in a sustainable way. Most strategies either feel slow and plodding or risky and uncertain, and while ‘slow and steady’ wins the race, even the most steady-handed brand owners will occasionally put everything on the line in the name of business growth.
Kaspien became an Amazon seller in 2008 and has seen major ups and downs since then. We know from our own hard-earned experience that chasing revenue and future profits is risky, and as a result we’ve developed a very disciplined approach for brands grow sustainably and successfully online.
In this blog post, we’ll discuss four strategies for sustainable online business growth that we’ve applied successfully for our partners throughout the today’s top online marketplaces.
There are two critical factors for Amazon advertisers: bids and search terms. Both have sweet spots and undershooting or overshooting these targets results in poor marketing performance.
Manual optimization has significant limitations, most notably that it takes time. “You can manage campaigns manually, and Seller Central has many great tools to do that,” says Rett Clevenger, Kaspien’s VP of Marketing. “From Kaspien’s perspective, using bid automation allows you to put your time where it matters, creating insights from the data rather than clicking buttons.”
Kaspien has devoted a great deal of time and attention to bid optimizations and search term optimizations, both in the form of strategies and the development of software that can automate time-intensive processes. Automation makes it easier to apply the insights you gain from analytics and allows you to focus your efforts where they are most needed. When explaining the merits of automation software and the strategies used to implement them, there are two important factors to consider:
No two brands are the same, and what works for one won’t necessarily work for another. The tools and software used to help grow a business online must therefore be effective across a variety of categories. Bid-optimization software used by agencies like Kaspien is effective across many product categories, visibly growing sales for brands while keeping CPC and ACOS as low as possible.
Staying in the sweet spot requires constant attention. New competitors are constantly appearing, existing competitors regularly revise their strategies, peak seasons come and go, and consumer demand can surge or plummet unexpectedly. Sellers, therefore, do not have the luxury of a “set it and forget it” approach, at least not those that care about sustainable results. Automation allows for real-time adjustments to bids and helps brands harvest high-converting keywords quickly.
Using automation software and services in this way a reliable strategy to create sustainable business growth. “You can’t control everything, so it’s really good idea to control what you can,” says Clevenger. “Using automation ensures you’re meeting the metrics that are important to you.”
It’s an open secret that brands cannot always rely on Amazon to police the marketplace. “Amazon has varying degrees of engagement when it comes to protecting your brand,” explains Dave Sayyed, VP of Revenue at Kaspien. “Unless there’s some type of a counterfeit or fraudulent activity, they’re not going to get involved.”
This means brands must take action themselves to create a robust protection strategy for their own brand.
There are three key areas of Amazon brand protection:
Legal Compliance – Compliance means securing intellectual property rights (IPR) to have legal footing if counterfeiters or copycats appear. Legal compliance also means complying with all relevant regulatory agencies (CPSC, FDA, FCC, DOE, FTC, EPA, NHTSA, etc.) as it relates to your products.
Marketplace Compliance – Amazon has even stricter requirements than many regulatory agencies. Non-compliance with Amazon’s regulations could result in a listing suspension for weeks or months while a case is under review. As Sayyed points out, Amazon often changes its policies with very little notice, and you may find out too late that you’ve violated a policy you didn’t even know existed.
Supply Chain Control – Unauthorized sellers can obtain products through unsecured distribution networks, integrating their inventory with your own in fulfillment centers. Once integrated, unauthorized sellers can add erroneous or misleading content or violate pricing policies, both of which cause cascading issues for your brand.
Supply chain control is a particularly tricky issue and one that requires an experienced team and careful monitoring to maintain securely. Whether you have an in-house supply chain management team or you utilize the tools and expertise of an agency like Kaspien, you must take a holistic approach to supply chain management to ensure that decisions you make for one platform do not adversely affect any other selling channels.
How Brand Protection Software Impacts Business Growth
Brand monitoring software empowers brands to protect and control their own Amazon channel. In much the same way that bid-automation and keyword-harvesting software make it easier to apply insights, brand-protection software makes it easier to quickly identify and take action against unauthorized sellers that could be harming your brand.
Here are a few key benefits of utilizing brand protection software through an Amazon agency:
- Real-time insights and invested partner who can help take immediate action.
- Evaluate valuable seller data for insights to create better organization and growth.
- Improve buy box rate and brand integrity.
- Keep brand channel clean and compliant to avoid listing suspension.
Content sells. Marketing is a powerful tool for driving traffic back to your listings, but your marketing campaigns will only perform as well as the content of your listing. If a shopper clicks an ad and lands in a listing that lacks information or fails to answer questions they have about the product, they’re unlikely to convert.
You must have discipline to invest in your product content before amplifying exposure. “It’s really important to do things in the right order,” says Clevenger. “We use a scoring mechanism to measure the readiness of content and a set standard for conversion before we add marketing.”
The worst thing you can do for your business growth is to amplify content that is not optimized for conversion. Here are the key areas of content to optimize:
Product Title – One of the most valuable parts of your Amazon product listing, your product title has a huge impact on the search performance and is one of the first thing potential customers see.
Key Product Features – Commonly seen as the bullet point sentences near the top of Amazon listings, this a chance to call out key product features when a customer clicks into a product listing.
Media Gallery – One of the biggest downsides to shopping online is being unable to physically see and hold a product. Optimize your gallery can visually answer questions consumers may have about your product.
Product Description – This is an opportunity to get into the heavy details of a product or expand upon content already mentioned. Product descriptions also provide an opportunity to share your brand’s story and values and build brand awareness.
A+ Content – Accessible only through the Brand Registry program, A+ Content acts strictly as a conversion tool, providing additional space for a branded product descriptions full of additional details, specifications, and imagery. Amazon claims A+ content can improve conversion rate by up to 5% and allows brands to directly link to other product listings, providing an opportunity to show consumers that you have other products available.
Content is incredibly customizable, and Amazon is constantly adding new tools and features to help your business growth on the marketplace. “One of the hardest lessons sellers have to learn is once you get to the point where you’ve created the optimal listing, you need to go back and look at it again,” says Sayyed. “There are always more ways to optimize.”
Walk through your brand store on the marketplace, looking at top performers with as much scrutiny as underperformers, paying attention to new products and competitors, and apply optimizations as needed to ensure continued, sustained growth.
As mentioned above, content provides brand owners the opportunity to share more information about their products while engaging with their customers. Creative visuals like infographics and videos make it easier to connect to the buyer on an emotional level. Marketplaces have studied the effects of videos on buying behavior for years, and here are some of the compelling results they’ve seen:
- 64% of customers are more likely to buy a product online after watching a video about it – (Forbes, 2018)
- 79% of consumers prefer watching video to reading about a product – (Wyzowl, 2017)
- 95% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service – (HubSpot, 2018)
- 58% of shoppers consider companies that produce video content to be trustworthy – (Animoto, 2014)
In addition to improving listing conversion, videos can also be used in marketing campaigns to amplify your brand message, boost brand awareness, and increase conversions. While it’s common for large brands to have an in-house creative services team to create branded videos, far more brands rely on third-party vendors to create these visuals for them.
Learn More from Our Experts
We recently hosted a webinar in which Kaspien’s VPs mentioned in this post, Rett Clevenger and Dave Sayyed, sat down to discuss what it takes to create sustainable business growth online, as well as specific tools and strategies Kaspien has developed over the years to make this process as streamlined as possible for our partners.
You can watch the full webinar on demand, including a helpful Q & A at the end, and visit our Work With Us page to learn more about the services we offer our partners to help them grow their brands online
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