SEO is an ever-evolving part of the Amazon selling experience. Keeping content updated, engaging, keyword optimized, and compliant can be quite abalancing act. Amazon is always seeking to improve customer experience, and that includes updating content guidelines. Recently, there’s been a change in attitude toward all caps text in bullet points and HTML in product descriptions.
In this post, we’ll breakdown this recent change and why implementing these recommendations can help improve your listing compliance.
Experiments in Style: Two-Tiered Bullet Points and Amazon SEO Optimization
If you’re a frequent shopper on Amazon, you’ve definitelyseen “Two Tiered” bullet points in product listings.“Two-Tiered” bullet points are a popular choice for many sellers and are formatted like so:
Each bullet starts with a hook in ALL CAPS to garner attention, followed by copy in sentence case that expands on the hook.
Tests Indicated Shoppers Like “Two Tier” Formatting
Kaspien has runmany tests surrounding the efficacy of two tiered bullet points, but every result was inconclusive.In June of 2019, we surveyed Amazon shoppers to dig in deeperinto the “why” behind this formatting practice. We found that 56% of our sample preferred a key feature format that began with ALL CAPS, and then continued in normal sentence case.
Because the majority prefer this style, we deduced thatthis formatting structure is a positive user experience benefit. The ALL CAPS provides the quick facts, then the trailing sentence gives more details if the shopper desires to continue reading.
The ALL CAPS strategy really started to take offa few years ago, and Amazon SEO leaders latched onto this strategy. Amazon sellers, agencies, and strategists began implementing this format in their listings to better catch buyers’ eyes.
Amazon Bans ALL CAPS
Unfortunately, Amazon changed their outlook on listings that contain all caps in the bullet points, notifying sellers that having all caps in the bullet structure is no longer recommended and can result in listing suppressions.
Updating listings to reflect this change will ensure that the listings are not removed from the site for non-compliance.We believe Amazon changed their policy to present a more uniform content experience for consumers. Per Amazon’s advice, Kaspien is updating bullet points to remove any all-caps text to ensure that we meet compliance standards.
Product Description Breakdown: New HTML Recommendations for Amazon Listings
Product descriptions on Amazon represent an important piece of SEO territory that can be used to improve SERP (Search Engine Result Placement) for products. A robust description can be the deciding factor in a buyer’s decision, so it’s critical to include as much relevant information as possible while maintaining shopper engagement.
Amazon product descriptions appear on the site as a plain block text that’s tucked below the fold and above the product detail section, making it easy to miss. Many Amazon content creators use HTML in their description text to help break up text blocks. Common examples of HTML formatting include creating lists and adding bold and italic text to differentiate the content.
Amazon is now notifying sellers to remove all HTML text from the product description except for simple line breaks: “<br>”. Line breaks are arguably the most important HTML formatting in the product description. You can still create lists with line breaks – and of course, paragraph breaks help make lengthy text more digestible.
We believe Amazon made this change to alleviate some of the pressure on their servers when loading a listing detail page and – similar to the changes with bullet points – promote consistent formatting to shoppers.
Moving forward, Kaspien is implementing these content updates across product listings to ensure that we meet all style and compliance guidelines. We recommend that sellers start removing HTML from product descriptions and update their bullet points to reflect Amazon’s change in listing content strategy.
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Amazon Early Reviewer Program No Longer Accepting Applicants
On March 10, 2021, Amazon Seller Support noticed sellers that the Early Reviewer Program (ERP) will no longer accept new ASINs into the program as of March 10, 2021 and that Amazon will discontinue the service completely on April 25, 2021.
Amazon’s Notification to Sellers
“Hello from Amazon Selling Partner Support,
“We understand your concern regarding the Amazon Early Reviewer Program.
“Amazon continuously innovates to improve the shopping and selling experience. Over the past several years, we have made numerous improvements to encourage purchasers to review products on Amazon. These initiatives, such as One Tap Reviews and Global Review Sharing have proven more effective in generating reviews than the Early Reviewer Program.
“Accordingly, as of March 10, 2021, we will no longer allow new enrollments in the Early Reviewer Program, and will stop offering the service to sellers currently enrolled in the program on April 25, 2021.”
Amazon states they will return sellers’ program fees “within three (3) months after the closure date, for any active enrollments with more than 1 review and not completed by April 25, 2021.”
Will New Reviews Incur Charges?
For sellers concerned about being charged for new product reviews after April 25th, Amazon states, “You will not be charged the program fee for reviews published after Early Reviewer Program closure date of April 25, 2021.”
Why Did Amazon End the Early Reviewer Program?
Amazon’s official reason for ending the Early Reviewer Program is that other review generating initiatives are more effective, such as One Tap Reviews and Global Review Sharing.
Other potential factors may include the $60/ASIN fee was not financially justifiable, the amount of time it took for the Early Reviewer Program to generate reviews, and critiques that Amazon was biasing reviews by offering a small Amazon credit.
There are concerns that the retirement of the Early Reviewer Program will contribute to more black hat tactics for review generation on Amazon.
This isn’t the first Amazon program to get the ax. In 2019, Amazon retired the Amazon Giveaways program. Similar the the Early Reviewer Program, Amazon Giveaways was a popular service among sellers and shoppers, but internal factors led the company to discontinue it anyway.
Other Ways to Generate Amazon Reviews
On November, Amazon introduced a policy update that expressly permits sellers to email consumers through Amazon Seller Messaging after they’ve purchased your product, asking for a non-biased review. We’ve seen this approach to be a highly effective method to accumulate more, honest reviews that help products climb the search results page, all while remaining compliant with Amazon’s policies.
Leverage Social Media & Websites
While reviews on Amazon are ideal, many shoppers still use social media and direct websites to inform their buying decisions. Brands can use social media to engage their community, which helps motivate repeat buyers to leave reviews on Amazon.Brands can also quote reviews from Amazon and social media on their direct website to engage shoppers conducting research outside of the marketplace.
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Search engine optimization is an essential ingredient for success on Amazon. The problem? Attributing revenue to SEO can be tricky, and as a result, SEO doesn’t always get the attention it deserves.
We’re hosting a new webinar about measuring how SEO impacts Amazon revenue. This is a must-watch for marketing leaders interested in Amazon.
The webinar will be held on March 23rd at 10am PT / 1pm ET.
5 Reasons to Attend our Amazon SEO Webinar
1 – Learn How Much to Budget for SEO
SEO efforts don’t require an ad budget, but that doesn’t mean it’s free. In this webinar, we’ll explain how to build an SEO team for the Amazon marketplace, including how much of your marketing budget should be devoted to SEO and critical hires.
2 – Learn How to Measure Key SEO Metrics
Good decisions rely on good reporting. We’ll share how to structure your metrics for reporting so you can track, measure, and act upon the most meaningful KPIs.
3 – Industry Experts are Hosting
Two of Kaspien’s best are hosting the webinar. In her 6 years at Kaspien, Jennifer Johnston has been pivotal in Kaspien’s mastery of SEO on the Amazon marketplace, helping build the team from the ground up. In her current role as Digital Marketing Specialist, Jenn provides marketing support of all types for critical initiatives.
Autumn has an MBA from Gonzaga University and a background in small business consulting and digital marketing. Drawing on over 5 years of experience in traditional and ecommerce SEO, Autumn leads Kaspien’s SEO Team in servicing Kaspien’s partner brands.
4 – Review Test Results and Case Studies
Our SEO team has optimized tens of thousands of listings and conducted countless tests to determine which features have the greatest impact on product placement and conversions. In this webinar, we’ll share some of our findings, including examples of how enacting SEO best practices tangibly impacts Amazon revenue.
5 – You’ll Get a Free Copy of our Whitepaper, The Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazon Listings
In addition to tactical advice in the webinar, you’ll also receive a free copy of our popular whitepaper, The Ultimate Guide to Creating Amazon Listings. Authored by one of our hosts, Jenn Johnston, the whitepaper shares tips on how to write listing content for both the Amazon algorithm and the consumer, best practices backed by our tests, and a step-by-step guide to uploading listing content.
Register for the Webinar
Date: March 23rd at 10am PT / 1pm ET
Duration: 60 minutes
The Amazon ecosystem is getting more competitive and complex each day. Counterfeit goods slipping into listings and rising marketing costs are just two of the many issues brands face when selling on Amazon. Luckily, one tool brands can use to overcome some of these issues is Amazon Brand Registry.
What is Amazon Brand Registry?
Amazon Brand Registry is an Amazon program that provides brands additional protection and access to other marketing services, including:
One big issue for unregistered brands is the lack of control over their listings. When your brand is not part of the Amazon Brand Registry, unauthorized sellers can come into your listing and change content. As brand trust becomes more important to consumers, it is crucial to maintain control of your listings.
When brands are brand registered with Amazon, only authorized accounts can change listings. Authorized accounts can include your employees or another account to which you have assigned a role, such as an authorized agency. There are currently three types of Amazon Brand Registry roles: Administrator, Rights Owner, and Registered Agent. Each comes with a different level of permissions.
Administrator: An individual who has full permission to assign roles to user accounts.
Rights Owner: An individual who is the rights owner or an employee of the rights owner who is authorized to report violations.
Registered Agent: A third party who is authorized by the rights owner to report violations.
If you wish to give a seller the authority to report violations on your behalf and have extra authority within your listings, you must add them as a Registered Agent, Rights Owner, or Administrator.
How to Assign Brand Registry Roles
To assign roles for Amazon Brand Registry, follow these steps:
1 – On the Amazon Brand Registry platform, click on Brand Registry Support.
2 – Click through Update your brand profile > Update role or add new user to account
3 – Follow the on-screen form to submit the seller’s email as the role you desire them to have.
Apply for Amazon Brand Registry
Learn how to apply to Amazon Brand Registry.
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Setting up listings in Seller Central can be intimidating. Here’s what we’ve learned from creating thousands of Amazon listings over the years.
When it comes time to creating listings on Amazon,it’sbest practice is to have keyword-rich product listing copy already written and optimized.Creating a fully-optimized listingfrom the start will set you up for success, as it can be difficult to edit your listing post-creation.
Prior to creating the listing, you should have the following content pieces prepared: product title, key features or bullet points, images, and a standard product description. If you need help writing those, check out our blog post on Amazon listing requirements and best practices. Other content areas in the “backend” of product listings can be more easily modified post-creation, but it doesn’t hurt to have those ready to go from the beginning as well.
Other details that are required in order to create a new product listing include: a product number (UPC, EAN, etc.), a SKU for internal use, product specifications like dimensions and weight, and pricing information.
Amazon Listing Content Check List
The following is a high-level overview of fields you will need to or should fill out when creating an Amazon listing. They are broken out by detail tab in the listing creation page. If you want to make your Amazon listing process as easy as possible, gather these items before you create your listing.
Now let’s walk through the main way to make listings on Amazon.
Amazon Listing Creation Process
The process to create a single listing on Amazon is a rather simple and an intuitive one; it’s just a matter of knowing where to go to get started and what fields to fill out.When signed into your Amazon Seller Central, travel to Catalog > Add Products.
On this page, find the “List a new product” box and enter your product name, UPC, EAN, or ISBN to search.If Amazon doesn’t find an existing listing related to your query, you can then clickCreate a new product listing to start the creation process.
The first thing you must determine is the category your product fits into.You can either utilize the search feature to help you narrow down categories, or you can manually click through the product categories to drill down to an appropriate sub-category.Once you find your category, click on that hyperlink to bring you to your listing creation page.This page will display multiple tabs grouping together similar listing fields together, and this is where our content creation process begins.
On the first “Vital Info” tab, you will need to fill out the Product ID with your UPC, EAN, or ISBN, the product name with your optimized title, your manufacturer, and your brand name.Often times, manufacturer and brand name are the same, but please note that the brand name is what displays just below the title on a product detail page.It is very important the spelling is correct in these two fields from the beginning, as it is one of the harder fields to update post-creation.If you are ever unsure what to input into a field, Amazon provides small information icons next to the fields that can help guide you in the right direction.
Next, let’s move to the “Offer” tab.This is where you’ll notate your selling price, create your custom SKU, provide a Condition, and note how this listing’s inventory will be fulfilled.If you do not create a SKU yourself, Amazon will create one for you that is a long alpha-numeric string.If your brand doesn’t already have a SKU naming system, we highly recommend you create a system now before you create any listings.
The “Compliance” tab is the area where you can provide any battery information (if relevant) to your product, note warnings like Prop 65, and a Safety Data Sheet if that pertains to your product type.
In the“Images” tab,you can submit up to nine images.This is a rather intuitive tab where all you have to do is click “Choose File,” navigate to where your images are located on your computer andselect to upload.Most categories permit you to upload up toten images.If you are uploading images to a product that is a variant of a Parent-Child relationship,look for the image slot that is labeled “SWATCH.”This will be the image that displays in the variation preview on your listing. Amazon accepts JPEGs, TIFFs, and non-animation GIFs.
The “Description” tab is what contains the “meat” of your listing; this is where most of your optimized product copy should live.The product description field permits up to 2,000 characters to be submitted.Initially, you will only see one Key Product Features field, so you must click the link “Add More” to provide more fields, to a maximum of five.The character permitted in the Key Product Features fields fluctuate between categories, so it is best to hover over the information “i” badge to see what your current category permits. This tab also provides you the opportunity to attach any small parts or choking warnings.
The “Keywords” tab is full of fields that help improve the discoverability of your product listings, but do not display on your listing anywhere.Similar to the Key Product Features, you can have up to five fields on most of these, but you must click the “Add More” link to make them all appear.Focus on the Search Terms field, as it allows you to add up to 500 characters of keywords you might not have published on the frontend of the listing.
The “More Details”tab is where all of your nitty-gritty product specifications live.This is a relatively self-explanatory tab, but you will see there could be a lot of fields that do not relate to your product.Amazon generalizes what fields might be needed based on your category, so do not feelpressure to fill out all fields.We recommend screening through all fields and filling out the relatable ones, but below are the minimum requirement fields to create your listing for Fulfillment by Amazon:
Item Dimensions – Length, Width, Height
Unit Count Type
Once you have input all of the above suggested fields, you are now ready to “Save and finish” your new product listing.Once you click this button, Amazon will assign an Amazon Standard Identification Number (ASIN) and you can almost immediately see what your new listing looks like.You can either click on the title in your Amazon catalog, or you can navigate to the following URL with your ASIN replacing the tale end, https://www.amazon.com/dp/*ASIN*.
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There’s a lot of buzz around Amazon marketing lately, and with good reason. 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 compelling images, they’re unlikely to convert.
An optimized Amazon listing is the foundation of your success on Amazon, so it’s of the utmost importance that you take full advantage of this space.With that in mind, here’s how we, a top Amazon retailer for the past 12 years, optimize our listings.
The product title is one of the most valuable parts of your Amazon product listing. In addition to the photo and price, it is one of the first thing potential customers see on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).The title has a huge impact onthe search performance. Putting top performing keywords strings into the title can help the item move up the SERP quicker.
Below are the best practices for product titles on Amazon listingsalong with an example:
Example: JumpOff Jo Rocksteady Balance Stepping Stones for Kids, Promotes Balance & Coordination, Set of 6 Balance Blocks, Low Set
Key Product Features
Key product features are commonly seen as the bullet point sentences near the top of Amazon listings.They are one of the first things consumers seewhen clicking into a product listing.With five bullets, you have five chances to call out key product features.
One popular strategy used across the Amazon marketplace is called “two-tiered bullets.”Amajority ofconsumers gravitate towards bullet point content displayed in this way.The two-tiered method is the practice ofbeginning each bulletin allcaps,then continuing in normal sentence case.The idea is that the consumer can catch a quick fact about the product in allcaps part of the bullet point, even when they’re skimming. If it catches their eye, then they can read the rest of the bullet for more details.
When populating the SERP, Amazon only takes into consideration up to the 500-character mark of the listings bullet points. Due to this, it is very important to get your target keywords into the first 500 characters of your combined key product features.
Below are the best practices for the key product features on Amazon listings along with an example:
Character Maximum: 500 characters per bullet
Character Suggestion: 100-150 characters
Structure Suggestion: QUICK CALL OUT – Followed by a more detailed explanation providing another opportunity for more keywords
Example: BUILT FOR STANDARD U.S. CRIB MATTRESS – Measuring 28 inches by 52 inches, the crib sheet’s fitted sides ensure a smooth, snug, and secure fit.
Amazon Policy Update: ALL CAPS Banned
Amazon updated their listing content policy in late 2020 to forbid the use of ALL CAPS in Amazon listings. We recommend maintaining the two-tiered styling (key callout followed by more description), but in sentence case. For example, “BUILT FOR STANDARD U.S. CRIB MATTRESS – Measuring 28 inches by 52 inches, the crib sheet’s fitted sides ensure a smooth, snug, and secure fit.” would change to “Built for Standard U.S. Crib Mattress – Measuring 28 inches by 52 inches, the crib sheet’s fitted sides ensure a smooth, snug, and secure fit.”
One of the biggest downsides to shopping online is being unable to physically see and hold a product.This is why it is so vital to have high-quality images and even videos within the media gallery on product listings.When you optimize this gallery,it can visually answer questions consumers may have about your product.
Per Amazon guidelines, the main image must be the product on a true white background.No additional text, badges, or other products can be included.Additional images can have some of these things,so long as they comply with Amazon guidelines.It is also best to upload images that are at least 1,000 pixels on one side, as this will enable Amazon’s zoom feature.
There are two main types of photos best for Amazon listings: studio and lifestyle.Studio photos include the product on a pure white background from different viewpoints.These are a great opportunity to show close-up details of your product or overlay text to explain certain features of the product.Lifestyle photosshowthe product in use in a realistic life setting.They help consumers visualize using the product in their daily life.Start with 2-3 studio photos and then complete the gallery with lifestyle images.
The last thing you can add to the media gallery (if you are enrolled in Amazon Brand Registry) is product videos.The product video occupies the last tile visible in the media gallery and typically has a “Play” button icon to indicate there is a video.Keep these videos to less than two minutes long so consumers can quickly consume the video and move on to make their purchasing decision.If it’s a longer video, they might not spare the time to watch it.
Below are the best practices for the media gallery on Amazon listings along with an example:
Image Suggestions:1:1 aspect ratio, JPEG format, and at least 1,000 pixels on one side
Media Gallery Order Suggestion:2-3 studio images followed by lifestyle images
The product description is an opportunity to get into the heavy details of a product or simply expand upon content already mentioned in the title or key product features.It also provides an opportunity to share your brand’s story and values.Plus,it helps build some brand awareness.
It’s worth noting that the product description area is replaced by A+ Content submitted through Seller Central, so it may not always be visible.That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include a quality description though, Amazon indexes the product description instead of the visible A+ Content.
Amazon permits up to 2,000 characters in the product description area, 4xthe amount allowed in key product features section.That’s a lot of text, and, if not formatted properly, it can come across as a large,intimidating paragraph that consumers will not take the time to read.To alleviate this issue, many Amazon sellers utilize Custom HTML to code in paragraphs, line breaks, bolded headlines, bullets, and more.The Amazon system does not expressly permit the use of HTML, but manysellers havesuccessfully used it.Just know that it isn’t always accepted, and Amazon may remove the HTML without notifying you.
Below are the best practices for the product description on Amazon listings along with an example:
Character Maximum: 2,000 characters
Character Suggestion (non-HTML): 500-1,000 characters
Standard Description Example:
HTML Description Example:
A+ Detail Page
The A+ Detail Page is accessible through the Brand Registry program and provides brand owners the opportunity to share more information about their products through additional content and images.A+ Detail Pages are strictly a conversion tool,providing additional real estate for a branded product description full of additional details, specifications, and imagery.
Amazon claims A+ content can improve conversion rate by up to 5% but can get closer to 15%, depending on the current state of product listings.This A+ content will replace the existing standard description in an Amazon listing.
These A+ pages are incredibly customizable, so you will see a variety of best practices across different brands, but one thing that holds true is the value of the comparison chart module.This module enables you to directly link to other product listings.In other words, it provides an opportunity to show consumers that you have other products availableorshow them other products that would better fit their needs.
Below are the best practices for the A+ detail page on Amazon listings along with an example:
Featured Products Max: 6 products
Comparison Metrics Max: 10 metrics
Looking to Learn More?
Now that you’ve learned how to create fully-optimized Amazon listings, it’s time to market them! To learn more about the Amazon landscape, strategies, and so much more, download our free whitepaper, The State of Amazon Marketing.
Brand owners and retailers alike know that in order to be successful in the commerce world, you must be active on online marketplaces.Now more than ever, consumers are choosing convenience over buying in person from brick and mortar locations.eMarketer forecasts that consumer spend on ecommerce sites will increase by 18% during 2020, while spend in brick and mortars will decrease 14%.
Instant gratification is perhaps the greatest perk of buying in–person, but marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart are replicating that factor by offering same–day delivery and even 2–hour delivery in some areas.With consumer spending patterns shifting to online marketplaces at an increased rate,it’s never been more important for brand owners to curate a strong presence on Amazon, Walmart.com, and other growing platforms.
But having a presence alone isn’t enough; sellers must ensure that product detail pages are not only created correctly,but also fully optimizedtostandout in the oversaturated world of ecommerce.Any seller can quickly throw together a product listing,but unless you already have an exceptionally loyal audience, that won’t be enough.
Many people use search engines every day of their life, whether they realize it or not.Google is obviously the most popular in the industry, and it boasts one of the most sophisticated algorithms to this day.The algorithm uses keyword strings within website content to determine page rankingsand placement on their search engine results page (SERP).
Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and all other ecommerce websites have their own search engines powered by unique algorithms,and brand owners need to take these into consideration when creating product detail pages.Sellers must optimize these pages to strike the perfect balance of discoverabilityfor search engines andbuyability for shoppers, but walking that tightrope is a difficult endeavor.
Discoverability: Optimize for the Amazon Algorithm
When we talk about discoverability, this is almost always directly referencingthe algorithm being able to “read” the content ondetail pages, which it uses to determine relevant keywords and placelistings high on the SERP for those keyword searches.There are numerous ways to optimize your product listings for the algorithm, but the number one thing you need to do is understand the rules of the platform you are working on.If you violate any structural or compliance guidelines, your listing could immediately be removed from the SERP.
Keyword stuffing is another commonoptimization strategy for websites and marketplaces alike. Even an untrained eye can easily recognize this tactic: a series of keywords clumped together in a paragraph or listed in an unnatural way. Keyword stuffing is an outdated tactic used to manipulate a page’s rankings in search results by including a plethora of keywords.
Because it doesn’t guarantee helpful or relevant content, many search engine algorithms have begun penalizing pages for this tactic, so that now, keyword stuffing can actually damage the performance and ranking of your page or listing.It’s also crucial to consider how keyword stuffing affects your potentialcustomer’s experience when they read this content, which directly ties into the buyability portion of optimization strategies.
Buyability: Optimize for the Consumer
After consumers discover your product, their next action is opening and skimming the product detail page. If the listing content hasn’t been optimized for the end consumer, then the chances of a conversion are slim.The content should be easy to readand the listing should include high-resolution images, both of whichbuild trust and confidence with the potential customer.
Referring back to the keyword stuffing strategy, if a consumer can’t easily read the content on a detail page because it’s a nonsensical line of keywords,they’ll have a poor user experience and are far more likely to bounce from the listing. The copy must be compelling, containing practical information while highlighting tangle and intangible benefits.
When it comes to optimizing your listing,you can’t focus on just discoverability for the Amazon algorithm or justbuyability for the end consumer.Content creators’ ultimate goalis to find that happy medium of optimization for both the given marketplace’s algorithm as well as the end consumer.If you focus on one more than the other, then you risk either not getting any traffic to your listing or, if you do get traffic to your listing, they may not convert.
By working to achieve a balance of both of these aspects, yourmarketing copy will bring more traffic to your listings and improve your overall conversion rate.
Remember the days when Q4 was the focal point of the year for retailers? 2020 has certainly stolen that spotlight and pushed any semblance of normalcy to the back seat. But thankfully, the familiar panic of Amazon Q4 prep is slowly creeping back, and it’s go time.
Year over year, restrictions on Amazon continue to increase,soit’s imperativethat you start planning no later than late June. Which is now, folks! That’s why we’ve put together this prep guide. This guide will help you put Amazon Q4 prep back on the roadmap for 2020 and set yourself up for success. (Here’s hoping 2020 doesn’t throw us all another curveball – like locusts, that would be very bad.)
Designate Leaders to Guide Strategy
Your future success ties back to your team and partners. You need to start with a look at your internal teams. Who within your organization is taking ownership of Amazon? Does that person need additional support? Who are your warehouse and shipping partners? Do you have SLA’s in place that you can count on? Many brands turn to an expert partner to help fill those gaps, leaning on Amazon-focused digital agencies or retail partners that conveniently come with a fully stocked tool belt of standard operating practices and resources.
Regardless of what your team looks like, you need to finesse and develop an org-chart that explicitly designates working procedures, growth targets, demand forecasting, warehousing solutions, and marketing per person. Your success is tied to those KPI’s, and your team should have them top of mind as well.
If you don’t already, begin scheduling quarterly business reviews to allow for pivot time if the KPI’s are not lining up with targeted goals. Take inventory of segmented portions of your operation: What do stock levels look like? Have we heard of sourcing issues? What are our customers saying? Are there any product issues noted from reviews? What does your Amazon presence look like? How are advertising budgets performing? The answers to those questions will drive the strategic implementation and changes for the upcoming quarter and help position you well heading into Q4 on Amazon and beyond.
Conduct a Content Audit
In line with the basics, commence an audit of your catalog and corresponding creative assets. As Kaspien says, “People remember 80% of what they’ve seen and just 20% of what they read,” which is an important reminder. At minimum, the top 20% of your product catalog should have Amazon-compliant and visually exciting A+ Content to boost shopper buying confidence. Then stroll on over to your Storefront – have you organized your product categories in a logical fashion? Is your brand story being portrayed to meet customers at an emotional level?
A+ Content and Branded Stores are one of the simplest ways to communicate who you are as a brand and reduce negative reviews. If you can write a big green check mark next to that advice, then take it one step further. Determine which products could use a ‘seasonal facelift’ and find ways to incorporate holidaythemes into the gallery of your product detail pages. If you are a manufacturer of photo frames, could you photoshop a snowflake into the frame? Small changes to your organic marketing efforts can make a big difference when customers are scrolling through hundreds of products trying to find a gift. Simple images that naturally connect dots in our brain are a sure–fire way to stand out from the crowd.
AMAZON Q4 TIMELINE
Determine Q4 Stock & Lead Times
Do your due diligence here. This is one of those tasks that will be critical for a brand to take ownership of. You need to know what your expected lead times will be, based on where your product is manufactured. And if that’s proving difficult due to the Coronavirus affecting predicted ship windows, you’ll need to be ready to invest in more expensive options. Air freight is the most expensive option, but it delivers results. Costs range greatly by product and day, and fees are based on “dimensional weight,” so cost also varies greatly by the volume you ship. Due to COVID-19, the costs of air freight have increased dramatically from where they were a year ago, so this should be a last resort.
Get creative with your strategy and think outside the box. If you have sourcing issues with your manufacturer, look for unique ways to fill in the gaps. Are portions of the product or packaging notsustainable? Could you find a U.S. based manufacturer that can make the product out of recycled materials instead? Invest in new partnerships right now to ensure you don’t reach 10x growth without inventory to continue the trend.
Some sellers have learned a hard lesson about tardiness in past years, and we’ve all learned from those mistakes. Amazon implemented key FBA holiday selling dates for Amazon.com that can act as a guide right now (given Amazon hasn’t realized 2020 dates quite yet).
Apply to Applicable Categories ASAP
New brands and products have an increased hurdle this year, as Amazon continues to increase its barrier of entry for some categories. Recently, our brands have experienced issues in gaining access to the Personal Safety and Household & Medical Supplies and Equipment categories,requiring them to apply and, in some cases, wait over a month for any response.
Start this process immediately to ensure you gain access prior to using expensive shipping methods to get your product here in time. On this note, it never hurts to have a marketplace back-up plan. Is Walmart a good fit for your products? If so, begin the process of either finding a partner to help you launch there or apply on your own. For more information about Walmart, read our blog here.
Use Prime Day to Inform Amazon Q4 Strategy
While certainly not its primary purpose, Amazon does provide a convenient holiday that is a perfect opportunity to analyze sales, brand visibility, and advertising performance – Prime Day! Prime Day is a phenomenal opportunity to get a peek into the future and collect data points that should be used to develop a Q4 strategy. The increased volume of shoppers, increased ad spend, and heightened opportunity to rope in new loyal customers creates a similar landscape to what Q4 looks like on Amazon – namely, weeks prior to Black Friday and up until December 15th. Check out our top 5 tips for how to maximize Prime Day sales.
There arewhispers that Prime Day will be moved to September, given the current situation, which is considerably later than past years’ July dates. While that reduces thetime you have to use Prime Day stats to your Q4 advantage,don’t cut it short. Sources say there could be a ‘Summer Sale’ that can act as a great segue into Prime Day and thus provide two pools of data from which you can develop strategy.
Meltables Will be Accepted Starting October 15th
There are a few additional key dates that are certainly worth sharing for the world of meltable products. Per a notice Kaspien received in April 2020, “[…] meltable inventory will not be fulfilled or accepted by Amazon fulfillment centers starting May 1, 2020. Meltable inventory will be accepted again starting October 15, 2020. ‘Meltable’ refers to heat-sensitive grocery, health, and personal care products that are eaten or swallowed, including chocolate, gummies, and probiotics.” Brands that fall into this category should work backwards, using their lead time, to understand when inventory should be prepped and ready to send back into FBA.
AMAZON MARKETING FOR Q4
Create a Product-Level Advertising Strategy
If ever there was a secret sauce for Amazon, advertising is it. Amazon Advertising is one of the most profitable areas of Amazon, and Pivotal Research reported that,“Amazon is expected to reach $38 billion in advertising sales by 2023.” If something is making Amazon money, you need to pay attention to it, because you can guarantee they are.
Many brands find this planning metric quite difficult, given the variety of aspects that span budget constraints, inability to see into the landscape future, andcatalog size. To avoid a“drinking from the firehose” situation, go back to your basic target planning. If you have a partner, sit down with them and discuss what your high-level goals are. Use resources around you to understand target ACoS, ROI, ROAS, and budgets. Spend some time doing the math to understand your per product margin, and work backwards to figure out how much you’re willing to spend on customer acquisition.
Many brands fall victim to assigning one target for their entire catalog, but if you have multiple products withvarying price points, then you should be developing an advertising strategy at the product-level. A product that’s 5% over the target ACoS needs to be optimized differently than a product that’s 20% over the target ACoS. Even if your target ACoS is the same across the board, varying price points necessitate a product-level strategy. A $10 product with a 10% target ACoS needs to be optimized differently than a $100 product with a 10% target ACoS.
Amazon PPC Management Software Can Help
This is no small feat, so find time and cost saving tools to help you do this. We’ve even built one: Kaspien AdManager.Our 30-day trial allows brands to test our strategies and see results before committing to a subscription. Explore your resources and network with others in the industry to help yourself.
To understand performance and refine strategy, you’ll need to track advertising KPI’s. Start with goals: Definewhen you will bid up and bid down, how you’ll mine high-converting search terms and at what frequency, in what waysyou willidentify low converting keywords to be added as negative keywords, and finally, what your daily spend budgets need to be in order to work within your product level margin. Remember, Amazon only gives you advertising data for about two months, so find a way to store this insight and lean on the findings once Q4 rolls around.
Use Amazon Promotions Before Q4
Seemingly overshadowed by the power of Amazon Advertising are evergreen marketing tactics that deserve a fighting chance: Promotions! Start running promotions now, collect the data, store it, and analyze it. Lean on a combination of tactics, including coupons, Deals, BOGOs.While each targets a different subgroup of shoppers, you’re gaining insight into what lowered price points increase sales and which promotion types yield successful results and should be used during Q4. Hot tip: Today’s Deals during Q4 are about as crowded as B&M stores on Black Friday, so think about using other promotions, like coupons, to help carve out a space for your products in the rush.
Advertise Beyond Amazon
Additionally, one of the most successful tools Kaspien has used to circumnavigate the crowded Deals section during Q4 is off-Amazon advertising. Inventory your visibility on other platforms, like Facebook, Instagram, Google, etc.,and start A/B testing ad types on those platforms. While some categories are better fit for social advertising, don’t be afraid to get creative here. Who would have thought that a face shield would be a prized holiday gift? Use that to your advantage and sync up with partners in the space to help build content and advertise your product in ways that you hadn’t previously.
Influencers are another incredible way to call out to both niche and major segments of the population and get eyes on your brand. Many brands halt at the thought, thinking their products just aren’t a great fit – but you’d be surprised. And you don’t have to spend a fortune, tapping into micro influencers can be a powerful option.
Take this example: “Watchmaker Daniel Wellington is known for collaborations with fashion and travel influencers, but the brand also frequently works with CanadianBros (@CanadianBros), an Instagram account for two dogs named Jasper and Louie. Though dog lovers isn’t an obvious audience for a watch company, the fact that the account has featured Daniel Wellington on more than one occasion indicates it’s working. In one post, Louie gazes up at his owner who just happens to be wearing a Daniel Wellington watch. Like many of the account’s other posts, the caption is from the pup’s point of view.”
The big bonus here is most influencers allow brands to have rights to the content they develop which can be used on your direct sites, social pages and even Amazon.
We are living in a different time, and while nothing is certain, being a brand on Amazon puts you at an advantage during the holidays. Customers can shop from the safety of their couch, and you can help put a smile on the face of recipients around the country.
Think of the extra time you have as an opportunity to really give Q4 2020 the planning it deserves. Sit down with your teams, cultivate your goals, develop new relationships, and talk reality with your suppliers. Look at your products through a new lens, play around with organic marketing tactics, and take the time to implement an advertising strategy that spans both marketplace and beyond. The time is now. And if you need support, you can always reach out. We’d love to chat about your goals and the tools and services we have to help you reach them.
Happy Q4 planning!
A powerful marketing tool that has previously been neglected is finally getting the attention it deserves. On May 19th, we started seeing Amazon place a greater emphasis on Amazon Brand Store visibility within product listings, and we are all for it. On product detail pages that are linked to a Brand Store,there is now a direct link to the store that says, “Visit the *Brand Name* Store”, making it much more obvious to consumers that these digital storefronts exist.
Prior to this update, product listings simply featured the brand name below the product title. When clicked, the hyperlinked brand name would take users to a search engine results page for that brand name. The results on this page weren’t always the best representation of a brand’s catalog. This issue was partially fixed by the introduction of Brand Stores through Amazon Brand Registry, which instead linked the brand name on the listing to their Brand Store. However, not everyone knew this was a way to reach the Brand Store, so the feature received less than ideal use.
Amazon Brand Stores are and have been an all-around great marketing tool for brand integrity on the Amazon marketplace, as well as a great boon for inbound marketing efforts. They allow brand owners to create a customized landing page that matches their branding and voice, and now brands can showcase their product catalog all in one place. The downfall has always been that organic traffic could not always find them. This latest hyperlink update has been proven to fix that!
While this change has only been in effect for just over 2 weeks at the time of this publication, we are seeing drastic improvements in Brand Store performance. We pulled organic traffic data to a handful of our Brand Stores, andwe’ve seen the below improvements:
Increase in Visits: 63.58%
Increase in Orders: 67.27%
Increase in Sales: 99.90%
This is only the beginning. As consumers adapt to this change, they will come to expect brands to have these stores. Ifyour brand does not have a storefront, or would simply like a revamp, connect with Kaspien through our contact page or our live chat to see what we can do for you.
Not seeing this change on your computer? Amazon will often roll out structural changes in phases to note the impact and determine whether a full implementation is necessary. Sit tight, we expect to see a full roll-out soon.
This post will be updated regularly as the offerings through Amazon Brand Registry platform change.
Latest update: November 2019
If you are selling your own products on Amazon, the next best thing you can do for your brand is apply for Amazon Brand Registry. Anyone with an active registered trademark can apply, and once you do, it opens the door to a vast amount of benefits and marketing tools that far too few brand owners are taking advantage of. After your application has been accepted, you’ll gain access to a few immediate benefits, as well as an ever-growing list of powerful marketing and research tools.
Learn How to Enroll in Brand Registry
Benefits of Amazon Brand Registry
Brand Integrity Protection
One of the more common struggles brands encounter while selling on Amazon is keeping their content on the listing detail page accurate and looking as they desire. The fact is that anybody, authorized seller or not, can come into an Amazon listing and publish unauthorized content changes. Sometimes, these listing edits are innocent; other times, they’re malicious and indicate an attempted hijacking.
Amazon Brand Registry Roles
When your brand is registered with Amazon, only authorized accounts can make changes to your listings. Authorized accounts include your own brand’s account or any other account to which you’ve assigned a role.
There are three tiers of roles you can assign to other Amazon accounts, and each has their own level of permissions. If an account holds any of these roles, they are permitted to make listing edits. If anybody else attempts to edit through a ticket with Amazon, they will immediately receive a rejection notice. The three available roles are:
Administrator: An individual who has full permission to assign roles to user accounts
Rights Owner: An individual who is the rights owner or an employee of the rights owner who is authorized to report violations
Registered Agent: A third party who is authorized by the rights owner to report violations
Infringement Reporting Tool/IPR Violations
Amazon will use all the information you provide during your application process to protect your brand on the Amazon market. This tool can alert you when products are incorrectly using your trademarked terms or logos and when product listings are being created with your brand name after you have already listed your full catalog on Amazon. It can even notify you when sellers are shipping products from countries you do not manufacture or distribute to.
There is also a manual search tool you can use to proactively find infringement violations. Whether you are using the global, image, or bulk ASIN search, once you find violators, Amazon will guide you through the steps to submit reports of potential infringement. Once these have been reported, Amazon will investigate the accusations on your behalf and take appropriate action on the potential violators.
Now, here’s the fun part of Amazon Brand Registry: You gain access to more marketing tools! These services are ever changing; many services are released through Brand Registry, such as Brand Stores and Enhanced Brand Content, but occasionally, Amazon will phase out services that are either outdated or are no longer of value.
Amazon Attribution Program
Digital marketers have always struggled with attributing sales to their off-Amazon marketing efforts, so the announcement of the Amazon Attribution Program beta was like Christmas for US Amazon sellers. Very similar to building unique campaign tags and URLs for Google Analytics tracking, sellers can now provide unique tags to social media posts, their influencers, and any other off-Amazon digital marketing strategies. Advertisements will receive the attribution if the purchase happens within the 14-day window. If multiple advertisements are engaged by a shopper, only the final ad will be credited. This program is necessary for the data-driven marketer, enabling more strategic adjustments to services and budget.
This free US-only service allows brands to broadcast live or live-like videos to Amazon consumers. These livestreams can showcase product usage, features, or act almost like an infomercial on the Amazon marketplace. These videos will display on the Amazon Live page and beyond. We’ve even seen livestreams appear in competing product listings. To get the most out of your Amazon Live efforts, it’s best to pair them with promo codes since it provides a clear CTA. And the best part? Amazon Live is currently free.
The Brand Dashboard was one of the more exciting releases in 2019 for registered brands. This dashboard offers a variety of insights that helps brands keep tabs on their brand’s health, monitor new reviews, and check the quality of newly launched ASINs. The main dashboard provides a good snapshot of performance rates as well as conversion and traffic recommendations. The snapshot includes many valuable metrics you may have already been monitoring, but the ability to view them all in one convenient place can help brands better understand the overall state of their Amazon business. Price competitiveness, detail page completion rates, and search terms optimizations are just a few of the metrics hosted on this page.
Possibly the best tool Amazon has provided for researching search terms, this reporting platform gives you insight into how your products compare to others in the market. Compare your products to top competitors, see top-performing search terms across the entire channel, or dig into the demographics of your customer base during any given time period. The competitive intelligence offered in this reporting is like none other. This free tool empowers brands to make strategic decisions with their search term and marketing strategies. Just keep in mind that there is a 3-4 day lag in the reported data.
Videos have been available in the listing media gallery for quite some time, but how to get videos there was an unsolved mystery. Unless you were a large, reputable brand or had a special contact with Amazon, you were out of luck. Amazon now offers a Video Upload Manager under the Inventory tab in seller central. Videos submitted through here must be a .mp4 or .mov format under 500MB and cannot include any website URLs or other marketing materials. When you upload, you must submit a video title, related ASINs, and a video thumbnail. Once submitted, Amazon will review, and it could take up to 72 hours before publishing. Additionally, if your media gallery has more than six images, we’ve seen videos replace the sixth media gallery slot.
Amazon Brand Stores allow brand owners to create a customized landing page within the Amazon marketplace. It looks like a branded website within Amazon and can be customized with your own images, videos, product listing links, and much more. You can even create a navigation bar to improve the consumer’s experience as they browse through your catalog by category, product line, or in whatever structure makes the most sense for your catalog. Amazon provides a handful of store metrics like number of visitors, views, top performing pages, and any sales that were attributed to the store. Your Amazon store will also have a custom URL that you can use for inbound marketing efforts, and it can work very well with the Amazon Attribution program in helping determine where traffic is coming from.
A+ Content Manager
Registered brands have access to the A+ Content Manager, formerly called Enhanced Brand Content in Seller Central and A+ Detail Pages in Vendor Central. A+ Content is the section of the Amazon listing that appears in either the Product Description (Seller Central) or the From the Manufacturer (Vendor Central) areas of the listing. It is an opportunity for brands to utilize additional image assets and formatted content to help persuade consumers to make their buying decision. Amazon makes claims that A+ Content will improve conversion rate by up to 11%. This is a great opportunity for higher priced items where consumers will need more convincing, or for very technical products that need a lot of details explained.
Brand Registry is an Obvious Choice
I think we can all agree the Amazon marketplace is such an incredible opportunity for brands and manufacturers around the world, but if you aren’t being protective and proactive with your brand, it can also be detrimental. Adapting to the new “normal” in commerce means you will be selling on Amazon, and if you don’t set yourself up for success with Amazon’s Brand Registry program, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Get a trademark, register your brand, and take advantage of these tools to perfect your brand integrity and watch your customer retention and sales grow.
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Jack-o-lanterns and candy corn already line the shelves of grocery stores, heralding the arrival of fall and the holiday season. But even as the busiest shopping time of the year grows near, some brands are looking further ahead, planning for the launch of new products in the coming year.
If you’re among that group, you’re well aware that creating and releasing new products is an exciting but complicated process. After spending months researching product opportunity, target audiences, competitive landscape, and developing the product, you hope that all your time and energy will pay off after launch day, but that’s far from a guarantee.
Markets are increasingly saturated as retailing and direct selling become more accessible, with Amazon occupying the forefront of that trend. Amazon is only one marketplace, but it accounts for a significant portion of ecommerce sales, with estimates ranging from a third to half of online sales in the US. Its predominance makes it a key player in any product launch strategy.
To position your product for a successful launch, you need to enter the game with a holistic strategy for marketing, inventory management, and customer service.
Launch New Products with Kaspien’s FTM Program
To help with that effort, Kaspien has introduced our First-to-Market (FTM) Program, a comprehensive package wherein Kaspien provides marketing, logistic, and account support for a set monthly rate.
Over our 11 years on Amazon, Kaspien has helped launch hundreds of new products, establishing and refining best practices. This program draws those insights together into a convenient, comprehensive services package.
We’ve deployed our strategies to successfully launch new products on Amazon for leading brands, including 3M and ZippyPaws, rapidly increasing visibility and driving sales for new product lines.
Alongside established brands, we’ve also seen fantastic results for entirely new brands, including:
30,000+ brand name searches on Amazonper month within one year of launching
More than 1,000 followers on social media within one year of launching
Now, we’ve introduced the FTM Program to help your new products succeed too.
What It Costs
The FTM Program starts at$4,000/month retainer, which pays for labor and up to $1,500 of monthly marketing services. The program transitions to a wholesale retailer partnership when revenue reaches a sustainable rate,typically occurring within six months of product launch.
Enroll in the Kaspien’s FTM Program by reaching out to your Kaspien account manager and filling out our contact form.
Kaspien recently conducted an anonymous survey of Amazon shoppers evaluating which listing features affect their browsing and purchasing decisions. The survey gathered more than 150 responses to 11 questions.
If you want help auditing and optimizing your Amazon channel, reach out to Kaspien.
Customer Reviews are the Most Influential Factor
70% of respondents named customer reviews (40%) and product price (30%) as the most important factors for their purchasing decision.
Respondents nearly always read product reviews to make their purchasing decision.
24% of shoppers will not buy a product if it doesn’t have any reviews, and 22% report not buying a product due to bad reviews.
Shoppers Assess Listings Holistically
While customer reviews are king, the survey results indicate that shoppers view product detail pages holistically. When asked to rank the importance of listing features for their purchasing decision on a scale of 1-5, all options were ranked above a 3, suggesting that shoppers consider all features.
This trend was also represented elsewhere in the survey results:
Shoppers report viewing a Brand Store at least half the time.
Respondents nearly always scroll down the product detail page to read the description or look for additional content.
20% of respondents said they are unlikely to buy a product if it lacks quality images.
18% of respondents said they have opted not to purchase a product because there was not enough information in the listing.
Shoppers ranked lifestyle images (images of the product in use) as the most useful type of image, followed closely by size charts and studio images (images of the product on a white background).
Brands may not fabricate customer reviews (though some certainly do – you can use Review Metato spot fakes). However, brands can enroll products in Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program.
The Early Reviewer Program offers buyers a small credit to their Amazon account in exchange for writing an honest customer review. Amazon facilitates the program and charges brands $60/ASIN. The program lasts for one year or until 5 new reviews are generated, whichever comes first.
Optimize Listings to Set Accurate Expectations
Our survey found that the two most common reasons that shoppers leave product reviews are because the product was really good or really bad.
Both of these responses are subjective, to a degree, which means that marketers can influence them. Whether a product is “good” or “bad” is often a matter of how closely expectations and reality align. If marketers set accurate expectations, they can significantly reduce the chance of negative customer reviews.
The survey results show that shoppers assess listings holistically, evaluating the title, bullets, enhanced content, and images alongside customer reviews. Marketers should use the listing copy and images to provide clear product info and set accurate expectations.
Comprehensive listing optimization is critical for sales success. Shoppers view a listing as the sum of its parts. Missing information like pictures, product dimensions, and detailed information can dissuade potential customers.