Driving Visibility on Amazon: How to Stand Out on the World’s #1 Search Engine
When Jeff Bezos started Amazon in 1994, he launched the innovative Ecommerce site with the goal of becoming the “everything store.” He wanted to build a place where both consumers and business buyers could come to buy, well, everything. His vision was to create a single place where people could make all their purchases and have everything delivered right to their doorstep. He started with books because this product represented a high-volume category where the products were easy to understand using the rudimentary web site tools of the day. And – importantly - books are relatively easy to ship.
Today, Mr. Bezos’ vision of the everything store has become a reality. Products are available across hundreds of categories and thousands of sub-categories, including items for both consumers and business buyers. According to data scraping firm Scrapehero, Amazon lists more than three billion products across 11 markets worldwide, of which about 560 million products are available on the company’s U.S. site alone.
These numbers might intimidate some sellers, especially those that are just entering the marketplace. Driving visibility and drawing attention to your products amongst hundreds of millions of items is a challenging endeavor. However, by following a set of best practices, sellers can propel their visibility, their brand, and sales on the platform.
Here are the three main ways you can drive visibility and standout on the world’s biggest search engine.
The Fundamentals: Great Content
Visibility is key, particularly on the first page of search results. The cold reality is that approximately 70 percent of customers never click past the first page of Amazon search results. In other words, if your products are not appearing on the first page, your offerings are not likely to be seen, considered, or purchased.
Creating visibility for your product listings all starts with great content. Establishing a foundation of content that draws in and educates potential buyers is the best way to give yourself a chance of showing up on the first page.
Amazon calls this “A+ content,” and it includes:
Descriptive titles: Use terms associated with the product, but also features and benefits, perhaps even the brand name if that applies
Detailed product descriptions and compelling features / benefits: This should include bullet points and clear copy with well-thought through product benefits, and presented to help consumers quickly understand why your product is better than similar items
Excellent quality images: Amazon allows up to nine images (though they only display the first seven on product pages), so failing to utilize all of the available image zones is a significant oversight. It is also important to use high-quality photography, preferably taken by a professional. Buyers engage in photography above all other elements on a product listing page on Amazon. Your “hero” (default) product image must have a white background, and supplementary images can be used to show your product in use, offer size or fit guides, display an ingredients list (for food products), etc.
Video: For complex products that benefit from visual display, such as clothing, equipment, tools, or even window treatments, video can help to convey product quality.
Brand Content: Leverage Amazon's tools to register your brand (called Amazon Brand Registry), and then create a branded storefront to tell your story. Leverage Enhanced Brand Content on your product listing pages to tie your brand together with product listings and give customers a reason to buy your product!
Product Reviews: It is critical to obtain product reviews on your listings, as this is a key factor Amazon uses to rank products. You should be proactively soliciting reviews after customers buy your products. Consider enrolling in Amazon’s programs to help drive reviews on new products, including the Early Reviewer program.
Below is an example of an A+ product listing page from one of our clients at Enceiba, a producer of high end paper products and planners called Erin Condren.
Maintaining high-quality content is the first—and most important—step for gaining visibility on Amazon. Excellent content helps Amazon’s algorithms understand what your product is about and gives you a chance of appearing in search results. Overall, the better your content is, the more likely it is that people will click on your products listings and buy your products. And the more people who buy your products, the higher your products are rated in Amazon’s algorithms, the more product reviews you receive, and the higher your listings appear in Amazon’s search results. It is a “flywheel”, and great content is the key to getting your listings “in the game” and eligible to appear.
Another way to boost your products’ visibility is ensuring your listings are eligible for Amazon Prime. Prime is Amazon’s loyalty program that provides free two-day shipping (and other benefits) to consumers and business buyers that pay an annual fee to participate in the program.
Why is Prime important for visibility? Well, for the more than 100 million members, it is common to filter product searches by Prime eligibility. This means these highly-engaged buyers are only looking at products that have Prime eligibility. They want to receive their items quickly, and they want them shipped for free! So, if your product isn’t Prime eligible, there are more than 100 million people who will likely never see your product on Amazon. At my firm, Enceiba, we have found that products with the Prime badge convert at a 3-4x higher rate versus those products that are not Prime eligible. So not only do you get more visibility by participating in this program, you also get more sales.
There are three ways to have your products classified as Prime:
Sell directly to Amazon as you would in traditional wholesale relationship; this is known as 1P (or First Party, also known as Vendor Central) selling. Once Amazon owns the product, it will become Prime eligible.
Use Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), where Amazon works as a 3rd party fulfillment partner on your behalf, handling everything from stocking products, picking, packing, shipping, customer service, and handling returns. Sellers that use FBA can take advantage of Amazon’s massive distribution infrastructure and best-in-class capabilities of getting items to customers quickly.
Have your own warehouse certified by Amazon to be able to deliver Prime products. This is known as Vendor (or Seller) Fulfilled Prime, and it enables you to ship products from your own warehouse with the Prime badge on Amazon. However, if you are not highly efficient and experienced with rapid fulfillment, it can be difficult and expensive to achieve and maintain this status.
Leverage Amazon’s paid marketing services
The third way to achieve visibility on the marketplace is taking advantage of Amazon’s advertising services. This is particularly helpful for sellers with new products. Known Amazon Advertising (formerly called AMS, or Amazon Marketing Services), this is an excellent way to attract new customers and kick start the “flywheel” of visibility.
Amazon’s advertising platform works in a manner similar to Google Adwords. Advertisers bid on specific keywords. Then, through three distinct ad placement zones, your products gain visibility. All these work on cost-per-click (CPC) basis, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ads.
The three ad placement zones on Amazon are:
Sponsored Products: These are the most common and, in my experience, the most effective. This is where your products appear at the top of category listing and search results pages, and they can also appear on product pages under related products.
Sponsored Brands (formerly known as Headline Search Ads): This is a banner ad placed at the top of search results and can include your branding and up to 3 products. You can rotate products in and out based on your own needs—promotions, seasonality, etc.
Product Display Ads: For wholesalers only (those selling to Amazon as a 1P seller), these are product display ads that appear on product list pages on Amazon near the buy button. These ads can be targeted to specific product pages, including competitor’s products.
There is a rapidly disappearing secret about Amazon advertising. This is the fact that many sellers do not realize that advertising on Amazon generates much higher return on ad spend (ROAS) when compared to other digital advertising forms such as Facebook or Google. The same dollar spent on a non-brand search term (e.g. a general term not including your brand name) typically returns $8-$10 on Amazon, whereas you might be lucky to get more than a $1-2 ROAS on Facebook.
The fact of the matter is that Amazon visitors have very high buying intent. Amazon Prime members buy 70% of the time when they come to the site. Yes, that equates to a 70% conversion rate for Amazon Prime shoppers (for those of you out there with your own Ecommerce web sites, you would kill for a conversion rate like this). This high purchase intent translates to higher returns on your advertising. I do not believe this level of efficiency will last. The sellers positioning themselves now in Amazon will benefit down the line when advertising becomes more expensive. Your time to act is sooner rather than later.
Ultimately, gaining visibility on Amazon can take time to develop, particularly for new products. But if you follow best practices, your products can show up on page one over time.
Contact us if you want to learn more about generating visibility on this massive marketplace!