This is the third of our eight part series on driving traffic and conversion on Amazon. Earlier we looked at how traffic is the most fundamental metric in retail and how winning at search helps to generate it. Today, examine a few methods brands can use to help them actually win at search. Next up we’ll look at ways brands can turn that traffic into sales, and conclude by glancing at how cereal brands and computer monitors brands are winning on Amazon in the US and UK. Also included is a Q/A with Content26 co-founder and president Mark White and gen.video’s co-founder and president Jessica Thorpe, as they tackle several key questions generated by attendees of our recent webinar, “Driving Online Retail Store Traffic with Paid Advertising and Influencer Programs,” which can be found here.
First Page or Bust:
“Earlier in this series, we talked about how crucial generating traffic is for brands, how search leads to traffic generation, and how the most basic step to optimizing search is to understand how users actually utilize the search function on Amazon versus other leading platforms.
Since less than 30% of shoppers scroll past the first page of results, the holy grail of search performance is to land listings and ASINS on that first page. In other words, items on the first page, on average, experience more than three times the traffic of items appearing on the second page. In the constant struggle between brand leaders in every digital category, controlling first-page territory is decisive. It’s where the category giants consolidate their hold on the top spots, and it’s where up and coming brands become instant contenders.
First-page items also benefit from a feedback loop, which is another major factor in their high value. Because they get the most traffic, their share of search continues to grow, which in turn drives even more traffic. This is especially true for items that appear ‘above-the-fold’ - the items a shopper can see before scrolling down (usually the first 1-3 results). For obvious reasons, this space is the most coveted and hotly contested search territory.
In addition, brands will often buy up at least one of the available above-the-fold slots, making them even more competitive. For example the first two results for the term ‘laptops’ last week on Amazon.com were sponsored items from HP and ASUS. But there was also a sponsored banner ad at the top of the page, a ‘Best Sellers by popular display sizes’ insert after the first several sponsored ads, an ‘Expert Recommendations’ section, and a ‘Video Buying Guides’ insert. The first un-sponsored and un-tagged entry was several scrolls down the crowded page, so not only were there no organic ASINS above the fold, there were no organic ASINS even close to the fold. These days, especially in crowded categories like ‘laptops,’ competing for first-page slots organically is almost impossible without investing in paid advertising through Amazon Marketing Services or landing one of Amazon’s special tags.
Indeed, often the only way for newcomers and other lower-ranking brands to break into the top 100 or first page is to use AMS sponsored searches to gain momentum in the short-term and generate more organic traffic in the long-term. However, even this can be challenging - the same powerhouses who control organic are also the ones who often buy up the paid slots above-the-fold.
For a much more in-depth look at paid advertising on Amazon, download our on-demand webinar “Driving Amazon Traffic and Conversion with Paid Advertising Tactics,” available here
Paid advertising isn’t the only lever brands can pull to improve search performance. One of the most effective organic levers brands can pull to push their ASINs up the search rankings is to control and manipulate ASINs so that they are constantly in use, even after newer variants have become released. Because of Amazon’s emphasis on ratings and reviews, successful ASINs become entrenched over time. The longer an item is available on Amazon, the more time the ASIN has to build up sales and accumulate user-generated content, so it’s advantageous for brands to extend the age of their ASIN’s. Rather than deleting ASIN’s as new versions/editions are released, brands can either update the existing ASIN, merge the newer release as a variation of the old (thereby collecting all the reviews and sales data under a single parent ASIN), or use on-page content/links to redirect traffic from a high-ranking but out of date ASIN to a new release.
Other Ways to Drive Traffic: (ways to improve search)
Finally, two other basic but effective levers brands can pull involve content and stock - two of the fundamentals we have mentioned before. First, as we touched on above, user-generated content is one of the most influential ways brands can improve search performance organically. Amazon places a premium on ASINs with positive user-generated content, and its algorithms bump up SKUs with 4-star ratings or higher. So if brands can maintain a 4 star rating across all Amazon SKU’s while generating at least 26 total reviews, Amazon will start to promote their search rankings automatically.
The second fundamental-but-impactful lever brands can pull is simply to maintain stock levels. At first glance this seems like a pretty defensive play, and it is. But the consequences of letting even one ASIN go out of stock for just a short period can be truly dire. When an ASIN goes out of stock, search rankings fall and often get passed directly to Third-Party sellers. Furthermore, Amazon’s algorithms continue to punish out-of-stock ASINS even after they return to stock. So back-in-stock ASINs can stay depressed even after returning to normal stock levels. Unsurprisingly, this is often devastating for any brand, but it especially hurts new- and up-and-comers, and can make established brands/category leaders vulnerable.
To go more in depth on how to succeed in this crucial space, download our whitepaper “Turning Amazon traffic into Amazon sales” here, or give our on-demand webinar “Driving Traffic and Conversion with Paid Advertising” a listen here, and check out the rest of this blog series, and all of our expert insights here.