“Merchants should adopt a multilayered advertising strategy,” is the advice chief executive officer of Stack Influence gives to marketplace sellers.
Speaking to Tamebay, Laurent Vincent chief executive officer of Stack Influence emphasised on the importance of sellers equipping themselves with an arsenal of advertising strategies in order to win in the online marketplace war. He simply says that reliance on Amazon advertising alone isn’t enough.
T: How would you describe the Amazon advertising journey over the last few years? How did this develop in terms of service proposition?
L: Amazon advertising just celebrated its ten year anniversary. In 2008 Amazon hired Liza Utzschneider from Microsoft to build out their initial advertising platform. Amazon started by implementing display advertising modalities allowing businesses to promote their products through banner ads and sponsored search result listings. They subsequently have evolved their services to offer coupon promotional features, embedded wishlist button promotions, shipping box ad space, and most recently a slew of advertising options on partnered external websites or display ad network. They’ve also now dramatically expanded their sponsored ad offerings, PPC channels and overall advertising campaign platform framework.
With a customer base of 300 million Amazon has become a major player in the online advertising space. Still lagging behind Google and Facebook which dominate digital ad revenue, Amazon is slowly but surely overtaking market share and ramping up their advertising abilities and value proposition.
In May of this year, Amazon acquired the second-largest ad server company Sizmek (behind Google) to expand their advertising technology and capabilities. With Sizmek’s ad server and Dynamic Creative Optimization suite, Amazon will be evolving their advertising targeting abilities and their partnered display ad network pursuing a full-frontal attack on Google and Facebook’s online advertising stronghold.
Besides Amazon’s advertising offerings, merchants have begun using alternative advertising tactics to stay ahead of their rivals as the online marketplace giant has become more competitive. Merchants have predominantly been utilizing Google and Facebook’s advertising services to supplement their alternative advertising needs and foster a competitive advantage.
However, recently influencer marketing tactics has entered the stage and been in the spotlight. Amazon even developed their own influencer program in the past few years to encourage this new form of marketing which they have revamped this year. Amazon’s influencer program bestows affiliate commission benefits and special promotional page features catered to social media influencers both big and small (micro to mega-influencers).
T: How much has the importance of advertising your products on Amazon changed?
L: As I previously mentioned, Amazon is becoming more and more competitive as large amounts of online sellers have begun realising the potential for enormous revenues, while the online marketplace creeps close to dominating 50% of all online purchases made in the USA.
For most of Amazon’s existence, success as a merchant could be found by just having good keywords. some nice photos and a desirable niche, where competitive sellers in many categories were few and far between. However, due to the extremely competitive nature of Amazon in this day and age, advertising on the platform has become more prevalent and more of a necessity to stay ahead and stay profitable.
Since Amazon has such a concentrated amount of users who are primed to consume and actively seeking to make online purchases, online sellers who aren’t even listed on Amazon have begun using their platform and services to advertise their products linking to ecommerce stores outside of the marketplace.
Competition has become so severe that alternative advertising tactics like Google Adwords, Facebook promotions, and influencer marketing are now becoming necessary to maintain a competitive edge and keep their marketplace businesses alive. In short, advertising on Amazon is not only important as an online seller in 2019, but it’s also sine qua non.
T: How is Amazon advertising expected to change in the few years?
L: Prognosticated by Amazon’s acquisition of Sizmek, I assume Amazon will become a go-to for advertising on alternative websites across the internet outside of their own marketplace as Google and Facebook currently offer with their audience network advertising services.
I can also see Amazon buying out other advertising technologies and businesses in order to become a more serious contender in the online ad space against Google and Facebook, maybe even become the dominating player in the next few years. Amazon’s chance of ruling the advertising industry is high since they have some of the best consumer interest data out of all the online giants due to millions of daily ecommerce transactions.
On the merchant side of things, Amazon is only going to become more competitive. Advertising budgets will continue to be a necessity as new sellers enter the Amazon ecosystem enticed by the allure of get-rich-quick stories along with a desire to escape the 9-5 and work for themselves.
T: What strategy are you using to attract shoppers to merchants’ listings without inundating them with information?
L: Working with a targeted network of Micro-Influencers (social media users with 1K -20K followers) we use a variety of social media promotional tactics to attract shoppers to Amazon merchant listings and incentivize them to make purchases without overwhelming them with information. Micro-Influencers have the most engaged following base out of all types of social influencers since their audience consists mostly of friends, family or close acquaintances. Micro-Influencer followers are also more likely to convert on a product promotion made by the influencer since they’re highly trusted and admired.
We lightly curate our influencer promotions allowing them to be as authentic as possible and provide truthful testimonials on the products they are promoting.
We also utilize Instagram stories to share direct links to merchant listings along with discount coupon promotional strategies. Discount coupons intertwined with authentic testimonials emphatically incentive consumers to follow through with an influencer’s suggestion instead of buying a competitive product elsewhere. Coupons that expire also induce time pressure psychological motivation on consumers, encouraging them to promptly take advantage of a fleeting opportunity while causing them to complete less research and compare fewer criteria.
T: What new services do you have planned for merchants?
L: We predominantly utilise Instagram for our influencer marketing campaigns but are currently planning to expand our service offerings to include YouTube promotions. Video content is the new frontier of influencer marketing since videos are more enticing to consumers, links are more easily shared, and YouTube videos are instrumental in search engine optimization (specifically Google since they own YouTube and give videos preferential treatment in search results).
When YouTube influencers create new content their subscribers are also notified of their posts through email and other means, increasing engagement and promotional effectiveness. Last but not least, video content has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of advertising media on advertising platforms like Facebook. Thus creating video content leveraging YouTube influencers can be repurposed for additional advertising campaigns.
T: How can merchants differentiate themselves in the competitive market?
L: Similarly to investing in YouTube influencer promotions to generate reusable video content, our Instagram Micro-Influencer campaigns accumulate user-generated photo content for merchants to use on alternative marketing initiatives and in their marketplace listings.
Online marketing guru Niel Patel has shown Facebook ads with UGC (user-generated content) having 300% higher click-through rate (CTR), 50% lower cost per click (CPC), and 50% lower cost per acquisition (CPA) on average over professional photography. We’ve also seen similar results in our own in-house advertising campaigns.
UGC additionally can help merchants differentiate themselves from competitive brands who may only have product images in the absence of customers using their products. Our influencer campaigns also help increase brand awareness and social media profile popularity which further strengthens a merchants competitive edge and trust in the eyes of consumers.
T: How do you support merchants’ advertising when they move to a new market? What are the challenges they face? How can they avoid them?
L: Starting a new marketplace listing can be an arduous process especially when entering a competitive niche.
Common issues inundating merchants include driving listing traffic, generating reviews, and fostering consistent sales. Influencer marketing assists with all these challenges by incrementally triggering a profusion of awareness and listing visits in a controlled time frame.
Influencers activated in our campaigns are also extremely targeted by demographics, geographics and psychographics so their promotions provide product conversions more often than normal social media posts or online advertising promotions.
Due to the nature of this controlled and targeted marketing strategy, our clients are able to quickly and directly produce traffic, sales and reviews to facilitate launching new products and entering new markets in a very effective way.
T: What are the common mistakes merchants do when advertising on Amazon? How can they avoid them?
L: Amazon merchants will commonly rely too heavily on Amazon’s own advertising portal without using alternative marketing initiatives outside of the marketplace to stand out from their competition and get ahead.
I would recommend merchants educate themselves with all online advertising and marketing strategies to generate as much traffic to their listings as possible.