With Q4 rapidly approaching, utilizing advanced advertising strategies on Amazon will be pivotal for a strong finish in 2017.

Although some of the biggest shopping days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday are months away, retailers should already be testing, gathering data about their audience, and building out creative.

FREE GUIDE: The 2017 Amazon Sponsored Products Guide

“We’re here discuss how to prepare your campaigns and be ready for Q4,” Pat Petriello, Head of Marketplace at CPC Strategy said.

“We want to make sure you are prepared to get the most out of the increased traffic that we’re going to see in Q4, specifically as it relates to your Sponsored Products advertising efforts.”

It’s pretty straight forward – when Q4 hits, there won’t be any time to test strategies or theories. Sellers who don’t have a clear Amazon ad strategy leading into Q4 won’t maximize their ROI.

To help sellers prepare, we’ve created the essential checklist for Amazon advertisers who want to capitalize on the channel throughout the holiday shopping season.

Actionable Tips For Your Q4 Amazon Ad Strategy:

1) Leverage Amazon Prime Day Data

It should come as no surprise that Amazon Prime members recently enjoyed the biggest global shopping event in Amazon history. 

According to recent reports, 2017 Amazon Prime Day sales surpassed Black Friday and Cyber Monday (2016) and the event grew by more than 60 percent over last year.

 

amazon prime day 2016

 

Although the majority of sellers hope for a spike in sales on Prime Day, there is equal value in understanding why some campaigns failed to perform.

Advertisers can leverage Amazon Prime Day data by looking at strong (and weak) performance among products, campaigns, specific keywords, and ad groups.

That way you can see which products performed efficiently. You can also use this data moving forward to make optimizations.

For example, although nobody enjoys product returns or reading through painful feedback, this “failure” also provides an opportunity to learn more about your customers and make adjustments to improve the shopping experience.

“You can use this kind of data to make optimizations and better communicate the value of your products to shoppers in Q4. This is only going to help you be more efficient in your organic sales results and advertising efforts going forward,” Petriello said.

“Leveraging all the data from Prime Day, making note of it, and being able to use those learnings for this coming Q4 will be huge.”

Take Action:

  • Analyze strong (and weak) performance among products, campaigns, specific keywords, and ad groups.
  • Identify return products & analyze negative feedback.
  • Optimize your product copy / images and take a closer look to determine where content is not clear or needs improvement.
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BLOG POST: How To Use Your Amazon Prime Day Data to Prep for Q4

 

2. Plan Inventory Accordingly

Post Prime Day is also a good time to figure out how effective your inventory launch process is and if it needs refinement or sophistication.

For example, did you overstock and now you’re facing those unwanted longterm FBA storage fees? Or maybe you ran out inventory too quickly?

Either way these are signals that you need to advance your inventory planning strategy prior to the holiday shopping season.

“Running out of stock prior to the peak holiday season, especially for an extended period of time, can have a devastating impact on your organic rank,” Ethan Pilkenton-Getty, Manager, Marketplace Channel Operations at CPC Strategy said.

“The last thing you want to see is a seller lose their ranking and visibility when the holiday season hits because of inventory issues and miscalculated inventory planning.”

Take Action:

  • Take the time to formulate a Q4 strategy that incorporates promotional strategies and forecasts sales projections.
  • Ensure you have proper inventory coverage for all of Q4 and January of Q1.

 

FREE WEBINAR: Strategic Inventory Planning for the Holiday Shopping

 

3. Test Ad Copy, Bids, & Keywords

Leverage Q3 and the first month of Q4 to test ad copy, bids levels and keywords to help flesh out top performing targeting and content so you can maximize your click and conversion potential when it really counts at holiday time.

This will help mitigate the risk of lost opportunity when it matters the most for a lot of product categories.

Most products are not optimized for maximum sales. For example, how do sellers know if their pricing is correct or which image performs best? The bottom line is unless you test, you just don’t know.

“Sellers should have a fully optimized listing on Amazon because there is a direct correlation between a good listing and increased profits,” Andrew Browne, Co-Founder of Splitly, an Amazon AB testing service said.

Take Action:

  • Start AB testing ad copy, bids, keywords, images, and price NOW. For example: Test different images as your Main Image to see which generates the most clicks.
  • Gather and interpret all testing data prior to Q4.
  • Implement changes based on AB testing results, so you can be prepared leading into the holiday shopping period.

 

BLOG POST: How Amazon AB Testing Can Improve Conversion Rates

 

4. Implement Rich & Relevant Content

Content is king when it comes to selling online.

While ecommerce thrives on the convenience value proposition, it will always struggle when competing with the B&M shopping experience that allows a customer to physically touch, test and experience the product prior to purchasing.

With that said, the product experience has come a long way over recent years on Amazon where new Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), video, and brand Storefront features help enrich the brand and shopping experience through more visually appealing and interactive content.

enhanced brand content

“That is why it is critical to make sure the images, copy and reviews that live on your detail pages are fully optimized and that you are leveraging all of the tools Amazon offers you in the form of video, EBC or A+ to help give the customer the confidence to click that “add to cart” button,” Pilkenton-Getty said.

“The more visually appealing your detail pages are, the higher your chances of standing out from competition and increasing your conversion rate becomes.”

Take Action:

 

FREE GUIDE: Brand Seller’s Guide to Enhanced Brand Content

 

5. Build Headline Search Ads

If you’re not familiar, Headline Search Ads are an extremely valuable advertising placement to help drive traffic and raise product awareness located at the top of the SERP.

Headline Search ads can send traffic to:

  • An AMS brand page
  • A custom URL (made of three parent products)
  • A best-selling product

 
Recently, Amazon introduced Headline Search Ads for Third Party Sellers in Seller Central. (Previously, Headline Search ads were only available to Amazon Vendors through Amazon Marketing Service.)

The Headline Search ad type is the only advertising feature within Amazon’s search ad platform that allows you to control both the main image and copy.

Sellers and Vendors should take full advantage of this and make sure they are using images and copy that is relevant to the exact keywords you are targeting.

Take Action:

  • Create Headline Search Ads. (Keep in mind, the ACoS for Headline Search Ads is typically a little higher than other ad formats.)
  • If your product has multiple uses, then create separate campaigns with specific keywords and content that is directly speaking to each feature.
  • The headline and text in your ad copy should match the keywords that are the MOST important for your product.
  • Get creative with the images and incorporate holiday themed messaging / photography that will resonate with the customer and appeal to the holiday shopping needs.

 

BLOG POST: Headline Search Ads in Seller Central Now Available to 3Ps

 

6. Utilize Lightning Deals

An Amazon Lightning Deal is a promotion with a limited number of discount offers on an item for a short period of time. Products that are featured in Amazon’s Lightning Deal spaces typically enjoy a bump in sales throughout the duration of the deal.

According to CPC Strategy’s Amazon Team, although the seller sacrifices profit in the form of the discount, it is a great marketing tool for raising awareness around a product and/or brand.

Amazon Lightning deals are not new and have become even more expensive and competitive since they were first introduced several years ago. However, they are still a very powerful tool that sellers should be taking advantage of during the holiday season.

While the main benefit they offer is increasing sales velocity on your selected product(s), they also provide very low cost impressions (cost of a Lightning Deal) and brand exposure to the thousands of shoppers that are scrolling through Amazon’s highly visited deal pages.

“I think this is a benefit that a lot of sellers often overlook when creating Lightning deals, where the success is solely determined on deals claimed,” Pilkenton-Getty said.

“However, I have found that these campaigns also provide a great way for new customer acquisition and allow sellers to get their products in front of prospects that are not necessarily performing an in-market search query but still have purchase intent if the deal is compelling enough.”

Take Action: 

  • Find out if you qualify for Lightning Deals
  • To create a Lightning Deal, from the Advertising drop-down menu, click Lightning Deals and select the Create option. You can select from top deal Recommendations directly from the Create page.
    • Pro-Tip: Deal recommendations appear based on several factors, such as sales and customer browsing trends. At this time, only deal recommendations are potentially eligible for Lightning Deals. 

 

7. Sponsored Products Q4 Prep:

Although Sponsored Products is one of the most powerful tools for driving discoverability and incremental sales for Amazon sellers, with so many levers to pull it can be difficult for sellers to know where to start.

So we decided to compile a list of specific Sponsored Products tactics to keep in mind this year:

  • Give all your Products a Chance to Perform – You want to give all of your products a fair opportunity to perform. This is where many sellers make the mistake of choosing products they want to perform well rather than letting the data guide them through the process.
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  • Listen to Your Search Term Data – Use the data Amazon provides instead of making a personal decision.
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  • Allow Sales Metrics to Catch Up – Amazon tracks clicks and spend immediately. Sales can take up to a few days to process. What this means is in the early phase of running your Sponsored Products ads you may see a lot of clicks and no conversions – which are going to result in high spend and high average cost of sale. The gut reaction to this data is that you will want to pause the campaigns because you feel like you’re just wasting spend. You don’t want to jump the gun before these products have had a chance to fully absorb the data.
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  • Goals Will Determine Ad Group Differentiation – Once you decide what your goals are, that is when you can determine Ad Group Differentiation using advertising cost of sale (ACoS) as a guidepost. This is when you can start to weed out which products are performing well and deserve a higher bid vs. those products that are not performing well.
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  • Optimizing Sponsored Product Campaigns with Advanced Match Types – Keyword match types allow sellers to fine-tune which customer search terms their ads may be eligible to show against. Sellers can choose from broad, phrase, and exact match types. According to Amazon, broad match keywords will give the most traffic exposure, while phrase and exact match will restrict traffic to a more precise target audience.
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  • Implement Sponsored Products Programmatic Technology Amazon CAPx is designed to equip professional third-party sellers with the technology to implement ongoing Sponsored Products optimization and Marketplace sales growth.
     
    Interested? Try a demo of our latest software!

 
For more on Amazon Q4 prep strategy, email tara@cpcstrategy.com

 

 

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About the AuthorTara graduated from the University of New Hampshire with a B.S. in Journalism / Business. Her passion for creative publishing and quality reporting landed her work opportunities at several companies in Massachusetts, New York and California. She is a leading voice behind CPC Strategy’s Blog. See all posts by this author here.