Having led content development and promo planning at Amazon, Aric offers invaluable insights for those looking to build a solid foundation on the marketplace. He has a sound understanding of how to establish omnichannel funnels to capture consumers at different stages of their buying cycle.
Having led content development and promo planning at Amazon, Aric offers invaluable insights for those looking to build a solid foundation on the marketplace. He has a sound understanding of how to establish omnichannel funnels to capture consumers at different stages of their buying cycle.
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In this episode we discuss:
[0:00:01] George Reid: Welcome to us Always Day One. My name is George Reid, a former Amazonian turned Amazon consultant. Each week in the podcast, you're gonna hear industry expert Brando it on Amazon employees share their answers to the basic yet fundamental questions. You should be asking yourself a bag your Amazon business. Now let's jump in. Hello, Eric. And thank you. Firstly, so much for coming onto the podcast today to kick things off. Doing it with a 30 to 60 seconds. Overview off. How eagle into this Amazon space and kind of what you're doing right now. Inside of it.
[0:00:36] Aric Annear: Sure. So my name's Eric. And here I've been in the e commerce space for coming up on 20 years. Now, uh, really got heavily into the Amazon space by working at Amazon for about six years on, then moved into your agency space after that, helping brands and sellers both on the one piece side and on the creepy side build their brands and grow their business over time.
[0:01:00] George Reid: Andi, from your experience, Amazon, What kind of some of the notable things that you were then carrying through to work in private? It's obviously up. Spoke to a few people. I did a similar thing myself, where they're kind of any of those core principles that you were like dragging over into the private stuff and the consulting stuff.
[0:01:20] Aric Annear: Well, the two key things that I carried over were first themes on Maxim of starting from the customer working backwards. So making sure that you're focused on the customer experience and that goes from the fulfillment problem promises delivery what the page looks like on the individual listing. How are you driving traffic in a smart way s O that customers that our qualified for your products are finding your products. And then the second thing that we carried over was melding the brand experience with the Amazon voice. So Amazon's very protective of their individual grand voice. At the same time, if your brand selling on Amazon, you still want to make sure that the customer is getting the experience that feels like it's authentically coming from your brand.
[0:02:09] George Reid: I guess there's two key points are quite like you made there was qualifying that traffics or driving traffic in a spot where melding the experience, just looking at that smart traffic driving. What strategies are you advising? The moment if you have to give it a bit of a snapshot into some of those smart strategies that you're you're using or recommended.
[0:02:32] Aric Annear: So I would say that the biggest piece of that that's definitely changed us as of about 5 to 7 years ago is making sure that your merchandising plan is as tight as it could possibly be. So in the past, including when I was working at Amazon Retail Side, if you were a brand, you know, if you were a Nike or Apple and you want to sell more products on Amazon, you would come to somebody like me who was the site merchandiser slash content manager. We would develop in advertising plan to merchandise your products in organic search and also through the pay channels that we had available. Then I would take. Take that budget, spend it on Amazon on, then hope you drive traffic and show the results. As of 57 years ago, that's not necessarily true anymore. Site merchandisers and content managers existed in a much more reduced capacity because everything has shifted over to more of self service platforms. So that's like Amazon advertising Console three p sponsored products Amazon van side platform. So it's really up to the brands and the sellers to figure out how to engage that traffic and drive it. Teoh either a curated brand experience like a grand store or or driving to their individual product listings. So I would say that the most important thing is really having a very tight game plan on the advertising side, gauging what kind of budget makes sense for your assortment and driving the traffic that way, using intelligent, he were research analysis, Democratic profiling for programmatic display and things like that. To really make sure that your that you as the brand with seller, are capturing that customer and driving them to to your pages
[0:04:15] George Reid: and walking activities he mentioned about the profile. And now, and I think so many people have a different stage of their journey, whether they're just getting started or even larger. More experience. Senators are necessarily doing enough of that profile, in my opinion that there have a solid enough idea of what a customer is Onda touchpoints that their customer interested in honor off Amazon. You know, they don't know what those triggers are. They don't know what those keywords are. Is that something you're still seeing a lot, You know, people out profiling them enough or that are strong enough profile.
[0:04:54] Aric Annear: I would completely agree with that. Something something that we see in something that my company helps our customers do is do that customer research where you're finding out who were the most qualified customers to find your products. What sort of terms are they actually using to shop as opposed to, like, you know, particular brand terms or competitors? Terms of product type terms? Which terms are the customers using to actually reach your products and your competitors products? And how can we be that out? Making intelligent bidding strategy, uh, to figure out how to make how to maximize that budget?
[0:05:31] George Reid: A lot of that does that come down to not just the the content, but also what stage your interacting with that customer? Obviously the Amazon. You're looking at high purchase and 10 customers that if you're looking further, a funnel that's a Facebook or any social platform is thick content is going to be different or
[0:05:55] Aric Annear: yes, oh, great question that's gonna break down across programmatic display and pay per click advertising. So when we take a look at an advertising program, building it from the ground up. We look at the entire customer funnel. So what that means is that not just the shopper journey specifically on Amazon, but both before and after it. So, using programmatic display like Amazon Van Side Platform, we can start looking at the very, very top of the funnel. When customers still discovery minded, where they think they have a problem to solve, they don't know what products going to solve it on. Then they can guide, and then you can take that and guide them into your curated brand experience on and show them products that will show them that problem. Pay per click is more guided towards the traditional Amazon shopper journey, where somebody shows up on Amazon, they goto a PS or all products search. They take what they want in the search bar, and then they pick from the first page of results. So Amazon's ad products on pay per click side are really good at capturing that piece of the customer. Then, after that journey ends, we go back to display for re marketing and retargeting. So because of yeah, so go Spurs who have engaged with the brand but not bought or maybe bought a predator. Uh, this is a way to re market to those customers in a way that can still serve for sure brand. Even after the chopper journey is over
[0:07:14] George Reid: and you mentioned about the steps leading up to purchase, I think it's important to know that the different brands and certainly different price point the number of steps going to be different. And I always work from the premise of, like your taking someone who is perhaps cold and, um, maybe even problem or no problem aware you mentioned Obviously, someone's problem where then they know what they need to go. They don't necessarily know what the product is to solve. The problem, that is, Is there another step in your mind where there no problem away? Yet you from an Amazon perspective, if for those lower SP products thinking that we still target people who don't even know that problem yet or is that kind of more of the organic stuff, the or perhaps it
[0:08:00] Aric Annear: well, if I understand your question correctly, building that full funnel advertising strategy is important, but it's also equally important Teoh work out the content marketing in the S e o side. Not just from like keyword perspective on the individual listings, but also with the understanding that the advertising program, if it's successful, will have a downstream impact on the organic seo. Um, so as the advertising program succeeds, it also raises the S e o rank of put your products more likely to show up in search results on the first page in the organic results. Does that make sense? Is that answer
[0:08:36] George Reid: the question Yes, certainly does from an Amazon perspective. But then, if you looked up off Amazon, the steps obviously perhaps dragged out a little bit. Mawr off your capturing a lead on social media Tripoli himself to strike up a water bottle. It could be me looking for a new water bottle because mine is actually broke. This, you see so attracting someone who could be interested on looking to bring them into your funnel. And then we always working the premise of your bringing them in. They could be interesting. The water bottle. I don't know that I'm probable where was looking for a solution just yet. That funnel then and slowly driving back to Amazon mean? That's that's one thing that we're recommending What lots of the moment is. Okay, You're not just looking at those high pitched and said people, you're looking at them further up and further, not necessarily on Amazon solely constantly are producing there. Is that gonna be different content to the stuff that you liked similar listing? Is it gonna b'more general, perhaps, than targeted?
[0:09:45] Aric Annear: Yes. So there's a couple different ways to approach that. Definitely. If somebody's Maurin discovery minded, the content is going to be a little bit different because you don't know what problem they're trying to solve yet, right? So not only that, but from a technical perspective of the kind of content that you build for a BBC programme is necessarily going to be different than from like a bespoke dramatic display perspective. So while while the customers and the funnel either at the beginning of the shopper journey or after it's over, and like a re marketing perspective, that content is going to be a little more general at the top of the funnel, because again, you don't know what problem they're trying to solve, but you still want to introduce the brand because they've shown some sort of qualification. That means that your brand triggers shown add to expose your products. Then, at the very end of the funnel, the contents gonna be different cause it's gonna be more specific because it's specifically targeted to remark it to customers that have engaged with something specific about your brand, whether it's an individual product or your brand store or something like that. So the content is necessarily going to be different both at the top of the funnel in the middle of funnel and after after the funnel is accident.
[0:10:57] George Reid: A lot of sense, I think it's one of the challenge, something that lots of listeners. So anyone out there always has is where they put their energy in their resource on this stops. That big component of it, particularly now, is Amazon itself becomes much more fiercely competitive. So where they put their time and energy, is it the followers, other areas? I guess one of my questions off it down here, which ties in really nicely, is if you could personally hire just one individual to help a brand, what would their skill set be on? Do what?
[0:11:34] Aric Annear: Um So if I understand your question correctly, I would I would look for someone who was primarily, uh, an expert in pay per click advertising because it's right, because you're sparing right into the funnel when the customers already on Amazon, that's your biggest opportunity to capture that customer. So, as opposed to you say, social media expertise or something like that, which is extremely valuable, I would I would take a look at going where the where the shopping minded customers are, which is gonna be right in the middle of customers who are going Amazon, you know, going through search results, picking for the first page of search results. So capturing that customer is going to the highest short term are oi, as opposed to building out that funnel at both ends, which I think is extremely valuable. I think it's becoming more valuable over the last two years and especially now that we're all in the Kobe situation. But the highest our ally short term target would be capturing would be looking for someone who really knows how to capture and speak to that customer right at the beginning of when they're the most shopping minded. So capturing the first page of search results.
[0:12:45] George Reid: And this is a case of I think it's a good answer with regards to that short term are why, on if you can kind of get that fly will go and get those reviews in, Get the organic went, clamors and pumping a little bit. You don't have perhaps even additional budget to look at other parts of the fall s so we can get on a media. Or why, by focusing on the high end tech buys and Amazon getting a PPC expert that focuses all that on, then in turn, perhaps you could look an agency consult in an internal employees, whatever the case may be to look further up the funnel for you when you got a little more budget on your playing a longer game, I think what's interesting for Amazon, like you said over the last two years, is becoming more valuable to look at the funnel further up the funnel. Once you've said because off the competition around the PPC on Amazon has got so much more fifths on. That's just from me speaking to people but yourself. You echoing that as well, giving your bickmore audit with that sort of thing.
[0:13:50] Aric Annear: Yeah, I would completely agree with that. The PBC side of things It's really important to know how to win, not least because it's more competitive than it's ever been. Eso ITT's the most value wayto merchandiser brand on Amazon, you know, like we were talking about to get those short term wins to get that fast revenue. But everyone is now figuring that out, as opposed to like the earliest days of Amazon advertising console backward was called. AMs on adoption was relatively low in the beginning. Eso it was it was easier to show like very significant R A y. You know, in the first year or two of that program. And now, especially in certain categories like Beauty, for example, pet care supplements, especially the competition, is extremely fierce. I mean, you have individual brands. They're spending over a million dollars a year just advertised to products. So as we've seen that happen over the last couple of years, what we're doing is exactly what you said. Expanding out into that funnel looking Mauritz, social media looking Mauritz, search advertising and creating more of a comprehensive plan to capture every piece of the funnel that we possibly can because we know the competition on the PB side is gonna be fierce and we know how to win on that. But it's also going to be necessarily more expensive. So when we take a look at our clients budgets, uh, as you know is we're building out these brands on their programs. We're looking at the right way to divvy it up across, being able to get those short term wins for the immediately shop, shopping minded customer, but also picking up discovery minded customers and customers who have engaged but not bought. Um, just making, making it more of a broader like into end plan,
[0:15:39] George Reid: I think. Yeah, lots of conversations. I have very kind of single minded folks on worn area on. That's perhaps a mistake. On what bad recommendations do you think you're hearing a lot around this PPC space that you've hearing you're reading, particularly linked, in which the big platform fourth of experts, if that's where your label us as because that's a huge kind of feeding ground for an Amazon in the space of Amazon victim, lots of people talking about it. It's full of lots of Facebook groups. Are there any other big, bad recommendations that you're seeing seeing lots of? Right now?
[0:16:18] Aric Annear: I would say that probably the worst recommendation that I see normally is only investing in one advertising product on Amazon. So, like, for example, I'll see some other agencies or some other consultants who are in this space go to a brand and say, OK, we're only going to do sponsored products and and that's all we're gonna do like we're not We're not gonna take a look at display. We're not gonna take a look at the entire funnel. We're just gonna invest everything in sponsored products to try to get that top rank in search results. And that can't be good for short term wins. And if you have a very low budget, maybe that maybe that's the best recommendation. But when I say a low budget, I mean, if you only have $500 a month to spend or something like that, but but I've seen very large brands. Fortune 500 companies, even who have come into the space, only invested one piece of the funnel because when you're talking about investing in an individual ad, product like sponsored products. You're only talking about one part of the final or maybe two parts of the bottle. So I think it's more valuable to take a look at that broader spread and take a look at leveraging a Zeman e ad products has makes sense for your brand both on the display and the paper click side and capture as much of that funnel is possible. Instead of just going for the immediate short term wins, I think it's a great place to start. I just don't think it's the place. I just don't think it's a place to stop.
[0:17:40] George Reid: I think that's such a valid point that echoes a few of the other conversations up certainly had is no focusing all your energy and resource from a budget perspective. One area, because you could be leaking so much of the table on that applies to other elements as well, whether or not one product or market place. But I think one of the key aspects of achieving the whole process, achieving the goal off, spitting your budget and testing multiple things, actually getting accurate data on that I think that's a conversation have recently as well if there is some really scrappy data in some tools or spitting out bad data. So if you are doing lots of lots of tests ensuring you got great data coming in so you can make more informed decisions, are you seeing some issues of data at the moment of Amazon, where it's not spitting out the most accurate stuff? Or I
[0:18:37] Aric Annear: would say that accuracy from from the core data side has been less of an issue assed, much as seeing people trying to interpret and figuring out what the KP eyes actually are. So something, something that runs to over and over again with brands on clients is that they get too focused on one k b I. So you know, they take a look at their key performance indicators, and the only thing they care about is return on ad spend. And that's the only thing like you. We wanted a dollar row as, and that's it. We don't care how we get it, and you know, and that's the only that we care about. And if you're just looking to drive momentum for sales, that's that can be fine. But they're all different kinds of KP eyes that that makes sense depending on what you want your brand to actually do. So a very long established brand on Amazon is gonna have a different set of KP eyes than a brand new company that started up 18 months ago. Just got there. Amazon tell her account. So So what they're gonna be looking for is driving brand awareness of share of voice trying to captures but to the digital shelves possible. So maybe the focus isn't on row as maybe it's on a share of voice metric. Or make sure that the CBC's are making sense for the level of investment. Um, so the thing that I see over and over again when I have conversations with Branson Sellers is what do you want your program to do on? Then we'll we'll talk about what? KP as you want to look at their actually to tell you whether that program is working or not, as opposed to getting laser focused on one individual thing like impression share or, uh, or row as or what have you?
[0:20:17] George Reid: Yeah, I think. Before Amazon changed our metrics that a cost was such a massive form for pretty much every single advertising, and I'm not massively in the advertising space on the other next, but I would never claim to be. But all of the conversations we had with some clients that we manage was okay, What's their cause gonna be? What's our target? A cots. And then speaking toe George, who's also a friend of yours of the day And you say with with Nordic naturals, you know what? It were happy with an 80% a coughs a times, because is a bigger picture a play on we've got information about How would we repeat pitches were gonna get for each customer? And it's important to understand the guess. Okay, we have thes metrics, which perhaps people are massively overlooking and asking influence. A lot of our decisions of what we deem is a suitable KP are right.
[0:21:10] Aric Annear: Yes. So that's a perfect example. Actually, you know, Nordic Naturals, You talk with Josh about this program, you know, he's told me before that you know, 80 80% a costs 85% a cost isn't isn't a problem, because what they're trying to do is grow the brand capture war, that digital shelf, get those initial purchases and create a different KP. I called lifetime customer value because if you can get your brand in front of those customers and they buy it the first time, then they'll necessarily come back. You know, uh, hopefully they'll come back. You know, if they like the products eso so especially in about category like supplements. You know, that's a great example again, because sometimes you you might want, like, a 90% a costs for a short period of time. You know, to run like a brand awareness program or ah, competitive overload, where you're trying to take more market share from somebody who has already been established in space for a number of years on Amazon.
[0:22:10] George Reid: Yeah, that kind of competitive overload side of things in its you know something. We saw a lot off interest in Australia, where smaller brands we're going in creating themselves and niche tour, securing themselves in leech on bigger players and coming in and finally very, very difficult to move them away from the nature that already secured eso competitive overload. Straighten. It really could've stopped kind of stuck out for me there because it can be very challenging to remove someone what's it built up? That relevance? I think that's another element off, perhaps where you're going, I'm happy to bid a little bit higher for a long period of time. I'm not just got lifetime value, which other people may not have a metric self, but also because I'm looking to become relevant for that search term. So I know I'm going to lose a little bit of dollar when it will lose him up in a margin over a 6 to 12 month period. But following that I've got massive said it was history. I got big reviews. I've got very, very relevant product for that particular search toe, which I guess then comes back to kind of the initial discussion around one of the profile that customer water the terms that they want if you get a very clear off reactive in mind from the get go is gonna be much, much easier to g o. We're not really making much money on this at the moment, but we've got a long term objective, right?
[0:23:38] Aric Annear: Yeah, that's exactly right. Eso It may make sense. Thio Thio, increase those bids Take a higher costs up front not just to build that lifetime customer value, but something that we have mentioned before earlier conversation is that it has that downstream effect on your organic search. Right? So, you know, in some cases it may make sense to invest a lot of money upfront. You run in a higher a cost, you know, run with those more competitive bids, capture those customers early on in the process so that on on a longer term view the success of those products, that momentum that you're talking about feeds back into the organic searching algorithms. And so maybe you don't have to invest as much because you're already owning. You know, 3 to 5 slides on on the first page with your gang surgery.
[0:24:26] George Reid: What is the point where you've, I guess, every experience where you just go with the polar plot on this? Because I imagine there's many brands where perhaps they haven't got bigger budget. They're going. It's a fierce competition of this gets to the point we go. Are we throwing good money after bad? Andi, this is complete is a lots. Is every kind of it. Any triggers where you say to yourself from working with flights, we should we should be in this idea, which may be right. Com Page one for ex wives That few words. Is there anything for you? Are a period of time and amount spent? Are any any KP eyes that you're looking for?
[0:25:07] Aric Annear: Well, for the most part, I would say that I don't think I've ever run into a situation where I would go to a client and say, You know, you pull your advertising dollars is just Is it working? I definitely have run into situations where I've seen brands that were not optimally invested. They were spending too much money. Teoh shut somebody out of a niche that they just couldn't get a toehold in. Um or conversely, they're trying to drive sales as much as possible, But there's a threshold of spin beyond which they're just not seeing that Samarra y. So it makes sense where you know, they might have a $750,000 budget. But if they want to optimize exactly what they're actually gonna get in terms of revenue that's driven by that, it may make more sense to pull back and say we're only gonna spend 500,000 on. We're gonna re allocated across these keywords and you don't take this strategy and you won't. You will be able to get the through that entire $750,000. What we get for this $500,000 is gonna do better in the long run.
[0:26:11] George Reid: Perhaps you They're moving their additional 2 50 elsewhere, which could be content. It could be off Amazon activity on looking to redistribute. But certainly I'm sure you saw a little bit in your space with when some clients were abounding Facebook Not too long ago. Did you see an influx of budget with any of your clients where people were going with ditching Facebook or the do? Did you notice any waves?
[0:26:41] Aric Annear: We did see a little bit of that, especially after when when it was still called a M s and said Amazon advertising console about 2 to 3 years. And everybody suddenly discovered that that was the way to capture revenue the fastest, because again we were talking about getting right in front of shopping money. Customer. So there was a very fast wave of people that have moved into the space and wanted to shift advertising dollars away from social media. Google being things like that and just wanted to say All right, we're just gonna do Amazon. And in some case, and in some cases, I think that was the right move. We definitely run some programs before where I think it made absolute sense. Hold Facebook. Spend shifted to a buzz on advertising. In some cases, we've based on the brand position what kind of customer they're trying to capture. You know how much coverage they already have on the funnel? Sometimes we do the opposite and say, Hey, you know, you should carve out maybe 15% of this budget, put it towards search and social eso. Make sure that you have it again, like we were talking out about earlier, that total coverage across the entire.
[0:27:48] George Reid: I think that's what What do you think at the moment? And I don't think it's just competition, which the big threat, But what do you think some of the major threats out there for an Amazon business right now? Obviously competition is going to be one on there were many different s assets to that, but from your perspective, what do you think? The biggest fattest. When I was a business.
[0:28:11] Aric Annear: So good question, not just for Amazon, but I would say across e commerce in general, fulfillment fulfillment is going to be the biggest challenge, with everything shutting down, encoded with a lot of brands that are, aren't able to keep in stock inventory. And, you know, just with what they were already doing in the previous year and also Amazon restricting products you know early on in the quarantine Thea bility to to fulfill prime level shipment for, like, Walmart two day or three day. Those film it promises are going to be really critical for brands Teoh compete, and it's more of a challenge than it's ever been successfully do so, especially on the F B. A side fulfillment by Amazon and the seller fulfilled prime as FP side, making sure that you can optimize that logistics chain and get the inventory into the warehouses. I think that's the biggest challenge that I'm seeing across my clients right now.
[0:29:13] George Reid: Do you think that it's funny you love to have a conversation a day before I spoke to last week because he was the first person you kind of brought that to my attention that he thinks That's the biggest threat into Paris and somebody of the guests that you love accurately, which is very interesting. Andi, if you If I ask this question six months ago, do you think you're also would have been the same?
[0:29:34] Aric Annear: No, I don't. I think it would have been different. Fulfillment is become a lot more challenging since January. Um, you know, it is becoming more and more of an issue, especially with clients that I'm working with just being able to match that, that prime level promise or that two or three day fulfillment. It's becoming increasingly difficult over time, and I think it's gonna shake out. But in the short term, I would say it's definitely the biggest threat now. I wouldn't have said the same thing a year
[0:30:00] George Reid: ago, huh? And what are some of the fundamentals that your recommending clients look at to mitigate that risk or mitigate that threat? What could they be doing?
[0:30:14] Aric Annear: Well, it really comes down to take a look at the entire logistical train, making sure that that product has come again, that you still have access to it, making sure that you're that if your listings are optimized, that you actually have the inventory to invest in it. Um, and getting those products into the warehouses, whether it's f B A or or the seller Phil Prime or even if it's ever MFN fulfillment literally is taking a look at the entire production chain and would just logistics of shipping. And, uh, making sure that all that product is available to actually get out onto a delivery promise that you can That is competitive. Because if you're in a situation where your supply chain is so backed up that you're looking at a 2 to 3 weeks fulfillment province on the availability messaging, you're probably gonna lose that sale.
[0:31:05] George Reid: So I guess we're with that. If you tie back then to the advertising, are you? Obviously, someone needs to have that aerial view of what's going on. I did a wide inverted comments. You can see that, but the lists car, but someone needs help. The aerial view to be able to get actually was spending a lot over here with advertising products. Gonna take two weeks, 34 weeks more than it is usually gonna take to get in. Perhaps are we need to take a back in some areas and slow those sales down is, would that be part of it as well? And go, Actually, it's reserve this budget. Let's put it into next month. Well, let's put it into more top of final brand awareness plays on Social because we don't actually want to be selling volume at this point in time. Because our operations have slowed down a little bit, were not able to be prime eligible. She looks to ships and budget to different parts of the funnel.
[0:32:04] Aric Annear: Yeah, that's that's exactly right. That's something that we've done with with clients since January. Over time, taking a look at saying, You know, we have advertising that's pushing, you know, maybe our top top line revenue drivers. You know, these specific products that are now not as widely available. So it's a combination of may be scaling back the budget where it makes sense, or reallocating that budget. If you have, like a broader selection to focus more on discovery minded customers and search and social where where you can say, you know, for qualified customers, we do have things that you can p
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