Whilst Google is known for dominating search marketing, Amazon has started giving the search giant a run for its ad revenue, something that astute marketers will have seen coming for some time now!
According to WPP's CEO, Sir Martin Sorrell, 55% of product searches in the U.S. now emanate from Amazon, and advertising has been a key contributor to their strong growth - 60% growth year on year.
This should come as little surprise, after all, the e-retail giant has not only completely transformed the way we do business, both in terms of selling and shopping as customers, it is now also viewed as a trusted and reliable source for all aspects of the shopping experience.
In fact, it would be fair to say that Amazon put social media into popular consciousness. What started with garnering buyer reviews rapidly turned into genuine consumer engagement with the platform, and, as a consequence, their highly active customer reviews columns could almost be described as a consumer-driven social network in its own right.
The launch of Spark last year revealed just how serious Amazon is about becoming game-changers in social media. As they start to encourage product discovery with personalised suggestions based on users' shopping patterns and behaviour, a whole new model is emerging, making Amazon a powerful third player in the duopoly that was once Google and Facebook's space.
Tapping into Amazon's social media ecosystem is where smart marketers need to be focusing now, and it requires starting with a good understanding of how advertising within the Amazon website itself works.
The ranking of products within Amazon is based on an algorithm that is influenced by a variety of factors - mainly conversion rate (i.e., how often it sells). Therefore, it is key to drive users to the product page to increase the likelihood of a purchase, which will improve its ranking within Amazon, thus continuing the purchasing cycle.
Let's drill down to how this could help marketers re-shape, refine and re-energise their social marketing strategies;
Hyper segment audience
As all marketers will know, key when defining a social marketing strategy is to evaluate the product and brand in order to inform the audience as well as the creative approach. Take for example a product aimed at babies going through a particular developmental stage, e.g., toys helping with learning to talk, or learning to walk etc, this will be the driving factor for the entire strategy. This information clearly spells out the life stage of the person buying the product, in this case, most likely early parents.
Gaining detailed insights into our target audiences ensures the people most likely to convert are targeted, which increases the product rank within the Amazon store.
However, it should not stop there. These insights can be further sweated by referencing them with Facebook demographic information, such as age and location. With the introduction of Amazon Family, and the popularity of Amazon Prime, Facebook interests relating to Amazon can ensure that beyond the general audience, the specific audience members being targeted are more likely to respond to an ad driving to Amazon.
This can be taken a step further, beyond the primary audience, an audience can be sub-segmented outside of the key target audience (young parents) to include secondary, but also relevant audiences who are likely to purchase, such as grandparents and gift givers.
Audience data to guide the proposition development
Once you have this clear audience information - i.e., likely to use or trust Amazon as a brand, relevant to your brand and audience and therefore most likely to convert, you can use this information to inform the creative.
By highlighting key features of the product that are likely to resonate with this particular audience in the creative, you are more likely to drive clicks through to your Amazon page.
One format that is particularly helpful to showcasing product features is the carousel format. This is also a useful format if you have more than one product in your Amazon shop, as people can swipe through and browse key products within your shop without leaving the social media platform.
One key aspect of the Amazon user experience is the reliance on positive reviews to inform the purchasing decision. This can be used to further promote the product within the creative. By including a starred rating on the ad creative, the audience is already assured in advance of the quality, value and/or utility of your product before they have even reached the Amazon page itself.
Finally, by using the Amazon logo in the ad creative itself, the audience is more likely to trust and respond to your ad given that the brand is well recognised and seen as a sign of authentication.
Integrate Amazon into a holistic strategy
Key is to take a holistic approach and embrace the wider picture, particularly where ads driving to Amazon fit in the user journey. Within the marketing funnel, marketers need to ensure that at the point where the target audience is being driven to the e-retailer, there is already brand awareness.
Strengthening a brand's social voice, therefore, requires taking a strong holistic view that shifts Amazon from being an afterthought to front of mind. This involves integrating Amazon conversion ads into a wider social marketing approach with a strategic plan. Building brand awareness with short videos, for instance, is one of the most effective ways of doing so.
Whilst we are seeing a rise in brands aiming to 'Amazon-proof' themselves, it might be worth considering ways of jumping onto their slipstream, rather than resisting it. Who knows, within the next 6 months things may have evolved once again and a new shift will be required in marketers strategy - but for now - we could do worse than re-think the value of Amazon within a social marketing strategy.
By Joel Davis, co-founder of Mighty Social
GDPR Summit Series is a global series of GDPR events which will help marketers to prepare to meet the requirements of the GDPR ahead of May 2018 and beyond. Further information and conference details are available at http://www.gdprsummit.london/
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