Over the past couple years, as marketplaces have captured the majority of e-commerce market share, many pundits have claimed that branding is dead.  They’ve reasoned that because marketplaces like Amazon have become the go-to channel for online sales, that participating sellers don’t really need to spend much time seeking & engaging with their audience – because Amazon does all of this on the sellers’ behalf. Well, if you consider yourself an experienced seller, you’re very aware that the intense competition that has mounted year after year between sellers within the Amazon platform has made listing differentiation much more difficult.  How do you make your listing stand out from the one launched by the guy next door or the manager at the factory from which you buy your inventory in China?  Branding has re-emerged as one of the most critical elements of successfully selling private label both short-term and long-term on Amazon.  It’s now a necessity and can result in a quantitative leg up on your competitor – luckily, Amazon has also finally starting to offer the tools you need to implement a branding strategy and ultimately sell more than your poorly positioned competitors.

So, let’s cut to the chase – you’re asking yourself, what is the best way to respond to the changes in the online marketing & sales dynamic and implement a branding strategy that will not only boost sales in the short term, but also allow customers to remember your brand and become loyal to it.  Here’s the cheat sheet for the Top 3 Shortcuts that you’ll need in order to establish & grow your brand presence and achieve top-of-mind awareness in your niche / category.

Shortcut #3 – Social Media Strategy & Daily Curation

“We have social media”…  is something you would say to yourself when considering the role of social marketing in your Amazon & e-commerce strategy?  If you can say that you “have it”, but can’t say that you actively “use” social media to connect with your target segment via visual content that reflects their exact psychographic identity to illicit emotional responses (e.g. engagement & sales), then it’s time to rethink the purpose of your efforts.  Although it is correct that a huge percentage of consumers search for products they intend to buy directly on Amazon, it’s also true that you’re leaving meat on the bone if you’re not leveraging social media to present a cohesive branding message to your target audience.   In late 2016, Marketing Week published research that showed that nearly one-third of online shoppers browse social media to find new items to buy.  In early 2017, it was reported that Amazon’s search volume actually fell from 2016 with increases of product related search activity occurring on social media, YouTube, search engines and others. Taking into account the fact that purchases are occurring more and more frequently on social media platforms themselves, it’s not so hard to read the writing on the wall – an integrated social media strategy is immediately relevant to every serious private label seller.  Whether your buyers first search on Amazon directly or encounter your brand elsewhere and then make a purchase on your Amazon listing, every conversion matters and will result in net-positives for your products’ search ranking and in-turn exponential sales results. Likewise, if a Google search of your brand doesn’t immediately lead viewers to highly relevant content on your prospective customers’ favorite sites & apps (Instagram, Facebook, etc.), then you’ve been left behind and those prospects will be left thinking that you’re just another lame soulless “Amazon brand”.  It’s imperative that private label sellers invest now and either hire & train extra in-house staff or outsource to a brand-oriented creative agency that can develop, produce and curate the strategy that’s right for your brand.

Shortcut #2 – Branding Photos

Though nearly cliché at this point, it’s still true that a picture is truly worth a thousand words.  If you haven’t tested your own listings yet, you’ll be happy to know that it’s very common to experience a significant uptick in conversion rates when you do something as simple as posting a few supporting lifestyle photos to an Amazon listing.  Why would such photos matter that much?  Buyers want to know that a product they’re considering really belongs in their possession.  With simple product photos, features of the item can be seen, but absolutely no story can be told – no real connection can be made to assure the viewer he or she really “needs to have” that product (whatever it may be).  The key to sales-via-photo is to ensure that the photos appeal to the target segment by stirring an emotional connection with the audience.  As long as you’ve clearly segmented your market and you have a clear target, you shouldn’t have any issue tailoring your branding photos (i.e. brand identity infused “lifestyle photos”) by communicating the identity of your customer avatar to your creative agency.

Shortcut #1 – Branding Videos

Bar none, the best bang for your buck in your 2018 marketing tool belt will be premium quality videos.  If you’re not familiar with the power of video, just check out some recent stats gathered by well-known inbound marketing experts at HubSpot .  Shocked by some of those stats?  I guarantee you that Amazon’s not surprised.  You’ve probably noticed that video marketing options were being tested and even launched in a few new areas within Seller Central in 2017 (also available in Vendor Central of course).  In 2018, it’s either certain or very possible that brand-registered sellers will have the opportunity to upload videos into places like Stores, Related Videos, Enhanced Brand Content, Photo Slots & maybe more.  Depending on the placement of the video, you’ll want to have a full library of branding videos, testimonials, how-to & unboxings at your disposal and ready to leverage as soon as Amazon opens up a new feature that you can begin to exploit faster and better than your competitors.  If there’s any doubt that videos are really incredibly important as a marketing medium, just Google stats regarding average costs per view for Facebook Ads, Instagram Ads, etc. compared to photo based visuals – not only will professional videos allow you to compete as an Amazon seller, you’ll also be able to leverage those same video assets to achieve the lowest cost, highest click-through, non-Amazon advertising available on the most powerful social platforms with unbelievable reach.  Remember, whether you’re choosing the DIY route or working with your creative agency, you’ll want to ensure the best equipment is used to achieve at least 1080p HD quality – many platforms have minimum quality requirements, so if your videos do not reach the basic required levels, then all the time and money dedicated to developing your video assets will have been in vain.  Video is here to stay and if you’re not on board yet, it’s time to hop on the wagon of video-driven brand recognition and improved sales.

Private Label Nitrous is a creative branding agency that exclusively serves private label sellers who utilize Amazon as one of their online sales channels.  Our objective is to guide owners through the transition from “selling products on Amazon” to owning a brand that is in high demand and followed by passionate loyalists who will promote your brand via social sharing and word of mouth.  We put ourselves in your shoes and endeavor to deliver unsurpassed quality – because we understand the risks that you’ve taken to build your company.  We believe that investing in highly targeted branding will 100% result in unprecedented ROI as our clients’ businesses realize growth and eventually acquisition.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you enjoyed this content, consider joining us at PROSPER Show, March 13-14, 2018 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.