A well-managed pay-per-click program can be a terrific source of new business. Once you have Google AdWords and Bing Ads running smoothly, where do you go from there?
For certain types of products, Amazon’s pay-per-click program, called Amazon Product Ads, can be a great option. Here’s an overview of what to consider and how to get started:
Evaluating the Potential. Check out the Patio, Lawn & Garden section on Amazon, and see where your products fit best. In the Gardening subsection, you’ll find categories for gardening tools; outdoor carts and bins; plant containers and accessories; plant germination; plants, seeds and bulbs; soils, fertilizers and mulches; watering equipment; and a miscellaneous category that includes everything from greenhouses to patio furniture to pest control.
Once you’ve found the right category, take a close look at the competition and evaluate how your products stack up:
* If you’re offering something not otherwise available on Amazon,you may have a strong advantage. Amazon offers lots of opportunity in many gardening categories, such as live plants.
* If you find similar products that are sold on third party sites (not Amazon), your competitor is already using Amazon Product Ads, and you’ll need a price or product advantage to beat them. It’s extremely easy to compare prices on Amazon, so one that’s only slightly higher for an identical product can kill the sale.
* If you find similar products sold within the Amazon Marketplace(i.e., the purchase is completed without ever leaving the Amazon website), you’ll have a hard time competing. Given the choice, buyers tend to gravitate towards products sold by Amazon, since it’s a known source, and they may be getting free shipping to boot.
How to Get Started. Here’s all it takes to get started:
1. Set up an Amazon Seller account. It just takes some basic contact information and a credit card.
2. Create a product feed — an Excel file with all your product data included. At a minimum, Amazon requires a feed specifying category, title (i.e., product name), URL link, SKU and price for each product. Additional attributes, such as image link, a keyword-rich description, and shipping cost are highly advisable. If you’re running Google Shopping Ads, you already have what you need.
3. Set budgets and bid amounts. Like Google AdWords, you specify the daily budget you’re willing to spend, on average, over the course of a calendar month. You also specify bid amounts, which must meet or exceed the minimum Amazon specifies for your product category.
Test and Fine Tune. By combining Amazon’s cost per click reports with sales data from Google Analytics, you can calculate how you’re doing. Amazon reporting can be a bit cumbersome, but be sure to check performance at the product level.
For any product that performs below par, search for it on Amazon as any prospective buyer would. Check carefully to see how you stack up against the competition. Are your prices more than other vendors? Do other photos illustrate show the product to better advantage? Are there product benefits mentioned in competitors’ listings, but not yours?
If you see areas of improvement, rework your data feed and retest. For products where the competition is just too strong, remove them from your feed.
With 164 million active users per month in the US alone, Amazon represents an enormous market. What’s more, unlike Google or Bing, every single Amazon visitor is in shopping mode. It may not be the first place you would go to buy plants online, but for millions of shoppers — especially that much-sought-after younger audience — it’s the primary source for nearly everything. Why not give it a try?