Tips for Incorporating Amazon into Your E-Commerce Strategy

Tips for Incorporating Amazon into Your E-Commerce Strategy

Marketing

Sears gave its investors reason to smile July 20 when the iconic and embattled brand announced that it would sell Kenmore appliances on Amazon. The value of the company’s stock rose 19 percent in the wake of the announcement. It’s easy to see why: as I discussed in a recent blog post, many consumers start searching for products on Amazon first. Sometimes they may visit a search engine after perusing Amazon. In other cases they might stay on Amazon and never see products sold by advertisers who rely solely on paid and organic search to attract traffic to their sites. If you are experiencing flat or declining online sales, now may be the time to incorporate Amazon into your e-commerce strategy.

According to Amazon, there are more than 95 million unique visitors a month on the site. Listing your products there gives you ample opportunity to attract new customers. Selling on Amazon also allows you to capitalize on Amazon’s brand. Amazon is a well-known and trusted brand — in fact, Amazon ranked Number 1 in reputation for 2016 according to a Nielson survey. People trust Amazon to have good products and sellers. Some of that trust will automatically be given to you when you sell your products on Amazon.

Getting Started

The first step in competing with other companies selling products on Amazon is to list your products there. A Professional Account is for those who plan on selling 40 or more items a month, and costs $39 per month in addition to some other selling fees. Once you have an account, you can list your products and start selling quickly. The set-up process is easy, and Amazon has many resources to help answer any set up or implementation questions.

Advertising on Amazon

Once you are all set up with a Professional Account, you can start advertising on Amazon. Amazon has an advertising platform that utilizes many similar features as Google AdWords, including keyword-, product-, and interest-based targeting methods. Running additional advertisements on Amazon puts you in front of more new customers and differentiates you from other sellers not using these features. As a seller, you can use Sponsored Products, Headline Search Ads, or Product Display Ads to increase your product sales and brand awareness. Here is a breakdown of how the ad types are different from each other:

Sponsored Products

  • Promotes a single product.
  • Keyword-based campaign structure using broad, phrase, and exact terms.
  • Ads drive shoppers to the product detail page.
  • Sponsored Products show above, alongside, and below the search results and product detail pages.
  • Utilizes daily budgets similar Google AdWords.

Headline Search Ads

  • Promotes three or more products.
  • Keyword-based campaign structure.
  • Ads drive to a brand or custom landing page on Amazon.
  • Headline Search Ads appear above search results.
  • Utilizes daily budgets and “All-campaign” budgets.

Product Display Ads

  • Promotes a product through a display ad.
  • Product or interest-based targeting options.
  • Ads drive to the product detail page.
  • Ads show on the product detail, search results, review, and offer listing pages as well as Amazon-generated marketing emails.
  • Costs based on a cost-per-click model.

All these ad types are similar to ad options on Google AdWords. So if you are already doing search or display on Google, you should have an idea of what keywords or interest targeting works best for your products. Taking your top-performing, product-related keywords from AdWords and trying them out on Amazon would be a good way to gauge performance on the Sponsored Products or Headline Search Ads. While the costs across the platforms will be different, Amazon lists many case studies where sales and revenue have increased substantially.

Product Fulfillment

Listing on Amazon gives you access to the Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) services. With this service, you can store your products in Amazon’s fulfilment centers. Amazon takes care of picking the product out, packing, shipping, and handling any customer service requests. Using FBA opens up access to Amazon Prime customers, which make up nearly 60 percent of Amazon users. Doing so also places the work of managing orders to a specialized team of people, freeing up your time and allowing you to focus on other business needs.

While selling products and getting advertising set up on any new platform can seem overwhelming, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that come with adding Amazon into your online e-commerce strategy. Being on Amazon places your products in front of more customers on a trusted website. And because many people who shop on Amazon stay on Amazon, you also are less likely to compete against yourself in other channels.

If selling and advertising on Amazon sounds like something you would like to try out, we at KeywordFirst would love to help you manage your seller account and advertisements. Contact us to learn more.

Image source: Waste360.com

New Research Report Underscores Importance of Partnering

New Research Report Underscores Importance of Partnering

Marketing

The Chicago area is a fast growing and vibrant source of digital marketing agencies beyond some of the well-known giant firms. A new report by research firm Clutch sheds a spotlight on the diversity and excitement of the Chicago-based digital marketing agency industry. And I’m pleased to announce that KeywordFirst is ranked as a market leader in the report.

Clutch evaluated and ranked Chicago-based digital marketing agencies using a proprietary research methodology that incorporated factors such as client reviews. The reviews covered agency attributes such as quality of work performed and project management skills. KeywordFirst was ranked in the top-tier Market Leaders category in the Clutch digital agency matrix.

Naturally we were excited to be ranked so strongly especially because client feedback figured large in the ranking criterion. As one client told Clutch, “It’s hard to argue with what the numbers tell us. Last year, KeywordFirst helped us to nearly double the amount of leads which we were able to acquire.”

Another client said, “Their work has been successful. We always want results to be better, but KeywordFirst are knowledgeable and are very easy to work with. Unlike the people in many other agencies, they’re humble.”

To be cited for our humility is important. On our website, we talk about the importance of being honest, uncomplicated, and transparent. We believe that agencies need to do more that provide great advice and do successful work. They need to be partners that companies like to work with.

I urge you to take time to review the Clutch report here. And use it to vet your agency as you decide whom to work with. You’ll find a nice variety of options in the report. We’re pleased to be one of the leading choices.

How Livestreaming Makes a Brand More Authentic

How Livestreaming Makes a Brand More Authentic

Marketing

In an age where establishing a reputable brand means maintaining a tightly controlled online presence, livestreaming offers a more authentic look into a company’s operations.  Livestreaming attracts customers and strengthens customer relationships as well.  A majority of customers say product videos are helpful in the decision-making process, and companies are responding. However, heavily edited photos and videos can sometimes distance a brand from its audience by making content look inauthentic. Livestreaming works best when it is authentic.

A multitude of platforms offer livestreaming, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Periscope (Twitter’s own version).  Given the influence of Facebook and Instagram alone, the potential reach that livestreaming offers is significant.

The Key to Livestreaming Success

Being genuine is the key to livestreaming success. There is a fine balance to be achieved: preparation for a livestream, including rehearsal, is essential. But on the other hand, it is important to shy away from being so over prepared that your livestream looks like a slick sales pitch. No customer will be won with a video of a script-reading salesmen, and so achieving a creative, engaging, and possibly interactive video is paramount.

Livestreamed content offers an exciting range of choices. They include:

  • Behind-the-scenes tours.
  • New product reveals.
  • Company events.

Brands that have used livestreaming video include:

  • Dunkin’ Donuts, who used it to promote its sweets for Valentine’s Day last year. The video included how they use their test kitchen to create new products and showed customers how they created a large donut-shaped wedding cake.

  • EA Sports Madden NFL broadcast live from the NFL draft, which enabled them to connect with their customers watching one of the biggest NFL events of the year.

Perhaps the most outlandish livestreaming stunt (in the works) is Taco Bell’s “Love and Tacos” campaign.  On Valentine’s Day, Taco Bell announced renovations to its flagship Las Vegas location—more specifically, a wedding chapel on the second floor where they will hold ceremonies for those unique couples who opt for the $600 Taco Bell wedding packages.  In celebration of the renovations, Taco Bell also revealed a contest for the most obsessed couples already thinking about getting married.  The couple with the best love story, and most obvious love for Taco Bell won a wedding at the Las Vegas location, all expenses covered.  The wedding will be livestreamed for the world to see in June.

Challenges

Livestreaming presents its share of challenges, such as:

  • Quality. One of the biggest challenges to livestreaming is ensuring a high-quality livestreaming session. As anyone who has ever tuned into a sports game, political debate, or any other popularly shared live event knows, buffering can be an issue. If a video is pausing every other second to load, you can lose viewers quickly and annoy them.
  • Timing. Choosing an effective time to stream is another challenge. The ability to analyze a customer base and when the majority of them are most likely to tune into watch is essential.  However, most platforms have remedied this problem by offering the chance to save livestreams to watch at a different time.  While viewers lose out on that special “in the moment feel” unique to livestreaming, the opportunity to still tune into a unique video is certainly a great feature that can help expand viewership.

An effective livestreamed video allows a company to strengthen the relationship it has with its customers in an authentic way. Livestreaming can offer the feeling of a candid, unscripted look into how well-loved products are made, or give faces to the people who work at a given company.  While some technical issues have yet to be overcome, livestreaming can be a potent way to reach out to a customer base.

Great Visual Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Great Visual Storytelling in the Automotive Industry

Marketing

At a time when people upload 1.8 billion images a day, visual storytelling is table stakes for most businesses to be relevant to consumers. But sharing one’s brand through images and video content is not always easy. Just as developing Web copy and blog content requires effective writing skills, visual storytelling demands close attention to how images create an emotional connection like no other communication medium.

Fortunately, businesses can learn from each other by example, and not necessarily from inside their own industries. For instance, it does not matter whether you sell bathroom fixtures or books: you can learn a lot from the automotive industry about visual storytelling. Automotive companies, ranging from dealers to aftermarket businesses, need to express themselves visually to succeed. (When was the last time you considered a new car purchase just by reading about the latest models?) Here are some automotive brands that are dialed in and know how to employ visual storytelling:

Humanizing a Brand

Subaru consistently uses video and imagery to inspire consumers to think of the human dimension of owning a car. For instance, to launch the 2017 Impreza model, Subaru rolled out video ads (offline and online) that tell the story of a little boy packing his bags and leaving home. Under the watchful eye of his parents, he packs the back of the family Subaru with his beloved personal possessions, including a sleeping bag and baseball bat. The end of the ad, though, reveals a heart-rending plot twist: the little boy is a young man leaving home in his Subaru. His parents are watching him through the lens of nostalgia. The ad tells a dramatic story of growing up and leaving home, with the Subaru playing a supporting role. As an old guy with a daughter graduating college, I think this ad particularly hits home. Here is a smart way to introduce a product — without saying a word about features and functionality. Subaru does it better than most and kudos to their marketing team and agency for brilliant work.

Connecting a Brand to a Lifestyle

On the other hand, NAPA Auto Parts builds its own brand by connecting its name to the excitement of automobile racing. NAPA does an exceptional job creating brand buzz through its sponsorship of drivers with popular racing bodies such as INDYCAR and NASCAR. And NAPA employs plenty of visual storytelling on its blog and social spaces to keep fans abreast of the performance of its sponsored drivers,  such as Alexander Rossi:

Of course, automobile racing lends itself to the excitement of video, and NAPA is happy to accommodate. For example, on its YouTube channel, NAPA shares video content that celebrates its drivers while building awareness for the brand value of “NAPA Know How.” The following video, for instance, effectively uses visual content plus narration to celebrate the way that Know How, skill, speed, and teamwork come together to create success with its professional drivers:

NAPA knows that sponsoring professional racers associates its brand with the distinct elements of automobile racing and uses visual storytelling to maximize the value of its sponsorships.

Providing Insight

J&P Cycles Parts & Service, the world’s largest aftermarket motorcycle parts and accessories provider, does an exceptional job using visual storytelling to provide practical “how to” knowledge.  For instance, on its YouTube channel, J&P Cycles shows visitors how to install bike accessories such as seats and brake pads. A recently posted video takes you into a cycle shop to show you how to upgrade a cycle for less than $2,000, and if you want to learn how to install mirrors on a Harley-Davidson, J&P Cycles will show you how:

Those are just some of the videos available on the J&P Cycles DIY Motorcycle Upgrades and How-To Videos Channel on YouTube.  You can also find more how-to videos on the J&P Cycles website, including tips on battery installation.

By providing how-to videos, J&P Cycles is really demonstrating customer empathy. J&P Cycles knows that the purchase of an aftermarket product is hardly the end of the experience. The real moment of truth arrives when a customer installs the product.

What You Can Learn

These examples of visual storytelling apply to any brand. For instance, businesses that provide any kind of professional service can emulate the J&P Cycles example by using video to share thought leadership. A good way to get started with visual storytelling is to first map out your paid, earned, and owned media strategy, and figure out where visual storytelling can play a role. Subaru clearly understands how to apply visual storytelling to evoke emotion for paid media. J&P Cycles has done a nice job of integrating video to enhance customer service as part of an owned media approach.

How do you apply visual storytelling? What lessons have you learned?

Tips for Promoting Higher Education on Instagram

Tips for Promoting Higher Education on Instagram

Marketing

Some recently published statistics demonstrate the rising influence of Instagram. For instance:

These statistics are surely music to the ears of higher education institutions looking to reach their target markets.  Most colleges have Instagram accounts, which help them gain an organic following with visual content. In addition, Instagram offers a paid ad format to target people based on a number of factors, such as whether someone has shown previous interest in a school through a website visit. With Instagram advertising, institutes of higher learning can also target an audience based on interests, behaviors, age, gender, and education level as well as a variety of other socio-economic factors.  Let’s take a closer look at Instagram advertising.

Available Formats

There are currently four available ad formats:

  • Photo ads (Single photos available in square or landscape format).
  • Video ads (Up to 60 seconds in length).
  • Carousel ads (users can swipe to view additional photos or videos).
  • Stories ads (complement your feed content with ads on Instagram Stories).

Canvas ads (A full-screen ad experience) are currently available in Facebook and should be offered in Instagram in the future.

Instagram continues to revise its targeting options. We recommend ongoing testing of audience performance as a best practice.

Advertising Tips

While it is important that the ads/videos used on Instagram remain generally consistent with the design and feel of other marketing campaigns to maintain brand identity, keep in mind that Instagram is a social platform. So tailor your ads to align with the more laid back lifestyle feel of Instagram. Be sure to include a logo. And use images that are interesting and visually appealing, as many users view Instagram as an inspirational platform.

Instagram can be an effective outlet for showcasing the best features of your institution to potential students.  Well-conceived imagery can help students easily visualize what it would be like to attend your place of learning. Here are some tips for getting the most out of Instagram ads:

  • Promote your faculty by using images along with a personal quote or an endorsement from a current student. If a quote is pulled from a relevant article, it can be linked through the post itself or via the Instagram bio.
  • Feature campus sponsored-activities throughout the year – for example, images from move-in day, picnics, concerts, prominent speakers.
  • Highlight your campus community by including promotions about clubs, intramural sports, Greek life, and so forth.
  • Reach out to sports enthusiasts with ads promoting your various collegiate teams and information about upcoming games or highlights from key wins.
  • Consider testing a story ad that follows a day in the life of a current student to profile the student experience.
  • Put the beauty of your campus on full display through a video or series of images. Highlight those features that would be most appealing to potential students – high-tech classrooms; well-appointed dorms; favorite gathering areas such as the student union and campus quad; or a sports arena that’s filled with students supporting school teams.

The key to successfully engaging with a target audience is to help them envision themselves being a part of your school, whether it’s sitting in a classroom, walking across the quad, cheering in the stands at a sporting event, or being a part of a fraternity or sorority. And, don’t forget to include a call to action button in your ads such as “Learn More,” or “Contact Us” to ease the communication process.  A picture is worth a thousand words — so incorporate Instagram and create a visual marketing punch. Contact KeywordFirst for more insight into using Instagram to reach your audience.

 

Does Your Brand Have a Newsjacking Strategy?

Does Your Brand Have a Newsjacking Strategy?

Marketing

Newsjacking has become an increasingly popular but risky marketing and PR tactic. The term “newsjacking,” made popular by David Meerman Scott, refers to marketers capitalizing on news and topical issues to build awareness for their brands. Many companies have done so (in real time or near real time) to create an impact for their brand, a notable example being  Nike’s 2017 Equality ad that promotes equality both on and off the field of play.

It’s tempting for businesses to attempt newsjacking when they see the kind of visibility that can come from deploying the tactic. But brands need to proceed with caution. Businesses have incurred backlash when newsjacking sensitive topics such as celebrity deaths, and newsjacking can come across as too opportunistic.

But just because newsjacking is risky, it doesn’t mean you should ignore this tactic. Newsjacking can deliver tremendous value if you do it right. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you consider newsjacking:

Know What Topics Your Brand Is Comfortable Covering

We all have a different understanding of what can be controversial. Brands have suffered when they try to appeal to an audience whose sensibilities and values don’t correlate with a brand’s perception of current events. It is important to discuss with your team exactly what topics should be covered and what areas you would like to shy away from. This necessity became increasingly important with the 2016 Presidential election. Certain brands openly discussed their political stance. Others tapped into the news generated by the election without explicitly taking a side. A great example of the latter: Bisquick with its “Make America Pancakes Again.” The brand capitalized on a campaign slogan without suggesting any specific political ties.

Of course, politics is a divisive topic and can really strike at a consumer’s emotions. It is imperative to measure the risks and rewards of commenting directly on political issues. The safer bet is to appeal towards pop culture and the current zeitgeist, which can be easily cultivated by monitoring Google Trends and trending hashtags on social media. Finding topics that appeal to your brand values and your audience’s values can help you to tailor your messaging and reap the benefits.

Have a Purpose and a Story

If you are going to newsjack, do so with a purpose with a definable goal, such as increasing brand lift. And make sure you develop a compellingly creative story to tell. If you are unable to come up with something creative or you are unable to provide strong content for the news, it is best to sit out the story.

Audi’s May 2015 “Birth” ad is an example of newsjacking with a purpose and a story. The company’s ad played into the birth of the Royal baby, but also promoted its own new baby, the Audi RS3, which was birthed from a larger Audi model. The company advertised the new RS3 with a strong marketing campaign that was relevant to current events.

Plan Content When Possible

It is not uncommon for newsjacking to be created on the spot, but you can also plan ahead with events, such as major award shows and sporting events whose dates are known months in advance. Coca-Cola capitalized on the popularity of the 2016 Summer Olympics with a campaign that celebrated individual athletes with advertising and social media posts such as this one:

When creating your social media calendar, think of what events are coming up and consider the power of visual storytelling to tap into the appeal of those events.

Do Your Research

Although it is good to be the first to jump on a news story, make sure you have your facts straight before posting content related to breaking news, and make sure your ad reflects cultural truth. Especially when newsjacking a story in real time, carefully vet your research on a topic to ensure that you are not providing inaccurate details to your audience. And research the credibility of the story you want to tell. A brand’s credibility can easily be affected by sharing content (whether an ad or a tweet) that is inaccurate, false, or out of step with the cultural zeitgeist.

A recent example of being out of step can be found in the now infamous Pepsi ad featuring Kendall Jenner. The ad was an attempt to reach the millennial audience by appealing to the culture of activism and goals of unity, but missed the mark according to many critics by diminishing the importance of all the work that activists are doing. Perhaps had Pepsi done more research ahead of the ad, the company would have uncovered how serious, personal, and passionate protests are as a social statement. The company might have then avoided creating an ad that associated a can of Pepsi with social change agendas and thus came across as trivializing social protest as a form of self-expression.

Avoid Anything Related to Death or Disaster

It is best to steer clear of negative events when newsjacking even if a company is attempting to express sympathy. Companies that use disasters or fatalities to boost their brand appearance create an unfortunate association with their brand. Additionally, commenting on topics like celebrity deaths can be equally as problematic. Just to be clear: if your brand is donating to a cause or shedding light on an issue without attempting to promote sales, you are probably not creating a newsjack (but you should be very careful about the tone of your message anyway). But when newsjacking, be cognizant of what you are implying with your post.

Newsjacking can be a positive tool and promote your brand while allowing you to comment on cultural issues. To begin working newsjacking into your own marketing calendar, start to look ahead at what major events will be occurring. For instance, with the NBA and NHL playoffs in full swing and with the Major League Baseball season under way, a sport-related newsjack may be highly relevant to your audience. Or consider an entertainment event such as the Tony Awards in June. A keen eye for events and a willingness to follow the tips outlined in this post will help you get started with newsjacking. Contact KeywordFirst. We can help you.

Lead image source:

Use Social Media to Promote Unusual Higher Education Degrees

Use Social Media to Promote Unusual Higher Education Degrees

Marketing

What do game design, soil conservation, and theme park engineering have in common? They’re all among the top-paying non-traditional degrees available to college students. But my guess is that many potential students are not even aware that those degrees are offered, which means an institution of higher education will have little success promoting those programs through paid search. Creating keywords for more obscure degrees will fail to drive volume because potential students don’t even know to look for those topics. So how does an .EDU let students know about untraditional degrees offered?

You can find the answer the next time you take public transportation or find yourself in a public space among a crowd of young people. Stop and look around. Notice how many students are glued to their electronic devices scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and Snapchat, or listening to their favorite music on Spotify or Pandora. These social platforms are where you need to introduce your offering to your potential audience.

Now imagine displaying a colorful, eye-catching ad for a degree in game design on a platform such as Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram — or running an audio spot highlighting your school and programs on Spotify or Pandora. You’ve created awareness in a more effective way than paid search could for a lesser-known degree. And with the relatively low cost of many of these social platforms, you can be pretty efficient with your spend.

As advertising on social platforms continues to grow, so do the features offered on those platforms. In many cases you can target age, gender, income, education, and location as well as more advanced options such as behaviors or intents, interests, travel preferences, app usage, and so on. Testing different targeting methods will help you hone in on the right demographic for your marketing goals and should help boost demand in the paid search channel as well. If you are looking to connect with the college-aged demographic, it’s time plug into social.

You also might want to consider social advertising as a way to complement a paid search campaign for better-known degrees, too. Doing so will increase your chances to reaching students who are unsure about their education goals and need a little prompting to consider something you offer that might benefit them. After all, not everyone lives out our simple kindergarten dreams to be a firefighter or an actor. Sometimes, students need a little help. And social platforms are the places for colleges and universities to do just that.

Image source: Vadim Sherbakov (https://stocksnap.io/author/9)