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Katya Allison

Director of Marketing
Content at GRIN

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About GRIN Gets Real

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Diving into the insights, tactics, and measurement of an Amazon marketing strategy

In this episode:

Will Haire

Co-founder of Bellavix

Will Haire is the CEO and co-founder of BellaVix, a marketplace management agency helping brands systematically increase their sales on sites like Amazon and Walmart. 

Will has worked with ecommerce businesses for many years, leading the strategic planning, implementation, and tactical execution of marketing strategies for products across all Amazon business segments.

Podcast title image with Will Haire

Full episode details

Adding an Amazon marketing strategy to your set of marketing strategies

With so much competition on Amazon, standing out can seem like an uphill climb. 

Will shared some metrics brands can look at to get an idea of how competitive their product may be within a digital marketplace. 

“You know, a lot of it comes down to how much brand equity you have. How big is your audience? And what’s your price point? Shoppers are going to be looking at those aspects as they’re considering your different products and categories.”  

However, Will and Katya discussed how traditional marketing techniques, like pay-per-click advertising and SEO, can boost a brand’s success. 

Influencers can help businesses build brand equity on Amazon. 

By partnering with creators, brands can populate their product pages with informative content that encourages sales. In addition, creators can also help businesses stand out on their competitors’ product pages.  

“We will get an influencer who we’re going to do a live event with, and they will buy our product and also buy a competitor’s product. And they’ll compare the two and talk about how ours is so much better. And that video will live on our product detail page, but it will also live on the competitor’s product detail page’s recommended videos.”

If this is giving you some great ideas, tune in to the podcast. Will shared many more insights, including: 

  • What kind of data Amazon sellers can get from the back-end 
  • Details on different Amazon programs and their benefits for both brands and creators
  • Why Amazon consumers are looking for brands with a purpose
  • And much more! 

 

Quotes from the episode

Diving into the insights, tactics, and measurement of an Amazon marketing strategy 1

 
“The other thing that is really interesting: iOS, for example—no more third-party cookies and tracking. They’re taking that a lot away. That doesn’t affect Amazon because Amazon owns that data.”
“And another piece for anybody who’s an influencer is to get into the Amazon Associates Program and leverage Amazon Live. So Amazon Live is like QVC, essentially. But it’s a little different because these influencers can go on, and they can talk about products. These products can be bought in real-time. They can get their affiliate commission from selling through Amazon.”
“It’s complicated. And it’s just understanding how people shop on different platforms. How I shop on a website and browse a website is just a lot different than how I shop on an ecosystem like Amazon. But Amazon also has a ton of competitors, where your website, if done right, should only be your products.”
“We know that the shopper on Amazon tends to skew a little younger. They tend to use their mobile devices. Like I said, most of us don’t want to wait more than two days for shipping.”

Katya Allison: 

Welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast, a show for marketers by marketers to talk shop and share insights on the ever-changing landscape of the digital world. My name is Katya, and I am your host on this exciting journey as we talk to the experts who join us. 

 

Now my guest today has worked with ecommerce businesses for many years, leading the strategic planning, implementation, and tactical execution of marketing strategies for products across all Amazon business segments. That’s right; you heard it: Amazon. 

 

With responsibilities for channel growth strategies and achieving revenue and margin goals, his portfolio includes companies like Instant Pot, Pyrex, Derma E, think!, and Outward Hound. So put your AirPods in, turn up that volume, and get ready for my guest today, Will Haire, the co-founder of BellaVix.  

 

Will, welcome to the GRIN Gets Real podcast. You had me chuckling just before I got on there, so I apologize to the listeners. We’re just already having a good time. I can’t help it. 

 

Welcome to the podcast. Excited to be talking to you about Amazon, as I’m sure our listeners have tons of questions.

 

Will Haire: 

Oh, yeah. And I’m excited to be here and to talk about my favorite topic, which is all things Amazon, so we are ready to go.

 

Katya Allison:

Listen, as an Amazon Prime connoisseur, frequent orderer, it is a very sexy topic for me. Before we do dive into it, let’s set the foundation. Tell me about why and how you know so much about that.

 

Will Haire: 

Awesome. Excellent. So when I was 10 years old—I’m totally kidding.

 

Katya Allison:

I literally said, “Hey, don’t start from your origin story of elementary school when I ask you this question.” 

 

Will Haire: 

You set me up. I couldn’t resist.

 

Katya Allison:   

I did. I was like, “Wow, it started that young.”

 

Will Haire: 

I always knew. But I’m kidding. I have a background in marketing and advertising. I’ve been really fortunate enough to be working with ecommerce brands for over 10 years. And my experience at agencies just kind of pushed me into marketplaces. 

 

And I would say 2018 was when I decided, like most entrepreneurs, I could do it better than anyone else. So we decided to start our own agency primarily focused on helping brands scale on marketplaces. And we started off on Amazon, but we’ve recently expanded to Walmart. 

 

So we’re managing accounts in those two marketplaces and have been doing it for a while. So most of the brands that we work with are selling on both, and we’re helping them obviously grow.

 

Katya Allison:  

Perfect. Now, in our pre-podcast conversation, I had asked you this, too, so I’m glad that you said this. I wanted to clarify for the listeners. And maybe it’s just me because I live in the creator space, but if you can define “marketplace” for me. When you’re talking about “marketplace,” what is that? 

 

Will Haire: 

Yep, beautiful. And marketplace for me, being in ecommerce, is primarily Amazon, like 60% of US ecommerce. So Amazon is a giant gorilla on steroids. But I also refer to Walmart, Target Plus, eBay. Those are kind of the ones when I think of marketplaces what I think of, so those are what I would consider marketplaces. And I’m sure in the content creation world, there may be some discrepancies.

 

Katya Allison:  

Yes, that’s why I wanted to level the playing field so that we’re all talking about the same thing. Before we even dive further into Amazon, what as a marketer do I need to know before I even think about Amazon as part of a marketing strategy for me?

 

Will Haire: 

You know, the first thing to think of is like, “Do you have a good product-market fit? Are you the brand owner, for example? And then what are you competing on?” 

 

You know, if you’re competing on wholesale, and you’re not getting the lowest price, for example, Amazon’s probably not going to be a good marketplace for you. If you don’t have permission from the brands, there can be some difficulties. 

 

But if you’re the brand owner, and you have some decent website sales, or you’re building an audience, it makes sense to be on Amazon because people are omnichannel shoppers. 

 

I’m a millennial, and I’m guilty of this—that I’m generally paranoid about buying on a website. I love two-day shipping. I know that my credit card’s not gonna get stolen. The return policy is on point. 

 

And I always check Amazon for reviews to see what other people think about products. I read through the negative reviews. I’m very thorough when I buy stuff. 

 

So when you’re a brand, considering your customers are going to go on the same journey that I’m going on where they’re identifying the right product that’s going to fit their needs and kind of take those next steps, so you should always be on Amazon. A lot of ecommerce happens on Amazon. 

 

But it doesn’t necessarily mean you should invest all your time on Amazon. So it comes down to where you are from a product maturity level, and then what are some of your goals for the year or for the quarter? That—you know, maybe Amazon’s a part of that, maybe it’s not.

 

Katya Allison:  

Now what brands are really hitting it out of the park when it comes to Amazon? Like, who’s doing it successfully?

 

Will Haire: 

I would say—I mean—off the bat, some of the big ones like Instant Pot, Fitbit, like, they tend to do it really well. They own the brand. They have their MAP policy in place. They have a really good product that’s well reviewed. They have what we call “A+ content,” where on the product detail page, they have that branded content underneath the bullets and description that’s like images, lifestyle, how to use it. 

 

And then, in Instant Pot’s case, what I really like is they have videos on their Storefront—which is an Amazon app set that, like, acts as a website, but on Amazon—cooking videos, how to use these particular things.

Like most people who I’m sure bought an Instant—or it’s called Insta pot, a crock pot—Instant Pot over 2020 due to COVID, you know, it’s a really complicated machine with lots to do. So they got ahead of the ball by, like, “This is how you make rice, and yogurt, and anything else you want to do.” 

 

So I’d say those are two brands doing it really well. But across the spectrum, like, those are on the big end. There are beauty brands that do really well. 

 

You know, a lot of it comes down to, like, how much brand equity you have. How big is your audience? And what’s your price point? Shoppers are going to be looking kind of at those aspects as they’re considering your different products and categories.

 

Katya Allison:  

You said something that totally sparked my interest. You said brand equity. Would you say that you have to have a lot of brand equity built up? Because I would almost think that a brand that’s kind of just starting to enter the market really wants to gain as much exposure as possible, so why not also have Amazon as part of your marketing strategy?  

 

But I don’t have a ton of brand equity if I’m a smaller business going on there, but I am the brand owner. So what do you say to that? 

 

Will Haire: 

Yeah, it comes down to what your goals are. So I’m gonna walk the line, and I’ll give you two scenarios. 

 

So the first scenario is a brand new brand. It’s not unusual to launch on Amazon because they have the audience; they have some programs like the Vine program in place—you can send your product out to influencers; you can get some reviews; you could start advertising. 

 

And what’s nice about Amazon’s data is it’s based on actual shopping data. So we know somebody who’s searching for a pressure cooker is in-market for a pressure cooker. They’re towards the bottom of the funnel at this point. 

 

So it pays to have a presence, and it pays, if you’re launching, to make sure that Amazon’s a part of your strategy. The investment part is where it comes down to what your goals are. 

 

So, for example, if you sell an anti-aging cream like Club Everyone in the beauty space, that can be a little more difficult. So you might be looking at a cost per acquisition anywhere between $35 to $50, which may be more than the specific product. And it’s only because in certain categories—supplements beauty—it’s very competitive. 

 

And being on the cutting-edge, it makes sense. If you have a unique product or unique spin, you know, the market will let you know, and Amazon’s a perfect place to test. But if you’re building brand equity, and you’re still early on, it makes sense to have a presence on Amazon.

 

But it also makes more sense to focus a lot on your website and building your audience because you’re going to be able to get that lifetime value and some of the other aspects that Amazon can’t directly measure. 

 

So, in a roundabout way, I’m telling you that everybody should be on Amazon no matter where you fall in terms of product maturity. It comes down to, like, as the business owner, what are your expectations? And what are your KPIs? 

 

And the best thing to do, of course, is always to test. But I like—when I work with brands, I like to tell them, “Build your website audience up first. It will spill over onto Amazon as people shop around. And then when you’re ready, there are different tactics we can leverage to, you know, do the full-funnel.

Advertising and marketing to generate awareness. It’s just a little more expensive than it would be on your website, leveraging social media, using Google search, and some other platforms that are more established.” 

 

Katya Allison:  

So it sounds like Amazon: Great, but don’t necessarily start there. Make sure you have a good foundation in all of the other areas. It should be an organic way for your consumers to find you. 

 

Will Haire: 

Absolutely. Said much better than myself.

 

Katya Allison:  

Hey, you’re here for all the words; I’m just here to be concise with them. But you know, you already mentioned full funnel. So what does that look like for Amazon? Like if I’m—what does it look like in execution? Because we have talked about this beforehand. 

 

I’m really curious because I don’t see the back-end of Amazon. All I see is from a consumer standpoint. As a brand, do you have access to send those emails out asking for the reviews? Is that part of the full-funnel strategy? When you talk about having Amazon as a full-funnel marketing strategy, what does that look like?

 

Will Haire: 

Great question. So from the bottom of the funnel, essentially, you know, what does it look like? It looks like pay-per-click advertising; it looks like listings that are optimized for search, and, depending on where you are, it’s, like, the targeting of the keywords.

You know, if you have a mature product, you can go after root keywords, similar to your website. If you’re not as mature, you’re going to try to find long-tail keywords that you can build yourself around. 

 

The Request a Review feature is something that happens directly through Amazon. So somebody makes a purchase, and you can do it right through the back-end of the dashboard, and that’s when you get an email directly from Amazon that’s like, “Hey, hope you enjoyed the product. Leave us a review.”

 

The other thing you can do if you want something more custom is the post-purchase email sequence, which runs through the back-end of Amazon. Same thing, though. You can put the order number in, the shipping; you can request a review. You have to be careful of the language; obviously can’t request a positive review. 

 

We also recommend having package inserts and all that information to cover kind of the bottom of the funnel. 

 

When we start talking about upper funnel tactics, and now we’re talking, like, getting people into your funnel, and what we like to leverage is something called programmatic advertising, which is Amazon’s DSP platform.

And that’s our ability to use Amazon’s audiences to target them with ads on and off of Amazon. This could show up on mobile apps, on Amazon-owned property and websites, as well as third-party suppliers who operate in the programmatic space. 

 

And what it gives us the ability to do and to tie it back to your launch client—if this launch client is a beauty brand, and they have no equity, but they want to launch on Amazon to test the market, we would incorporate the full funnel, so building out the content, the listings, the different touchpoints all the way up.

But we will leverage programmatic to get our ads in front of people who are in-market, who have certain lifestyles. 

 

We could pixel landing pages to build affinity audiences or to retarget people who visit your website, landing pages, so on and so forth, and also to get kind of the demographic and information about your specific audience, so we can build lifestyle audiences.

If we know this beauty product is targeted toward younger women who may be into fitness and these other things, we could start building audiences. 

 

Once we start getting data from Amazon, then we can do, like, overlap reports, where we find out what people who make a purchase have in common. Same thing exists on Amazon. So they also like movies; they like to watch these comedians or whatever else. 

 

So we’re able to kind of not only build the avatar of, like, what our Amazon customer looks like, but we’re also able to get in front of them at, you know—as they’re—they don’t even know they have the problem until they’re in-market for the problem, and then ideally, purchasing and repurchasing. 

 

So, we’re able to kind of do that full funnel, but everything is limited to the Amazon ecosystem. And Amazon has lots of Terms of Service about, you know, illegally requesting reviews, purchasing reviews, trying to capture email addresses.

So they have all these safeguards in place, which is why it’s important that you work with somebody who has some experience because Amazon is generally pretty unforgiving about this. 

 

So if you make a mistake at the site—”I didn’t know I was buying reviews,” for example—they’ll shut your account down for good, and you won’t be able to register again under that EIN. So it’s important to understand some of the nuances and Terms of Service but also understand kind of what the flow might look like and what it looks like to use these different levers to grow your brand.

 

Katya Allison:  

It sounds like there is a lot in the space of being able to target the right audience, especially if you’re, you know—essentially, you’re pulling from all of the Amazon data about a user. As you were saying that, my mind went through like, “ Oh shoot, I’m on Amazon all the time.” 

 

If I listened to, like—there’s Amazon music, right? There are the books as well, too. But I—you know—I watch Amazon Prime. Like, I would assume it’s feeding all that information? 

 

Will Haire: 

It definitely is. 

 

Katya Allison:

It also kind of sounds like it’s very similar to, like, you know, Facebook or Meta’s targeting, right? What’s behind the scenes with, like, the business manager accounts where you’re really able to—because the power is in targeting, right? And getting in front of, like, the right audiences. 

 

What kind of—in comparison—or maybe you can’t compare this. Can you compare, like, the social to what is happening on Amazon? Is there a higher cost per acquisition? A lower cost per click? Like, what does that difference look like? 

 

Or do you even start having those conversations with the customers that come to you with—do you even start to have those conversations? Let’s start there. Because then I have 1,000,012 different follow-up questions.

 

Will Haire: 

Yeah, it’s all good. Another great question, by the way. And obviously, I drink the Amazon Kool-Aid, but I’ll share my perspective. We could take it from there. 

 

So the way I look at it, and in our experience, Amazon’s data is true to ecommerce because what you mentioned: Prime members 200 million at this point, their music behavior, their shopping behavior, yeah, cookies on the–like, they own a ton of web properties, too. You could be engaging with Amazon and not even really know it. 

 

The other thing that is really interesting: iOS, for example—no more third-party cookies and tracking. They’re taking that a lot away. That doesn’t affect Amazon because Amazon owns that data. So, when I think of the three big ones of search, social, and Amazon, Amazon tends to be the purest data. We’re able to get the best return on investment because we know when people are at the bottom of the funnel, when they’re making that decision. 

 

Obviously, for higher-price-point items, there’s more research. So, for example, if you’re selling mattresses, it makes sense to emphasize, you know, Google search because people are going to—they’re going to leverage that. And by the time they get to Amazon to cross-check that, you know, they’ve already done a lot of research. You might not even be able to compete, which is where programmatic comes in. 

 

But—so it’s based on shopping data, and that’s where the value is. And that allows us to get the best return in terms compared to any other platform to advertise that I had experience with. 

 

When it comes to search, you know, it’s based on browser behavior. So, even with the iOS rule removing some of those cookies, like, Google can infer, like, this person’s in the market for mattresses because they’re searching, like, “What’s the best queen size mattress?” or “Which one has the-.” I recently bought a mattress. “Which one has the gel or whatever else? 

 

Katya Allison : 

That’s very top of mind.

 

Will Haire:   

And then the other side of that. Social, I think, is the hardest affected. And while we don’t play a lot in social, what I’m hearing from other advertisers and communities that I’m a part of is that cost per click and cost per acquisition have went up substantially. And the ability for Facebook specifically, but for social to get their targeting off when they were leveraging a lot of the iOS. 

 

So, unfortunately, social was hit the hardest. And I’m not sure what that effect was because it just happened over this year, in terms of that, but based on our experience of the three, generally, we can get the best results using Amazon’s data, and it’s because it’s shopping data, so people are in market.

 

Katya Allison:  

Okay, well, now you’ve totally piqued my interest, and I’m gonna try and stay focused because, you know, I have thoughts definitely on what the iOS update has done and what that looks like in social. 

 

I think this is why we’re seeing across the board this trend of people investing in people. So they’re investing in influencers. They’re investing in creators, as content creators to, you know, place—or not place—to make those ads that they’re running a little bit more meaningful. 

 

But for me, I also see this opportunity just in talking to you in using the content that’s created from those creators on my Amazon page, right? All of those things that you were talking about in regards to, like, the Instant Pot, like the videos, the different images, like, I would assume that that gives you a better performance on Amazon. Like, the more details you give from a visual perspective, but correct me if I’m wrong.

 

Will Haire: 

No. I mean, you nailed it. People need to self-identify with the products and brands that they’re investing in. So working with influencers, and for us, like, we’ve indirectly—we don’t do the influencer marketing. So I don’t want to—that’s your dojo. You could probably teach me a lot more about that. 

 

Katya Allison:  

That’s another podcast. That’s another podcast. 

 

Will Haire: 

But, like, our experience is, like, generally, we’ll have influencers come out and create content, and having what appears to be with, like, real people using the product tends to resonate a lot better.

So, like, we have data on conversion rates when we incorporated influencers—micro influencers, so not anybody somebody would really know—but them using the products, or unboxing, so on and so forth. The video content—they get uploaded to the product detail page so it could show up in results. 

 

And another piece for anybody who’s an influencer is to get into the Amazon Associates Program and leverage Amazon Live. So Amazon Live is like QVC, essentially. But it’s a little different because these influencers can go on, and they can talk to products. These products can be bought in real-time. They can get their affiliate commission from selling through Amazon. 

 

And generally, how we work with influencers in the Associate Program is we identify niche influencers for our products. They will, you know—they might do an hour show once a week, and they’ll talk about the product. They’ll unbox it. They’ll compare it to competitors. 

 

When an influencer does that on Amazon Live, it will also take those videos, and it’ll show them on the product detail pages underneath the image carousel. So when you first jump in, you see the images. You can kind of click through at the end of the videos and recommended videos, and they’ll show up right under there. 

 

So like, for example, a tactic we might use—which we do use—we will get an influencer who we’re going to do a live event with, and they will buy our product but also buy a competitor’s product. And they’ll compare the two and talk about how ours is so much better and how this one, you know, where are the shortcomings, so on and so forth.

And that video will live on our product detail page, but it will also live on the info of the competitor’s product detail page’s recommended videos. 

 

So there are some interesting hacks and different things we can do to get our product on competitor pages and also to work with influencers to kind of drive general awareness of our brand and products, and, of course, tie them to influencers who represent the brand and what we’re trying to do.

 

Katya Allison:  

That’s such an interesting tactic. I did not realize that those videos do get saved on that product page. And I’d be a little scared if I was a competitor of another brand that’s leveraging influencers as well in that manner if it’s also coming up on my product page on Amazon because—. 

 

And honestly, that definitely makes sense because you already talked about the fact that you go to Amazon as part of, like, your research, right? You’re looking at all of those reviews. 

 

I can’t speak for you, but I know that, for myself, I like it when people show me a picture of it in their house, right? It definitely speaks volumes over the product page that maybe they’ve, like, created this 360 look. 

 

There’s nothing like—we’ll see—now we’re talking about the things that we’re purchasing, right? I’m obsessively looking for, like, the best wardrobe rack, right? And I’ve gone to the reviews, and, like, “This is what it looks like in my house. This is what it looks like, you know, with 50 pieces of clothing versus, like, the perfectly lined, like, 15 pieces.” 

 

Will Haire: 

Yeah.

 

Katya Allison: 

Well, if I only had 15, then I wouldn’t need the wardrobe. But yeah, I mean, it definitely makes sense. 

 

Now, in regards to just, you know, you mentioned some metrics. What are other metrics on the Amazon side that I can use to really measure the success? I mean, is there something special with Amazon? Or do I get all of the metrics that I would want and that I would normally have in any other marketing strategy? 

 

Will Haire:  

They’ve made tremendous improvements on the metrics side. So pretty much anything you can get on your website, you’ll find on Amazon. Some of the language is different, so, like, I believe session percentage. I forgot the exact term, but, like, it means conversion rate, and it’s session percent something, so those are different.  

 

But I’ll talk about the main KPIs we focus on, so A) keep in mind that Amazon only looks back a year. So when we work with Amazon reps and we work with brands, lifetime value—generally difficult to measure. But we’re able to pull that information to say generally, within any given year, your average customer makes three to four purchases. 

 

So having that information lets us know, like, we could kind of measure lifetime value, which may justify a higher CPA, cost per acquisition. So that is one metric. 

 

Then, of course, all the search terms, a lot of keywords. We can get volume; we can get what’s your share of voice around specific keywords, how many of your listings are showing up when somebody searches, like, “natural beauty products.”

There may be like 50,000 actual products that are bidding against it, and you’re getting, you know, 30 of those as your basket, and this is where you’re kind of showing up. So it’s really, really interesting. 

 

And then we talk about, like—because we’re a performance marketing company, that’s kind of like–we’re bottom of the funnel; we’re getting you sales. So when we look at KPIs, we look at impression share. 

 

We want to make sure that, as we organize for SEO, that you’re indexing for more keywords, and more importantly, as a benefit, we’re seeing more impressions. It means Amazon is showing our products more, and also, people are getting to those pages, so we’re getting page views. 

 

So super high level. If I’m thinking, like, upper funnel, like impressions, click-through rate—that’s still important—relevancy. 

 

The other metric we use is TACOS, so total advertising cost of sale. And it’s your total ad spend divided by your total sales—and that’s your advertising sales and your organic sales. Unlike Google, for example, Amazon—sales is one of the, you know, one of the metrics Amazon uses for its flywheel to know how to rank your product better.

So the more sales, the more reviews, the semantic text, like all that works together to help elevate your brand to rank more.

 

So when you advertise a product and get sales, it will grow you organically. So—which is why we use TACOS. And because we do full-funnel advertising, a lot of brands that come to us, they generally hit a sales plateau. So, like, “We’re doing everything we can on PPC. We’re not growing anymore.” It’s because, like, “‘Yeah, you’ve maximized the bottom of the funnel. It’s time to step out of that.”

 

So what we normally do is we say, “Okay,”—for example, we’re working with a beauty brand—”We need 20% total advertising cost of sale. Let’s just say that’s the metric they said we can use. Well, what we would do is we’ll say, “Okay, baseline, we know we can efficiently acquire a customer at 10% TACOS.” That’s great. That means I have another 10% TACOS to work up the funnel to get more people in. 

 

So, like, we will use that efficiency standard to kind of navigate through Amazon to dictate how we categorize your products, how we’re doing SEO, what type of investments we’re doing, and like where it falls up and down the funnel. 

 

And, you know, I’m an advertiser; most of the time, I’m gonna get people on programmatic; we’re gonna do pay per click. But there are instances where, “Okay, let’s go get an influencer to work with to do Amazon Live. Or let’s try the Editorial Recommendation Program, which is on and off of Amazon because we know the SEO will help build our brand and it rewards.” 

 

So—and all of that costs can be tied into our spend, which we can measure back to your total sales. So that’s why for us, like, our KPI—our holy grail—if you work with us at BellaVix, we generally use TACOS. And it’s because we have that full-funnel mentality as we’re trying to grow brands that we work with.

 

Katya Allison:  

I think—well, I mean, to me, it sounds like it is so much work to go into Amazon. It’s definitely more than I had initially thought, right? Like, and forgive me because I obviously don’t have a product that would be on Amazon. I am just a consumer. 

 

But, like, I think that—I would imagine that there are some brands that are also thinking, “Okay, great. I’m gonna get—I’m going to dip my toes into Amazon, and it’s going to be really simple. I’m going to do a product page. And then that’s, you know—I’m going to really build it out thinking through, like, what I would do on my website, right? Like, maybe I replicate what I do on my website’s product page to what I do on Amazon.” 

 

But to me, it sounds like there are so many other layers to think through to really stand out in the crowd, from SEO to “Do I introduce programmatic? Do I introduce influencers so that I can have better sales in Amazon?” 

 

Will Haire: 

Yeah, I think that’s beautifully put. And what I’ll add on to that is, you know, you have to think of the mentality as different. Like Amazon is its own ecosystem. How they index—so, for example, you might want specific keywords in the title because that has the most weight on the listing. And you don’t want to keyword stuff, so you’ll be really strategic.

 

Your website—most websites I go to, it’s generally a pretty short title, and there’s a lot more information in the bullets—that’s the features to sell the product. So between the website and Amazon’s different—caveat, too—Walmart’s also different. 

 

So Walmart has stricter guidelines around, you know, “Keep it under 75 characters in the title.” But they want you to use the bullets and description to optimize for search and to have those keywords in there using natural language and still making sense. 

 

So, like, it is complicated. And it’s just understanding how people shop on different platforms. How I shop on a website and browse a website is just a lot different than how I shop on an ecosystem like Amazon. But Amazon also has a ton of competitors, where your website, if done right, should only be your products.

 

Katya Allison:  

Yeah, that definitely makes sense. You know, I kind of—I don’t actually know if you can answer this question because I’m thinking, if I’m a brand and I’m trying to implement Amazon as part of my marketing strategy, based on just kind of your experiences and the brands that have, you know, leveraged your service, what percentage or how big is that pie in their overall marketing strategy?

How big is the pie of Amazon and their overall marketing strategy? Because everybody’s going to do SEO, right? And then some form of programmatic, and then they’ve got organic social, and they have all of these things. 

 

But is it something that, as a brand, when I’m looking at my marketing budget, I’m thinking, “Oh, I’ve got to dedicate 50% of my marketing budget into Amazon?” Or, I don’t know. Can you answer that?

 

Will Haire: 

I can. Another good question. Yeah, it varies. So I’ll give you a couple of scenarios. 

 

We work with sellers, and normally it’s, like, kind of brand-agnostic sellers, where maybe they’re selling a garlic press that’s pretty popular for people. So they’re brand agnostic. So generally, in those situations, 80-90% of their sales might be coming directly from Amazon. 

 

And they could easily—I just met with a prospect that we’re talking to that sells nothing but novelty items. And he does about $350k a month, which is sizable—large catalog—and 100% of his business is from Amazon. So he’s very tentative. 

 

On the other side, when we work with businesses—like, generally—and retail are—tend to be a little more established. It competes—it generally can do as much or better than the website. So if your website’s doing half a million dollars a month, the opportunity is that Amazon can be doing half a million dollars a month for you. 

 

And the same is true on the other side. If you’ve grown your Amazon brand so you’re doing half a million dollars a month, your website can be doing that well. So generally, Amazon—depending on the type of brand you are—should be in the top three.

 

Generally, wholesale, from what I see, tends to be number one for a lot of these bigger brands selling directly to Target or big box stores. 

 

Katya Allison:

Yeah. 

 

Will Haire:

Can’t compete with that. They’re making purchase orders and buying in bulk. And then generally, it’s the website and Amazon competing for that second slot. And then way underneath that’s, like, Walmart. So generally, Walmart is like 10% to 15% of what you’re doing on Amazon. So it’s a much smaller pie. 

 

Walmart+ subscribers are anywhere between—depending on your news source—11 to 32 million, where Amazon Prime members are 200 million. So it’s just such a smaller subset of people using Walmart. But hopefully, that gives you some idea, and, like, I feel like I’m kind of ambiguous a lot of this, like, it depends on the situation.

 

Katya Allison:  

Well, you know what? I feel like all marketers should get T-shirts that say, “It depends.” I say it all the time when it comes to working with creators as well, too, because it does depend. It depends on what your product is, you know, what your objective is right, how much you’re going to invest in that. 

 

And also, it depends on the team that you have that’s going to execute on these strategies as well, too, right? Like, you can have a real go-getter marketing team that is hustling out there and squeezing out as much as humanly possible of your budget. And then you have the people that are a little bit more lackadaisical about it, like, “Okay, this is what I’m doing.”

 

You know, I think that there are so many variables when it comes to success, outcomes. Yes. That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it. 

 

Will Haire: 

I’m with you. Right behind you. 

 

Katya Allison: 

Exactly. Okay, so it’s prediction time. What do you see changing in marketing over the next year?

 

Will Haire: 

In marketing over the next year, I’m going to stick to the Amazon. But what we’re seeing is that brands who take an ethical stance, whether it’s, you know, Black Lives Matter or it’s reducing the waste your product makes—and Amazon’s rewarding a lot of businesses through their eco-friendly program. 

 

So what we’re seeing is not only do brands who have some type of ethical stance and care about the environment, or whatever their causes, tend to have stronger results and are able to build the brand a lot better than those who are entering the ecosystem that are just, like, “I’m gonna get this at the lowest price from the wholesaler model.”

 

So it’s already started, but I feel we’re gonna see the continuation of the shift of, like, Amazon’s for brands. Amazon’s for brands that have a purpose. And all the other marketplaces will end up working with a lot of wholesalers. 

 

Like, eBay is a perfect example of where somebody might go who just gets a really good price on a product, and they’re not—they could care less about the customer experience or the product. They’re just buying things to make money, which is okay to—retail arbitrage is a thing, and there’s nothing wrong with it. 

 

But for us and how we work—and that’s my prediction. I see that the continuation of swaying of, like, Amazon is a branded platform for brands that have a purpose. And those brands that stay true to their causes, I think, are gonna have the most success in the future.

 

Katya Allison:  

I think that is such an interesting prediction. And I’m wondering if you’re tying back that prediction to potentially a generational thing. And maybe this is because I’m very deep in, like, Gen Z research, but you know, in general, Gen Z are kind of hitting the nail on the head of what you said, like, it’s cause based. 

 

They do more research, you know. They are looking for not just the better deal—they’re willing to pay a higher price because they are unwilling to, you know, sacrifice their values when it comes to that. 

 

So I’m just wondering if you see that tie into your prediction as well, too? Or maybe it was just Kismet that you said that, and I was researching that. 

 

Will Haire: 

I think a little bit of both? I’ll say I agree. And yeah, I think that’s part of it, too. 

 

We know that the shopper on Amazon tends to skew a little younger. They tend to use their mobile devices. Like I said, most of us don’t want to wait more than two days for shipping. 

 

So I think a lot of that is trending based on the demographic, and, as you know, as Gen X and the baby boomers move on and shop less on Amazon, we’ll see more of these trends.

 

Katya Allison :  

Well, this has been fantastic. I feel like if I don’t stop it now, we will go down a rabbit hole, and it’ll be 45 minutes later because I have so many other questions for you. I hope that at some point, you do come back, and we can go down those multi rabbit holes.

 

Will Haire: 

Amen. Well, thank you for having me, and I’m looking forward to coming back another time.

 

Katya Allison:  

Absolutely. Thank you so much. 

 

I hope that this episode answers some of your Amazon marketing questions. Will shared a ton of really great information, and I’d say the piece of advice that really stuck with me was to just kind of take the same journey that your customer is going to take before you even get started on Amazon.

That means take a look at the bad, ugly, and beauty that being on Amazon can provide. That’s reading your reviews and making sure that you are a good market fit.

 

But more importantly, while he may insist that any ecommerce brands be on Amazon, it doesn’t mean that you need to invest everything into it. I think that really any good marketing strategy is really a balance of strategies among all of the marketing disciplines. I think that the pandemic has really done a great job at showcasing that. 

 

I know that as a marketer myself, it can feel like you’re being told so often, “Do more with less.” But in reality, it’s about being smart with what you’ve got. And most importantly, don’t burn calories on something you don’t need to. 

 

Now I think I’ve used enough idioms for one closing. So on that note, I’m going to ask you, do you want to hear more? Be sure to subscribe to the GRIN Gets Real podcast to get the latest episodes. Give us some stars. I wouldn’t mind five of them. And leave us a review. Let me know what you love about the interviews.

 

And then feel free to connect with me on social. You can find me on LinkedIn. And if you’re interested in learning more about GRIN, visit our website at grin.co

 

Until next time, keep grinning.

 

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