Amazon. Love it or hate it, when it comes to ECommerce it’s truly impossible to overstate the influence that this behemoth holds in the space. If you’re an ECommerce seller, chances are you’re selling your products on Amazon—it’s become almost necessary to do so to compete.
However, if you’re selling on Amazon, you also know that the fees and percentages they charge you add up—fast. Many companies, including our clients, find themselves in the unenviable position of selling tons of product on the site, but making hardly any profit, all while sales on their website languish.
That’s great for Amazon’s revenue but hardly sustainable for smaller companies that need to protect their profit margins, while still reaching a high volume of customers.
In just the past year, we’ve had two clients come to us specifically seeking help to reclaim more of their sales from Amazon. So we devised a strategy, executed it, and—it worked.
Here’s what we did, and why these strategies can help other ECommerce businesses reclaim their revenue from Amazon.
First, how much of a cut does Amazon take from sellers?
Amazon charges sellers who sell their products on the site in two ways: account fees and product fees.
Account fees are fees you pay simply for having a seller account on Amazon. Individual seller accounts are free, but if you’re a business and you have a Pro Merchant account, that fee is $39.99 per month.
Then, there are fees you pay for each product you sell. Those are based on your item price and item category.
These per-product fees are:
- Referral fee: 6-20% of your product price, with most sellers paying 15%. This is charged on every individual sale that you make
- Minimum referral fee: $0-$2 based on your category, if your referral fee is under the minimum fee
So if you’re doing a lot of business on Amazon, especially if you’re selling items in bulk, you can see how quickly these fees add up. And remember, this is solely for the privilege of listing your items on Amazon and using them to collect payment. You still have to fulfill and ship every order yourself. And many sellers that sell on Amazon have to lower their prices to be competitive on the site, which cuts your revenue even further.
Breaking the Amazon addiction isn’t something you can do overnight, but it is possible.
Here are the different strategies that we used to help our clients reclaim their sales, and that we recommend for any company trying to pull more sales over to their websites.
- Website audit/upgrade
- Paid ads campaign and retargeting
- Strategic email marketing
- Customer referral and/or loyalty program
Before you start sending tons of traffic to your website (because trust us, if you implement the rest of these strategies, that will happen!), you have to ensure that your site is optimized for:
- Organic search
- The ECommerce experience—product search, cart management, and checkout
The first step, and what we did for our clients, was to analyze their websites to see where any potential hiccups were in the product purchase process for customers.
An SEO audit
A site audit consists of several different steps, some of which may not be needed for your site.
A good place to start is to use a technical tool to analyze your ECommerce site for Panda penalties. One good tool to use is Screaming Frog SEO Spider.
Panda is a Google algorithm update that determines where sites end up in the search engine results pages (SERPs). If your site has been penalized by one of these algorithms—for example, if there questionable sites linking back to yours, or your content has been deemed lower-quality—this process will let you know and help you find a way to recover.
Once that’s done, the next step is to identify the keywords that you need to be targeting. Our SEO team did that with Google’s Keyword Planner and then audited the site to see where those keywords could be included.
Additionally, we looked at the sites’ product search functionality, as well as the Add to Cart and checkout process. This allowed us to identify any potential obstacles that customers would face in the purchase process, which could easily persuade them to either abandon their cart or go purchase the process more easily and quickly on Amazon—which is exactly what you don’t want!
To improve the site’s ranking, we also started twice-weekly blogging, making sure that all relevant keywords were included naturally and relevantly.
Once the site was fully optimized, we were ready to put the other strategies in motion.
Paid ads campaign and retargeting
Paid ads are a critical element of any ECommerce marketing strategy.
There is a multitude of options now when it comes to paid advertising, and the ones that are right for you will depend on where your audience is.
For our clients, we chose Google Ads and social media ads on Facebook and Instagram, since that’s where their customers were congregating.
We put a sizable budget behind the ads to get the ball rolling, and once we were seeing conversions, we honed in on what was working the best by conducting A/B testing. The Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)—in other words, the conversion value divided by ad spend—has been consistently high, leading the client to increase their ad budget significantly over the past year.
Retargeting was an integral part of our ad strategy, too. When a potential customer visits the client’s site, a cookie stored on the site then allows us to display ads for the client to that customer wherever they are online.
As anyone selling a product knows, one interaction with your brand usually isn’t enough to get a customer to convert. They need to interact with your brand multiple times before they’ll make a purchase, and retargeting is an ideal way to make those interactions happen.
SEO is important in every industry, but especially for ECommerce, and especially when you’re trying to compete with Amazon.
As mentioned above, we optimized clients’ websites for SEO through keyword research and blog posts. But it’s not enough to optimize your site for SEO—you have to incorporate best SEO practices into your ads, as well. By zeroing in on the keywords that target customers were searching for, we could ensure our ad copy was effective enough to stop customers’ scrolling and get them to click.
Strategic email marketing
For ECommerce brands, email marketing may just be the linchpin that holds a campaign together and gives it the boost it needs to drive real results.
For our clients, we used the email marketing platform Sharpspring to manage email marketing.
First, we set up monthly email newsletter campaigns that drew attention to the products we wanted to feature each month and included a note from the brand’s team, and sometimes a discount or coupon.
We also set up the all-important abandoned cart email triggers—these are the emails you get when you put something in your cart on an ECommerce site, but leave the site without checking out.
Abandoned cart emails are incredibly effective. The stats prove it:
- Nearly 45% of abandoned cart emails are opened (a much higher percentage than typical marketing emails, which generally have an average open rate of 15-25%)
- Of those opened emails, half of them are clicked on
- Of those customers who click, half end up completing their purchase
Why does email marketing matter when you’re trying to take back sales from Amazon? Because you’ve got to get your customers engaged.
Email marketing allows you to not only show up in your customers’ inboxes regularly, reminding them that you exist. It also allows you to connect with your customers authentically, showcasing your brand values, voice, and style.
And that’s one huge advantage smaller brands have over Amazon, which—let’s be honest—doesn’t have much in the way of brand values other than having the lowest prices and the fastest shipping.
Customer referral/loyalty programs
The final element of our strategies to attract sales away from Amazon and back to the ECommerce brands’ sites was a customer referral/loyalty program.
These can work in lots of different ways, but for one of our ECommerce clients, we set up a loyalty program through a platform called Smile.io.
Customers who made purchases could earn points and VIP status, which they could then put toward future purchases. But we wanted to go further.
While these platforms are a great way to kickstart a loyalty program and manage customers’ points and rewards, we knew that adding a personal touch would help enrich that connection with customers even more.
We chose a fun reward for the brand to include in their customers’ orders as a surprise—in this case, it was custom-printed socks—along with a handwritten note thanking the customer for their purchase and loyalty. It fit well with the brand, which is family-run, and places a big emphasis on their personal, friendly customer service.
For other brands, especially those that sell big-ticket items, a referral program may work better, in which customers are rewarded with a significant discount when someone they refer makes a purchase.
Again, these sorts of personalized programs are things Amazon doesn’t offer. They help put a face to your brand.
After each of these components was in place and had been running for a few months, our clients began to see major results, in the form of both increased traffic to their websites and increased sales.
In March 2021, this client saw a YOY sales increase of 70.8%, while online store sessions increased by 87%.
These results are not an outlier. Sales from the client’s website have increased month after month since we began working with them in summer 2020.
Taking sales back from Amazon is a priority for countless businesses, but doing so can feel nearly impossible, given the corporation’s mammoth influence and power over the internet. However, by developing a multi-pronged strategy that starts with a great website, and ends by rewarding and connecting authentically with your customers, you can reclaim those sales.
Ready to take on Amazon? Get in touch!