How to Prepare Your Amazon Business for Q4

Emi Baxter

 

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it today” Malcom X

U.S. shoppers spent $131.2 billion online in Q4 2017, about a 20% increase from Q4 2016, according to market research firm comScore Inc. As has been the case for the last few years, this number is expected to grow for Q4 2018. With about 50% of online searches beginning at Amazon, taking advantage of this traffic and projected spend is critical to the success of your business on Amazon. Maximize your businesses opportunities this Q4 by using the below tips to help build your Q4 Amazon selling strategy!

Q4 includes several high traffic shopping days, as well as the holiday shopping rush – significant opportunities to maximize your sales on Amazon.

These include:

  • Halloween Shopping – October 1 – October 29
  • Black Friday – November 23rd
  • Cyber Monday – November 26th
  • Holiday Shopping – December 1st – 22nd

It’s important to know that in the Amazon eco-system, it takes time to build relevancy for keywords, advertising, and optimizing your detail pages. Preparing for Q4 as early as possible helps set your Amazon business up for success.

A solid Amazon strategy takes time. Whether you have or have not sold on Amazon through Q4 previously, building your Amazon strategy and testing it requires preparation and planning. Leverage historical learnings from previous high traffic periods (Prime Day, previous year’s sales) to forecast expectations for upcoming seasons.

TAKEAWAY – Being prepared for Q4 is a combination of a well-defined holistic strategy that covers featured products, content, promotions, and advertising. It’s also a necessity for seeing success on Amazon.

 

How to Start Q4 Planning for Your Business

Step 1 – Identify any season-specific promotions or products you plan to feature during this period

If you will be adding products to your catalog that are season specific, gather the data for your New Item Setup (NIS) sheet and submit as early as possible. Ideally by the first week of September or earlier.

This is important as it allows ample opportunity to build up the detail page, correct any issues, and for 1P sellers gives time for Amazon to begin ordering.

 

Step 2 – Define any promotional pricing, coupons, etc and add them to a calendar

Having clearly defined dates for pre-determined promotions, coupons, and deals to kick in provides clear deadlines and timeframes.

  • Many items in Seller Central (SC) or Vendor Central (VC) can be submitted or scheduled in advance. Having a clear calendar of upcoming promotional activity allows easy preparation and acts as a resource as you review sales data and adapt your strategy moving forward.
  • Have your deals roughly mapped out before October, as Amazon begins opening up deal submissions in October and deadlines are short.

 

Step 3 – Prepare Copy

If you plan to make changes to your detail page for Q4 events keep in mind the following:

Copy

  • Keep a copy of any content you plan to change so that you can easily revert back after Q4.
  • Prepare your copy in advance – take the time to detail out your new copy early. Optimize it for Amazon’s search to maximize the opportunity for your listing to appear early in search results.

Keywords

  • Leverage copy to include relevant holiday search terms and keywords.
  • For Example: tech gifts for dad, kids gift baskets, holiday gifts for women, beauty gifts for mom, cool gifts for boys.

Images

  • Make sure your product is well-represented by high quality, clear images on the detail page. Many consumers are “glance” shopping – your images are the first and often the only opportunity you have to capture the fly by consumer.
  • We recommend at least 5 images on your detail pages to provide the consumer a complete view of the product.

 

Step 4 – Prepare Your Advertising Efforts

Advertising on Amazon takes time to gain relevance and to provide useful data for campaign optimization.

Draft Your Keyword Stacks and Campaigns Early

  • Make sure you are looking for phrases and keywords that customers may be searching during the holidays that are relevant to your product.
  • Make sure you have the products you really want to push during the holidays outlined and put them into their own holiday campaign to keep those keywords separate from your existing campaigns.

Clearly identify them as Q4 or holiday campaigns

  • For Example: Top_Products_SP_CyberMonday (This is a sponsored product (SP) ad featuring top products for Cyber Monday).
  • This will allow you to more quickly identify metrics and identify campaigns that are performing or not.

Budgeting

  • Advertising during peak shopping periods is often more expensive due to the increased competition in the space. Make sure you are prepared to at least double (in most cases) what you usually spend on advertsing.
  • Campagins created specifically for holiday periods should have higher daily budgets to handle increases in traffic better.
  • Keyword bids may need to be higher as well, if there are certain keywords you wish to win during the holiday shopping season, consider going in with higher bids than you normally would.

 

Step 5 – Launch and Manage Your Campaigns

Launch your campaigns at least 2 weeks before the featured date

Your campaigns need time to build relevancy prior to the expected holiday or shopping traffic. Launch your campaigns early – and let them run for at least two weeks with minimal changes. After those 2 weeks, review your campaigns and make changes to optimize.

Continue to monitor your campaigns

  • Once your campaigns have been launched – continue to monitor your campaigns for budget, high spend keywords or products, and make changes as needed to continue to optimize.
  • Begin to pause keywords and increase bids on keywords seeing success.
  • Ensure you are receiving automated notifications when a campaign has spent it’s daily budget. This makes it easy to know when your campaign budget is nearly spent and gives you an opportunity to increase the budget so that the campaign can resume.

Be aware that spend and sales may seem skewed. Amazon attributes sales to ads up to 2 weeks after the spend has occurred. Give your campaigns at least 2 weeks to build a baseline before you begin making changes to spend, bids, products, and keywords.

Once campaigns have a baseline, review them frequently for keywords or products that have very high ACoS and pause these items. Regularly review ad reports for customer search terms as well and make updates to your keywords based on customer behavior. Focus on longer-tail keywords (3+ keywords) whenever possible to improve conversion rates.

Do NOT end your campaigns after the featured date. Pause your Q4 campaigns so that you can evaluate their effectiveness and modify them for the upcoming Q4.

 

Step 6 –  A+, EBC, Brand Stores

A+ and Enhanced Brand Content (EBC) are two types of enhanced content that Amazon provides to sellers. A+ is available to all sellers on Vendor Central and EBC is available to all sellers on Seller Central.

  • If you aren’t using A+ or EBC – you will want to include it in your Q4 readiness. A+ and EBC are an opportunity to provide a larger scale product pitch as well as a clear brand story to appeal to the ethos aspects of a consumer. Using A+ and EBC allows you to create a brand or product line “feel” across your detail pages.
  • If any products you ship are packaged in a manner that may be considered as gift ready(meaning it may not need wrapped) be sure to call that out

Brand Stores are pages that sellers can build through Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). Brand stores allow sellers to build a personalized brand site right within Amazon. These can be multilayered pages that feature your best-sellers, collections, new products, and featured product lines using video, images, text, and products.

TAKEAWAY – Focus on planning and preparation. Amazon requires time to optimize – the earlier you have a strategy and begin to implement it, the more opportunity you will have to adapt it to maximize Q4.

 

Evaluating Performance

The ability to evaluate the performance of your products on Amazon after Q4 is critical to improving your sales long term. Practice the following steps to ensure that you have usable data.

Plan a post-mortem

Shortly after Q4 has ended – schedule a post-mortem with everyone who was a part of your Amazon sales for Q4. Detail what went well, what didn’t go well, compare your expectations to what really occurred, and document.

Review the numbers

Review your forecasts vs. actuals – identify where possible what contributed to discrepancies.

Review the changes

Throughout the Q4 planning process – document your changes so that afterwards you can review. For example; if you made bullet or image updates to a product for Q4 that saw much lower sales than you expected. Work to identify what did not work so that you can be clearer in your strategy for the next Q4.

Create Draft 1 of your Q4 Plan for next year

After leveraging the data and feedback from Q4 – take the time to draft the first version of your plan for next year. Q4 is always just around the corner, the more prepared you can be, the better.

THE TAKEAWAY – The ability to evaluate performance is critical. On Amazon it’s not just numbers; Evaluating the effectiveness of copy and image updates is just as important. Amazon isn’t “set it and forget it.” It’s always on, always changing – set your company up for success by clearly defining measurable metrics and implementing consistent review.

 

Q4 Readiness Tips

Start Early

It’s NEVER too early to start planning for Q4.

Create a Detailed Plan

Q4 has many moving parts, create a clear strategy for how your business is approaching Q4.

Launch Your Ads Early

New Campaigns take time to build, launch them early to maximize effectiveness.

Improve Your Detail Pages

Amp up your images and copy.

Leverage “Space”

Take advantage of A+, EBC, Brand Stores – and anywhere else that Amazon will give you space to highlight your products.

Evaluate Everything

Be prepared to look critically at everything surrounding your performance on Amazon.

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