Do you sell on Amazon or Google? This is a main point of discussion whenever I’m asked to speak at an Ecommerce-related conference. It makes sense. Amazon IS the largest Ecommerce platform in the world, after all. And Google? Well most people think of Google as if it IS the internet. It makes sense that physical product owners would have an invested interest in creating streams of revenue both on and off Amazon.
The Double-Edged Amazon Sword
Let me paint a picture for you of the most common scenario that I am approached about by Ecommerce business owners:
They have a thriving business on Amazon. They have consistent sales and have grown their Amazon revenue to the tune of 7 and 8 figures annually. However, they have almost no sales off Amazon. To make matters worse, the Amazon Hay Days are quickly changing as seller’s businesses are frequently impacted by changes on the platform. These changes often feel like they’re made on a whim without a lot of rhyme or reason to them.
- Reviews that have been in good-standing for years suddenly get stripped from a listing massively impacting conversion.
- Listings are suddenly, and without warning banned leaving the seller to scramble desperately trying to figure out which ever-changing rule they have suddenly violated.
- A product listing suddenly drops in ranking overnight.
- Competing sellers attack your listing through fake negative reviews.
(And don’t even get me started on the issue of Amazon working directly with manufacturers in Asia to sell directly against the other sellers at a much cheaper price.)
Before I go any further, I need to let you know that I am not an Amazon-hater. In fact, I have an Amazon agency called eComverse that takes over seller’s accounts and scales them on behalf of the business owner. Trust me, much of my livelihood is dependent on people having consistent streams of revenue on Amazon. I’m not writing this article to convince you NOT to sell on Amazon. I’m simply writing this to help the growing population of Ecommerce businesses who are suddenly facing the very real and very scary situation of having almost the entirety of their sales on ONE channel that they can’t control.
My message is a positive one because it’s never been easier to bridge the Amazon/Google gap than it is right now!
Stop! You Must Understand The Algorithmic Requirements Around Intention First!
Before I can get too far into the weeds of how to bridge the Amazon/Google gap in the Ecommerce world, you really need to first have a basic understanding of the power of intention as it pertains to digital marketing algorithms in general. This is the number one topic that I keynote on at conferences and what I’m writing my next book about. Before you read any further in this article, you should go read An Entrepreneurs Guide To Understanding Google’s Algorithmic Relationship To Intention – 2018. If you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, at least scroll down and watch the 3-minute video.
Intention In The Ecommerce World
Did you stop and read that article or at least watch the video? The rest of this article is going to make a LOT more sense if you did! So, let’s look at how this impacts the Ecommerce space.
Recently I was speaking at an Ecommerce conference and I wanted a demonstration video that was related specifically to physical products that I also know are commonly sold on Amazon. (I mean, what isn’t sold on Amazon??) This is the video that I made.
NOTE: I promise you that I am NOT certifiable. I created this at 5am the day that I was going to be speaking on stage. I didn’t have my usual recording setup and Google was talking to me after some of the searches and it was getting quite long-winded and trying to talk over the voice was distracting. So twice in this video I tell Google to “Stop talking!” However, I learned right before I went on stage, that my laptop was set to only record external noise, not noise coming from the laptop itself. So, I basically sound like I’m heckling myself during this video. 😉
If you’re like most people, you likely found that video very surprising and enlightening.
Consumer Patterns Matter
We obviously don’t know everything, but we do know that consumer patterns really matter when it comes to successfully selling online. We have found that the majority of consumers have more trust in Google for research but prefer to buy on Amazon. Amazon reviews, while highly necessary if you are an Amazon seller, are wholly untrusted by the average consumer. Most shoppers assume that any given review was bought and paid for and can’t be fully trusted.
Here are some common scenarios:
Consumer Buying Pattern #1: Jill is pregnant and is searching for all-natural cloth diapers for her soon-to-be-born child. She starts on Amazon because that is her preferred platform to buy from. She’s quickly inundated with options. She scrolls through them and reads some reviews. However, she’s just not sure which one is right for her baby. (And it’s critically important to her that she buys the right product for her baby.)
Jill leaves Amazon open and goes into Google and does a search both generically for all-natural cloth diapers, and specifically around some of the brands that piqued her interest on Amazon. In the end she’ll find some options on Google that she does feel convinced are the right diapers for her baby. She’ll then return to amazon and search for that specific brand and then buy it from Amazon. (If it’s not on Amazon, she’s more likely to buy something similar on Amazon unless the copy from Google was so enticing that getting those exact diapers trumped the safety and convenience of buying on her most trusted shopping platform.
Consumer Buying Pattern #2: Johnny is bored at work and is scrolling through his Facebook feed. An ad pops into his feed about losing love handles before summer arrives. He’s been thinking about getting back into the dating scene after healing from a divorce and is freshly self-conscious about the extra weight that he’s carrying.
He clicks on the ad in Facebook and is taken to a landing page that seems to really understand his pain points. He thinks that this product might really help him. He would like to try it. There is a big orange “Click Here To Buy” button right in front of him. However, before Johnny is willing to consider clicking that button, he leaves the page open and goes to Amazon to search for the product there. If the product is on Amazon, he’s far more likely to buy it there. (Often, even if it’s a little more expensive.)
Don’t feel discouraged! There are plenty of ways to get your buyers to buy from your website instead of from Amazon. But that’s another topic for another day!
Is Your Product Worthy Of Referral?
Google knows the gazillion points of data when your ideal buyer has their credit card in hand looking to buy what you sell. It knows what they care about, what questions they have, what problems that they are looking to solve. If your website/Amazon listing/Videos, etc. does not match those things, then you are not worthy of Google’s referral. Google is a business and just like you it doesn’t want to send its users to anything that isn’t relevant to what they are looking for.
So, if you sell lavender oil online and when someone types in “lavender oil” your product comes up – GREAT! However, it’s far more powerful if your product comes up on the first page for searches like “Natural Remedy Anxiety”, or “Best Essential Oil For Insomnia”. The only way that can happen is if your digital footprint around your product is optimized for the buyer’s intention. Not what YOU think the buyer’s intentions are, but what Google knows their intention to be in association with their search and buying patterns.
Quick Tip: Use FAQ To Optimize For Intention
We have a lot of ways that we win both the organic marketing and paid traffic game through intention. However, I can give you one quick tip that will help you improve your Ecommerce optimization. Use FAQ to optimize for intention.
FAQ Page: On your website include questions that answer the intent of the searcher. Most people just include basic questions and answers about how their product works, etc. However, it is quite effective to also include questions and answers that speak to the original motivation as to why the consumer wants to buy that product in the first place. Add intention-based items on your FAQ pages.
Product Pages: We put a handful of FAQs at the bottom of every product page that speak to the intention of that product. If you’re concerned about conversion, there are a ton of widgets on the market that allow you to have the question listed, but to read the answer they have to click on it. This give you credit for the words that are in that section, but it won’t be read unless someone clicks it open.
Amazon Q&A Section: Similar to FAQ off Amazon, you can and should utilize your Q&A section of your listings to speak specifically to the intentions that are driving purchases of your product in the first place. This is a great way to increase the likelihood that your Amazon listing will rank in Google.
If this feels overwhelming, just remember it’s a lot simpler than it used to be. The simple truth is that you can forget most of the latest marketing “hacks” if you can answer three questions about your buyers:
- Who are your main buying segments?
- What does each segment really care about?
- How does your product match the intentions behind why they are buying your product in the first place?
If you know the answer to those 3 basic questions, you can position yourself as the “no-brainer” solution that they’ve been searching for.