Let’s start with the obvious: COVID-19 has had a profound effect on a global scale.
The pandemic has impacted people’s personal and professional routines.
And, it has created a need to come up with new solutions to everyday matters – shopping included.
It is in times like these that e-commerce is standing out.
Now more than ever, we are recognizing the scale (and potential) of online shopping.
And that’s especially clear on the Amazon marketplace.
According to reports, Amazon’s sales during Q1 2020 went up 25.4% YoY.
And while it’s good news that countries around the globe are starting to ease coronavirus restrictions, don’t expect people to crowd brick-and-mortar stores anytime soon.
The simple fact is this: a significant number of people will continue to do the majority of their shopping online.
For retail business owners, this means two things.
On the one hand, this growth of e-commerce shows that now is the perfect time to shift focus to online sales and Amazon marketing.
On the other hand, more people shopping online is sure to bring on a higher level of competition from other sellers.
So, what’s a retailer to do?
Well, that’s where we’re here to help.
In this article, we’ll provide suggestions for creating a rock-solid e-commerce strategy that helps you stand out in a marketplace as competitive as Amazon.
Before diving into that, we’ll first outline the stricter guidelines and limitations on COVID-19 Amazon advertising.
Like so many others, Amazon’s response to COVID-19 is intended to protect customers and provide some peace of mind.
So how can retailers maintain and grow their Amazon stores in the midst of a pandemic?
Read on to find out.
COVID-19 Amazon Advertising Policies and Guidelines
Unsurprisingly, the Coronavirus pandemic has opened a window of opportunity for scams as well as all kinds of market manipulations.
In turn, Amazon has taken steps to protect its customers.
- It has vowed to combat price gouging.
- They prioritized the stocking and delivery of staple items.
- Amazon has restricted advertising on keywords relating to personal protective equipment, hand sanitizers, etc.
For customers, this means you won’t have to scramble to get your hands on a pack of toilet paper or face masks.
It also means that you can get them at regular prices.
But for sellers, well, it means delays in shipping.
In some cases, the measures could even cause a drop in sales or spell out doom for small businesses.
And that’s not all – Amazon advertising faces changes, too.
For example, ads will automatically pause when inventory levels are low.
Furthermore, sellers will need to adjust their bidding and targeting strategies to promote currently popular items and prevent losses.
What Amazon Advertisers Can Do to Stay Relevant During Coronavirus
We know, we know: judging by what you’ve just read, the future sure seems bleak for small businesses selling non-essentials.
Not so fast, though. The bigger picture tells us a happier tale.
In March and April, the average CPC for Amazon campaigns has gone down from $0.90 to $0.70.
The reason behind this?
Sellers have been pausing their campaigns to cut costs.
But for those brave enough to stay in the game (which, for many brands, is the best way to go forward at the moment), this meant a lower cost for CPC campaigns and a higher likelihood of conversions.
Plus, average ACOS of Amazon advertising during COVID-19 went down from 30% to 25%, while conversion rates went up by 24%.
What does all this tell us?
That’s right: now is an excellent time to invest in Amazon advertising.
And the best way to go about it is by making small changes to regular practices and following data analytics.
Here’s what you can do right now.
1. Adjust Keyword Targeting & Bidding Strategies
Combine the exposure your listings get from CPC campaigns and SEO optimization, and you’re on your way to Amazon marketing success.
The key factor in this process: keywords.
Under regular circumstances, Amazon advertising can play a massive role in keyword research.
It’s what gives you a good idea of what you should be targeting.
Tracking impressions, CTRs, and conversions helps you optimize your campaigns to encourage organic traffic.
But, we can all agree that these are no regular circumstances right now.
To ensure maximum ROI and avoid pumping money into fruitless Amazon advertising campaigns during COVID-19, you’ll want to make some slight changes.
3 Steps to Keyword Success on Amazon
Take it as a three-step approach:
- Pause your spending on broad search terms.
- Add negative keywords.
- Focus instead on the keywords at the bottom of your funnel.
That makes for a more direct approach, and it will help you lower your conversion costs.
These sales, in turn, increase your organic rank on Amazon as well.
Take, for example, the company LFA Capsule Fillers:
They don’t have a PPC advertising campaign targeting their brand name, which is at the bottom of the search funnel.
In short, they’re missing out on profitable sales.
Interestingly enough, Amazon itself is also wasting money by bidding on all terms that include the word “tablets.”
So we have Amazon here spending on impressions irrelevant to their line of Fire tablets.
You’ll want to do the opposite: avoid spending on irrelevant keywords, as well as those with a low likelihood of conversions.
Along with that, it would also be smart to adjust your spending so that it can support your target Advertising Cost of Sales.
You can choose dynamic bids – down only to minimize spending on impressions that are less likely to result in sales.
Lastly, opt for a daily budget on your campaigns so you can have more control over how much your advertising efforts are costing you.
2. Focus on What’s Relevant
It is now more important than ever to be extra-sensitive to the tone and messaging you employ in your paid advertising campaigns.
And mind you, this applies not only to Amazon, but also to e-commerce in general.
Sure, you want your COVID-19 Amazon advertising strategy to remain relevant to the current situation.
But it’s a fine line to tread, and you’ll really need to be mindful of what message you’re sending.
Are you truly looking out for the wellbeing of your customers?
Are you showing genuine concern for their safety during these times?
Or are you just looking to earn an extra buck playing the empathy card?
Actionable Steps for Implementing TOV Changes for COVID-19 Amazon Advertising
If you’re not sure how to proceed and you’re worried about being tone-deaf, take a step back and consider the following:
- What is it that your customers need to know about your response?
- Take a good look at your copy: Could there be something insensitive to some of your customers? (And if we’ve learned anything from celebrities at this time, it’s that trying to appear relatable at any cost can be equally annoying as it is insensitive).
- Is there anything you can do to support your community? It could be offering something for free, lowering shipping prices, or giving helpful advice to those using your products.
If you find that, objectively, there’s room for improvement, don’t be afraid to make changes – it’s never too late.
It may not result in immediate returns, but it will encourage customer loyalty and a positive brand image.
All things considered, they’re much more valuable than an extra sale or two.
3. Keep an Eye on Universal Search Trends
Finally, some companies will find that they have to make adjustments to the way they do business.
Try adapting production to fit the current demand.
Or make changes to your chain of supply.
Or focus on marketing strategies that will maximize sales and prevent losses.
Now more than ever, you need to keep an eye on current search trends so that you can make those adjustments.
And this doesn’t mean just looking at search trends on Amazon.
Let’s say, for example, you find that some of your listings aren’t doing as well as before the pandemic.
You then find that it’s simply because people aren’t searching for them, but other items from your store are generating interest.
In that case, you can adjust your budget and keywords.
It’s also important to remain aware of the novelty of the current situation.
Consumers are facing uncertainty – which means that their behaviors are expected to change more frequently.
It all depends on current events and developments.
So, along with focusing on your Amazon sales results, don’t forget to keep an eye on global trends.
This way, you can stay ahead of your competition and keep up with customer needs.
The vast majority of businesses are going to feel the effect of the pandemic for months to come.
The same goes for Amazon sellers as well.
But, these changes don’t mean that you should suddenly stop (or ramp up) your advertising efforts.
Instead, take our advice and use the best practices we’ve covered.
Keep a close eye on metrics and remember to stay focused on customer satisfaction, and you’ve got this.