48% of all online shopper journeys begin on Amazon, making it the number one marketplace for many e-commerce brands. Don’t get us wrong, your brand should be on Amazon. It just shouldn’t only be on Amazon. Relying on a single-channel (Amazon) for all your sales carries with it an insane amount of risk. Brands that want to grow beyond Amazon need to build their own -commerce platforms. They also need a solid plan in place for how to push traffic to their dedicated e-commerce site and hence drive e-commerce sales.
While some buyers come to Amazon with the intent of making an immediate purchase, most turn to the behemoth to research price, availability, and what others are saying about the product they’re considering (you got those 5-star reviews?). The sheer volume of purchase-minded traffic (combined with Amazon’s fulfillment and warehousing services) is why many e-commerce brands choose to focus solely on selling their wares on Amazon.
The Major Cons of an Amazon-Only Sales Focus
Before we delve into the negative, let’s acknowledge the attractiveness of being on Amazon:
- A seemingly never-ending amount of traffic all looking to make a purchase in the near future
- A fulfillment and shipping system that keeps you from having to stock product and fulfill orders at all hours of the day
Sounds pretty great – until you consider the cons of being Amazon-only:
1) You’re Renting Your Space on Amazon
In the world of Amazon-only, account suspension is the kiss of death. A quick Google search reveals thousands of brands that were trucking along at $10k+ a month (or week) in Amazon sales, only to have their account suspended without warning.
Just like that, those magical sales disappear.
It’s not just account suspensions that you need to worry about: Amazon’s algorithm for showing products is constantly shifting. While your product may be result number one for “Glow In The Dark Shoe Laces For Grown Men Who Aren’t Afraid To Party,” there’s no guarantee that it’ll stay number one forever.
If you’re comfortable with the idea of all your sales disappearing overnight, then by all means, stay Amazon-only. But for the rest of us, your e-commerce brand needs to be selling on other channels (that you own) to fully mitigate this risk.
2) Limitations on How You Merchandise Your Product
Selling your product on Amazon means playing by their merchandising rules. That means limitations on your product name, description, how you get/show reviews, and even how you can show off your product. For example, if you want to add videos about your product, you first have to join Vendor Central (and pay them more money).
If you’re selling on your own website, you don’t have any of those restrictions. Put all the video you want on your product page. Write any size product description you care to. The world is yours. Reach for the stars. Dream.
3) Hard to Build Long-term Relationships to Drive Repeat Sales
Amazon is crazy possessive over their customer data, keeping brands in the dark over such things as their customer’s phone numbers or even emails! This makes it tricky for brands to build long-term, multi-purchase relationships with their buyers. How do you continue a conversation with a customer if Amazon only lets you email them through their platform at set intervals?
How To Drive Traffic to Your E-Commerce Store
The number one concern we hear from clients that are building their own e-commerce store is that that they don’t know how to duplicate the traffic volume they see on Amazon. After all, people don’t buy from websites they don’t visit. If you’re going to build a successful e-commerce store, your traffic needs to come from a variety of sources including:
1) Organic Search Engine Traffic
SEO. Three letters that invoke panic and fear in even the most seasoned business owners. As a starting point, your e-commerce store needs to be setup for SEO success. Be sure you’re using keyword rich product names, page titles, meta descriptions and header tags throughout your site.
2) Paid Traffic
A tried and true method for driving people to your site, digital advertising has been around since the beginning of the internet. Many e-commerce shops see great success using Google AdWords, Display, DoubleClick, Pinterest, Facebook, and the millions of other options available (don’t even get us started on DSP’s).
3) Email Marketing
Email is still king when it comes to e-commerce. No other platform allows you to continually market to past customers with the ease of email. Email is also the number one channel for saving abandoned cart transactions.
4) Social Media Marketing
It’s 2017. We don’t need to convince you that your brand needs to be on social media. While it’s true that your social efforts don’t garner the same visibility they once did, social media is still vital for driving engagement, site traffic, and social proof.
5) Brand Advocacy Marketing Campaigns
Let’s be honest, paying for all your site traffic isn’t an option for most brands. Not only is it expensive, but it usually takes multiple site visits before a customer takes the plunge and puts down that credit card (and you’ll have to pay for each of those visits). Here’s where advocacy marketing can make a huge lift in your store’s bottom line. Conversion rates for advocacy and third-party sourced marketing are almost 3x higher than conversion rates from paid media. Also, people are 92% more likely to trust a product recommendation from a friend or family then they are from a brand, which can help to shorten the consideration and research phase of a customer’s journey.
In an advocacy marketing, your top fans self-select to join your brand’s advocacy program. Once a member, they receive an email every time your brand has some new content or sales announcement to share. The advocate then shares that content to their own personal social networks, where it is seen by their friends and family. And voila! That piece of content gets seen by more potential customers, and you didn’t even have to push that “Boost” button. (Want to learn more about Advocacy Marketing Campaigns? Check out our blog post here.)
SocialToaster + E-Commerce = Winning Partners
While Amazon is one of the most effective sales channels available, it can’t be your only option. To be successful, your brand needs to formulate and execute a strategy that drives traffic to your dedicated e-commerce website.
Ready to get started, let SocialToaster work with you to develop a custom advocacy marketing strategy. Get started today: email or call us today to talk to one of our advocacy experts or sign up for a free demo.