Brand building on Amazon

Establishing a bankable brand on Amazon is all about building trust. Affordable pricing doesn’t guarantee better sales if the quality of your product isn’t up to expectations. 

Sellers face a dilemma when it comes to online advertising and brand image creation. On the one hand, the messaging should be accessible and easy to understand. On the other hand, customers shouldn’t feel deceived. Navigating this is a fine balance. 

This tightrope walk between expectation and reality, brand advertising, and brand perception is a key factor. It has a huge role to play in sales and page views. 

So how do you make your brand credible, so that it inspires confidence in new customers and fosters loyalty in old ones? This is what we’re covering in this article.

Customers come first

Amazon as a platform has always been customer-oriented. While a major portion of the online market that makes up Amazon is dominated by big brands, it’s the customers who come first and decide who to buy from. 

This is also why it works great for both well-known brands and small-scale sellers alike to grow faster. The key deciding factor is how well they cater to customers. Which leads us to the question: what are the different ways in which we can build a customer-centric brand on Amazon, from the ground up? 

Where do you start?

To begin, big brands have the added advantage of recognition that helps boost sales on Amazon. But for the most part, the platform has enough opportunities where sellers that start out small can grow quickly. 

Branding tips for growth on Amazon

Reviews are the new word-of-mouth

We mentioned how Amazon is mostly oriented towards customers. It’s popular because shoppers find what they’re looking for on the platform instantly. The key to improving your brand is listening to your customers. Pay attention to the feedback you get, both on-site and on socials, offline and online. 

On the one hand, negative reviews help you fix things about your product that are causing you to lose sales. At the same time, positive reviews are instrumental in instilling confidence. They do most of your work for you when it comes to building the brand. 

This is why we often stress how important it is to focus on reviews and respond or interact wherever necessary. 

Branding isn’t a one-sided affair. It runs on trust and there needs to be a positive relationship with customers for your business to grow. 

Instilling confidence

The more reviews your listing has, the more confident customers feel about your brand. It gives a sense of reliability that is absent if your page is fairly new and the product doesn’t have a significant number of reviews. It follows that customers might feel skeptical about buying from a seller with scarce feedback. 

Even anonymous reviews tend to make people feel at ease. It’s usually the fact that so many users have tried the product out that helps. Customers see it as a different form of vetting products. 

Like we mentioned in a previous article on the importance of Amazon reviews, it’s critical to make sure your customers don’t forget to leave a review after they make a purchase. Follow up on them via email. 

While product images give your audience a first impression of what to expect, it’s the reviews that help them form an opinion and eventually decide whether or not they should buy the product. 

Representing products realistically

This is a point we mentioned previously as well. Make sure the product images you use are authentic and accurate. Aesthetic licence is okay but be careful not to misrepresent your product. Stock photos are more recognizable than you think and customers have a way of spotting them out. Try to be real, not surreal. 

Offering easy contact information

It is often very difficult to get in touch with sellers when there’s an issue with the product. eCommerce sites are tricky that way. Offering your customers real contact information and providing them with real-time service can help alleviate some of these problems. 

Make sure the contact information you provide is in a medium they’ll instantly trust and can verify. Customers can be skeptical if it’s an email ID or website query form alone because people rarely respond to these. On the other hand, if it’s a phone number that’s active, that could make a real difference. 

Respond in detail

Refer to other exemplary brand FAQs and try to provide detailed explanations for potential questions your customers may have. Be extra thorough with the information. Also, focus on clarity and avoid obscure or vague word choices. 

Standing out with special deals

Mentioning a key aspect that makes the new business stand out, special offers, and seasonal discounts can be great for branding. It broadens your appeal and gets the word out faster. Make sure you have a solid plan for providing special coupons and other offers, especially to loyal customers or shoppers making a big purchase. It works as a great incentive. 

Amazon’s “Lightning Deals”

Amazon offers a special promotion called Lightning Deals. It basically lists your product page on the Amazon deals features. It helps get customers who are looking for great offers to spot your brand and distinguishes you as a seller. 

The eligibility criteria are as follows:

  • The product must have a sales history and be prime eligible. 
  • Sellers must abide by Amazon’s pricing rules. You can’t overprice or underprice the product beyond stipulated standards. 
  • A 3.5-star rating is a must at the very least. 

Reflecting your brand with personalization

This is an often-overlooked strategy. Branding is all about giving yourself a distinct identity. Instead of marketing your product the generic way, think of things you can do to make your content more interesting. This could be a set of unique features in the website, a recurring color scheme, a brand theme that’s repeated frequently, etc. 

Customers often sense an almost robotic kind of detachment from sellers when they communicate. Try to interact and connect with customers on a much more personal level, by responding to their feedback and following up on them with emails. If the customer raises a valid issue, address it. 

Also, dial down the overly formalized tone of communication. You don’t have to be too simplistic with your emails but it doesn’t have to be all business either. Save that for more professional settings, like an investment pitch or a tax query. 

When you interact with customers, keep things friendly, amicable, and be considerate. Don’t make demands for their attention, request it. And if they do respond, make sure you express your appreciate for it. 

It’s also good to speak to customers on a first-name basis, while being respectful. If you can afford to, go ahead and offer them free samples if they are extra-loyal customers. 

Automate review requests

You can automate a system that sends follow-up emails to customers every time they make a purchase, to request their review. This way you can keep track of individual sales. 

Note that reviews should come from actual customers. Asking your family or friends to drop a review is not only dishonest but also easily spotted.

Off-site campaigns

A lot of your marketing can take place offline and off Amazon. Email campaigns are a great example of this. Not only can you develop a more personal relationship with your customers through customer-oriented messaging, but you can also offer them special discounts on bulk deals that you wouldn’t have been able to on Amazon. 

There’s nothing wrong with using Amazon as a platform to attract leads if you can offer them a better deal. It gets more traffic to your website, socials and can also boost positive reviews on Amazon itself. 

If you’re not sure how to approach email marketing, you could give online templates a try. A lot of them are free and some of the really good paid software have ideal automation features. As long as you have a solid long-term plan, it’s worth a shot, especially when you’re starting out. 

Customer help desks and staff

Customer support can be time-consuming. If the calls you’re getting are relentless, it might be a good idea to designate a separate staff member or hire for this particular task. It keeps the brand/customer relationship positive and healthy. 

When you send buyers a confirmation email, attach a link that directs them to your customer support portal or help line. Let them know that you’re there to clear any queries or assist them with issues. It gives them confidence that they can expect proactive customer service at a more personal level. This may contrast with Amazon’s existing customer support, which might not be as deeply involved as your brand could be. 

Amazon’s special programs

Referral programs are a great way to boost customers. There are incentives to get buyers talking about your product, relating their own experience with your brand to friends and family, in exchange for special discounts and offers. 

Gaining subscribers

If the product you’re selling is renewed every month, like a topical cream or something else, then subscription models are a great idea. You basically give customers a discounted offer for booking the products in advance, every week or month as required. It guarantees payment well ahead of delivery and promises customer loyalty for a designated period of time. 

Amazon offers sellers a special subscription box option where customers can apply directly. The eligibility criteria include having an active seller account and being capable of shipping to all US states. With the exception of a few reserved categories where you need to secure prior approval, Amazon doesn’t charge any extra fees for curating and running your own subscription service on the website. 

Rewarding loyalty

Loyalty programs give customers something better to work toward and look forward to. This could be a better deal, a special offer, or exclusive access. Your loyalty program doesn’t have to cost a lot of money–the best programs offer something personal and enticing for their customers.

The loyalty program process is usually arranged as a point system where customers are rewarded for their continuing loyalty to the brand. The notion of exclusive benefits works well if you can find a good balance between escalating rewards and purchasing points. 

The key to succeeding in this area is proper research-backed planning. Otherwise, you might end up being too liberal with how you reward customers which leads to diminishing returns. 

Loyalty programs often encourage repeat purchasing, and the idea of benefits that keep on the building might appeal to a wider customer base. 

Persistence in marketing

Establishing a strong marketing presence requires persistence. You need to be relentless. This doesn’t in any way mean bombarding your customer’s email with promotional messages. That’s often the exact opposite of good marketing. 

What we mean instead is that you need to consistently be engaged in marketing so that you can fine-tune it according to the latest trends and customer preferences. It’s about learning directly from the customer and evolving your outreach to what is best for your customers and your brand. Referral programs, website landing pages, retention plans such as subscription offers, and other loyalty-rewarding activities all add up to a strong marketing program. 

The more your audience grows, the more their advocacy for your brand should grow along with it. 

Leverage off-site brand presence

Amazon has several programs in place to help both upcoming and new brands grow on the platform. Brand stores give you a space where customers can shop, pick and choose from an entire lineup of your products. 

The platform is also geared towards supporting brands to engage audiences with their stories. Features such as FAQs, videos, images, and more all enable you to craft your brand’s presence on Amazon in line with your own vision and the insights you receive from customers. There’s also plenty of freedom when it comes to controlling product listing pages.

Monitoring traffic

A great way to perfect your branding is by recognizing where your traffic is coming from. You can then customize the Amazon landing page to attract interested customers and also appeal to a broader audience base. 

“Traffic” in this case could be from within the platform itself, such as clicks and views from sponsored ads. We’ve discussed advertising in the previous lesson

Traffic can also be from external sources such as search results on Google or social media such as Instagram promotions. 

Identifying the source is key to finding out what makes your brand appeal to a certain audience. It also allows you to rethink ways to reconfigure your messaging if things aren’t going as well as you expected. 

Audience profiling

The key to effective branding on Amazon usually revolves around content. And the most winning feature of any good content is always its focus. You need to have a specific audience in mind just like you have a specific product in hand. 

Find out how the product you’re selling can really make a difference and help fulfil the customer’s needs. Your goal isn’t to distract or divert the customer away from what’s essential. Instead, your focus should be on the pain point.

Listing product ingredients, product build or any other feature is irrelevant if you don’t explain how it benefits the audience in tangible terms. This is the most crucial aspect of branding that a lot of first-time sellers get wrong

So remember to stay focused on what the end result is for the customer and see how such an approach affects your branding. 

This includes:

Keeping track of the main features your target audience is interested in. Also keep track of key search words your customers are using, both on search engines and on Amazon. 

Combining brand messaging and product messaging

There’s a point of overlap and a point of distinction between brand messaging and product messaging. With product messaging you’d be focusing entirely on the product itself. 

Brand messaging is more about your reliability as a seller and the image you want to project onto the platform. 

To simplify things, product messaging is about convincing customers to buy the product, and brand messaging is about convincing them to trust the brand. 

Perfecting a cohesive brand story

Try to make all elements work together to form a coherent and consistent brand message. Customers will just as easily equate your product with the brand as they will equate your messaging with the product sometimes. This is why it needs to be uniform. Focus on delivering what you promise. 

Listing page optimization

The only access most customers have to you is through your product detail pages. A lot of them won’t spend time browsing your website to check out how well-established you are. The brand image and aesthetic of your project on the listing page is one of the only spaces where you get to interact with most customers.

This is why it’s critical to make sure customers have a positive experience. From optimizing images and copy to providing contact information and getting in touch with them through email, make sure you’re actively involved throughout. We’ve discussed the different ways you can optimize your product listing in the previous lessons. 

Relevance of quality over appearance

Here’s a simple yet effective point worth noting: Branding isn’t all about the name. Yes, it’s important choose something clear and memorable. But at the same time, it’s a minor issue to get worked up over if your product itself doesn’t do much for you. 

Effective branding is about improving the product and the way you market it. If the product is bad or if your interactions are half-hearted, then it doesn’t matter what you call your company. This will have very little to do with how your customers perceive you.

Timely responses and resolutions

Oftentimes, timely customer support on your end can save your brand from getting a bad review on Amazon or an angry rant on social media. This is why a lot of your success on Amazon can depend on the groundwork you’ve done off the site. Make sure that just as you’re working on your brand image on the site, you’re also ensuring a superior customer experience from start to finish. 

Packaging says almost as much as the product

Poor packaging is an instant downer for customers. Your product could be great, but your packaging needs to reflect that. At the end of the day, what you’re selling will speak for itself. But investing a bit of time and money into making your product look presentable says a lot about your brand. And that’s why it’s important. 

This isn’t solely about keeping the item safe and intact either. Great packaging is part of the customer experience. It adds something to your brand equity. Even if no one mentions the packaging in the reviews, great packaging is something customers notice and appreciate. 

Over-competitiveness is overrated

Remember that brand growth is usually a step-by-step process. Yes, there are several overnight success stories of many entrepreneurs. But there is also an overwhelming number of stories that begin with years of relentless hard work and smart planning. 

It’s human nature to aspire to be the best. But you need to be willing to work just as efficiently, if not as hard, to achieve those goals. There’s no shortage of really smart ideas and smart theories when it comes to business. But there’s rarely enough action to accompany it. 

Branding doesn’t have to be about coming up with a unique idea that’s wholly original. Everyone finds inspiration from someplace else. Branding is more about taking pre-existing ideas and making them your own. Making them more efficient, more appealing, and more beneficial. 

Handing half your marketing to the audience

There’s often this misconception that heavy marketing generates results. That isn’t always true. There are plenty of big-budget campaigns that have failed. The problem isn’t the scale or scope of your advertising. 

The key isn’t to convince every single person to buy from you. It’s to convince enough people so that they can influence others and do part of the marketing for you. In other words, find ways to get enough customers who will loyally advocate for your brand and recommend you to others. 

Start out small and let things grow from there. For instance, set up offers for bulk purchases and special deals for customers who want to cross-sell your product. This way, you get other sellers to carry your brand. 

Furthermore, you might need to meet people in person and go beyond the veil of online business to make a proper impression. 

With minimal expense comes better pricing

The great thing about selling products under your own brand instead of as a retailer is: the absence of the middle man. You get a bigger cut of the profits. Which gives you enough leeway to underprice your product, gain a bigger market and still retain more in returns. This can in turn distinguish you as an affordable brand that caters to a broader customer base.

Brand perception does matter

Reputation matters when you’re a brand, more so than when you’re simply retailing. This is because it’s easy to assign the blame for any negative experience to a name. This is why you should be extra careful when you deal with dissatisfied customers. Be quick to address legitimate complaints and resolve valid concerns. You’re going to have to get involved and do damage control if a customer is sent the wrong size or wrong color variant of the product . 

In an age of social media influencers and cancel culture, be cautious who you team up with. Make sure that they share the same values as you or at least aren’t someone divisive. Your brand can be implicated by mere association.

It’s important to stand by your principles and not compromise on them for clout. Don’t partner up with someone who doesn’t reflect your brand values to take advantage of their platform power. This will do more harm than good.

The four crucial stages in customer loyalty: From discovery to advocacy

Customers go through certain phases as they grow loyal to a brand. Initially, they discover you, be it through a random search, a targeted ad, or a recommendation. Once they do they consider buying your product and once they decide, they make the purchase. The final stage is advocacy. This is where a satisfied customer recommends your brand to someone else or leaves a good review for the product on social media, Amazon, Google, etc. 

Now when it comes to branding, you need to do the groundwork that corresponds to each one of the above stages. You need to actively campaign and market your product across channels so that target customers can discover you. 

The content and visuals of the product should be compelling enough for customers to consider making a purchase. The pricing and buying process should be smooth for the transition. And finally, the product should deliver what you’ve promised to ensure customer satisfaction. Finally, you need to follow up on buyers to remind them and encourage them to leave feedback or review. 

That’s where the bulk of your branding efforts should be. And it doesn’t get any simpler than that. 

Final takeaway

The key takeaway here is that you need to be active on multiple channels where you can push your brand and market your products. Even as you grow on Amazon, you shouldn’t limit yourself to the platform alone.

Use every means at your disposal to reinforce a consistent brand image, tone, and value that customers can relate to, no matter where they find you.

To sum up, great branding isn’t solely about projecting an ideal image in your audience’s mind. It’s about providing the best possible customer experience, letting them form their own conclusions, and then learning where to improve from the feedback you get. 

Like anything related to sales or marketing, the best approach is to think from the customer’s point of view and live up to those expectations. 

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