The Amazon third-party marketplace can be a goldmine for e-commerce businesses due to the potential for passive, organic traffic. This is what every seller is gunning for: the top spot on the SERPs, and sales coming in while you sleep.
But in the evolving landscape of Amazon, there’s another form of traffic top sellers are going after, which could put your store over the top: external traffic. External traffic is powerful, it’s a way to create a gap between you and your competitors. And what’s more? Amazon loves it!
Read on to see why Amazon loves external traffic, and how you can start benefiting from this.
What Is External Traffic?
In case you’re new to the term: external traffic refers to people you send to your Amazon product from sources outside of Amazon.
Common examples are Facebook Ads, Google Ads, or your email list. And while these may be the most popular places to drive traffic from, the list of possible traffic sources is much greater.
It doesn’t even have to be online! You could theoretically send traffic from physical marketing, like a flier or packaging insert.
If you’re selling on your own site, all the sales you’re ever going to get will have to come from external traffic. On Amazon, you’re at an advantage, since you have the potential of organic sales from Amazon’s massive customer base.
However, external traffic still makes a great supplement to your organic Amazon sales, and can play a part in taking your business to the next level. Plus, Amazon welcomes external traffic with open arms.
Why Does Amazon Love External Traffic?
Many sellers claim that external traffic is great for ranking. While no one knows for sure the inner workings of the Amazon search & ranking algorithm, people claim sales from external traffic result in 3x the ranking power of organic search.
If this is to be believed, external traffic is a hugely powerful tool for boosting your rankings.
But why does Amazon value external traffic so much? Because you’re doing work and (usually) paying money to bring customers to them. It’s essentially free advertising for Amazon, so it makes perfect sense why they would want to encourage this.
A large part of Amazon’s growth is due to referral marketing. The Amazon associates program is a huge driver of traffic for Amazon, and referral fees for this program can be as much as 15%. When sellers drive traffic, there’s no cost to Amazon, which is why it’s so lucrative for them.
Additionally, Amazon is the best around at bringing back repeat customers. They know, if you come to Amazon and buy one thing, you’re probably going to be hooked. The value Amazon will get out of one customer you send to buy from your own store is much greater than you think.
To sum it up, you’re doing a huge favor to Amazon if you drive your own traffic, and they have good reason to incentivize this activity.
Why Sellers Should Love External Traffic
We’ve touched on the ranking power you get from external traffic, which is a big reason to want to incorporate this in your marketing strategy. However, external traffic helps you a lot outside of ranking. Driving your own traffic lets you build an audience, which is a powerful asset that 99% of sellers don’t have.
The biggest problem with selling on Amazon is that you don’t own your customers. Technically, anyone that buys from you is Amazon’s customer, not yours. This means you can’t retarget, up-sell, cross-sell, or do any kind of re-marketing to people who have bought from you.
However, you can if you drive your own traffic. Getting in front of the customer somewhere other than Amazon lets you capture contact details (such as email or ManyChat) and gather Facebook pixel data for retargeting, before they become Amazon’s customer (and thus “untouchable”).
Having captured this contact info before they got to Amazon, you’re free to market to them without breaking Amazon’s terms.
Having a customer list not only gives you much more marketing potential, such as the ability to run much cheaper product launches in the future, it also gives you a higher degree of control over your business. If anything goes wrong on Amazon, for example you get suspended, or targeted by shady tactics from black-hat sellers, you can pick up the pieces much easier using your list, and either re-launch or sell on your own site.
How To Start Driving Traffic
A lot of Amazon sellers will be new to driving traffic. After all, one of the benefits to selling on Amazon is that you can start an e-commerce store without much knowledge about audience building and marketing.
First, optimize your listing
One crucial step you must do before you send any traffic is to optimize your listing. Sending traffic to a listing with bad copy or poor images is just a waste of money, as people aren’t going to convert. Instead, you can expect them to click on one of the many sponsored/related products.
Go over your listing copy multiple times to ensure your copy is readable, persuasive, and optimized for sales. You want your product description and bullets to be easily read, scannable, and convince readers that they need your product.
Your images are super important as well. They should be clear, professional, and convey your product and its benefits in a good light.
Do a listing optimization audit yourself and be sure that your listing is as good as it can be before you start sending valuable traffic.
Pick a channel
Once your listing is ready to receive traffic, figure out how you’re going to do it. There are countless ways you can drive external traffic, but not all are suitable or the same level of effectiveness.
Facebook Ads are the best source of traffic for most sellers. Facebook has a huge user base for you to get in front of – no matter your target market, there’s a good chance you’ll be able to find them on Facebook.
Facebook also gives you very powerful targeting tools, which help you get your ads in front of the right people, faster. Few other platforms are as good for targeting as Facebook is.
Add in their Messenger platform, which is coming up as a popular way for sellers to engage with potential customers and launch products, and Facebook is quite clearly the go-to traffic platform for 99% of sellers.
Probably the most important part of a traffic campaign is targeting. If you put ads in front of the type of people who aren’t interested in your product, you’ll just waste a lot of money. Getting the right audience targeting is easier said than done, though.
You’ll have the best results with a starting point like customer emails or Facebook Pixel data. You can use this to build lookalike audiences, which are audiences based on Facebook profiles similar to the original audience (your email list for example). This works great because you’re targeting similar people to those who you already know are interested in what you have to sell.
Without the above assets, you can still build a lookalike audience if you have a history of sales on Amazon. You can download your sales reports from Amazon, and as long as you’re able to get information like buyers’ names and location, this can be uploaded to Facebook to build audiences.
Something solid like an email list or past sales data gives you a big head start on audience building compared to cold audiences, and can rapidly decrease the time and money you’ll spend when starting out.
Define your goals
One important part that a lot of people get wrong when driving external traffic is they don’t have a clear goal in mind. If you’re driving traffic just to drive traffic, your campaigns are likely to be too broad, with no focus.
Think about what you want to achieve. Do you want to generate sales and launch a new product? If so, put together a strategy to get a lot of people through your funnel, with a clear incentive to go on to Amazon and buy (like a discount code of 50-75% off).
Are you trying to build an email list? Something like a giveaway or contest might suit nicely. Get people to opt in with their email, with the potential of winning a free product, or something related to your niche.
Filter your traffic
One more mistake commonly made with external traffic is sending traffic straight to your Amazon listing. It’s best to filter your traffic by using an intermediate step, like a landing page or Messenger chatbot.
Sending traffic straight to Amazon means you can end up with a lot of clicks from people with low buyer intent, which in turn will tank your product’s conversion rate. As conversion rate is another big ranking factor, this can easily lead to a drop in rankings.
The other reason you want to add another step is to build your audience. This is one of the most valuable parts of driving your own traffic, but if you just give people a plain link to Amazon, you miss out.
A landing page with an email opt-in for a discount code is one of the most effective ways to do this. The discount gives a clear incentive to opt in to your list, as well as to go and buy on Amazon, while the landing page gives people enough information to filter serious buyers from those not ready to buy.
Testing and optimizing
Finally, a vital part of online marketing is testing. You’re never going to get it perfect on the first go – your audience targeting can be improved, your copy can be more optimized, different images might work better.
You want to constantly monitor, test and optimize your traffic campaigns. It’s normal for your ad spend to be quite high at first. But after isolating, testing and optimizing various elements, you can cut down how much you’re spending for each conversion, and get better results for less ad spend.
Today, with competition on Amazon at its highest, you need a way to separate yourself from the competition. That way is external traffic.
By driving your own traffic, you boost sales and rankings by doing something Amazon loves, while at the same time building a powerful customer list that gives you more options and control over how you grow in the future.
Take our advice on driving external traffic and you’ll be on your way to building a more than just another Amazon store.
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