Traffic is key to the success of your Amazon listings. More traffic means more sales. Most sellers, even beginners, know about the importance of search rankings as well as paid advertising. And while traffic coming from Amazon is critical for your products, many brands are now turning their attention to external traffic sources to help launch and sustain their products.
In this article, I'll look at the ways you can use external traffic, including Google, Facebook, and influencers, to help increase the probability of having a home-run product.
Why External Traffic Matters for Amazon
Doing everything you can to increase the visibility of your listings within organic search is absolutely the minimum table stakes for Amazon. This means optimized bullet points, descriptions, backend keywords, and, of course, amazing photography.
Ditto for paid traffic - if you're not utilizing ALL of the paid traffic mediums Amazon has launched. But when you do this, you run into two problems. First, you're only keeping up with what all the other sellers are doing. And second, when you're launching a product, it means there's already competitors ahead of you (unless you have one of those mythical unicorn products where you have NO competition).
By utilizing external traffic you can solve these predicaments. One of the biggest mistakes people make when selling on Amazon is trying to figure out ways to get their customers off Amazon and on to their own website. The problem is that on Amazon, as we all know, more sales means higher rankings. Every sale you divert from Amazon is robbing you of SEO juice on Amazon. That SEO juice is almost always more valuable than the 15% referral fee that you're saving by having people purchase directly from your website (there are exceptions, but they're few).
Yes, it sucks that you're expending considerable effort and money into building up Jeff's empire, but it's the reality of life. As I briefly alluded to in the intro, there are many different ways you can get eyeballs on your listing without relying on Amazon. What this means is that you don't need to rely on Amazon's algorithm (which favors established products) to help launch your products and, long term, you'll have more traffic going to your listings and driving more sales.
Let's discuss the most popular ways to drive traffic to your listings.
Facebook Ad Campaigns
Facebook paid advertising is arguably the most popular launch technique used by sellers. You can use Facebook in a very white hat way, or a very black hat way. The white hat way is to build an ad within Facebook targeting an applicable audience. Ideally, you have an existing audience (if you have a website, retargeting your pixeled audience is fantastic), but using Facebook's lookalike audience tool can yield fine results as well.
With the right creative (Facebook actually has a decent free ads bootcamp) you'll get people excited to buy your product. Once your creative is up, you can drive traffic to your listing either by sending people to a standalone landing page separate from Amazon (using a tool like Leadpages, Clickfunnels, or built from the ground up) OR directly to your Amazon listing page.
There are pros and cons to each way. Sending people directly to your Amazon page gets people as close to the checkout button on Amazon as possible. But it also potentially hurts your conversion rates by sending unqualified traffic to your listing who may be less likely to purchase than better-qualified traffic sent through a landing page. Also, you're stuck within the marketing confines of Amazon. By using a standalone landing page though, you can qualify your traffic better before sending it to Amazon and you can go as crazy as you like with marketing.
Some people also elect to give a substantial discount that is sent to the customer off of Amazon via gift card or PayPal to ensure they get full price credit for the sale. Some sellers combine this with aggressive review requests and incentivization, which are definitely a VERY BIG no-no with Amazon - there's no easier way to get your account banned in fact.
Google is the next big advertising medium, and while it's not quite as popular amongst Amazon sellers as Facebook, it can still be valuable. Google basically has two ad types that are popular amongst Amazon sellers: traditional search ads and shopping ads (there are other ad types too, but search and shopping are the most heavily used amongst Amazon sellers for their listings).
The main challenge with using either search or shopping ads on Google is that search is intent-based advertising. In other words, the user has to actively be searching for your product type. If it's a new product with no existing search demand, you won't get any traffic.
For our brands, what we do is to send our Google Ads traffic directly to our Shopify listings. On our Shopify listings we then have very prominent Calls-to-Action, trying to get people to buy on Amazon and not our website, although they can buy on both.
The good news with using Google Ads in the way described here is that you can pixel the audience so you can retarget them on Facebook (as well as Google). You may also be able to collect their emails to increase your marketing opportunities. Be careful to have any landing page you serve meet Google’s quality standards as it can result in either your ad or entire account being suspended.
Finally, influencers can be a huge source of traffic for your product listings if you use them the right way. A well-selected influencer in your space has incredible influence (hence the word influencer!) on the buying behaviour of the audience.
Most people work with influencers on either YouTube or Instagram, but an influencer can be anyone who has influence on an audience of people. The most common way to use an influencer is to have them do a product review of one of your items. On YouTube this can mean a product video review and on Instagram it can simply be an image or short clip with your product featured. The key to using influencers is to work with them while they are still affordable. Influencers now are celebrities within our societies and many of them have publicists and agents and demand A-lister like fees. However, small influencers (normally those with 10,000 'followers' or less) are often happy to give some love to your product (whether through a review or just a shout out) simply in return for free items.
There are websites that can help you find influencers, for example Famebit, but for our company, our VAs do cold outreach to smaller influencers, simply offering them free swag. It's more or less a spray-and-pray approach with cold outreach, but eventually you'll find influencers who are just excited to get your products for free.
Other Sources of Traffic
There's a ton of other sources of external traffic for your products outside of Google, Facebook, and influencers.
One of the most important is, of course, email. A high-converting list can bring you sales over and over and is one of the silver bullets for an Amazon seller with a large product catalog. Collecting emails is relatively simple as long as you have a website with a bit of traffic. Keeping your list active and engaged is another challenge though and involves consistently sending them high-quality emails and not just pitching your latest sale. This can largely be automated through flows and sequences (check out our guide to email automation).
Advertising your Amazon listings in non-online formats can work great as well. Cross-marketing your listings with inserts on your existing products can work phenomenally. Direct mail has a lot of untapped potential for sellers too, as do trade shows.
In addition to paid traffic and your own email list, organic search traffic from Google can also be an enormous source of traffic (and sales) to your Amazon listings. In fact, often the highest ranked products on Amazon are directly the result of those detail pages having a high ranking on Google. For example, for one of our fishing products, our Amazon listing page used to rank first for a very competitive fishing term on Google. We generated a huge number of sales from this traffic and subsequently ranked very highly on Amazon. Getting a high position on Google is a completely separate topic, but one of the most important factors is backlinking to your Amazon detail page and some of the tactics here can help with that, such as getting influencers to link directly to your Amazon product page.
The sad reality is that we're all now playing in Uncle Jeff's sandbox, and that means bringing all of our friends to his house, and not our own. While the lack of diversification in putting more eggs in Amazon's basket can be unnerving, the truth is that increasing your sales on Amazon, and subsequently organic rankings, can pay huge dividends.