How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Can Thrive on Amazon

Marketing

Amazon wants to play nice with small and medium-sized businesses. The technology giant has launched a new section on its site, Storefronts, designed to promote small and medium-sized businesses in the United States. The Storefronts portal directs Amazon site visitors to 20,000 small and medium-sized U.S. businesses, including women-owned businesses and family-focused businesses.

About 300,000 U.S. small businesses operate on Amazon, according to TechCrunch. Storefronts should help them in a number of ways such as:

  • Providing one simple portal for shoppers who want to support smaller businesses, thus making it easier to find them.
  • Categorizing smaller businesses by different areas of interest to enrich the discovery process. In addition to family-focused and women-owned businesses, Amazon curates other categories such as Halloween and Back to School.

The move should be a win/win for Amazon and small and medium-sized businesses:

  • Amazon strengthens its position against competitors such as eBay that have attracted smaller businesses.
  • Smaller businesses enjoy more visibility and support.

Smaller businesses can win in Amazon’s world by:

  • Treating Amazon as one important element of your commerce ecosystem. Amazon should complement your presence on sites such as eBay, Etsy, and Facebook, in addition to your own website and brick-and-mortar storefront.
  • Capitalizing on Amazon’s advertising tools. As we have noted on our blog, Amazon offers tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is rolling out an advertising program to support the launch of Storefronts, including a testimonial from Michigan-based Little Flower Soap Co. According to Little Flower co-founder Holly Rutt, “Since we started selling on Amazon in October 2016, our sales have nearly doubled. Due to our success, we have been able to hire new team members from our community, including full and part time jobs.”

For more insight into how to succeed on Amazon, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Why WhatsApp Matters to Advertisers

Marketing

WhatsApp is one of the most rapidly evolving and exciting apps on the market. The platform recently launched several new features for iOS users, such as status search, notification extension, and suspicious link detection. And with more than 1.5 billion users, WhatsApp is also arguably the most popular messaging app in the world. These points are all well and good, but does WhatsApp matter to advertisers?

Short answer: yes.

As I discuss in a new Adweek Social Pro Daily column, Facebook is making some big moves to monetize WhatsApp. For instance, the newly released WhatsApp Business API (application-programming interface) will make it easier for companies to communicate with current and potential customers through end-to-end encrypted messages. Businesses will now be able to send customized notifications with relevant non-promotional content such as shipping confirmations, appointment reminders, or event tickets, all at a flat rate. According to Sale Stock, a company that uses WhatsApp to deliver product recommendations, order updates and customer service, customers read 90 percent of delivered messages.

My column discusses in more detail how and why Facebook is monetizing WhatsApp. Meanwhile, I believe businesses need to understand how WhatsApp can help them improve both their branding and online commerce strategies. Consider this: people spent 85 billion hours in WhatsApp in the past three months — versus 31 billion in Facebook.

Although Facebook Messenger has a larger base of users in the United States, WhatsApp dominates the messaging app space in countries like Malaysia, Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico. In those countries, users rely on WhatsApp to share pictures, videos, as well as breaking news. As I discussed in a previous column, WhatsApp is also used around the globe for informal business, connecting local buyers with sellers.

Local businesses in the tourism and restaurant industries are already adopting this tool to connect with customers and prospects. Larger business-to-business and business-to-consumer companies (especially those with interests in the markets mentioned above) should consider implementing WhatsApp in their business development and PR efforts, as the app’s popularity seems to be as high as its potential of driving business.

WhatsApp is wide open for businesses. Contact True Interactive to learn how you can win on WhatsApp.

Google Gets More Targeted with Audiences

Google Gets More Targeted with Audiences

Marketing

Google continues to place more focus on audience-based targeting instead of keyword search. An example is the recent launch of the Home Owner Audience product.

Home Owner Audience makes it possible for businesses to target ads to people looking for home services such as plumbing and painting. At True Interactive, we’ve been using the product in beta and have been seeing positive results. The product is useful because it allows advertisers to exclude similar but irrelevant audiences such as apartment renters who are more likely to rely on their landlords to manage in-home repairs.

We’ve also been seeing Google display audiences in more refined ways. Through Google’s In-Market Audiences product, advertisers can target, say, people searching for Acuras in a certain zip code based on the search activity of the car shopper. A product such as In-Market Audiences has strong potential for any high-consideration product such as real estate or financial services, where consumers need to do considerable online research before making a purchase.

The move toward stronger audience targeting started when Google began to cut back on long-term keywords as a focus and began offering more demographic targeting. The idea is to hit a targeted audience with more focused, highly qualified keywords to drive a more qualified audience to advertisers.

The implication for brands: start sharing your customer demographics in more detail with your agencies, or, if you don’t have an agency, with your paid search team. Doing so will help you drive new business by expanding campaigns that drive a more qualified audience to you.

Contact True Interactive for more insight. We’re here to help.

Image source: https://pixabay.com/en/target-goal-aiming-dartboard-aim-1551492/

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Amazon’s Advertising Business Explodes

Marketing

 

Is there anything Amazon cannot do?

In its second quarter earnings announcement, Amazon reported another stellar performance, with earnings that far exceeded analysts’ projections. Its growth was uniformly strong across its businesses, ranging from its cloud computing operation, Amazon Web Services, to its core retail store.

The most intriguing aspect of Amazon’s growth is the way its advertising arm is faring.  As Reuters reported, “Highly profitable ad sales were a bright spot last quarter. The company said revenue from the category and some other items grew 132 percent to $2.2 billion. Analysts were expecting $2.1 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.”

The company has now been profitable for three straight years. And although online advertising is not the biggest reason for that profitability, it’s becoming crucial to the company’s future, as Amazon continues to look for ways to counterbalance eroding margins from retail. What’s more, advertising growth means Amazon threatens Google and Facebook, with Facebook’s stock being battered in recent days as its advertising business faces a downturn. The Wall Street Journal sums up Amazon’s advertising growth as follows:

Amazon’s advantage is that it can tell advertisers when a consumer bought a product, showing an ad’s effectiveness. Amazon also is attracting spending that would have traditionally taken place in brick-and-mortar stores to ensure good shelf placement.

“Stepping back, it’s now a multibillion-dollar business for us,” Mr. Olsavsky said.

The hundreds of thousands of customers buying up ads include merchants and brands selling on the site, as well as authors and other advertisers who want to reach Amazon customers. The company is going to keep working on automating more of the process and inventing new products, too.

As we have noted on our blog, Amazon is growing its advertising services the way Google has always done: by offering tools that make it easier to rely on Amazon as an advertiser. For instance, Amazon’s Marketing Services and Advertising Platform products offer options ranging from Sponsored Products (a keyword-based campaign promoting a single product) to Amazon Managed Service (Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf). These products make it possible to capitalize on Amazon’s increasing popularity as a search platform.

Amazon is building a strong advertising ecosystem that is now extending beyond its core website. As Amazon develops more advertising products, the company will continue to threaten Facebook and Google. Our advice to clients: pay attention to Amazon’s growth and begin to experiment with Amazon advertising if you have not done so already. Get smart on the platform. For more insight, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.

Understanding the Amazon Advertising Powerhouse

Understanding the Amazon Advertising Powerhouse

Marketing

Amazon is moving into advertising with breathtaking speed. In doing so, the company is solidifying its position as Google’s biggest advertising and search rival. In May of this year, Amazon stopped advertising on Google with the Product Listing Ads (PLAs). Shortly after that, Amazon announced it would begin testing a display ad format with select merchants that follows shoppers around the internet. And Amazon is reaping the benefits of its current advertising offerings, reporting more than $2 billion in advertising sales in Q1 2018.

As an advertising platform, Amazon will continue to grow. Now more than ever, it’s important for businesses to consider incorporating advertising on Amazon into your digital marketing game plan even if you don’t have products for sale on Amazon for the simple reason that Amazon has become such a popular platform for people to search for things to buy. But it’s not always easy to understand where to start. Here’s a quick overview of tools available to you to gain more visibility on Amazon:

Untangling Amazon Advertising Solutions

Amazon has collected its advertising services under Amazon Media Group (AMG), a premium solution for venders to create campaigns and run advertisements on Amazon. Underneath the AMG umbrella are Amazon Marketing Service (AMS) and Amazon Advertising Platform (AAP).

Amazon Marketing Services

AMS ad formats are based on a pay-per-click model. AMS consists of three main ad types:

  • Product Display: uses a display ad to promote a product, based on product or interest based-targeting.
  • Sponsored Products: keyword-based campaign promoting a single product.
  • Headline Search: promotes three or more products using a keyword campaign structure.

These ad formats are eligible to show on Amazon, either above, below, or alongside search results; in the product detail pages; reviews and other offer listing pages; and in Amazon-generated marketing emails. To see a more thorough breakdown of these PPC formats and placements, read True Interactive’s Tips on Incorporating Amazon into Your E-Commerce Strategy post.

            Amazon Advertising Platform

APP charges using a cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM) model. For AAP, there are two options for advertisers:

  • Amazon Managed Service: Amazon manages display ads on an advertiser’s behalf.
  • ESS (Enterprise Self Service): A self-service portal allowing agencies to access Amazon’s Display and Remarketing features on the behalf of brands.

AAP uses the following ad types: desktop display, mobile banner, mobile interstitial, image and text, and in-stream videos. Advertisers can also include targeting layers such contextual, demographics, geographic, time of day and device.

Digging Deeper into Amazon Marketing Services and Amazon Advertising Platform

Amazon also has the ability to retarget based on either a pixel placed on the brand site, or purchase and browsing behavior based on product, brand, and similar product lists. The ads will show within Amazon; on Amazon-owned sites (IMDB and audible, websites that are part of the AMG ad network); and on the home or lock screens of the Kindle, Fire Table and Fire TV.

For people familiar with Google advertising solutions, think of AMS as search ads and AAP as ads typically run on the GDN or programmatic ad networks. This distinction is very important when it comes to forming an Amazon advertising strategy. Your approach depends on what goal you are trying to achieve and where in the search funnel you would like to hit consumers:

  • For brand awareness, using the advertising network and placements available in AAP would be a good way to reach new customers.
  • If an advertiser that wants to capture people’s interest in the consideration, purchase intent, and purchase experience phases, a combination of AAP and AMS ad formats could be deployed, bringing potential new customers to a purchase decision.
  • And in that final stage, the actual purchase and product display ads through AMS are a good way to bring people back to the products they’ve show interest in before to make that final purchase.

If you’re interested in advertising on Amazon, but need help deciding where or how to begin, contact us at True Interactive, where we can guide you through the entire process.

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

The Importance of Typography in Marketing

Marketing

Since 2010, the number of websites in existence has increased from 200 million to nearly 1.8 billion, according to Internet Live Stats. How is a brand supposed to stand out? We’ve often discussed on our blog the importance of using strong visuals. In addition, brands need to take a careful look at the typography on their site. Typography is an analog-era term referring to the style, arrangement, or appearance of typeset matter. But typography also applies to digital content in a very important way.

When you look at content on a webpage, your eyes tend to jump around from object to object. Our job as marketers and designers is to make sure each webpage is well balanced in order to increase maximum viewability. In return, a visually appealing webpage creates more engagement with users and increases the amount of views, clicks, and conversions. Users are also more likely to remember content, images, or the brand name when the webpage is more visually appealing — thus, creating more brand engagement. Here is where typography comes into play.

What Is Typography in the Digital Age?

Typography consists of all the written elements on a page that make up its style. These can include specific colors, typefaces, the space between characters and paragraphs, the font style, size, and weight, and other embellishments.

In a sense, typography is a balancing act. The content and images on a page need to be perfectly balanced in order for the content to maximize the space on the page and to appear visually attractive to the consumer. Each element needs to be executed to perfection in order to create this essence of balance.

Typography and Brands

Typography is especially important for brands to engage a user. The typography a brand selects says a lot about the brand itself: its name, values, style, etc. A livelier typeface, such as Disclaimer or Gatsby, suggests that the brand contains an element of fun and flair. A more elegant serif or cursive font, such as Adelaide or Hamilton Grand, suggests a more sophisticated style from the company. The same goes for serif and non-serif fonts. The fonts can give off a more serious versus youthful vibe.

Brands need to be consistent with typography, including considerations such as the color, word choice, typeface, size, and spacing. Without these there would be no clear focus, and the webpage content would appear cluttered. Here are a few examples of considerations brands need to keep in mind when choosing typography:

  • Readability. Tracking, kerning, and leading are equally if not more important than selecting the most suitable typeface for the brand’s style. These three elements of typography help with the readability and legibility of the content. They maximize the spacing of the letters, words, and paragraphs so that the reader is able to read with ease. Additionally, a piece of content that is easier to read will draw in more readers.
  • Hierarchy. With typography, it is important to maintain a balanced type hierarchy. The goal is to direct the user to the most important points on the page. The most important element on the page should be the most dominant item on the page, or the easiest for the eyes to locate. Following a hierarchy allows for the readers to read with ease and locate the most important elements on the page first, with all other elements following depending on level of importance. If the title or main headline is the most important message, then it should be the easiest for the eyes to locate on the page, with sub-headlines, descriptive text, images, captions, etc., following. The hierarchy does not need to follow this order specifically. It can vary depending on the level of importance to each business.

Other factors that influence typography include the use of responsive design. A site that uses responsive design adapts to the size of the screen regardless of the device a person uses to view a site. A webpage that uses responsive design also demonstrates good hierarchy and maintains a sense of flow and balance, drawing the reader’s eyes to the most important aspects of the page first. Some of my favorite examples include the Milwaukee Ballet, Food Sense, and Forefathers Group.

The Importance of Consistency

Although this post has focused on the use of typography on websites, businesses should choose typography that creates brand consistency everywhere people encounter the brand, such as webpage, business cards, flyers, posters, etc. Everything should create a sense of overall flow and should be recognizable to the brand itself. In order to maintain this “flow,” marketers should familiarize themselves with the brand’s standards guide, and if the brand does not currently use a guide, the company should create one.

A brand standards guide contains all of the typography elements that pertain to a brand: size, color, tracking, kerning and leading, typeface or a specific font style, as well as guidelines around the company logo such as where to use a logo. By being familiar with the guide, marketers can create consistency. If a company is looking to rebrand, it is also important for marketers to consult the branding guide in order to revamp the new brand but keep intact the integrity of the old brand. Doing so ensures that the new brand does not stray too far from the current view and perception of the company and maintains brand permanence.

Company Examples

Amazon

Amazon is an example of a company that uses elements of its logo across multiple media. For example, the packaging calls out Amazon as well as directs the user to the Amazon website. The packaging also uses the same arrow on the box that it does within the brand logo, going one step further to create a more memorable brand experience and demonstrating consistency across all markets.

Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has always used typography and color to distinguish between various products. The original Coca-Cola logo uses a lively script font unique to the Coca-Cola brand. Diet Coke uses a similar script to distinguish the “diet” aspect of the product and then uses a modernized serif font that intertwines creating that same script feel. The colors used in the cans are unique to the flavor of the drink. The website also uses these colors to tie the brand together. On the homepage, silver is used as the main background color, with black as a secondary color for type and other graphic elements, and red being used to indicate the most important features on the page. Each product’s subpage is unique to the specific product itself and is similar to the can in which each drink is sold. Coca-Cola uses different dominant colors for each: Coca-Cola red, Diet Coke silver, and Coke Zero black. This application demonstrates good brand consistency since consumers are familiar to the style of each can.

True Interactive

We recently rebranded from KeywordFirst to True Interactive. While rebranding the company, we maintained the integrity of the old brand by continuing certain aspects into the new brand. Our colors remained the same—orange and grey—as did the placement of the type. The main difference is that the style of the type was revamped.

Across all our social media we use similar profile pictures of our logo that contain the full logo or portions of it. Our cover photos are also consistent across all media using either a photo that depicts our brand in a clear and concise manner, or colors that are consistent with our company vibe. Our website uses the same orange and grey colors, as well as the same font style, to create a sense of unity across all of our pages. 

How well does your choice of typography reflect your brand?  The answer may not be obvious especially if you are undergoing a major corporate change such as a rebranding or a merger. If you’re not sure about the answer, it might be time to take a closer look at what your brand stands for and how well your style reflects your brand values.

Apple Plays Catch-up with Voice at WWDC

Apple Plays Catch-up with Voice at WWDC

Marketing

At Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), Apple showcased a new and improved Siri voice assistant, which was a must-do for a company that pioneered voice only to fall behind competitors such as Amazon and Google.

As we have discussed on our blog, voice is without question an important wave of innovation fueling how businesses interact with their customers. In her widely read Internet Trends report, Kleiner Perkins Venture Capitalist Mary Meeker said, “With voice, we’ve hit technology liftoff with word accuracy, and we’ve certainly hit product liftoff with Amazon Echo’s install base estimated to be around 30 million plus.”

Indeed, adoption of smart speakers alone has skyrocketed in the United States. According to NPR/Edison Research findings, 39 million Americans owned smart speakers in January 2018, an increase of 128 percent from January 2017. Businesses such as Jim Beam are literally figuring out their brand voices through voice assistants. Jim Beam, for instance, offers a playful bourbon container that relies on a voice assistant.

Apple knows voice is the future, but the company has struggled to shape that future. Its Siri voice assistant is widely viewed as a weak alternative to Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant, and the HomePod smart speaker didn’t launch until 2018 (to tepid reviews). At WWDC, Apple did not unveil any dramatic breakthroughs in voice, but it did showcase some tangible improvements to Siri.

First off, Apple has made Siri more efficient by incorporating short-cut commands through an app known literally as Shortcuts. With Shortcuts, users can rely on commonly used commands that Siri learns to act on. The idea is to make Siri more convenient. As Mark Vena of Moor Insights & Strategy noted, “Shortcuts could also be used to help proactively plan for your day. For example, if you were about to go to the beach, Siri might suggest that you check the weather and remember to bring a beach towel with you.”

But as Vena also wrote, Amazon and Google have already developed a short-cut capability in their own voice assistants. The more interesting development from WWDC is how Apple is making Siri smarter. The voice assistant can actually learn from the way you use Siri to suggest to you activities based on your habits. For instance, Siri might suggest to a cup of coffee at a time of day when the user often seeks coffee. But here again, Apple is achieving status quo instead of leading. As Kevin C. Tofel wrote on Stacey on IoT, “If you open the same exercise tracking app at roughly the same time and location — say at the gym at 5pm — Siri will eventually pop up a suggestion to open the app at the same time and place for you. This is similar to Google Assistant, which I love, but it’s just Siri starting to catch up since Google’s product  has done this for nearly five years now. In fact, I get my contextual alerts on the Apple Watch from the Google Assistant app today, although I’ll test Siri in this capacity once watchOS 5 arrives.”

Amazon is leading the marketplace for voice-based products and experiences and possesses a formidable platform with which to integrate voice to search, discover, and buy. Google and Microsoft are strong challengers. Apple is still catching up. But don’t count out Apple. The company has the money, talent, and patience to get where it needs to be.