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Amazon Has Less To Do With Sales on Site and Much To Do With Brand Building

May 27, 2015
Patrick Miller
Written By
Patrick Miller

In this new guest post, Patrick Miller of Flywheel Digital discusses the importance of Amazon as one of the biggest channels for brand building, and argues that businesses who view Amazon as just a retailer are missing out on a huge opportunity.

For CPG marketers and agencies, search and social are two of the most important brand strategies.  Typically they are looking at SEO/SEM at Google/Bing driving to and engaging with consumers with Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.

Agencies and brands are often ignoring, perhaps misunderstanding, the third most visited site in America (Alexa data)—Amazon.

A few years ago, Forrester Research found 30% of shoppers began research for his/her most recent online purchase at Amazon compared to 13% at Google/Bing.  Last October, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt said: “Our biggest search competitor is Amazon.”

So, let’s take a look at a high-frequency non-branded search, deodorant.

On Google we have 11 paid search ads:

On Amazon, where there are more product searches and a buy now button, not a single brand is bidding on the same term nor buying a sparkle campaign (there are some 3Ps on the sidebar, but that’s a different topic and not brand funded).

Additionally, since this is a non-branded search, the value of the acquisition is even greater.  If I’m a brand who then converts this non-branded search into a Subscribe and Save customer, I’ve basically created an annuity with an incredible lifetime value.  There is a huge first mover advantage for the brand that gets to Amazon CPC first.

On social, while brands invest more and more on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, etc., hoping to have a conversation with people who may one day buy their item, actual customers, who actually bought their items are discussing the products in detail over at Amazon.

Additionally and antithetical to the feed that gets pushed down, and down, Amazon reviews actually rise up when other shoppers find the reviews helpful.  So the value of a good review actually compounds over time—unlike the fleeting conversations on other social sites.

And if a brand comments on a review (note this study is not Amazon related), providing a response to “product misuse with guiding explanations,” Bazaar Voice found a 186% increase in purchase intent.

Here’s a look at what is currently the #1 grocery item.  Nearly 3,200 reviews and 40 answered questions.

What’s more, when one scrolls through the reviews, the second review is three years old:

What other social platform is enabling users to create such evergreen user-generated content?  If you deleted the buy now button, Amazon would be the social network every CPG would be investing in; with the buy button many marketers are quick to call investments a trade spend and put their money elsewhere.

Yes, Amazon sells lots of stuff, but to see it only as a retailer is to miss a huge opportunity.  This has little to do with conversions and everything to do with brand building.

Patrick Miller, Co-Founder, Flywheel Digital has spent the last four years deconstructing eCommerce sites and helping American manufacturers figure out Amazon from a brand, search, social, customer service, supply chain, pricing and sales perspective.

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