Beating Your Competition on Amazon – Seller’s Guide [2023]

Picture of Author: Martyn N.

Author: Martyn N.

Hi! I’m Martyn, a full-time Amazon E-Commerce Manager with over 5 years of experience selling and managing a wide range of products for various small businesses on Amazon.



“Ah crap, here’s another one” you think to yourself.


You let out a slow sigh of frustration.


This isn’t the first time that this has happened.

As the weeks and months have passed, you have found yourself getting increasingly worried about your venture on Amazon.

You were excited at first, having found what you thought was a perfect niche…

…only now to be confronted by the harsh reality that more and more competitors are coming in, seeking the same rewards as you are.

What’s more, your sales have been suffering from this, and you can’t stop yourself from imagining what would happen to your business if this keeps going on…


Competition on Amazon is a tough thing to overcome, but it is just a fact of business.

Sooner or later, more and more sellers will discover the same opportunities that you have, and they will add their own products to the catalog – sometimes potentially “better” products than yours.

So how do you beat your competition on Amazon? 

What techniques and strategies can you adopt to maximize your chances of getting the attention of potential buyers and have them click the “Add to cart” button for your products?

Throughout my years as an Amazon E-Commerce manager, I have learned some of the top techniques to maximize a listing’s competitiveness on Amazon.

And today, I am going to share the big lines with you.

This is by no means a complete, comprehensive guide to everything I know about competing on Amazon – that would require a whole book! 

However, the following will give you a solid structure to improve any product or listing you have or will have.

Before you start reading this article, here are a few assumptions I am making to make sure that this article is right for you:

  • You are an active Amazon seller
  • You have at least one product actively selling
  • You have recently found new competitors selling your product or similar products to yours, or you’re struggling with making sales due to strong competition.


Are these true for you? 

Then without further ado – let’s dive in!

Table Of Contents
  1. (Re)Identify Your Customer
  2. (Re)Identify Your Customer
  3. Define Your Product Features
  4. Define Your Product Features
  5. Find Suitable Niches
  6. Find Suitable Niches
  7. Map Out Your Competition
  8. Map Out Your Competition
  9. Choose Your Focus Niches
  10. Choose Your Focus Niches
  11. Evolve your Listing on Amazon
  12. Evolve your Listing on Amazon
  13. Write out the benefits
  14. Structure your pictures
  15. Add the Keywords
  16. Gaining Traffic – Advertising
  17. Gaining Traffic – Advertising
  18. Deals and On-Sale
  19. Deals and On-Sale
  20. Improve Your Product
  21. Improve Your Product
  22. Measure Changes & Further Optimising
  23. Measure Changes & Further Optimising
  24. Final Thoughts
  25. Final Thoughts



(Re)Identify Your Customer


First off, let’s go over a basic principle of sales that I’m sure you have already heard of, but which is critical to keep in mind every time we want to improve anything in our business.

We sell to customers, not keywords.

I find that whenever I’m watching any article about optimization for Amazon, the first focus is on keywords.

Sure, knowing your keywords is critical to success on Amazon.

But guess what? Keywords aren’t buying your product. 

Real people are.

And real people don’t care about SEO, title length or ABC content. Naturally there are some good guidelines to follow, but at the end of the day, if you don’t know who you’re offering your product to, you’re much less likely to understand what it is that they want from your product.

What’s important to them? 

What functionalities are they looking for? 

How do they want to feel during and after use? 

This is just a small sample of the question you’ll want to answer.


You want to improve your competitiveness on Amazon? Then start by figuring out who’s giving you the money for your product.

 If you know your customer better than your competitors, then you’re already one step ahead of them.

Keywords can help you get an idea of what your customers search for, but only a limited insight into what they want to experience through your product.



Core of business: Problem-solving


Before you can expect your business to beat your competition on Amazon, you have to truly understand what a business is – and foremost, the purpose of a business.

You might be tempted to believe that any business’ purpose is to make sales.

However, you would be wrong.

Sure, sales is the lifeblood of the business – it is how the business stays alive. Without sales and profits, there is no possibility to keep the business alive and growing.

But that is not the business’ purpose.

The purpose of a business is to solve problems

If you want to get your customers to purchase your products instead of your competitors, you first have to adopt the perspective of a problem-solver.

 What problems are your products going to solve?

We all buy stuff because we believe they will solve our problems. 

Barbecue set? Delicious food and a reason to spend time outside with the family and friends on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Computer keyboard? Efficiency and comfort while typing.

Yes, even the stuff we think we buy without having a problem pushing us.

What’s the problem behind wanting to buy scented candles? Lack of good ambience and smell.

You cannot solve a problem that you are not aware of – and if you’re not aware of your customers’ problems, you are much less likely to convince them that you have the solution, which will severely impact your competitiveness on Amazon.


If you want your product to be more competitive on Amazon or if you want to straight-out beat your competition on Amazon, you have to be absolutely clear about your customer’s problems.

So let’s start with the first step of problem-identification: Finding out where your customers voice their problems.



Identify your top keywords


Firstly, let’s find out what the most basic keywords are used to describe your product on Amazon. With this, we’ll be able to browse the web to find everything we need to know about your customers when it comes to your product.

Search for both the specific product you are offering and the larger categories it falls into.

For instance, let’s say that you’re currently selling memory foam neck pillows for travelling.

You will want to find out not only what people like or dislike with memory foam neck pillows, but also memory foam pillows, neck pillows and even pillows in general.

Why? 

Because you will not only be able to gather a broader range of feedback (there’s a lot more feedback on pillows out there than for something as specific as memory foam neck pillows) but also give you the chance to find unique improvement opportunities that your competitors might not have explored as they simply restricted their scope to memory foam neck pillows.

For instance, you might find out that certain features of a different type of pillow would help greatly with fixing an issue with memory foam neck pillows that are currently being sold by your competitors. 

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Fish for ideas wherever and whenever you can. By looking at both the narrow and broader spectrum, you maximize your chances of finding an edge over your competitors on Amazon.

You may use keyword tools here to help you out. I’m not going to a recommend a specific one as there’s loads out there – just find one that gives you a broad range of results, both on and outside Amazon.



Gather customer feedback


Alright, so we’ve got the keywords that describe your product – let’s dive in and find out what your customers think!

Naturally, your first platform of choice should be – you guessed it – Amazon.

Open up the top listings for your selected keywords and take a deep dive into the reviews – this will give you the quickest access to your customer’s thoughts and also give you precious information about what your customer’s problems are.

Open a text file and simply copy/paste whatever you can find. Don’t focus on structuring it for now. Simply put in whatever you can find that has any relation to the customer’s problem. The more, the better.

Some good things to look out for are reviews that are written like: “I used to […], but after using this product […]” or “I bought this because […] and it worked/was terrible/was okay/whatever.”

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Some examples of customer problems explained in the reviews

Go through as many reviews as you can on Amazon – if you can’t for some reason (e.g. several thousands of reviews per listing and tight on time) then make sure you go through an equal amount of reviews for each rating.

For instance, if you decide to analyse 500 reviews in total, make sure you go through 100 with 5 stars, another 100 with 4 stars and so on, until 1 star. Otherwise, you will only have one perspective from the customer.

Once through with Amazon, go look on other platforms – good ones are forums like Reddit or even better, dedicated forums for the specific product (if you’re lucky enough to find a memoryfoamneckpillows.forum.com, treat it like a goldmine!)

Besides that, anything goes – browse the web and judge for yourself what’s relevant and what isn’t.

Just make sure to not take too much feedback from one specific platform. Getting it all from Amazon is sort of okay as you’ll be selling there, but watch out for other platforms as you might stray from your actual customers towards a more specific niche that isn’t suitable for you.

The goal here is for you to feel like you’ve become an expert about your customers’ problems.

If you’re at a party next week and someone (coincidentally) happens to ask why people would buy a product like yours, then you want to feel like you could give them a 10-minute detailed monologue as a response.

Figuring out your customer’s problems is the most important step – and many sellers stop there.

However, if you want to beat your competition on Amazon, you’re going to have to go beyond that and get to know your customers better than they do.



So what’s left to know?

Well, you can try to figure out your customer’s general age, their income level, their hobbies, lifestyle, geography, and so on.

Why would that matter, you ask?

You don’t talk to a kid about buying balloons the same way you talk to a CEO about buying a set of standing desks. 

You don’t price yourself as a premium, expensive product when all your customers are on minimum wage. 

You don’t convince an avid gamer that a yoga mat would go great with his new gaming headphones.

I mean, if your research shows otherwise, do go ahead of course. But I think you see the point I’m trying to make here.

Similarly, if you know your customer, you know what tone of voice and vocabulary to use so they can understand how your product fixes their problems. 

You know how much they are willing to spend on your product, meaning you can craft a proper pricing strategy, and by knowing their lifestyle, you know which other products of yours they would be likely to buy.

The research process is the same as for problems – go through Amazon’s reviews then online reviews and forums and any piece of content you can find. 

If you have friends or family who are also potential customers, ask them about their life.  Note everything down.



Create your customer persona


Once you have gathered as much information about your customers as you possibly can – there’s no way to know for sure when that’s truly done, but ideally you should feel that wherever you search, you keep finding the same information that you have already discovered – then you can put it all together into a neat little customer persona.

A customer persona is basically an easy way for you to frame who your customers are by creating a fictional profile that best represents what all of your customers would be like if they were magically merged into a single person.

Think of it like a social media profile of a typical customer.

It will include their age, income, social status, education level, needs, wants, pain points and so on. Basically all that you would want to know about them.

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By having a customer persona profile, you will be able to judge much better whether any change in your listing or branding is really going to make a difference to your sales, as you’ll have all the info you need a single click away.

“Is it a good idea to change the product? Well, if I were my target customer, what would I think of it?”

“Should I price myself as premium or good-value-for-money? Hold on, let’s look at my customer’s income level…”

There are some good templates out there that are easy to fill out so you don’t have to create one yourself – check out the free template from Hubspot at https://www.hubspot.com/make-my-persona.


Define Your Product Features

What are product features?


Alright, we know who your customer is and what their problems are.

Now, let’s translate these needs into actual product features.

Product features are simply the aspects of any product that solve your customer’s problems and thus give it value.

For instance, take once more the travel pillows. The features will be its shape, material, size, softness, whether it has a carrying bag and so on.

Fully understanding all of the product’s features is critical to building a strong, competitive listing on Amazon. 

Would you buy a pair of shoes if you didn’t know their size?

A competitive listing includes all of the information that a customer wants to know – which is why step 1, understanding your customer, is vital to having a powerful listing. 


How to find product features


A good starting source of features are the top sellers – most often, they will display on their listings most of what customers are looking for. After all, if they didn’t, they wouldn’t sell!

However, this will only get your own listing as far as your competitors – and we want to go beyond that.

So let’s look at some other sources of demanded product features that your competition might have missed.


Reviews

The good news is that if you’ve followed the steps until now, you already have a long list of customer reviews that you can dig into for extra product features.

For instance, you might find out that a few customers have made the same suggestion about a product feature they would like to have which your competitors aren’t providing.

Go through all of your saved reviews and see if you can find anything beyond what’s already stated on your competitors’ listings.


Forums

Forums are a wonderful source of information for product features – they are basically a platform where your customers go voluntarily to write down what they think and feel about your product.

Great, isn’t it?

Of course, finding a forum dedicated to something like wooden chopsticks isn’t likely – the more niche the product, the less likely that there is a forum about it. 

But if there is one, I strongly recommend you find it. It is also the perfect place to ask your audience what they like, dislike, what could be changed and so on.


Articles/Magazines/Blog Posts

Basically any other kind of media external to Amazon. Google is your friend. Simply go through your list of descriptive keywords and scour the search engines for results. The more diverse the sources, the better.



Going beyond what’s asked for


Once you’ve established what your customers are looking for, you can then look for more features that neither your customers nor your competitors have thought of.

This is where the customer persona comes in particularly handy. By understanding your customer to a deep level, you can predict which product features they would value which aren’t already being offered on the market.

This is always a little risky, especially on Amazon which is heavily based on satisfying demand on a keyword level – which means that if nobody is typing the words that describe your feature, you might not get any visibility.

However, if your diligent customer research shows that this would be a successful feature, nothing stops you from testing it out! Innovation is the mother of success.

The best sources of inspiration are the sources listed above i.e. reviews, forums and other external sources.

Keep this question in mind when looking at customer feedback:

“How else could my product fix their problem?”



Competition on Amazon 101: Understanding Amazon’s system


Before we go any further, we need to understand how the game of Amazon is played (and yes, it is a game!)

As you know, Amazon operates in large majority through a search query basis – basically, it’s a keyword-based search engine.

This means that a large portion of customers will come into contact with products by first typing what they believe best describes what they are looking to purchase, and Amazon then uses an algorithm to display what it believes are the listings that are most likely to result in a sale.

So far, probably nothing new for you.

Well, as you also most likely know, some search queries are more repeated than others – leading to some very large numbers of searches for specific keywords and fewer for others.

For instance, “pillow” has a lot more searches per month than “memory foam pillow for airplane travel”

Makes sense. The more specific the search, the fewer searches it has.

Amazon’s focus is on making sales – the more sales it can make, the bigger it grows.

This makes showing the listings that are the most likely to result in sales at the top of the search results a priority – and if you, as a customer, are not shown what you’re looking for, then you’re not going to buy it, regardless of how well it sells overall.

It doesn’t matter if Adidas’ latest sports design is #1 sales in the whole shoes category – if I’m specifically looking for leather casual shoes, I’m not going to buy it.

This means that it’s not always the most popular and highly rated result that will be displayed first!

Case in point, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour might appear for the big-traffic keyword “shoes”… 

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…but not for “shoes leather for men casual”:

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Find Suitable Niches


Now what does that mean in the context of Amazon seller competition?

Finding a niche on Amazon can make or break your business. 

If you market your shoes as just “shoes”, you might as well just spend your last dimes on a virtual “closed” doorsign, as you’ll be trying to compete directly with the multinational corporations we just mentioned.

Finding a suitable niche requires information – lots of it. In fact, you need to know the features and performance metrics of the whole niche, with a big focus on its top sellers.

But if you find a single or several niches that are in demand aka have decent search volume AND where you have a long-term, sustainable competitive advantage…you might be on the road to riches!

That is why I recommend examining every existing niche that’s relevant to your product.

Let’s go back to our previous example of travel pillows:

What do our customers search for?

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Based on this, we can see that there are several different niches we could consider:

Travel pillows for airplanes:

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With memory foam:

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For kids:

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Or even a combination of several features (head pillow for travel for kids memory foam):

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Like I said at the beginning of the article, I assume that you already have a product active on Amazon, which considerably reduces the number of niches you can get into.

If you are short on time, or if you have many different products and do not have the time to delve into each niche individually, then use your own sense (+ a couple of other people’s) to judge which niches your product could fit into.

If you only have one or a few products, then you can create a list of each niche that’s big enough to warrant your attention.

How big a niche must be before it can be considered is up to you – are you aiming for thousands of dollars of sales a week or just a few hundred?

Naturally, the potential of the niche will also be affected by the competition level – but we’ll get back to that soon.

There are many ways to find relevant niches – I won’t go into too much detail here as the process is very similar to keyword research, and there’s a truckload of videos and articles that detail the latest keyword research process for Amazon better than I could.

Just search “get search volume amazon” YouTube or Google and you’ll find out what you need soon enough.

One thing to keep in mind: A niche is NOT a single keyword!

Let’s say you’re investigating the niche for memory foam neck pillows. The niche size is not just the search volume for the keyword “memory foam neck pillows”! Rather, it includes all the search volume for all the terms that describe the same expected benefit.

This makes it more difficult to judge the size of a niche as the relevance of the keyword to the niche becomes hard to estimate.

So how do you judge how relevant a keyword is to a niche?

If you already have several strong sellers in that niche, you can look up the organic ranking of these listings for the keyword and deduce the relevance that way.

Basically, the lower the organic ranks of these listings, the less relevant they are likely to be.

For example, let’s take the top 3 listings for the travel neck pillows niche and search as a baseline “travel neck pillow”:

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Let’s say we want to estimate the relevance of the keyword “memory foam pillow” for this niche.

 We can look up the organic ranking of these listings to do so – in this case, none appeared on the first page, setting the expected relevance score to very low.

However, never completely dismiss a keyword – rather, bring it to a lower priority on your list. You never know, should you choose to place yourself in this niche, you might be able to squeeze a few sales from it every now and then!

Map Out Your Competition


Identify the relevant competitors

Once you know which niches are relevant for your customer and product, you can check which competitors are currently dominating the market  – preferably 3 to 5 top competitors to keep it manageable.

But how can we establish which ones are dominating the market?

I recommend simply tracking the listings that have the highest average organic ranking for the top 5 most important keywords of the niche (important: make sure to look only at the organic listings, not sponsored!).

The reason why I recommend the average ranking over the top 5 keywords is to avoid adding a listing that would happen to have a particularly high ranking for a single keyword, but which isn’t performing well in the niche overall. It does happen.

Once you know which listings are at the top for the most important keywords for your niche(s), you then know who your competitors are and can start examining their offer and features – the first big step towards beating them!

Identify their features

By now, you should know your customer’s problems, which product features can solve these problems, and which competitors are already trying to offer them a solution (besides you, of course).

Now let’s find out how your competitors say they do this.

This process is fairly simple – just go through their listings like a normal customer would.

What features are they offering?

Which customer problems are these features solving?

How effective are they at solving these issues?

I recommend going through those top listings and answering each of these questions one by one.

Don’t worry about going into too much depth – if you can’t figure out how their product solves a particular problem within a minute, neither will the customer.

Keep doing this analysis for every relevant niche you found – while this can be a lot of work, this will ensure that your product is positioned in the most promising niche where you have the highest likelihood of stacking sales and beating your competition.

Choose Your Focus Niches

Understanding niche selection strategy


Alright, we know which niches you can place your product in as well as which competitors are in each one of them and what they offer.

Now, how do we choose which niche or niches we want to focus on?

I like to use an easy-to-understand metaphor: it’s like making a campfire.

You probably know that you can’t start a fire by lighting a match under a big log – rather, that you need to first light up fine tinder, then let the kindlewood catch fire, followed by small branches into ever bigger and thicker wood until you eventually have enough heat and flames to make the big logs catch fire.

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Getting your listing to be a market dominator can be very similar.  

Each market is divided into several smaller niches, each one with a specific search volume and an overall difficulty level – that is, how difficult it would be to rank organically should you focus your listing to specifically rank for this niche.

It is very likely that it would be much more difficult for you to get to the top of the organic rankings for the larger niche “travel pillows” than it would be for a smaller niche like “small memory foam travel pillows” (assuming once more that your product’s features fit the customer’s expectations for that keyword, ideally better than the existing sellers).

You can look at the small, uncompetitive niches as small wood that would be easy to “lit up”. You would be building up sales velocity for those small niches while still maintaining relevance for the bigger niche, as it is still a travel pillow.

In a nutshell, if your listing isn’t selling well right now, it is better to focus first on ranking highly for smaller niches to gather sales, as it will also increase your attractiveness in Amazon’s eyes for your main niche/market.

You light up the small wood first – and that makes the big logs slowly catch fire.

Why?

Because Amazon’s algorithm is heavily biased towards sales velocity. 

In other words, the more sales you’re making in a specific market, the more likely that the algorithm will rank you higher for all keywords of that market, provided they are included in your listing.

So if you’re making strong sales for a niche like “memory foam travel pillows breathable”, you’re also likely increasing your ranking for the whole niches of memory foam pillows and travel pillows.

This is why I recommend specializing your listing for the easiest niches before attempting to rank for the big ones. Designing your listing for these big niches first is unlikely to get you any significant traction, while the small niches would.

As your search results ranking increases over a niche, you naturally get more and more sales – in fact, it is often an exponential rise.

High ranking on small niches with low competition => starting sales => higher ranking on bigger niches => more sales => even more ranking increase on the whole market.

Rank your niches

A perfect target niche is one with a combination of relatively high search volume and where you have the most advantages across all the different features, reviews and ratings compared to your competition – particularly those with the highest market share.

I advise focusing on niches where your product would be the obvious choice on paper – or as close to it as possible.

Start ranking your niches based on how competitive you expect your product to be, then rank them based on the search volume.

Choose your niche(s)

How many niches you will want to choose to focus on is very dependent on the results.

Following the logic of the niche selection strategy we went over before, you’d want to be present in as many small but promising niches as you possibly can so you give yourself the maximum chance to rank higher for the larger niches.

However, you will want to avoid trying to spread your product over so many niches that you won’t stand out as the best choice in any of them.

Remember that you only have up to 9 pictures, five bullet points and a few EBC modules to explain how your product solves your customer’s problems!

Whatever you end up choosing, make sure this question gets answered with a resounding “Yes”:

“Does any viewer understand how my product solves their particular problem within 5 seconds?”

The “particular problem” will depend on the niche you have chosen.

For example, if you’ve chosen to compete for the washable travel neck pillows, does your customer understand within 5 seconds that your product is washable?

If not, you’re unlikely to retain their attention long enough to guarantee yourself a space in the top rankings for that niche.

Besides this, you will want to naturally focus on the niches that have shown to have the highest potential i.e. the ones where you have the maximum chance of having your customers find your product being at solving their problem(s) than your top competitors + those that have a relatively decent amount of search volume.

Validate your niche(s)

Also called “sniffing out pitfalls”.

There are a few things to watch out for to spot niches that aren’t as promising as they can seem to be at first glance:

Non-optimized descriptions

 Listings with poor descriptions might be promising in the short term, but they are easy to fix. If the top competitors have a superior product but a poor listing quality, remember that it can improve overnight and quickly take the wind out of your sales (pun intended).

A product can take months to improve. A listing might take a day.

Blocked/suppressed/out of stock listings

Beware of an open niche because of a missing competitor that could come back and reclaim their position. Unfortunately there aren’t many ways to check for this, but as you would ideally conduct this competitor analysis on a regular basis, you might want to be careful with niches that suddenly open up.

Illegal claims

Make sure to review Amazon’s rules before committing to any niche – are you allowed to offer your product for this particular niche? Are there any barriers that prevent the use of certain keywords?

For instance, many health claim benefits such as “antidepressant” or “cures stress” are strictly forbidden, and as such, are no-seller-zones for a good reason.

Gated categories

Same principle here – find out if there are any legal requirements before selling in a particular niche or category.

Evolve your Listing on Amazon


Great! You now know which niches you want to tap into – let’s re-build your listing to make it rank on your selected niches.

Before we go on to build the listing, it’s important to know the different aspects of your listing that you can edit and their potential impact on customers and on search engine optimization (SEO).

The table below summarizes this:

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Title

The title is as important as you can imagine it to be – it summarizes what the product is for both the customer and the search engine algorithm. Beating your competition on Amazon will require a carefully crafted title.

Pictures

Pictures are vital to turn an interested customer into an actual order. Through up to 9 images, you can explain in various shots and tables how your product is going to solve your customer’s problems. However, as they are not text-based, pictures are (currently) useless for Amazon’s algorithm.

Bullet points

Through up to five bullet points, you can summarize the main points about your product for both your customers and the search engine. They are the middle ground between the title, which is extremely short, and the EBC, which details each point further with accompanying pictures.

EBC

The EBC grants you the ability to explain in more detail what your product is about – it is ideal to turn interested customers who are still on the fence into buyers.

Write out the benefits


Let’s start with a quick copywriting 101 crash course:

A classic structure for short copywriting online is APBF (Attention, Problem, Benefit, Feature).

First, you hook the attention of the reader by claiming what you will get them.

Once hooked, you bring focus to the problem at hand.

Then, you stimulate the interest of the reader by claiming you can fix the problem.

After that, you explain the features that your product has that will allow it to fix the problem.

Here’s an example:

“RELIEVE NECK PAIN (Attention) – Feeling nightly neck pain due to hard and stiff pillows? (problem) Relieve your neck and sleep comfortably throughout the night (benefit) thanks to our soft and adaptable memory foam pillow (feature)”.

This would be a classic example of a bullet point.

You can follow this tried-and-tested system to ensure that your copy is of good quality without getting lost in an endless cycle of asking yourself “is it convincing?”

That being said, we will have to adjust this formula a little bit to fit Amazon’s design.

We have to create the copy for four elements: The title, the images, the bullet points, and the A+/EBC.

All elements have a certain limit on the amount of text we can fit in there, meaning that we will have to trim APBF a little bit to fit the content properly.

Start with the most important features – write out in the simplest form possible what the solved problem is, then how your product does this in as few words as possible – no more than five. 

Space-saving is key for the title.

Then expand into the short versions – around 40 characters.

If you cannot follow the APBF (it’s usually hard in only 40 characters), then focus on just the benefits and feature – you can usually blend the problem and benefit parts together by framing the benefit based on the problem, like in the example below: 

“Relieve neck pain (problem + benefit) thanks to the soft memory foam core (feature)

After you are done with the short descriptions, you can go ahead and expand them into longer versions (approximately 140 characters) then into even longer versions (up to 200 characters). 

The short versions will be used for your images – the images are small, making large fonts necessary which in turns limits how much text you can fit in.

The medium version will be used for your bullet points – as with the example shown previously, you will want to cover the whole APBF structure while remaining short and concise.

Finally, the longer version will be used in the EBC/A+ to make the customer feel fully understood (by fully explaining what their problem is), explain in emotional detail what they will gain from purchasing your product, and reinforce their trust in your claim by explaining fully how your product’s features deliver the promised benefits.

Each problem/feature’s text structure should end up looking like this:


Go through all of your features to have a final, comprehensive list of copy for your listing for your niche.

Why detail it like such for all features instead of just building the listing the usual way?

Having each feature detailed from shortest version to longest allows you the flexibility to easily play around with your listing later on – for instance, if you want to test if a certain feature works best than another, you can switch them around in no time instead of having to write a new block of text every time.

Testing is a big part of optimizing your listing for competition on Amazon. By having all building blocks already there, you can test and thus optimize your listing faster than your competition and find out exactly how you can best design your listing and achieve maximum competitiveness.

Structure your pictures

Getting your pictures right is similar to getting the rest of your listing right – it needs to follow a certain structure that first captivates the customer’s attention, then explains which problems the product will resolve, how it will do that and why the customer should trust that it will.

Main picture

Your main picture is the first point of contact with your customer – and as the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words.

Your customer will judge how well your product will tackle their problem in a split-second. Most often, they will already have a mental idea of what that will look like. Your main picture’s goal is to communicate as clearly as possible that your product will fix their problem in the best way imaginable.

Make sure to review all the different features that your customer would expect would fix their issues, and try to fit as many as possible into the main picture, without overcrowding it.

The more problem-fixing features you can manage in the main picture, the more likely they will be to click on it to learn more.

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Picture 1

The purpose of the first picture is to clarify the problems that the customer has and to firmly plant the promise that the product, thanks to its features, can fix them. 

This not only reassures them that you understand their issues and that you are more likely to correctly resolve their problems, but also further captivates their attention by confirming – with text – their first impressions from the main picture (and the title) without being overwhelmingly detailed. 

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Picture 2

The second picture can either further list some more of the core problem-solving features or alternatively starts explaining in more detail how the problems will be fixed through the features, hence taking the customer from interest to desire. Keeping the texts concise and to-the-point is critical here.

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Picture 3

Picture 3 can act as an extension of picture 2 should there be more problems and features to explain. Otherwise, it can be used to start building trust in the promises – why should the customer believe that your product will deliver what you say it will?

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Picture 4 

Should the third picture act as an extension of the second one, you can use picture 4 as the trust-building picture – or even if the third one was a trust-building, you may want to use this one for that purpose as well, particularly if you have a definite advantage there (for instance, if you have some kind of qualification/record). 

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Remember that your best bet is to put forward the most important features that you have the best competitive advantage over. If you’re offering pillows with an award-winning memory foam, you may want to dedicate a picture to fully explain this – only if this feature is solving an actual problem, of course.

Nobody finds a travel neck pillow more interesting if cats like to sleep on it (or very few, I assume).  


Pictures 5 and 6 

Picture 5 and 6 are more of “joker” pictures – as in they can be used in various ways to further compel the customer to go ahead with the purchase.

This can be done through building more trust, explaining further valuable features or – particularly if your research shows that the product’s appearance plays a big role in the purchasing decision.
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Good shots may include lifestyle shots, displaying the product in use within the customer’s environment, often accompanied by a happy-looking customer (provides a positive image for your customer’s imagination) or simply displaying the product in a beautiful studio-like shot.

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Otherwise they can be used for cross-selling – for instance, showcasing your other products that can also solve the customer’s problems, e.g. a neck warmer or massager for customers suffering from neck pain. You might not have such complementary products right now, but as your business grows, you will want to develop your portfolio into the most promising and successful niches – I will explain this in another article.

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Video

Adding a video to your listing is one of the most powerful ways to communicate all we’ve mentioned so far into a few seconds. 

As I said, a picture is worth a thousand words – and a video delivers an average of 25 of those per second.

I’ll let you do the maths.

I will post an article later on about creating powerful, converting videos for your Amazon listings – but for now, if you can/want to upload a video to your listing, I suggest you focus on summarising all the points above and record your product being used in order to best showcase what your customer can expect.


Once more, focus on problem-solving: If the main problem is a sore neck, have your video show your model grimace as they feel their sore neck which turns into a relieving smile after using your product along with why the customer should trust that this would indeed be the result and not an empty promise.

Bullet points

The bullet points summarise the core information of your product as was shown in your pictures – however, they can further elaborate on each point and are crucial for SEO as they have the second most powerful influence on the search algorithm after the title.

Therefore when building your bullet points, you will want to strike the perfect balance of convincing copy and relevant keywords.

It is common practice to follow the order that was defined in the pictures. For instance, if you first mentioned your travel pillow’s special memory foam followed by the inclusion of a travel bag then the washable feature, you will want to write down your bullet points with the same order.

The text content should already be available from your features-to-text table. Simply copy-paste the medium-length text and add the relevant keywords (more on this further on).

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It also allows you to create comparison tables between your products, which lets you drive your customer from one listing to another.



EBC

A good EBC consists of eye-catching visuals and convincing copy. It elaborates on the points made in the pictures, but with longer paragraphs, allowing you to tap into specific details that can turn interested viewers into actual buyers.

I will create a dedicated article about crafting a good EBC later on – stay posted.

Add the Keywords


You’ve written the copy in all formats for all features and added them to all elements of the listing – wonderful! 

One more thing remains for a strong competitive copy for your Amazon listing: Adding the right keywords.

As you know, customers get search results through a search query. 

Including the most repeated words from all customers’ queries – or keywords – will ensure that Amazon’s search algorithm will index your listing for your customer’s queries.

At this point, you should already have a long list of relevant keywords following your niche analysis. If not, there are many tutorials out there on keyword research for Amazon, so I won’t go into detail – simply look it up on Youtube or Google.

But what if we have too many keywords per feature to fit them all in the listing? How do we choose which ones go in and which ones to leave?

As you can imagine, it will depend on the relevance and the search volume.

I recommend you make a list of all your keywords and rank them by a combination of relevance and search volume.

I also recommend that you extract the individual words from this keyword list and rank them using the same system.

Once you have all the relevant keywords and individual words for each feature, you can polish your listing by adding or replacing certain words and phrases with these newfound keywords.

As you most likely expect by now, priority should be given to keywords and individual words that have the highest combination of relevance and total search volume.

This method will not only give you the maximum chance of ranking well on the algorithm, but also will increase your relevance in the eyes of the customer as your listing will display exactly the same words that your customers will be using – and speaking the same language as your customer is a great technique to reinforce perceived relevance and trustworthiness.

Here’s an example of how the copy can look like before and after the changes:

“SLEEP DISCOMFORT AID – Our special foam pillow will keep you comfortable throughout any night, especially on long journeys”

Versus:

“NECK PAIN RELIEF – Our soft memory foam pillow helps relieve neck pain while sleeping, especially during your travels”.

See the difference?

The pain and feature points remain the same – however, in the second version, adding the keywords means more relevance and attention.

With this technique, you can add many more relevant keywords to your listing without seeming like you’re just stuffing it with keywords (which isn’t to your advantage). 

Edit all of your text so that you have as many relevant keywords as possible – however, be careful not to overboard! Remember that the purpose of the text is primarily to convince your customer that you are able to fix the problem they have. 

It’s easy to fall into the trap of adding more and more keywords to the point that the original meaning of the sentence isn’t clear anymore.

It’s a balancing act – so make sure to re-read your content regularly (or have it read by someone else) to ensure that the meaning remains true to the original purpose.

Gaining Traffic – Advertising

Alright! Let’s go over everything we’ve done so far:

  • We identified our customer – who they are and what their problem is
  • We defined the product features that can solve their problem
  • We found and analyzed all niches that are relevant to our product
  • We compared our product versus the top competitors for each relevant niche and found the most promising niches
  • We ranked the niche’s features based on both importance and advantage
  • We wrote a short to long copy for each feature
  • We set a clear structure for pictures and copy
  • We listed the relevant keywords for each feature and added them to our existing copy

Now that the listing is optimized for competition on Amazon, we need to push it.

Advertising is currently the best way to get your listing to test its might against your competitors on Amazon. 

It’s a fairly simple system – you pay to have your listing get visibility and if it sells better than the competition, the algorithm ranks you higher, which in turns leads to even more visibility – for free.

However, if it doesn’t do well, then the algorithm scores you lower and you would have to pay even more to keep your visibility high, which often results in unsustainable costs.

This is why listing optimization is necessary before any advertising push.

But now that we have optimized our listing to compete better, we can go ahead and start advertising.

I will not go into too much detail in terms of how to run pay-per-click (PPC) ads on Amazon – there are loads of tutorials out there with enough depth.

As such, I will only give the big lines and some general tips that are particularly relevant for beating your competition on Amazon.

In this guide I will only quickly cover sponsored products ads (SPA), which can be divided into two sub-categories that differ in terms of targeting type: Keyword targeting and product targeting.

Keyword targeting Ads

 As the name implies, this type of targeting focuses on keywords – that is, the ads will appear on the search engine results page (SERP) after a customer has typed in a search query in Amazon’s search bar.

You know those:

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Getting your ad to the top position for your most important keywords is critical to generate the initial sales (or setting the small wood on fire, if we are to follow that metaphor).

One tip I can give that’s relevant to beating your competition is: Look at the existing ads and top organic results.

Most customers will browse through the first line of ads and the first row or organic results – or the first three or four if they are browsing on mobile.

You already know how you are comparing to the top sellers for this keyword/niche from the previous analyses we’ve run earlier. 

But how do you compare to the top ads?

I would give it a quick look to see if there is anything that is potentially threatening or an opportunity arising – for instance, if they all are pushing the same feature forward which our listing has an advantage on. 

I wouldn’t bother with creating an analysis table for that though. Reason being, that while the organic listings move slowly over time, ad placements are volatile and can change instantly. 

The algorithm might suddenly move a sponsored listing from place 4 to 5 following a tiny change in bid in one of the competitors, which on the SERP really means a drop from place 4 to place 17-21.

Product targeting


Targeting weaker listings

The best way to be successful with product targeting is to target weaker listings.

By weaker, I mean listings which are likely to be viewed by the customers as less suitable than your ad after going through the listing and being exposed to said ad.

All the variables that you defined in your niche analysis are at play when a customer goes through a listing – including price and reviews.

Your objective with product targeting ads is to get the customer to think this:

“This listing (yours, in the form of an ad on your competitor’s listing) seems to be a better choice than this listing I’m currently looking at”

Unfortunately, it often isn’t a fair battle – you only have a tiny piece of screen available, barely enough to display your main image and a few lines of your title (which is why, again, main image and title optimization is critical).

This makes careful targeting critical – but also very rewarding if you get it right.

Following the above advice, you might be thinking:

“But if “weak” listings don’t get any visibility, what’s the point of targeting them? I won’t get any traffic anyway, right?”

Well, here’s where it becomes a numbers’ game.

Almost all listings get some visibility – they can rank for some obscure keywords, be referred to by some article on the web, or some “uncommon” customer might want to dig through the results and for some reason, felt like clicking on this one.

That’s still a small number of views, yes. However, if your listing is advertised there and is clearly a better choice, the odds of you getting a click are quite large.

Let’s say your ad is shown on a top listing which outcompetes you.

Let’s also assume that it has 10,000 views a week.

You might only get a tiny fraction of the traffic on this listing – maybe a few clicks, and since the listing is better than yours, you’re unlikely to get much conversion (aka orders) from those few clicks.

Furthermore, as these listings are at the center of attention, there will be many competitors trying to squeeze their ad in there, making the cost-per-click very high.

Result: Few clicks, few conversions, lots of money lost.

Now let’s take a listing that’s “weaker” than yours.

It might have only 200 views per week – but since you’re a better choice, the proportion of clicks will most likely be much higher, compensating for the lack of views.

As for conversions, you’re also more likely to perform well here, since your listing is more appealing.

Moreover, since there is a lot less attention on this listing, fewer competitors will look to bid aggressively on it, increasing the probability for a low cost-per-click.

Result: Few clicks, high conversion rate, small revenues.

Now here’s the best part:

There are usually very few “strong” listings compared to “weak” listings, since being a good-selling listing strengthens its sales velocity and it’s ranking, creating a self-sustaining sales vortex.

What this means is that there usually is a lot of “weaker” listings to target.

Imagine a typical market where you have about 50 relevant listings. 5-10 of them might be considered “competitive”, while the rest lag behind.

You might only be able to make a few sales a month from each single “weaker” listing – but if you successfully cover all of them, you can multiply that by 40! 

In very large and competitive markets, this can add up to a large amount of sales.

And since the algorithm rewards sales, your own listing ranks higher and higher, costs drop, organic revenues increase leading to more cash available to invest in more “weaker” listings…you get the point.

Another reason why this tactic works well?

Bots and algorithms are not as good as humans in both evaluating the “strength” of a listing compared to another.

This means that while you and I might be able to compare the features and look of a listing and go “Yep, I think my product is more appealing”, creating a robot capable of doing the same is very complex – and sometimes downright impossible.

Imagine comparing a listing for something simple, say, chopsticks. 

You and I would know that a pair of plastic chopsticks is likely not as valuable as a pair made out of luxurious ebony wood, and should everything be equal, most customers would go for the latter.

For a bot however, this difference would be hard to pick up.

If you spend the time to go into the nitty-gritty and analyse listings yourself, you are much more likely to be a step ahead of your competitors, who might not go into such depth or use robots to manage their large portfolio.


Targeting complementary products

This is one tactic which can be particularly powerful as bots and algorithms are particularly bad at it (which is to your advantage if you take the time to do it).

What I am talking about is targeting products that are complementary to yours.

What are complementary products?

Products are complementary if they are often used together – for instance, coffee machines and coffee filters are complementary products.

Finding complementary products can be difficult in some cases – thankfully, as you know your customer very well by now, you can guess what your customer might be seeking to buy other than your product.

For instance, in the travel pillow category, many customers might also be buying sleeping masks or ear plugs. 

Having your listing promoted on those listings might lead to sales – as they browse through say, ear plugs and then stumble on your ad, they might think to themselves “Oh yeah, I could use a travel pillow too”.

And the best part about this? You completely avoid the fight for the most competitive keywords of your niche!
 

There are many more tactics that you can use to maximize your competitiveness on Amazon with advertising – I will provide more content about this soon.

Deals and On-Sale


Purpose of deals

Deals are one of the best ways – along with advertising – to quickly gain competitiveness with your listing on Amazon.

As you can imagine, it consists of temporarily reducing the price of your product from its normal price in order to make it more appealing, hence boosting sales.

There is one thing that our customers like more than having a product that satisfies their needs and solves their problems – and that’s getting one at a lower cost than it should have been.

Leveraging this natural psychological system effectively is key to creating a strong, competitive listing on Amazon.

Let’s now explore the different kinds of deals available to you, their usefulness, costs and limitations, and then look at some basic strategies to run sales-launching deals.

Types of deals

Price slashing

The easiest way to set a deal is simply to set a sale in your listing’s backend. You will have the chance to set a sales price, along with a start date and an end date.

The advantage here is that you do not need any approval by Amazon nor need to pay any fee to have the deal going.

However, this kind of deal is only useful when you have already successfully sold many units at a normal price for an undefined period of time, as the algorithm is built to avoid price manipulation (i.e. setting the price to a ridiculously high level, say 50 dollars for a toothbrush, then have it reduced to 4.99 with the goal to have a very high discount shown) and so won’t display the sales price versus the original price unless enough sales at the original price have occurred.

Furthermore, the sales price vs old price is often barely  visible, which limits its effectiveness.

Hardly noticeable, isn’t it?

Naturally, if Amazon isn’t getting a share for the deal, why would it promote that deal more than those where it does?

Still, this technique can be useful, particularly if your product has a long sales history at a certain price and would benefit from a deal, but isn’t eligible for the other kinds of deals we’ll explore below.

Lightning deals

Lightning deals are deals that last no longer than a day. These deals are usually more powerful than a simple price slash, as they are often accompanied by a small sign on the listing which focuses the customer’s attention on the discount.

This can be particularly powerful in very competitive markets on Amazon, allowing your product to distinguish itself and bring much more traffic that’s also much more likely to go ahead and order.

Look at the example below – which one of these listings draws your attention the most?


Red is a colour that naturally draws our attention – our subconscious sees it as an arousing colour, often associated with warnings, important information and deliciously ripe fruits that are ready to be picked (or in this case, great products ready to be purchased).

There are however a few conditions for products to be eligible for lightning deals:

  • ASIN must be eligible (e.g not a restricted product type)
  • Rating must be above 3 stars
  • Enough stock must be available
  • Products must be in “new” condition
  • Price reduction must be at least 15% and at least 5% lower than the lowest price over the last 30 days

These conditions might change slightly over time, but the big line is this – it must be a new product of decent quality and the discount must be significant enough to label it an “extra-ordinary deal”.

7-Day Deals

7-day deals are very similar to Lighting deals, with the only major difference being the timeframe during which they run – as the name suggests, these deals run for 7 days.

Naturally the cost is higher than a lightning deal – however it is “only” twice the price of a lightning deal for a 7x timeframe increase, making it 3.5x more cost-effective.

Usually, only products with a good sales velocity will be eligible for a 7-day deal. It is possible however to first go for lightning deals and then ride that wave of increased sales to jump into a 7-day deal.

I personally favour 7-day deals over lightning deals, mostly because the longer run-time allows for more potential for the listing to gain sales velocity. However, lightning deals can be a cheaper way to “test the waters” and get a first impression of the potential sales from a deal.

Coupons

Coupons are basically redeemable discounts appearing on the product page as a clickable box and on the SERP as a little green box:

The idea is simple – you just click the coupon box and get the displayed discount at the checkout. Simple!

How are coupons interesting for beating your competition on Amazon though?

As you can imagine, offering a coupon when your competition does not gives you a natural advantage. 

Sure, they are not quite as eye-catching as promotions, but they still are more powerful than nothing at all.

Here are the advantages of coupons:

  • Usable on any product, regardless of sales velocity
  • No upfront cost
  • unlimited duration
  • only pay for a sale – coupon fee applied only when purchase is completed
  • Can set any discount percentage or even money off

While they are not as visible or eye-catching as deals, they still attract attention, particularly if your competition isn’t using them.

Also, they can be used for a discount as little as 5% and a large proportion of customers who click on the listing after getting their attention drawn by the little green box will still go on to buy the product even without a coupon – which means you can still make some sales at full price!

If you don’t have coupons already set for your product, I advise you to do it already.

Promotions

Promotions are more criteria-based than other types of promotions.

The most used form of promotion is a discount tier based on the number of products purchased.

You know – buy 2 get 5% off, buy 3 get 10%, buy 4 get 15%… and so on.

You have several options available, leaving you with a lot of room to customize your offer. 

This can be particularly potent if you have a portfolio of products which can be bundled together for a higher gross revenue.

However, do note that the promotion box is quite small and often overlooked – from my personal experience, offering such promotions has had a limited effect on my client’s revenues.

Deal-setting strategy

Timing the deals

Timing your deals well is essential to ensure that they work well.

Consider the following:


When everyone has a deal…nobody has a deal.

Having a deal running when no other seller does can greatly increase your competitiveness – however, if they are running some as well, the playing field evens out and then nothing changes.

Except how much Amazon pockets from deal fees.

So how can you time your deals?

There’s no easy answer here, unfortunately, as there is no way to know in advance when your competitors are going to plan their deals.

However, there are some tools that can allow you to see the price changes over time, giving you a chance to uncover potential pricing patterns that can then let you forecast the next deals.

Competitors are also more likely to set deals during the big deal days e.g. Black Friday, Cyber Monday or Prime Day.

While you do want to ride the increase in demand as well, I advise you to carefully estimate your chances to stand out from your competition.

What have your competitors done last year?

How much of a price drop did they offer?

How strongly has the demand increased in those deal days? Is it large enough to warrant going in at the risk of gaining no particular advantage?

Answering these questions can give you great insight into which deal periods are worth your investment and which are nothing more than a money hole.

Setting a price


To ensure those deals are not hurting your margins (too much), we need to set the right deal prices/discounts. Below are the two main factors that come into play for good price-setting:


Profit Margins

Setting a deal price or discount based on your profit margin is the first big factor.

How much discount can you offer before you would start making a loss?

Remember to factor in all costs – advertising, deal fees, refunds and returns, etc.

For instance, if your profit margin after all costs is 15%, then a 15% discount would be acceptable (provided it resulted in increased sales velocity and as such rankings and visibility)

Deals are often easy to justify and sustain over the long-term when they are not resulting in losses.

Be careful not to run your investments dry by overdoing your discounts!


Competitor pricing

The second big factor is how your competitors are pricing their products.

For instance, if you are offering a product that is very similar to a competitor’s but you are priced a little bit higher than theirs, then running a deal that gets your product just under their price can make a massive difference in sales.

How much discount should you offer before your listing becomes more appealing than any of your competitors?

This approach can not only ensure a big increase in sales, but also lower your costs.

For instance, you might have priced your product at 30 dollars and based on your margin analysis, you decided that you could afford running a 33% discount, getting your product to 20 dollars.

However, after carrying out a competitor analysis, you might realise that 23 dollars would already put you at a cheaper price than your top competitors and are likely to be perceived as the best value-for-money.

If this happens to be true, you could be saving yourself 3 dollars per sale, for a minimal reduction in sales.

Here’s a mock table that explains this principle:


In this example, while a lower discount results in 4% fewer sales, it also results in a whopping 486% increase in profits.

Naturally, the right deal pricing will depend on your current product strategy and discount price sensitivity – aka what you want to achieve with your product right now (growth or profits) and how many sales your product gets for different discounts.

The above example was just to show that setting a deal price isn’t as straightforward as lower = better.

Careful examination of all factors makes the difference between a competitive listing that benefits from deals and one which slowly drains the business’ lifeblood everytime it gets discounted.

Monitoring the results


Being aware of how your deals perform is key to having a long-term edge over your competition on Amazon.

I recommend keeping track of all the important information about your deals so you can easily figure out how your product performs with different variables – namely deal type, discount and date.

One very important aspect of deals, as explained previously, is to increase your organic ranking for your target keywords.

I suggest monitoring the ranking changes following the deals so you can figure out whether sustained deals are likely to get you at the top of the search results for your most important keywords.

As mentioned before, I would also keep track of sales and profits.

As you run more and more deals with varying discount types and amounts, you will get an increasingly clear idea of what increases your competitiveness and what is wasted money.


This information also has other benefits besides just sales and ranking increase – for instance, the results on price sensitivity can tell you how competitive your product would be if it were to be priced at a lower level (as a normal price, that is).

Mastering all of these different kinds of deals will give you a major advantage compared to your competition on Amazon – customers are always looking to grab something at a lower cost than normal, and leveraging this effectively can make the difference between a listing that struggles to compete and one which racks up so many sales – albeit at a discount – that Amazon’s algorithm has no choice but to rank it at the front row.

Improve Your Product


So far, we’ve explored how we can make your product more competitive on Amazon – from customer analysis to advertising and deals.

But let’s go even further.

Based on our research so far, what are the easiest, low-hanging improvements we can make to your product that will result in the maximum increase in competitiveness in your Amazon niches – and perhaps beyond?

This might seem like a lot of research – however, thanks to our features and competition analysis, we already have (almost) all the information that we need!

All you have to do now is to find the most important features where you fall behind.

Doing this for your top niche(s) is good – but why stop there?

Once you have identified potential features you can improve or add for your top niche(s), I suggest you also look at which other niches you could become competitive in should you improve your features.

A niche that isn’t suitable for your product now could become a potential goldmine with a few tweaks!

Which are the biggest niches with the lowest hanging fruits?

Feasibility: Suppliers and Product Managers


Finding new opportunities for product improvements is the simple part – anyone can come up with ideas on how to make a product better!

But let’s be real – there are always limitations to what a product can become.

For example, you might be selling supplements with 100mg of the active ingredient per capsule and discover that having triple the dosage per capsule would make you a lot more competitive.

However, perhaps there is no way to fit so much in a capsule, or maybe each capsule would have to be bigger, which then makes them hard to swallow, and the bottle would have to be bigger too else the capsule count per bottle goes down…only to find out later that the dosage is too high and cannot be sold legally.

You get the idea.

Therefore, each idea has to be noted down properly: Desired outcome, desired product/feature specifications, costs, collateral changes, and so on.

Take into account everything that has an impact on your product and your listing.

Little things like the product being larger or heavier can have reverberations such as increased delivery charges, affecting your margins in potentially substantial ways.

I then advise you to sit down with your supplier or manufacturer to go through the list and see what is feasible plus the required changes and costs.

Having a proper talk with your supplier or manufacturer also allows for new solutions to be found – which is why it’s important to focus on the problem first, and not on a desired specification.

For instance, going again with the supplement example, you would tell your supplier that you need to triple the ingredient dose, as customers are feeling that the effects are too light and you legally have enough leeway to increase the base dose substantially.

If you state that you just need to triple the dose, your supplier might just reply that it’s not possible – however, explaining the customer issue might prompt them to explain that, while tripling the dose isn’t possible, another ingredient can be added to the formula which makes the ingredient much more potent.

Not only does it fix the original problem, but it also opens new doors for positioning – a possibility could be to then reduce the number of capsules needed per day as each capsule is more potent, which in turns makes the usable length of the bottle much longer, provided the bottle still holds as many capsules.

Once all the features have been reviewed and the potential changes and their consequences fully understood, you can move on to validate the changes you wish to make to your product.

This is just a simple example – but it can make a big difference in adapting your product to maximise your competitiveness on Amazon.

Measure Changes & Further Optimising


Congratulations! You now have a system to beat your competition on Amazon.

However, our optimization doesn’t end here. Any successful system of improvement is a cycle – meaning that one must always monitor the changes and make the necessary adjustments over and over again.


Maybe your first analysis and changes were incorrect for some reason – business is filled with countless variables, and one can never plan for everything.

Therefore, we must remain adaptable

What Darwin said for species is also true for businesses:

“It is not the strongest business that survives, but the one most adaptable to change.”

So how do you keep improving your listing and product for maximum competitiveness on Amazon?

Simple. You measure what happened and run it again!

Monitoring your KPIs

KPIs are your key performance indicators – as the name suggests, these are metrics that give you a sense of how your product or even business in general is performing.

Here are the KPIs I recommend you track:

  • Sales
  • Profit Margin
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Conversion Rate (CR)
  • Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS)
  • Organic Ranking (Top KWs)


Sales

Probably the most obvious one here – how have your revenues evolved following your changes?

Simply track your revenues before and after the changes.

Be wary of variables that can impact your top line outside of listing changes, such as seasonality, missing competitors, deal days and such.

Products like sunglasses will be very seasonal – be careful not to confuse a sales increase from winter to spring for an increase in competitiveness!


Tracking such variables plus confirming an increase on the other KPIs should ensure your measurements are as free of confusing variables as possible.

Profit Margin

Keeping track of the evolution of your profit margins isn’t an indicator of competitiveness per se, but I include it in the KPIs to track as this metric is particularly important to boost your listing – especially when facing tough competition on a platform like Amazon.

The usual strategy is to sacrifice profits at first – through deals, promotions and increased advertising spend – to gain traction, then once established reap steady profits over the long-term, with the goal being that in this long-term the returns will be far greater than the initial sacrifice.

However, many businesses have run themselves into bankruptcy because they didn’t properly manage their losses – as such, make sure you do not run out of “fuel” before you make it to the top of your niche!

Click-Through Rate (CTR)

CTR is the best KPI to know how well your main image and title are performing.

It is just a measure of how many times your listing has gotten a click for every time it has appeared on your customer’s screen.

Improving and testing your main image and title will vary your CTR – the higher the better.

I recommend however to always look at CTR along with CR (conversion rate). Bringing a larger proportion of eyeballs to your listing is very good, however it is useless if it doesn’t result in increased sales.

This situation could happen, for instance, when your main image and title make a certain promise (or give the customer a certain idea about what your product provides) which is then debunked when looking at the product detail page.

Basically, don’t display a main image with, say, a travel bag and a title promoting a travel bag if it is then revealed that you don’t actually offer one.

Doing so might get you a higher CTR from customers looking to buy a pillow with a travel bag, however it will only result in their disappointment and a bad ranking from Amazon’s algorithm, not to mention a potential suppression for false advertising.

As of the date of writing this article, the only way to measure it properly is through the advertising console, though brand analytics offers some measure of it as well.

Conversion Rate (CR)

Conversion rate measures how many visits to your listing result in an actual order. 

As you can imagine, this makes it a very important metric, together with CTR.

Factors influencing your conversion rate include everything that stands on your listing – title, pictures, bullets, EBC, reviews, FAQs, you name it.

This is perhaps the most accurate KPI to measure your change’s effectiveness, though it still is influenced by external factors such as competition, pricing and deals.

Advertising Cost of Sales (ACoS)

Tracking ACoS is for reasons similar to profit margin – basically, you want to avoid overspending on advertising.

Thankfully your keyword analysis should have given you the most relevant keywords, and following your optimization, the resulting ACoS should be relatively reasonable.

However it is ultimately dependent on your budget and your profit margins – again, make sure that you’re not running yourself dry by running ads, particularly if they are not resulting in an increase in sales or organic ranking.

Organic Ranking (Top KWs)

Your organic ranking for your top keywords is a great indicator of your overall competitiveness – simply put, the higher you climb on the SERP (search engine results page), the more likely it is that all of the previous indicators are also getting better.

Make sure that you are not cherry-picking your keywords, and that you’re looking at your top keywords, which should be those with the both the highest relevance and search volume.

I recommend taking the average of your top 5-10 keywords.

Also be wary of sudden ranking changes, for instance following a deal. You might temporarily rank higher, but that’s not a reliable indicator of long-term competitive strength.

Instead, look at the running average over several weeks following your changes. In fact, I recommend you do so for all your KPIs – don’t pop the champagne for an increase after just a couple of days. The algorithm is often testing and moving listings around when it notices big changes, so wait for things to stabilise before jumping to conclusions.


Forecasting and Adjusting

What changes in KPIs did you expect from the listing or product changes you carried out?

Did you expect a small increase in revenue? Did you only change the title and so expect a change in CTR?

Forecasting the results following a change is very difficult, if not downright impossible sometimes.

It remains important to measure your target vs the actual results.

For instance, if your listing’s poor competitiveness so far can be attributed to a low CTR and CR, what was your target or expected value following the changes? Did you reach it? If not, what could be the culprit?

Constantly reviewing the impact of the changes in your listings is key to understanding what works and what doesn’t.

You might find out that a feature is a lot more important than you expected, and this should be reflected into your features matrix.

Over time, as you keep careful track of your changes and their impact, adjusted for large variables like seasonality, deal periods and Out-Of-Stock, you become more and more informed about your niche, your customers, your market and your competitors on Amazon.

Final Thoughts


This marks the end of this quick guide on beating your competition on Amazon.

Selling on Amazon is no easy task – and like many things in life, it is often the difficult things that are worth the effort.

Also like most in life, those who go the extra mile – even a little bit than the average – are those who reap the biggest rewards. 

For Amazon, that means knowing your customer better than any of your competitors, understanding their thoughts, feelings and issues, understanding how your product can solve these problems and knowing how to communicate these solutions as effectively and space-efficiently as possible.

It also means monitoring those changes versus the expected results, analysing them and starting the cycle once again, in this way ensuring that you are always developing a more competitive product that your competitors cannot keep up with.

I don’t profess all these tips and techniques to be flawless and complete – in fact, we could go into much more depth on many of them (and I am creating more articles as you read this).

However, I hope you find at least some parts of this guide inspiring if not useful.

Remember that no system should be followed blindly – use your own flair to find out what makes sense and what doesn’t. The above are my suggested guidelines from several years of experience as an Amazon E-Commerce Manager.

On that note – let’s keep selling!

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