With the level of competition on Amazon today, it’s super important for sellers to find an edge.
Once upon a time, you could throw up an average product, optimize for Amazon SEO, and make a killing. Nowadays, that’s not going to cut it. There are just too many people fighting for their slice of the pie.
External traffic (driving sales from outside of Amazon) is an incredibly valuable, and underutilized strategy for Amazon sellers. Getting in front of shoppers in these channels is effective at boosting sales velocity, rankings, and powerful brand assets that help your business in the long-run.
Why External Traffic is So Valuable
It’s easy to see why someone could be skeptical of external traffic. After all, there are more than enough shoppers on Amazon. More product searches begin on Amazon than anywhere else online. It’s the #1 spot on the web people go to buy something.
Sales from external traffic sources likely won’t overtake your organic Amazon sales, and on-Amazon optimization should still be your first point of call. But off-Amazon traffic can play an important part, not only supplementing your Amazon sales, but even helping you get more organic Amazon visibility.
Here are some of the key benefits of external traffic.
Skip past search results, PPC
Amazon sponsored ads are big, big business. The company earns billions from advertising, and this is only going up. There are very few successful Amazon businesses that are not shelling out a lot of money for Amazon PPC.
What this means for you is that it’s harder than ever to get sales from Amazon search results. Even if you get to the top of the search rankings, you’ll always have sponsored products to compete with. And they’re getting more pronounced, as Amazon expands their advertising platform.
Driving your own traffic allows you to skip past this. If your product isn’t ranking high, or is getting overlooked because of sponsored ads in the search results, no worries. You have the chance to showcase your product on its own, without this extra noise.
You’ll still have sponsored ads and recommended products on your listing to contend with. But having had the chance to make a first impression on your shoppers by yourself, you have a much better chance of sticking in their mind, and converting into a sale.
External traffic helps you rank higher
While there is a lot of competition on Amazon SERP, there’s still a lot of value to be had in organic visibility. So anything you can do to rank higher is going to end up being beneficial to you.
Driving sales from off-Amazon channels helps grow your sales velocity, which is an integral part of the Amazon ranking algorithm. Essentially, if Amazon sees that your product is selling a lot, they’ll recommend it more to future shoppers. Therefore, the more channels you can drive sales from, the higher your rankings go.
You can even turn this sales velocity into rankings for specific keywords, by driving traffic through keyword-targeted 2-step URLs.
As this case study shows, one Amazon seller was able to rank on page one, as well as getting the Amazon’s choice badge on his listing in just 2 weeks — using external traffic and 2-step URLs.
It lets you build a list
A customer list is a vital brand asset for any business. It gives you a starting point for marketing campaigns, and a base list of past customers you can turn to if you’re launching a new product, need to boost your revenue, or need to clear some stock.
The problem is, by selling only on Amazon, you can’t build a list. People who buy from you aren’t actually your customers, they’re Amazon’s. If you try and capture contact details from these people, you’ll find yourself afoul of Amazon’s terms of service.
So does this mean Amazon businesses can’t build a customer list? Not necessarily. The devil’s in the details.
“Any attempt to circumvent the established Amazon sales process or to divert Amazon users to another website or sales process is prohibited.”
You can’t divert users during the Amazon sales process. But if you make contact with them before they get to Amazon, it’s fair game. At this point, they’re your customer, and you’re free to get them on your list.
This means external traffic is the only way for Amazon sellers to build a list, without breaking the rules.
How a Customer List Helps Your Business Scale
As we said earlier, it’s vital for your business to have a list of customers. But why?
The biggest reason is, without a customer list, you’re completely at Amazon’s mercy. They own your customers, your source of traffic, everything. In a day, they could send your business back to square one.
With a customer list, if your Amazon traffic falls off, due to competition, suspension, or any other reason, you can pick up the pieces and rebuild. You can use that list to launch on another platform, or re-launch your product on Amazon.
Alternatively, a customer list helps you scale your already successful business. You can run creative marketing campaigns to your list to bring back repeat customers, for example.
There are also some ways you could use your list to further increase your audience — such as referral promotions, or using your list to create a Facebook lookalike audience.
And finally, if you ever plan to sell your business, you’ll have a much higher chance of selling it for a good price if you have a customer list to go with it.
Long story short, customers are the lifeblood of any business. Having a list gives you far more possibilities than relying solely on Amazon search or paid ads for every single sale.
How to Start Driving Traffic & Building Your List
Driving your own traffic from external sources is beneficial, without a doubt. But if you haven’t done anything like this before, you may not know where to start.
There are some best practices to follow, to ensure you get the best results. Additionally, finding the right channel for your business is important. Not all channels are the same, not all audiences are the same. Putting too many resources into a channel that isn’t working will leave you in a worse position than you started.
Finding the right channel(s)
So, first of all, how do you know what channel is the best for you?
Truth be told, there’s often no clear way to know. At the beginning, it generally comes down to trial and error. You might have to test a few different channels and see which gives you the best results.
Facebook Ads are the go-to for most businesses, and should probably be the channel you try first. Facebook has a huge user base, and their advertising platform is incredibly sophisticated. They have a wide range of tools available to help you target the right people, at the right times.
Google Ads are another popular traffic source. Google is the biggest online advertising channel in the world. Many sellers have had very good results capturing traffic from Google search or display ads.
Pinterest is another social channel that can have very good results for e-commerce. The advantage of Pinterest is it’s designed specifically for people to discover new things. So the stage is set for new people to discover your brand. You just need to consider that content on Pinterest is largely visual, and its user base is primarily female, so craft your campaigns accordingly.
Other channels you can drive traffic include influencer marketing, organic groups on social networks, Google SEO, or an existing customer list.
You can try any of these channels to see which bring results for you. However, start out with just one or two channels at first. It’s best not to stretch yourself too thin, especially when just starting out.
Best practices for external traffic campaigns
There are some key points you need to remember when driving external traffic to Amazon.
First, test and record your results. You’re not going to get everything right on the first try.
Undoubtedly, there will be things you can do to improve your campaigns, whether it’s in your targeting, your copy, your design.
However, you won’t know what gets the best results unless you test and find out. After testing, recording the results of your test is a must, so you have a base point to start from for additional campaigns.
Next, drive traffic to a landing page — not straight to Amazon.
This is important for a couple of reasons. Firstly, people you send to your listing may not be in buy-now mode, like they are on Amazon. That means you’ll almost always get a lower conversion rate from external traffic than organic Amazon traffic.
Send a lot of traffic and your conversion rate will tank, and as a result so will your rankings.
You get past this by filtering traffic with a landing page. All the people who were interested, but not ready to buy bounce at this step, without any damage to your conversion rate.
Second, this is your chance to build your list. If you send people straight to Amazon without capturing their contact details, you’ve missed your chance, and contacting them afterwards will be against Amazon’s terms.
Drive your traffic to a landing page, and use single-use discount codes as an offer to collect leads. You can use a software tool like LandingCube to automate the process, from creating the landing page to distributing your codes.
A funnel like this is not only effective at capturing leads, it also helps boost your sales velocity on Amazon (by driving additional sales through discount codes). That means your external traffic is doing work for you both on and off Amazon.
Relying solely on organic Amazon traffic is becoming less and less viable these days. Although Amazon’s customer base is growing, so is the competition from other third-party sellers, and the risk of being overtaken or squeezed out by other sellers.
The best way to not only improve visibility on Amazon, but also protect your business against the competition, is driving traffic and building a list. It offers you much more control over your business.
From allowing you to market more extensively, to expanding off Amazon, a customer list is vital if you want your business to stand the test of time.
For more detailed content on driving external traffic to Amazon, see this guide.