Tom Baker: Growing on Amazon

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Amazon is a massive marketplace that’s almost become synonymous with the eCommerce industry as a whole. If you choose to sell or advertise on this platform there are a number of things to keep in mind to ensure success.

Last week on Optily Radio, we chatted with Tom Baker, the founder of full-service Amazon agency FordeBaker, and our CTO Keith O’Reilly about the complex environment on this giant eCommerce platform. It is incredible how much Amazon has expanded in the last decade, but this also means it’s a lot more complex and competitive for the newcomer.

While he didn’t tune in to watch Jeff Bezos blast off a few weeks ago, Tom did have a ton to say about the workings of the billionaire’s marketplace. Among the amazing nuggets of prime organic and paid tips he covered off, we also went into detail on:

  • Optimizing your Amazon listing for the mobile user
  • Managing reviews and customer relationships
  • The various options for advertising across the Amazon network

Check out a preview clip of the episode Or you can enjoy the full show on YouTube (with all our smiling faces) or wherever you get your podcasts.

Otherwise keep reading to find out some of the key points we chatted about!

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Who are Tom and Keith?

Tom Baker started FordeBaker back in 2018 because he himself had previously felt a gap in the market for an Amazon consultancy to help people who are getting started. Now it’s grown into a full-service Amazon marketing and operations agency that helps businesses with crafting listings, boosting SEO, advertising, and much more. Before he started the agency, Tom was the Head of Marketing for an up-and-coming STEM toy brand at Technology Will Save Us, and had previously had years of experience in marketing for the gaming industry at Betway, BoyleSport, Ladbrokes, and bwin.

Keith O’Reilly is an award-winning product innovator with over 20 years of product development experience in advertising across the whole spectrum: online, offline, in-store, and social media. He is the co-founder of Optily and the current Chief Technical Officer here, overseeing all the updates to help make our software better and easier to use for eCommerce marketers.

Create your Listing with the User in Mind

Knowing your customer is a fundamental tenet of marketing across the board, so it’s no different on Amazon. Tom goes into the importance of knowing exactly how people interact with a listing, what bits they spend the most time on, and how they navigate through. Keeping in mind the vast majority of Amazon shopping happens on the app, you need to also keep in mind the limited real-estate on phones as opposed to desktops.

Something that Tom also points out that even a lot of big brands do (that definitely isn’t best practice) is to use Amazon simply as a catalog of products. The platform is so dynamic that you definitely won’t be getting anywhere near what you could be in terms of sales, if you’re not keeping things up-to-date and optimized. Your product pages are not “set it and forget it” because there’s a sea of competitors out there who are on it.

You’ve really got to keep up with your terms, images, price, and customer service to make it in this fierce environment.

Amazon reviews can make or break your listing

There are two big topics when it comes to reviews on Amazon that we’re all pretty familiar with at this stage: you need good ones to get more people to buy (and then leave more good reviews) and there’s tons of shady vendors out there buying fake reviews.

So, if you’re new and don’t have any reviews and are competing against a long-standing company that’s been investing in manipulating reviews for years, how do you break through?

Tom tells his clients that they can’t really worry about what other people are doing. Amazon is already cracking down on fake reviews and eventually their algorithms will clean things up. Legit sellers need to rely on the quality of their products and service in order to promote organic good reviews.

Think about things like what you’re putting in the box of your product (of the actual package if you’re fulfilling it yourself). How do you respond to negative reviews on your listing? A negative experience handled the proper way could turn someone around and show others that you’re a brand that genuinely cares about customer satisfaction.

While Amazon will likely never give ownership of the data to vendors, Tom does mention that some kind of built-in pro CRM system is coming about. It’s in the early phases still, but it’s being tested in the US market, so stay tuned for more opportunities for direct customer communication.

Amazon Ads

On-page SEO and reviews are great as conversion tools once people actually reach your listing, but when there’s thousands of products in your space, you’re going to need to sponsor your listings to break through. Tom has reinforced that Amazon is very much “pay to play.”

He takes us through the various formats ads come across the ad network:

  • Sponsored brands come up on the top row after a search
  • Products are just the individual items that relate to your search
  • Video ads, which are newer additions, come up when you scroll down a bit

Tom also goes into the DSP network, where ads show up across the Amazon family including IMDb (which I didn’t even know was owned by Amazon until he mentioned it!), Twitch, Kindle, and Prime Video. These ads can drive traffic to your own site too, not just to your Amazon listing. So this is a great way to capture those in-network shoppers from Amazon and bring them to your own site (albeit it’s a lot pricier than the other options).

For more info on the world of Amazon from Tom, check out the whole episode. And if you need to catch up on any past episodes you may have missed on data analytics, growing on Shopify, or advertising off Facebook and Google, check out some of our collection on Optily Radio.


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