E-Commerce for Brands
Hacks To Improve Revenue, Profitability, And Your Brand
How to Prioritize What Matters Most When Growing on Amazon
Brian R. Johnson is the Co-Founder of Canopy Management, an Amazon advertising consultancy, community, training system, and software that serves as a leader in customer reviews and advocacy. Before that, Brian has specialized in online advertising and conversion rate strategy for two decades. He’s worked with tens of thousands of brands, and now he’s taken that experience to this episode of E-Commerce with Coffee?!
Credentials aside, Brian is a truly engaging fellow to interview. This conversation opens with the symbolic E-Commerce with Coffee?! topic: caffeine. Brian describes how he reverse engineered his own energy needs based on a previous cocktail of caffeinated beverages, and the science doesn’t disappoint.
Brian also captures a certain nostalgia as he speaks to how he got started in e-commerce. The rate of change in the last seven years of e-commerce has been flabbergasting.
Brian offers his deep knowledge of reviews and customer advocacy, Amazon sales and ads, and e-commerce optimizations in this interview. He also shares strategies to apply the most important trends today for greater profitability in the end.
Brian describes his “superpowers” as:
- Growing brand profitability
- Managing native and display ads on Amazon
- Optimizing conversion rates
Brian definitely wasn’t born with those superpowers, though. In fact, they took a lot of work to develop, including plenty of trial and error.
Brian recalls how different the e-commerce landscape looked seven years ago, especially when it came to available resources. “There were no courses,” he describes, referring to the countless gurus and programs that Amazon sellers can pay for today to “make it big.”
When Brian got started, he saw the need for real community, and so he developed his own Facebook group to crowdsource Amazon success.
Listen to the full interview to hear what happened next.
Growing Brand Profitability
You’ve heard it before: consumers don’t want more options, they want better options. Brian reiterates this crucial notion. He says, “if everyone throws too many choices at the consumer, they’re going to create paralysis by analysis… all you see is noise, visual noise.”
This is the first and most important pitfall to avoid when growing brand profitability. In practical terms, that means growing profitability through showing products and content to a more refined audience of consumers. Refined in this context means more interested or in need of your products or services.
Fortunately, zeroing in on a more exact audience is possible with the growing surge of behavioral and preference data available today. In fact, consumers expect as much. Part of today’s new and most important consumer expectations is to give consumers more personalized product recommendations.
To take growing brand profitability to the next level, after refining your audience comes tactics like repricing.
Managing Native and Display Ads on Amazon
Brian has plenty to say about Amazon ads. For starters, he explains why they’re so much more competitive than they were (which means they cost more, too). New ad options are rolling out every couple of weeks, though, as Amazon explores new ways to streamline the buyer’s experience and point them right at the products in the perfect instant.
Amazon advertising is one of the top ways that sellers drive consumers to the right products. Amazon’s algorithm inherently avoids showing spammy, uninteresting ads to people who aren’t in the market for those products, which is better for the customer and company.
To get a handle on starting Amazon ad strategy, understanding the difference between two key ad classes (native ads and display ads) is the first thing to do to leverage ads for visibility.
- Amazon Native Ads are ads off of Amazon that point to your Amazon products. For example, if you have a blog that speaks to a customer story, interest or need, then points to a related product, that makes for a seamless buyer experience. Native Ads are also effective in sale announcements and email marketing.
- Product Display Ads show up on specific pages of the Amazon platform, including customer reviews, product details, and even beneath search results. They can even show up where a consumer is otherwise about to buy another product. These ads aren’t always successful in deterring a purchase from a competitor, but they’re effective in raising brand awareness.
Optimizing Conversion Rates
Brian also makes a strong case for why conversion rates are the driving force for success in selling online. “Focusing on profitability means you’re protecting your brand,” he says. “Even if it takes a year, it’s worth it,” says Brian about a 2–5% increase in conversion rates on products.
If you do the math, 2–5% is no small potatoes. A brand with $50,000 in monthly revenue could see between $12,000 and $30,000 more in revenue in a year.
Conversion rates, Brian explains, are one of the very top KPIs that really matter. In a world with increasingly more data about the performance of content, ads, social profiles, and more, this kind of clarity is a catalyst for brands to make real changes that move the needle.
The interview later takes an introspective turn when Brian explores the unexpected result of what happens “when enough people take your advice.” The result is too many people doing the same thing, which dilutes the effectiveness of the strategy.
Today, Brian’s consultation has started pointing brands in a different — or even the opposite — direction from what he told brands in the past. Going counter-culture “is a great opportunity… in order to stand out,” he reflects.