Over 200 marketers and brand leaders recently gathered in sunny San Diego to network with others and learn industry-leading strategies on Amazon and beyond at our biggest ecommerce event ever: AdDiego 2019.
With over 115 ecommerce brands of all verticals and sizes in attendance, this year’s focus was on actionable strategies to scale your direct-to-consumer business on Amazon and beyond.
Here are six major takeaways and strategies that we learned from this year’s AdDiego 2019 event.
1. The Importance of Staying Ahead of Today’s Marketplaces
Have you ever felt like the marketplace channel is moving at lightspeed?
Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, explains Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti.
All of us find ourselves in a growing world of marketplaces and the advertising platforms that come with it.
“The digital universe is ever-expanding. And it’s cyclical. The are more marketplaces than ever before. How do you navigate the constant change and stay ahead?”
-Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti
Marsten explains that the rise of marketplaces has brought its own set of challenges for brands:
- Choosing the right media mix across multiple channels
- Organizational readiness for multiple marketplaces
- Operational efficiency across those marketplaces
- Building cohesive branding across multiple channels
Tackling all of these challenges at once can overwhelm any marketing team. Which is why Marsten explains that you need a system and a process for prioritizing your marketplace initiatives.
Every marketer needs data to inform their process, which is why as a brand you need to make use of:
1. POS and First-party data to understand what marketplaces, promotions, and other factors are impacting your customers’ purchase decisions.
2. Analytics that can help you interpret all of your data is essential for keeping up with today’s marketplaces.
3. A testing budget that allows you to test your channels, placements, formats, and targeting.
“Plan on expansion. Get ahead of it now and own it, rather than it owning you,” says Marsten.
2. Why Operations Are the Foundation of Your Amazon Business
When it comes to running a business on Amazon, marketers tend to think of the flashy ad campaigns, promotions, and creative ways to bring in new customers and sales.
The truth is that operational efficiencies are the foundation for growing your business and getting the most out of your advertising dollars.
Which is why it’s essential for you to master the following processes on Amazon before scaling your advertising:
- Inventory & catalog management
- Demand forecasting and purchase order processing
- Reducing chargebacks
- Warehousing & fulfillment
“Demand forecasting and inventory fulfillment is crucial. What is your vendor lead time? How long does it take you to get products into their system? Amazon wants to see inventory coming in smoothly. Or they will go to competitors that are selling the same item. All of these factors are calculated into demand forecasting and your purchase orders from Amazon.”
-Jeff Coleman, VP of Amazon & Marketplace Services at Tinuiti
Coleman explains that each process requires a strategy and team to make sure you are operating at the maximum efficiency possible.
Why is this important?
Not only are sound operations essential for making sure your customers receive packages on time, but they’re also necessary for communicating to Amazon that you are a Vendor that is delivering on customer expectations.
The bottom line: your operations ultimately impact every segment of your business. If you stock out, fail to fulfill your orders, or have a high chargeback rate — your product rankings (and reviews) will suffer, which will impact your entire catalog in the long run.
3. The Need to Plan Ahead Now for Amazon’s Future
With 10+ years of experience working with the Amazon platform, Pat Petriello, Director of Amazon Strategy at Tinuiti dives into Amazon’s rapid enhancement of their suite of advertising tools and functionality amount to a reshaping of the Marketplace.
We learned about Amazon’s recent updates and how they serve as an indicator of where they will be investing in their ad programs moving forward. Understanding this direction is important for positioning your brand for future success.
“The rate at which Amazon has developed and released incremental product functionality since Q4 of 2018 has been blindingly fast. That’s great! Why? Because it’s given us [as advertisers and as an agency] more tools to play with. But it also demands that we need a structure and a mindset in place to be able to consume those changes and make sure that we are actually leveraging them.”
-Pat Petriello, Director of Amazon Strategy at Tinuiti
Petriello touched on the following key points that are essential for any brand on Amazon:
- Why Amazon Advertising Is Getting More Competitive
- How Amazon Advertising Drives Growth
- Amazon’s Expanding Ad Tools
- Understand That Amazon Isn’t Just Any Other Channel
“Mastering your capabilities on Amazon requires a change in mindset. What is the legacy way of thinking about Amazon?” asks Petriello.
“Instead of just thinking of Amazon as a channel siloed out [as part of your business]. Rather than just another touchpoint, Amazon should be treated as a critical component of your overall digital presence – no matter where your customers want to find you.”
4. How One Brands Scaled to Number One Nutrition Bar Brand
Andy Judd, CMO of ONE Brands joined Tinuiti’s Chief Client Officer Craig Atkinson for a fireside chat on the challenges and learnings of scaling a brand to mass-market success.
“How did we become the number one bar brand selling on specialty channels? We took a lot of craft and care into investing in awareness and advocacy early on. When we were ready to accelerate, we built a larger digital ecosystem — search, display, social — and eventually doubled down on Amazon and more sophisticated targeting.”
-Andy Judd, CMO of One Brands
Judd explains that One Brands started from humble beginnings with a clear focus on sports nutrition.
By catering to a very specific audience, the brand found success in identifying which products their market responded positively to before accelerating their distribution to grocery and mass-market retailers across the U.S.
Once their proof of concept was complete (people are starved for a “nutritious snack bar that also tastes great”), Judd and his team saw the opportunity to scale their delivery with digital campaigns that spanned search, display, and social networks.
Judd explains that the brand took large leaps of faith when it came to increasing investments in digital — especially Amazon. One of the greatest challenges in growing your digital strategy is “getting the rest of the company on board with your vision,” explains Judd.
“We also wanted to get more sophisticated with targeting. Build a very clear understanding of your target audience behavior, where they shop, how they behave. We made incremental bets on Amazon that produced results that helped grow our investment over time.”
As One Brands’ digital capabilities matured across multiple channels, they found that they had a lot of valuable customer data that could be used to inform everything from product design to more sophisticated targeting.
“We unlocked secondary levels of audience targeting, for example, going from Jessie the gym guy to his cousin Jessica who is interested in healthy, plant-based products.”
“It all comes down to making savvy investments while feeding the top of the funnel.”
5. How to Solve Conflict and Brand Erosion on Amazon
In the age of globalized ecommerce, many brands are struggling to control the sale of their products on Amazon and other online marketplaces.
The lack of control is causing channel conflict with brick-and-mortar retailers, price erosion, negative reviews and lost sales. In this session, Whitney Gibson, a partner at Vorys, shared how his team is helping find ways to fix the problems brands are experiencing.
“Stopping unauthorized sellers use to be a problem just for ecommerce directors, but today stopping unauthorized sellers is garnering attention from executives. Brands are getting increasing pressure from retailers and distributors regarding these sellers.
-Whitney Gibson, Partner at Vorys
“If they can’t find a solution, they are hearing from more and more brick-and-mortar retailers not willing to carry their products anymore.”
Some of the things we learned included:
- Why a fragmented approach to counterfeit sellers doesn’t work in 2019
- How to convince your [brand] leadership to invest in brand control
- How to protect your brand [and sales] in the age of Marketplaces
- How to differentiate your products from counterfeits in the Marketplace
6. How R+Co Fuels Their Growth With Amazon DSP
In the final presentation of the day we learned how R+Co leveraged Amazon without disrupting relationships with Salons to continually improve their brand’s performance and attract new customers using DSP.
“Our journey on Amazon has been challenging because of our many distribution channels. Our investments in our business on Amazon have helped to elevate the brand as a whole. We use a customer-centric approach and accommodate different channels. and found that Amazon brings additional growth that spans across all of these channels.”
-Gabrielle Carey, Business Development & Ecommerce Manager at Luxury Brand Partners
“Our ad console strategy wasnt going to work in 2019. We knew we needed to use DSP to fuel that growth on Amazon. We needed to grow our audience and targeting pools to reach our sales targets.”
Approaching DSP with a layered approach is also important for making incremental optimizations to your targeting.
“We began with lower-funnel tactics and programmatic for top products. After 3-4 months we began layering in-market and lifestyle. We wanted to build that walk, crawl, run approach to carefully feed our remarketing pools.”
-Madelyn Kaseeska, Senior Marketplace Programmatic Analyst at Tinuiti
“Investing in DSP also provided some surprises. We learned that some audiences performed differently than we expected. It allowed us to refine who we were targeting and with what,” says Kaseeksa.
The R+Co team soon realized that investing in Amazon didn’t just lift Amazon sales, but it produced a halo effect that impacted other channels as well.
“Although we sacrificed ROAS in the beginning of the year, we are now reaping the rewards of increased sales because we grew that remarketing pool significantly.”
Additional Learnings & Discussions
This year also featured presentations that centered on popular marketing topics outside of the main stage, which included:
How To Improve Organic Rank on Amazon?
How to leverage product visibility and placement adjustments to help your product get discovered and increase sales velocity.
Ranking The Top 10 Most Impactful Tools & Strategies Across Paid Media & Social in 2019
All the latest developments across paid media & paid social by counting down the top 10 new features, tools and strategies that are currently driving results for brands and discuss their impact for Q4 and beyond.
Succeed in Q4: Sophisticated Full-Funnel Advertising Tactics
How to effectively leverage a better-together DSP and Ad Console approach to make your brand stand out in Q4, especially, during the Holiday shopping season.
How to Acquire & Amplify Influencer Content
How to build a ROAS-positive contributor to eCommerce revenue throguh Microinfluencer Acquisition & Amplification.
Utilizing Amazon in Your Larger Brand Strategy: Advanced Content Planning
Actionable tips brand owners can take advantage of to elevate their brand strategy by leveraging Amazon.
Future Proof Your Online Retail Strategy
How emerging technologies including AI, ML, AR, VR, personalization, advanced data insights and much more are enabling leading online merchants to stay ahead of the innovation curve and delight their customers with engaging experiences.
Selling on Walmart.com: Navigating Through the Extensive Style Guide
The complex style guide and upload process of adding content to your SKUs on Walmart.com.
Want to see more of each presentation? Check out the recordings and slides of the event here.