You have a small business. You are selling on Amazon or at least you plan to start. The Amazon platform is amazing, but it is not the be-all end-all of e-commerce. If you are only present on Amazon, you may be closing the door to other income streams.
Creating your own website allows you to build a solid customer base on your terms. The number one disadvantage of selling exclusively on Amazon is not being able to market to your customer base. Most of all, you can make Amazon's Best Sellers Ranking (BSR) irrelevant, opening new possibilities for products you may have passed before.
Check out this video we made and read below for more tips!
By all means, you can be successful without a branded website for your business, but one of the best and easiest ways to grow and stay relevant is with a companion website.
Let me expand on that. By not having access to prior customers, you are missing out on huge revenue opportunities.
Build an Email List and Start a Conversation
The email inbox is one of the few remaining areas where your customer has control over what content they see. Spam thankfully goes to the trash these days, and with the new legislation, GDPR makes email even more sacred. To your subscriber that has opted for your content, these are not ads per se but are newsletters with exclusive offers and news catered to them, notifications alerting them to a sale or a low price alert such as discount airfares, hotel stays, and storewide sales. They want this content, but that means they have to agree to want it first.
So what exactly should be the purpose of your website's email list?
Think about why you join an email list, to begin with. You want the website to give you more value, so you choose to be notified. You receive newsletters because you want them, and you want them because you value the content provided and the content provider sending it to you.
The purpose of valuable newsletters should be to plant a seed within your niche, to grow an audience of otherwise cold traffic to eventually capitalize on their needs and wants.
These pre-screened customers are what we call warm leads (cold leads are total strangers and hot leads throw their wallets at the screen when they see your offering). As long as you continue to provide information and services that they value, they will let you keep coming to their inbox.
How do you convince people to give up their email address?
We will collect email addresses on our websites by offering our audience something they want enough that it is worth trading their email for it. Here are some common reasons why your visitors subscribe to your newsletter:
Exclusive and unique insider content
Giveaways and other value-added propositions
Discounts for products and services they want
So long as we meet one of the above standards, we can trickle in marketing our products to our subscribers because we know they have an interest in receiving that content, even if they haven't bought anything yet. Ultimately, if you design the intention of your newsletter around these principles, you will be successful with your email list.
Why should I go through the trouble of building an email list when I can just run paid ads on Amazon?
If we let Amazon control the faucet, we can't control the flow. With PPC, Amazon has complete control over the faucet. With our companion website and additional marketing techniques, we gain more control over the customer experience, and can therefore save money in ad spend.
Amazon provides more value to the customer than you. Customers on Amazon's platform belong to Amazon because Amazon owns the playground. Let's expand on the value Amazon provides versus the value you provide to customers on Amazon.
A platform where customers can easily find tons of great products.
A fast and easy, user-friendly checkout experience (one-click checkout).
Blazingly fast shipping (Prime Shipping).
No hassle returns for up to 60 days.
A new and improved reviews management system that builds product credibility.
What you provide on Amazon:
The product the customer wants.
So you can see how Amazon takes more of an interest in the overall customer experience because their brand exposes itself to so many variables where issues can happen. You only provide the product, and there is very little, in comparison, that can go wrong for you.
Amazon takes more risk and provides more value, therefore Amazon retains the rights of the customers who shop on their platform.
What's more, Amazon can decide at ANY MOMENT to do any of the following:
Delist your product
Create a competitive product
Throttle your ranking or PPC efforts
Remove their FBA program
Any one of these actions can leave many sellers high and dry without an alternative marketplace unless you are prepared for it.
Let's take back some of that value from Amazon and become more important to our customers!
We can start by having a phenomenal companion website for our product that also supports our niche. We've already talked about how to build a successful email list. Now let's touch on your brand strategy, and how having a companion site can bolster your reputation.
Raving Fans come from Mastering your Brand's Reputation
Maybe you've heard it is easier to sell to a repeat customer than it is to acquire a new one. Well, this is 100% true AND it is infinitely cheaper and easier to do so as well. If your customers love your products and brand (they do love you, right?) some will become super customers or what I like to call "Raving Fans."
Raving Fans will even market for you on your behalf. What's the behavior of a Raving Fan? Let's take a look:
They are a walking and talking billboard shouting from the mountaintops.
They want to buy all of your products because they love your entire product line.
They will only buy your product, and if they can't have your product, they will go without.
They will go out of their way to buy your product. They will ignore your competition, and accept some inconvenience (such as a wait list) to have your product.
They will pay more than the going rate for your product.
That's incredible, right? But, not every Raving Fan behaves the same way. Sometimes the behavior is tamer, such as only buying Johnsonville Brats even if other brands are on sale or cheaper at the grocery store. You'll want to instill the same buying mechanisms within your customers. We want our customers to ignore the competition and rave about our products.
Even without a large base of Raving Fans, your branded site will have a complete database visitors at varying levels of buyer-readiness. You will know what they are interested in buying, what they bought, how much they are willing to spend on it. With this information, you can implement a multitude of strategies, but to name only three:
You can create a promotion for all customers who purchased a specific product.
You can notify customers of an upcoming sale
You can build trust by sending your customers useful content
But can't I just create Raving Fans on Amazon by offering phenomenal products?
If this is your first product, or your "product zero," it may not make much sense to create a full-fledged website with tons of content, just to try to sell one item.
If you have a great product, you are able to get reviews for that product and rank it with organic sales or PPC driven sales, you'll certainly sell your product.
But let's ask a different question...
Shouldn't we try saving as much money as possible while driving traffic to our new listing?
Funnel Traffic to Your Amazon Listing
One of the most difficult parts of the Amazon FBA Private Label system is the product launch phase. So many sellers are far too concerned with how to get the most reviews, and how to rank quickly. I am not discounting the importance of that, but imagine if you had another way to get traffic to your Amazon listing other than giveaways and PPC traffic which cost you products and profit margins. Can you see how valuable that might be?
First, we went over how your website can build a customer base for you, then how you can create raving fans out of those customers, and now we will talk all about the benefits of using your website to generate more traffic to your listing.
Websites are the foundation of the internet, so much so that Google was created to help organize and filter it for us all. We can use that power to our benefit!
When we create websites surrounding our niche, we can learn much about what the individuals interested in that niche need and want. It helps us to discover improvements in the market for that niche and enables us a platform to discuss our ideas with our niche.
Ok great, how do I get started?
I recommend starting with an easy to use website from providers like:
Or a hosted Wordpress website as with services like Bluehost.
We can go into specific reasons why you should choose platform Software as a Service (SaaS), but I'll leave that for another post.
Once you have a website, you need to know what to put on it. Many gurus out there will tell you how important it is to have a great design, and how Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is key to your website's success.
I am here to tell you that as long as your website provides amazing value to your visitors, you won't need to worry so much about the design or the SEO.
For example, Craigslist.com is a very minimal site, but it provides incredible value to people who want to connect with each other locally.
If you truly understand your niche, you will make great products for them, and one way to ensure you hold yourself to that standard is to learn about your niche. If you are writing content about your niche for your website, and you want to be taken seriously, you really need to either be an authority on the subject or at least know what you are talking about enough to build some trust with your readers.
That means you are going to do TONS of research, which you should be doing anyway for your product!
Most important of all, you are offering a website you own and control.
You can present a customized flow for your visitors, with a more professional look than a simple Amazon listing page. build a reputation within your niche, present
This opens up advertising options that extend your reach beyond Amazon. It wouldn't make sense to use ads off the Amazon platform to drive traffic to your Amazon listing because there's too much noise being made by your competition. Your website is your playground and exclusively your storefront.
I hope you can see how beneficial having a companion website is, but if you still aren't convinced, I have more incredible reasons below.
Use Amazon's Partnership Program to your Benefit
Customers on Amazon are notorious for comparing products before they buy. So if you only focus your attention on one listing with Amazon, you are competing with everyone else. You are really losing out on potential profits when you don't capitalize on customer buying habits.
So let's capture the benefits of this phenomenon for our websites!
Let's pretend you have released a cool travel backpack set to revolutionize the industry.
Customers will flock to your product, but they will comparison shop against the other products offered on Amazon, so even if their first choice was your backpack, they may end up buying a competitor's. Why?
Maybe your backpack doesn't have enough pockets.
It is the wrong size.
The design doesn't necessarily mesh with the customer.
They want another color.
They want specific materials
They need a specific need resolved, and yours doesn't do it.
many many more.
Let's just take for example different size backpacks. The customer came for your 40-liter pack but realized it was too big for their needs so they look for your 20L daypack instead, but all you have is the 40L. They will ultimately buy someone else's backpack.
Ok, I get your point. What do you have in mind?
You can use your exclusive storefront to sell OTHER RELATED PRODUCTS your audience would be interested in buying through a partnership with Amazon.
Amazon offers an affiliate partnership service, where if you direct traffic to Amazon from your site, and the customer buys something on Amazon, you will receive a commission for that sale.
So you have created this wonderful site that showcases your product, now you can talk about your product, but then also talk about the benefits of competitor's products. They can either buy your product or go to Amazon and buy someone else's product.
Either way, you win
You receive a customer referral fee, or what we call affiliate commission for these other products and/or services that you help Amazon sell!
Let's stick with the example of the backpack from above. So you only offer a 40L pack. That's it, it is your only physical product.
If customers came looking for a backpack we can assume they are looking to go hiking or backpacking somewhere. Their wants and needs do not end with a backpack. They are interested in buying the other gear they will need too.
They may be interested in buying maps or a guidebook...
They may be interested in hiring a guide...
They may be interested in buying a roof rack for their car to get them and their gear to their destination in one trip...
You offer links to those products and services.
But we won't stop here!
Amazon is not the only affiliate provider. There are tons of affiliate programs you can take advantage of by simply searching for them.
Type in "Your Niche + affiliate programs" into Google, and you'll find a bunch of products and services you can refer to that offer tons of value to your visitors.
The bigger picture is that customers visit your site to look at and learn about the backpack that caught their eye from your Facebook ad, Instagram post, or Google search.
While they are on your site they will see a links blog posts that talk all about what size pack is the right size for them.
If you are considering going on a hike and camping trip, then consider our 40L pack! We believe this backpack is perfect for you, but we've also reviewed a ton of others so you can make the best decision for your trip.
Potential customers are reading and engaging with your content, they see the high-quality information you are providing them, and so they come to know you and your site as an authority on the topic. You use this to build trust with your audience, which in turn gives your brand more credibility.
Hopefully, this is all clicking for you and you want to get started right away!
If you still aren't convinced at how important having a companion website can be for your business, consider how little space Amazon gives you to describe your product offering.
Your branded website can display more and better information than your Amazon listing ever could. You can include videos, comparison charts, or other infographics. You can engage with your customers in ways Amazon does not let you. Now you have shoppers that are impressed, educated, and ready to make an informed decision.