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3 Trends from Prime Day 2019 to guide your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Amazon strategy

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While shoppers may be thinking “back to school” for sellers, September means it’s time to set a strategy for key Q4 sales events like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, if you haven’t started already. To help marketers get a better handle on how to maximize their sales and profit over these high-traffic periods, my colleagues and I examined Prime Day 2019 sales activity across our client base of thousands of Amazon sellers. The results showed that the biggest trends to watch are the increase in volume not matching cost-per-click increases, product discounting not being a barrier to revenue growth and the impact of organic sales.

The data below is based on two separate studies comparing Prime Day and non-Prime Day performance. Vertical-specific data is derived from sales and advertising activity across more than 1,300 products sold by our clients in each of the “Clothing Shoes and Jewelry,” “Health and Household” and “Home and Kitchen” categories on Amazon.

Non-vertical specific data is reflective of sales and advertising performance data across more than 1,100 products sold by our clients.

In both data sets, the Prime Day period represents data collected on July 15 and 16, 2019. The “non-Prime Day” period represents data collected over the four Mondays and Tuesdays prior to Prime Day. Specifically, these ‘non-Prime Day’ dates were averages across June 17, 18, 24 and 25, along with July 1, 2, 8 and 9. Finally, all products included in the study averaged at least one weekly sale over the ‘non-Prime Day’ period.

Expect markedly higher volume – but not (necessarily) CPCs or conversion rates

Events like Prime Day obviously generate a massive increase in traffic and sales on Amazon, but the corresponding increase in advertising activity doesn’t necessarily cause cost-per-clicks or conversion rates to rise at the same rate. Within the “Clothing Shoes and Jewelry” category, conversion rates stayed the same, and cost-per-clicks actually dipped 5.7% on Prime Day, despite ad spend rising 33% and revenue rising 540%.

Of course, this does vary a bit by category. Within the “Health and Household” and “Home and Kitchen” categories, cost-per-clicks did rise in the low-double-digit percentages with conversion rates close behind. Yet it’s worth noting that these higher costs of advertising dovetailed with significantly larger revenue increases – to the tune of several hundred percentage points.

These stats underscore why marketers should increase budgets during high-traffic events like Prime Day. There is a unique ability during these events to drive large double- to triple-digit increases in daily sales figures through advertising across key search terms, with a minimal increase in cost on a cost-per-clic basis. Prime Day is no secret to sellers, but despite the obvious marked increase in competition from an advertising perspective, the increase in the ‘supply’ of users buying on Amazon during these high-traffic periods is outpacing advertising activity.  

Don’t sleep on organic sales

In the same vertical-specific data set for Clothing Shoes and Jewelry, it’s worth noting the substantial increase in organic sales on top of advertising-derived sales. The average change in TACoS (total advertising cost of sale), which combines ad-derived and non-ad derived sales, was -64%, while the average cost of sale only decreased by an average of -3%. We saw similar trends in other verticals as well.

TACoS is important to track because of the nature of Amazon’s algorithm. Activity generated by a paid listing impacts organic ranking, on top of behavior like consumers beginning with an unbranded search within a product category, seeing a brand in a paid listing, and then immediately doing another search for that brand’s products.

In this way, the fact that organic sales jumped more than ad-derived sales actually bolsters the case for aggressively advertising leading into high-traffic periods – even if this means pulling back on budgets earlier to save up for that big push. Advertising a product on key unbranded terms can have effects that help drive increased organic sales during these lucrative events.

It’s not ‘discount or die’

Out of the more than 1,100 products we studied across a wide variety of categories over the Prime Day period, 94% saw revenue increases compared to the prior four Monday and Tuesday average. But importantly, while discounted products saw the largest average period-over-period revenue increases (+820%), the roughly 59% of products in the sample that were not discounted over Prime Day still saw average revenue growth of +496%.

The data above illustrates how discounts do help in generating higher sales over events like Prime Day, but also that consumers coming to Amazon during these times are in the mood to shop generally. While they may be bargain hunting for some items, it’s clear a sizable percentage are buying products which are not discounted, and rising overall sales volume.

As there is revenue growth across the board, you should be strategic in terms of what products in your catalog should be discounted or promoted via a Prime Day or similar deal in order to generate the best outcome for their business. Maintaining margins can absolutely be taken into account, alongside maximizing sales volume. Depending on your situation, this could mean, for example, discounting a soon-to-be deprecated product to move as much volume as possible, or discounting a brand new product to maximize sales, relevancy, and reviews to feed long-term visibility on Amazon.

Pulling back a bit, talking to sellers we generally saw companies that employed aggressive advertising strategies have the biggest sales bumps on Prime Day. Granted, in nearly every one of these cases, the seller was focusing its budget and discount efforts on specific, strategic product lines, rather than an entire catalog. Expect this to also be the case during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Andrew Waber is the director of insights at retail optimization platform (ROP) provider Teikametrics. In his current role, Andrew manages the analysis, editorial direction and strategy for Teikametrics’ reporting on online retail advertising and the larger online retail marketplace. Prior to his time at Teikametrics, Andrew served as the manager of data insights and media relations at Salsify, the manager of market insights and media relations for advertising automation software provider Nanigans, and as the market analyst and lead author of reports for Chitika Insights, the research arm of the Chitika online ad network. Andrew’s commentary on online trends has been quoted by the New York Times, Re/Code and The Guardian, among other outlets.

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Google extends optimization score to Display campaigns

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The campaign optimization score that Google Ads shows for Search and Shopping campaigns is now available for Display campaigns. Scores will be available at the campaign level, and a combined account-level score now encompasses Search, Shopping and Display. You may also see recommendations tailored to Display campaigns.

Optimization scores in Google Ads are now available for Display campaigns.

What is Google Ads optimization score? Scores range from 0% to 100% and indicate how well your campaigns are expected to perform based on a number of factors such as targeting, bid automation, ads and extensions and more. The score is accompanied by a set of automated recommendations with indicators of how much of a score improvement you can expect to see by accepting them.

Why we should care. These scores and accompanying recommendations can be directionally helpful, but don’t accept the recommendations blindly. Carefully consider them and whether they are right for your campaign. And equally important on the flip side, an optimization score of 100% with no recommendations does not mean there aren’t plenty of opportunities for improvement.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, running the day to day editorial operations across all publications and overseeing paid media coverage. Ginny Marvin writes about paid digital advertising and analytics news and trends for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, Ginny has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.



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Google Search Console messages can now be viewed without leaving reports

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Messages within Google Search Console are now accessible through the bell icon at the top of any page within Search Console, the company announced Wednesday. The updated interface now allows site owners to view their messages from anywhere within the tool, without leaving reports.

Source: Google.

Why we care

Being able to reference messages without having to leave the report you’re viewing makes information more accessible and improves our workflow, which can facilitate better decision making.

The categorized messages (as seen in the example above) will also make it easier to locate communications pertaining to a specific issue.

More on the announcement

  • Messages are now categorized into types, such as Performance, Coverage, Enhancement types and so on.
  • When a user gains access to a new site in Search Console, they will be able to view all messages the site has previously received, dating back to May 23, 2019. Messages sent prior to that date can only be viewed in the legacy message list or in your personal inbox.
  • For the time being, old messages are still available in the “Legacy tools & reports” section of the sidebar.

About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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How to breathe fresh life into evergreen content (and get fresh traffic, too)

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NEW YORK — Creating content can do wonders for your brand, but not if it goes unseen. A staggering 90% of the content in existence today has been created within the last two years, yet 91% of content gets no traffic from Google, said John Shehata, vice president of audience development strategy for Conde Nast, at SMX East in New York.

Investing in new content isn’t always the right choice for better content marketing. Sometimes, brands are better served by leveraging assets they already have or putting a fresh spin on an existing topic.

Old content, new traffic

“For the first 100 articles that we optimized, we saw a 210% increase in search traffic and our keyword coverage for that content increased by 900%,” said Shehata, explaining the results of his “Pinetree Initiative,” an experiment aimed at expanding existing content and merging underperforming content to increase organic visibility. “Once we refreshed the content, the traffic started increasing immediately. It went from like 100 visits to like 15,000–20,000 visits.”

(Don’t Miss SMX West in San Jose!)

“You’re reporting news or something trending, the traffic spikes out for like 24 to 48 hours, and it’s done, right?” Shehata said. “Versus evergreen content — that content can bring you traffic for a year plus.”

Content is considered evergreen if it remains relevant long after its publication. Tutorials, FAQ’s, in-depth guides, expert interviews and case studies are all examples of evergreen content.

In addition to providing more sustainable traffic to your site, evergreen content also insulates publishers from slow news cycles and can drive prospects to the top of the funnel, Shehata said.

However, news content can still be valuable and publishers should aim for a 60/40 split of both content types, in either direction, said Shehata. For example, if you’re a news publisher, 60% news and 40% evergreen content is more likely to resonate with your audience, as where an industry-based publication might publish 60% evergreen and 40% news content.

Refreshing evergreen content, step by step

Conde Nast’s search traffic and ranking keyword growth was made possible by a process that Shehata developed specifically for content refreshes. It begins with examining your own site, analyzing the search results pages for your target keywords, evaluating competing content, optimizing on-page content and publishing and promotion, as illustrated below.

1. Assess your existing content. Brands can begin their evergreen content refreshes by either selecting a topic and keywords or selecting a main page to refresh, said Shehata.

Whichever starting point you choose, the next thing you’ll need to do is identify all of your own competing pages that rank for the target keywords. Shehata does this by combining Google Sheets with various keyword research tool APIs to consolidate the URLs and relevant metrics into one place, giving him a better idea of the landscape of his content, which pages to avoid cannibalizing, which underperforming pages can be merged into more authoritative content and which relevant content can be included in your new evergreen article.

2. Research the results page. “Last year, we had this amazing page about celebrity homes, and it wasn’t getting any traffic at all,” Shehata said as an example of the importance of aligning with search intent.

“When we analyzed the SERPs for other types of content that are ranked for that topic, all of them were galleries. Google identified the intent for ‘celebrity homes’ as people watching galleries. So, we converted the page from an article format with a couple of images to a gallery with less content. And, guess what? Immediately ranked number two. So, the characteristics of the content are very important for the success of the SEO.”

Understanding the type of content search engines surface for specific queries can give publishers an idea of how to present their content so as to increase their chances of ranking well.

The difference in search intent between the queries “how to pack a suitcase” and “best carry on suitcase” manifests in the different types of results that surface.

In addition to the particular formats of content that make up the top organic results, you’ll also want to take note of any rich results that appear and ask yourself why they might be surfacing. For example, if a news carousel is present, is the topic news-driven, and if so, how will that affect your odds of ranking well?

Featured snippets, which often resolve a user’s query right on the search results page, may also provide you with information about the questions people are likely to ask on a given topic. Simple resources such as Google’s “People also ask” box can help you identify common questions to address, which yields opportunities to add more depth to your evergreen content, Shehata said.

3. Evaluate competing content. “If you are writing about how to boil an egg, and all the other sites that are ranking mention ‘eggshells,’ and ‘breakfast,’ and ‘easy,’ you may want to consider these topics to give you complete and in-depth coverage of your topic,” Shehata said.

Conducting a term frequency-inverse document frequency (TF-IDF) analysis is one method that may help you identify those “must-have” terms as well as the related entities that should be included in your refreshed evergreen content.

The next step in the process involves a more granular look at the pages that rank for your target keywords to determine what search engines consider to be a “right answer” for that type of query, Shehata said. As with the SERP analysis step, you’ll want to examine the way the content is presented, but also its length, publishing date and other commonalities for clues as to why the content might rank well.

4. Optimize on-page content. After collecting the above-mentioned information, it’s time to refresh the content by expanding the original article, merging it with other relevant, underperforming content and setting up redirects.

“When you refresh content, it should be at least 30% new,” Shehata said. A new title, introduction, publishing date and more new internal links should accompany your optimizations.

Once your evergreen content has been updated, look for internal linking opportunities amongst your existing articles. You’ll also want to loop in your social and email teams to make sure that the content that got refreshed is in their workflow. “It’s all the signals that tell Google this is new, refreshed content,” said Shehata.

During your content refresh process, pages with conversion goals, such as newsletter signups or affiliate links, attached to them may have been affected. This would be the time to clean up any loose ends by finding a way to implement them on your updated page.

5. Time to publish. For evergreen content pertaining to seasonal trends, aim to publish three months ahead of time to maximize your results, Shehata advised.

“In general, your refreshed, optimized content will last you at least a year, if not longer,” said Shehata. Should traffic start to substantially decline, it may be time to conduct another round of refreshes. Creating an editorial refresh calendar can also help keep you on track with future updates.

Quality content takes a considerable amount of resources to create. But, by finding creative ways to refresh or repurpose it, while striking a balance between evergreen and news content, you stand to maximize the efficacy of the content you do create and bolster traffic for your brand over the long haul.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.



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