Top 5 Mistakes Brands Make When Selling on Amazon

The most successful brands on Amazon continually look for ways to improve conversions and customer satisfaction. Established brands usually have their systems down pat, but as legendary entrepreneur Jim Rohn once said:

“When you're playing the game, it's hard to think of everything.”

When you’re constantly dealing with the day-to-day operations of your business, it’s difficult to see holes in your processes or strategies that make you vulnerable to the effects of increased competition or changing markets.

This tunnel-vision phenomenon is a big reason why we often see advanced sellers and established brands making common mistakes that can hurt their bottom line - and is also why our clients find our account audits so valuable.

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Our team has completed dozens of audits for both Seller and Vendor brands across various categories, and this in-depth experience has given us a unique perspective on the common issues brands face.

The results of these audits have enabled us to identify both gaps in the market - and the profitable opportunities that accompany them - as even established brands keep letting these oversights slip through the cracks.

In this article we’ll discuss the top 5 mistakes we see brands consistently make when selling on Amazon - as well as our recommendations about what your brand can do to avoid these oversights and stop leaving money on the table.

As an added bonus for more advanced sellers, we’ll show you some areas where we see establish brands consistently ignoring quick wins. Using these insights, you can take advantage of these gaps in the competition’s strategy and increase conversions and sales quickly.

But first, let’s take a quick look at what we look for when conducting an audit.

 

What to Look for in an Account and Content Audit?

Many brands get so wrapped up in the technical side of running a business, that they often overlook clear solutions to problems such as unauthorized sellers, lack of resources, or poor supply chain operations. 

When conducting an account audit for a client, our team first researches the brand’s website and overall online presence to get a bird’s-eye-view of their business. We do a high-level sweep to identify any obvious red flags, which helps us create an action plan to address their biggest challenges.

Once we have a deep understanding of their brand, we’ll dive into the nitty gritty of their Amazon account and analyze the front-end of their business. The insights we uncover during this stage of the audit offer golden nuggets of intel that help brands improve their product page, and take advantage of missed opportunities for improving conversions and growth. 

As a last step, we scour listings to identify any unauthorized sellers, and map out a plan of action to help brands remove them. 

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As you can imagine, collectively these audits reveal a wealth of information about how brands operate and sell on Amazon. They help us identify common pitfalls we see brands making over and over that impact their sales and growth. 

Let’s take a look at the most common mistakes brands make on Amazon, and more importantly, how to use this insight to gain a competitive advantage in the market. We’ll also take a peek at what advanced sellers are NOT doing that they should be - and how to leverage those missed opportunities for growing your own brand.

 

The Top 5 Mistakes Brands Consistently Make on Amazon

#5 - Poor Ad Budget Planning

One mistake we see brands make again and again is allowing their advertising campaigns to run out of daily budget too quickly. 

Many times brands set an extremely low daily budget for their campaign. This causes the campaign to burn through the daily budget irrespective of demographics, time zones or other targeting criteria. 

And of course, you don’t want to spend your entire daily budget before most of your target audience even wakes up do you? 

For example, let’s say you’re selling paper notebooks, and are targeting 2 keywords (“blue notebook” and “paper notebook”) - You’re bidding $1.5 per click on each keyword. 

After 2 weeks, you realize that 80% of your ad sales are coming from the keyword term, “blue notebook.” Not only that, but the term “paper notebook” is actually LOSING money. 

Of course,  it would be crazy to bid the same amount on both of those keywords since they offer different levels of ROI. It would be a smart move to lower the bid for the under-performing “paper notebook” term. And it would make sense to raise the bid for the best-performing “blue notebook” term to try and get even more clicks from that already-profitably query.

Quick Win Action Step: 

Pay close attention to your daily budget and weigh it against both your overall budget, as well as the desired length of your campaign. 

Also update your bids on a keyword-level and use the profitability of each given keyword as a guide to bid higher or lower on that particular search term. 

 

#4 Only Using Default Keyword Settings

Amazon’s default setting for keyword match type is to use “broad” match. Since this is what Amazon suggests, most sellers choose to use this default and completely ignore the “phrase” or “exact” match options. 

By only using the default setting, brands miss out on additional reach they could be leveraging by adding the other 2 variations. Of course, there are always exceptions, but in general, these variations offer additional opportunity to target your audience more precisely. It’s rare we encounter a situation where it’s in a brand’s best interest to stick with only broad keyword match types without running the additional variations. 

Quick Win Action Step: 

Even though Amazon suggests “broad” match as a default for keyword settings, ignoring the other 2 variations types means you’re missing out on a bigger audience, as well as the ability to target your audience more accurately. Enable “phrase” or “exact” match for greater reach.

 

#3 Not Staying Updated with the Latest Features

Managing an established brand on Amazon frequently feels like you have a million things on your plate and never enough time to deal with them. So it’s easy to let researching and reading Amazon news slide down to the bottom of your to-do list. 

But falling behind when Amazon releases a new feature means that the competition is getting new weapons in their arsenal while you’re still armed with outdated equipment.

For example, these are all recent new features that brands would benefit from, and may need in order to keep up with the competition:

  • Availability of storefront for Seller Central users
  • Policy changes and restrictions regarding headlines and product display ads
  • The availability of Headline Search ads in Seller Central
  • And more!

Quick Win Action Step: 

While there’s no shortcut to keeping on top of all the latest releases, following industry-relevant expert content (such as Bobsled Marketing’s weekly newsletter and the Ecommerce Braintrust podcast) is an easy way to keep in the loop. 

If you’re actively using these industry platforms on a regular basis, it will be easy to update your listings and business operations and stay ahead of the many changes in the market. 

Other ways to keep in the loop involve participating in relevant online communities, and even contacting Amazon’s support team to ask for clarification or guidance on new terms of service or standards. 

Amazon also posts news and updates on services.amazon.com, such as this one for FBA sellers: 

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In addition, you can also use the “Amazon Follow” feature to stay updated with competing brands and interests relevant to your own business. 

 

#2 Disorganized PPC Campaign Structure

A poorly structured PPC campaign can negatively impact brands in various different ways.
 
For example, clustering different products within one campaign can make it difficult to to analyze the performance of a particular campaign, since you then have to navigate through different pages of data. 

This can make it hard to see the big picture or get an accurate view of performance.

Another example of bad campaign structure includes bunching all variations of a keyword within a single PPC ad group, or using the same bid for all of the keyword within a given ad group. 

This makes it difficult to get accurate data that pinpoints which keywords are performing well, and which ones aren’t making the cut. 

For instance, if you have 25 products all bunched together in a single campaign - and then try to analyze the performance of that campaign - it will be difficult to quickly pick apart which products are best sellers, and which are under-performing. 

Quick Win Action Step: 

Organize your campaigns in a way that makes it quick and easy to review performance. An easy way to do this would be to have only one parent ASIN per campaign. This allows you to track the performance on a per-product basis so you can identify exactly where to focus your attention. 

Also make sure to promote only one product per campaign. This way you can pinpoint the campaign’s success and accurately attribute it to individual products. 
 

#1 Inconsistent Listings

Since many brands adopt a “learn as you go” approach to growth, they often make changes to the way they list their products, or even forget to update previous listings after adjustments have been made. 

This causes their catalog to appear disjointed and (sometimes) unprofessional. 

The most common mistake we see in our audits is inconsistency across a brand’s various listings, including:

  • Number of images
  • Quality of product images
  • Title strings
  • Bullet points
  • Product Descriptions
  • The use of A+ pages or Enhanced Brand Content
  • And more…

Inconsistencies in your catalog send a confusing message to the consumer, and introducing this doubt often results in lost sales in the long run. 

Quick Win Action Step:

There are several steps you can take to improve consistency among your listings.
 
First - invest in high-resolution photography. Images are a quick and easy way to convey information, such as product dimensions or purpose of use. When choosing media, focus on images that help the customer understand how this product will fit into their lives and make their lives easier. This includes images that show your product in use, or as part of a consumer lifestyle.

Second - invest in high-performance copywriting. Your content should be professional written and focus on the benefits that the product offers the consumer. The last thing customers want to read is a long laundry-list of bland features and functions. 

For example, stating that your umbrella is waterproof is important - but what’s the real benefit to the consumer here? It’s that the umbrella keeps you dry in the rain. A professional sales and marketing writer will understand how to craft the language of your content to speak directly to the core desires and pain points of the customer.

Finally - take time to standardize the way you list products, then update old listings to reflect these new standards. For example, create a template for how you structure titles, bullets, and descriptions. By making sure customers see a standardized format for each product in your catalog, not only will you build familiarity and confidence in your brand, but this also makes launching new products quick and easy. 
 

Bonus - Commonly overlooked areas where advanced brands can make a quick win

There are a few tactics we see many advanced brands ignoring, but would offer quick and easy wins for them.

Perhaps the most obvious is to simply read and respond to product reviews. Then, use that direct customer feedback to improve your product page and increase conversions. 

For example, if a customer complains that a particular feature of your product is different than stated, then it’s an easy fix to update the language of your listing and more clearly describe that feature. Reflecting these changes in your listing will help avoid negative reviews in the future.

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While this seems like common sense, it’s one area that is often ignored, which is a shame since it’s quick and easy to integrate this into your normal operations. 

Brands can also take their listing to the next level by using A+ content on Vendor Central, and Enhanced Brand Content on Seller Central. For example, if a competitor’s pages are enhanced for both desktop and mobile - and also use engaging images and content - then you better be sure you keep up!

Product pages need to be visually stimulating and speak to the customer in the logical, helpful and illustrative way. A+ pages and EBC are easy ways to achieve this and shouldn’t be ignored.
 

Is YOUR Brand Guilty of These Common Mistakes When Selling on Amazon?

When you’re constantly dealing with inventory, customer service enquiries, or any of the many other tasks involved with running a successful brand on Amazon, it can be easy to lose perspective and let any one one of these mistakes slip through the cracks.

Regardless of whether or not you find yourself guilty of these common mistakes, it’s always prudent to occasionally take a step back and look at the overall picture of how your business operations are running. 

And of course - the Bobsled team is always here to help. If you have questions about any of these common mistakes we’ve listed above, then let us know in the comments below!