In the U.S. alone, 150 million unique visitors hit Amazon’s marketplace every single month. How do you get their attention and convince them to buy your products?
The short answer is Amazon listing optimization. But what does that really mean, and is there a better way to do it?
Amazon Optimization: What is It?
Amazon optimization is a process in which you critically examine each aspect of your product listings, such as the product title, images, and description. Then you experiment with changes to see how they affect sales and other key performance metrics.
The thing to remember when it comes to Amazon is that there are two audiences you need to optimize for: the Amazon search algorithm and your human customers. If you only optimize for the search engine, your listing will look robotic and unreadable to people. Often, sellers are so determined to rank for search terms that they forget to appeal to shoppers IRL.
Let’s talk about ways to optimize your Amazon listings without forgetting that search engines don’t buy your product — people do.
Optimizing Amazon Product Names
Your product name is the perfect example of the two-audience targeting described above. Each audience is looking for different things. Amazon’s algorithm thinks in keywords and straightforward descriptors of what your product is or does. But people like brand names that are memorable, catchy, and easy to pronounce.
In all likelihood, your Amazon product name is going to combine the two. You’ve got about 200 characters (depending on your category) for the title, so use them in a way that is readable and appealing to humans while still including keywords that convey useful information to the search engine about your product.
To optimize for the search engines, use keyword tools to understand competition, search volume, and related terms. To optimize for people, use PickFu.
PickFu is an instant polling service where you can ask questions to people who resemble your target market. PickFu helps you understand reactions to your product’s name and uncover potential issues.
Here’s an example. A seller was developing a product to help apartment renters start an organic vegetable garden in their limited outdoor space. Turning to PickFu, two Amazon product names were tested: PatioHarvest and PorchFarmer.
It turns out, the difference between patio and porch was a major factor in why 76% of respondents preferred PatioHarvest. As one respondent noted, “apartments have patios most of the time, not porches.” In addition, the word farmer didn’t resonate. “Harvest evokes images of the produce you will get from your garden,” another respondent said. “Farmer evokes images of hard work!”
Testing product names this way helps you understand what shoppers will be more drawn to. These insights will help direct your branding and messaging throughout other parts of your product listing. Testing also helps you see problems you might not have realized were there. Unintended word associations, difficulty in pronunciation, and unflattering brand perceptions are pitfalls you want to avoid before launching any product.
Optimizing Product Photos on Amazon
Your Amazon product photos are critical to your sales. Online, photos are the closest shoppers will come to feeling your product in their hands. You want your photos to tell a visual story by calling out important features, demonstrating product uses, and creating emotional appeal.
Deciding which image to use as your main photo may critically affect your click-through rates. You could run a split test on Amazon by swapping out a featured photo after a few days, or, for even faster results, try a PickFu poll.
Steve Chou runs Bumblebee Linens. After testing two product photos using PickFu, he saw that 50 female poll respondents preferred a new photo over the old one by a 3 to 1 margin. The survey results came back in less than 20 minutes. When Steve updated his listing with the new photo, sales of the item jumped 209%.
Just like testing product names helps you uncover issues, testing photos will also point to problems you might not have foreseen. In this poll, an e-commerce seller asked 50 women to choose which photo they preferred for a set of exercise bands.
Both photo choices showed the resistance bands and storage bag, but Option B featured a photo of a ballerina using a band to stretch her leg, while Option A showed only the ballerina’s leg.
Respondents showed a strong negative reaction to Option A because of the disembodied leg. “A phantom ballet leg just hanging over a product is creepy,” one respondent wrote. More negative words panelists used: random, weird, odd, strange, and awkward — not exactly sentiments anyone wants to be associated with their product.
Optimizing Amazon Product Descriptions
Just like your product title, your product’s description should combine carefully considered keywords for the search engines and well-written copy that appeals to your customers.
A strong product description answers the most commonly asked questions. It provides enough detail that consumers feel confident that they understand what they are buying. It’s also easily scannable, creating a clear hierarchy by using HTML tags like bold type, italicized type, and bullet points. Scannable copy helps customers decide whether and where to read further based on what interests them.
In another PickFu poll, 50 Amazon Prime members were asked which product description they liked better for a spherical ice tray. While the two descriptions were similar in length, one used capital letters to introduce each bullet point, such as “PERFECT FOR THE WHISKEY DRINKER” and “PRESERVES THE FLAVOR OF YOUR DRINK.” Respondents found this all-caps type treatment easier to skim and more attention-grabbing. (Of course, the lesson here is not to put your product descriptions in all caps. In this description, the capital letters were sparsely used — only at the beginning of a bullet point that is written in sentence case).
In your product descriptions, experiment with length, tones of voice, and product emphases. Perhaps describe the product’s origins or the materials used, or emphasize your product guarantees and its functional properties. Have different writers create descriptions and see which one resonates best.
The conversation around optimizing Amazon listings is weighted far too heavily on what the algorithm favors. Of course, ranking on Amazon is important. No one is disputing that. But ranking is also influenced by what people do once they reach your listings — do they flip through your photos? Purchase your item? Or go elsewhere?
Remember that at the end of the day, you’ve got to appeal to real people. And the best way to know what real people like is to ask them directly. Are they seeing what you intend them to see, or are they bringing associations you might not have thought of? Is anything about your listing confusing? Have you left anything out?
It’s a lot to consider. But quick and easy tools like PickFu make the process of optimizing your Amazon listings painless.
Kim Kohatsu is the Director of Marketing at PickFu, an instant polling service that e-commerce sellers use to optimize product listings. With PickFu, online stores can quickly test product photos, description copy, and UI layouts with shoppers who reflect their target demographic, including Amazon Prime members, those within a certain income bracket, or people based on traits such as homeownership, marital status, or exercise habits.