We’re always looking for new and inventive ways to raise awareness about our brand. But in the current ecommerce sphere, this can be especially difficult. Each year, the number of online stores increases steadily, meaning more competitors are duking it out for right to sell to customers. In response, ecommerce sites are beginning to optimize their platforms in favor of better and more targeted product listing options for online sellers. Among the leaders is industry giant Amazon. Late last year, they quietly announced a new seller feature called Enhanced Brand Content (EBC). It’s intriguing in many ways, as it signals a new emphasis towards maximizing the seller’s options for marketing products rather than purely the experience of the consumer. How will it work out for both parties, and how will it stack up to preexisting content enhancement features? Let’s take a journey together and find out.

The ecommerce industry isn’t becoming LESS saturated. As we can see below, the industry grows at around 20% each year.

eCommerce-Market-Size-Infographic.png

Source: Lemon Stand

12 million stores dominate the ecommerce sphere today. What does this mean for new ecommerce stores? The market is tougher than ever. Exacerbating the situation is the fact that so many people are buying online these days. We’ve seen iconic brick-and-mortar stores like Macy’s downsizing by the hundreds in favor of the ecommerce boom. Will this trend continue? You’d better believe so. That’s why Enhanced Brand Content is worth exploring today.

How Does it Work?

Enhanced content is nothing new for Amazon. As many of you are familiar, they have this thing called Amazon A+ Content, which affords brands the ability to write extended versions of their regular product descriptions, using higher quality images and more written content. The HTML-based feature allowed brands greater customization options that would presumably lead to anywhere from 3 to 10% more conversions. While it worked well for certain brands, it was simply too expensive for smaller private labels to afford (anywhere from $400-1,500 per PAGE).

Enhanced Brand Content is the much needed answer to the complaints of third-party sellers who wanted better customization options for a manageable price (it’s free). Any seller can use it provided they are registered for Amazon’s Brand Registry, meaning they market their own branded products.

Once you’ve registered, go into your Amazon Seller Central interface and click on ‘Enhanced Brand Content’ underneath the ‘Advertising’ tab. From here you can start using the EBC tool—this is the interface that allows you to customize your brand content.

enhanced-content-detail-page.png

As you can see, there are multiple template options letting you dictate how you want your content displayed to potential consumers. Select a template based on how many images you want to include, how many rows of written content your product requires, and anything else pertinent to converting customers (within reason, we’ll discuss in a bit).

Once you’ve chosen a template you can then start filling it in with product-related content. The nice thing is you don’t have to be a coding master to format this; EBC handles the placement of both your text and images (a good and a bad thing, we’ll discuss in a bit).

Here is what the final version of your EBC will look like:

Cheerios-Amazon-614x1024.png

In this Cheerios example, we see that EBC text is not relegated to bullet points. You can add content in paragraph form if it betters serves your product. Also, notice the nice line spacing? This is a far cry from old product descriptions where the lines of text seemed to bleed right through one another.

amazon1.png

This was another major complaint for users of the Amazon A+ content pages. They would end up with a lot of this…

sportwatch_apluspage_50.jpg

If you don’t want to, you don’t have to use conventional text at all. Enhanced Brand Content allows you to implement infographics, charts, or other forms of visual content that will endear consumers to your brand and drive conversions for your product.

Possible Violations to Be Aware of?

Although EBC offers sellers a good deal of flexibility, there are certain no-no’s you must be aware of in order to ensure your listings get approved by Amazon. The approval process can be dragged out over several days if you keep getting elements of your content disapproved.

Though they may seem innocuous, things like warranties, product satisfaction claims, and return information can prevent your content from launching. Additionally, references to price are frowned upon.

To Amazon’s credit, they do a pretty good job of informing EBC sellers about potential violations or other issues before you actually submit your content for approval. Unfortunately, the approval process can be subject to human errors—reviewers may see that you’ve been dinged about something beforehand and be led to believe that the issue still exists, even when it doesn’t.

Just be mindful of any notifications you receive while creating your Enhanced Brand Content and do your best to eradicate the problems.

Why Does Enhanced Brand Content Work?

EBC pivots away from the generic nature of most Amazon listings, instead offering a more in-depth and visually appealing look at a brand’s product.

  • Visual Content

The incorporation of charts, images, infographics, and videos is paramount to a brand’s success using Enhanced Brand Content. Why? Because the internet is becoming a visually-dominated medium. An Animoto survey from 2015 indicates that 4x as many consumers would rather watch a video about a product than read a description about it. Plus, when people hear information they only remember 10% of it three days later; when they hear information paired with relevant visual cues (i.e. images, videos, etc) they retain 65% of the information!

Not only does this apply to visual content marketers in general, this advice should inform the promotional activities of ecommerce stores. Firstly, be sure you’re using using professional-quality images at all times. Even when perusing Amazon listings today, I’m still seeing products being marketed with low-quality, generic stock photos. If you don’t aim for the most professional look conceivable, your conversion rate will suffer. As the market continues to saturate, looks become increasingly more important.

Secondly, depending on your niche and ideal consumer, don’t be afraid to take your imagery up a notch with a nice chart or infographic that potential buyers can absorb. For example, if you’re selling make-up or cosmetic products, you could include a chart showing consumers the various shades of color they will achieve as they apply varying levels of your product.

day-to-night-face-charts.jpg

Thirdly, make sure you’re using the right visual content or your efforts can actually hamper your conversion rate. Keep the content focused on adding value to your product, not subtracting from it. If you’re selling furniture and you throw in an animated stock photo of a table, that won’t exactly help you increase sales for your tables. If instead you have images of the actual table in use for various-stated purposes, you might be onto something. Along these lines, another consideration is video or image placement. Luckily, EBC assists you in this regard through their multiple template options. This brings us to our next point.

  • Layout

Anything to differentiate your products from the generic listing format is a big win for your brand. Consumers are so used to browsing products page after product page, seeing the same formatting, images sizes, and placement of content—when they see that you’re doing something different, they will feel compelled to remain on your page longer.

Aside from the aforementioned A+ pages Amazon rolled out a few years back, they haven’t offered sellers much in the way of aesthetic customizations. Unfortunately, Amazon still doesn’t give us much more to work with as far as advanced HTML features are concerned, but EBC is at least a step in the right direction.

  • Moves The Sales Funnel Along

Because Amazon is such a robust search engine, customers are met with a bevy of product offerings each time they perform a search. EBC-enabled products will stand out from the rest because of… well, all the reasons we just discussed. But what is your end goal from this? To move customers along the sales funnel by giving them more product information than your competitors.

hubspot-new-graphic (1).png

Consider your sales funnel progression within a standard inbound marketing framework. Taking customers from ‘Attract’ to ‘Convert’ to ‘Close’ can be a herculean task, especially when you’re competing against dozens of other third party sellers in your niche. EBC is designed to give you more freedom to convince would-be buyers that your product is their best option on Amazon. The part of the funnel where EBC shines is during the ‘Convert’ phase. Your EBC should include calls-to-action that explain precisely the reasons why customers need to buy your product. If your content is strong, consumers won’t even bother exploring your competitors’ products, because why should they? Yours both LOOKS and SOUNDS better.

You earn consumer trust by endearing them to your brand. With EBC you can more easily and freely do this.

How Does The Conversion Rate Compare?

Because EBC came out just last November, we only have a small sample size. The timing of its release coincided with the holiday season, meaning conversion rates would be inflated at best.

Amazon’s website claims brands should see a rise of between 3-10% in conversion rates, a pretty wide discrepancy. But as we know, the average conversion rate for ecommerce sites sits at 2-3%, meaning this feature could potentially reveal a vast improvement for brands.

The other variable is mobile. With over half the internet on mobile, how will EBC-products convert on that medium? Given that global smartphone conversion rates are still quite low, 1.55%, EBC wouldn’t likely make a huge difference. Plus, EBC won’t show up on the main page in mobile browsers. To find this content, consumers must click through the product description. To be safe, make sure to have strong, plain text copy in your product descriptions, assuming this is as far as mobile consumers will go.

Another interesting tidbit that could factor into EBC conversion rates is the fact that 59% of customers always read the full product description before purchasing. This leads me to believe that EBC could convert far better than average product descriptions because they decimate a higher quantity of information, and a potentially higher quality as well.

Integrate Them Into Your Strategy

Enhanced Brand Content needs to be treated like any product page on a site. Optimize, test, optimize, test should be a recurring pattern. It’s okay to start small, applying EBC to only a few products while you figure out which templates, images, and written content converts best. As soon as you see the results start rolling in, it’s time to scale up!

Remember that EBC also has SEO implications. The first 150 words of your product description will appear in search results, meaning that incorporating SEO keywords is a must-do. Don’t simply expect EBC itself to improve your conversion rates; part of the 3-10% figure Amazon throws around has to do with your own optimization efforts.

Making your content easy to find means providing links through your own website. You can also repurpose bits and pieces of your EBC listings onto your site. Giving your consumers the best shopping experience around means improving your personal site in conjunction with your EBC and other Amazon content.

landing_aplus._CB313730111_.png

Don’t forget about Amazon sponsored content either. Amazon ads are similar to Google AdWords, but since they are located on Amazon consumers are more likely to be in a purchasing mode when viewing them. Depending on your KPI, you’ll have to weigh the value that your ad spend has in generating conversions. In any event, it doesn’t hurt to spend a little bit on Amazon sponsored content so that your products appear in front of more consumers.

Lastly, make sure your brand building strategy incorporates social media—both for sponsored content and otherwise. Facebook’s ads are seeing high conversion rates for relatively low CPCs, while Instagram is taking visual content to the next level with their sponsored video offerings. The key to EBC success is by having a diverse and well-optimized strategy. ABO—always be optimizing.