Anyone who’s been in the Amazon scene for awhile has likely seen their efforts to make the image of their “everything store” be less scattered with randomness and more of a “branded” experience.
If you’ve been under a rock the last few years, Amazon has put considerable resources into developing programs to support and encourage brand growth. This is seen in the robustness of Brand Registry, the constant roll out of new features for Brand Analytics, new programs like Launchpad, and more.
In line with this thinking, Amazon has recently announced the rollout of a new feature directly linked with their Brand Storefronts, Posts, and Live features: Manage Your Customer Engagement.
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Manage Your Customer Engagement is a new feature that Amazon is marketing as a tool to help brands “increase retention,” “build relationships,” and “drive engagement.”
Currently the tool lives under the “Brands” tab for brand registered sellers in seller central. However, the page still says that the tool is on its way and is not yet available for use.
As is usual with Amazon, this appears to be a slow rollout with select few having access, and currently that access extends to some (if not all) 1P vendors.
So you might be asking “But what does it DO?”
Currently it appears the tool has extremely limited functionality, but essentially it allows brand owners to email brand “followers” (more on that later) specifically to promote a new product.
Brand owners cannot currently edit the email subject line or the heading, but this should change in the future.
The feature only allows inputs for images, a logo and an ASIN that must be no older than 6 months available for sale on the platform. There is no input for copy, so the email is entirely limited to Amazon’s template stating “From a Brand You Follow” and then a view button for the product.
Uploaded images, product title, and reviews are the only things that will be visible.
Now let’s address the other big question: Who can we send these emails to when the tool IS available?
Prominent on brand storefronts is a “follow button.” I mentioned before that currently it appears only “followers” can be targeted with these emails, but what exactly is a follower?
Here’s how Amazon describes its Follow feature:
“Amazon Follow enables you to stay up to date with the people, brands, and interests that you care about on Amazon. You may receive relevant updates about the people, brands, and interests that you follow. You can manage the people you follow on your Profile.”
Now, if you look at the default follow suggestion page…
You’ll notice it’s primarily filled with authors.
This is because this feature has existed for a long time within Amazon. Like most neat and shiny new features for Amazon product sellers, this one is a recycled and modified version of something they’ve utilized for years on the bookseller side.
In fact, the groundwork for the M.Y.C.E. tool was laid out long ago as well.
We found a page about “sharing with followers” that was created by Amazon (primarily for Authors) long before this engagement tool. Here’s what it says…
“Sharing Your Release with Followers Through Amazon FollowAs an author, artist, or other contributor, you may be invited by Amazon Follow to share a personal message about an upcoming release to your followers.
When you share a message about your release, Amazon may share it with followers in email notifications. It will also be available on your followers’ Follow Updates timeline.Messages are moderated and must comply with all applicable Amazon terms and policies, including the Community Guidelines and Amazon’s Conditions of Use.
At this time, sharing through Amazon Follow is available by invitation only. If you are invited to share and choose not to participate, Amazon may still promote or market your upcoming release to your followers.”
Ok, so we have a new tool that has the potential to be incredibly useful for new product launches, but it is only effective with followers of the brand.
Then that means the objective needs to be to get more followers, right?
Email marketing doesn’t work without a list to email. Amazon has relegated the engagement tool list to your brand’s followers. So it stands to reason that part of your brand growth strategy should be increasing your follower count.
Amazon offers two on-platform ways to do this: Amazon Posts and Amazon Live Stream.
First, let’s go over Amazon Posts.
Posts are somewhat like social media updates within the mobile app. It’s an image with a description, not much unlike an Instagram post. However, since Amazon isn’t a social media platform, there is no dedicated feed to scroll brand posts (mostly…more on that later), so these exist primarily in two places:
1. Detail pages under the heading “Related posts” (Again, this is only in the mobile app as of right now… though rumor of expansion to desktop has been floating around!)
2. Brand storefronts now have an option at the bottom of their store menu for “Posts”
How do shoppers follow a brand from an Amazon Post?
Now that we’ve identified where posts are seen, let’s look at how potential customers might be able to follow brands using posts.
In the example, there are three screenshots illustrating potential actions a customer can take. The first (far left) is a post by Anker, where customers can click follow as well as click on the post.
The next screenshot (middle) shows the options that customer has once clicking a post. They can go to the listing by clicking “See product details” or they can go to the only social-type feed that exists by clicking “See more like this.”
If a customer wishes to see more like this, they’ll be taken to a feed of similar products by other brands, all of which prominently display the follow button next to their brand name (far right).
How can you take advantage of this real estate?
If you’re brand registered, it will be an option in your advertising tab.
As you can see, once you choose to create a post you have the option to upload an image and write a caption. The difference between an Amazon post and a social post is clear here, as you must also connect any post with a specific product available through your storefront.
Now let’s discuss Amazon Live Streams.
Amazon Live Streams
A live stream can be seen on desktop or mobile and a tab for Amazon Live exists under “Programs and Features” in the menu. People can follow a creator by hovering over their name in their stream.
Followers are then alerted when a brand or creator they are following is streaming. The platform also gives “perks” to creators that hit certain follower milestones, such as more prominent placement of their live streams either in the banner space on the live page or even on the home page of the website.
How do you go live on Amazon?
First you’ll need to download the Amazon Live Creator app. After you have done this and you’ve connected your seller account and brand registered brand, you can live stream using the app. You even have an option of paying for a “boost” which will afford you premium placement for a fee.
I’ve had the unique pleasure of speaking at length on this topic to both successful Amazon brand owners as well as prominent influencers, and the picture they paint is complex.
According to agency owners, Posts are a fantastic play, but more for the long term. One of the main advantages of Posts is that since they don’t live in a forever scrolling feed they have the potential to pull more people over to the brand over time.
The downside is that typically brand followers don’t end up converting in massive numbers. There is no opportunity for a Post to go viral, so likely it will be slow growth over a longer period.
Conversely, Live streams have the potential to garner more follows immediately. The problem is, they don’t. At least not without strategic marketing according to influencers.
See, because the follow button is not visible on a Live stream without hovering over the creator name, many people seem to be confused as to how to follow the creator in the first place. Most creators have to specifically instruct viewers to click the button. And since viewers come and go rapidly, the stream has to be filled with reminders.
That’s why follower giveaways are so popular on the platform. That way the entire stream is geared toward gaining followers.
The consensus among sellers and influencers alike is that both should be utilized in an overall follower-getting strategy. However, even then results may not be as rapid and overwhelming as a brand would hope.
Which is why a third method, one that takes place OFF Amazon, should likely also be employed. Influencers seem to be in agreement that the most effective way to gain Amazon followers is to utilize outside social media platforms.
This would fall in line with a broader and more overarching social strategy for brand growth (and that topic is for another day and another article).
Despite the severe limitations of this engagement tool, this can be a good thing for brands whose primary traffic and sales come from Amazon.
Blasting out new product information for a launch has long been an effective strategy for Amazon sellers. Whether that be through emailing discount codes or grabbing past buyer’s Amazon encrypted emails and sending each a solicitation through the email share button on the listing (yes, this is against TOS and yes, lots of us still did this once upon a time).
Undoubtedly the tool will also be improved upon moving forward. Currently, despite the marketing that says otherwise, previous customers cannot be targeted. Only brand followers have access to this communication.
There are also many questions about how the tool actually works that are still left unanswered. For example, the product must be no older than 6 months. Does that include variations?
Ultimately many questions will be answered after sellers start utilizing the tool and running their own tests.
So you should get started immediately.
First things first…if you aren’t driving shoppers to follow your brand, start doing so immediately. Start putting out Posts, at least weekly. Start doing Live streams. Add an arrow pointing to the follow button in your Storefront banner. Start driving social traffic to follow your brand.
Seriously. DO IT!
If you are a 1P vendor, log in and follow the steps outlined above, and send out an email for any newer products ASAP. Test the limits of the system. See what kind of results you can get.
And for all other brand registered sellers, keep an eye out under your Brand tab for the tool to go live. As soon as it does, start promoting your newer products. Take advantage of this opportunity to gain some purchases and data/metrics.
Currently the feature is free for vendors that have it and presumably it will be for brand owners. This could change, so aggressively taking advantage of new tools while they’re free is always a good business decision.