Adding Traffic Sources & Testing Different Channels
There’s a ton of different types of external traffic for Amazon sellers. The number of individual traffic sources you can use to promote your product online (and even offline) is virtually unlimited.
But which traffic source is best, you ask?
Nailing down one type of traffic as the best for every seller is impossible. Each product is different, each business is different. So what’s best for one store may not be the best for another. It’s up to you to find the formula that works.
If You’re Unsure – Go With Facebook or Google
The previous statement stands true – there is no one traffic source that is the best across the board. But the closest thing would be Facebook or Google.
For almost any seller, when you’re first starting to promote with external traffic, you’ll want to try one of these channels. Both boast a huge user base (Facebook has 2.5 billion monthly active users, while there are 63,000 Google searchesper second every day), which means there are more potential customers for you to get in front of.
Plus, due to the number of marketers using these platforms and the years they’ve been around, the tools these platforms provide are among the most sophisticated you can get.
That means it’s easier to get in front of the right people. Both Facebook and Google have software that help you dial into the right audience. With the number of demographics, interests and custom audience targeting features, there’s no end to what you can do to keep optimizing your audience targeting.
Check out these resources for help getting started with Facebook or Google Ads:
Note: when we talk about Facebook Ads as a traffic source, that also includes Instagram. Instagram is owned by Facebook, and is included as a placement option within Facebook Ads manager. That’s why this is not discussed as a traffic source of its own – although building an organic following on Instagram can be another powerful way to get traffic to your Amazon listing.
Additional Traffic Sources
While Facebook and Google are the big dogs, they are by no means the only sources of traffic that can work.
There are many more ways you can drive traffic to your products. Whether you’re looking for a less competitive alternative to Facebook or Google Ads, or if you’ve had success on these channels and want to expand to additional traffic sources.
Here are some additional options you can try:
Twitter has never had a reputation as a paid ads channel the way Facebook or Google has, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential.
You can run a variety of different types of ad campaigns on Twitter, from ads to increase followers, clicks to your site, conversions or leads on your site, or you can just “promote” Tweets to show up for more users.
Twitter has a conversion tag you can install on your site (or on a landing page) to track conversions and enable retargeting. You can use the data collected by this tag to create custom audiences for future campaigns, based on things like site visits and purchases, as well as custom events.
Generally, Twitter ads aren’t a great option for e-commerce stores, as the audience on Twitter isn’t in the same buying mindset as somewhere like Pinterest or Instagram. But that’s not to say it can’t work. If your brand already has an organic presence on Twitter (and can verify that your target audience is already on Twitter), this makes it a much more attractive option than starting blind.
Despite its popularity, Reddit has a reputation as being somewhat difficult for marketers. All content on Reddit is generated by the community, which is notorious for being anti-marketing and against self-promotional posts.
It does however have potential as an ad platform. The huge user base is a clear plus, and Reddit Ads actually have pretty neat targeting features. As well as the location, demographics and interests that you can target (like most channels), you also have the ability to target users of specific subreddits (mini-communities inside of Reddit).
This targeting feature adds a new wrinkle to your audience targeting that can be quite beneficial. The ad platform interface is quite similar to Facebook Ads, with a Campaign > Ad Set > Ad hierarchy. It’s fairly simple and easy to use, as there are fewer placement and creative options than on Facebook.
Still, it may not be ideal for e-commerce businesses. Buyer intent is not very high on Reddit, and if you run ads that sound like marketing speak, you’re going to get ignored.
If you’re going to run ads on Reddit, it’s a good idea to read and engage with subreddits related to your niche, so you know what kind of language your audience uses and responds to.
Two billion monthly users makes YouTube the second biggest search engine in the world, after Google. There’s obviously a massive audience on YouTube, and it makes sense that it would be a lucrative platform for advertisers.
Because of that, it can be a bit expensive to advertise on YouTube, so it may not be a great option for smaller stores.
There are six types of ad you can run on YouTube:
Skippable video ads
Non-skippable video ads
You’ll set up YouTube Ads through the Google Ads platform. To create a video ad, you’ll choose “Video” as the campaign type (listed next to the “Search, “Display” and “Shopping” options). Then after some basic campaign details, you’ll be able to choose from several networks for you ad to show in:
YouTube search results – ads will appear on the YouTube search results page
YouTube videos – ads will show at the start of or during YouTube videos
Video partners on the display network – ads show on partner sites, outside of YouTube.com
Much of the setup process, such as bidding and location targeting, works like regular Google Ads. The demographic, interest and keyword targeting that’s possible with YouTube ads is incredibly deep. You also have the option to exclude videos with sensitive content, such as profane, violent or sexual content, from your targeting.
The cost of YouTube ads is prohibitive for many small businesses, from the cost of making a professional video ad, to the cost of bidding for ads themselves. But if you’re ready to take the next step, it can be an extremely lucrative advertising channel.
The forgotten search engine, Bing still has 126 million unique users in the US, and handles more than 5 billion monthly searches. So while it’s nowhere near as big as Google, Bing still receives a decent amount of traffic.
Bing Ads (officially Microsoft Ads) are served to the Microsoft search network, which includes Bing, Yahoo and AOL, which are three of the world’s top 10 search engines. This adds up to a pretty big network.
Advertising on Bing is very similar to Google Ads, with a similar bidding mechanism, and delivery primarily in text search results. So if you’re already successfully running Google Ad campaigns, you may be able to replicate this for Bing too.
One advantage Bing offers over Google Ads is lower competition. According to WordStream, Bing Ads delivered 33.5% cheaper CPC, as well as better clickthrough rates. So while you may have less overall reach with Bing, your return on investment may work out better.
I wouldn’t suggest trying Bing Ads before Google Ads, but they can be a nice thing to add if you want to start scaling up your external traffic strategy.
Bloggers & Influencers
A great way to reach new potential customers is by connecting with people in your niche who already have an engaged audience of their own.
These are called “influencers” – they have a following, they generally create content for their followers, and can influence them to go out and try certain products.
Based on how big someone’s online following is, they might be happy getting a free review unit (many bloggers are hungry for content ideas), or you might be able to incentivize them with a payment of a few hundred dollars.
The most common type of influencer you’ll run into is bloggers. Bloggers are great because they usually have both an email list, social media accounts and a blog where they can post your product. Other types of influencers include YouTubers, Podcasters and Instagrammers.
Unlike buying ads on search engines or social networks, there’s a bit more legwork required with this approach. You’ll actually have to reach out to people and make deals with them. Nonetheless, this approach can be highly effective. The big advantage of influencer marketing is the built-in social proof mechanism. The audience trusts the opinion of this influencer, and that trust spills over to you when they endorse your product.
In its simplest form, influencer outreach for your Amazon business comprises three steps:
Make a list of influencers in your space.
Follow up. You can use a tool such as Boomerang to follow up with people if they don’t respond.
Try to negotiate a deal.
Curious? Here’s a great case study on influencer outreach on YouTube:
Finally, one of the most effective online marketing channels for some time now has been organic Google search. SEO (search engine optimization) or SEM (search engine marketing) means building a website and optimizing it to show up in Google search for high-volume keywords.
(If you’re selling on Amazon, you should already know the basics about keyword optimization)
SEO is a longer game than paid ads, but the return on investment has the potential to be much better – imagine instead of throwing a big chunk of ad spend for your business to show up at the top of the Google search results, it shows up without needing to spend anything.
It does take time to rank high though, especially for keywords with decent search volume. Don’t expect a return overnight.
Ranking your Amazon listing in Google SEO is tough to do, since you have little control over the technical elements of the web page. But if you have your own e-commerce site (built on something like Shopify), you can (and should) start to optimize your site for organic SEO traffic.
For more on SEO specifically for e-commerce sites, check out these resources:
There’s just about no end to the number of platforms out there today, paid and otherwise. We’ve expanded on some of the most popular and most effective traffic sources. However, there are also options like:
…and even more we don’t have time to list.
If it’s got an audience, you can promote to that audience.
Testing New Traffic Sources
Whichever traffic source you choose, testing is a vital part of success. Before investing a ton of time and money into a particular channel, you want to do something called traction testing.
Traction testing means identifying a potential marketing channel, and spending a small amount of time and/or money to see if that traffic channel could work for you.
Spend a small amount of money on your experiment, and re-evaluate as soon as you have results. If your test worked – great. It’s time to double down. You want to put all your effort into extracting as much value as possible from this channel.
Your test didn’t work? No worries, just try another idea.
This way, you can get an idea of whether or not a channel is going to work for you before blindly dumping a bunch of ad spend into it.
This being said, be careful when making bold statements such as “Facebook Ads don’t work for me”. Oftentimes the execution is at fault, not the channel itself. Things such as how you set up your ads – targeting, copy, images, etc. If you run a traction test and don’t have great results, you may need to make a judgment call on whether or not this is the problem.
Keep in mind that it takes time to get good at running paid ads – you’re unlikely to have amazing results right out of the gate.
When you decide to test a new channel, try and keep it to one test at a time. That way you don’t get overwhelmed, and can properly put your energy into running a clear and effective test.
Whether it’s your first foray into external traffic, or you’ve had success on one channel and are looking to scale, do it one channel at a time.
The first step to start growing your business with external traffic is to figure out which channel you’re going to use. You want to find a traffic source that you can get consistent positive returns from, which aligns with your marketing strategy.