How Small Brands Can Ditch Amazon and Own the Entire Customer Experience

Has anyone noticed an uptick in sponsored ads on Amazon? If your answer is yes, proceed to #1 below. If your answer is no, read on to #2.  

1. Good for you, Eagle Eyes. Now do yourself a solid and keep reading this blog by continuing to #2.

2. Try this experiment: Visit Amazon’s website and type “socks” into the search bar. When the results pop up on your screen, how many times do you see the word “Sponsored” beside each image? One, two, three, four, five … you’ll be counting for a while.

Scroll down the page a little further and you’ll notice a section that says, “Top Rated from Our Brands” (the “our” in that sentence is Amazon, so count these as sponsored ads, too). Six, seven, eight, nine … keep counting. Now scroll down even further and finally, after a century of scrolling, you’re greeted with the organic results from your search—non-paid, non-Amazon brands from independent sellers like you and me.

So, what’s the deal with these sponsored ads? Amazon-sponsored ads are ads that appear front and center, right smack-dab where customers will see them—just like the infinite number of ads that appeared in your “socks” search. Vendors place bids on relevant keywords, and if their bid wins and their ad matches the search, their ad gets displayed to shoppers.

In the days of yesteryear, it might have been possible for small sellers to list their products on Amazon and appear at the top of search results from organic growth. After all, Amazon-sponsored product ads didn’t begin creeping into search results until 2012. But fast-forward 6 years to the present day, and advertising on Amazon has become a full-fledged Vegas-style gambling stage where big-wig companies face off to see who has the deepest pockets.

Essentially, Amazon has become a small seller’s nightmare.

But it's time to wake up from the nightmare and start living your dream (which is a less spooky dream where your company doesn't have to worry about competing against the platform it's relying on to sell stuff). 

Why Are You on Amazon, Anyways? It’s Time to Reconsider.

If you’re an ecommerce store owner who is currently selling or thinking about selling your products on Amazon, now is the time to reconsider your game plan. Here are a few reasons why:

  • Ads are multiplying like gremlins. Thanks to big companies constantly trying to outbid one another on keywords, sponsored ads multiply faster than you can say “Mogwai.”

  • There’s a second page? Does anyone ever scroll past the first page of search results? (No. The answer is no.) Since every product above-the-fold in search results on Amazon is primarily sponsored ads, is anyone going to see the product you’re trying to sell if you’re relying on organic search? How long does it take to scroll to the organic results section of a search on Amazon? The world may never know. I’m still counting.

  • Fees. Between fees that go to Amazon and the costs of bidding on prime sponsored screen real estate, you might actually lose money by trying to sell your product on Amazon. Unless you have an acre’s worth of money trees growing in your backyard, the costs are likely to outweigh the profits if you’re a smaller seller.

    For example, you have to pay around $1 to list an item on Amazon if you're an individual seller. If you're a professional seller, you need to pay a monthly $40 fee. Then you have to fork over anywhere from $50 (renewing) to $250 (first-time) for the barcodes required on your products by Amazon.

    Then if you want your private label brand to be a part of the Brand Registry, that'll cost ya another $350 per trademark registration application

    TL;DR: You're going to be paying a lot of money to sell on Amazon, then you're also going to have to compete against Amazon. Good luck.

  • Double-dipping. You know what’s terrible? When someone double-dips in the queso at a party. You know what else is terrible? The fact that Amazon double-dips from sellers. Not only does Amazon make money every time a consumer clicks on an ad, but it also makes money by selling whatever people are buying. Do you really want to contribute your hard-earned cash to a multi-gazillion dollar company that double-dips at the party? Not only that but it's a cutthroat marketplace full of dirty sellers and there are many risks to selling on Amazon.

  • Amazon Might Copy Your Product into Oblivion. If you have a product that’s selling particularly well and garnering rave reviews, you bet the powers that be at Amazon will take notice. Then they’ll produce it for less, sell it for cheaper, and edge you out of your own market.

    When there’s a hit, Amazon might try to make its own version of the product at a lower price. As you can imagine, this is upsetting sellers,” reports Check out this example of a great-selling laptop stand that was ripped off by AmazonBasics:

Most recently, European Union antitrust regulators are digging into how fair Amazon’s practices are and, more importantly, the impact this copycat model has had on third-party sellers. And this isn’t about to go away.

And in its quest to become “the everything store,” Amazon has been pumping even more energy behind its private-label business. In 2018, Amazon’s own products are expected to generate $7.5 billion—a number that’s expected to grow to $25 billion by 2022. With a push behind its new Accelerator Program, Amazon is also making the effort to scoop up smaller brands and paint over them with a big, fat Amazon logo.

Amazon Has a Lot of Power, but It Doesn’t Have You

All of the words that came before this part might have you thinking that Amazon is too big, too mighty, and on the verge of gobbling up every smaller online store that exists or ever will exist. It has endless ad opportunities, warehousing, fulfillment, storefronts, a hoard of data. The whole ecommerce enchilada.

But it’s missing heart. Passion. Personalization. The feeling of buying from a small brand or someone meticulously making each piece by hand. It's missing an unforgettable packaging experience, thoughtful emails, or even handwritten notes upon delivery.

It’s missing you. The unwieldy size of Amazon keeps it from connecting to every customer on a personal level. And this—this void of humanity and personalization in a world where consumers are yearning for those feelings more every day—is where you can win.

Make a Marketing Plan Without Amazon

Let’s just say you’ve decided to kick Amazon to the curb—high five!—and now you’re ready to take your online business to the next level. So what exactly is the next level? Think of the next level as being the red carpet of the Oscars, bold and forward-thinking. The green clover marshmallows in your morning bowl of Lucky Charms, sweet and irresistible. The long lost Holy Grail of Arthurian literature that has...okay, okay, we may have deviated slightly.

The point we’re trying to make is that it’s time for you, wonderful ecommerce store owner, to take your online business to the next level by owning every touchpoint of your online business—from selling products, marketing your business, managing payment processing, shipping.

Yeah. Every. Single. Touchpoint. Impossible, you think? Think again. Allow us to introduce your new favorite four-letter word: Drip.

Own the Entire Customer Experience with Drip

Drip is all about helping ecommerce store owners sell things directly to customers through smart, automated, personalized marketing. Our platform is specifically designed to help you create customer intimacy and customer experiences that even Amazon can’t live up to.

Forget generic messages that are cold and tinny and say hello to warm-and-fuzzy, spot-on dynamic marketing that automatically changes for every customer.  

Below are just a few of the many ways how Drip can help you own every touchpoint of your business:

1. Marketing Automation

Amazon has been able to build a massive infrastructure that collects data and uses it to automatically suggest related products, deploy automated abandoned cart emails, and more. That might seem like a power reserved for companies with endless resources, but Drip is making that level of automation a very reachable possibility for small brands and ecommerce businesses.

With Drip’s intelligent, intuitive automated marketing, you’ll never miss a beat when it comes to connecting with your customers, putting you on par with Amazon. Drip comes fully loaded with:

  • Two email builders: A Text Builder and a Visual Email Builder. If you’re looking to create a plain text email that’s short, sweet, and to-the-point, the Text Builder will be right up your alley. Or, if you’re aiming for an image-driven email that’ll be sure to knock the socks off your customers, the Visual Email Builder is there for you.

  • Email Campaigns: If you’re looking to send a sequence of emails over the course of a few days, week, or months, campaigns is where the magic starts. A campaign is an email series that automatically sends a sequence of emails at times you determine. For example, you can create a campaign for new customers that’s timed to deliver coupons, a welcoming “Hello!”, or whatever else you want to keep encouraging them to buy from you.

  • Workflows: Think of workflows as being longer marketing maps that guide  customers down unique paths that drive them toward conversion.

    Workflows let you do things like detecting when someone abandons a cart so you can send a re-engagement email that reminds them to purchase the item. Or they hone in on products or categories someone is especially interested in, then sends them cleverly retargeted Facebook ads and email messages about them.  

Automated workflow in Drip for customers who abandon a product category.

Example of an automated workflow that sends relevant email campaigns, shows targeted Facebook ads, and adds important tags to customers who abandon a product category.

  • Basic Rules: Set rules to automatically react when a customer does something—like send a welcome email to someone who purchases your product. Rules can be fired by multiple triggers and result in multiple actions across Drip and your integrated tools.

    This means that when someone does something across your marketing stack or on your website, the actions and reactions will be centralized inside of Drip.

2. Personalization

At Drip, we know that each and every one of your customers is different from the next. Everyone comes from different sources, is interested in different things, and takes different actions. With that in mind, our platform uses tag- and event-based segmentation that lets you understand and track every customer on your list.

Segment by locations, actions, tags, custom fields, and more to narrow down the audience you’re looking to focus on. For example, you can create groups of customers based on what they’re doing, like visiting a page or buying a product. And, to be sure you’re always connecting with the right customers, your segments automatically update as the people on your list meet (or don’t meet) the criteria for being in a segment.

3. Integrations to Centralize Your Marketing Stack

Drip integrates with almost 100 other marketing tools (with more integrations being cooked up on a regular basis). Here are just a few standout integrations that can help you stay on top of the entire customer experience:  

  • Facebook Custom Audiences and Facebook Lead Ads: Custom Audiences lets you tailor each customer’s experience to hit them with perfectly aligned messaging. You can start, stop, and change the ads your customers see based on the actions they take.

    Lead Ads helps you grow your audiences by collecting a lead’s information. When a Facebook user clicks your ad and enters their email, their info instantly gets sent to Drip as a lead. From there on out, Drip can automatically send email campaigns to that lead or perform countless other reactions.

  • Shopify and Shopify Plus: Drip is fully integrated with both platforms for spot-on selling. Shopify’s platform lets you sell from literally anywhere—online, in-store, on social media, heck, even straight out of your garage.

    Automate your email marketing based on actions your customers take, like if they just made a purchase or viewed a product, and use events like these to trigger workflows and other rules to help you keep engaged with your customers throughout the entire purchase cycle. Shopify Plus lets you sell via multiple social media channels including Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and more.

  • Stripe: This online payment processing platform ensures a smooth payment experience for your customers. Drip’s integration with Stripe lets you trigger automation steps based on events you receive from Stripe.

With intuitive automation, integrations from ecommerce platform to payment processor, and the power to build your brand through relevant, personalized emails, you don't need to rely on Amazon as a means to sell your products.  

Drip helps you take total control of your entire selling experience. You won't have to give a cut of your revenue to Amazon just for selling your products, and you won't have to settle for showing up at the bottom of search results. 

It’s Time to Get on Board with Drip

Back in the day, it may have been more feasible for small sellers to actually grow their online business organically by utilizing Amazon. However, the Amazon of today is an entirely different beast that only seems to be interested in forming tight advertising bonds with multi-million dollar companies.

To end on a high note, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. Here it is: You don’t have to fork over millions of dollars in advertising to be a successful ecommerce store owner. To be successful, all you really need is drive, passion, and a good four-letter word that promises never to double-dip: Drip.