Agency spotlight: An interview with ChannelAdvisor

MARCH 23, 2020

By Mili Mehta
Content Marketing Manager

Clay Roop, Senior Client Strategy Manager of Digital Marketing at ChannelAdvisor, works on developing and executing Amazon Ads strategies for his clients. He works with sellers on a daily basis to help them plan and execute strategies that achieve their online retail goals. We sat down with Clay to understand his best practices for Sponsored Brands campaigns and how he’s helping clients to drive revenue and business growth.

What is ChannelAdvisor?

ChannelAdvisor is a cloud-based platform that helps thousands of brands and retailers integrate, manage, and optimize their inventory across various online channels around the world, including Amazon. We do this by connecting your products to wherever you want them to go while also connecting you and your products to whatever comes next. Whether new shopping channels or new insights, we strive to help our customers, both self-service clients and those that we manage, find e-commerce success by partnering with them to efficiently engage more customers and increase sales.

Tell us about ChannelAdvisor’s approach to advertising with Sponsored Brands.

Sponsored Brands is a great tool for launching new products or growing brand awareness because it lets you tailor the ad creative and subsequent landing page experience. We always try to use Sponsored Brands alongside Stores to ensure that customers have a cohesive brand experience once they click through your Sponsored Brands ads.

Let me give you an example from one of our clients, a hardware brand. The hardware brand’s goal was to help gain visibility for newly released products. Sponsored Brands enabled us to not only ensure we are engaging the right customers, but also to tailor ad creatives to include educational information. By linking the ads with the brand’s Store on Amazon, which showcases videos and images, we allowed customers to really deep dive into the product technology and how it works. The Store has become a destination for this brand on Amazon, and we can feature new products alongside suggestions for others that pair well with them.

Since launching this strategy, our client has seen a 58% year-over-year increase in revenue attributed to Stores, with most of the incremental traffic driven through Sponsored Brands. And we’ve seen the average unit value for Store purchases increase to $73, versus their overall average unit value of $53. This can be explained by the fact that Stores are a great place to provide additional details and content to educate customers on the value of higher-priced products.

What’s your recommendation for an advertiser who’s starting with keyword targeting on Sponsored Brands?

As a whole, we believe Sponsored Brands should build off the success of Sponsored Products campaigns. We source keywords from existing Sponsored Products campaigns, because having campaigns that align in product selection, keyword targeting and so on will help narrow the keywords to queries that work.

Also, if your Sponsored Brands strategy complements your Sponsored Products campaigns (which it should), you will be able to generate negative keyword lists from the Sponsored Products search term report and the new Sponsored Brands search query report.

I like to look at the customer reviews of advertised products. Are common adjectives frequently repeating themselves? Are customers using your product in a way you didn’t intend? You can test some of these crowd-sourced keywords and see what works.

For example, one of my clients sells outdoor furniture, including patio torches, which often require an accessory clamp to fasten the torch to the patio. Originally, we focused on keywords that we sourced from the search term report, including “deck clamp” and “patio torch clamp”—phrases that made sense given the purpose the clamp was designed to fill. But when we analyzed new customer reviews, we noticed customers raving about how the clamp successfully held up their children’s bed canopies, a use that had never occurred to us.

So we created a new series of campaigns around keywords such as “child canopy holder”, “clamp for bed canopy” and the like. We even incorporated copy that explained how these products could work together. Within one month of launching these campaigns, we saw over $500 in sales attributed to advertising at a 4% advertising cost of sales (ACOS) for the clamp. And today, the original patio clamp is still listed in the “Frequently bought together” section of the canopy’s product detail page.

What are your best practices for Sponsored Brands campaign setup?

In terms of setting up campaigns, we generally advise our clients to test often. It’s the best way to get real insight into what will and won’t work. For example, a client that sells fitness equipment was struggling to keep their Sponsored Brands ACOS in line with their goals. They had initially opted to run a single campaign, since they only sell a few products. However, we recommended building out a number of new campaigns and testing as many variables as possible. For instance, we tested conversion rates for different landing pages (brand Store versus product pages), wrote multiple versions of copy for the same set of products, switched the placement of the featured products and more. After multiple tests, we landed on a combination of five unique Sponsored Brands campaigns that, all together, drove a 95% increase in sales attributed to advertising year over year while maintaining a profitable ACOS.

Here are a few key elements to keep in mind when testing:

  1. Imagery. Think about which assets make sense for your campaign. Recently, we’ve been using the new Sponsored Brands video feature in addition to static images to test different creatives.

    To provide the best customer experience, make sure the images accurately represent the featured products and consider how the product is going to be used. For example, if we’re advertising lamps, we aim to use lifestyle images, this way customers can immediately get a sense of how this product may (or may not) fit into their home. Then, keep all other campaign details consistent to get a true read on which image drives better performance.

    For videos, we’ve been testing a single brand video alongside different products. This allows us to understand whether one product, when paired with the same video, might convert at a higher rate than another product.
  2. Copy. Highlight differentiators that help the products stand out. Read reviews to help you understand why customers are choosing your product—and message that in the 50-character headline.

    We also try to pair the headline with the targeted keywords. If you’re selling dog beds but looking to expand your potential audience by targeting “dog treat” keywords, try using the headline to educate customers on the value of the complementary product.
  3. Mobile. Whether you use static imagery or video, it’s also crucial to keep the mobile experience in mind. On mobile devices, your first featured product is the most visible—as shoppers have to scroll to see additional products—so a strong image or video is key.

What are the three tips for Sponsored Brands campaigns that you want readers to walk away with?

  1. Use Stores to enhance your brand or product narrative.
  2. Don’t overlook negative keywords.
  3. Keep testing.