How to create high conversion Amazon Imagery ⎜ Graphic Rhythm ⎜ EP 155

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This is a podcast episode titled, How to create high conversion Amazon Imagery ⎜ Graphic Rhythm ⎜ EP 155. The summary for this episode is: <p>Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Ian Bower of Graphic Rhythm one-on-one to discuss how to create high conversion Amazon Imagery and discuss Amazon posts and Amazon Video.</p><p>---</p><p>Crossover Commerce is Presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong transfers more than 150 million dollars a day for eCommerce sellers just like you. Helping over 1 million customers now, PingPong has processed over 90 BILLION dollars in cross-border payments. Save with a PingPong account <a href="https://usa.pingpongx.com/us/index?inviteCode=ccpodcast" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">today</a>! </p><p>---</p><p><strong>Stay connected with Crossover Commerce and PingPong Payments:</strong></p><p>✅ Crossover Commerce @ <a href="https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.facebook.com/CrossoverCommerce</a></p><p>✅ YouTube @ <a href="https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.youtube.com/c/PingPongPayments</a></p><p>✅ LinkedIn @ <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">https://www.linkedin.com/company/pingpongglobal/</a></p>

Ryan Cramer: What's up, everyone? Welcome to my corner of the internet. I'm your host, Ryan Cramer, and this is Crossover Commerce, presented by PingPong Payments, the leading global payments provider helping sellers keep more of their hard earned money. Hey, happy Friday everyone. This is Ryan Cramer, and you have welcomed and landed in my corner of the internet called Crossover Commerce with Ryan Cramer. This is episode 155 of Crossover Commerce, and like I said, my corner of the internet, I keep a space here. It's a corner of my office. I like to call it the corner of my internet, or the internet I should say, where I should bring in the best and brightest in the Amazon and eCommerce space. That can be anything from sourcing and logistics, to marketing, to advertising, to driving traffic to your website. Today, we're going to be talking about one of those things that, it's kind of a passive thing that not many people think about, and if you're doing it poorly, it's actually going to affect lots of things like return on investment, your click through rate, sales in general. What could that be? It's Amazon images, or your imagery in general. What is going to draw a consumer to your product, what's going to stand it apart from your competition? How do you get the consumer to click on your product listing from the get go? It's going to be images. It's going to be how you stand apart from everything, all the clutter out there that might be good products, but they might not be wanting to stand apart from the competition. How are you going to get the customer to click on you initially, and to discover you? Well that is going to be discussed about today, and various other topics as we kind of go on. If you have questions, again, this is your first time at Crossover Commerce or if you're listening to this, this is an interactive show. So if we have people listening live, watching live on our social platforms on LinkedIn, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter, you can actually ask your questions in the comment section. Go ahead and just do that, and we'll see those and ask our guest for their insight onto the matter. That being said, as always, this podcast is presented by PingPong Payments. PingPong Payments has now helped over one million customers to date, plus, today I should say, continuing to grow, transferring over$ 150 million in cross border payments. Now, to date, has done over$ 90 billion in helping people save money when they're sending and receiving money. Whether that's paying your VAs, paying your suppliers and manufacturers, or if you're just a global brand that wants to receive in multiple marketplaces, you have to check out PingPong Payments. It's free to sign up, and it's going to save you time, money, and effort. That's PingPong Payments. You can sign up for free in the link in the show notes below. That being said, this show is not just about myself. It's about the awesome guests I have on, and their insights and their expertise about obviously selling online, but we titled this episode today, it's going to be How to Create High Conversion Amazon Imagery. And again, this is going to talk, not just product listings, but also how you can go into your inaudible images, how you can use those images to create awesome ads directing traffic to your Amazon listings, as well as touching on Amazon posts and Amazon video as well. It all is the visual element, how we want to stand out from the community. That being said, the guest I brought on today is the one and only Ian Bower of Graphic Rhythm. Ian is actually the owner of Graphic Rhythm, and as well as other businesses that revolve around design copywriting and Amazon marketplace selling. He is revolutionizing the way business obtain graphic design services, by allowing them to obtain high quality, on demand design services without the hassle of individual freelancers. So that being said, he's been generous enough to hop on and give his insights to this space, going into Q4 obviously, and where he sees the space going. Without further ado I should say, let's go ahead and bring on Ian Bower of Graphic Rhythm. Ian, welcome to Crossover Commerce.

Ian Bower: Hey there, thanks for having me.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. So you're the guy I need to go to for all things graphic related. Anything visual, sounds like you're the guy and you're the company I need to go to. Is that correct?

Ian Bower: Yep, yep. We're what we call a full stack graphic design agency, so we've seen it all and we can pretty much handle it all.

Ryan Cramer: Amazing. So the design element obviously, did you... so what's that background for you? Were you an Amazon seller, were you a seller in the first place and you were like, " There's a space," or this is more a passion for you? Is something that this is, " There's a hole in the market, I'm going to make sure that we bring the best service available to people," and kind of go at that direction? Or were you a seller and you kind of just, this is your passion, and I'm going to go that direction?

Ian Bower: Yeah, so Graphic Rhythm has always been kind of like a reactive. Our growth has always been really reactive. And I was an Amazon seller, and I've always had a graphic designer on my team. And like most Amazon sellers, I'm heavily embedded in the community and networking and associating with other Amazon sellers, but other business owners in general. And so more or less, other business owners were seeing kind of the design work that we were producing, and they were struggling to get good results from their efforts. And so they started to basically say, " Hey Ian, can I borrow your graphic designer?" And I'm like, " Yeah sure, why not?"

Ryan Cramer: "Sure, if you pay me."

Ian Bower: Right, and so that's kind of how that started. I have a knack for helping facilitate someone's ideas and breaking them down, and then directing a graphic designer so that they could produce it. And so that's really how it came about.

Ryan Cramer: Amazing. Well so, are you yourself... so you saw this opportunity in Graphic Rhythm, being around for how long now? How long has the business been in...

Ian Bower: I think we're about to close our third year.

Ryan Cramer: Okay. So you've seen the ups and down, and kind of the crazy time of what's going on right now. So that being said, the graphic nature of this business, tell me about what has changed in just, from your perspective, what has changed in these last three years on Amazon? It's always, constantly I want to say, more emphasis on so many different things. So as a seller, you yourself can agree, ranking can matter in different ways, and optimization can come through in different ways that are more important than the other, I would say you used to be a listings in your bullet points, and what your title is now, now it's more of how do you stand out from the crowd. So what do you see that's kind of changed in the nature of this space in those three years?

Ian Bower: Well, so I would say that one of the things that I've seen just as a seller is, FBA always kind of felt like an experiment that Amazon was kind of conducting. Seller Central was a weird platform that didn't seem to really meet the needs of sellers. Amazon sellers were always treated by Amazon like second class citizens on the platform. But over the last three years, I have really felt like Amazon has shifted to a strategy that's more supporting Amazon sellers, in particular supporting brands on Amazon. And like with the introduction of Brand Registry, and the Brand Registry programs, it's really become pretty... much more focused on empowering brands and sellers to sell more on Amazon. And one of the things that they keep doubling down on is interactive kind of elements to the product listing, product detail pages, and also storefronts, Amazon posts. And then the other piece of that is, in addition to just static imagery, Amazon is really, really interested in video. And you could see that they've been testing video, they've been introducing it in little places, they recently added live video so you could go live on Amazon. And I think we're going to start seeing a lot more of that. There's video on the listings that used to be gated behind Vendor Central, and now it's available to Brand Registry users. And you could see that video is going on A+ Content, if you're enabled for it, and then also advertising. So that's really the direction I see it going, is more interactive content, more visual content on Amazon, because they really want to follow the trends that you see in social media. And with social media, the trend has been... there was Facebook and Twitter, but then there came Instagram and Pinterest, and now we've TikTok and YouTube, so that's a trend I've seen.

Ryan Cramer: Right. I would agree with you 100%, I think as time has evolved, maybe you can agree that people's attention spans have gotten even shorter. So it's, how do you make that impact, that splash if you will, really quickly? So if I'm a beginner, let's from beginner and we'll go a little bit more advanced as sellers progress throughout their expertise and whatnot. If I'm a beginner, there's this simple almost template if you will, of how to be successful right out of the gate with a new product launch. With images, it kind of lines it up for you. But can you walk us through what those... how to make sure that you are optimized from the very beginning image wise when you're launching a new product listing?

Ian Bower: Right. So when you're launching a new product, the number one thing that you're probably going to be concerned about is conversions. And not necessarily sales, but just that conversion rate. A higher conversion rate will of course increase your organic ranking, Amazon really likes conversions, they like it way more than traffic. So one of the mistakes that I see people make is, they drive traffic before their listing has been optimized for conversions. So right away when you launch a product, you want to make sure that it's optimized for conversions. And the principle place where conversions happen is in imagery, right? So the images are what are going to answer the questions that customers have about your product. It's not in the title, that's for driving traffic. It's not in the bullets, that's for basically putting keywords. And of course, you should put relevant information into your bullets, but it's just that people don't like to read, as you said. And so your imagery is where they look to get their questions answered. So as far as practical first steps, I mean, there's not really a beginner's version of it. I recommend just making sure that you're, first of all, addressing what people are confused about and what people expect, and what your unique selling proposition is. Those are probably, if you just had to focus on a couple different things to include in your images, those are the three that I would put in there.

Ryan Cramer: Gotcha. So obviously Amazon makes it so that your first image, when you go to a product listing, maybe let's walk through this this way as well. So your first one's going to be in a white background. You want it to be maximized in making sure that it fills the space as much as possible, correct? No white space, nothing that's shot on an iPhone. Hopefully done in studio, or using Graphic Rhythm to shoot those images for you. Is it a standalone product, or do people do it with Boxed? What's kind of, what's maybe your favorite way to showcase in that main title image, right? When people go to your product listing.

Ian Bower: Right. So the main image is actually the only one in the set that's not conversion- focused. It is 100% click focused. So you want to get people to click and go into the listing, and then the rest of the images take over. Now as far as a main image, it really depends on your product, right? So demonstrating... there's basically, the overall goal is to get people to click, right? And so in order to do that, you want to appear interesting, you want to clearly demonstrate what your product is. And there are different things that you can kind of employ. So standing out from the competitors of course, so maybe that's arranging your product in that main image attractively. If your product is super simple though, and maybe does not have a lot of components or something like that, one of the things that a private label seller for a brand new product launch can get away with doing is showing the product in the packaging, or showing the packaging in the main image. And it's a neat little way to get around Amazon's ban on graphic designs in that main image. So essentially, you could use your packaging as a little advertisement. Put some text on there, a big splashy headline or something, and that's your main image, right? And so it complies with Amazon's rules about no graphics. It does not comply with their requirement that it shows the product out of the packaging, but it will give you an opportunity to put some words in your main image. Other than that, we do some hybrid kind of stuff. We're working with a brand owner right now, and it's going to be like, show the package and the background, and then in the foreground is the product out of the packaging, so we see a lot of stuff like that as well for the main image.

Ryan Cramer: Gotcha. And for clarification too, people see different conversion, this image is going to be conversion focused, or click focused like you mentioned, different than if you were to do a direct to consumer website, correct? Or do you see a lot of similarities between that image and the image you would have to put as your main image on Amazon? What would be the difference, if there's any?

Ian Bower: Yeah, so the difference between a Shopify store and Amazon is, on Shopify, you're not competing with other people. So the hero image can be whatever you need it to be. It's far less important, because people on your main store are already there. It's captured traffic. Really what you need to do is make them feel confident about the purchase. It's really just about finding the right thing. So in that case, it's much more about just attractively presenting the product in that hero image, rather than trying to compete with other people, or something along those lines. Unless of course advertising is playing a role, or if it's going to show up in Google shopping or other search results like that. Then you might want to pay a little bit more attention to more of the click focused kind of thing.

Ryan Cramer: Yeah, of course. So first image, click focused. Got that. So that would be our first main focus. Now there's six, seven, it's kind of expanded on, and there's also a space for video within your product listing. What are those main ones we have to focus on to make sure that we're going to get the most optimal conversions? Is it lifestyle imagery, is it infographics of compare, contrast? Obviously this depends on the product you're selling, clearly. But what are those general ones that people should be very cognizant of, in making sure it's in their product listing?

Ian Bower: So the type of actual image or graphic is slightly less important than the image goal. And so the first image goal that we have is, what is the unique selling proposition of the product, right? And if you think about the way that Amazon shoppers purchase stuff, it's usually type in a search result, right? And then start going through the search results. Maybe you're opening up a new tab, or adding it to your cart, or whatever your, as a shopper, your particular method for the elimination, the tournament of Amazon products is, you have one probably, right?

Ryan Cramer: Right.

Ian Bower: And so if you as the seller now, you're in this, you're a finalist. One of the things that you want to communicate really quickly is, what makes me different, right? Why is this product different than all those other ones that are in your cart or open in 17 different tabs on Chrome, or whatever it happens to be. So we make that image number two, is the unique selling proposition. But just as important is your customer came because they're looking to solve a problem, right? And they're looking for a certain feature set probably, dependent on your product, right? So I like to use the example of a diaper bag. So a diaper bag or diaper caddy, if you're a parent, you probably have a laundry list of things that I know that I want in my diaper bag, right? I need the wipes compartment, I need the insulated bottle pouch, I need to make sure it has a shoulder strap or not, right? So there's a list of expected features, so you want to make sure that you're communicating those really quick too, so that people can understand yes or no, does this have the things that I need to complete a purchase. I could share an example of my own shopping experience that it kind of illustrates this, which is that I was shopping for a USB hub for my laptop, I've got all this stuff plugged into my laptop so I've got to have a hub for it. And I was really shocked shopping for this how hard it was to get answers to the most important questions I had. Is this a powered hub? Do I have to have an AC adapter? Does it come with one? And then the ports were usually pretty easily highlighted, but then it wasn't really easily explained in a lot of cases where they went, or whether they carried power or not in the case of a USB- C. So I wanted to basically reach out to each of these things that I was coming across and just shake them, and be like, " Listen man, I've got all of these questions. If you just put them in your images, I would be a customer already." And so what people expect is the next most important thing that you want to address. And then related to that is, what are people confused about? And so sometimes, there's overlap between what people expect and what people are confused about, but if you look at the question and answer section of your competitors, or the question and answer section of your own listing if you've been live for a while, you'll see that there's a pattern of questions typically. Or even in the reviews, where people seem to be confused about something. We see a lot of, " Does this work with my..." right? And so that's a conversion inhibitor. Somebody who takes the time in 2021, where you can have it delivered by tomorrow, to actually stop and ask a question, they are a very deep in the funnel buyer. They are ready to buy. The only thing preventing them is this question, right? And if that question was answered, they'd be a customer already. So that's the third big thing that we like to demonstrate. So typically, we've got our main image, image number two is unique selling proposition, and then throughout the rest of the imagery, we try and focus on a variety of different things, including what they're confused about, what to expect, and then we reserve the last few image slots, because we assume that people don't really always get to them. They get their questions answered and then move on. So we reserve those for things that are really low priority, like Amazon requires that you have the nutrition label on grocery products, or the ingredients statement, or if we've absolutely just run out of things to say, we'll put a nice statement about the brand and start converting them into bottom of the funnel shoppers. So that's kind of a high level of how we approach the imagery.

Ryan Cramer: No, those are great tips. I think a lot of people, I think discount the free resources that are almost available for every seller, right? Of going into the questions section of a competitor, and obviously highlighting what is different based upon those questions. Again, it's even in product ideation, a lot of people can go into different chatrooms or for different resources that feel like you're trying to support moms who are full time workers, or dads who have... or kids who have stinky, what, sports equipment or stuff like that. They ask questions in these forums all the time. Even in sellers, lots of people are asking, " Hey, where can I achieve this, or is there a product that does XYZ?" Those are free resources that you can use as part of your product creation, or just highlighting like you said what is different. It's free. It's great customer feedback, and that helps that separation of you and the other inaudible that are out there. Not just colors, not just a lookalike product, but really truly it fits this seller perfectly, and that's what you need to do with imaging. I think almost 90% of the time, I think I'm only solely shopping through images. If it looks like how I envision it... is that what you think a lot of people are doing now? If it looks like I envision it doing this thing I want it to do, that's my product, that's what I go with.

Ian Bower: Yeah, exactly. So if it's, yeah, you're demonstrating what I can expect, then that's really going to help with your conversion rate. The other thing too is the imagery helps with boosting confidence. And now, you and I and everybody listening to this are more sophisticated buyers, and so we know Amazon, and we know what's going on behind the scenes a little bit. But our customers are not, right? There are still customers who don't understand that they're buying from a third party seller, not Amazon, right? And I think there's a lot of those customers, honestly.

Ryan Cramer: There's a lot of them, absolutely.

Ian Bower: Yeah. And so they're less sophisticated, and so they're picking up on little confidence cues. And one of the things that's really tied to confidence is visual identity, and how professionally you present yourself, right? So imagine the listings that you see that have poor English and inconsistent visual identities. And typically, those make you feel a little weird about buying this. My wife falls for this trap all the time. She buys something like that on Amazon, and then it's like eight weeks it'll be here from China. And so you can use your imagery to also present yourself as an authority, to present yourself as authentic, to really inspire confidence in the buyer as well.

Ryan Cramer: Right. Maybe like your wife, my wife... this is kind of funny. I always call it out because I'm very cognizant of paid ads. She always is clicking on the sponsored ads for products, because it typically can draw in, and it's at top of page. Amazon has put six, seven, eight images, depending on what you're shopping from, at the top, and those are one of the always ones. And I just jokingly now just say, " You clicked on a paid ad, I hope you know that." And she's like, " Every time." It's really funny, because along with paid ads, you in imagery, working side by side, you actually get the prime real estate at the top of the funnel. And if it, again, looks and feels like that, it is exactly the same thing of, you can create that authority of, theoretically at top, just like Google, it's the top of the page therefore it must be the most looked at, sought after, anything after page one or two, nonexistent in the eyes of a seller. It almost is zero percent conversion rate if it's on those pages, so you and I both know that. I just think it's funny to see people who are not ingrained in that. And again, we look at the detailed aspect of it. The shopper is a little more, " Hey, what's in front of me? It must be true." It's almost more like simple minded. Like you say, it's not a bad thing. It's just it's masked in various different ways, and you're not looking for that. So as imagery has evolved Ian, is there... what would be the number one thing that you wished a new customer would ask you? And they don't know something, or if they're potentially going to be a new client, is there something that you wish they would ask you before working with them?

Ian Bower: I don't know if there's something that I wish that they would ask us before working. I do wish that-

Ryan Cramer: Or have ready I should say, or be prepared for.

Ian Bower: Yeah, so yeah exactly. So one of the things that we always kind of massage our temples about when we're working with clients is, part of our process, beside just the graphic design, is also the copywriting. And we use what we call conversion copywriting, and conversion copywriting is principally drawn from the voice of consumer data, right? So if we scroll through your diaper bag reviews, or your competitor's diaper bag reviews, and somebody has written a review that says something like, " I feel prepared everywhere I go," right? That's awesome. That's somebody's authentic review. That's somebody's authentic words. That's exactly what words they're using to describe how they feel. And so we might take that headline, and put it on your image, just like that. So we'll put a headline up there that says, " Feel prepared everywhere you go." And we often have clients who, they have the wrong idea about what words do well on images, and they'll request that we change it. " No, no, no, no, no. That doesn't sound professional." Or, " No, no, no, no. We don't want that. That doesn't match our brand tone of voice." And I do appreciate that and I do understand it, but I also want to just shake them a little bit. But we're not getting paid for conversions, so oftentimes we're like, " All right, if you think that this is better, then by all means go for it, but we already told you what we think is better." And so I would say knowing that going in, that the copywriting process is really focused on psychology, it's focused on getting people to start emotionally connecting with the product, to start realizing a transformation, that's something else that we do is a transformation analysis. And so more than the design, we often get into tangles with clients about copywriting, and so that's something that I wish people would... knew going in, or have better understanding of going in.

Ryan Cramer: So on the imagery side, that was a great tip, because maybe again, your expertise hand in hand, copywriting as well as imagery go side by side, and knowing what does convert, because there are certain phrases that will turn somebody off. You and I both know that. What would be the number one thing that you see that's a consistent problem, or that there's a lack of knowledge in the space in terms of imagery? Is there a particular one that no one has quite figured out, or a majority of newer sellers are just sitting that same rut or hitting that same pothole if you will on the road?

Ian Bower: Well, one of the problems with Amazon and their new kind of offerings for brand registered brands is, like A + Content and Amazon Storefronts appear on mobile, but there's no way to optimize them for mobile. And it really kind of creates a problem, because obviously when you design a set of A + Content, you're designing it for desktop, right? And the statistics on who's shopping on what platform are really mixed, and there's not... there hasn't been any real good recent studies on it. But from what I can tell, the most recent study has shown that Amazon customers prefer to browse on their phone, but buy on the desktop site. And so what it really-

Ryan Cramer: Interesting.

Ian Bower: Yeah. I mean, the ultimate kind of takeaway is that really, it's just web, and you've kind of just got to have both. And so what we've been doing at Graphic Rhythm to kind of overcome this is, what we've been designing for our A + Content, we design it to be what we call mobile sympathetic. Mobile, I don't even want to say friendly, because-

Ryan Cramer: Still looks good, yeah. It can pass.

Ian Bower: Yeah. It'll pass, exactly. That's really the best way to do it, but you have to understand that you're giving up the desktop experience. You're giving up the ability to put a lot of content in the A+ Content, because on mobile, it'll look terrible if you have little text and stuff like that. So that's one of the things that, from just an imagery perspective, that we're actively trying to find the best way to work on.

Ryan Cramer: Interesting. Would it be that big of a difference if it wasn't as optimized on the desktop? Do you think, for example if it was mainly optimized... I call it optimized, for mobile, and then they make that purchase on desktop, isn't their mind already made up once they've browsed on mobile, convert over to desktop? They wouldn't be going back to the same thing like, " Let me double check and make sure everything's right." Is there that big of a difference you think, or a lift?

Ian Bower: Well, so when we go back to this idea that customer confidence is by how you present your brand, if you think about... to create A + Content, right? You have these different blocks that you drop in. And so the one that we use the most often is called an image header, image header with text, right? So it's basically just like a big banner on the A + Content.

Ryan Cramer: Sure.

Ian Bower: And so when that displays on desktop, we can put different elements in there, and we could create paragraph text, and it could look like a really nice, almost like a section of a website, right? When you view that on mobile, you can't read it at all. It's impossible. So if we go all the way to the mobile side and we optimize it for mobile, it'll look more like a meme, because it'll have big, gigantic, chunky text, and maybe a single image. But then when you go back and view that on desktop, now it looks like this insane... like imagine a hero section of any website, but bigger, and then stacked on top of each other like bricks. It would look crazy. So I'm not sure if that really answers your question. I think that both have to be there. I think that if you don't look professional in either of those environments, you're really posing a risk and ultimately can hurt your conversion rate. And so what we try and do is build this medium space, where we're using that space to include bigger text, not gigantic text, not 100% mobile optimized. We eliminate anything that couldn't easily be read on mobile, and we just focus on trying to create a clean, clear kind of presence with that A + Content.

Ryan Cramer: Good stuff. I mean, that makes sense. I would agree. I didn't know if there was that big of a difference between the two, but again, you're right, and mobile shopping becomes more and more of a point for Amazon. And I think the actual shopping experience, Amazon makes a point to make it completely different. Certain triggers, I think this week specifically on our podcast, we actually talked about, now after point of purchasing, it will prompt you, especially on mobile, it'll prompt you to follow brands that you're purchasing from, very within the last I think month or a couple weeks, it's now prompting, for either first party or just brands in general if you're brand registered, to follow such a brand on a mobile experience. So I think that's very fascinating, that it's now prompting you to follow along these certain brands, get that aspect of, go to their storefront on Amazon. For the seller listening to this out there, and you're not brand registered, storefront would be something where you can actually put your best products, all the products you actually sell, best sellers. You can divvy it up however you deem fit, and have a little bit more control over what you can design around. With that being said, more and more traffic is going towards these storefronts to find best sellers, products that might be available in multiple bundles, so on and so forth. So it's actually becoming more of a... like a sub- domain if you will, of your Amazon or shopping experience for brands. So I think that's super fascinating as well. So imagery doesn't obviously just stop on product listings. It actually goes a little bit farther onto video, which again, we talked about the live aspect, but also just shooting video itself, both visual components. But then you also talked about posts. Posts I'm not as familiar with, so would you kind of walk through what Amazon posts are, and maybe why that's very important for brands out there to get involved with it and start to really make that a focal point of their selling experience?

Ian Bower: Yeah. So if you're a registered brand, do not sleep on Amazon posts. This is a super, super cool, super powerful feature that Amazon makes available to you. So the idea behind it, it's like a social media type experience, right? And Amazon's literature, true to how Amazon does everything, is really scarce and contradictory.

Ryan Cramer: crosstalk.

Ian Bower: So they tell you, " Oh, just post the same stuff you post on other social media channels," right? And then if you do that, then they'll immediately deny it and say, " Go try again, this is terrible." But the idea behind it is, they want it to be like a social media feeling, right? And the difference of course being that it's all linked to a set of product, a set of ASINs, which you can define. You can say, "All right, just show these three ASINs along with this post," right? So if someone clicks on the post, and it's not click, it would be tap because it's mobile only. It only appears on mobile. So if they tap on it, they're shown the catalog that you selected. But by far the coolest feature of Amazon posts is that they appear on your competitors' listings, the same way that the suggested products appear at the bottom of a competitor listing. That's where the Amazon posts appear as well. So basically for free, you can drive traffic back to your listings from a competitors listing using Amazon posts.

Ryan Cramer: How do you have control of that? It's all targeted, you can say, " Hey, these posts..."

Ian Bower: Nope, nope.

Ryan Cramer: No, I can't?

Ian Bower: No control. You have no control over it whatsoever.

Ryan Cramer: No control.

Ian Bower: But it's free, so it's cool. They're doubling down on it, too. So they are starting to integrate it with ad platforms. I've seen some people, some brands that have some new features for posts where there's a targeting and integration with ads.

Ryan Cramer: Interesting.

Ian Bower: There was something else I wanted to say, I can't remember what it was. At any rate, so-

Ryan Cramer: I was going to say, what I'm hearing is obviously, it's free so that's obviously competition, but there's text involved, and there's copy, correct? It would be as if, hey, this is why we are... not better, you can't say it in the text we're better than brand XYZ. It's, " Hey, our product has these different features." It's almost a highlighting of the differences between products, correct? Imagery as well as text?

Ian Bower: Yeah. So it's got a main image, and then you could put a caption text in there. And they have some guidelines for what can and can't go in there. You can't mention competitors or anything like that. But as far as what people are getting away with, it's really kind of goofy just like everything. Amazon seems to really want more of a lifestyle photo in there, but that's not possible if you're not a brand that has a lot of lifestyle photos. So we've been experimenting a lot with it, and one of the things that we've noticed is that Amazon seems to prefer stuff with less, stuff that's less busy. They prefer very little on image text, because it's not ADA compliant. There's no way to read the text that's on the image. But then when you look at some of the Amazon posts, I've seen some crazy stuff. Like a blender, a private label blender or something like that, and the post is a picture of a yellow balloon. It's like they're literally just throwing stock photos in there and then letting it fly. So it's also not very hard to get ahead and get more eyeballs on your posts, because there's this goofy stuff going out there. But I remember the thing that I wanted to say before is, we've been working with a few different brands on Amazon posts. We also, we offer an Amazon posts service, and so we can look at the reports and see how these posts are performing. And I was looking at one of our clients, and we drove something like... oh God, I have to pull up the numbers. It was like 75,000 views to their listing over a month, and they have like a 16% conversion rate, so I forget the math, but it was thousands of dollars in found sales that Amazon posts are driving for free.

Ryan Cramer: So for free, they're basically taking that away from also competitors, too. So if you think about the math, that it's $16, 000 away from a competitor, again, you're not in business to put people out of business, but that's a significant shift in where dollars go, one pocket versus the other. That's a lot.

Ian Bower: Yeah, exactly. And it also creates this idea of brand loyalty, right? Brand loyalty is just being the brand for whatever for your client, right? Being their go to brand. And it puts you in front of them more often, and they're interacting with you more often. And so combine that with, if you have nice professionally designed images, you start to build authority, and it's really... Amazon posts are cool, because they really have appeal to every stage of awareness within the marketing funnel. And so I just, I think they're so cool, and I love the experiments we've been doing. And in my business, we converted all of our brands over to Amazon posts. We cut back the ad budgets, and we're dumping that money into Amazon posts. And so it's been great.

Ryan Cramer: Well, so with that reason, you're actually... you said with the ads that you're cutting over, is there a way that you're actually paying for it? So how do you amplify that more? I guess what does it take to enhance, add, grow it personally without having control over it? What would be the natural growth progression as a seller? How would I be able to take that to another level?

Ian Bower: You mean for posts?

Ryan Cramer: Yeah, for posts. Exactly.

Ian Bower: Yeah, so there's not a whole lot of leverage that you can pull. And when I say I cut back our ads, it's because those companies, that company buys Amazon post service from Graphic Rhythm.

Ryan Cramer: Okay, that makes sense.

Ian Bower: And so that service is, yeah, that service is totally inclusive. So we're actually posting in your account for you. And the cool thing about posts that's really, really different than ads is they're perpetual, right? So with ads, if you have a poor performing ad, you're spending money on that poor performing ad all the time, and you want to actively manage it and cut that back, or adjust your keywords or something like that. With posts on the other hand, if you have a poor performing post, who cares? It's a post, right? It just lives there. It'll do its thing. Maybe it won't pick up as many clicks or whatever, but it's there. You're not paying for it to exist.

Ryan Cramer: Right, it's like an organic placement or a blog or anything like that. You're not paying for the content.

Ian Bower: Yeah, exactly, yeah.

Ryan Cramer: Interesting. So-

Ian Bower: Yes. So-

Ryan Cramer: So yeah, I was going to say, Amazon has a game for that then obviously. They wouldn't just let lots of people, again, just have free content that's going out there. Is there an end game that you see, of maybe the shifts to pay to amplify a post, almost like a pay to amplify your social media whatever? Your own post, if you will? Is that down the road, if you had to put on your projection hat?

Ian Bower: Yeah. I would definitely say so. They do want to monetize it, just like another advertising platform. Paying to boost a post is probably 100% in the cards here. I also see them integrating video into posts, and we're excited for that, so that'll be really cool. But yeah, they like posts. They're definitely expanding on the program, so I think that the smart sellers are going to want to start doing posts as soon as possible so that they're ahead of the game.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely. That's a good note to have there, Ian. But you mentioned video too. I think video's coming in very hot too, and I think it's a very important thing, and kind of the last kind of corner of this episode maybe we can touch on is, a video concept of, we've done that social media shift too. Text posts, now off to imagery, now it's video content based content, and it's a short form video. You have the YouTube Reels, you have the... or excuse me, Reels from Instagram, you have TikTok, you have lots of different content that's in short form, very easy to consume, very short amount of time. As that becomes very prominent, is that where we're going to start to see video start to become ingrained in Amazon itself, but also ads driving to Amazon listing from offsite or onsite?

Ian Bower: Yeah, so the ad thing is a reality right now. If you search in certain categories, about halfway down the page, there'll be a big video ad right in the middle.

Ryan Cramer: Right, sponsored ad, yeah.

Ian Bower: Yep, and that's happening right now. And I think that it's going to continue that trend. Certainly at Graphic Rhythm, one of the key places that we're optimizing our own service offering is video. We want to make sure that we're poised to support our clients with the videos. So yeah, I would say definitely. And video is one of those things, a bad video is better than no video. So if you're a private label seller, just grab your cellphone and record yourself opening up the box and just talking about it, and showing things to the camera, and then put that on your Amazon listing. And people will love that. They will be appreciative of it. Pay somebody on Fiverr to add background music or something. And if you want to create more authority or something like that, there's services out there, including us, that can help you potentially do that. But yeah, start thinking about video, thinking about where you can put it, and how you're going to utilize it for your brand.

Ryan Cramer: With those at the bottom, I know that you can have customer videos. Obviously you can't manipulate that, but you have videos integrated with, there's influencer tags that can say, " Hey, I'm doing an unboxing," like you said. Or, " This is my review on it," things like that. How much does the seller have control over that part? Because in theory, this is the cynical side of me, in theory I can give myself, an influencer to open it up, give somebody a poor review. I mean, they could be honest, right? Or they could use it to weaponize it of, " This microphone's not as good, I would definitely rank Competitor XYZ over this product." And it gets tied to that ASIN, right? How does that necessarily work?

Ian Bower: Yeah, so that's danger zone territory for sure. I wouldn't mess around too much with trying to get outside influencers to leave reviews. I think that's review manipulation, and could get you in some trouble.

Ryan Cramer: Right, but I mean, you see verified people that are posting reviews onto those ASINs. So without trying to go the negative route, how are those getting tied to certain products? Is it Amazon's doing that naturally, or it's the background?

Ian Bower: Well I suspect it's probably the Vine program, and you should enroll in that for sure. So that's more of the official channel that Amazon wants you to use to get influencers to buy your product, interact with it, post videos, post reviews and stuff like that, so I would recommend checking out the Vine program to make that happen.

Ryan Cramer: And that's come and gone, right? That was here, then it went away, now it's coming back again? Do you know for sure that's back?

Ian Bower: Maybe I don't know for sure that that's back. I felt pretty sure it was back.

Ryan Cramer: Not to test you on the spot. I thought for sure, it was like it kept coming and going for one reason or another. I just know that at these videos, this is the marketer side of me, of you want good reviews. You don't want to manipulate it, clearly. That's against TOS. But how are you or how is outside getting tied to your ASIN? Because they could be on third party... it could be in 1P or it could be on 3P, so I'm really trying to figure out what kind of program that's getting tied to, those kind of certain products. Because it certainly feels like another form of emphasis and validation, right? We talked about earlier in the episode, of this is your expert authority, so if other people are saying, " I love it for my podcasts. I'm a'influencer,' or I have my own show," or whatever, " And this microphone, Yeti XYZ, is the best one, it's the cheapest one for me, it's the most cost effective, I can take it with me anywhere, buy it today." Something like that, where you have nothing as a brand that you've created that. They've created that on their own, and they've put it out into the ether of... it has multiple views, tied to also a second or third video with your own video.

Ian Bower: Yeah, I'm not sure. I'm not sure that I've seen that myself, or maybe I haven't noticed it.

Ryan Cramer: Okay.

Ian Bower: I certainly do know that obviously when you post a review, you can post a video as well. And I know that Amazon has several influencer programs too, and so I'm sure that those are related, but that's about the extent of my knowledge on it.

Ryan Cramer: Sure. And then the last kind of program I know with video existing is Amazon Live. You had mentioned it earlier. Is that something that you as a company are helping get apart of? Because obviously those are, there are certain people that are presenting, they're doing a whole slew of products, kind of that comparisons, but then also how they work within their own ecosystem. Is that something that you're helping develop or that you're connecting people with? What is that program like on your end?

Ian Bower: No, besides pure fascination that anyone would want to go to Amazon and watch a live video, there's-

Ryan Cramer: Thousands of people, man.

Ian Bower: I know, I know. I don't get it, but no, for us, we wouldn't be able to support our clients so much on that side of things. But we are able to create pre- made videos and video ads and stuff like that.

Ryan Cramer: Gotcha. Okay, well with that being said, I know that you've actually, you and your team have created this ultimate guide for our listeners actually today. I just wanted to put it in the comments section, but maybe walk us through what this Amazon Image Optimization Guide is, and what it all entails.

Ian Bower: Yeah, so it's a beast honestly. It's written by me, and I pour just absolutely every single thing that I know about how to optimize an Amazon listing into it. I think it's like... it's a book, it's like 27 pages long. And we go through A + Content and gallery images, storefront, Amazon posts, titles, bullets, descriptions, all of it. It's the exact process that we use at Graphic Rhythm. It doesn't talk about design, obviously I'm not going to try and train anybody to be a graphic designer, but the planning, the strategy, the thought process, the marketing stage of awareness, the funnel position, message matching, how to perform a transformation analysis, all that's in that guide. So I put that together for you guys, and you can download it.

Ryan Cramer: Absolutely, and that's something I'm going to definitely thumb through in my free time on the weekend. That's a nice Friday night drinking a nice cocktail or a beer or something like that and go through the guide. Obviously emphasizing all the things that it might take for optimization. But I guess my final question for you Ian would be, as people are doing this and they're downloading this guide, Q4 obviously here in a few weeks. It's something very, very much on the top of people's minds. A lot of people are kind of mixed bag, like is it going to be as hot as 2020 when lots of people spent a lot of money online and you saw growth, five to 10 years of growth in the matter of one year? Or are we going to see kind of this plateau effect? Is there kind of a feeling that you have, or kind of foreseeing trends going into Q4? Is it going to still stay consistent and hot and see all that growth that we expect it, year in and year crosstalk?

Ian Bower: Well to my knowledge, Amazon sales have never dipped, right? We've never had a year where we went backwards. And I think that with the pandemic still a battle being fought in everybody's schools and doctor's office and so on and so forth, I think that people are going to crush it online again this year, so I would definitely crosstalk.

Ryan Cramer: Any worries that you think with inventory, or anything like that? That might be the one worry for customers.

Ian Bower: Yeah, I don't know. I don't think so. It seems like Amazon has stabilized when it comes to fulfillment. They had the stupid inventory performance index, or not the IPI, but the restock volume limits. That's going to be an interesting curve ball for sellers. Obviously you need to increase your inventory volumes for Q4. Is Amazon, do they know? Are they aware that Q4 is coming? Are they going to do anything about that? So those are questions that I-

Ryan Cramer: Check the calendar, Amazon.

Ian Bower: Right, exactly. Are they just going to let the algorithm arbitrarily decide that the same amount of inventory you had in June is enough for December 1st? So I think that's going to be a twist. I would say that if you want to get your inventories conversion optimized, do it sooner rather than later. Definitely, so that you can overcome all the rejections, and all the goofy stuff that Amazon might put you through, so get that going sooner rather than later.

Ryan Cramer: Well hey, I think I would agree with you. I think the sooner the better, and obviously we have less than... I think yesterday was the 100 day until Christmas or something like that. I've been joking all week, I was like, " My spider sense is tingling." It feels like there's this arbitrary, the countdown to Christmas has begun. 100 days left, get your shopping started right now. Because I mean, from what we are seeing, prices of shipping are going up. Amazon's charging more in Q4 for cost of shipping, so I think people are just elongating the holiday shopping season. So now more than ever, to optimize as soon as you can with the help of obviously you and your team. And optimizing imagery if you will. Ian, quickly before we kind of sign off for the day, what about reaching out to you, besides the guide which is amazing and free, and thank you so much for offering that to our listeners. What about reaching out to you and your team? Is there a way to go about that, connect with you, follow you and all your thought leadership? What's the best way to do?

Ian Bower: Yeah, so I would definitely check out graphicrhythm.com. We've got a bunch of different ways for you to get in touch. You could schedule a call with our team, you could chat in, you can email us at support @ graphicrhythm. com, so there's a bunch of different ways you can get in touch. We could talk about your project. So check us out there, and that's the best way to get in touch.

Ryan Cramer: Amazing. Well thank you so much again for spending some time on a Friday. I like to call it my fun Fridays. Nothing better than talking about imagery, and kind of optimizing your business. Again, one of the cooler backgrounds. Even though it's simple, I like it man, that I've seen on all of our podcasts to date. You're doing great stuff. So is there anything in the plan for you and your team to grow in Q4, or it's just heads down and working through it all?

Ian Bower: We are going all in on Amazon posts and Amazon video. We think that that's the next frontier for Amazon, so we want to get more people doing posts especially, so that's what we're looking at.

Ryan Cramer: You perked up when we talked about it, so I was like, " That's the one. That's the thing that he's passionate about right now." So hey, but thank you so much again for hopping on and lending your expertise on Crossover Commerce. We appreciate that.

Ian Bower: Thanks for having me.

Ryan Cramer: Awesome. Again, thank you Ian for giving some insight again from Graphic Rhythm, just talking about all the different complexities obviously with imagery, but how to optimize those images. It can be a simple tweak obviously, but we've learned a lot of free ways to look at your competition, making sure you're highlighting just the listings in general, what your competitors are doing, and then highlight those in your own imagery. Just great content. And again, just want to give another quick shoutout to the link for those who are listening, again it's going to be in the show notes, but The Ultimate Guide to Amazon Image Optimization is going to be at graphicrhythm. com/ crossover. Again, that's going to get you there. Technically on the screen, if you're looking at it, it's/ gr/ crossover, but I believe it's just going to be/ crossover, and you're going to see our lovely logo there as well. Free to sign up. I'm going to do that as well, and give a little light reading over the weekend, just to kind of enhance my own knowledge of images. And again, if it's coming from Ian, you know it's going to be good. So amazing guest, amazing host, and again, amazing way to cap off our week of content. Again, optimization is what the theme was this week. It was just a great slew of guests. Again, today was no exception whatsoever. Thank you again Ian, and his team over at Graphic Rhythm. Again, everyone, thank you for listening to Crossover Commerce, and this was episode 155. We talked about Amazon imagery optimization, as well as touching on Amazon posts, which I'm obviously loving and learning more about, and then as well video optimization as well. But again, if you're new to Crossover Commerce, if this is your first time or if you've been here for every episode, 155, and listening to every episode on your favorite podcast stations wherever that may be, or platforms I should call it. Thank you for subscribing, tuning in. As well, more content coming next week. We have I believe three more guests lined up for next week that we go live on all of our social channels, so make sure you follow us on social media, and then listen to us and subscribe to our podcasts wherever you might listen to your podcasts. Again, give us a thumbs up and a nice rating if you like what you hear. If you have guest suggestions or if you have questions, go ahead and still submit that in. You can do that by emailing me directly or just messaging me on social media. That being said, it's Friday, guys. Go out and have fun. If you're at conferences, we have a little surprise if you're following us on social media. We're going to be checking in live at a conference there in Austin Texas at the Billion Dollar Seller Summit, so we're going to be doing that here in a little bit. But other than that, everyone have a great, safe weekend. Happy selling, and again, less than 100 days until Christmas. Start shopping now, and do it on Amazon or on direct to consumer platforms. I'm Ryan Cramer. This is Crossover Commerce. Take care, everyone.

DESCRIPTION

Ryan Cramer of Crossover Commerce talks with Ian Bower of Graphic Rhythm one-on-one to discuss how to create high conversion Amazon Imagery and discuss Amazon posts and Amazon Video.

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Today's Host

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🎙 Ryan Cramer - Host

|Partnership & Influencer Marketing Manager

Today's Guests

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Ian Bower

|Owner of Graphic Rhythm