Adam Ring is a partner at Conversion Path, a digital marketing agency based in Columbus, Ohio that specializes in helping direct selling brands and specialty retailers grow through paid search and paid social strategy. Conversion Path’s sole focus on eCommerce has allowed them to develop innovative strategies that offer a competitive advantage for their clients. Proven results like those shown in the case study that Google created on the work Conversion Path did with one of the world’s top luggage brands show why Conversion Path is one of the leaders in digital marketing for eCommerce companies.
What major changes have you seen across the eCommerce digital marketing landscape in the past 5 years?
With Amazon becoming the powerhouse in retail that they have over the past 5 years, it’s becoming tougher and tougher for traditional retailers to compete, and for brands to stand out from the crowd in traditional retail. This has led to an uptick in brands selling direct online.
In the past, brands handled the design, production, and marketing for their products, leaving the distribution and sales to their retailers. But as of late, many of these brands have put more focus on their direct selling efforts through eCommerce.
This allows these direct selling brands to maintain a greater level of control over their customer experience and relationship, collect data and reengage with their customers, and increase their margins by selling direct as opposed to wholesale.
We also see certain retailers thriving, especially specialty retailers who are focused in a narrow product/market vertical and offer a unique customer experience that is not likely to be repeated by manufacturers or Amazon.
What is your advice to brands who are interested in advertising on Amazon?
Find something that gives you a competitive advantage for your addressable market.
Large retailers made a living on providing value for their customers by offering a wide breadth of product options from large numbers of different brands, generally within a particular niche like home goods, toys, electronics, etc. But with the recent and growing prevalence of eCommerce, nearly every product on earth is available in one place – the internet. With so many options out there, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd.
Brands need to find a competitive advantage to stay in the game. This can be through product offerings, lower price points, messaging, etc. but what it really comes down to is figuring out what truly drives your sales and taking action on it. When brands focus on a particular market segment, their message is more potent and differentiated. If you focus on kayaks for example, then your content will be much more targeted and deep and trusted by people searching for kayaks than say a generalist retailer who sells kayaks among 10k other products. This will win you certain customers, often the higher value customers that care about your expertise and commitment to their interest. When you acquire the higher value customers, you put yourself in a position to win on platforms like Google Shopping or Amazon because you can afford to be more aggressive than your generalist customers.
We find so many retailers still take a one size fits all approach to their online advertising through Google Shopping as well as Amazon, but the missed opportunity in doing so is huge. There are a number of really well done automated marketing systems out in the market right now, but machine learning signals are still come up short because they’re applying the same logic and the same strategy each and every time and not all businesses are the same.
Your goals are more than a target ROAS & a budget. To create any truly effective strategy in Google Shopping, Amazon, or for your eCommerce strategies in general, you need to be able to understand who’s buying from you, what they’re buying, when they’re buying, and most importantly, why they’re buying (or not buying). You need to find what your strengths are, and develop strategies to turn those strengths into a competitive advantage.
Where do you see the digital marketing landscape for eCommerce in the next few years?
From where things stand today, it appears that there are major shifts taking place that will change the digital marketing landscape in the next few years.
It’s possible that product searches on Google could potentially change drastically over the next few years as they look to catch up with Amazon and create it’s own end-to-end shopping platform. Google has been slowly building out Google Express & Purchases on Google over the last few years to compete with Amazon in terms of not just finding the products you’re looking for, but offering cart and checkout functions as well as to complete purchases without ever leaving Google.
We’ve seen how drastically the search engine results page (SERP) has changed in just the last 3 years as Google Shopping ads have become more prevalent. It will be interesting to see how Google uses it’s finite SERP real estate to promote it’s own shopping platform as it becomes more of a focus for them and how that will impact other advertisers.
We predict growth in activity from direct-selling (DTC) and specialty retail brands, at the cost of generalist brands. One area many brick and mortar brands are strengthening is evolving their ability to shop and buy online and pick up in-store. This differentiates them from online-only retailers and is likely very important to for generalist firms that carry a wide variety of products.
In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?
Using my lunch break to exercise or get out of the office. I think it’s really easy for a person to burn out throughout the day which for me, made for some unproductive afternoons! I started using that time to go get some exercise and it’s made a worlds difference both physically and mentally.
What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter digital marketing? What advice should they ignore?
Always try to understand why things are the way they are. Try breaking down issues into all of their pieces to problem solve and learn new skills to better understand how things work. Getting past the surface of problems accelerates your ability to understand that thing, and improve upon it. The ability to problem solve is useful in any industry!
Brian Roizen is the Cofounder and Chief Architect of Feedonomics, a full-service feed optimization platform that optimizes product data for hundreds of channels. He has been featured on numerous podcasts and eCommerce webinars, and regularly contributes to Search Engine Land and other industry-leading blogs. Brian graduated summa cum laude from UCLA with both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering.