How to Use Prime Day to Prepare for a Killer Q4
by Matt Ellis
Amazon has two seasons: Prime Day and the holidays. Now that one is over, it’s time to start preparing for the other.
No, I'm not one of those people who puts their Christmas lights up before Halloween. But in eCommerce, the holiday season offers your biggest profits of the year, including Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And with your sales data from Prime Day hot off the presses, now is the time to plan a sales strategy that takes full advantage of the upcoming shopping season.
Take a look below at how you can use your sales data from Prime Day to optimize your Q4 strategy, broken down with tips in five key areas.
First, let’s start with the basics: which of your products sell best, and just as important, which don’t. Start with this field because it influences pretty much every aspect of your Q4 sales strategy.
Finding out which are your best products is not always as easy as seeing what sold the most. It’s more about how well your promotional campaigns worked. For example, if you put more money into your campaigns for Product A but Product B sold almost as much without the advertising, you’ll want to readjust your strategy to put more money in advertising Product B for the fourth quarter.
Aside from sales, you should also read your customers’ responses. Presumably, Prime Day gave you more sales and therefore more reviews. This influx may shed new light on which products are true crowd-pleasers, and which need work. Sometimes, bad or lukewarm reviews are signals that you need to reword your product descriptions so customers know better what to expect.
2. Ad Campaigns
Chances are you launched some strategic ad campaigns for Prime Day, whether Sponsored Product Ads, Headline Search Ads or Product Display Ads. Amazon advertising is almost always effective at boosting sales — when used effectively — so you’ll want to take what you learn from your Prime Day campaigns and apply it to Q4.
Pay special attention to which keywords and products responded best to advertising. You could find you have a niche among certain markets or keywords, in which case you want to encourage that by investing more.
Also, monitor the performances of your bidding. If you saw promising results in one area but with room for improvement, bump up your bid for the fourth quarter.
One key flag is where your budgets were maxed out. That’s a clear indicator that your campaign was successful. Always increase these areas for the holidays — once they’re maxed out, sales that would have been yours go straight to your competitor instead.
Don’t forget to set aside the proper budget, too. Why not take some of your extra Prime Day profits and reinvest them in your Q4 advertising?
Your Prime Day data also reveals which products deserve deals. These could be deals to publicize best-sellers and make them more attractive, as well as deals to help unload inventory that’s not moving.
If you’re implementing Lightning Deals, keep in mind that you need to get them in early. Amazon needs time to review your proposals, sometimes as much as a month, so the earlier you get started, the better. That’s another reason the aftermath of Prime Day is a good time to start preparing for Q4. If you’re running deals in September or October, you need to start drafting your proposals now.
No matter what kind of deal you’re planning, keep your competition in mind. Holiday deals are not just common, they’re the norm, especially on the Black Friday weekend. Avoid surprises and plan your discounts more accurately by reviewing what your key competitors did last holiday season. Based on how drastically they discounted their products in the past, you can better gauge how to competitively price yours in the near future.
4. Keyword Optimization
Seeing how your advertisements performed on Prime Day is a perfect periodic checkup for your target keywords.
For starters, you can create better, more effective ads by increasing money on your high-performers and cutting costs on the low-performers. But you can also use your data to improve your product page copy, which improves your search ranking not just for sponsored ads, but for organic searches even when your ads aren’t running. The benefits go behind that as well — your SEO also improves for outside searches like Google and other engines.
In addition to getting your listings in top spots for Amazon searches, sponsored ads offer the handy byproduct of giving you SEO data. You can tell which keywords and keyword phrases your customers use most by your sponsored ads performance, and once you have a short list of the top ones, you can rewrite your product page copy to incorporate them. Just make sure you get the revisions in before the holiday shoppers start their searches.
Last, you can use your Prime Day performance as a rough estimate of how much stock you’ll need for Q4.
Inventory is a tricky area for budgeting: too much adds unnecessary storage costs, too little risks running out and missing sales. You can develop a more precise number by using your Prime Day data as a starting metric and adding it to your previous year’s data.
Even if you underwent a drastic change from last year, you can still use this data as an estimate. Compare your Prime Day sales 2017 to your performance on key shopping days during Q4 2017, like Black Friday, Cyber Monday or particular days you ran deals. The difference should be similar to your performance on Prime Day 2018 to Q4 2018, so you have a good starting number for how much inventory to order.
Of course, these are just estimates. It always helps to have a backup plan if you experience an unexpected rush.
Final Thoughts: Trying Something New
Using your Prime Day data to influence your success in Q4 is a great strategy, but remember that nothing is set in stone. Sometimes it’s worth it to experiment. Sure, most of your sales strategies in Q4 should be calculated based on real evidence, but the occasional small risk to try something new can be rewarding. If you have a good feeling about a new keyword, don’t be afraid to test it — as long as it doesn’t take money away from a keyword that already proved effective.
Originally published on July 17, 2018, updated August 12, 2019
This post is accurate as of the date of publication. Some features and information may have changed due to product updates or Amazon policy changes.