By Drew Estes
When a motivated entrepreneur like yourself sets out to start an ecommerce business, you may not know some of the core marketing principles that can set you up for success. One of the most important parts of a successful ecommerce strategy is how you position your product.
The right product positioning and branding can make or break your success as an ecommerce merchant, so this isn’t something to take lightly.
Don’t know anything about product positioning? You’re in luck. Think you have the general idea? Stick around, you’ll still learn some great info as you get ready to start your business online.
In a recent video, we covered 5 Tips to Grow Your Sales Rank with Amazon Listing Optimization. This video explained these five steps to ensure your product sells well on Amazon:
We’ve covered some of these topics in past articles, but today we’re focusing on Product Positioning, and how you can use Keyword Research to select a product and position it for ecommerce success.
While this article will focus more on launching a product on Amazon, these marketing concepts will help you sell on any ecommerce platform. We’ll also include links to next steps at the end of this post. Now let’s get started.
In simple terms, positioning your product is about figuring out how your product fits into the market. This includes knowing your target audience, emphasizing the features and benefits that set you apart from your competitors, understanding the type of relationship you want to have with your customers, and being deliberate about how you communicate all of this to the public.
When it comes down to it, product positioning is about carving out a place for your brand in a competitive market — a place where customer needs or wants are not being adequately met — and communicating these differences to your target customers.
A great example of product positioning is with Barefoot Wine. The founders realized that “house wines” were only found at restaurants and hotels, and that wine had a reputation for being a fancier “fine dining” or “formal Saturday night” type of drink. They wanted to make a wine that was “friendly, approachable, and unsnobby,” which meant an everyday wine instead of wine for special occasions.
To do this, they made a fun logo (with a bare footprint calling to mind scenes of being in one’s own dining room or back yard), and advertised to people who wanted to drink wine but didn’t care as much about things like its history or the “proper” adjectives to describe its taste or aroma. On top of this, they made it super affordable, so it wouldn’t come across as some kind of elite status symbol.
With great brand positioning, you can create a clear and memorable perception of your brand for your target audience. You can establish the right associations and emotional triggers so shoppers think of you at the right moment.
Great positioning also sidesteps the fierce competition you might face in an otherwise saturated market. By targeting a set of customers within a market and giving them something the competition hasn’t been providing, you can win fiercely loyal customers who may even advocate for your brand.
With strategic positioning, you’ll be able to speak to your audience about their needs and wants in a language they understand, so they feel your products were made just for them. You’ll be able to communicate your brand’s main values and mission in a way that resonates with your customers. Everything from your product titles and descriptions to your emails and product packaging will reflect this.
So how do you figure out how to position your ecommerce product? It all starts with keyword research.
Use a keyword tool to get some keyword ideas (Massview’s “Deep Words” tool is designed for this). This will help you understand the landscape of what shoppers are searching for. It also gives you a sense of the types of searches being made, the specific vocabulary people use, and the intentions behind their searches.
For instance, if you’re considering selling lanterns, enter a seed keyword like “decorative lantern.” Deep Words will return all kinds of keyword ideas, even related keywords that don’t include “decorative” or “lantern” in the phrase. To see what this actually looks like, watch the video we mentioned earlier.
Another option is to run what’s known as a Reverse ASIN search. You take the ASIN (an identifying code for a given product), and enter it in Massview’s Competitor Insight tool (one of the keyword tools provided to each Massview subscriber). This will show you all the keywords that drive sales for any specific product. From there, you can see which keywords are less competitive or less relevant to that product, and so would be easier for you to rank for.
The keywords you decide to optimize for will depend on your budget. For example, the keyword “lantern” makes great revenue, but is going to be much more expensive and difficult to rank for than “decorative lantern.” To rank for “lantern,” you might need over 50 sales per day, but for more specific keywords it may only take 5 sales per day.
The advertising to get those early sales for competitive keywords will cost much more than the more niche keywords, so be realistic about how much you’re willing to spend. In other words, you need to position your product to fit a niche you can afford to be competitive in.
The goal when launching your product is to get enough daily sales to rank on the first page of Amazon's search results for your keyword, so that you no longer need to pay for advertising for that keyword.
This means you need to pick keywords where, if customers see you in their search results, they’ll want to buy your product specifically. In your keyword research, look at the niche keywords where there’s enough search volume (demand) to get the sales you need, then focus on offering something that serves those people.
Your product needs to match the intention behind the shopper’s search terms. So how do you go about doing this?
In short, product positioning is about being customer-centric.
If you want to sell food products, it could mean catering to people with dietary restrictions, such as vegans or people with allergies. It could mean targeting athletes, or people on the go.
Consider all the different types of people who might be searching with a given keyword. If you want to sell lamps, look in your keyword data at the different types of shoppers. Some people want something homey and rustic, while other people might want something contemporary and understated.
These are different types of shoppers with different tastes, and the distinction is important for your marketing strategy.
What’s interesting here is that you don’t necessarily even need to change the product itself. Sometimes, two sets of customers will use entirely different keywords to search for the same thing, such as how shoppers using phrases like “lab coat” or “artist’s smock” might actually be buying the same product, rebranded for completely different purposes and markets.
Additionally, the more you dial down your niche and tailor your product and listing to a specific segment of customers, the better odds you have at making the sale. Speak to the needs and wants of your customers, and focus exclusively on the things that better serve the people in your niche.
Don’t get distracted by giant audiences or keywords that appeal to everyone, unless you have the budget to compete for a more competitive (see: expensive) keyword.
There’s more than one way to differentiate your brand and position yourself in the market. Beyond the listing itself, here are some other tactics to consider:
Again, notice how these all revolve around matching your offering to what your customer wants and cares about. If there’s only one thing you remember from this article, it should be that.
Product positioning is a fundamental part of any ecommerce marketing strategy. To improve your odds of making a sale, you need to frame your product (and your brand) to target a specific type of customer in your category. The more a customer feels that your product is made especially for them, the greater the odds they’ll want to buy it.
To figure out how you might want to position your product, use product keyword research tools like Deep Words and Competitor Insight. These tools will show you the niches in any category where demand is high and competition is low. From there, you can design your product (and your Amazon listing) around your customers and what they’re searching for.
When you’ve selected a product and figured out the specific search phrases people are using to look for this type of product, you’ll want to create a product listing where the language (title, description, bullet points etc) caters what your customers want, and explains why it’s for them. The better you understand the product and your customers, the easier this will be.
For more detail on setting up your product listing, see our Further Reading section here.
When you have a product selected and you’re ready for next steps, You can learn more about creating a successful listing by reading the following posts: