Running DRTV on Amazon?

by Ranjit Mulgaonkar on May 9, 2016 12:00:00 AM Digital Marketing, DRTV, e-Commerce

With over 44 percent of product-related searches being done directly on Amazon today, this Internet retailer represents a huge revenue opportunity for direct response marketers. Marketers often struggle with trying to implement the time-tested DRTV formulas on Amazon. While your landing page has a lot of flexibility in presenting your offers, the company’s platform is more restrictive. What’s more, traditional, proven DRTV marketing strategies using BOGO offers, upsells, continuity, and dry testing do not translate directly to Amazon.

However, there are ways to implement DRTV marketing tactics within the restrictions of the Amazon platform and still win big.

In order to have flexibility to test and implement your marketing strategies, I recommend selling your products on Amazon as a third party or through a trusted partner. If you sell wholesale to Amazon Retail, you do not have access to customized marketing for your products. This is also true if distributors and other third parties sell your products on the site. But if you operate the Amazon channel as a direct- to-consumer channel, you can maximize revenue, control your brand, control your price, and access critical business intelligence from the Amazon platform.

1. BOGO Offers

Amazon provides a promotion option for Buy One Get One Free (BOGO), however, Amazon promotions are not “in your face” when displayed on the product detail page, and thus, not as effective as a BOGO offer on your landing page.

Any promotions including BOGO offers on Amazon show up on the product detail page in a section called, “Special Offers and Product Promotions,” placed below the fold. The consumer needs to scroll down to see if there are any special offers. Here’s how the BOGO offer will show up on Amazon as compared to your landing page:


BOGO offer on your landing page

BOGO offer on Amazon

2. Continuity

We call it “Continuity,” while Amazon calls it, “Subscribe and Save.” Until recently, this feature was only available to Amazon Retail and not to third-party sellers. Amazon has recently approved a number of sellers with a long selling history and a good rating to offer this program. The consumer is given a choice to sign up for “Subscribe and Save” and receive a 5 percent or 15 percent discount. The 5 percent discount is applied when the consumer signs up for a subscription for up to four different products. The 15 percent discount goes into effect when the consumer subscribes for five or more different products.    

Here is how a continuity offer shows up on Amazon, as compared to your lading page:

Continuity on a landing page    


“Subscribe and Save” on Amazon

3. Discounts

Amazon’s coupon system is very flexible. Promotions can apply automatically or with a coupon code. You can offer either $ or % off or offer discounts on upsell items. However, any of these promotions will only show up in the easy-to-miss Special Offers and Product Promotions section, making it less effective. Here are two examples of promotions on Amazon:



4. Dry Testing

There is no concept for dry testing on Amazon. Your offer will not show up unless you have inventory available to fulfill the orders. Amazon expects you to ship the product as soon as you place the order, and will quickly shut down your selling account if orders never arrive. If you are testing the demand for the product, I recommend having a small amount of inventory available to test the demand. You can also use this strategy to test demand variations (e.g., colors, sizes) and upsells that will help in planning for inventory.

5. Upsells

Amazon upsells products when you are buying on Amazon; however, Amazon decides on which upsell items to show from its vast catalog of products. The upsells on Amazon appear as, “Frequently bought together” or “Customers who bought this item also bought.” For example, your main offer is for Veggetti Pro, which shows up as the following:


Main offer

Upsell via “Frequently bought together”

Upsells via “Customers who bought this item also bought”

If you are using Amazon for fulfillment (which is highly recommended because it can increase your revenue by 15 percent to 20 percent) and you want to offer multiple products as the upsell, you will need to physically bundle products before sending them to Amazon.

For example, let’s say you are upselling the following products:
  • Net Nanny Parental control software – 1 device
  • Upsell – Net Nanny Parental control software – pack of 5 devices
In order to configure these upsells on Amazon, you will need to create two different SKUs (listings) and send product to Amazon with two UPCs pre-bundled configurations. These will show up as two SKUs on Amazon and consumers make a decision on which of these configurations they will purchase.

Amazon’s warehouses will not fulfill virtual bundles or any other kind of pick-and-pack work. If you self-fulfill items, you can set up virtual bundles in your inventory system. To list them on Amazon, assign a new UPC and create a listing.


Upsells presented as two SKUs on Amazon (1 pack and 5 pack)

6. Media Attribution

Our experience shows that DRTV campaigns have a very strong impact on Amazon sales. By extracting the order data and sorting it based on time stamp and zip code, one can attribute the Amazon sales to media spend. Many marketers and media companies are using Amazon sales data in combination with the phone sales and Web sales data to compute the holistic media attribution. Amazon sales can be 15 percent to 30 percent of the total DRTV sales, depending on the product. The media attribution is less accurate if you have multiple sellers selling your product and more accurate if you are (or your partner) selling the product and controlling all the sales. For DRTV companies, this is one of the most valuable reasons to treat Amazon as a direct-to-consumer channel.

Ranjit Mulgaonkar is Founder and CEO of DNA Response.

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