We predicted live stream shopping was going to be a big influence in 2021 ecommerce. We weren’t alone—many in the industry agree with us, and we already see the rise of influencer-driven “social commerce” on sites like Facebook Shopping, Instagram Live, and TikTok. It’s a natural extension of the rise of ecommerce when the opportunity for in-store experiences has halted. There’s a hole to be filled, and live stream content engages customers while authenticating product quality.
Back in September 2020, Amazon Accelerate featured a keynote, “Amazon Live: Drive Discovery and Conversion,” which talked about the benefits of the program (driving brand awareness, demonstrating products’ features and benefits, and directly engaging with customers), and hinted at the future emphasis Amazon would be putting on live stream content.
In truth, Amazon Live is an excellent opportunity to advertise deals with driven urgency, make your products more discoverable, and chat with customers in real-time.
There are a few different approaches you can take to create live content. We’ve tried a few, and here’s what we’ve learned.
Thrasio’s History of Live Content in Three Acts
In 2016, Amazon launched a short-lived live stream platform, “Style Code Live,” which also had a QVC-inspired feel but focused on beauty and style tips. On Prime Days in 2017 and 2018, Amazon sellers could produce live streams promoting their Prime Day deals (very similar to what sellers can create now using the Amazon Live Creator App). Early 2019, likely to compete with emerging Facebook and Instagram’s shopping initiatives, Amazon Live premiered as the platform we see today—a mix of content hosted by talent with broadcast TV experience and seller’s DIY productions.
At Thrasio, we’ve been dipping our toes into Amazon Live since Black Friday 2019 (shortly after the platform launched). We’ve run the gamut of production value from as cheap as possible to high-dollar Amazon-produced segments.
A VP, a costume, and an iPhone
This was an experiment in the purest sense. Our first streams were indubitably more for staff entertainment than they were to convert customers. It wasn’t very successful as there was no discernible bump in sales, but it is a point of pride for Thrashers who have been here long enough to remember when this happened back when we had less than eighty employees.
Our fearless host, John Hefter (then VP of Creative and now SVP of Creative & Brand Strategy), on a never-ending quest to “delight Amazon’s customers” donned a couple of goofy costumes and turned up his already thick Boston accent to try out Amazon Live for the first time on Black Friday 2019. We’ve posted the videos below. There’s not much to learn other than maybe what not to do. But there’s something to be said for sucking it up, putting on the baby costume and going for it.
Introducing, A Professional Influencer
In March 2020 (right before we all went remote), we tried a different approach to Amazon Live with a former influencer turned Thrasher, Michael Platco. This was one of the first projects he worked on. He still brings a lot of energy to the videos, points out the features, and comes off as an expert on the product.
Again, there wasn’t a bump in sales in response to these videos, but we were learning. And Platco is able to use that same energy in the content he produces for Thrasio products across TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, etc.
Amazon-Produced Live Streams
This fall, we dove right into the live streaming platform with Amazon-produced Live segments for some of our top products.
These segments are a great way to get a leg up on the deals page, but they do require some prep work:
- Fill out a form of talking points (benefits and features) of the products so the hosts know what to talk about.
- You must be running a deal on the product.
- Pony up—the starting cost for an Amazon-produced live stream is $35K.
While that might give you sticker shock, we’ve discovered that the returns are huge. For Cloud Massage, one of our compression therapy brands, the sessions rate during the Live segment increased 500% over a comparable 7-Day Deal, which led to a 177% increase in revenue.
For Crafts4ALL (a great product in a completely different category and price point), sessions increased 438%, revenue increased by 91%, and rank increased by 66%
“The revenue lift we saw from Amazon Live placements definitely paid for themselves, but even if it hadn’t driven as much direct revenue lift I believe we nonetheless would have benefited from the brand awareness each placement gave us. Not only did each live deliver attributed revenue; it also provided a short-term boost in rank,” says Yonny Reichel, Amazon Audience Advertising Director.
In addition to driving real-time brand awareness, once you pay for this segment on Amazon Live, the content is yours. You can repurpose the video to post on your Amazon Listing, your D2C site, or Facebook and Instagram ads too.
We’ll admit some of the seller-produced live-streamed content is cringy (think Public Access TV); however, you should be doing something in the live streaming space. If your business isn’t yet big enough to justify the $35k price tag, you could pay a micro-influencer, look toward experts in digital advertising to partner with. Influencer fees range from free products to sales commissions to guaranteed flat fees—there’s something for everyone depending on brand budget and overall goals.
Or you can give it a shot yourself. It’s free to live stream on the app so long as you have an iPhone or another iOS device, download it here. You can boost your own content (or influencer content) via the app too.
Perhaps the most interesting part of where Amazon’s live streaming program is now, is that unlike the rest of an Amazon listing, Live segments aren’t censored or scraped as far as we can tell. Meaning, you can refer to your website, your competitors, and talk up your customer service efforts outside of Amazon.
Not only does it appear that Amazon is looking more and more toward live streaming, but our success shows Amazon’s customers are looking for it too. It’s likely going to be an essential part of growing an FBA business in the near future, and we think it’s worth the investment. Being an early adopter of new Amazon marketing techniques pays off. If Amazon is embracing live-stream content, you should too as it’s likely to increase in value as part of the overall marketing opportunities for FBA sellers. Both Amazon and sellers are trying to unlock as much revenue as possible. Working alongside Amazon to prove out the Live Stream channel as a viable marketing tool is a win-win that will generate a lot of goodwill.
“Whether it’s videos, listing photos, or copy—good creative content builds trust with customers,” says John Hefter, SVP of Creative and Brand Strategy (and giant Bostonian Baby), “Don’t jump over a $20 bill to get to a $5.”
A lot of sellers use a family friend who knows Photoshop to do their listing photos and write the copy themselves. You might save some money upfront, but what are you missing out on by foregoing sleek, attention-grabbing content that converts?
When it comes to Amazon Live, shoppers likely won’t know it costs $35k to pay for a segment, but they do know subconsciously that cheap companies with bad products either won’t put in the effort or can’t afford to produce quality videos. They also know Amazon wouldn’t push them toward bad products.
More content on your listing is always a good thing. On a listing, you only get nine images (only six of which are seen automatically by the customer), five bullet points, and six modules in A+ content. Amazon live videos give you the opportunity to show off your product in use. And for customers to see it beyond the white background photos (especially important if your listing photos use rendered images rather than photographs).
On Amazon Livestream, customers can ask real-time questions allowing you to act as a salesperson rather than just a seller. And we doubt this is the last we’ll see of interactive shopping experiences.
Live streaming on Amazon and social media are likely just a stepping stone to the future of shopping with AI and AR. The price tag for Amazon’s Live streams also rings true for another of our 2021 predictions—that the cost of success for FBA sellers is continuing to rise.
You get out of it what you put into it. If you spend no money and just fool around, you’re not likely to see significant returns. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it.