Framing the Narrative: Using A+ Content (Enhanced Brand Content) to Tell and Sell Your Story

UPDATE: September 24, 2019: From Amazon: “Enhanced Brand Content is now called A+ Content.”

If you’re interested in language or current events, you’ve likely noticed the recent rise in the use of the word “narrative.” What was once synonymous with “story” or “account” or “the storytelling process” now connotes a valuable asset wherein the very shape and vibe of the experience being communicated is organized and affected by how the presenter “frames the narrative.” One thing we learned at the 2017 Amazon Boost with FBA Summit is that Amazon understands the power of brands and it has invested heavily in both the brand the narrative behind the brand. With Enhanced Brand Content (EBC), Amazon has empowered sellers by giving them the tools to take control of their stories so that they can present compelling narratives that differentiate their brands from the competition. It’s all part of the larger changes to the updated Amazon Brand Registry with its emphasis on identity, trademark, intellectual property, authority, authenticity, and credibility.

Enhanced Brand Content Is Here But Features Are Still Rolling Out

Enhanced Brand Content is, for third-party sellers, a lite version of the A+ Content tools available to vendors in Amazon Vendor Express. Sellers can use Enhanced Brand Content to make product detail pages that look a lot better than standard ones. There are templates (still no HTML allowed) from which to choose and there’s a lot more room for text as well as images (short videos forthcoming). Pages look professional, organized and full. All of these things are not only more pleasant and helpful to users, they can also make the difference between “Add to Cart” and “Buy now with 1-Click®” when it comes to a shopper who responds favorably to that how-to included in one of the Enhanced Brand Content text slots (Amazon reports that Enhanced Brand Content can increase conversions as much as 5% but some individual sellers report no change or even a slight decrease; we need more info as more sellers use the feature for longer periods).
While the Enhanced Brand Content tools can be considered merely a set of templates that sellers can use to create better-looking product pages, doing so would be shortchanging the program and limiting yourself as a seller. In truth, Enhanced Brand Content allows sellers to use the space much more creatively—and effectively—than as just a bigger, better way to showcase product features and benefits. My suggestion to you is to think about Enhanced Brand Content templates as storyboards where you can create powerful multimedia narratives about not only your product but your bigger brand behind that product. When you do this, you not only have a creative platform and a literal frame for your narrative, you up the ante from a conversion to a customer.
How so? Well, Enhanced Brand Content is an opportunity to connect with customers—to convey the heart, soul and personality behind your brand, and to show and tell a story that conveys values and experiences—all with the purpose of sharing a narrative that differentiates your brand from that of your competitors and resonates with the shopper. It’s the difference between selling yoga mats and selling yoga mats to healthy-lifestyle customers who attend a yoga class and tell their friends, “OMG, you have got to try this [brand name] mat. My firefly and pigeon poses have reached next level on it and I will never go back to my old mat.”

Enhanced Brand Content Is an Investment and a Long Game

Making the jump from conversion to customer to super-fan who spreads the word about your brand doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without some investment. While there is currently no cost to use Enhanced Brand Content, doing so does require an investment of time and energy to craft not only better listings with more details but to look hard at your brand and understand your identity and how you want shoppers to perceive that brand. It’s a long game (and one without guaranteed wins), but one that I think is worth playing (with a few products at least).

Enhanced Brand Content Goals for Sellers

In terms of an Enhanced Brand Content strategy, you’ve got to have goals. I recommend setting these with the understanding that measuring their success involves qualitative data as well as quantitative.

  1. Short-Term Goal: to make your pages display better, create conversions, and drive sales (I think that using and fine-tuning how you use the templates will, in turn, assist you in achieving the goal and it is certainly the easiest to measure.)
  2. Medium-Term Goal: to create an emotional connection wherein a one-time buyer becomes a repeat customer (maybe clicks your brand name to see what other products you offer, etc.) who feels an affinity for your brand and products.
  3. Longer-Term Goal: to transform a repeat buyer into a brand-loyal customer who leaves reviews for your products, purchases additional products in the brand line and recommends the product and brand to others

As for the second and third goals, these are softer and less tangible than the first but also more important. If you have any doubt about this, remember that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Customer retention is where the power of branding comes in and using Enhanced Brand Content can help you harness that power.

Before We Lose the Plot…

Remember the Enhanced Brand Content templates that we called storyboards? They are what you will use for brand storytelling and they will, through their layouts, help you frame the narrative. While storytelling is an art rather than a science, that doesn’t negate what’s known or best practices. Here are some of those that we learned at Boost 2017:

You Must Have a Brand Story and You Must Control the Narrative

Shoppers buy with brands in mind. They don’t recommend ASINs or search terms to their friends, they speak about brands by name. Your brand needs a story that is memorable and consistent with what you sell and how you operate. Brands aren’t just about products or service, they’re about image, experience, perception and reputation.
Without a strong brand where you control and frame the narrative, not only do you go by the wayside in shoppers’ minds, you also open yourself to being defined by others (“that brand where the packaging smells funny” or “that brand that didn’t include instructions with the kit”). Equally bad (and perhaps worse), your brand can go undefined and labeled as generic or basic. If you don’t know who you are and you can’t tell me who that is and why it deserves my attention and my money, I’ll forget about you and someone else will tell me who they are and why I should buy from them.

You Must Express the Narrative in a Clear, Concise, and Compelling Way

Enhanced Brand Content templates allow you to do just that. Use their text and image modules for the purposes of:

  • Differentiation: Amazon has a massive catalog; your product is not unique but your brand should be uniquely identifiable. Find your differentiators and showcase those. Some possible differentiators:
    • Usage of a unique process based on innovation or pioneering technology
    • Rarity, limited production, special editions, exotic
    • Special qualities and properties (organic, natural, handmade)
  • Connection: Consumer choice is about so much more than features, benefits, price, and shipping speed. Some examples of why a shopper might connect emotionally with a brand:
    • 85% of consumers prefer a brand that has a social message. If you’re not giving back or donating a part of your proceeds to a charity, consider doing so. If you are giving back, you better be touting the ways in which you do so.
    • If you have an interesting origins story about your brand, tell it. Share why you do what you do (passion, a problem that you saw needed solving, a personal experience, family legacy, etc.) and how you started and how you’ve grown.

You Must Think Like a Shopper

Did you know 55% of online shoppers start their product searches on Amazon? That means that they are coming to Amazon first and using it as a research/comparison tool as well as a marketplace. Knowing that, approach your Enhanced Brand Content pages from the position of a shopper. What do you need to see from a brand? What would compel you to buy? What information or inclusions would make you buy one product over another? Anticipate customer desires and address them proactively using your storyboard. Some tips:

  • Use professional-quality pictures not used elsewhere, including some that show your product being used (when appropriate) and others that show your brand’s logo.
  • Use original verbiage and copy content.
  • Devote a text block to questions you often get or that you anticipate shoppers to ask.
  • Address your customer’s pain points or call out their favorite features.
  • Remember that less is more: you don’t have to fill (or even use) every block in your template.

Keep Writing, Updating, and Publishing Your Story

Be the curator of your brand and the narrator of your story. Refresh your Enhanced Brand Content pages with new pictures and information as you see fit. Update your pages as you change and grow. Keep telling the story there and also follow up to tell it off of the product detail page—packaging is a great opportunity to connect with shoppers.
Consider coupons, notes, access to exclusive online content, magnets, and anything else with a logo that reinforces your brand and keeps it top of mind as that customer unboxes the product. Boss your brand from initial concept through delivery and feedback. If you deliver on your promises of what you sell and who you are and how you conduct business, your customers will not only appreciate it, they’ll pay your back as repeat buyers and brand ambassadors.

Final Word

Remember to refer to the Enhanced Brand Content guidelines as you craft your product and brand narrative for publication. It would be a shame to see a good story go to waste.

Learn more about Enhanced Brand Content in our free ebook!

Stay Up to Date on All Things Amazon and eCommerce

Connect with Seller Labs