Last year, Amazon’s Prime Day gathered a lot of attention, plenty of flak from customers, and a ton of sales. On July 12, Prime Day will return, and customers will be scouring the web looking for the best deals possible – even if they aren’t on Amazon. In this post, learn the impact from Prime Day 2015, how this benefits advertisers and publishers, and finally learn 5 best practices for beating Amazon on their own “Black Friday” deal day. 

Then and Now: A Look at Prime Day 2015 and the Lasting Impact

“More deals than Black Friday!” This was the boastful tagline Amazon promoted when they announced Prime Day, a day honoring Prime members with exclusive deals and heavy discounts on an array of products. But what was meant to be Amazon’s “bigger than Black Friday” event ended up feeling more like a garage sale. Amazon wasn’t offering much that excited the average shopper, with the few desired products selling out before most shoppers had a chance to take advantage of the deal.

Interestingly, Prime Day was technically a success for Amazon. Sales went up 93% during the day. According to Amazon, there were 34.4 million items ordered by Prime customers and “peak order rates” eclipsed the previous year’s Black Friday.

In short, Amazon won the sales battle but lost the PR war.

For competitors to Amazon, Prime Day presented an interesting opportunity. Walmart, in particular, was praised by offering competitive Rollback offers on thousands of products that captured the attention of customers who were hungry for deals and ready to spend.

Yesterday, Amazon announced that Prime Day is indeed returning. On July 12, 2016, Prime customers will once again be offered thousands of deals that are meant to be comparable to Black Friday. But will these deals be anything people want?

According to Rakuten Senior Network Development Manager Lissette Alvarez, Amazon may have learned to offer a better selection, but the challenge will be winning the trust of shoppers.

“Amazon learned their lesson after last year’s negative response from customers, but now Amazon will need to prove why customers should return to them. Customers will see Prime Day 2016 and either be skeptical or optimistic. They’ll either think ‘last year was terrible and I have no hope for this year’ or ‘they [Amazon] screwed up so badly last year, they have to make this year worth it!’.”

For advertisers and publishers in affiliate marketing, Amazon has given them a prime opportunity: in less than two weeks customers will be scouring online retailers looking for the best deal possible all throughout the day and, because of Amazon’s uninspiring deals from 2015, will be more open than ever to shopping around.

How can you take advantage of this opportunity? Our affiliate experts gave best practices for taking advantage of Prime Day 2016.

6 Strategies for Beating Amazon on Prime Day 2016

Just because the day is being referred to as “Prime Day” doesn’t mean consumers are tied to shopping with Amazon. As Walmart showed, beating Amazon on it’s own day is doable, but you’ll need to strategize accordingly. To help you with this, Rakuten Affiliate Network experts passed along some best practices to help prepare for – and subsequently, win – Prime Day 2016.

1. Whatever You do, do Something

What’s the biggest mistake you can make on a day like Prime Day? Doing nothing. Our affiliate experts strongly advise advertisers and publishers alike to take advantage of the buzz for sales by offering something, anything, just to get the attention of shoppers.

“Seems straightforward, but lots of advertisers missed the boat on this last time,” says Rakuten Affiliate expert Ivan Pena. “Merchants that participated saw an increase in traffic in sales. Shoppers who are brand loyal will check your site on these big buzz days to see if you are participating. Delight them with something awesome!”

Likewise, analysts at Rakuten found that those who didn’t offer any deals last Prime Day actually saw a decrease in overall traffic. Don’t be left in the dust – put out anything and get the attention from customers on a day where they’re all looking to shop!

2. Create Compelling, New Deals

Keep in mind that the promotion of this day is centered around the idea that customers are going to get deals that are comparable to Black Friday, which is no small promise. The best way to draw attention to your own brand, according to Rakuten Affiliate experts, is to offer deals that are exciting to consumers. It has to pass the “eye test” for shoppers – it has to grab them right off the bat and draw them in. They may shop around but if the offer is memorable they’ll come back, and if it’s competitive they’ll make a purchase.

3. Make Your Offers Discoverable

One inherent advantage Amazon has is that they know customers will be able to find their deals relatively easy, so you’ll need to combat that by making sure your offers are showing up where customers are looking. For advertisers, that means leveraging your publisher relationships heavily to gain exposure. For publishers, that means pushing out the big deals your advertiser partners are sending you and making sure they’re being shown off like a lit-up billboard. Customers will shop around, but making sure your time-sensitive, highly desirable offers easy to find is critical.

4. Participate in Other Events

Don’t just stick with your own offers and burrow up – pair up with publishers or other deals being promoted out that day. For example, if a cashback publisher is offering extra cashback benefits during Prime Day to their customers to advertisers who participate, be an advertiser that participates in that deal! It gets you extra exposure, as well as adding a flash and appeal to your deal. Publishers in Coupon Mall and Loyalty/Reward models have an opportunity to seize this, so if you’re a publisher in the Rakuten Network, speak with your Rakuten Affiliate experts to learn how you might be able to come up with a creative, enticing deal that advertisers would want to join in on. And, if you’re an advertiser, find publishers who are offering this and participate!

5. Tell Your Customers They’ll Get Their Purchases Fast

Why do most people use Amazon Prime? For the free two-day shipping. Customers like getting their products fast, so on a day where Prime members are being celebrated by Amazon, take the wind out of the “free two-day shipping” draw by offering free, fast shipping of your own. Consider offering free two-day or one-day shipping on all orders placed on July 12, even if you don’t have a product line that might be within the “Prime Day” product theme. Just the offer of free shipping alone can get you the attention of shoppers who, on a day where deals are being blasted out left and right, might be drawn enough to take you up on that offer.

6. It’s All About Communication

Lastly, communication is going to be critical to having a “win” chalked up on Prime Day. Advertisers and publishers both need to recognize how important speed and communication is during this day – there’s only a short window during a very brief sales period to get a customer’s attention, so advertisers will need to make sure that publishers understand exactly what’s being offered by said advertiser that makes the deal special. Likewise, advertisers will be relying on publishers to effectively and quickly communicate the value of the offer to a customer. That means advertisers need to be clear with publishers, and publishers need to get back in touch with advertisers for any specific questions or clarifications they may need. There’s no room for relaxing on Prime Day!