3 Ways To Increase Amazon Sales by Differentiating Your Products

In Amazon’s recent letter to shareholders, the company announced that for the first time ever, “more than half of the units sold on Amazon worldwide were from third-party sellers.” With every passing day, competition on Amazon gets more intense. It may seem like many of the quick-win markets are quickly becoming crowded, but there are often easy opportunities to put new and differentiated products out there that, with a little help, can increase Amazon sales.

In order to stay relevant on the world’s largest ecommerce marketplace, you have to find new ways to differentiate your products while keeping costs low.  Whether you’re just sourcing a product or already selling, we’ve got 3 simple tips to help you increase Amazon sales by differentiating your products.

TIP #1 — Before you source, find market gaps to fill

As you narrow down your list of product ideas and hone in on a market, start reading competitor product reviews. You want to identify common complaints and recurring frustrations.

Are most of the products in the market flimsy and cheap? Maybe customers were looking for a different version of the product. Maybe they felt their options were too expensive.

Once you’ve identified a few common complaints, ask your supplier if they can make changes to address these pain points. You’ll want to make sure that any changes to the product are inexpensive and that your costs will still be low enough for you to compete in your market when it comes to price.

In other words, don’t add a $2.00 improvement to a $3.00 product. Keep your costs low while improving on the current best selling products in the market. It could be as simple as choosing a different color or material for your product without even changing the function.

Just make sure that demand for that change is there. Don’t ask your supplier to make you an aquamarine lemon squeezer just because it’s your favorite color. Look at the numbers to make sure they support your decision.

You can use Keyword Research to find if there is demand for these differentiating features. For example, if you search the term iphone case with Keyword Research, you’ll find iphone 6s case blue gets 1,660 exact searches a month and blue iphone 6s case gets 2,494 exact searches a month.

This demonstrates a definite desire for blue iphone cases. But there are only about 2 listings on page 1 for the term iphone case that are blue. With almost 2,500 searches a month, you can probably assume that blue is a desirable color for this product for a portion of the market.

It makes sense to do this kind of research during the sourcing process so that you can evaluate the cost of differentiating a product before you jump into a market. But this is also something you can do once you have a product that is selling. You can always ask your supplier to make small changes to improve your product.  This all might seem like nitpicking, but each tweak will help you increase Amazon sales for your products.  

TIP #2 — Show shoppers that your product is better with your hero image

Photos are still a differentiator. Until the majority of sellers begin to actually invest in high quality photos, this still remains one of the best ways to differentiate your product.

If nothing else, invest in a few quality studio shots to use for your hero image. Your hero image is the main image for your product – the one that shoppers see on a search result page.

By purchasing a few professional hero images, you can split test them to find the optimal image for you product.

Product photography is extremely undervalued by most FBA sellers but so important to increase Amazon sales. It is the way that people judge your product. Even before they see price, shoppers see your hero image.

Elements of a hero image that gains clicks and conversions:

  • A spotless, professionally edited, pure white background
  • Crisp, clean, and accurate portrayal of the product
  • Expert composition that shows off your product and provides the information shoppers need about what is included

Being informative with your photos does not mean putting text on your images. If you want messaging in your hero image, put it on the packaging for your product. Using text in your main image is against Amazon’s Product Image Requirements, and it clutters the images, making it look tacky and unprofessional.

It’s not always enough to just get shoppers to a product page. Once they are there, use lifestyle images to help shoppers understand how the product is used, what size it is, and how it might look in their day-to-day lives.

Use well-written Amazon SEO copy that helps shoppers understand the benefits of your product. Then, once you’ve convinced a shopper that your product is the best, make sure they have a great experience. Speedy and professional customer response go a long way when questions and complaints come in.

TIP #3 — Expand your product’s visibility with Sponsored Ads

It’s not enough to put a product up on Amazon and just expect it to start selling. Make sure shoppers can find it by running a launch and/or running sponsored ads. Even if you run a launch and are ranking on page one for your main keyword, sponsored ads can help expand your visibility and increase Amazon sales.

You can use Keyword Research to find high-volume keywords that are hyper relevant to your product. Use the keywords that you find to set up broad match campaigns. Let them run for a week or more, and then see which keywords are most profitable for you.

Take the most successful keywords from your broad match campaign and put them into a phrase match campaign with slightly higher bids. Then let it run for another week before you come back and reevaluate. If there are a few keywords that are really performing well, put them into an exact match campaign and increase your bid a little more.

In this way, you can cater your sponsored ad spend so that it is optimized to increase Amazon sales. When you find the best keywords for your product, you can hit the sweet spot of minimal spend and maximum return. A small ad spend can go a long way to increasing your product’s visibility, sales, and overall ranking.

It’s not too late to get into a good market. Find that sweet spot in the market by differentiating your products. Discover the perfect product to sell today with the Viral Launch sourcing software suite.

 

Breaking Down Amazon Listing Optimization

Every Amazon seller wants to know how to optimize their product listing. Product copy is extremely important. To hit sales targets, you need to get Amazon listing optimization right. Content helps buyers understand the details of your product. And more importantly, it determines how visible your product is to those searching on Amazon.

When it comes to search visibility, here’s what you need to know. Say you’re selling a trash can, and you use the keyword trash can. But you never incorporate the term garbage can. When a buyer searches for garbage can—the word you didn’t include—your product doesn’t appear in their search results. Not because your product isn’t relevant but because you didn’t put that term in your listing. Without a wide enough variety of keywords, you lose out on potential buyers and potential sales.

Including a variety of relevant keywords is vital to your visibility. Basically, your product won’t appear on page one for a keyword that isn’t included in its listing. So, what’s the key to Amazon listing optimization?

Finding the Right Keywords

It’s all about finding the right keywords and being strategic with keyword placement. Strategic placement of a wide variety of keywords improves your chances of indexing and ranking for multiple keywords, not just the obvious ones. This makes your product much easier to find in a crowded marketplace and can also improve your conversion rate.

Using Keyword Research, you can find the most comprehensive set of keywords that are relevant to your product. You’ll see a lot of different metrics for each keyword, including exact and broad search volume, search volume trend lines, and three different scores. You can read more about what each score means here.

We recommend sorting by Priority Score first to get a good list going for your product. Priority Score will show you the most relevant keywords with the highest volume first. Use the checkboxes along the left-hand side of the results table to select the keyword phrases that apply to your product. Then copy the keywords to your clipboard.

Paste your list of keywords into your document of choice, and then go back to Keyword Research. This time sort the keywords by Opportunity Score. Look for high volume words that have a score above 700. Copy the terms that you find to your clipboard, and paste them into your document too.

Expand Your Visibility

Before you begin writing, you should know that Amazon’s search algorithm values unique keywords. This is different than Google SEO, which prefers pages that repeat on one or two main keywords. But on Amazon, having a wide variety and less repetition is the most beneficial approach.

When you construct your Amazon copy, you will naturally repeat some keywords. But if you focus on using a wide variety, you will expand your visibility. Not every shopper will use the same search term, so including a variety helps put your product in front of more buyers.

Once you use a keyword, don’t worry about using it again. For example, if I’m writing a title for a first aid kit, I might start out like this:

Travel First Aid Kit

Now that I’ve used first aid kit in the title, I’m not going to use it again. But if I want to capture the keyword phrase first aid kit for car, I can simply add for car to my title and include the whole phrase.

Travel First Aid Kit for Car

But what if I want to include the phrase first aid kit for kids? Ideally I would use for kids somewhere after the term first aid kit to maintain the phrase order. So for example, with the title I’m building, I might do something like this.

Travel First Aid Kit for Car: Emergency Kit for Kids

Notice how first aid kit and for kids are still in the correct order. You can get the most ranking power when you keep a phrase completely in tact, but you’ll have to make choices about which phrases to maintain and which to split up.

Focus on Amazon Listing Optimization

These difficult choices are why creating an optimized listing that’s still easy for your customers to read is so difficult. And it’s why we offer our copywriting services. Depending on what stage your Amazon business is at, you will want to outsource the actual writing of your listings to a professional copywriter.

There are a lot of moving parts when it comes to writing product copy for Amazon listing optimization. Enlisting the help of someone who has written hundreds of listings ensures these moving parts get put together in a strategic way that maximizes ranking potential.

At the same time, if you’re just starting out and trying to save money, DIYing your listing can help keep costs down. Just make sure that you’re being strategic with your keywords, especially in your title.

The title is the most important part of any listing. Amazon gives weight to the keywords in the title more heavily than anywhere else, and with each sale, the words in your title are fair game for a ranking boost.

You want to have a good combination of high and low volume keywords here while keeping them extremely relevant to your product. You want to be clear on what your product is and what its major features are without making your title a long jumble of keywords. So make sure it’s readable and accurate for your customers.

If you’re looking for all the benefits of Keyword Research but don’t have the time or skillset to write your own listing, let our team of professional copywriters do it for you. You’ll save yourself time and increase the profitability of your FBA business.  Whatever you decide, just remember to focus on getting your Amazon listing optimization right.  

 

Optimize My Listing

 

Q4 Is Closer Than You Think: A Guide to Selling Seasonal Products (Follow the Data Ep. 30)

Q4 Is Closer Than You Think: A Guide to Selling Seasonal Products (Follow the Data Ep. 30)

It’s never too early to start thinking about Q4. And with Q2 already under way, we’re one quarter closer to the holiday season. As Q4 approaches, you may want to consider sourcing a seasonal product. Seasonal products aren’t for everyone, and they certainly aren’t for the faint of heart. But if you choose to take the risk, there’s potential for huge reward.

Show Notes

  • Find a seasonal product to sell using Product Discovery. Use filters like Best Sales Period to look at seasonal products to jump on now.
  • Serious about planning ahead for Q4? Check out our Q4 Prep Guide.
  • Successful seasonal product have successfully written listings. Make sure yours is optimized whether with Keyword Research or a professionally written listing
  • Don’t forget your product photos. You can always ask your supplier to send a production quality sample ahead of your inventory to make sure your photos are ready to go before you launch.
  • Once you have a seasonal product in FBA, you need to get ranking quickly.  Set up a launch the right way with the help of an Amazon Seller Coach. Contact one today at service@viral-launch.com
  • Wondering how Keyword Research works? Let Amazon expert, Cameron Yoder, walk you through the tool.
  • Give us a call, and you could be featured on the podcast. Our number is (317) 721-6590

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Nice.

CASEY GAUSS:
Did you see my fact checking on George from MerchantWords?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I did. That was funny, dude. Come on. Did you put that – yeah, you put that in –

CASEY GAUSS:
The marketing chat.

CAMERON YODER:
– in the marketing chat. That –

CASEY GAUSS:
I’m just a fact checker. BS caller on that.

CAMERON YODER:
[Unintelligible 0:00:17.8] just because no product is selling more than 30 units per month on average. Swinger anklets.

CASEY GAUSS:
Come on.

CAMERON YODER:
Wife. Anklets, oh man.

CASEY GAUSS:
Hot wife anklets. Nobody is searching that, bro.

CAMERON YODER:
Dude. Wait. How did you – oh, no, never mind. That dude –

CASEY GAUSS:
Get the heck out of here.

CAMERON YODER:
Come on, man. Swinger anklets. Are you kidding me? Ugh, man.

CASEY GAUSS:
Good?
CAMERON YODER:
Yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:
Ready?

CAMERON YODER:
Yep.

CASEY GAUSS:
It’s never too early to start thinking about Q4, and with Q2 already underway we’re one quarter closer to the holiday season.

CAMERON YODER:
As Q4 approaches you may want to consider sourcing a seasonal product. Seasonal products aren’t for everyone, and they certainly are not for the faint of heart. But if you choose to – oh, whoa, to the – but if you choose to take the risk there’s potential for huge reward. I’m Cameron Yoder.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your hosts for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with more than 8000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CAMERON YODER:
In this episode we are going to walk you through the timeline for sourcing a seasonal product using a Q4 example. You’ll see it’s not too early to start your product research if you’re serious about selling a holiday, quote, hotcake. We’ll also talk you through basic inventory planning so you can stay in stock all season and outsell the competition. Let’s get started.

CASEY GAUSS:
Let’s find those hotcakes, Cam.

CAMERON YODER:
Hotcakes. Let’s get us some – let’s get some holiday hotcakes in here. It’s almost comparable to bread.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, no pun intended – pun intended.

CAMERON YODER:
No pun intended, yes.

CASEY GAUSS:
All right. What’s up guys? So Q1 just got done. Early April, you know, it’s like April 10th today, so first third of the first month of the second quarter of the year. So you know, when Cam and Becca came to me with this idea I was like guys, it seems a little bit early for that, but Cam was walking me through kind of the timelines and, you know, I don’t know if we’ve talked about just how great seasonal items can be or, you know, a lot of people – I think a lot of the kind of traditional sourcing gurus say stay away from seasonal products. I 100% understand why. The problem is that there is so much opportunity for seasonal products. We see some guys just absolutely killing it. I don’t have the stats, but there’s this guy, Justin Ligeri. If you want to check him out he claims to be the seller to have the first one million-dollar day. I almost want to say that he had a two million-dollar day, but anyways, he at one point had the largest two-week payout. I mean this guy is just killing it because he focuses, I think, almost exclusively on seasonal items, and it’s because people come in, and they spend an insane amount of money for Halloween. I think that’s his biggest month, or his biggest season. People spend just crazy amounts of money on these seasonal items, and there is so much opportunity. The downside is that it is seasonal, right? So if you are selling Santa hats you’re probably not selling Santa hats very well in July. So if you say, you know, I’m going to sell 500 Santa hats a month and you plan out, you know, six months of inventory, 12 months of inventory, you’re going to be sadly mistaken come, you know, July, June, you know, August or whatever, like when sales aren’t there. So if you are doing this you need to take a very data-driven approach so that you are making the right decisions.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I really think that seasonal products in general – and seasonal does not – also, I don’t want you to necessarily think that seasonal means just in December, or just Christmas, because again, seasonal can mean, or does mean, a spike at really any point in time in the year that’s consistent, that follows a trend.

CASEY GAUSS:
Valentine’s Day-related products.

CAMERON YODER:
Or like Halloween.

CASEY GAUSS:
Pool floats.

CAMERON YODER:
Pool floats, yeah, yeah, Christmas, whatever, something that’s seasonal, spikes consistently at some point in time in the year. Like – seasonal products tend to follow the mantra of like high risk, high reward, right? And in this case you can use data to decrease the risk that you’re taking and really be smart and intentional about your decision. At the same time really the big risk – the goal of a seasonal product, not with everybody, but typically is to have enough inventory in Amazon, get to Page 1 for the primary search terms and sell your inventory during the full period of time, during typically the spike month or spike – whatever period of time that spike is, and then maybe not hold onto that inventory the rest of the year because that’s going to cost you money. So the challenge and the risk becomes ordering enough inventory at the right time, getting in Amazon at the right time, ranking for that item or those items at the right time, and having enough inventory, being in the right spot to capture those spike sales. That is – it’s a lot to think about, and I actually know just like – and Casey you probably know a lot of people that do pretty well with seasonal items. I actually know someone who has been selling seasonally and is actually trying to get out of selling seasonal items.

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh, why is that?

CAMERON YODER:
He is – according to him, he doesn’t really like the stress that comes with it.

CASEY GAUSS:
I see.

CAMERON YODER:
And it takes a lot of – and that’s not to deter you at all it. It just takes – for him, at least, it takes a lot of upkeep. Like he has to be really intentional, and it takes a lot to be intentional about ordering the right amount of inventory or knowing which market to go into. And so this, again like we said from the intro, is not for the faint of heart. However, it can get very profitable for you. And so okay, let’s actually talk through maybe just even the basic timeline of what you should expect when even just starting to think about a seasonal product. So when you’re starting – let’s say – let’s use – if you – actually, if you’re in a good spot to bring out your calendars on your phone, go ahead and bring out your calendar. We’re going to –

CASEY GAUSS:
If you guys are still into the physical calendars, you need to pull that off your wall.

CAMERON YODER:
Desk calendar also.

CASEY GAUSS:
Desk calendars.

CAMERON YODER:
Whiteboard calendars.

CASEY GAUSS:
Pocketbook calendars.

CAMERON YODER:
There are no excuses here. You should be able to find a calendar somewhere. Pull out your calendars. Let’s use December as our, let’s say, peak month. Let’s say we’re going, or we want to source a seasonal item in December, okay? If you’re sourcing a seasonal item in December and you don’t know what that seasonal item is, I am suggesting – we are suggesting that you start thinking about, you start researching seasonal items in April, which is this month, okay, and May. So that means that you should start researching your product, or you should start thinking about sourcing a seasonal product now and over the next – over the next month and over May itself.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I know – I do this as well – I know you’re all thinking. Oh no, I have plenty of time. Seasonal, like Q4 products, you know, really start picking up in December, late November so I have plenty, plenty of time. And if you’re that person I imagine you may have gotten hit with the Chinese New Year and maybe ran out of stock or, you know, maybe you had some issues and missed out on money because of that. Guys, first off, if you are finding the right products it is going to pay off like nothing you’ve ever seen before, hopefully, and anyways, now is the time. This is why we’re having this episode so early.

CAMERON YODER:
You really want a five- to six-month lead time for something like a December, a December-specific seasonal item. Now there are a couple different factors that go into that. Again, one of those is just kind of extended communication with manufacturers. You want to make sure that you’re finding the right product and also shipment times are extended, take a little bit longer leading up to the Christmas month or months just because a large majority of a bunch of sellers are trying to get their inventory into Amazon. So just to clarify, you do want – again, you want that five- to six-month lead time. However, that five- to six-month lead time should be – you want to give yourself basically five to six months before your inventory needs to be in Amazon. And I’m talking like the day that it gets into FBA. And if your – we’re going to speak a lot about in generalities for this episode. Like each market is going to be different, right? However, for most products that peak – most seasonal products that peak in December, typically sales start to pick up from kind of a low trend around October or November, typically maybe the second half of October.

CASEY GAUSS:
It really depends on your product.

CAMERON YODER:
It does. It does. And again, we’re just speaking in general.

CASEY GAUSS:
Candy canes I think pick up like end of September, like early October or something like that.

CAMERON YODER:
Yes, yes, and we’re going to talk about like maybe more specifically how to kind of catch that upswing. But generally let’s just say October is when your products should be in Amazon. So count five months back from October. One, two, three, four, five. That’s May. Six would be April, okay? So April-May is when you should start researching your seasonal products for December in order to get them in in October. So let’s break down – let’s break down these months, okay? April and May. This is what we’re suggesting that you’re performing all of your thought process, your maybe financial – you’re looking at your finances. You’re looking at your finances to see what you’re capable of, and you’re using something like a product research tool like Market Intelligence or Product Discovery to kind of try and find at least a list, or a list of options for products for you to source in December, okay?

June and July, those next two months, these would be basically – these would be months where you are contacting the manufacturers. So in this case you are – you found your products, right, and you’ve gone to something like Alibaba and you try to find a manufacturer for your seasonal product. And again, this is June and July. Ideally, ideally, again, every market is different, right, but ideally by the end of July you would be placing your order, right? And that means that you maybe pay your initial payment on something like Alibaba and you start production for whatever the number is going to be for your seasonal product. And that gives August and September and even some of October as a lead time for your products to be produced and ship, again, by – this is taking sea freight into consideration – and get them into Amazon hopefully by the end of October. And all things considered best case scenario you even maybe get your products in at the beginning of October or even a little bit before that. Like that month, having those products in that month will not hurt you. It’s always – in this case it’s better to have it in as early as possible I think but not too early, and that’s why kind of September and October are good months for you to get your products into Amazon. Once they’re in – oh, go ahead, Casey.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so the only thing with that is I believe October-something is when they have long-term storage fees. So they’ll really hit you with the storage fees. So like Cam was saying, you absolutely have to make sure that you understand when sales start coming in. And even like, so let’s say it’s at the very beginning of October but you want to, you know, avoid as many of those long-term storage fees as possible. Start using a third-party warehouse. This is something that we’re planning on talking about a bit more here coming up. But anyways, like be really strategic about it. Don’t necessarily just send it into Amazon. This is kind of as a side note. Or let’s say sales really pick up in November but you want to make sure that you’re able to get your inventory in, send it to, you know, a third-party warehouse or something like that.

CAMERON YODER:
There’s actually – a side side note – there actually is another option for people, and you need to check with your manufacturer to see if they can do this. But I know there’s a couple sellers who will produce – they’ll manufacture their items in the manufacturer’s place in China, and the manufacturer will store the items for them for a pretty low fee, or actually for free sometimes –

CASEY GAUSS:
Gotcha.

CAMERON YODER:
– until they need it to ship.

CASEY GAUSS:
Gotcha.

CAMERON YODER:
So if you can do that, I mean just even start that process as early as possible, and – well, whichever makes sense for you. It costs [money 0:13:29.8].

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, you also have to think from like capital gain tied up and everything.

CAMERON YODER:
But that’s just another option for you to consider as you’re producing items for seasonal products or even just in general. I know a lot of sellers who do that themselves. So we talked about – we talked about, we talked about – so again, generally, just generally, generally speaking, April this month like right now do your product research. May, do your product research. Maybe start conversations around the end of May, or June, or July, and then get your products ordered around July, maybe the end of July. Have them ship around that time, or like ordered – your order is in. Maybe they’re being manufactured and produced and shipped hopefully right after that period of time to get in around October.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and a lot of people are like okay, I need to sell the products that are going to kill it in for the Christmas period. What about Thanksgiving? What about October? What about all the other holidays that come through that? What about all the lesser-known holidays that are coming through those times? Like definitely – again, there is so much money to be made for those Christmas sales, but there’s so much money to be made for every other holiday. So just want to keep reminding you not to – like for the example, it’s a lot easier for us to use like Christmas as that example, but there’s so much option – so many options out there.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s really important that you find what you’re lead time is going to be specifically for that product or that market that you’re interested in because that’s going to give you the most accurate representation. But let’s say – let’s go to – let’s talk about ranking.

CASEY GAUSS:
Okay, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s talk about ranking. So getting your inventory into Amazon is one thing, but also we want to make sure that you are ranking your product on Page 1 at the opportune time. So Casey maybe talk about like when the most opportune time is for that.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and the reason we want to kind of talk about this now is one, just so you understand the process; two, so that you understand how easy it can actually be to seize the sales that are coming up because there may be some questions in your mind around like well, you know, will I have enough reviews? Will I actually be ranking by the time the sales come? Like will I miss it? And then, you know, three, we also want to make sure that you are ordering enough inventory so that when it comes time for that season you’re able to run the promotion because you have the inventory necessary to doing it.

So if you take this approach, so I don’t have specific numbers, but I was at an event late December, I believe, CapCon, Capitalism Conference in Austin by Ryan Moran, one of my favorite conferences to go to. Just a lot of my friends or, you know, clients or whatever, are part of that audience. So it’s always cool to catch up with them. But a friend of mine, he’s been selling, I don’t know, for at least a couple of years. He also just spoke at Amazing’s conference. SellerCon is what it was called. Anyways, this guy came to me and he was like dude, your – I had a podcast recently, or I had a podcast right before then, and he’s like dude, your podcast kind of changed my whole Q4. And I was like oh really, why? Like you didn’t tell me that. And it was because we gave him this tip on how to run promotions coming up to Q4, and he like absolutely killed it before. And so it’s very simple concept once you understand it, but if you haven’t thought of it I think we covered it in a different podcast, but essentially what it is is going, using Market Intelligence to see, or some tool where you’re able to see historical sales, where you’re able to see, okay, over the course of a year when does – when do sales really start to spike for this particular keyword or for this particular product? So let’s take candy canes. So yeah, let’s say sales start to increase, you know, in October, but let’s say every year right around the first week of November – let’s say second week of November is when sales really start to spike. So what you need to do is you need to go to November 1st, you know, a week before that, 10 days before that, 12 days before that, and you need to start your promotion. And through that promotion you’re going to be driving extra sales to drive that keyword ranking. And so by that second week of November your product’s ranking at the top of Page 1. And when all that additional traffic starts coming through they’re finding your ASIN. They’re buying it. And now you get to ride that wave of traffic.

And so essentially what we see is you get on top of the wave. You get to ride it up as more and more traffic comes through. You maintain your rank because everyone’s coming and buying yours versus what we see some people do, and I had people come up and say you know they didn’t have that great of a Q4 because they didn’t get their inventory in time – true story – they didn’t get their inventory in time and so they tried to ride, or they tried to swim up from underneath that wave all holiday season, and they just missed out on a ton of sales and spent a lot of money. And what that looks like is they didn’t get their inventory in until the second week of November, third week of November, and sales had already boosted, and now they were running promotions trying to catch up to everybody else. But the sales were so much higher organically than what they were willing to do in their promotion, and it was just a mess.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, so the thought process of having inventory in, in this case, by October is, again, generally speaking when those sales for a lot of December-specific products start to increase. And if you have your inventory in by around the middle to end of October, that’s when you have your inventory in. That’s when you start promotions because, like Casey said, when that traffic starts to pick up it becomes more difficult for you to rank in those positions. It takes a little bit more. And the goal here is not to get in too early, and it’s not to get in too late. It’s to get it right at the right time, run a promotion, get to Page 1, and then organically just write it up.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s what in this case, again, generally speaking, if you have a seasonal product in December having your inventory in by October or early November, depending on your market, will allow you to start a promotion seven days before that increase to get at the top and to ride the wave up into the heavens.

CASEY GAUSS:
Unfortunately you can’t see Cam demonstrating it with his –

CAMERON YODER:
My hands are – I’m doing a reverse dab right now.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep. Not to be confused with a reverse ASIN.

CAMERON YODER:
Not the reverse ASIN, but the dab.

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh man.

CAMERON YODER:
What should we talk about? Numbers specifically, do you think we should give exact numbers, number of units? Like what if people are asking –

CASEY GAUSS:
How long has this gone?
CAMERON YODER:
This is 6:14? Oh, dang, I don’t know the time. I think like 20, 20 to 30 minutes I think.

CASEY GAUSS:
Maybe that’s enough just to get people thinking.

CAMERON YODER:
Just to get people to think. Yeah, yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:
Maybe we can just cover like make sure that the – did you already say the trick is to get just enough inventory? You don’t want to get too much?

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
Because now you’re stuck?

CAMERON YODER:
I did, but we should iterate – we should reiterate that point.

CASEY GAUSS:
Okay.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, do you want to do it?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. Yeah, just as a reminder – we can’t put enough emphasis on this – so I think why Cam’s friend he was talking about at the beginning of the episode is so stressed during this period is, again, if you don’t get your inventory in time and you miss out on riding the wave up, you’re going to be left with so much excess inventory because you’re not hitting the sales volume that you were anticipating. So you don’t want that to happen. You also don’t want to order, you know, 1000 units. But you sell through that thousand units a week before the peak season even, or you know, peak sales even get there, meaning you left so much money on the table. So the real trick is using data to understand how much inventory you should have, being able, being willing to plan for a best-case scenario, worst-case scenario, and on both sides. Worst-case scenario that we didn’t order enough inventory, worst-case scenario that we ordered far too much. Then try to figure out what each of those look like. Do some kind of risk/reward calculation. If we order too little inventory, here is what that means. You know, we’re only going to be able to profit, you know, two grand or something for this month, or on this product for that month, or for the season, whatever. If we order to much inventory well, if we order five – let’s say if we order 5000 units we know we can at least sell 3000, but the extra 2000, like that would eat up all of our margin if we’re not able to sell it for the next, you know, couple months. And there’s ways that you can liquidate that to try to get some of your money back. But anyways, really try to figure out what is the goal of this? What do you think is the best-case scenario potential, and trying to work back from there. Okay, we’re okay if we had an extra 500 units, are we okay if we ended up having an extra 1000 units or whatever, so that you understand what kind of risk you should be taking with your inventory.

And, like I said, if you’re taking a data-driven approach, something like Market Intelligence, you can go back and you can look at historical sales. How long did that – when did that spike start? You know, what is kind of the volume underneath that curve? So what were the sales through that peak week and then descending down so oh, it looks like, you know, sellers were selling 5000 units over that brief period of time. So now you know, okay, I should be ordering somewhere around 5000 units, maybe I’ll order 6000 just in case because the margin would absolutely be there. I’d much rather bet on potentially making more than losing the, whatever, money on the thousand units. So anyways, Cam can probably recap better than that.

CAMERON YODER:
No, no, I think that’s good. The bottom line in this episode we just want to get the idea in your guys’ mind to start thinking about Q4, Q4 seasonal products right now because right now is the time to start doing your research if you’re not sure or if you’re not sure which product you want to pick and/or if you had a product last year that might be good this year and/or might not be as good this year. So just start thinking about it. Start doing your research now and really start digging into possible seasonal products for you to source. Oh, I start. Well, that is all for this week. Thank you again so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information on how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube.

CASEY GAUSS:
If you’re listening on Apple products please leave us a review and/or rating. Guys, we all know how tough reviews are on Amazon and also how critical they are. Same is true here. Reviews help other people to find our podcast and hopefully give them deeper insights, better data so that they can make better decisions in their Amazon business. If you’re listening on SoundCloud leave us a comment. We appreciate all the feedback for the show and everything that you – dang it.

CAMERON YODER:
That was good.

CASEY GAUSS:
We appreciate all the feedback for the show so much. This show really is for you all, and your input helps us understand how we can do it better at what you guys are looking for, how can we help you essentially.

CAMERON YODER:
And also, if you know a fellow seller who is using suggestions from their keyword tool to determine how many units to give in their launches, send them our way. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in this space, so please tell your friends, tell your family, spread the word and share the show.

CASEY GAUSS:
Thanks again for listening, and as always, if you want to be featured on the show, have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721- 6590. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

CAMERON YODER:
Got ‘em.

CASEY GAUSS:
Kevin David messaged me.

Taking the Reverse ASIN Lookup to the Next Level

You may be familiar with a Reverse ASIN* Lookup, a popular feature of many Amazon keyword tools. It’s a search that allows you to see every keyword that a single ASIN, or product, is indexed for.

Some people like to use Reverse ASIN lookups to do keyword research, mining their competitors’ listings for juicy, high-volume terms. But while this may seem like a great way to optimize your listing, it’s actually hugely problematic.

The Problem with the Reverse ASIN Lookup

Here’s the thing about a Reverse ASIN Lookup … It only shows you the keywords that a single listing is indexing for. So if you’re basing your keyword strategy on a Reverse ASIN report, you had better hope that the listing has every single relevant keyword for your product.

But wait, you’re running Reverse ASIN Lookups on 10 different listings? How could you possibly be missing keywords when you’re looking at a sample group like that? Well, where are you getting those listings? If you’re hand picking them yourself, what are your criteria for selecting each one? As hard as you try, your selection process is going to be imperfect and time-consuming.

The Keywords You’re Missing

For example, let’s say you select a handful of listings. Competitor listing A is indexing for 20% of all relevant keywords, and competitor listing B is indexing for 50% of all relevant keywords. Competitor listing C is indexing for 70% of all relevant keywords. But all three listings have a 90% overlap.

If you run a Reverse ASIN Lookup on these listings, you’re still missing 68% of the keyword landscape! That could mean thousands of dollars in missed sales. And that’s not even considering the search volume of the keywords you’re missing.

How it Should Work

Ideally when running a Reverse ASIN Lookup, every listing would be completely relevant to your product and have as little keyword crossover as possible with the other listings you’ve selected. They would span the breadth of your market, including unlikely search terms you may not ever think to look for.

But that’s not the reality of Reverse ASIN Lookups. And that’s the problem. Reverse ASIN Lookups are only as strong as the listings’ you input. The good news is that a solution does exist. It’s called a Reverse Market Lookup.

Reverse Market Lookups

A Reverse Market Lookup shares many of the same features as a Reverse ASIN Lookup with one major difference: the set of listings it pulls from. While Reverse ASIN Lookups depend on you to select the right listings for consideration, Reverse Market Lookups find that optimal set of listings for you, using advanced data analytics to scan as many as 10,000 listings.

Keyword Research is the only Amazon seller tool available that uses this advanced system for keyword collection. When you enter your product’s main keyword in Keyword Research, we immediately begin to scour Amazon’s immense catalogue to find all of your product’s most relevant keywords and markets.

We then run our Reverse Market Lookup on thousands of top ranking listings across a diverse range of relevant markets. Can you imagine the amount of time it would take you to find and evaluate thousands of relevant listings for your product’s market?

The beauty of Keyword Research and all the Viral Launch software is that you get thousands of data points analyzed and summarized for you at the click of a button. That means you get a comprehensive view of the market without having to do the work of collecting the information. Create a free Viral Launch account, and try out Keyword Research to see the power of the Reverse Market Lookup.

TRY KEYWORD RESEARCH

Want the power of Keyword Research and our Reverse Market Lookup but don’t have the time to write your own listings? Have our team of professional copywriters create optimized listing copy for you. Click here to learn more and sign up.  

 

*Reverse ASIN is a trademark of Keyword Inspector 

Hiring the Right People with Viral Launch Director of Talent, Matt Henry (Follow the Data Ep. 29)

Hiring the Right People with Viral Launch Director of Talent, Matt Henry (Follow the Data Ep. 29)

Hiring the right people at the right time is critical to the success of a growing business. As a CEO, it’s your job to make sure you’re getting the right people on the bus. First hires can boost you to a strong start or snowball into a string of unconfident hiring decisions and wasted resources. Join host and CEO Casey Gauss for a conversation about hiring with Viral Launch Director of Talent, Matt Henry.

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher 

Our Guest

Matt Henry is the Director of Talent at Viral Launch. From GE to the Healthcare industry to Angie’s List and now Viral Launch, Matt has an incredible depth of knowledge when it comes to finding, hiring, training, and (when necessary) firing employees. He has hired for highly technical roles across various industries and knows exactly how to pinpoint talent. 

 

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS: As a business grows hiring the right people at the right time is critical to success but not a simple task. How do you find the right people. What should an interview look like and what are the right and wrong questions to ask. Who should be involved in the process.

If you’re currently running your Amazon business or planning on getting started anytime soon as a CEO it’s your job to make sure you’re getting the right people on the bus. First hires can either boost you to a strong start or it can snowball down a slippery slope of unconfident hiring decisions and wasted resources.

I’m Casey Gauss your host for Follow The Data, your journey to Amazon FBA success in the show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated up Viral Launch from over 30.000 product launches and experience working with over 8,000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and more importantly the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

So Cam is still in China so we have another guest with us this week Matt Henry, our Director of Talent here at Viral Launch. Last week we talked to sellers Anthony Nick and Fernando about their experience building teams for their businesses. So this week we wanted to talk about kind of the same topic but just from the Viral Launch perspective. And so Matt welcome to the podcast.

MATT HENRY: Hey guys. Thanks for inviting me to join today, Casey. I’m pretty excited to talk about how we’re building our crew here at our Viral Launch and how we go about our recruiting and vetting of candidates. So you obviously making good hiring decisions as critical as companies grow from start-up and continue to scale. So as the saying goes, making a bad hiring decision will cost the company more in the long run than taking time and diligence to make the right hire the first time.

CASEY GAUSS: Absolutely. So, Matt, if you could just help everybody get to understand you a little bit better what is your background. I think it’s pretty impressive but I’d like for the people to hear it themselves.

MATT HENRY: So my first job was an internship with General Motors when I was in college. I got to have the experience recruiting and hiring other college students who were primarily engineering majors to participate in internships that would eventually lead them to a full time offers, when they did graduate. And then I also experience in health care HR – it’s sort of its own kind of animal. I did everything from payroll to recruiting nursing aids to doing training and compliance and then most recently before Viral Launch I was at Angie’s List. So a tech company here local to Indianapolis I did high volume recruiting for sales teams. I’ve done operational recruiting so that would be roles like finance and marketing and then highly technical roles like software engineering and data science. While I was there I did a stint as an HR information systems analyst so I know your software and analytics pretty well and how those can contribute to the business. And then my last assignment was a HR partner to the organization. So involved pretty much any and everything or that leadership or employees would need throughout that organization.

CASEY GAUSS: So does I. I imagine this is so – does every person have their number? Of how many people they’ve hired.

MATT HENRY: I kind of do. I’ve kind of forgotten because I’ve been so busy – I haven’t been tracking it as much lately. But I do know in one month it was January of 2017. I hired gosh I think it was like 29 software engineering people, in just one month.

CASEY GAUSS: Wow. So if you had to ballpark is it in the order of you know a couple hundred?

MATT HENRY: No it’s probably at Angie’s List it was probably over 600.

CASEY GAUSS: Holy cow. OK. So as you guys can hear this guy has tons of experience. One of my favorite qualities of Matt the one thing that I admire the most is this guy knows how to say everything so in any particular situation he knows how to very strategically ask a question to get the result that he’s looking for or he knows exactly how to you know push a candidate to accept the offer now even though they want to later or maybe in an uncomfortable situation when he has to address some of the things that you know fall under HR this role he absolutely knows the perfect words. He has a perfect like vocal inflections I mean it’s amazing so I’m really trying to pick up on what this guy is doing and how he talks. So yeah a lot of the times when I have a particular question I have to go deal with this particular situation. I’ll first pull Matt into a room and say Matt – OK what words should I use or how should I say this. I really appreciate that Matt.

MATT HENRY: I might be blushing a little bit.

CASEY GAUSS: OK so just to get into some basic questions are job descriptions important? So when you put up a listing for a candidates actually first: where is the best place to post jobs? Where are you finding these people?

MATT HENRY: Yeah well I want to take you back to job description for just a second. The only reason I say that is you can’t hire the right person if you don’t know what the responsibilities will be you’ll just spin your wheels talking to all sorts of different people so take the time first to outline what the job is actually going to be. And then once you get that figured out you can move about posting the jobs. So there’s ZipRecruiter, Indeed, LinkedIn – those are all pretty popular and your own career site is definitely a place you want to make sure you have it posted and that brings me kind of to a side point a company career site is key. So people who know about you and want to be part of what you’re doing will often go searching your site for information. So if you don’t have that specific career page showcasing your culture and listing out of your jobs there’s a pretty good chance you could miss that person that was just the right fit for the job. So back to job postings they’re certainly you know probably one of the most popular ways to hire but I would also argue that networking is the most effective way. So even that might be out of your comfort zone, get out there and meet people. I met you guys at a networking event and look what happened.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah. So we met Matt at a networking event here in Indianapolis. And it just so happened that he was in the market for a job and we got you started around October I think. Recording this April just got started and how many people have hired at Viral Launch, like 15 or so?

MATT HENRY: It’s been 15 just this year and there were a couple the end of last year.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah. So Matt has really been stepping on the gas which has been amazing – some of our best hires have come already from Matt. And he just has everything in the pipeline. So going back to some basic questions resumes are coming in. What are you looking at?

MATT HENRY: Yeah I mean you first have to kind of look at those skills. You know how does what they’ve done in the past contribute to what you have. So can kind of relate that back to the job description or what you envision that job to be. Once that looks good you know set aside those people and if you need to rank them so that you’re not spending too much time on the individual interview process. Do that and go with your first couple candidates first. You probably want to spend some time on the phone know before you go through the struggle of bringing all these people in because you can learn quite a bit on the phone screen.

CASEY GAUSS: So speaking of phone screens – you know how do you approach those? How long are they supposed to last? What kind of questions are you asking? What are you looking for?

MATT HENRY: Yeah. So screening candidates on the phone is going to help eliminate the need to do interview after interview so that’s why I consider it pretty important. The candidate looks good on paper. That’s only half the battle. So spending some time on the phone can certainly give you a good feeling for how they align with the position. And then also how are they going to contribute to the culture of the company. You can kind of hear that through the phone or you can ask some questions centered around that as well.

CASEY GAUSS: So sorry to take it a step back and try to take a pretty actionable approach for those who are listening. So if I am writing my first job description where should I be looking. You know how do I come up with the concept for this job description?

MATT HENRY: Well generally most most jobs that anyone think of have been posted it out there by other companies. So one of the best resources is to just do the search as if you’re the candidate. Gather some of those descriptions put it together and then you know kind of specialize it for what your needs are. So it might involve taking some from one of them from another. And then also help you come up with some other points that might be valid for your description.

CASEY GAUSS: Nice. Yeah I love that. And then. OK. You’ve gone through I can’t even imagine how many thousands of resumes. So what are some of your tips or tricks for going through those quick enough where you can throw some out and keep the ones that really matter?

MATT HENRY: Well you know formatting is a big key as someone’s resume is trash. This doesn’t look good. That kind of can go to the quality of work that they’re going to produce for you. So I generally eliminate those people pretty quick. And then there are a lot of people who just apply for any and everything even if they have no skills to match the reading through the resume you can see that you know if you’re if you’ve got someone who has been a customer service representative and they’re applying for data science you can quickly put that aside too.

CASEY GAUSS: Hear Viral Launch we don’t care if you have a degree so much. I mean definitely can help weed things out but we really focused on your ability to produce results. And so obviously the way that your resume looks is a reflection of that. So after the phone screen. First off before we dive into the specifics more can you can you just walk us through the process so you look at resumes. You filter them out then a phone screen. What does that whole process look like?

MATT HENRY: Yeah so after the phone screen. You know you’ve got a pretty good selection of candidates you might have four or five sort of fit the mold and then you can move forward with setting up interviews. And typically when it comes to an interview there are a couple of ways you can set those up. But I would recommend that at minimum, you obviously want to have them meet with the person who’s going to be managing them from day to day.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah. So if you have a product manager or maybe you have a marketing manager or just a general project manager, then make sure that they’re going to get along that they’re going to mesh well. Then also I think it’s important to take that person’s opinion of how well this candidate will be able to perform the job or whatever into account. So Matt here for some of our roles we do skills assessments. Can you walk us through why we do these skills assessment and where those fall in the interviewing process?

MATT HENRY: Yeah so skills assessments. You know it really depends on the role. So I always recommend them for highly technical roles – in fact it’s almost a must. It’s easy for a candidate to sort of spout off definitions and talk pretty intelligently about a topic. But can they actually apply it. So here at Viral Launch we use an interactive coding test for our software engineering roles and it’s proven to be pretty highly effective piece of the interviewing puzzle. If you can pass that, chances are you’re going to be very good at working on our platform.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah. So guys I cannot stress this enough. So we’ve hired maybe 51, 52 people or so and we’ve had to let some people go because we you know I put full blame on us. We made some bad hiring decisions. And so I think it’s inevitable that you hiring is so tough in probably the area I’m or one of the areas I’m most intimidated on when it comes to business and growing a business. One reason I’m so thankful to Matt here but I mean you guys are going to make mistakes. I don’t like if you are over analyzing. If you are afraid to move forward because you are afraid of making these mistakes you’re really doing a disservice to your business and your potential customers. I think you have to be taking those steps I think you have to be putting those foot those feet forward because you to learn so much through that entire process. Every hire that we made that we shouldn’t have made was simply a function of we just weren’t paying attention to the right things or we were paying attention to the wrong things. And yet anyways hiring very important. Very tough. So I imagine people are intimidated. I think one of the most common questions I hear is you know I am a perfectionist and I know people who will not be doing the job as good as myself. So I think there’s there’s two potential answers here. One your business is very its growth potential is very limited if you are the bottleneck here so you absolutely have to be hiring. Two, if you are doing a good enough job hiring you should be finding people that are doing whatever these tasks are whatever these projects are much better than yourself. So obviously there will be time to ramp them up bring them up to speed. But assuming that they are good at whatever it is coding, product research, project management, customer service, these people should be better at that than you are they should be able to do it at scale. So I cannot encourage you enough to get out and start making those decisions. This is one of the biggest reasons I see people not reaching their full potential on Amazon is honestly they’re just too afraid to hire or they’re not willing to take the time and sometimes you have to take one step back so you can take three steps forward four steps forward. Sometimes if you’re hiring the right people, especially in these early stages it can have major growth potential. So. Anyways going back to Matt and some of these questions. One I think favorite question is: What is your best your favorite interview questions?

MATT HENRY: So I think it kind of goes two-fold when it comes interview questions. There can be the one role that you don’t really have the skillset to hire for. So it’s just too far above you. So one of the things that I recommend before I go into necessarily my favorite questions is to figure out someone out in the community that can be sort of that person to help evaluate candidates. You can do your research to kind of understand the skill set better. But it’s kind of going to lead me back to when we were talking about networking earlier. Oftentimes people we meet through networking have that sort of ability to help help hone some interview questions for you or even maybe we’ll spend some few minutes on the phone with the candidate that you’ve identified to make sure that pass that technical side of things and then we go to the whole like how does that candidate work how are they going to fit into the environment. So for that I usually like to focus on behavior based questions. Those are the types of questions that tell me about a time or what would you do when or describe this for me. These questions are great to understand just how has the candidate behaved in the past because as we all know past behavior is more often than not an indicator of future performance. While these qualities may help you eliminate candidates I wouldn’t necessarily say that’s the goal of these questions because they can also help you understand areas that you might need to help new employees grow in. So maybe they pass all the technical skills and they do pretty well with these behavior based questions. But one of those questions you know put up a little flag that this is something that might be something that I need to work on with the candidate. I also caution you you know we hear a lot about we want people who are team oriented. So you’re going to have a lot of candidates that use the word we a lot. So it definitely shows the teamwork aspect. But I want to understand how accountable someone is the specifically. So was it that the team did all the work or I’ve sat wondering before you know someone told me that that we have accomplished all these things. But I don’t really understand how they contributed. Do they just go along for the ride? So I force them into giving specifics about themselves even if you have to directly ask them how did you specifically contribute to the project you were just talking about.

CASEY GAUSS: Nice. Yeah so going back to an example of using someone that is very tech savvy within the particular domain where you may not have the expertise. Maybe it is an operations person to come in and make a handle facilitating working with suppliers bringing that inventory into Amazon you know whatever. So here at Viral Launch have been trying to hide a data scientist for seems like forever. And so we we’ve made friends with the chief data scientist at one of the incubators and VC funds here in Indianapolis. And so whenever a data scientist candidate makes it past like our technical test then he will come in and test them out. And so he’s really saved us so there is a guy pass our technical test. He’s actually one of like 30 some people or so that I’ve actually passed our technical test. We brought him in we interviewed him we are super excited about him. Then we had Mark this chief data scientist come in to interview them and they were speaking data science at like high level or whatever. And we absolutely he came in and said you know this guy is absolutely not your guy. And I do not think that you should hire him and so that was kind of scary for us because we definitely would have jumped in and made that decision if he wasn’t helping us so as Matt said make sure you’re building those those connections. I mean it will payoff so much more than just hiring. But that’s one quick example of how that has helped us. I didn’t want to give a specific example on some technical tests that we’ve done so for photographers for example. We send them a couple of products we ask them to do some studio shots some lifestyle shots. They have to go and figure out what that means exactly. We want to understand their creativity through that process. We don’t give them you know a specific shortlist or anything we want to understand how creative are you. We want to make it most like a real life scenario. And so whatever they come back with if they do a good job of that then they move on to that final stage of hiring or you know we are hiring like a director of finance or a controller here. So then we sent them you know a couple of anonymized months of transactions and we asked them to categorize them pull some put together some correlations you know help us that according to GAAP scheduling GAAP accounting sorry. And then he comes in and he presents it so he or she. So anyways those are just a couple of examples of skills base tests. So Matt bad hires performance like how do you manage performance especially. I don’t know if you have too much experience with this but especially in a like a remote scenario. One question is how productive are these people being? You know do I need to be big brother and monitor every single mouse move of theirs? How do you handle that?

MATT HENRY: I mean I think you have to look at what do you have someone on site produce. So if we have someone working remotely are they contributing just as much as the person sitting right next to us? And that’s pretty measurable so software engineer for instance they are either coding or they aren’t. If we have someone and are listening department working remote they either are finishing listings or they are not. It’s pretty black and white when it comes to making sure they are contributing. So I definitely don’t think it’s a big brother situation but I think it comes down to setting expectations so when this person comes on board explain to them exactly what their job is going to be and what it looks like and what performance metrics you expect expect out of them.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah we’re going to I will make sure that we post in the show notes a link to Netflix’s culture deck. So if you’re really looking to build a team and I think that you should absolutely be carrying about culture we do here at Viral Launch a ton. I view it as one of my top responsibilities to make sure that we’re providing and fostering the culture to push people make sure people are loving what’s going on here. Just really excited about the mission that we have here of our launch. So anyways I want to post this Netflix culture deck. I mean really they are so focused on hiring the right people hiring responsible people that you don’t need to have all of this you know screen capture software whatever to watch okay what pages are my employees visiting when on billable hours. I like working a lot more on a project basis where there are clearly defined expectations and goals and then just allow them that creativity assuming that you’re hiring you know smart people who are capable of thinking creatively and making good decisions. Anyways just sending them that project and then watching what they come back with. Obviously setting expectations in terms of timeline and then from there is just about really kind of pushing them to complete it faster do it better and then moving on to kind of that next project and so through that without the big brother-esque of watching their screen or having you know these time punches of you know you’re on this website at this time or whatever. I think it allows them to just think about the job completely differently and just be very creative. You know some people still think that here at Viral Launch I’m the one dictating every single thing and aware of every single thing that’s going on. I mean we have you know forty five employees or whatever here and I’m not like we’re just really focus on hiring creative smart people that genuinely care about others. And basically it’s my job to help everybody understand what the mission is the goals are so that everybody can march accordingly and we can all work together in our own creative respects to fulfill the mission which is helping you guys. So yeah anyways just a little branch off of where are going. I think that’s pretty much it. Matt anything else – any final words of wisdom?

MATT HENRY: I mean just to go off the bad hires thing there’s nothing worse than bringing a bad hire onto the organization. So I would caution you they can be the cancer that can result in lost productivity negative vibes across your team and pretty much the whole culture down. So I would advocate that you don’t just hire you know based on skills. If someone can do the job that’s great but they lack certain values. You know we spend a lot of time talking about our values and how people fit to our core values. If someone doesn’t fit that value just because we have the skills to do the job doesn’t mean they’re going to work out. It can be a problem. And in the end in the end you’ll find yourself spending more time cleaning up the mess that they leave behind. You can implement corrective action and all that HR speak but it comes down to making sure that you found the right person that fits both the skills and a certain set of values that you want to exemplify in your organization.

CASEY GAUSS: So sorry I went on a tangent just before that so I do want to talk a bit more about that hires. So pretty quickly we’ve been able to discern yes this person does or does not fit within the culture. And yes or no they are not ambitious enough to to really help us achieve what we’re trying to achieve and so kind of the winding down process or when we do identify that you know we don’t think someone is performing as well as they could be or what our expectations are for that role. Essentially we’ll bring them in for more of a laid back talk to really just make sure that you know. A lot of the times in these scenarios, I view it as I am not doing a good enough job setting my expectations or helping them to understand what my expectations are. So talk number one we’ll be sitting down. I don’t even know if Matt would be involved at this point. Or maybe it would just be Matt but it’s really just about setting expectations and letting them know. Okay. You know this is what we’ve noticed in the first week or this is what we’ve noticed in the first couple of weeks. Here’s kind of what we were expecting. You know how can I do a better job of helping you to get there right. And then you know what Matt, like a week or two after that if if we’re still not liking what’s going on then we’ll have a more specific talk.

MATT HENRY: Yeah I think everyone deserves a second chance so certainly comes about that first that first discussion to make sure they’re aware of it. They may not they may not understand what they’re doing that isn’t working right. Maybe we haven’t set the right expectation which is why you know we’ve worked a lot on building that out as we continue to grow. But you know given that second chance and if it’s still not clicking with them you can’t afford to drag your whole organization down just for someone to be sort of sitting there not performing not contributing. So you know it might be time in that relationship.

CASEY GAUSS: So when we usually put together because we want to have everything you know as buttoned up as possible. When is it that we put together the kind of like written. OK. This is what I’m expecting to see kind of thing.

MATT HENRY: Yeah I mean I think you have that first discussion and you know the follow up that next week and if there still are some specific things happening you have that written document ready to say here’s what needs to happen. And you know I think you know we unfortunately have an opportunity for two people to do better. And there had to be a change made. We gave them the chance. But I’m proud to say because we’ve taken the steps up front to make sure we’ve got good hires. We haven’t had any since that time yeah.

CASEY GAUSS: Yeah. Those hires all came before Matt was here actually so to Matt’s credit. But yeah. And you know I think it’s so easy to kind of you know demonize people or think like oh you know they just are lazy and don’t want to work. Like a lot of the time initially it will just be again misunderstanding the expectation. So make sure that you’re setting those robustly upfront and then from there in terms of actually letting people go. I’ve also heard stories of well you know we just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t do it so we just let them continue on. I mean here’s the thing, you are putting everybody else’s job you know in jeopardy or you know you’re pulling the entire company down by having someone you know you’re listening to this podcast you probably don’t have thousands of employees or hundreds of employees at that at that. And so each person on your team should be critical in driving significant value to the company and if they’re not that’s a big waste of resources. And also that’s a spot that should be replaced with somebody that can be very impactful and then you know what I’ve noticed so one guy that we let go we’re kind of friends in college. That’s not why we hired them I was not involved in the hiring process and we brought him on and you know he was really trying really trying. And it just wasn’t working out. And he kind of understood that. And so we ended up letting him go. It really really sucked at first. But I saw him maybe a month later at a wedding and he was like you know thank you so much. I definitely think that you know it was God that had that happen because now I’m in my perfect job. I’m thriving. I’m being very effective. I’m loving what’s going on and the company is loving what’s going on. You know if they’re not a good fit for the company then they probably don’t feel comfortable. They’re probably not excited about what’s going on and you know it’s up to you kind of to help them realize that or to really part ways and so at least that’s how I can justify letting people go I guess.

MATT HENRY: I think sometimes it’s you know we facilitate the next opportunity. Finding the right thing is not here so move on to the next place and we can help that.

CASEY GAUSS: Awesome. OK I. Yeah I think that is it for this week guys. Matt thanks so much for joining us. Hopefully a ton of value if you guys have any more specific questions please. We are posting the show notes on our blog and we’d love any feedback in the comments. We’d love to answer any questions or even specific questions around hiring. So that’s all for this week. Thanks so much for joining us on Follow The Data for more insights into reliable information about how to grow your Amazon business. Subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. We have tutorial videos for all of our tools as well as webinars that go more in-depth with pro tips for how to really get the most out of the tools. If you’re listening to us on iTunes don’t forget to leave review and rate the show. If you’re listening on another platform like SoundCloud, leave us a comment. We’d love to hear your thoughts your suggestions for future episodes. We want to make sure that we’re driving as much value as possible on this podcast. Help us extract the knowledge of the data the experience we have to help you better succeed in your business. If you know a fellow seller who is trying to grow their Amazon business tell them just check out the series and the rest of the Follow The Data episodes. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in the space. So please tell your friends spread the word and share the show. Thanks again for listening. And as always if you want to be featured on the show have an Amazon related question, have an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is: (317) 721-6590. Until next time remember: the data is out there.

Building a Team with Sellers Anthony Bui-Tran, Fernando Campos, and Nick Young (Follow the Data Ep. 28)

Building a Team with Sellers Anthony Bui-Tran, Fernando Campos, and Nick Young (Follow the Data Ep. 28)

In this episode, Anthony, Nick, and Fernando all share about their experience building teams for their businesses: how they knew they needed to hire, how they prioritized talent according to their business goals, and how they found the right people to grow.

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher 

Our Guests

Anthony Bui-Tran is an ambitious entrepreneur who built a million-dollar business at the age of 23 through manufacturing and importing consumer goods. Since discovering this opportunity he has been empowering others to design their ideal lifestyles through building location-independent businesses through his Facebook group and YouTube channel, Seller Tradecraft. In the near future Anthony plans to expand his one-on-one coaching to a digital course that will enable him to reach and help more people achieve their goals. In his free time he enjoys traveling, surfing and working out. When reaching out to Anthony you’ll find yourself asking, where are you now?

Fernando Campos is a serial entrepreneur who builds brands on online marketplaces. He has an aptitude for growth and in less than three years he has been able to generate over $10 million in revenue per year, grossing $20 million cumulatively. His expertise in Amazon strategy, product selection and business development has led to the introduction of over 200 products to the market.

Nick Young is an e-commerce entrepreneur who specializes in developing private label brands on marketplaces with a focus on process, team building and grit, he has scaled his pure play private label business to over eight figures in revenue within three years, grossing $20 million cumulatively. Prior to starting his business Nick worked in tech where he helped grow early-stage companies. Nick and Fernando are also both partners at Seller Tradecraft, an online community and digital education program for both new and experienced sellers. 

 

 

 

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS:
Deciding to invest in your business by building a team is a major decision. How do you know if it’s the right move for you? How much revenue should you have before making your first hire? Who should that first hire be, and how do you grow profit when taking on the cost of employees?

I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with over 8,000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon, and more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

Cam is in China this week, our normal host. So today filling in for him is our producer, Becca Longenecker. In this episode Anthony, Nick and Fernando will all share about their experience building teams for their businesses, how they knew they needed to hire, how they prioritized talent according to their business goals, and how they found the right people to grow. Let’s get started.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Hey, guys. What’s up? This episode is the first in a series of episodes that we are doing with sellers Anthony Bui-Tran, Fernando Campos and Nick Young. In this series we’re focusing specifically on what it takes to scale your FBA business. A little introduction for who these guys are. Anthony is an ambitious entrepreneur who built a million-dollar business at the age of 23 through manufacturing and importing consumer goods. Since discovering this opportunity he has been empowering others to design their ideal lifestyles through building location-independent businesses through his Facebook group and YouTube channel, Seller Tradecraft. In the near future Anthony plans to expand his one-on-one coaching to a digital course that will enable him to reach and help more people achieve their goals. In his free time he enjoys traveling, surfing and working out. When reaching out to Anthony you’ll find yourself asking, where are you now?

Fernando Campos is a serial entrepreneur who builds brands on online marketplaces. He has an aptitude for growth and in less than three years he has been able to generate over $10 million in revenue per year, grossing $20 million cumulatively. His expertise in Amazon strategy, product selection and business development has led to the introduction of over 200 products to the market.

Nick Young is an e-commerce entrepreneur who specializes in developing private label brands on marketplaces with a focus on process, team building and grit, he has scaled his pure play private label business to over eight figures in revenue within three years, grossing $20 million cumulatively. Prior to starting his business Nick worked in tech where he helped grow early-stage companies. Nick and Fernando are also both partners at Seller Tradecraft, an online community and digital education program for both new and experienced sellers.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
My name is Anthony. I basically am a Amazon seller of three years. So is Nick and Fernando. But the three of us basically met through a mastermind group online, a Facebook mastermind group of million-dollar sellers and up. And then most recently I just like temporarily relocated to LA to kind of learn from these guys because they’re at the eight-figure level, and I’m at the seven-figure level. So I thought one of the cool things that we can talk about is like perspective of building a team to a seven-figure level and then like building a team to an eight-figure level, and then what kind of like perspective or mind shift differences that maybe like I have versus like them when it comes to building a team because I think that’s like a very big mental mind shift that I learned from just like being out here and like talking to them a little bit more about like how they’re scaling their team, and how they have like advisors, and how they really have like, you know, like more structured like systems and processes in place versus like my business.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
So then how many people do each of you, like how many hires have you each made?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
I personally have seven part-time, and then –

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, we have, in total, about like 20 people.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Okay, nice.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah. And those are full-time.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Well, I guess I’ll just jump in and ask the first question. So the first thing I was wondering is if you could, Anthony and Nick and Fernando, if you want to start [technical difficulty 0:04:59.0]

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Okay, yeah. I have an interesting one. So when I started thinking about outsourcing it really stemmed from like The 4-Hour Work Week. So I was reading that book while I was working my corporate job. So I knew in order to scale my business I had to make more time, right? And I knew that I couldn’t physically like free up more time in my schedule in terms of like balancing work, gym and then my social life. So I realized I was like, oh, I can just pay someone and buy their time, right, and leverage that. And then The 4-Hour Work Week was one of those ways that I realized that you could, you know, get work help overseas, and I looked into it a little bit more, and then I realized that, you know, balancing my full-time job with a VA, like I would have them do a lot of Amazon stuff and then some very, very minor work stuff for me, and balancing that out in my personal life. And that was just basically like the first, very first start of getting a hire. And then after that successful experience with my first hire – and he’s been with me ever since – I just really wanted to build out more and more.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, so for Nick and I, I would say this was about like six months in, and it was probably honestly too late because I think we were doing like probably around like 80, 90 grand in revenue at the time, I guess for perspective.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
And it was just you two?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
And it was just us two. And then the first person was like kind of a customer support, kind of administrative person. She’s still with us today. It’s like pretty amazing. And she actually ended up bringing her husband on to the team as well, which was pretty cool, like a few months later. But yeah, I would say that it was probably too late. I think in retrospect it would have been better to make that hire earlier, like thinking about like how you value your time, and let’s say $100 an hour or $200 an hour, and then thinking about how you’re spending like a majority of your time, and whether you can outsource those specific like tasks at a lower rate than what you’re valuing your time at. And so yeah, whether it’s like, you know, sourcing, or customer support or graphic design, like all that kind of stuff, I would have definitely done it earlier now in retrospect.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, it’s constantly a struggle. I mean I think every entrepreneur when they’re first starting out, especially for me, I know I struggled with the, you know, trying to be a perfectionist with how everything was done. Naturally when you own a business you never think anyone is going to care as much as you do. So I always felt like I wanted to delegate, and when I did delegate it had to be the way that I wanted to do it. But you know, I think quickly we realized as we scaled that, you know, if you hire the right person they’re going to do a better job than you will because naturally they’re going to be dedicating more time to it, assuming that they’re smart enough. And I think that’s really the process of how we need to learn as entrepreneurs to let go. And it came down to just hiring the right people and not hiring people that could only take delegation, and instead finding people who could actually think on their own, and that was really a crucial shift for us, being able to let go and find the right people to kind of let it go to, if that makes sense.

CASEY GAUSS:
So guys, to give everybody some context, would you guys mind sharing kind of how many people you’ve hired over what period of time, what those hires look like, just giving everybody some context around what’s going on in your guys’ business so they understand where all this advice is coming from?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Okay. Yeah, for me, starting out essentially, to get to the point where I was, or I am now as a seven-figure seller, the first thing I ever outsourced was customer service because in my opinion that was like one of the things that I just didn’t really enjoy doing because I mean it always comes down to the same example, like someone would ask me like what color like the shirt is, or what color an item is, but you know the listing obviously says it’s like black. The picture looks like it’s black, and then like when a customer asks me that, for some reason I personally get a little frustrated with that because I feel like it’s a very obvious answer. But at the end of the day, like you want to hire someone that cares in responding to like customer questions like that more than I guess I would in that situation. And then I realized that I’m wanted to reduce the amount of decisions I was making in my business because those really like kind of wear on, I guess, like my mental energy. So customer service was like the first thing I outsourced.

And then down the line it got to I would outsource like random different project [tasks 0:09:50.0] versus getting a full time VA. So I would get some like listing optimization done, product photography I would outsource that to like certain people and then just compare really, right? Because I started doing it in-house, and then I realized I was like okay, I don’t want to invest in all this equipment when I can just pay someone to do it professionally and they’ll get it done the right way because I was spending too much time researching. I would say okay, this is how I should make like a perfect like lightbox. And I was like how often am I going to use this thing? Maybe like, I don’t know, a couple times a month. Maybe I’d have to edit it. And then it got to the point where I wanted to also focus more on I guess like YouTube and my Facebook group. And so some of the other hires were just like video editors.

And then it was mainly working with my first VA. He was kind of like a jack of all trades, which is what I really like about him, and he’s just – he, I wouldn’t say he knows everything, but he knows how to like Google. And I think that’s probably one of the most important traits, having someone on your team that is like their ability to just learn things on their own. That’s probably more important than – I mean of course like you want to find people that are experienced, but when there’s always going to be new things to learn in business, and I think if, you know, someone on your team just like has ability just to learn on their own or just knows like when to reach out, or knows how to reach out effectively, like one of the things like I always ask my team is if they have a question they’ll ask me. They’ll like say like, should I respond to this customer this way? And they’re like, instead of asking me how do I do this, they’re like I think I should respond like this, and they provide an example. And then I’ll tell them like yes or no, or I’ll give them suggestions of like hey, like I think you could just add some more details here, some more context here, and like training them to just think on their own like that has been like invaluable for my business.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, so for us in the US we probably hired like overall maybe eight people in the US. We’re down to five now here in the US, and then we’ve hired at least 25 overseas I think. But our overall team now covers a little over 20, and I would say that we’ve pretty much like been able to build like a team to manage like every aspect of the business. I think the one that we hold probably a little bit, the most close to our chest is like kind of product selection. But we have someone that’s in charge of like finding the products that we approve of. We have new inventory planning, logistics, support, you know, marketplace management, like wholesale and retail. Pretty much like everything is actually done mostly overseas now.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
What was your first hires for you guys?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Support and admin.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, definitely support and admin. Yeah, for sure.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
And you know what we found is like as we – you know, I think it’s always like when you’re first starting out naturally you’re going to do it based off of like what’s taking up most of your time. But we found like as we’ve grown to scale we really had to gain a lot of thinking towards how we’re breaking out the organization, especially as we approached the eight figure mark, you know, we realized that we had to start breaking out the business into business units, too, so that, you know, we could structure each business unit to have like, you know, it’s own P&L, its own way of tracking the effectiveness of it. And that just started to make more sense as we grew, you know, the different channels we were selling on and also the amount of products that we had. And so I think that has really allowed us to have a lot more efficiency and structure in terms of how we collaborate with one another and, you know, as we’ve grown. And that’s something that I think, you know, we’ve really tried to put a lot more thought into more recently.

CASEY GAUSS:
Awesome. So when you guys made that first hire, Fernando and Nick, what size company were you? What was going through your mind? What were your hesitations, and how did you overcome those?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, I don’t know if we had too much hesitation. So we both had outsourced specific like roles, or like I guess tasks in previous companies, like previous startups that we had worked at. But yeah, they were in charge of like basically – I mean at the time we probably had about like eight products maybe, eight, 10 products. And so we were just building out like a lot of like – a lot of like inquiry in terms of like product questions and like, you know, following up for like reviews and all that kind of stuff. And so I think all like the really like tedious parts, I mean the beautiful thing about Amazon is they take, you know, a huge percentage of the customer support. But anything that did kind of come through, they kind of oversaw all of that I would say.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, I would say that what we really, you know, did was, you know, the model was new to us at the time, right, so when we just started. So we really wanted to trail blaze and it just make sure that we understood all parts of the process to begin with. You know, I’m a believer that you do have to delegate what you understand first. And so, you know, I remember answering customer support questions. And you know Fernando was like, look, you shouldn’t be doing this. And I was like yeah, you’re right. You’re totally right; I shouldn’t. And so that’s when we made our first hire. And then as we had this additional resource, you know, we realized okay, well she has extra time. She can go ahead and copy this. She can follow up a customer review. She can do all these things that we realized that were on our list but we just didn’t get time to, you know, handle because we were limited on time since, you know, we wanted to focus our time on growth. But we always found ourselves hampered by supporting the operation, and that’s when we realized okay, we need to, you know, push this off to, you know, that support person. And eventually, you know, we started to structure the tasks as like this is that type of role, this is that type of role, as they just became more frequent.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
How did you guys find your first hires? Where did you look for people?

NICK YOUNG:
I would say online jobs.ph is a great one. You know, there’s a lot of people who are really familiar with remote work. A lot of people actually have Amazon experience. That’s where we first started. And we also, you know, we mentioned that Fernando and I, we both came from companies that deal with outsourcing. I actually came from a company that did outsourcing for a lot of big internet companies. So I had, you know, someone that I worked with there before, and I just got a referral. So she was actually like, you know, the sister-in-law to someone I worked with closely in the Philippines over there. So that, you know, that was, you know, how we first got started. And then she brought in her husband. But eventually as we wanted more, you know, we also created a referral system internally for people that they trusted that they could bring in, and that worked up to a certain point until we needed actually more employees than they could find for us.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, I mean it’s now, I have to say, we just recently brought on like a recruiting HR person. So they’re in charge of building out your own applicant tracking system. And this is a – Anthony’s laughing because this is like a huge hire for me. Like I was really excited about it because I spent like a ton of my time doing interviews for new hires, and, but yeah, I mean she’s been amazing. And I think one of the really interesting things is that like I think a lot of people would just kind of go to Upwork or OnlineJobs because it’s really easy. You make a post, and then, you know, you get a ton of like submissions, and then you kind of choose. But I think one of the big changes we made maybe like eight months ago was actually treating hires overseas, like in terms of recruiting, the exact same way as if they were like a US hire, and so investing the same amount of time, same amount of interviews, like the same type of process in terms of, you know, doing like quick phone screenings, actually like a reaching – doing like kind of outbound or outreach like [unintelligible 0:17:33.9], maybe taking out a job [unintelligible 0:17:36.3] the need to like really investing the time because we’ve made some like incredible, incredible hires overseas. And like now we’re just kind of like raising that bar in terms of like I think in the beginning it was just like oh, we’re going to pay them like$4.00 an hour. It’s like fine. Like, they’re smart enough. But now we’re kind of holding out, like especially for like these like really like crucial roles to our organization, like inventory planning, we wanted to make sure that we had like the best, like the smartest person that we possibly can in this specific role because it’s such a crucial part to our business.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Yeah.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Who was that last hire you had? What was like her background? The one for inventory planning?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Well, it’s a guy.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Or a guy, yeah.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, I mean he came from like the Harvard of the Philippines, was like in charge of inventory planning for like a grocery store with like, I don’t know, a 98% like confidence interval. I mean it was just like way more sophisticated than what we had been doing in the past. Like his spreadsheets right now are so beautiful, like I kind of – I tear up a little bit. It’s really nice.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
That’s awesome. Yeah, so making the right hire sounds like definitely has been part of your success. But I’m also wondering how, especially with teams like overseas, how do you guys motivate your teams and ensure like a standard of quality for your work that your employees are doing?

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, I mean I think one of the important things is – I mean first off, you know, I think you have to be clear on the KPIs. You have to be clear about what you – what their goals are for their role and how you measure them by. You know we implemented this thing called OKRs, which is something that Google has implemented. So it’s objective key results, and it basically – it’s set from the top down. So you know, you set an objective key results for the company as a whole, and it kind of cascades down across each department. And they have something that kind of goes into that, you know, key result. So you want to make sure everyone is aligned. But I think on top of that, I think, you know, one of the main things that helps people when they’re working on a team is seeing the level of work of the other people they’re working with, right? So you know, we want to make sure that like every person when they come on, that they’re working a team. But also they want – we want to make sure that the team members that they’re working with have, you know, produce high-level and high-quality work. And I think that’s really important because then they’ll realize that they’re accountable to people who really depend on their work. And you know, all their peers are really producing and performing well, and it becomes exciting because everyone is really caring about what they’re producing, and everyone feels like they’re elevated to their highest ability, if that makes sense.
So I think making sure that you have that team environment, making sure that they’re collaborating with one another, is really important. And when you hire the right people they enjoy working with other top-tier people. And I think, you know, that’s something that we don’t necessarily have to be involved in day-to-day. They’re just aware of it because they see the level of work that’s produced.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
One other aspect of like motivation I would say is like really – is like the kind of communication and having them fully integrated. I mean like we hear of like a lot of other sellers will kind of refer to their team as kind of VAs, and like you know they’re kind of like part time. They’re looking for a bunch of different companies. I think our approach is a little bit different, where we bring people on like full-time onto like our staff. They’re included in all of our communication. They have their own email. They have like, you know, kind of welcome training. They have like a buddy. Like I mean they’re – they’re just really well-integrated into our team. Like the same kind of red carpet, if you will, as if they were like here in LA with us. And I think that is like a really big kind of like mindset shift for them is that, you know, we’re paying them every two weeks like we would pay employees here, and like we’re really just investing in them. We’ll pay for monitors and like technical equipment that they need. Like we really want to make sure that they feel included. And then so that as the team grows and it becomes like more and more distributed, that they are always feeling like they’re like really a part of it. And part of the responsibility for our new like HR and recruiting team is to build out like kind of teambuilding and different types of kind of ways of building [unintelligible 0:21:49.4] for a team that’s like scattered all across the world.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
And then just to add onto that, my little tidbit is like me and my team, we use a lot of – we use this Google Chrome extension called Loom, L-o-o-m, and basically it records your screen, and it records you talking at the same time. So like whenever like I’m trying to explain things, or someone on our team is trying to explain things, explains or explained their question, like it’s feels a little bit more personable. Just like seeing someone’s mouse move across the screen, and you see like their face talking as they answer questions. And that’s how like we relate and send a lot of messages back to each other, especially if they’re long. And my team, like we don’t always enjoy – well, I don’t enjoy typing a lot of times, so I enjoy making like these videos. So I’m like okay, like this is how you do this and that, and then they’ll like create out like the SOPs and everything. But when I’m making those videos I try to be a little bit more enthusiastic and happy, and I’ll just like maybe tell them like one tidbit about like me, or like I’ll tell them like hey, you’re doing a good job on this, like just some quick feedback because I think in a very virtual setting you don’t always get that much of like an intimate setting because some of my team members, like most of the time we just like talk through like Slack. And we don’t always like hop on voice calls. Like I’ll go on like maybe – there are some people on my team I haven’t like talked to like on Skype via voice call in maybe like two months or so. Some people are just Slack. So I just try to be more intimate and personal whenever possible, just in like a virtual team environment.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Yep.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. Fernando and Nick, for your people in the US, do you guys have an office, or are they remote as well?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Oh, so we do have an office here in LA. So four of us work here regularly. One person kind of comes in and out, kind of our developer that’s building like all our internal tools. But yeah, for the most part we are here in LA.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. So I imagine you guys have made mistakes in the hiring process. I know we have at Viral Launch.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
No, we have 100%.

CASEY GAUSS:
What are some of those – what are some of those mistakes, if you want to share? And then like what have you learned from that?

NICK YOUNG:
That’s a great question.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah. So one of the things that we recently added – so like I guess a mistake was not doing this, but we actually recently added like a case study into our process. So we kind of – Nick and I will sit down. We’re like okay, we’re going to hire an inventory like planner. Like okay, what do you think is like the most difficult part? Maybe it’s like the forecasting and managing so many SKUs. So we will come up with a case study, like specifically like using like our own a data, and we’ll just like kind of export it out. And then like here’s an issue where we like kind of ran out of stock, and then just see like how they would like plan it. So we’d send them like a bunch of raw data with like a quick like Word doc just saying like hey, you know, here’s the situation for this SKU, like how would you handle it based on like, you know, here’s your production time, here’s your lead time, like all that kind of stuff. And then we see what they send back in terms of like kind of a report on our analysis. And then in the next interview we actually have them like walk through it. And then so we’ll ask questions that were both on that assignment, and then other, like other questions that were not included there, just to see like their critical thinking and like their understanding of the subject. And I think you could do that pretty much for any role that I’ve seen, that we ‘ve – at least that we’ve hired so far. And I think that’s been like probably one of the best ways that we can just see like where people, like where their understanding is of the subject matter before even going through like a lot of the, of like the personality and culture like parts of the interview.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. So have you guys had to let people go then?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, yeah, definitely.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, I mean, you know, we’ve had to let some people go, for sure, and that’s always not fun. I think if someone is, you know, remote it’s definitely, you know, a little easier than doing it in person. We’ve done both. But yeah, I would say, you know, ultimately it comes down to performance, and I think we’re always very clear about performance. I mean, I know Fernando and I, we always make sure to communicate exactly what it is that we’re looking from them and where they’re missing the mark. And then what we do is we actually create a performance plan. So we’ll say look, you have like 30 days. Or you know, let’s say 60 days. These are the things that, you know, we’ve been asking for and we haven’t gotten from you. And I need you to create steps to figure out how you’re going to, you know, fix this problem. And so you know, it gives, you know, employees opportunity to figure it out. And they know that their job is on the line. And I think sometimes, you know it works, and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it gives them exactly the fire that they need under their butt to realize okay, crap, like I have been underperforming. I need to figure it out. And in other instances it just makes it clear, if they don’t fix it, that that’s exactly like why we’re letting them go. So I think, you know, having that clear communication has always been kind of the foundation of how we work with employees so that they fully understand where they stand with us. And we always – you know, well we try our best. I would say, you know, it’s hard to deal with this, but we try to do like quarterly reviews with our team members, and if not quarterly, then we do it semiannually, for sure.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
So can you talk about what the advantage is to having like a team as opposed to kind of like a scattered network of freelancers and how you feel that has like given your business a competitive advantage?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, so I mean I think it really depends on the stage that you’re at. I think in the beginning like a scattered team of freelancers can work. But I think the competitive advantage of having like a dedicated team, at least in my opinion, is that people are going to start taking more ownership. I think naturally if you’re like a freelancer then you’re a little bit less invested in any one company because you’re spreading time with, you know, several companies. And I think for us having these like dedicated people that are like, you know, in charge of logistics or in charge of, you know, product selection, like they work with us closer. They’re like – they’re in all of our communication, and so in terms of like being able to step up and take ownership, that I don’t know if we would get as much with like a freelancer. For instance, we made a hire that was in charge of like all of our systems, and she came in and put together like all of our supply chain from like our purchase orders, to our orders in production, and to like our shipment monitoring and then tied it all the way into finance, all in a software called like Ragic, all from scratch. But like she was able to do it really quickly, like within a month, without me being as involved because we had someone that was in charge of all the purchase orders. We had one person that was in charge of logistics. So she was able to like do one-on-ones with them. They’re all internal. And then to kind of brainstorm, like okay, well how does this need to look? Like where are the sticking points like right now, and then being able to put that all together within 30 days just because we had internal people that like had invested interest in this process being smoother.

NICK YOUNG:
Right. And you know, Anthony mentioned The 4-Hour Work Week. You know, that’s also been super influential for me and Fernando. And I think realistically, like having a team of freelancers, I think it makes it more difficult for your business to exist outside of you. You know, it’s always going to be centralized. You’re always going to be the body that knows the most about your business. And I think, you know, for me and Fernando I can probably – I mean I’m sure Fernando can say this as well, but like there are parts of our business that we don’t know like how it happens, but it does happen, and I think it’s because we have people in charge of making those things happen. You know, we’re focused on the results, and we have the key indicators that tell us if something isn’t working. But ultimately it falls on those people. And so, you know, if we’re training someone and they come into business, having a team allows, you know, there to be multiple experts within the company that people can learn from. And so I can easily just say hey, talk to this person, talk to that person, and they’ll be able to get that body of knowledge without us having to be directly involved. And I think that’s kind of the efficacy of having, you know, something that exists outside of you as the entrepreneur and the business owner. And I think it allows it to kind of organically grow and [breathe 0:30:27.1] outside of you.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Yeah, and then for me, I guess my favorite thing is there is all this stuff – I feel like – I don’t know of this is like a real phrase or not, but I like to always say that I’m a first time entrepreneur. So this is my first time running my own business, like really like handling like everything, making all these hiring decisions. But in terms of like perspective of like running a business, I’ve never done it prior to this point. And after meeting with Nick and Fernando I realized like okay, like to get to where they’re at versus where I’m at, it’s like they had like department heads, and it’s like okay, like I don’t have that in my business. So that’s like, you know, along the way, like as a smaller seller, I’m like okay, like these are things that I’m happy that I know like are on kind of like a roadmap to do. So just like having department heads, having full-time hires, like for the exact reasons that they were talking about. But it wasn’t until I like really met them and started networking with other sellers that were bigger than me that I realized that these were like the moves that you need to make in order to like 10 X your business, really. And that was like one of the biggest like mantras for me, you know, just like their whole hiring process is like really, really in depth compared to like mine. I know for like some of their like hires they’ll go like what do you guys do like 20, 25 interviews? Like when they told me that, when Fernando told me that, I was like what? I was like 20 to 25 interviews? And then so I’ve been with like Nick and Fernando like for the past three months. And like all at the , time like from the outside looking in it’s like they’re always like on – they’re always on like a hiring call like every single day. They’re always trying to hire like this other person, or they’re trying to find like the perfect candidate. And that brings me back to like what they were saying about like building like the A team, right?

When I’m hiring people what I’m currently doing is like I’ll look at – you know, I’ll get the applicants from like Upwork or OnlineJobs.ph, and I’ll like kind of choose like the top five, and I’ll narrow it down. Like I’ll interview like those guys, and I’ll just like pick the best out of that. But I feel like I don’t dive down as much as like they do in their business to like find like the exact perfect hire that’s, you know, for like say their supply chains, like you know, someone who’s like managed like grocery stores and like make sure like bananas were always on the shelf, you know? Like for me it’s like okay, like this person is good enough. You know, I didn’t realize that – you know, and now like my perspective has changed to where it’s like I want like the best person, like, you know, like maybe you have to wait a little longer. And I’ve heard multiple people say this, but you know, a bad hire is going to cost more than a good hire.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Right.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
So you know, like invest that money into like – and what they also do is like besides OnlineJobs, you know, sometimes they would use like LinkedIn from what I understand, or like their referral networks. Some of my other friends, you know, like Facebook ads, or they’ll like go find like Facebook groups, like specifically for certain positions. And for me, like I just don’t go that far out of my way to really find the perfect hires. And that’s why like I’m excited that they got an HR person because I know like a day in and day out they’re always like on all these different calls. So like I know like how impactful – like I never really realized how impactful an HR department or team was until like just like hearing about all this. I was like oh man, it makes like such the biggest difference, especially with like you can free up so much time like figuring out like which candidates to like just hop on a call with versus like screening like, you know, 20 people, like and they can really help with that stuff.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, I didn’t realize the importance of that until five days ago when she started. Yeah, I mean, you know, Fernando has been saying that we need to do it, and I was like I’m not sure. And then she went on and she did this awesome thing where she implemented like a – what’s it called?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
BirthdayBot?

NICK YOUNG:
No, no. Well, that’s cool, the BirthdayBot, but implemented this tool that basically pulls all of our employees of like their satisfaction and different degrees of, you know, parts of their business like autonomy and ambassadorship or whatever. And then it was really cool to see it. So everyone responded, and they’re all anonymous feedback. And so it was really cool to see that like
everyone was really happy with their jobs, you know, and to see that like everyone, you know, felt like everyone else was talented. I mean, it kind of confirmed like our initial, you know, belief and I guess what we had inferred from our experience that like we were going the right route. But to be able to see that and have a pulse on the company and to realize that like hey, you know, what we’re doing is working really, really was helpful and impactful. So yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:
What is the birthday thing?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Oh, it’s like a – so now we get notifications like for everybody’s birthing on the team. So we can do some kind of celebration thing, or if they’re maybe overseas we can do some like, some kind of like gift or, you know, something like to just, to acknowledge like hey, it’s your birthday, you know?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Yeah, a little thanks.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
And it’s all automated, which is really nice because it’s all through Slack.

CASEY GAUSS:
So as you guys start hiring like logistics people, HR, I imagine some of them you aren’t as comfortable in or have less knowledge, so how do you properly – this is something that I’ve been experiencing, so we’ve just started hiring at the director levels. We just hired a Director of Engineering, Director of Marketing, Director of Customer Success, Director of Product, like all these positions that, you know, I don’t have that much experience in. So I don’t know what the ideal candidate looks like. Have you guys run into this, and if so, how do you get over that to then finally making that hiring decision?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Well, I – just from the outside looking in – I asked Fernando this like the other week. And I was like how do you like hire for like – how do you know they’re a good supply-chain person? And he says like when he screens all of them, like he learns from like each interview, you know? So he picked up different tidbits on like what each person, each candidate like has done in like experience, and then also like you look up some stuff on your own, but usually he can kind of like get a lot from the interviews from what I understand.

NICK YOUNG:
I think that’s always constantly a challenge, for sure. I mean I definitely think it’s something we rub up against for sure, especially for senior hires. Like how do you know if you’ve never done it before? I mean, I think one of the things that, you know, we really try doing a better job of is getting advisors, so people who are really excellent at what they do in a specific role at a company we admire. And so now, you know, we realize like the value it adds is great, and we’ll regularly get dinners with them. And we’ll also include them in part of our hiring process if it’s a major role. So I think, you know, to leverage their expertise is great because they understand what we’re looking for. They know us, and they’re willing to lend their expertise in terms of, you know, whether they think this person is credible or not.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, I mean two other things. I guess one is kind of like a feeling. Like if it’s – yeah, someone that’s really crucial to the business like a director, you know, like you’re paying like a higher salary, all that kind of stuff, I think about after, like after the interview how do I feel? Like I’m not like really excited about this like person joining because I know that they can like quickly, you know, if you have like a good Director of Marketing, like they will pay for themselves and like and more like, you know, within their first like let’s say six months. And so if I have that like feeling this person really knows like their stuff, then like I think that’s one big piece. And then the second piece is we’ll find a friend that’s in like a similar role, so like again like the Director of Marketing, or like a VP of Marketing at another kind of consumer products company and ask them to do the interview. And I think that’s been really helpful. Like I know for us like finance is like something we like understand but we’re not like as technical as someone who is a Director of Finance. So we’ll ask one of our friends that’s in that specific role to do the technical interview for us. And that’s been really, really helpful in terms of asking questions we would have never thought of.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. Can you walk us through what your typical hiring process is, everywhere from where are you putting out these job postings? Okay, someone puts in their resume. What do you do there, all the way up to okay, now it’s day one, day two at the company?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah. So this process has been really interesting especially since we’ve had a recruiting person for all of like 10 days now. But basically so now all the candidates are coming through actually are Airtable where they fill out like a pretty long survey, which is –

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Tell them what Airtable is.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Huh?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Tell them what Airtable is.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Oh, so Airtable is like this really cool platform. It’s kind of like a really powerful Excel that can pull from different like, different areas. But we use it both for like our analytics of our products so we can see like our weekly profitability, but it also has like other kind of templated forms that can – kind of similar to like kind of Google surveys and stuff like that. But it makes it really easy for a candidate to upload their resume, you know, include their Skype, like you know, where they’re located. You can have them like answer specific questions related to their job so that you just see like do they really – are they actually putting time in to fill out this like application for us or not really. And versus like OnlineJobs you can kind of just like click, copy and paste your normal paragraph and then submit and then move on to the next application. But yeah, I mean in terms of like okay, so where we’re gathering the applications is for sure OnlineJobs. We’ll do outbound outreach through LinkedIn. We just started doing kind of like Facebook where it’s kind of like what Anthony was mentioning. If there’s like a specific type of Facebook group for that, you know, particular industry or like type of role.

And then I would say that’s pretty much it. We’ve tested – we tested ZipRecruiter and like a little bit of LinkedIn ads. But like, but those main three, OnlineJobs, outbound outreach and then Facebook groups have been like the best like ROI so far in terms of like time spent. And then so now as a – now that we have the full-time recruiting person, that we’ll have a meeting with her before and to get like all the job recs, like what is the most important parts of the role, like what are the hours they’re going to need to work, like what are the main things that we’re looking for. And then she’ll actually do all the resume screening and the first round of phone screening for all of our candidates. And then those kind of finalist candidates will get passed on to Nick or I, depending on which department it is or to the department head, I guess. And then it will go through that kind of like gauntlet of like talking to the department head, then talking to Nick, and then to me. And then if it’s like a really important role or one that we’re not as comfortable hiring completely on our own, then they’ll also go through a technical round with a friend of ours.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. Do you guys look at references at all?

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
We used to. We kind of stopped to be honest.

NICK YOUNG:
I think it depends. You know, I think in the Philippines, like it was overseas. I don’t think it really works well, to be honest, because I think just culture-wise, you know, they tend to be very, you know, non-confrontational, so you know, they’re going to be nice no matter what, you know? I think overseas is hard to really understand that reference thing. But I think if it’s in the US, yeah, I think we’ll definitely call references, especially since there’s more on the line. You know you’re paying them a salary. We’re based in California, so we have to pay a lot of taxes and that kind of stuff. And I think also when you’re screening references in the US, you know, you can have a more in-depth conversation with them and really dig into their experiences. And if it’s anything less than an A+ then that’s kind of a red flag, you know, because naturally they’re going to choose people, you know, who are going to be in their best favor. So we’re looking for any reason why, you know, the person might not be giving them a full-fledged recommendation.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah. Actually one of the things that we do is kind of like a top grading kind of tactic that I recently learned about, which is, again, for US hires we will mention in the first interview that we will be checking references. And like the theory behind it is that if you kind of mention that like at the beginning of the interview, then they call it like truth serum where that candidate is much more likely, since you kind of set that ground-floor, like okay, we’re going to be checking references and validating things that you said, that they are more likely to tell the truth in the interview versus if you didn’t –

BECCA LONGENECKER:
If you could do anything differently, if you could go back and do anything differently would you? And then also, who would you recommend – for like FBA sellers – who would you recommend build a team? I’m thinking like for some of our newer sellers who are listening who might be thinking like this is something for them later. Yeah, what kind of person?

NICK YOUNG:
To hire?

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
Yeah, I think, I mean the first hire, in my opinion, should be like an admin person. Once you get to the point where you know your time could be better spent elsewhere and you are bringing in income, it does make a lot of sense, in my opinion, to get that first hire to do your admin stuff, kind of like what we were saying earlier about like customer service, following up on reviews, things like that. But in terms of like if I had to start over and like really do this whole process again, like what would I do and what I? So if I could start over, yes, I would totally love that cheat code. And based on like what I know now, but basically like the biggest thing would be to find mentors, right? Just find people bigger than you because like for me – I always say this, but there’s things you know. There’s things you know you don’t know, and then the biggest part of this whole pie is the stuff you don’t know you don’t know. And like the last like three months for me have just like been like tapping into the stuff that I don’t know that I don’t know. And like in terms of like, you know, businesses having like advisors, like I knew that was like a thing, but I just didn’t think like people in the Amazon business like started doing that really because the sellers I felt like I was surrounding myself with didn’t think on that level. So it also kind of depends on what your goals are, right? So if you want to get to a certain mark, find sellers that are already at that mark because then he can really just like, you know, just dissect like what they did to get there and like – you know, people don’t mind like giving advice. And it’s cool for, I think, other sellers to like really reflect back on their journey and really understand like hey, these are like some pivotal moves that like got me to this point, or like this is what’s really working in my business, you know?

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Right.

ANTHONY BUI-TRAN:
So that’s what I think, yeah.
NICK YOUNG:
Yeah, I think for us like I mean ultimately I’m a firm believer that, you know, you have to go through an experience to really learn from it, and you know, you have to have moments of crisis in order to recover and just be stronger. So I mean I think if I could change things I would definitely like do that. That would be awesome. But I’m really grateful for those experiences. But I would think probably the main thing I would hone in on is know your numbers and really understanding like on a per SKU basis how much money you’re making or losing after ads, after all of the fees because I don’t think a lot of sellers look at that. They’re just looking at the top line revenue, and that’s something that we were focused on for a long time, and I think it – you know, it really put us in crisis point where we just weren’t able to manage our cash flow effectively, and we had to kind of work ourselves out of that hole.

And so I think having clear direct numbers around what, you know, what, you know, what guidelines you’re going to set to say okay, I’m going to keep this product or I’m going to let go of the product, and being really stringent about that. I think people get too married to a product, and we definitely had that. And then ultimately it ends up bringing your business down because you’re not managing your cash flow effectively. You know, those SKUs are taking up a lot of cash for you to keep up. But you’re really not making much money. So learning to let go of those bad products and reinvest into the good ones, and ultimately I think that’s, you know, that’s something that I wish we had done earlier. But you know, I think, again, without going through that experience we wouldn’t have known.

FERNANDO CAMPOS:
Yeah, and I guess to reiterate kind of points that we made earlier, I guess if I were to do things differently I would hold our like overseas team, like in terms of the interviewing process at a higher standard, like you know looking at them like as if they should be like equal or not more talented in this specific area than me or than who I would have hired in the US because I think that has elevated like the average ability of our team, and I think that was like a really big thing. And then also just like learning to delegate like earlier. I think yeah, we kind of held onto like certain tasks, like oh you know, this is too important, or you know, inventory planning, like you know, it’s too – like we can’t be out of stock. We need to like hold onto this. And then like realizing that there was just people out there that are way better that have been doing this for years, and like this is like their dedicated focus versus like us trying to do everything and holding certain aspects of our business to our chest. I think those are probably the two things I would do differently. And then in terms of hires, like yeah, either for sure like the first one for me would either be like a customer support person or admin, or this kind of like jack of all trades that can handle that as one aspect, but can help with like, you know, finding new products and like handling asking for reviews and all that kind of stuff as part of – as like kind of like a right-hand person I would say.

NICK YOUNG:
Yeah. I think communication is going to be really key, especially if it’s like a remote person. So someone who is willing to, you know, speaks English really well or speaks your language really well, you know, is very – over-communicates rather than under-communicates. That’s going to be major because you know, you’re going to be sending them all this stuff. They’re going to have to ask questions. They’re also probably going to have to give you updates. You know, when you don’t see them in person there’s a lot of stuff that’s missing. So you know I think that jack of all trades or customer support person needs to be very, very proactive about communicating.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Well, thank you guys so much. That was so educational.

NICK YOUNG:
Thank you guys for having us.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
That’s all for this week. Thanks for joining us on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information about how to grow your Amazon business, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. We have tutorial videos for all of our tools, as well as webinars that go more in depth with pro tips for how to really get the most out of the tool.

CASEY GAUSS:
If you’re listening to us on iTunes don’t forget to leave a review and rate the show. If you’re an Amazon seller you know how difficult reviews can be, and you know how important and critical they can be to your success. Same is kind of true here on iTunes or wherever you’re listening to this, so we’d love it if you could leave us a comment if you’re listening on SoundCloud, leave a review if you’re listening on iTunes. Overall, we love feedback, and we’d love to know how we can improve the show for future episodes for you. And if you know a fellow seller who is trying to build their FBA business, tell them to check out this series and the rest of the Follow the Data episodes. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in the space, so please tell your friends, spread the word and share the data.

BECCA LONGENECKER:
Thanks again for listening, and as always if you want to be featured on the show, have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

Why Not to Use Search Volume to Determine Giveaway Units (Follow the Data Ep. 27)

Why Not Use Search Volume to Determine Giveaway Units (Follow the Data Ep. 27)

When you’re running a launch, you need to match the daily sales of your top competitors. But how do you determine how many units to give away? Some sellers look at search volume. But this episode, we’re going to let you in on a secret: using search volume to estimate the number of giveaway units needed to drive keyword ranking is an extremely flawed method.

 

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Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Keywords are extremely important when it comes to building a successful Amazon business.

CASEY GAUSS:
This week we’re going to dispel a new but ever-growing myth that you can use search volume to determine the correct number of units to use when running promotions to drive keyword ranking or estimating the number of units customers are selling through a particular keyword. I’m Casey Gauss.

CAMERON YODER:
And I’m Cameron Yoder, your hosts for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data that we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with 8,000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller. This episode is an in-depth look at one really important aspect of product promotions, number of units for a giveaway. We’ll make the case for why using search volume specifically is mathematically flawed and talk you through current best practices based on what has worked for our clients specifically.

CASEY GAUSS:
A significant number of sellers are running promotions and giving far too many units in their promotions. When asked, many cite their keyword tool as a source of the suggestion and, as a result, they’re wasting hundreds to thousands of dollars in extra inventory.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s jump in. So we’re back from Vegas. It’s been – it was a good trip.

CASEY GAUSS:
It was a good trip, and we are not in between some bunk beds recording on a mobile mic, and hopefully, I can guarantee this, but much better analogies will be coming your way than the half a piece of bread.

CAMERON YODER:
Listen, if you haven’t yet, go back to the previous episode right now, go to about six minutes and 15 seconds. I remember it specifically. It was hilarious. Just go listen to Casey’s analogy of bread, and you’ll be blown away.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, analogies can be very powerful, but sometimes a little tricky. And if you don’t get them right, then it’s just, it’s embarrassing.

CAMERON YODER:
Casey, what did you think of Vegas, just really briefly? I just want to get your opinion. What do you think of Vegas, the trip and the conferences?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, overall I mean conferences like – one reason we love going to conferences and bringing additional people, you know, we usually try to bring five people including Cam and I, is it’s really great for other people on the team just to hear the feedback that we get. You know, so many people come up to us excited about what Viral Launch has done, you know, for them and for their business. And so I love seeing that feedback in person. It’s so much different getting it in person than, you know, over email. And then you also just get a lot of really good candid feedback. You know, unfortunately I was thinking back. I feel like we didn’t get enough candid feedback on Keyword Research. So if you guys have that, we would love to hear it. But anyways, yeah, went really well, very exhausting. If you’ve ever been to a conference in general there’s very little sleep involved, especially if you have obligations back home or, you know, in the office or whatever. But yeah, what about you, Cam?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, no, I think you hit it on the head. Really it’s just so good to go, and we said this last week, but to go and to meet everyone, just put a face to a name, really I would encourage you if you ever see us in public or at a conference, just say hey. It’s always good to talk to everyone here, and again, to put a face to a name and to hear what you guys are going through and what advice you want or need and just say hey. So yeah, if you see us at a conference or just in general, feel absolutely free to say hey.

All right. So anyway, getting back to the podcast episode, we’re touching on search volume and why not to use search volume to determine the amount of units that you need to give away for something like a launch or a promotion. Casey, what do you think?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and honestly, so taking it a step further back, I mean a lot of people, the real question – so to be honest the real question is not what is search volume for this keyword; it’s what is sales volume for this keyword? You know, again, like the main driver of rank, which is where a ton of organic sales traffic is coming from, is coming from keywords. And so the question – and how well you rank for those keywords. And so the question is not how many people ran a search for this, or how many times was this keyword searched, but how many sales actually came to this keyword? If there were a trillion searches for omega-3 but there were 10 sales that came through that keyword, then that would not be a good keyword. It would look good because there’s high search volume, but what you really need to understand is what is the sales volume? This will inform your strategy around what keywords are most important to rank for because you want to be where the sales are, not necessarily where the searches are, and then further so if I want to drive ranking for this keyword, then how many units do I need to give away? Again, it does not matter how many people are searching for your product. It is not number of sessions that is driving your ranking. It’s the number of sales that are driving your ranking.

And so, again, you should really – the real question is sales volume. We don’t have sales volume, so as a proxy for that we’re using search volume. But because now you kind of understand it is not – it’s sales volume that you do want, you can’t use search volume in a number of ways. And so the main thing that we’re talking about here, primarily because we help with product promotions and driving keyword ranking is that we see so many people using search volume as a way to estimate number of units to give in a product promotion or, you know, drive external traffic, whatever, to drive keyword ranking. And we see a lot of people wasting, you know, thousands of dollars by doing this. We just really want to kind of dispel the myth, right? Like we are a company that has a ton of data, and we love using that data to help you make better decisions. And so that’s – I mean Follow the Data. That’s the name of the podcast, and that’s why we’re here.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s what we even see – so just to iterate that again, it’s really important for listeners to understand that it’s not search volume. Again, you need to base these numbers that’s something like a giveaway number, off of sales, sales that are attributing to keyword ranking. And even in some cases people are using different tools that are even just using search estimations, right, estimation volume, not even sales estimation but search estimation. In that case, again, what we’re seeing is a lot of people giving away more units than they should or way more units than they need to to actually gain rank. And so we want to help. We want to help the people that are listening and people that are planning for promotions in the future. We just basically want to help people with their business to make sure that they’re not losing on money that they don’t need to lose on.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so this is not directed towards a particular tool. We see people using this. There are tools that are suggesting number of units to give specifically based off of sales volume. We see that, but then we also see people using maybe even Keyword Research to look at search volume to then estimate number of units to give. And so we just want to dispel this whole concept as a whole. So we’ll jump into it if that’s okay, Cam.

CAMERON YODER:
Yep. So there are two major flaws. Major flaw number one is conversion rate. Casey, talk about conversion rate.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I think a real insight here is we’ve had some, you know, special Amazon data that we’ve gotten. So we’re – like this is just, you know, one report, let’s say, and we’re not building anything off of this one report, but it’s definitely helped us make better decisions. And so basically what we’ve seen is, you know, we get this report that shows us what the search volume is for a particular keyword, what the click – number of clicks into a listing, number of add to carts through that keyword, and number of purchases, again, through that keyword.

So let’s take omega-3, again, as an example. We would see the number of searches, then from there the number of clicks into a listing, then from there the number of add to carts and then the number of purchases. So we are able to see what is the conversion rate from search to add to cart? What is the conversion rate from search to purchase? So looking through, you know, this list of words we were trying to figure out, okay, what is the average – what is the average conversion rate from search to purchase? Because again, we care about purchases, not searches. And the problem is that there wasn’t a good average. The range is [immense 0:08:28.8]. And so the range was literally anywhere from 50% – so that means if there was 10,000 searches there were 5,000 sales, let’s say, and all the way to .01%. So if there’s 10,000 searches –

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s conversion.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, sorry.

CAMERON YODER:
50%, to .01% conversion.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, conversion. So that would mean if there’s 10,000 searches there’s literally 10 sales. I mean that’s insane, right? So there’s 10,000 searches for a keyword. There’s anywhere from 5,000 actual sales to 10 sales. And so you know, no tool, nothing like that on the market is able to estimate what the conversion rate is for these particular keywords. And so, again, if you tried to take an average, let’s say you’re like okay, well I’ll just shoot for the middle, and let’s call the middle 25%. Well, so if you give away 2500 units that’s, you know, 2490 more units than you would need to give in order to match the .01% conversion, right? But if you give away 2500 units that’s only half the units you would need to give to hit the $5,000 mark or the 5,000 sales mark, the 50% conversion mark. And so it’s so hard. It’s really just a shot in the dark if you’re guessing at any particular conversion rate. So again, I could care less if there’s a trillion searches for omega-3 or, you know, any keyword if the sales volume is only, you know, 10 sales, or 100 sales, or 1000 sales. So flaw number one, conversion rate.

CAMERON YODER:
I think a simple way that – something simple that people can use to remember or to just like get this flaw into perspective is just because someone is searching for something does not mean that they’re buying it, and that goes back to keyword, keyword ranking being attributed through sales. Just because someone is searching for something does not mean they’re buying it, and that’s shown specifically with the data that we have between that 50% and .01% conversion.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and I mean just think of all the people that are doing keyword research to sell on Amazon, or like you’re just looking at prices, or you’re trying to do research and you think Amazon is a place to do it, probably not, but anyways, so what we’re seeing is, again, just a ton of searches that are not converting to purchases. So flaw number two, sales distribution. So this one is a little bit harder to conceptualize or to explain without visuals.

CAMERON YODER:
If you have a piece of paper and a pen that would help, but it’s not necessary.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, nor am I going to be good enough at walking you through this for you to, you know, really draw it out. So we do have a blog post on this where we did try to provide some visuals to really help you understand. I’m going to try to do my best. Cam is always better at summarizing and really helping you to understand.

CAMERON YODER:
I’ll see what I can do.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, let’s see what Cam can do. So anyways, flaw number two is sales distribution. So what sales distribution is referring to is what percentage of shoppers that are searching or purchasing. Let’s say you search omega-3. What percentage of the shoppers are buying the first product, what percentage are buying the second product, you know, the fifth product? What percentage are going to page 2 and then buying the top ranking product there? Like sales distribution is referring to, again, who is buying what product where and, you know, what percentage. And so if you, let’s say that 100% – this is very unlikely I would imagine – but let’s say 100%. Let’s take Instant Pot, right? So I would imagine sales distribution for Instant Pot searches are pretty high towards the top. If you see the Instant Pot then you are going to be buying, right? Same with let’s say AA batteries. If you search AA batteries you don’t need to scroll through, you know, pages of results. You probably don’t need to scroll past, you know, number three, or you know, number five, before you find out what you want because there’s not that much variation there. So you’re probably buying the first, second or third product, let’s say, that shows up in the results. But a more stylized product or a broader search, let’s say, you know, gifts for men or Valentine’s Day gifts, or Father’s Day gifts, I mean the results are much more broad. You probably don’t even have in mind exactly what you want, and so you’re probably scrolling through the results. You may hit page 2. You may scroll through to try to figure out what you want, and you may end up buying, you know, that whiskey decanter or something like that that’s, you know, number 15. Or you may end up buying this tie that’s ranking number 25. And so sales distribution for a word that has a bit more style or kind of different bundles or whatever, I would imagine sales distribution is much higher.

And so again, we are trying to figure out how many units is the sell – let’s say we want to rank in the top five for omega-3. So what we’re trying to figure out is what is the sales volume to the products ranking number one, number two, number three, number four and number five, and then we need to match that in per day sales to rank alongside them. So we’ll try to go with an example. Let’s say we want to rank in the top five. There’s 2,000 sales through this keyword, and sales distribution is 100% to the top five listings, right? So the top five listings are seeing all 2,000 of the sales coming through this keyword. And let’s say it’s evenly distributed, meaning so it’s 2,000 divided by 5, which is 400. And so each listing is seeing 400 sales. So number one, number two, number three, number four, number five, all 400 sales. And you want to be able to match them in per day sales. So basically, again, you have to hit that $400 – or sorry, 400 sales mark. But let’s say that sales are evenly distributed among the top 20 results. So position number one sees as many sales as position, you know, number 20. And so then sales are 100 per day. And so giving away – basically the giveaways will be – could be significantly different depending on what the sales distribution is, and these are very simple examples. I imagine it’s something, you know, for one keyword sales distribution for Instant Pot is 80% to position number one and then, you know, evenly distributed through – or like the next 10% is through positions two through four. So I think it becomes very, very confusing or is very complex, and every single keyword is so different. So if you’re wanting to rank position number five it’s going to require a totally different percentage of the sales from the conversion percentage from the search. So you can see the math really starts to add up, right? And so, and it’s so different depending on each keyword. Basically if you wanted to use search volume to estimate number of units to give you would have to know the conversion rate or approximate the conversion rate from search to purchase. And then depending on where you wanted to rank you would need to understand what the sales distribution from this word to position – let’s say you want to rank position between positions five and 10. You would need to know the sales distribution from that sales would be between those positions so that you can match in per day sales those competitors.

And so there’s so many approximations that really what existing tools are doing, or what most people are doing is just saying like, you know, let’s just take a percentage of search volume and say that’s how many units you need to give away per day in order to rank for this particular keyword. And what we see on the flipside is so many people are coming to use Viral Launch to run these promotions or whatever, and they’re trying to give away sometimes, you know, five times as many units as we would expect. And if, you know, we were suggesting 100 and you’re saying you think you need to give away 500, I mean that is a significant amount of inventory that you’re giving away. And so I do think that continuing to build the best sales history is great. I think that like overkill is not the worst thing, but I do want to make sure that people are well aware of this because if you have a limited budget and you’re spending that limited budget on excess inventory and these promotions where in reality you could be targeting additional keywords, or you could be using it to ramp up your sponsored ad costs, or your AMS campaigns, or whatever, I just want to make sure that you’re spending – you are knowledgeably spending your money as efficiently and as effectively as possible.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s see if I can – let me see if I can summarize sales distribution a little bit. All right, so it’s really important to go back to what we said at the beginning where keyword ranking is attributed through a sale, right, not a search, but a specific sale. A launch or a promotion for something like a keyword is – it’s not rocket science, right? The entire goal of a promotion like this, or of a launch, is to get you to somewhere on page 1 where you want for that search term. In this case let’s say it’s omega-3. I want to get to page 1 for omega-3. So I need to look at the sales, the sales numbers that are going on on page 1 in order to match those per day with something like a launch or a promotion. So to do that I need to see those sales numbers, those sales estimates, instead of seeing the search volume. Number one, those sales estimates aren’t really even available on certain tools like other tools, right? The search volume is. That’s not what we want. What we want are sales estimations and accurate sales estimations, right?
So let’s say I type in omega-3 into Amazon, and I see the spread, right, and on the top five are a ridiculous amount of sales. Now in order to reach that top five – again, also maybe taking into account something like your sales history, but at this time let’s just use the sales velocity or something like a launch or a promotion as a factor for getting to page 1. So you typed in omega-3, and your goal is to be in top five. So you look at the sales and you see that the average is around like – you’re going to need around 2,000 units, or maybe not 2,000 units, something like 500 units to give away. And you’re like, yikes, that’s a lot of units. I’m not a big business man in omega-3 yet, so I can’t get there. So you go down. Let’s say you look at the top 10. And so you look at the sales distribution, again, just the sales numbers spread out across the top 10. It’s going to take less, typically – it depends on the market. Again, it’s going to take – it might take less for you to get to the top 10 than it will for you to get to the top five. But again, the entire goal of a launch or a promotion is to simply match the number of sales that are going on in whichever range you’re going for. That is the idea of sales distribution being applied to something like keyword ranking. And that’s why it doesn’t work for search volume because search volume, again, it’s not – it does not involve the sales volume. And search volume cannot show you the spread of where sales are going. That’s my summary. That’s my simple summary.

CASEY GAUSS:
Well done, cam. There’s an example in the blog post where we go over, so let’s say a keyword gets – this is kind of in a little bit of an exaggerated example, but I think sometimes these, you know, exaggerated examples really help to help you understand what we’re – the point that we’re trying to get across. So let’s say a keyword gets 100,000 searches per month. The conversion rate from search to purchase is 2.5%, meaning 2,500 sales across this keyword per month. And then let’s say sales distribution, 80% go to the top five listings. That means the top five listings see 2,000 of those 2,500 sales per month, and after top five 500 sales. Let’s say you want to rank between positions six through 15, and that’s where the rest of the sales are happening, so 20% of that 2,500 is 500 sales. And so 500 sales evenly distributed among those 10 products, let’s say, means each product is really only seeing 50 units per month in sales through this keyword. So if you need to rank in position six through 10 then you only need to give away two units per day. So 100,000 searches down to two units per day, and these estimates that we’ve used are completely arbitrary but are not out of the realm of possibility. And so that just goes to quickly show you, you know, that’s 100,000 searches. We could easily show you the math where 10,000 searches you need to be giving away, you know, much, much more.

CAMERON YODER:
Your goal, pick a target, pick a target for a keyword, look at the sales numbers for that target and match it with a launch or a promotion.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so real quick we’re just going to go over how we’re estimating number of units to give. You know, in an ideal scenario we’re able to do some data science or whatever to really give some good estimates in terms of sales volume, leveraging both search volume and Market Intelligence data. But right now we’re not able to do that. We’re not aware of anybody that can realistically do that, even if maybe someone can say they do. I don’t know of anybody, but I’ve heard – recently I’ve heard some people that are like, you know, we do data science. And it’s like they have insanely terrible answers. And so I think it’s one thing to be aware of. You know, I think you should always be questioning the authenticity of something. You should always be using, you know, your best judgment, logic. You should always be testing everything because too often do we see people – and this is one reason we wanted to start this podcast – but too often we see people in a place of power, people that may have, you know, an audience for one reason or another mislead people, not necessarily out of intention, but maybe just out of, you know, ignorance, or I don’t know. And we see people, you know, we do data science so you should trust what we’re doing. And it’s like, you know, you could have the most technically amazing whatever, but if you’re getting, you know, bad results, then data science is worthless.

CAMERON YODER:
Yikes.

CASEY GAUSS:
Anyways, how are we estimating number of units to give at Viral Launch? So like we said at the top, you know, we’ve – again, this is not a plug to use Viral Launch or anything. We just, again, want you to make good decisions around running your promotions for ranking, estimating number of units that are being sold through a keyword. Again, we just want to dispel this myth.

CAMERON YODER:
This is simply what we’ve seen work directly.

CASEY GAUSS:
So 30,000 product launches later this is what we’re doing. So first obviously you have to know your main keywords. The best proxy for this is using something like Keyword Research or using some tool that has good search volume estimates so that you can see, okay, what are the most popular keywords? It’s very important to know. So many times we have someone come to us and they think, you know, I don’t have a funny example – high heels for dogs is a good keyword for high heels because their keyword tool told them that. And in reality obviously it’s not. That is a real result in a keyword tool. Anyways, so people will think, you know, this keyword blue 32-ounce insulated water bottle is a good keyword for their insulated water bottle, and in reality it’s not, and we see people so focused on ranking for it, and they’re wasting their money. So know your main keywords.

Next up, know your budget. So again, if you’re going for a high-volume keyword, again, you can use search volume as a proxy here, but if you’re going for these high-volume keywords then make sure that you have the budget to give the units away necessary to drive the sales necessary, and then just to have the inventory needed so that when you are ranking for this keyword and you’re increasing your sales you won’t run out of stock immediately after. And so if you have a smaller budget, again, everything is relative here, smaller, bigger. If you have a smaller budget compared to your market you have to go after these keywords that are appearing to get lower volume sales, and we’ll show you how to estimate that.

And yeah, so then step three is determine estimated sales volume for this select for your selected keywords or the keywords that you’re considering. So the way that we do that is we run Market Intelligence on these keywords. And so Market Intelligence is showing you the estimated sales volume for the products for every keyword that they’re ranking for, sponsored ads and so forth. So looking at sales volume for the products that are showing up for a particular keyword does not mean that the majority of the sales volume is coming through that keyword. And so one thing that we do is we like to go look at what is, you know, how many high-volume keywords are showing up for this particular product. So let’s take fish oil. Let’s say the only – let’s say there’s three high-volume keywords. Fish oil, omega-3, fish oil supplement. So what we would do is we would go, and assuming these keywords are relatively similar in volume, we would go and to be on the safe side we would look at the sales per month that we’re seeing in Market Intelligence and we would divide it by three. So if you’re seeing 1000 sales a month, then we’re guessing that you’re seeing around 33, 34 sales per day through this particular keyword. So now I know that if I want to run a promotion for seven days, then I would need to give away that 33 or 34 times 7.

And so if it’s a lower volume keyword then it’s a little bit more difficult. It’s, again, going to be your best guess, and I would rather err on the side of caution. I would rather give too many but not, you know, five times too many. So again, I would go and try to get a good feel of the landscape in terms of keywords. You should’ve done this already when you optimized your listing and when you were preparing to even sell this product because I think it’s important to understand how you’re going to drive sales before you even source a product. But again, I’m going to go get a feel for okay, there’s about 10 words that are the same volume as this. Again, the product is seeing a thousand sales a month. And so divide it by 10, and then you would just give away at that volume. So let’s say I’m going for this keyword. There’s 100 sales. We’re estimating 100 sales through this particular keyword. Divide that by 30, and so that’s basically, you know, three, four sales per day. And so I’m going to give away at the three to four sales per day to go after this particular keyword, or maybe not give away, run through external traffic, you know, however you’re running your launches, however you’re ranking products. I would go and target that number.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good, Casey. I honestly, I just want to add, or I just want to iterate the importance of budget. Not everyone has the ability to automatically target the keyword with the highest search volume and sales volume, right? And in this case what I’ve seen work for individuals is actually to go for secondary or tertiary keywords where the targeting keywords that on average don’t have as many sales volume – as much sales volume – excuse me – or they automatically, right off the bat, they – I’ve seen people try to target – they want position one, right? I want – I’m targeting fish oil, and I want to get to position one on page 1. So let’s do it. And then they don’t have enough units to do it, and by the time they’re done with their promotions they just end up failing because they didn’t have the resources to get there in the first place. So it’s really important to recognize what you’re capable of doing. In this case I’ve seen people do really well once they recognize how many resources they have, or how much money, or how many units they have to give away for a promotion. They accept that fact, and then they go for something like, let’s use the fish oil example. Let’s say they wanted to get to page 1, or position one page 1 initially. They recognized they did not have the number of units available. So instead of going for position one they look at something like – let’s say they looked at position one, but even position one through eight, or one through – let’s just say one through six are out of their means. So then instead they look at positions seven through something like 15, and they say actually after position six the sales drop off decently, and while I want to gain as many sales as possible, I’m not capable of launching into positions one through six right now. So I’m actually just going to target – I’m going to bite the bullet for them. Maybe it’s their pride or something. I’m going to bite the bullet. I’m going to go for positions seven through 12 or something like that. So then they look at positions seven through 12. They look at the sales for – the sales estimates – again for those products in those positions, and they match those over a promotion time, something like seven days, right? And in that they get to page 1. They don’t – they did not give away more than they were able to give, and they got to page 1. And after that, if they stay there organically, if they’re able to continuously maintain rank, then I’ve seen people specifically do this, they get to position something like seven to 12 and they maintain that position and just organically, as they stay there, they move up the ranks because they’ve optimize their product well enough.

Bottom line, know your main keywords. Pick the right ones to target. Number two, determine your budget. Determine what you’re capable of doing, and determine what you want to do and if your budget and what you want to do align. And if not, then you might have to take it a step down. And number three, determine the monthly sales volume for that selected keyword and match it over something like a seven- to 12-day period of time.

The takeaway for today is base your projection for giveaway units on sales volume, not search volume. You can apply some of these techniques to your own promotions. No matter what traffic source you’re using, something like discounted promotions, or Amazon sponsored ads or Facebook promotions, in order to reach page 1 for your targeted keyword you’re going to need to match or exceed the average number of sales for that specific keyword that you want to target. Basing your estimates on something like search volume could honestly cost you a lot of money. I’ve personally seen it happen. Our team sees it happen, and we don’t want that to happen to you guys. Sales volume, not search volume.

Well hey, everybody, that is all for this week. Thank you again so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information on how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. I have a new walk-through up for Keyword Research on our channel. So if you want to check it out just search Viral Launch on YouTube. Go to our page, look for my face and the video titled, “How to use Keyword Research.” We’ll also link to the video in our show notes. Again, we’re just coming off of a couple conferences. We’re actually gearing up to go to a couple more over the next couple weeks, and we had such a good time meeting some of you, some of you listeners. So thank you. Thank you all so much. Feedback is really important to us, so if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts feel absolutely free to leave us a review and/or a rating. If you know of a fellow seller who is using suggestions from their keyword tool to determine how many units to give in their launches, please send them our way. Send them to this podcast. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in this space, trusted information source. So please tell your friends, spread the word and share the show.
So thank you again so much for listening, and as always, if you want to be featured on the show, have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Don’t feel intimidated at all to call in. Really, we want to hear your voice. It will be a voicemail that pops up so you won’t have to talk to anybody directly. You’ll be able to just leave your opinion or leave a question. I feel like after talking to people at these conferences I recognize that maybe they were – or people listening are intimidated by calling in. So please call in. Feel free. Don’t be intimidated. We’d love to hear from you. Again, it’s 317-721-6590. So until next time, remember, the data is out there.

Why Not to Base Number of Giveaway Units on Keyword Search Volume

Using search volume to determine the number of giveaway units needed to drive keyword ranking is an extremely flawed method.

A significant number of sellers are running promotions and giving away far too many units in promotions. When asked how they are determining the number of units they are giving away, many sellers site their keyword tool. As a result of these bloated suggestions, countless sellers are wasting thousands of dollars in extra inventory and advertising spend.

In this post, I’ll show you what’s wrong with using search volume. And then I’ll walk you through the current best strategies for determining the right number of units for a giveaway. After running over 30,000 product launches, we’ve learned a thing or two about what it takes to drive ranking, including how to best estimate number of giveaway units.

Two Major Flaws In Using Keyword Volume To Estimate Giveaway Units

Flaw #1: Conversion Rate

Remember that sales volume, not search volume, is the important metric for keyword ranking. If there are a hundred-zillion searches per month for a product but only 10 sales, you only need to drive enough sales to compete with those 10 purchases.  

Conversion rate from search to purchase can be drastic. We have access to some insider, Amazon data, and what it shows is that for some keywords, the percentage of searches that result in a sale can be as high as 50% and as low as 0.01%.

Talk about a drastic difference! That means if a keyword gets 10,000 searches per month, there could be anywhere from 5,000 sales to 10 sales.

There’s no way around this huge variation in conversion rate. What if you took an average? Let’s call the middle a 25% conversion rate. That would mean 25% of 10,000 searches are sales. So monthly sales would be 2,500. But 2,500 giveaway units isn’t going to do much if the keyword is actually converting at 50%. That would mean sales were actually 5,000.

On the other hand, it would be extremely excessive to give 2,500 units if the conversion rate was only 0.01%. In that case, you would have only needed 10 sales. But instead you threw away inventory.

As you can see, without an understanding of conversion rate, estimating giveaway units using search volume is very misleading.

Flaw #2: Sales Distribution

The second major flaw in determining number of giveaway units from search volume is the distribution of sales across search results. Sales distribution can be summed up with this simple question: what percentage of shoppers who run a search, purchase the #1 ranking product? What about the #5 ranking product? The #15?

If 100% of shoppers who search a keyword end up purchasing the #1 ranking product, sales distribution would be low. Actually, in the case of 100%, the distribution would be 0.

If 10% of customers purchased the #1 ranking product, another 10% purchased the #2 ranking product, and so on, the distribution would be higher and would look like this.

So what is the likelihood that sales distribution is consistent for most keyword searches on Amazon?

If you search, “AA batteries,” you don’t have to scroll very far before you find what you’re looking for. The products are all generally the same with minimal difference other than price and quantity.

Conversely, when shopping for, “father’s day gift” or “baby bandana bib,” style and preference are important considerations for shoppers. Prospective customers are much more likely to browse the results, ultimately purchasing the style, bundle, or color they like most.

Now that you understand what sales distribution is and how it can vary wildly, you can begin to see the second flaw in using search volume to estimate number of giveaway units. Keyword tools do not consider sales distribution. In fact, they don’t have any information about sales distribution at all.

And that’s a problem for you as you determine the optimal number of giveaway units for your launch. Sales distribution plays a critical role in the number of sales your product needs to outrank the competition.

For example, let’s say 80% of the sales for a keyword search are split between the top 5 products. If your goal is just to land in the top 15, then you don’t actually need to compete with those top 5 products. You only need to match the other 20% of the sales for that keyword.

If you did want to land in the top 5 for that keyword, you would need to match the sales of those top 5 competitors. That would mean giving away enough product per day to match 80% of the sales for that search term.

Now let’s look at conversion rate and sales distribution together. Say conversion rate is 2.5% for that keyword with 100,000 searches. That’s 2,500 monthly sales. And if 80% of sales are distributed among the top 5 listings, that means 2,000 monthly sales are going to those top 5 sellers.

So if you want to land in position 6 – 15, you only need to compete with the remaining 500 monthly sales. If we assume that sales distribution between products 6 – 15 is even, we can estimate that each product has about 50 sales per month. Divide that by 30 days in a month, and you’ve got about 2 sales per day, or 2 units a day that you need to give away in your launch. 

As you can see, estimating the number of giveaway units needed to be sold per day to match competitors is highly dependant on the conversion rate AND the sales distribution across the results. Both of these numbers are currently unknown to existing tools and can vary significantly across searches. These factors are what make keyword tool calculations a shot in the dark at best when it comes to giveaway unit recommendations.

How to Estimate the Number of Giveaway Units

First, let’s talk about how a launch works. The idea of a launch is to match or exceed the number of sales for listings on page one for your targeted keyword in a short amount of time. We recommend 7 days, as Amazon recognizes sales history in 7-day buckets.

In order to sell a large number of units in only a few days, you’ll likely need to use a giveaway platform. But how do you determine the number of giveaway units you need to match or exceed the monthly sales of your competition?

Unfortunately, there is no simple or straightforward answer for you just yet. We will, however, share the processes we have used here at Viral Launch to estimate the number of units to give for tens of thousands of launches over the last few years. We guarantee that this approach is far better than using search volume to estimate the number of giveaway units you need for a successful launch.

Step 1: Know Your Keywords

First and foremost, knowing your main keyword is critical to a successful Amazon business. Using an Amazon keyword tool such as Keyword Research, allows you to identify your product’s most relevant words. A good tool will help you prioritize by showing you search volume and relevancy for each keyword. We call that our Priority Score.

Step 2: Determine Your Budget

Your budget for your promotional campaign is an important factor in determining which keyword you should target. The higher the sales volume, the more units you will need to rank alongside the page one performers. If your budget is big, go for a keyword that gets a lot of sales. If your budget is smaller, go for a keyword with fewer sales.

Step 3: Determine Monthly Sales Volume for Your Keyword

Once you have selected the keyword you’re going to target based on your budget, search volume, and relevance to your listing, you need to determine the number of giveaway units to get ranking on page one.

Use a sales volume estimation tool like Market Intelligence to determine the number of sales your page one competitors are doing each month. This will allow you to see the sales volume you need to match or exceed over at least a seven day period.

A simple way to do the math is to take an average of sales for listings on page one you are looking to rank alongside. Let’s say you are looking to rank in the top 5 positions for your keyword and the average sellers are selling 3,000 units per month (100 units per day).

From your keyword research in Step #1, you should have a good feel for your market’s most popular keywords. Let’s say there are 2 high volume keywords, each highly relevant to your product market.

We would suggest giving away at 50% of the average sales volume. So 1,500 units per month or (1,500 / 30 days = 50 units per day) 50 units per day.

Multiply that by a minimum of 7 days of promotions to equal a suggested giveaway of 350 units. 

We understand that the math is not perfect. There are potentially hundreds of words these top performing products are generating sales through, including PPC, outside traffic, etc. We are working hard to develop a solution for better determining the number of sales per keyword as well. However, until we have this more granular data, we are relying on this tried and true method of determining the number of units to sell from a solid metric, sales volume.

The Takeaway

Now that you understand the technique behind creating a giveaway strategy based on sales volume, NOT search volume, you can apply some of these techniques to your promotions. No matter what traffic source you’re using (i.e. discounted promotions, Amazon Sponsored Ads, or Facebook promotions) to reach page one, you need to match or exceed the average number of sales for your targeted keyword.

Basing these giveaway estimates on search volume alone could cost you tens of thousands of extra dollars and cut into the bottom line of your business. Take advantage of the advice and knowledge of the true Amazon experts at Viral Launch and make sure your next promotion sets you up for success.

LAUNCH YOUR PRODUCT

Feasting on Crumbs: How to Leverage Small Gains and Rank Higher on Amazon (Follow the Data Ep. 26)

Feasting on Crumbs: How to Leverage Small Gains and Rank Higher on Amazon (Follow the Data Ep. 26)

Understanding the nuances of Amazon customer search is what can really help you rank higher Amazon in the most efficient way possible. Just a handful of small opportunities that other sellers might consider crumbs, really add up. Join hosts Casey Gauss and Cameron Yoder for a conversation about how to feast on the crumbs of your product markets. 

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Episode Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Hey, everybody, what’s up? My name is Cameron Yoder, and I’m here with Casey.

CASEY GAUSS:
Hey, guys.

CAMERON YODER:
And we’re actually in – we’re actually in Las Vegas right now. We hit up a couple conferences, a couple Amazon seller conferences. And it’s been a good time. We’ve had the opportunity to meet a lot of really awesome sellers, and Casey actually spoke at one of the conferences here. And it’s just been honestly a really good time to meet some of you, and to talk to some of you, and meet some people that we haven’t met before.

And as always, it’s just good to be in the community, you know, just meeting and talking with people. Anyway, so we’re actually going to dive into more about Keyword Research, not exactly specifically the tool that we introduced last week, or the tool that we just came out with, but we’re going to talk kind of deeper level strategy behind – or basically deeper level strategy that you as a seller can use when you’re researching keywords, the mentality that you should be developing. And we’re going to talk about, again, just deeper level strategies and strategies that you can implement today when it comes to research.

CASEY GAUSS:
Hey, guys. I do want to stipulate that, you know, we are not planning on – we’re not trying to shove Keyword Research down your throat. We really just think that, you know, there are some really cool opportunities that have to do with Keyword Research just in general that we really want you to be aware of because whether you’re in a high, highly-competitive market there is still so much opportunity.

Whether you’re in a low competition market, I imagine there’s tons of keywords that you’re not targeting. So yeah, we’ll jump into just high opportunity keywords. So one, you know, so there’s always people jumping into markets that they really have no business being in, or maybe you’ve just been in this market for a while, it’s just gotten so competitive, and you’ve kind of just lost market share.

Well, there’s still, from what we’re seeing, generally so much opportunity that’s out there. So let’s take the Garcinia cambogia market, for example. If you’ve been around for, you know, more than a year you probably know this product to be somewhat of a joke, right? So there’s a ton of products out there that everybody is sourcing, and everybody knows that everybody else has sourced it at some point. These are products like grill gloves, Garcinia cambogia, turmeric, fish oil, grill brushes, garlic press; you know there’s a number of these products.

And so Garcinia cambogia, like I mentioned, is one of them, a very, very competitive market. At one point it was insanely high-volume. I think it’s still pretty high-volume, but there’s definitely some more mature players in this market. So when we go and we run keyword research we find, you know, just quickly scanning through I found 10 words, each with at least 1000 searches a month in volume, all with over 900 opportunity score.

So the one keyword for this is luxury Garcinia cambogia. There’s over 2000 searches a month for it and 990 opportunity score. What this means is – to recap the opportunity score, basically what we’re doing is for each word we’re going to look at the top sellers for this word, and we’re trying to understand do they have this word in their listing. And if so, where do they have it, and how are they using that? The reason being is we are trying to help you understand how easy it would be to rank for a particular keyword. And so to understand how ranking works on Amazon it’s important to know that Amazon is paying attention to the very specifics of keywords and how they’re used in your listing.

So the rules of indexation and the rules of ranking are different. So if you put brush in your listing you will be indexed – meaning Amazon associates this keyword for the product – you will be indexed for, you know, the singular and plural form of that just by putting one version in. So if I put brush in my listing I’ll be indexed for brush and brushes. But one thing that is – and it, you know, generally doesn’t matter where you put that. You know there are limits in terms of back-end search terms. But regardless, you know, if you put it in the bullet points, you put in the title, it all is indexing the same.

But when it comes to keyword ranking, though, this is quite a bit different. And so, you know, basically Amazon is looking at the content of a listing at the time of a sale. So as a sale goes through they’re looking, okay, what words are in the title, what words are in the bullet points, what words are in the back-end, and so forth, to then boost them up in the search results. And so what we see is that words contained within the title get more rank power per sale than words found anywhere else in the listing.

And so this is a very important thing to note. We also see that the specifics are important. So if you only had brush in your title, but you had brushes, you know, in a bullet point, then each sale that happens the word brush is going to be getting higher ranking or moving up the ranks faster than the word brushes. And so these specifics, these nuances, are very important for you to understand how to build the best listing possible and get that advantage over the competitors.

So taking all of this into account plus a bit more, all the data that we have found through our 30,000+ launches, we’ve put into this opportunity score. So we’re looking at, okay, for luxury Garcinia cambogia, how are the top-ranking products using it in their listing? Is it found in the front end? If so, where and how? And so a thousand is the top opportunity, meaning that nobody has it in the front end of their listing in any form.

So for luxury Garcinia cambogia the opportunity score is 990 with 2000 searches a month. All that to say you’re selling Garcinia cambogia, this really competitive market, but there is plenty of opportunity for you to kind of, you know, get the crumbs. Like I said, I think there’s six words or something like that that combined have over 8000 searches per month. Each one has over 1000 searches individually and an opportunity score of 900. So collectively, you know, these crumbs add up to, you know, half of a piece of bread – or half of a loaf of bread.

CAMERON YODER:
A cookie.

CASEY GAUSS:
Adds up to – I don’t know what it adds up to, but I don’t know what the analogy is, but regardless, you know, you can add up these words. So for example, luxury Garcinia cambogia, misspellings as well, assuming that they do not auto complete within their search results. But here’s a word that has over 1000 searches a month, but is Cambodia Garcinia, but reviews on Garcinia cambogia, there’s over 1000 searches a month for that. So you could just prioritize the word review somewhere in your listing, and now start getting significantly more boost in the search results and another misspelling, Carcinia cambogia.

So if Amazon isn’t auto-completing these words you can throw them in your listing, throw them either in the front end or the back end. Misspellings probably belong in the back end, but it really kind of just depends on what your brand looks like and what the misspelling is to see if you can throw it in the front end. Again, the title provides a really distinct difference in terms of rank power that it is driving. So all this is saying is even in really competitive markets there’s tons of opportunity out there. Go position your product well. Make sure that you’re doing your keyword research to really understand where are the holes – where are the gaps in the market so that I can push my product in there?

CAMERON YODER:
I just want to add a little bit to that. I think high-level sellers might take this piece of information and think that there aren’t keywords that they haven’t seen yet, that they could apply to their listing. But this advice honestly applies to all people. I mean it’s not like every single person knows every word in the dictionary, right? And just because of that, you yourself cannot determine if there’s a group of people searching a word that you don’t know about.

And because of that I would really encourage you all, if you’re low, or if you’re a beginning – if you’re a beginning seller, or if you’re an advanced seller, to go and find – do keyword research with the purpose of finding those words that you haven’t seen yet because you will find them, and all of those added up, even if they’re small, to stick with the crumb analogy, can make a whole piece of bread or an entire cookie, whatever the end result of that analogy is.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, another one that we were doing some demos here at one of the conferences and people, you know, could not believe that one, people, other top sellers for these words did not have these words in the front end of their listing, and then they were blown away that, you know, some of the most popular tools out there were just missing these really, really important words.

So another high opportunity keyword, if you search trash can you will find trash cans, the plural form, with over 10,000 searches a month, 1000 opportunity, meaning no one has the plural form of can in the front end of their listing, which is just insane to me. The fact that you don’t think to throw cans, the plural form, in your listing is crazy. But there’s over 10,000 searches a month. Easily just throw cans in your title and now you get all this additional traffic without doing much work at all.

So next up I think we are going to talk about horizontal markets. So horizontal markets, again, from kind of a technical perspective can be difficult to find. So there are some popular keyword tools out there that are missing a lot of these horizontal markets, and this is something that, you know, is really important. So one example is going back to trash can, you know this word, we keep using the word but it just has amazing examples.

For example, a horizontal market would be a word where there are no root words contained within this new word. So basically what that means is let’s say we are selling a trash can, a horizontal market would be kitchen garbage, or garbage bin, or waste bin, because you do not find trash or can anywhere within the word. And so there’s tons of these horizontal markets. They can be difficult to find. Another example would be, you know, let’s say you’re selling a first-aid kit and trauma bag would be that example for you. There’s so many of these horizontal markets. Again, make sure that you’re hitting them. A lot of tools that have existed on the market have not been doing us a good job of finding them. But there’s a ton of opportunity out there.

Next up, so this is talking more specifically about Keyword Research, our tool, but we do want to highlight some benefits of the integrations. This is one thing that, you know, I’m just really excited about. But I guess I get excited about a lot. So one benefit of Keyword Research being now integrated within Market Intelligence is too often we see someone going after a very, very niche market, and the sales on Market Intelligence look amazing.

So if you were – but you don’t really know in reality what keywords are driving those sales. So on Market Intelligence or any tool that, you know, this Chrome extension or whatever that’s showing you estimated sales, these sales are for the product as a whole independent of what words it is not ranking for and where. So people can get confused pretty easily.

So if we look at the water bottle market, let’s say someone searches 32 ounce insulated water bottle, and they think you know, the sales look amazing. The top seller is selling $230,000 a month, the third ranking product 100,000, and you know, 26,000 and 40,000 in between those. So it looks like sales are amazing, but if you look at the search results that are now showing within Market Intelligence you see there’s only 378 searches over the last 30 days for this.

So that is a clear indicator that wow, if there’s only 378 searches this revenue cannot be coming from this keyword. So then if you go and you look at insulated water bottle, what you’ll find is okay, there’s a lot more searches, almost 29,000 searches over the last month. And you can, again, see the revenue. If we were to go to water bottle I would imagine we would see a lot of these same products showing up and obviously much, much higher search volume. So basically what we’re hoping to do here with Market Intelligence is just to help you understand that you should, when doing your product research, you should be looking at the main keywords that are driving the sales. And what is the best indicator of that? That is search volume. Cam?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I just want to maybe say this in a different way because I think without a visual picture it’s a little hard for listeners maybe to picture something like this. But I just want to give a picture. Again, let’s stick with the insulated water bottle. So you search 32 ounce insulated water bottle, and you see – you’re pulling up all the results and you’re looking at sales information, so monthly revenue, right? So if you pull up 32 ounce insulated water bottle, and I’m a seller looking to maybe get into the insulated water bottle market, I’m going to see all these huge, huge monthly revenue numbers, right?

And I’m going to think, well shoot, everyone is killing it in the 32 ounce insulated water bottle space, so I’m going to source insulated water bottle – or 32 ounce insulated water bottles. What I don’t know, however, is if those sales are being attributed through other keywords. In other words if someone else, or if other people are buying these insulated water bottles through a more primary keyword, such as insulated water bottle, or water bottle in general. So what I need to do is make sure that people are searching for that specific term or that specific market. And in some cases like this people can easily get tricked into buying a very specific product.

Maybe it’s something that’s a little bit of a longer tail keyword and they think it’s a great market when in actuality it’s actually those sales are being attributed through another keyword. And finding the primary keyword is going to give you a more accurate picture of that market, and it’s going to give you a more accurate picture of maybe what you’re stepping into, to either validate that idea or save you from stepping into a market that will underperform, basically.

CASEY GAUSS:
And last topic, integrations with product discovery. So this is something that I have been dreaming of for a while, and especially when I realized that we would be able to integrate keyword research data with product discovery. And this is – it’s because you cannot do this literally anywhere else in the world, and that is find underserved markets on Amazon. So what, you know, we did a webinar last night and we were walking through some examples, and you know, it just made perfect sense.

So basically what we mean with an integration with product discovery, which is a product finding tool, you know, we’re tracking coming up on 100 million products on Amazon. We’re tracking millions of keywords, brands and categories to help you identify, you know, great product ideas, great product opportunities, brands that are killing it so you can emulate their success or find, you know, what tactics or driving such.

Anyways, so if you go to the keyword search type in product discovery you can now put in search volume exact, and the search volume, again, is coming from Keyword Research, and here’s where this gets really cool. So basically by having search volume and sales volume we are able to find markets that are underserved. So what I mean by underserved is people are, you know, searching, you know, bachelorette or bridal shower gifts, let’s say.

So they’re searching bridal shower gifts, and they go there and they’re not finding anything that they want, and so they just end up not purchasing something. The opportunity here is for you to find these markets where people are running tons of searches but no one is buying because they aren’t finding what they want. And this gives you validation to understand people want this, no one’s finding – you know, there isn’t a good option available, so I can bring something totally new to the market that satisfies this need.

So one like amazing example that Cam has ahead, or up on the screen right now, is gender reveal. So people are searching gender reveal, and there’s over 25,000 searches a month for this, and there’s only $6000 in average revenues. Gender reveal party supplies, 33,000 searches, and the average product is doing $4,900 a month. So there is a ton of search volume. There’s very low revenue coming in on these products, and that is just one keyword.

If you were to go add up all of the keywords that were related to gender reveal, gender reveal party supplies and you were to look – because the revenue stays the same. The search volume just continues to add up. So anyways, these products are doing, you know, $5,000, $6,000 a month on average, but collectively you know there’s got to be well over, you know, 75,000 searches a month. So just a ton of volume, and basically people just are not buying what they, what they’re seeing.

And so this, you know, go see what’s out there. Obviously people are not super happy. Maybe read some reviews to see what people are really looking for. Go do your research. Go see what you can source, and then bring that to market because you know people are looking for these products. They’re just not finding what they’re looking for.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah people, so people – it’s been very interesting for us to be in Vegas and to be talking to people here just about keyword research in general, not specifically about our tool, but talking to other people and how they use keyword research tools. It’s very interesting for them to use them to find untapped – or to find product ideas, right? So they’re using Keyword Research, other research tools, to find product markets. They’re using the tool for the purpose that they weren’t intended for, right?

And so they’ve asked us – people have asked us about, well should I use Keyword Research? Or can I use Keyword Research to find other markets that I am not in right now? And the answer is yes, you can because other markets are going to pop up. Like if you search trash can, something specific like another horizontal market will pop up or something like it, like mesh bin or something like that. That includes another marketplace for you to jump into. But the integration here with product discovery allows for full search of new product markets that you’re not in yet using Amazon keyword search volume.

So Casey, where we touched on searching for markets that have a high search volume and low sales because that’s indicative of a lot of people searching for a product but not buying, which is indicative of a market that people are not happy with necessarily, or an opportunity for you to make a better product in. On the other hand, let’s say you flip the – so we set a minimum search volume, and we set a max sales number, right, to limit the amount of sales that are popping up for these keyword markets.

Let’s flip that a little bit, and let’s search for markets that have a minimum search volume. So we’re searching for markets that have a high search volume, and we’re searching for markets that have a high revenue, whereas before we were capping the revenue. Now we’re finding markets that have a ton of sales, right, and a ton of search volume. At the same time we’re going to throw in one more metric here. We’re going to cap out the review count.

So we’re searching for markets that have high number of sales, high number of searches, but a capped out number of reviews, something like 100. This, this is a small – and I’m just keeping it simple for podcast’s sake, but this then is indicative of markets that are getting a lot of searches and a lot of sales but are still young, right, so the markets that are still opportune for entry, basically if a market has a lower number of reviews but a high number of sales that’s a better chance of you entering in and competing.

Well this pulls up markets that a lot of people are searching for, that a lot of people are buying in, but that not many other people are competing in, something like that. Our goal with this is to really challenge the mentality of people when it comes to keywords, when it comes to research, when it comes to product research and just keyword research in general. So I would honestly, honestly encourage each of you to begin to question the way that you think about keywords and begin to question yourselves with what you’re looking for, how you’re looking for it and maybe even how you can optimize your processes and your listing optimization.

Well, everybody, we wanted to – we want to thank you so much for sticking with us. We hope that you found some value with this, especially when it comes to just thinking about processes in a different way. That’s what we want to do. We want to challenge sellers to better themselves. We want to challenge sellers to improve and scale their businesses and honestly have fun while doing it. So we thank you so much for tuning in.

Thank you so much for listening. Again, if you have any questions feel free to send us an email, hit us up on Facebook. We would love to hear your feedback on the podcast or just any general questions that you have. Whether it be something about researching keywords or researching markets, we want to hear from you. So hit us up. Thank you so much. We do this for you. If you said hey this weekend, thank you so much for stopping by and saying hey. Hopefully we will see you all sometime in the near future. Anyway, thank you guys so much. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

The Most Powerful Amazon Keyword Research Tool: Introducing Keyword Research (Follow the Data Ep. 25)

The Most Powerful Amazon Keyword Research Tool: Introducing Keyword Research (Follow the Data Ep. 25)

Keywords are the foundation for ranking. Missing critical keywords in your listing can lead to thousands of dollars in missed sales. Incorporating the right keywords in your listing can give you a huge competitive advantage. But current tools fall far short of providing the insight needed to set up a listing to rank. But that’s about to change. Introducing Keyword Research from Viral Launch, the most accurate keyword tool in the galaxy. 

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Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS:
Keywords are the foundation for ranking. Missing critical keywords in your listing can lead to thousands of dollars in missed sales.

CAMERON YODER:
Incorporating the right keywords in your listing can give you a huge competitive advantage, but the current tools available to sellers fall far short of providing the insight needed to efficiently and effectively set up a listing to rank. I’m Cameron Yoder.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 30,000 product launches and our experience working with 8,000 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon, and more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CAMERON YODER:
Today we’re excited to announce the launch of our most recent seller software, Keyword Research, the most accurate and comprehensive keyword tool in the galaxy.

CASEY GAUSS:
In this episode we’ll talk about why we had to create Keyword Research, including what’s wrong with current tools on the market and how better Keyword Research can help you increase your bottom line. Let’s get started.

CAMERON YODER:
All right, Casey, we’re talking about a big subject today. This is an exciting time for Viral Launch. It’s an exciting time for you. We’re talking about Keyword Research, Viral Launch’s new tool. Let’s talk about how you’re feeling through all this. How has this experience, this product release been for you?

CASEY GAUSS:
This product release has probably been the most stressful for me, so I’m usually like, I guess what you would say kind of like VP of Product or something here at Viral Launch, so it’s always like my job to have all the answers, I feel like, and so we worked on this tool. We probably started working on like the main algorithm for relevance in September. We tried all this like working with a data scientist on natural language processing, and like so we did that for three months, so into like December – actually longer. We did that like through January, and then February we were still trying to make NLP work, natural language processing, work. It wasn’t working, wasn’t working, and there was so much pressure to like get this tool out. Like we’ve been working on it for so long. The front end was done. Anyways, finally we sat down. We spent a week having just breakthroughs on our algorithm, like quality standards, all of that. We finally figured it out Friday, right before the weekend, and that was like only a couple of weeks ago.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that was not too long ago.

CASEY GAUSS:
That was super exciting, though. So like as an entrepreneur it’s like this series of peaks and valleys, right? And so you’re going through the valley, you’re going through the valley, and it’s that effort. You know, it’s that consistently pushing through the hard times that gets you to those peaks. And I think the deeper the valley the better the, you know, the mountaintop, or the ascent to the mountaintop. So anyways, super rewarding once we finally figured it out, and now we know, you know, if it’s this difficult for us to figure out, hopefully it’s equally as difficult for competitors, like – and hopefully that means that much better quality for everybody. So I am feeling so good. I think this is going to be our most popular tool. I think this is going to be an absolute game-changer for sellers. So I am so stoked to see kind of feedback, see like the impact that this has on people’s businesses. You know, product discovery a super, super valuable because I think product selection is, you know –

CAMERON YODER:
It’s huge. It’s huge.

CASEY GAUSS:
It’s like the single most make-or-break decision that you’re going to make when selling on Amazon. But it takes months and months for you to see the return, right? You come up with an idea through product discovery, but now you’ve got to get samples. You’ve got to find suppliers. You have to order it, and anyways, it’s like months and months until you actually see the return, whereas with Keyword Research there are so many keywords people aren’t finding right now because their like current keyword tools just aren’t surfacing them. And so by putting these things in your listing tomorrow, the next day, or within that week, you’re going to see results. And so I’m super excited to get these case studies back. I don’t know – and like – so again, this is a lot of personal stuff. Sorry if you’re not so interested, but like the team is growing. We’re at like 43 people or something now. And it’s so cool to see like we have a legit marketing team now. We have like a seven-person dev team. And so it’s so cool to see all these different, you know, departments working together. This is going to be our biggest launch so far. It’s so cool to just see, you know, Viral Launch continue to mature and everybody come together. Like I’m just so proud of this team. So all in all, long, long answer to that. Sorry, guys.

Announcing Viral Launch Keyword Research

CAMERON YODER:
Now just in case – okay, just in case you missed the intro or the announcement, basically Viral Launch, or whatever – everything Casey was talking about – Viral Launch has a new tool out based around keyword research, so finding accurate keywords to use in your listing, right? And we’ve just spent the past long time developing it, releasing it. Casey, how would you say – I mean we’ve had a couple product releases up to this point, but how would you say Keyword – that Keyword Research has differed? What’s different about this Keyword Research tool being released than the tools we’ve released in the past, just being the product release itself? So with our release for Product Discovery, what’s different about this time around?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean we’ve just learned a lot of things around what has worked and what hasn’t, getting people’s attention, making sure – you know, for Keyword Research, I think, again it’s such a game-changer you would not believe. And I mean if you ever check out the tool you will really get to see kind of the difference, the night and day difference between what you’re using for your keyword research and our Keyword Research tool.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And you will like, I don’t know, be disappointed or upset that this is the data that you’ve been using versus like the actual data or what you should have been using, I guess. And so anyways, so I feel a deep sense of responsibility to make sure that the messaging is like perfect for this so that people can truly see like hey, no, this isn’t just marketing speak, but like this is going to be so much better for my business. And so I think there’s a lot of pressure on me, that I’m then trying to put on the team to make sure that we really get this perfect. But anyways, yeah, you know I think the product launch will be hopefully a better, like ramp-up period, getting people more and more excited. You know, we have a much bigger audience at this point, and hopefully people have just continued to realize, you know, Viral Launch is a data company. And yeah, so hopefully this is an easier sell to people because now you love and trust kind of what Viral Launch has been producing on the research side.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Let’s jump back a little bit. So again, talking about just Keyword Research and the tool in general, what made you think that Viral Launch should or needed to come out with a Keyword Research tool?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, good question. Actually I want to preface first, so there’s a million keyword research tools out there, keyword tools out there for Amazon. I would really encourage you to at least, you know, listen to this podcast, even if it’s on 2X to get through it, like just at least check out the tool. I think you really owe it to your business. There’s so much that is different here, and I don’t want you to just pass it off as another tool. So anyways, why did we need Keyword Research? A lot of reasons. So like it has been – it has just always blown my mind. It has always been a goal of mine to, if somebody else didn’t do it, build a better version of Merchant Words, right? So not to hate so much on like the tool – like it’s so bad, right? So if you search like – we have all these just hilarious examples, right? So if you search –

CAMERON YODER:
Specific keywords that we’ve searched.

CASEY GAUSS:
Right. Reading glasses, right? Reading glasses for babies, high search volume. Reading glasses for dogs, over 10,000 searches a month Merchant Words is estimating. You search eye cream, cat eye cream is I think like the second suggestion, saying there’s like 90,000 searches a month. If you search fish oil, fish oil diffuser – there’s no such thing – is one of the top suggestions. They say like 80,000 searches a month. And from these case studies that we’re doing, a lot of the time Merchant Words only has like 10% of the actual words that are related to the product or the market that you’re searching, and their volumes are so off. And so, so many times Merchant Words is suggesting words that don’t even – people aren’t actually searching on Amazon, but you’re prioritizing them. You’re putting them in the listing simply because intuitively they make sense. But you’re not really following the data.

And so we had to create Keyword Research because keyword tools are so important. We see so many people – like you cannot rank for keywords, high-volume keywords if you’re not prioritizing them well in the front end of your listing. Or if you don’t even have them in the front end of your listing how are you going to rank for them? And ranking, like driving sales through organic search, is the majority of people’s businesses on Amazon. Like this – you know we say the lifeblood of Amazon for like reviews, this is like the oxygen or something, you know? You absolutely have to have this, and this is what is, you know, really driving your sales is what keywords that you have in your listing. And these current keyword tools were just misleading people so bad. Or sure, maybe they have a bunch of good results, but you, for every good result there is like 100 bad results, and you’re spending hours sifting through these words.

CAMERON YODER:
And I think it’s an important perspective to point out – there is one thing I want to reemphasize that you said, but another thing that is important for listeners to understand is if you’re a listener and you’ve used a keyword research tool in the past, then you’ve been trained to not trust results, right? If you use whatever, one of these tools, you’re going to pull up results and you’re going to know – everyone that we’ve talked to has said this – you’re going to know 100% that some of these results are bogus, but you’re going to use it anyway because it’s the only thing available. So we wanted to change that, and it’s going to be, I think honestly maybe a little bit difficult for people to jump on board at first because they’ve been trained to not trust it. But this is actual data. It’s real data, and it’s something that you can trust.

The Most Relevant Keywords

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so like the two biggest selling points here, I think, are just the relevance of words. So you’re only getting words that are relevant to your listing. We even show a Relevancy Score so that you can see how relevant is this term to the term that I put in, right? And then second is the search volumes. So this is all data only from Amazon. We’re not using any kind of outside sources to build up the keywords, the volumes. Like you’re getting only good, high-quality data. And so the level of trust, like Cam is saying, is going to be kind of night and day difference. So yeah, I think it will be a bit of a learning process, but anyways, I mean you, like I said, you will see the differences here. And there’s a bunch of additional features, but yeah, we can just stay in the meat of it right now.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s break down what’s – we talked about it a little bit already, but I want to get kind of a streamlined process going of what is wrong with current keyword tools, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
So okay, what is one of the number one things that is wrong with keyword tools out there presently?

CASEY GAUSS:
So I think across the board the biggest problem is that there’s so, so many keywords that these other tools are missing. And I’m not just talking about some long-tail keywords. I’m talking about high-volume, related words. So it’s so difficult right now – and this is where our big breakthrough was. It’s so difficult for you to – and this is why we originally were testing out natural language processing using semantic, finding these semantically-related words from content. It’s very difficult from a technical perspective to get the word first-aid kit and be able to come up with the word trauma bag and know that trauma bag is a related word that you should be prioritizing because first aid and kit, none of these seed words are in these, some of these other high-volume words. Like again, trauma bag or emergency kit, like that has kit, but emergency isn’t in first-aid kit. And so it can be hard for these tools to find these other words. And so we have some case studies. You would just not believe the number of words, important words, the volume that the majority of tools out there are missing.

You know, there is an example. We’re still finalizing the case studies completely, but anyways, just at a high level there is an example for eye cream, right? So we said there is 600,000 aggregate searches a month for all the keywords related to eye cream, so 600,000 – 540 related words, and the most popular keyword tool out there missed 450 words out of 540. The volume they missed was 475,000 searches out of 595,000. So what that means is either if you just typed in eye cream into this keyword tool, then you are missing out on, you know, a huge, huge percentage of volume, or you’re going to have to intuitively know to go search all these other words, and you’re going to have to spend a ton of time running all these other searches to try to get the comprehensive list. And then the fear sets in of how many words did you miss? You know, you have to spend all this time, as well. So the second most popular keyword tool – we don’t really want to name any names – but second most popular keyword tool missed 312,000 searches a month out of 595,000. So yeah, they missed like over half, right? And they missed 350 words out of the 540. So it’s like insane.

The tools that people are using are missing out on major, major search volume. And that’s a problem, number one. Second is time, right? So right now existing tools provide so many junk words, right? And I understand from a technical standpoint like it’s hard to get rid of these words. We’re making sure to return only highly-relevant words. At the same time able to get a very broad scope. So we are significantly reducing your keyword research time because we’re able to return only high-quality, relevant terms. And we’ll show you how relevant these terms are. And so if something has a very low Relevancy Score, then now you know, like okay, I shouldn’t be prioritizing this. And we have a priority score to help you do that.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s kind of a – it’s a compounding effect, right? So if you use – if you’re using other data tools, like you said before, just simply put, other tools from the data that we’ve accumulated, are not providing the full list of keywords that should show up for the keywords that you yourself are searching. And then from that you yourself have to put in more time double checking, cross-referencing all of those keywords to make sure that you’re getting the right ones in for your listing.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep, I would definitely say those are the two biggest ones. I mean obviously we have some features that solve some other problems, but yeah, I’m good with sticking with those.

Our Market Relevancy Calculation 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. So okay, how then does – what does Keyword Research do, which is Viral Launch’s tool? What does Keyword Research do to get the most relevant terms, because it’s not about – it’s not all about volume, right? It’s also about relevancy. So it’s about pulling up a tool. A great tool is going to pull up all the words, or as many as possible, for related to the search term that you input. But it also is going to be so much better if the terms that are brought up are relevant to the keyword. So not only is it volume; it’s relevancy. So what does Keyword Research do to pull up volume, a lot of keywords, but not only that, keywords that are relevant for the term that people are searching?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean we don’t want to share too much because we don’t want to allow other people to replicate what we’re doing. But essentially we have this entire – like you would not believe the amount of data that we’re crunching just to try to get this list of words. And so we have this huge kind of extraction process that is very difficult where we’re going and just getting an insane amount of words. Then we go and we have this even larger algorithm that goes and then scores each of these words to help give it this Relevancy Score. And then yeah, then we have our own process of getting the search volume for each of the words, both exact and broad.

And another thing – this is kind of like a, you know, side feature or whatever, but another thing that we’re doing that you’re not really going to find really anywhere else except maybe one tool or something, but is trend. So you know if you’ve used Market Intelligence or Product Discovery you know that we love data, right, especially understanding historical context so that we can better understand or predict where it’s going in the future. So we’re showing you the search volume trend. So you can see okay, you know, fish oil looks like a good market – it doesn’t, just so you know – anyways, fish oil looks like a good market, but search volume is like significantly declining. Or you know, this term is increasing very rapidly. You should definitely prioritize that. And so yeah, I don’t want to share too much about our process, but I don’t want to give too much away, but essentially it’s really focused on keyword aggregation, just getting a very, very – casting a very wide net. And then we pull in all these words, and then we go through them to look for the words that are winners, and then we throw out the ones that aren’t.

CAMERON YODER:
This tool is – Keyword Research is really designed to improve the Amazon seller experience when it comes to keyword research and just creating a listing in general, right? So Casey, what are your favorite features of the tool that are going to help listeners of the show or just Amazon sellers in general?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I mean we’re continuing to talk about it. The things I’m most proud of are just the breadth of words we have, what we call all these horizontal words where you search eye cream, but then you get face moisturizer, right, or moisturizer for face, like you get eye gel, right? So you get all these words that are similar, but like maybe what we call horizontal words that maybe don’t share any of the seed words. So I’m really proud of that. So the quality, the breadth, and then I really love the trends just because I like seeing where everything goes. Usually these search terms report, give like hundreds and hundreds of words, which is awesome that we have all these long tails in there.

Opportunity Score

And then one thing that we haven’t talked about yet is our Opportunity Score. So to date we’ve always looked at keywords in two lights, right, is this relevant, and then what is the search volume. But what we haven’t really taken our time to do, just because manually it can take a long time or just a decent amount of work, is looked at these keywords from a strategic standpoint. So how are my competitors prioritizing these words? How difficult is it to rank not just by, you know, how many units I need to sell, but by how other sellers are prioritizing these words. So if, for example, nobody had fish oil in their title, they didn’t even have it in their bullets, all they had was fish oil in their description, it would be so much easier for you to rank for fish oil if you had it in your title. And so there would be this, you know, strategic arbitrage opportunity for – so maybe fish oil isn’t the best example. Let’s take burp less fish oil, for example. So burpless fish oil, a decent volume keyword, and let’s say nobody, none of the top-ranking burpless fish oil listing, or results for burpless fish oil, have that keyword in their title. And there’s still good volume. Nobody has it in their title. So that’s an awesome opportunity for you to prioritize it, put it at the beginning of your title, run some promotions for it. But you’re going to be able to rank a lot easier than if everybody else had it in their title. And so we’re showing you what we call this Opportunity Score which shows you, you know, how well, or to what degree, are the top sellers for this keyword prioritizing the keyword.

How to Use Opportunity Score

And our hope here is that, let’s say you do happen to be in the fish oil market, which I really hope you aren’t unless you have, you know, a good amount of money. But anyways, so let’s say you are in this fish oil market. Well, there’s plenty of words out there that other people are not prioritizing that still get decent amount of volume, so you can more easily rank for those words, build up your sales and just continue to climb up the ladder, right? So go after burpless fish oil because there’s good volume and nobody has it in their title, or only a couple people do. Then go after this other mid-volume keyword that has good volume but people only have it in their bullet points, or a couple people have it in their title. Like basically we’re showing you this Opportunity Score so that you can strategically look at words from a volume perspective, from a relevancy perspective, but also from a how are my competitors leveraging this word.

CAMERON YODER:
In other words, what are people, what keywords are people searching for that competitors are not putting or prioritizing in their list, basically?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, completely. And then right now we still have a lot to do with this tool, actually two other features. One, I like seeing we’re aggregating all the exact search volume for the word to show you, okay, fish oil, for example, has you know, 500,000 searches a month and then, you know, whatever, omega-3 has X number – like so it’s really cool to go and see what the total number of potential impressions are for this keyword or this market that you’re thinking about entering, right? So the last one is sponsored ad suggested bid, and so this is, again, another cool opportunity for you to identify these arbitrage opportunities, right? So if you see there’s a ton of search volume on this keyword but the suggested bid cost is really, really low for a keyword – boom. There’s an opportunity for you to go get in on a high-volume keyword while paying less than, you know, market average across the board for that kind of volume. So that’s one of our premium features. But again, basically we’re trying to build this very comprehensive tool to help you identify these arbitrage opportunities. Where can I easily rank because no one’s prioritizing it? Where can I easily bid on keywords or do it, you know, cheaply because nobody else is? Yeah.

Integration with Viral Launch Software

CAMERON YODER:
One of the things I’m really proud of with the tool, and I’m honestly looking forward to in the future just for Viral Launch in general is an integration between the tools. So we’re actually working on integrating Keyword Research with our other tools, Product Discovery and Market Intelligence, which will provide you – honestly it will save a lot of time. One of the goals with this tool, again, is just saving time and money. And so as you’re using something like Market Intelligence you’ll be able to look at the market data for a keyword, but also will be able to kind of cross reference keyword data at the same time. That’s just – I’m looking forward to future integrations with the tools that we’ve come out with or just kind of further implement with the current tools we have.

CASEY GAUSS:
That should be live when the tool goes live. So if you’re listening to this podcast, then yeah, Keyword Research should be integrated with Market Intelligence. It should be integrated with Product Discovery. Basically what that means is you run, you know, Market Intelligence on the fish oil market or page, then you’ll see obviously Market Intelligence data, but you’ll also get to see what the search volume is exact and broad for those keywords. So I think that’s huge. No other tool is doing that. And so it’s like basically the way to get access to that is you have to have a subscription to Market Intelligence. You have to have a subscription to Keyword Research. And then second, yeah, we throw this into Product Discovery, and I think I’m super, super excited about this, the reason being is for the first time ever you’re going to be able to look for markets where the search volume is high but sales are low. And what this means is opportunity markets where customers are coming and they’re looking for this particular product, but they’re not finding anything interesting. They’re not finding what they’re looking for.

So take, for example, grill brush with LED lights, right? Like let’s say everybody wants to brush their grill at night and they want lights and whatever, right? So if there were, you know, 20,000 searches for grill brush with LED lights, but there’s very few sales for the products that are ranking for them, then that means that there isn’t a good grill brush with LED lights, well so I would imagine. There are some other factors that are in there. But anyways, it’s a really cool opportunity for you to find these underserved markets, and you just can’t get that anywhere else. And again, the way that you get this integration is you have to have this Product Discovery subscription and the Keyword Research subscription, and then they work kind of in unison there. So yeah, I forgot about the combination or the integration, and I’m really excited about that.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. Casey, is there anything else you want to let our listeners know about Keyword Research?

CASEY GAUSS:
No, not really. I mean we’re – next step, phase 2 is we’re working on a listing building feature, which is really going to hopefully help you prioritize words, based again on opportunity, volume, help you to make sure that you’re writing the best listings possible. But yeah, I think that’s about it.

CAMERON YODER:
Look forward to it. If you haven’t yet, go check out the tool. If you even haven’t yet, go create an account on our website. There is a free trial for the tool. So really if you haven’t yet, go to our website, create an account, check out a free trial. You will be blown away. We also are going to have a couple different resources on YouTube, and we’re going to be putting up more content for Keyword Research as well, so keep an eye out for that.

Well, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for joining us on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information on how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. I have a series of Product Discovery walk-throughs up on our channel that will really help you understand how to best leverage the tool. In fact, I just posted a new video about how to use the new Product Discovery search presets. So if you want to check it out just search Viral Launch on YouTube, go to our page and look for my face.

CASEY GAUSS:
If you’re listening on iTunes please, please do not forget to leave a review and rate the show. If you’re listening on any other platform like SoundCloud, Stitcher, leave us a comment. We love feedback. If you haven’t gotten that from any other interactions with us, we love honest feedback on literally everything. And if you sell on Amazon, which I imagine is the demographic of people listening, then you know how important reviews are. And so we would love it if you could go leave us a review.

CAMERON YODER:
Thank you, again, for listening so much, and as always, if you want to be featured on the show, have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode, or you just want to say hey, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

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