BONUS: Q4 Part II Inventory Planning & Promotions (Follow the Data Ep. 3)

Follow the Data Episode 3: Q4 Part II Inventory Planning & Promotions

With more people shopping on phones and tablets, your listing needs to be optimized for mobile. Then, once you’ve made your listing shopper friend, carefully planning your inventory and perfectly timing a product promotion are crucial if you want to ride the wave of holiday sales. Join Cameron and Casey as they dive into planning for Q4.

 

Listen in iTunes . See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

 

Follow the Data Show Notes:

Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:
You need to have your ducks in a row for Q4 because this is the biggest shopping season of your career.

Cameron Yoder:
And we’re back with part two of our Q4 episode to talk about the role of enhanced brand content in optimizing your listing, how to make sure your products look great on mobile, how to predict your inventory needs and how to time a product launch to ride the holiday sales wave. Let’s get started.

Now let’s talk about enhanced brand content, EBC.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, at the end of the day, you guys, anything that you can do to improve conversion rate, to improve – drive sales at the end of the day, you should be doing, right? And so enhanced brand content, these are things you should already be doing, but you know, our hope is that you’re really concerned about these Q4 sales and that you’re going to, I don’t know, get your house in order, whatever the saying is, in order to maximize sales for Q4. And the best way to do that is to have enhanced brand content because some of your competitors are not going to. And that’s a leg up. Or they are going to, and that’s a leg up they will have over you. So please have enhanced brand content.

Cameron Yoder:
If you aren’t brand registered yet, it’s too late right now for this holiday season, for Q4, but – unless you’re already in the process of going through the trademarks and everything. But this might be a good step for you to take if you don’t, if you aren’t brand registered and if you don’t have enhanced brand content. So basically you might be better off focusing on other things if you aren’t already brand registered this holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
True.

Cameron Yoder:
And this might be a good thing to focus on for the next year or to start the next year. Overall, basically what I like to think of is if you have your listing photos and everything else as optimized as possible this is kind of the next viable step or option to dive into.

Casey Gauss:
And honestly it doesn’t take that long to file for a trademark.

Cameron Yoder:
No.

Casey Gauss:
And just some other side benefits of brand registry, why you’d want to be in there, this is outside of Q4 unless you are in brand registry, is just the Early Reviewer Program, getting those initial five reviews, really I don’t think people value reviews enough, and this is a good way to grab some of those reviews.

Cameron Yoder:
Reviews, the reviews are like the currency of Amazon.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, that’s how I feel. Anyways, you get your own Amazon stores. We’re still looking for the data on how important those are. Headline search ads, those are very, very powerful, at least right now, so get brand registry so you can have access to all these things. Also, enhanced brand content, we put out a blog post recently about this, but it’s also on mobile. And I think Amazon said last year 70% of shoppers used, made a purchase or ran a search on the mobile app. And so that means that more and more people are going to be seeing your enhanced brand content, and so put that out there.

Cameron Yoder:
Mobile is, in general, just another really good thing to focus on in Q4. I mean another stat – Casey, you touched on one stat – but the mobile app actually grew by about 56% last holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
Oh nice.

Cameron Yoder:
And so it’s going to grow again, I mean not 100%, I don’t know that 100%, but I’m predicting that it’s going to grow this holiday season. One other thing that I would also consider if you are, again, going through all this and enhancing your listing and photos and everything, is to go – if you don’t, or if you haven’t yet, go look up your product or products on a mobile device just to see how they look and how they feel because then if you haven’t yet you can take a look at that and see okay, if there’s this large of a percentage of people ordering on mobile I need to make sure that my stuff is optimized on mobile. And if you haven’t seen it yourself yet, then you probably should.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, at the end of the day you need to understand how your customers are perceiving your product.

Cameron Yoder: Exactly.

Casey Gauss:
We have just a few additional things, honestly what I think is the most important or the biggest actionable takeaway coming up.

Rebecca Longenecker:
Did you ever wish you could go back in time and get into the Amazon market earlier? What if you had been one of the original sellers? Well, here’s your opportunity. Amazon is starting to ramp up in other countries. If you’re looking to get in early and launch your products in Canada, the UK, Germany, Italy, France, Spain or all of the above, we’ve got exciting news. Viral Launch is now offering international launches. Set up a promotion for Amazon Canada, UK Germany, Italy, France or Spain with the launch experts you know and trust. Stay tuned for additional countries like Japan and Mexico.

Casey Gauss:
First off, just know your turnaround times. You have very limited time to place a purchase order for – if your stuff needs to be in for Christmas. So definitely make sure that you are well aware of your turnaround time, which has got to be coming right up to the end of it. Make sure that you are aware of the trends with market intelligence, basically what we’re doing for a particular market. Let’s take candy canes as an example. This is a classic example for us. If you go search candy canes and then you run market intelligence and move over to the market trends tab, we will show you exactly when sales start to increase across the market for this particular product. So if you run market intelligence through candy canes you can see in 2015 and in 2016 when the sales started to increase, and it’s pretty awesome because you can see here’s when sales started to increase, here’s to what degree they increased, you know, what were the orders per day, how long did that increase sustain?

Cameron Yoder:
What were prices like?

Casey Gauss: What were prices like, how did prices change throughout that? And this is different than looking at Keepa or CamelCamelCamel that has all this historical data because we are showing you across the market, whereas let’s say one particular candy cane seller, if you’re just looking at their BSR history maybe they ran a promotion. Maybe they were running outside sales, and that’s why the spike happened in October instead of November when everybody else’s increased. It’s not very indicative of the market if you’re just looking at one ASIN. You need to look at the market as a whole. But this is a really, really cool feature of market intelligence when it comes to seasonal products. The same is true for Halloween. This will probably be out before Halloween. So if you run through market intelligence through candy canes, you can see in 2015 and in 2016 when the sales started to increase, and it’s pretty awesome because you can see here’s when sales started to increase, here’s to what degree they increased, you know, what were the orders per day, how long did that increase sustain?

Cameron Yoder:
What were prices like?

Casey Gauss:
What were prices like, how did prices change throughout that? And again, across the market versus seeing one guy who raised his price like an insane amount and his sales didn’t reflect that increase or didn’t help support, didn’t show that people were actually buying it at that price point. So anyways, what you need to do, go look. If sales increased on October 15th you need to have your inventory checked into FBA at least 10 days before that so that you can prepare.

Cameron Yoder:
I mean this is one of the biggest questions that sellers have around this time of the year is okay, what can I expect in terms of inventory? How much inventory am I going to need in preparation for Q4? And this is one of the best answers in predictive software that is going to let you know how much or around how much you need to order and have in place and also when you need to have it in place. Once you’ve got your holiday inventory figured out you need to start strategically positioning yourself to ride the wave of holiday sales.

Casey Gauss:
We saw people have insane amount of success when it came to Prime Day. Riding the wave is really, essentially as sales increase you need to make sure that you’re on top of that wave of new traffic or sales increase so that you can ride it. And here’s the example, right, so let’s say right now barely anybody is buying candy canes. So let’s just say those guys are doing five sales a day on average. People in top 10, selling five units a day on average. But during peak time these guys are selling 300 units a day, let’s just say. So to get ranking in the top 10 for candy canes, right now all I need to do is give away five units a day, and I’ll be in the top 10, and that’s really cheap. But if you time everything just right and you run a promotion so you are ranking in the top 10 right when that sales wave happens, right, then you will get to take part in that wave of sales increase. So when sales moved to 15 a day, well, I’m at the top of page 1, so I’m getting a bunch more sales. And then, you know, by December or whenever the peak is, I’m seeing an insane amount of sales because I was ranking at the start of it, and I just continued to maintain that rank because people continued to buy my products.

And so what we see other people try to do is let’s say with the candy canes again, by November 15th everyone is selling 50 units a day or 100 units a day. Let’s say 50. So in order for me to get ranking the top of page 1, well, now you have to run a promotion giving away 50 units a day in order to try to hit page 1. But the problem is these guys also have a great sales history, which we recently talked about. Basically the analogy is riding the wave, right? So if you run a promotion before things start, you get on top of that wave and you ride it up as sea level increases, or whatever. But if you don’t run that promotion now you are under this wave of 50 sales a day that you now have to paddle all the way up to, now catch your breath, now try to ride that wave up.

So what we saw with Prime Day is people that were – they ran promotions across their entire account, and they saw 400, this one particular person, saw $400,000 in that 24 hour period because with their 10 products or so they ran a promotion so that they were raking at the top of page 1 for each product right before those Prime Day sales kicked in. And so as Prime Day sales kicked in, they rode that wave, and they absolutely killed it. And so we really, really hope that you guys do that. Whatever your method of ranking is, whether it be Viral Launch, whether it be some other competitor, whatever your method is, make sure that you are ranking at the top of page 1 right when that wave of sales increase begins to happen because you definitely don’t want to be paddling from underneath, and you definitely don’t want to be fighting these competitors’ better sales history.

Cameron Yoder:
It’s just going to be, in the long run, kind of summarizing what Casey said, it is just going to be much easier to jump on when sales are lower but at the very beginning of when they start to pick up so that you’re visible, you’re on page 1, so again, you can ride that wave like a California surfer.

Casey Gauss:
And the research that you did to understand when those trends start to pick up is going to inform you of, okay, let’s say it’s October 15th that sales start to increase. Well, walk back seven days. Walk back five days. That’s the day your promotion needs to start so that at the end of that promotion you’re ranking page 1, and as sales start to increase you ride along with it.

Cameron Yoder:
Another good action step for this podcast is to encourage you guys to really just lay out the dates that you need to follow things through by because there are a lot of dates involved with Q4. Again, we went through the deadlines, but even more than that it’s days to make sure that you’ve run your promotions by, that you’re on page 1 by, that you’re ranking by, while taking into account the fact that you have to or should be following all these deadlines for like Black Friday or Christmas. So I would say just go lay out, whether it’s a physical calendar or a digital one, and make a strategy for Q4.

Casey Gauss:
And you have to do this for each product, right?

Cameron Yoder:
Yes.

Casey Gauss:
Because each product is going to have a different pickup date in terms of sales.

Cameron Yoder:
Right, right, right, right. There was a product whose big point of Q4 was actually after the Christmas season. So that person is going to have to plan their launches and their inventory a little differently than someone whose peak is right at that November-December point. So again, like Casey said, just go through each ASIN, each product, and create a plan individually.

Casey Gauss:
Yep, and you know, same is true, ride the wave for Black Friday, Cyber Monday. The last thing we want you to do is to come to us for, you know, these candy canes on October 15th and say hey, more people are starting to buy these candy canes. Can I run a promotion to help get ranking? Or, you know, the last thing I want to see is that happen in December because –

Cameron Yoder:
Oh, geez.

Casey Gauss:
– to ride that wave like you’re going to have to be spending thousands and thousands, if not five figures, to catch up.

Cameron Yoder:
That’s a lot of candy canes there.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah.

Cameron Yoder:
Well, that’s all for this episode. Thanks for joining us on Follow the Data, and good luck as you prep for Q4. For more reliable information about how to succeed during all four seasons, subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at Viral-Launch.com.

Casey Gauss:
And don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you like the podcast. We really appreciate your feedback. We like to know how to be better, so we would love your honest feedback. And if you like what we’re doing, leaving a review helps other people find us as well.

Cameron Yoder:
Exactly. And if you’re wondering about how exactly Viral Launch helps Amazon sellers, make sure to check out one of our more recent blog posts, a Viral Launch review by marketplace director Lindsay Todd. She’s great. She shares three awesome stories about a few of our clients that utilize Viral Launch software to take their businesses to the next level. We’ve also got a new course up on our YouTube channel about how to set up a product launch. You can have a coach walk you through the whole process at your convenience and with the option to play back all of the information.

Casey Gauss:
Want to be featured on the show? Leave a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or ask us any of your Amazon questions. Our number is 317-721-6590. Join us for Episode 3 where we dispel the diversification myth. Until then, remember, the data is out there.

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

Viral Launch CEO, Casey Gauss, and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder bring data-driven insights to the Seller community in their weekly discussions.

On the show you’ll get the latest Amazon selling strategies and best practices based on the company’s experience launching over 22,000 products and working with over 5,500 brands. Casey and Cam will bring you up to speed on the latest Amazon news, share stories of success and failure, explore the difficulties of entrepreneurship, and discuss the way Amazon is changing retail.

At the center of the show is the Viral Launch commitment to offering reliable information to today’s entrepreneurs.

BONUS: Q4 Part I Optimizing your Listing (Follow the Data Ep. 2)

Follow the Data Episode 2: BONUS Q4 Part I Optimizing Your Listing

The holiday season begins in October for Amazon sellers, but it’s not all fun and gifts. Being aware of fee changes, having crucial deadlines circled on your calendar, and optimizing your listing to move sales is just part of the diligent work it takes to beat out the competition and increase profits during the biggest shopping event of the year. Listen in as Casey and Cameron detail how to prepare for success in Amazon Q4.

Listen on iTunes . See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

 

Follow the Data Show Notes:

  • Check out this Amazon press release for more cool and crazy stats about Q4 2016 like those featured at the opening of the show.
  • Important Dates
    • Oct. 1 – Reduced Fulfillment and Increased Storage fees
      • Fulfillment Fees will be reduced and will now be consistent with Fulfillment Fees in November and December. With the reduction in Fulfillment Fees, if you reduce the storage space you use in October, you have the opportunity to pay lower total FBA fees in October.
      • The monthly inventory storage fee for October will be increased for standard-size and oversize items to be consistent with the monthly inventory storage fees for November and December.
    • Mid-October – FBA Cutoff for new FBA Seller Accounts
      • This one is for those who have not sent a product into FBA through their seller account. On October 10, 2016, Amazon denied new FBA sellers in anticipation for full warehouses. This year, watch for the same cutoff in mid-October. As confirmed by an Amazon rep, this restriction is account-based, not ASINbased. So if you’re planning to start selling later this fall, send in a few products to FBA now to ensure your eligibility for the 2017 holiday season
    • Nov. 7 – FBA Inventory Deadline for Black Friday and Cyber Monday
      • This one is crucial. Make sure you plan to have your Black Friday and Cyber Monday inventory arrive at Amazon before early November (or even well before then, just to be safe).
    • Nov. 24 – Black Friday
      • The day after Thanksgiving, regarded as the first day of the traditional shopping season will set the holiday shopping in motion. From now until Christmas, FBA sellers must be on top of their game to capitalize on the immense sales potential.
    • Nov. 27 – Cyber Monday
      • comScore reported Amazon ranked #1 among online retailers in Cyber Monday traffic for 2016, and this year will likely follow suit. Gear up for massive sales on November 27th.
    • Dec. 1 – FBA Inventory Deadline for Sending in Inventory to be Delivered by Christmas
      • The peak worldwide shipping day during the 2016 holiday season was December 19th. Just because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over doesn’t mean you should pump the breaks. Make sure your Christmas inventory is in Amazon’s warehouses by the December 1, if not earlier.
  • Optimizing your Listing
  • For more helpful tips about preparing for Q4, download the Viral Launch Q4 Guide.
  • Check out our How to Launch YouTube Course
  • A Viral Launch Review: 3 Amazon Product Launch Case Studies
  • Want to be on the show? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590

 

Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:
In just three months during 2016 Amazon generated almost a third of its yearly revenue, and with growth projections pointing skyward, we’re expecting an even bigger holiday season for Amazon this year.

Cameron Yoder:
Q4 is almost here, and if you’re not already preparing, it’s time to start. Competition is fierce around this time of year, and only those who meet the season head-on will truly benefit from the extraordinary amount of traffic Amazon is likely to see. 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’ll leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 20,000 product launches and our experience working with 5500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

Cameron Yoder:
We’re taking a break right now from our four-part series on dispelling myths to help you start preparing for the most important sales quarter of the year, yes, Q4. In this episode we’ll run through all of the must-know dates and all the vital prep that will set you up for success for this holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
By the time the episode is over hopefully you’ll have your work cut out for you and a proven prep strategy that will help you take advantage of the crazy Amazon Q4 sales coming your way.

Cameron Yoder:
Q4 2016 on Amazon was an event like the US economy has never seen. In the course of three months Amazon delivered enough men’s jeans – men’s jeans – to fill an Olympic -sized swimming pool. That’s crazy. Customers purchased enough 4K TVs to reach the peak of Mount Everest more than nine times, and 2.5 million watches were purchased. That is a watch sale every 1.5 seconds.

Casey Gauss:
I heard they had to actually go to an Olympic pool to measure the jeans there.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, I think you’re right actually.

Casey Gauss:
It’s pretty interesting.

Cameron Yoder:
You know, out of all those TVs I still don’t have a 4K TV.

Casey Gauss:
Missing out man.

Cameron Yoder:
I know.

Casey Gauss:
Viral Launch needs to pay you more.

Cameron Yoder:
Ah, geez.

Casey Gauss:
So Q4 was huge in 2016, and it’s going to be even bigger this year. If you want to claim your share of Q4 sales you need to make sure your business is set up to succeed. Let’s get started.

Cameron Yoder:
Yep. So we’re talking about important dates right now. I would encourage you, if you’re in a spot to be able to write them down or type them out, then follow through with us. But if not, then you can just go back and listen to the podcast and get those dates.

Casey Gauss:
We’ll also have some show notes.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, oh yeah, right. Well, I guess that helps, too. So the first date we’re going to talk about is October 1st. Now this is coming up. It’s soon. October 1st is the date where fulfillment fees will reduce and inventory and storage fees will increase.

Casey Gauss:
Amazon does not want to be a warehouse, but they do want to ship your goods when sales are happening, and they want to make sure that they are the warehouse to do that. So definitely make sure that you mark this down. Make sure that you have inventory moving, and ideally, if possible, don’t use Amazon as a storage facility.

Cameron Yoder:
This is – we’ll go through some of this later, but really having your inventory planned and numbers planned kind of goes into account here. Now these numbers, the reductions in fulfillment fees and increase in inventory and storage fees, will go into effect in October, but they’ll last through November and December, so again, throughout that holiday season.

Casey Gauss:
In mid-October last year in 2016 we saw a cut off for new FBA seller accounts.

Cameron Yoder:
Now this was actually kind of crazy for new sellers because Amazon did not announce it beforehand.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, so if you had $500,000 of inventory that you purchased because you thought you were going to get rich in Amazon Q4 but you hadn’t created your seller account and sent inventory in, like you were just completely screwed. So Cam has got the trick for you.

Cameron Yoder:
I’ve got the trick. Here’s a trick that should work. Again, we’re not claiming that it’s going to work indefinitely for every single person. However, however, we have seen this work for others. So if you are a new FBA seller and you have not sent in inventory yet, here is something you can do to ensure, or hopefully ensure, that you will be able to send in inventory if you plan on getting your inventory in after mid-October, which you should get it in as soon as you can. But if you haven’t created an order yet you should go to the store. You should buy something, and you should send it in to Amazon FBA. Basically you should do what’s called retail arbitrage. So you’re going to go to the store, you’re going to buy something, and you’re going to flip it basically and sell it on Amazon. You’re going create a separate shipping order. If you need instructions on how to do that just Google Amazon retail arbitrage or how to ship retail arbitrage stuff into Amazon, and it will take you through it. But basically by doing this you are creating a shipping order for Amazon which will basically get that one, that one or that first shipping order out of the way, and Amazon will then allow you to create another shipping order once your inventory gets in or is on its way.

Casey Gauss:
Next date is November 7th. This is the inventory deadline for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and this does not mean send your last shipment on November 6th at midnight. It takes time to get your stuff checked into FBA, and during the holiday season Amazon is definitely ramping up staff to make sure that they can process all the inventory and all the orders. But sometimes there’s major delays, and you know we’ve definitely had friends that their inventory gets stuck in customs, or it gets stuck in FBA going through the check-in process. So the earlier you can get your inventory in in preparation for Black Friday/Cyber Monday, the better, and the more likely it is that you are able to guarantee that you’ll have the inventory you want to sell.

Cameron Yoder:
So if you want to make some crazy good sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, have your inventory in before November 7th. Again, in Amazon. Now as for Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Black Friday is on the 24th of November, and Cyber Monday is on the 27th. So again, November 7th, 24th, 27th. Cyber Monday was – this is just a little fact — but Amazon reportedly ranked number one among online retailers for Cyber Monday traffic in 2016. We’re assuming it’s the same thing for 2017.

Casey Gauss:
Yep, and then final date just to be aware of, December 1st is the deadline to send inventory in to be delivered by Christmas. Again, please expect delays. Do not expect things to go quickly. Make sure that you have your inventory in as quick as possible. Another interesting little fact is the peak worldwide shipping day in 2016 was December 19th.

Cameron Yoder:
Geez. I want to reiterate the deadlines. Again, mid-October is at — unconfirmed, again unconfirmed cut off for new FBA sellers. November 7th is the deadline to have your stuff in for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. December 1st is that Christmas inventory deadline.

Casey Gauss:
So next we want to talk about optimizing your listings in preparation for Q4. You know, really at the end of the day this should go without saying, but we kind of want to dive in a little bit. You need to have your ducks in a row for Q4 because this is the biggest shopping season – not single-day; that’s Prime Day assumedly – this is the biggest shopping season of your career. Like it’s not worth cutting the corners or, you know, being lazy and just expecting the money to roll in. Will some money role in? For sure. But if you could be making tens of thousands of dollars more by taking an extra day or two extra days, it’s totally worth it.

Cameron Yoder:
And all this stuff, I mean this advice for optimizing the quality of your product, should be taken into account every single day for the rest of the year.

Casey Gauss:
For sure.

Cameron Yoder:
But it’s going to matter probably the most around this time of the year.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, everything is just amplified. Cam, let’s talk about photography.

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, let’s talk about it. Let’s talk about photos, yo. With photography, honestly, the most important thing is to have high-quality, a high-quality professional hero image that stands out to accentuate all product features. It tells a story, or your photos in general tell a story, and establish and build an emotional connection with whoever is seeing it. What do people see when they search for products? Your photo. They see your photos. They see your listing. So having something that’s really well done in that realm, in the realm of photography, is going to be important. I think, from what I’ve seen after talking with a lot of sellers, people get lost in their own photography. And personally I think they need to – I think sellers need to get the opinion of other people that they trust to tell them what they think about their photos. It could be going to like five people and asking them, hey, what do you think of these photos? Are they good, or are they not?

Casey Gauss:
And don’t even tell them that they’re your photos. And you become emotionally attached to your product and whatever materials are surrounding it. And so you are obviously biased that your photos are good, or your photos are better than the competition, and you would just not believe the photos that we have seen where sellers, you know, asking us to optimize their listing or help them increase sales. And you know we just see the images, and it’s absolutely insane that these guys think they’re great. You know it’s hard for us. We want to be nice –

Cameron Yoder:
Of course, of course.

Casey Gauss:
– and say hey, you know, we think you should maybe consider getting or improving your images. And then, you know, they’re like oh no, I’ve had professionals do that.

Cameron Yoder:
They’re good. They’re good to go.

Casey Gauss:
And it’s like it’s just absolutely laughable. And so you know, you’re probably not a creative. You’re probably not the best judge to say whether or not your photos are as optimized as possible. Definitely using split testing to get some data around, you know, what is the best image, what is the best main image, what is the best photo set, what is the best order of my photo set? These are all things that we’re constantly split testing because we want to understand what makes the best photo sets possible. How can we improve sales as best as possible? Definitely, like Cam was saying, having a high-quality main image is important. If you’re having someone shoot photos, have them shoot three or four different potential hero images so that you can identify this one is driving the most clicks; this one is driving the most sessions. Typically it’s not the main image. The main image is just driving clicks. Definitely invest in some high-quality lifestyle shots so customers can really build an emotional connection to your product so you can really tell that story. See much better conversion rates when we have high-quality lifestyle photos. You just cannot supplement those with some Photoshopped who knows what.

Cameron Yoder:
Let’s move on. Let’s move on to listing. Casey, what you got?

Casey Gauss:
You cannot have temporary language, or you’re not supposed to have temporary language in your listings. I have a friend; they’re doing like 150 K a day, and they had their entire account suspended because they had the term “holiday sale” in the title of one of their listings, just one of their listings. Their entire 150 K-a-day operation was suspended for a little over a week, which is pretty insane. So please do not use holiday type language. Some of your competitors will get away with it. Some of your competitors will not. So if that’s a gamble you want to play, I mean –

Cameron Yoder:
It’s not worth it, in my opinion.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, I mean yeah, that’s completely your call. Definitely make sure that, again, everything is as optimized as possible. Make sure that your language is tailored to the holiday shopper, but again, don’t use that temporary language like sale, holiday, unless holiday is very descriptive of what the product is. Backend keywords, really backend search terms just don’t matter very much. I mean, at the end of the day you only need to include a word one time in your listing. Keywords in your title are much more heavily ranked than anywhere else in the listing. So if you should be worrying about anything, it’s your title. You should be keyword stuffing as much as possible, as much as possible while still giving like a cohesive title so you can maximize the number of keywords and the total views possible for your listing.

Cameron Yoder:
There is a confirmed limit on – basically byte limits for the backend keywords. In the United States it’s 250, but again, that’s 250 without – or characters without spaces for indexing from the backend, 500 in Japan, 200 in India.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, and, you know, at the end of the day, again, you should not be repeating those backend search terms. So everybody’s like all up in the air about backend search terms, and in reality that’s only 250 characters. There’s so many – I don’t remember of the top of my head anymore – but you have, you know, 100 characters in the title, 100 characters in the five bullet points on your listing and then 2000 characters in your description. So why are you so, you know, worked up over this portion of your listing that’s not even 10% of your listing’s content? Anyways, basically use backend search terms. Don’t repeat any words that you’ve repeated or already put in the front end of the listing. Just don’t worry about them.

Cameron Yoder:
Hey, thank you so much for joining us for part one of our Q4 episode. Feel free to join Casey and I for part two where we’ll talk about the role of enhanced brand content in optimizing your listing, as well as inventory planning and the best way to perfectly time a product promotion to make it big this Q4. I promise you won’t want to miss it.

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

Viral Launch CEO, Casey Gauss, and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder bring data-driven insights to the Seller community in their weekly discussions.

On the show you’ll get the latest Amazon selling strategies and best practices based on the company’s experience launching over 22,000 products and working with over 5,500 brands. Casey and Cam will bring you up to speed on the latest Amazon news, share stories of success and failure, explore the difficulties of entrepreneurship, and discuss the way Amazon is changing retail.

At the center of the show is the Viral Launch commitment to offering reliable information to today’s entrepreneurs.

 

Dispelling Myths: 90% Off Promotions (Follow the Data Ep. 1)

Follow the Data Episode 1: Dispelling Myths: 90% Off Promotions

Do launches work? Amazon gives higher keyword ranking to products sold at full price, leaving deeply discounted promotional products in the dust… Or so the myth goes. In the inaugural episode of the “Dispelling Myths” series, Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss dives into the data to validate, or dispel, this widespread concern among Amazon sellers.

Listen on iTunes . See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

 

Follow the Data Show Notes:

 

Podcast Transcript

Casey Gauss:
Everyone’s looking for like that next hack. It makes logical sense that 90% off promotions don’t drive as much keyword ranking. You know the problem is that the data just doesn’t show that.

Cameron Yoder:
The buzz about town is that running promotions to get ranking may not work the way it used to. Today we’re diving into the data to see what’s really going on. I’m Cameron Yoder.

Casey Gauss:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. So in this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 20,000 product launches and our experience working with over 5500 brands on Amazon to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, most importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

Cameron Yoder:
These first four inaugural episodes of Follow the Data are all part of our Dispelling Myths series in which we explore topics that have garnered a lot of conversation among the Amazon seller community recently, but that until now have not been proven or disproven using factual evidence.

Casey Gauss:
We’ll talk about where these Amazon myths come from, why they seem to logically make sense, and what the data is saying, and what is actually happening and how you can apply that moving forward.

Cameron Yoder:
All right, Casey, so this is Episode 1 of Dispelling Myths. We’re talking about promotions here. Can you tell us a little bit about this myth? What exactly is this myth?

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, so essentially this myth is basically stating that Amazon gives higher ranking power or effect to sales at full price versus, you know, the promotions at 90% off. The theory is that if you are running a promotion, if you’re giving a product away at a discount or selling it at a discount, especially 90% off, you’re not going to get nearly as much ranking power as a full-price sale.

Cameron Yoder:
So someone selling on Amazon, let’s say they give away items at 50% off. People are saying that those are not as effective or efficient as – or that the 90% off promotions are not as effective or efficient as the 50% off coupons. Is that right?

Casey Gauss:
Yep, correct.

Cameron Yoder:
Okay, okay. So where – or when, when did this idea start? Like where did it come from?

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, you know, we’ve seen this idea ever since 2014 when we got started. To be honest, I think that it’s definitely had a resurgence. We’ve seen people say you know back in the day oh Amazon will only let a review stick, or you can only get review power if it is at zero dollars, or if it’s over five dollars. You know there’s always these kind of arbitrary metrics that people throw out, and so now there’s just this resurgence. You know I’ve probably seen it a lot more over the last three months maybe, maybe around May, maybe around June, somewhere around there.

Cameron Yoder:
So why do you think it’s researching? Like why is this coming back?

Casey Gauss:
The – so yeah, so I mean with any myth I think a lot of it boils down or finds its root in everyone’s looking for like that next hack. It makes logical sense that 90% off promotions don’t drive as much keyword ranking. You know the problem is that the data just doesn’t show that.

Cameron Yoder:
Another point I guess that’s important, right, is that I mean it would be really, really great if it wasn’t true, right, that oh, that means if 90% off promotions aren’t as effective or efficient, then we don’t have to give products away at 90% off. Like that is a very appealing notion, right? So then that means that sellers don’t have to give products away for extreme discounts.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, okay, yeah, very true. I would definitely like to point that out as – so it’s called consistency bias, right?

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, right.

Casey Gauss:
And so you don’t want to spend the money associated with selling product at 90% off, and so you would like to tell yourself that it is great to – or that Amazon prefers full-price sales, and that’s why you want to head that way. Oh yeah, so another instance in which this kind of comes up is, you know, people run one promotion and they don’t get the keyword ranking they expected to see, right? So I’m selling a fish oil. I think I need to give away 50 units a day, let’s just say. And so I do that, and I expected to get to page 1, but I only got to bottom of page 2, right? And so then instantly everybody would jump to oh my gosh, promotions don’t work nearly as well. It must be full-price sales that are the answer. And you know the problem with that is here’s where, you know, the Viral Launch data or perspective really comes into play is that we’re running hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of promotions every day. So we have tons of data where you know, we’re tracking keyword ranking –

Cameron Yoder:
Right.

Casey Gauss:
– for keywords, the targeted keyword, as well as keywords that we find in the title, in the bullet points, in the rest of the listings. So we really, really understand how sales interact with the content of a listing, or tracking the price point of sale, or tracking are coupons present when we have MWS access. And so yeah, we’re able to really get this really broad perspective of the market versus you run one promotion, maybe your keyword, main keyword, wasn’t in the title. Maybe it wasn’t in your listing at all. Maybe, you know, you weren’t even indexed for it, or you know there’s a number of different factors that – and sometimes you know there’s things like cursed products where we just cannot get those things to rank in –

Cameron Yoder:
Cursed products.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, that’s what we call it. So yeah, there’s so many different variables coming into play that running one test and then not getting the results that you had expected or intended is not enough of a sample size to really draw a strong correlation or a strong conclusion.

Cameron Yoder:
Right. And we, in terms of data – like you were talking about data – we really have that sample size. Again, like we run – we run promotions every single day, and they’re all built off of – or not every single one, but almost all of them are built off of 90% off promotions.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah.

Cameron Yoder:
If that didn’t work and it wasn’t effective, it wouldn’t work for us.

Casey Gauss:
Right.

Cameron Yoder:
And we see it every single day.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, so I mean getting into the data of it, simply we’re running hundreds and hundreds of launches, and the amount— our ability to drive keyword ranking is just insane. And so at the end of the day Amazon is paying attention to did a sale happen? They’re not paying attention to the number of units that occurred or the price at which it is actually purchased. I think Amazon cares or is paying more attention to the price that the product is listed at.

Cameron Yoder: Let’s transition to a break. We’ll be back right after this message.

Rebecca Longenecker:
Hey, I’m Rebecca Longenecker, the producer for Follow the Data, and I wanted to let you know about a really cool resource the Viral Launch team just published. With this holiday season promising to be the biggest yet for Amazon, we’re offering an e-book that walks you through every aspect of Q4 preparation, from inventory planning, to optimizing your listing for mobile, to making sure your product is showing up in search. We’ve got you covered. There are also fun facts, helpful notes and handy little checklists you can use to evaluate how prepared you are. Don’t miss out on this year’s holiday sales. Go to viral-launch.com/Q4 to download the e-book now. That’s viral-launch.com/Q4. Thanks!

Cameron Yoder:
And we’re back again talking about the myth of giveaways and promotions. So Casey, let’s talk a little bit more about the data that’s backing this dispelling up. Can you touch on everything just a little bit more?

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, you know I think the really simple analogy or the simple logic here to kind of give everyone an example is as simple as this. So let’s take fish oil as an example, and someone wants to run a promotion to get ranking for the keyword, “fish oil.” Well, what we do is we go and we look, okay, here’s page 1 for fish oil. You know these guys are selling, let’s say it’s 50 units a day average page 1 or bottom half of page 1. And we want to get ranking there. So what we will do is we will give away 50 units per day targeting this keyword, “fish oil,” and after three days, five days, maybe seven days we’ll be ranking bottom of page 1 for fish oil, and we did – we ran 90% off promotion. So 90% of the sale price, these guys are selling 50 units a day at the organic price, and we sold at 90% off, and we’re still able to drive the same amount of keyword ranking. And so again, if Amazon did not – or reduced the amount of keyword ranking power as some kind of function of the purchase price we would not be ranking alongside these people that are selling just as many units except at the organic price. So that alone kind of just busts that myth, completely dispels that.

You know, another area this myth came from is there are these, you know, quote unquote experts or service providers in the space that are saying oh, you have to do these full-price deals with us, and the reason they’re doing that and they’re promising these crazy affects, right? So if you come and use our service we will guarantee you hit page 1 or number one most of the time, and we guarantee you will stay there for 30 days. The reason our method is so effective is because we’re using these gift cards to run full-price sales, and in reality what people didn’t realize was this person was running a bot or this artificial ranking method to your listing, and that’s what was getting you the results. That’s what was helping to maintain those results. It wasn’t the fact that you used these gift cards. And so that’s really frustrating to me because one, you know this person is operating on your business without your consent in a black hat manner, and two, they’re just, you know, completely lying about what is driving the results, which then goes and leads people down these dark paths. You know, it is against terms of service to compensate someone or reimburse someone for buying your product. It is absolutely stated explicitly in the terms of service that you cannot do this. It’s black hat. You know, will you get caught for it? I personally don’t know anybody that has. But you know, I think it’s one little slip up and now you’re in trouble for, you know, manipulating Amazon’s system or compensating buyers for purchasing your product.

Cameron Yoder:
Right. Let’s touch a little bit on just like the mentality of why, like why 90%? So why not? Why not? Why can’t – people are asking, why can’t I just launch my product at 50% off? It’s still a heavy discount, right, so why is 90% necessary? Touch on that.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, so the discounted price or percentage is not a function of effectiveness.

Cameron Yoder:
Right.

Casey Gauss:
It is really, you know, we’re running generally around 450 or so launches a day right now, and so yes, we have a buyer list of 350,000 in the US, but you know these guys have – some of these people have been on our list for, you know, years and years and years.

Cameron Yoder:
A long time.

Casey Gauss:
And so if we’re selling an iPhone 7 case or a fish oil, like this demographic that we have only has so much discretionary income, and if you’re selling your product at 50% off, let’s say $10, versus the usual $1, $2, whatever, like that’s $8 less discretionary income they have to go buy our other products. And so in order to make sure the demand is high enough in the group for every launch that we’re running, we want to keep prices as low as possible so they have the money to buy more stuff.

Cameron Yoder:
Right. The 90% off is very much – it’s a means of control. Like you need to move – you need to move, if you’re launching, again, for fish oil, you’re going to have to move an insane amount of units to get to the top. The 90% off really gives control and gives you the ability to launch to page 1 for that. So the 90% off is a means of moving the launch forward and making it effective.

Casey Gauss:
And you know, to be honest, from like a competitive standpoint, you know if I were a larger seller I would actually kind of prefer this because the smaller sellers don’t have the budget –

Cameron Yoder:
Right, right.

Casey Gauss:
– to be really aggressive in these high-volume markets at these low prices. So they have to, you know, work their way up in a much slower process. And as a larger seller, yes, it is more expensive, but you’re essentially pricing or paying your competitors out of the market, which, you know, for large sellers that works. For smaller sellers, you know, this is why we definitely suggest getting into smaller niches where you don’t have to give away 100 units a day for seven days just to get on page 1, let alone maintain that ranking or whatever.

Cameron Yoder:
Oh, but what about fidget spinners?

Casey Gauss:
Yeah. We don’t want to talk about those.

Cameron Yoder:
No, no, no. So that’s actually a good transition into the takeaway. Let’s talk about what is the main takeaway? From my perspective it’s all about the risk, right, the reward of the risk. You have to take a huge risk. You are taking an investment, kind of an investment with giving away this many units. But giving away this many units at a 90% off discount is going to give you the control and get you on to page 1. And from there, then you will be able to make that increase in sales.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah, oh, completely. I would say, especially like – or specifically to this particular myth I think the takeaways are one, really be careful of who you’re trusting and paying attention to. Two, definitely make sure that you are getting a really solid sample size when you are making conclusions. Again, running one promotion that doesn’t get the ranking effects that you expected it to, you know, maybe you underestimated the number of units needed to give because the guys on page 1 are selling more units through that keyword than you had anticipated. Who knows? But anyways, yeah, please pay attention to your sample size when drawing conclusions because the last thing you want is to draw some conclusion and then spend the next three months and $20,000 trying to build a business around this, you know, this wrongly-founded conclusion. Yeah, and then three, really is at the end of the day, like you have to spend money to make money, like Cam is saying.

Cameron Yoder:
Right, right.

Casey Gauss:
And you know, unfortunately that’s the case right now. And yeah, you know, we’re definitely biased in saying that, but the problem is in that bias like we’ve just seen so many people have success. We just posted three Viral Launch case studies where this guy came, and he was doing $400K a month, and he came in, ran promotions across his product line, and after 30 days he’s doing $650K a month organically just because he improved the keyword rank position of his product. So yeah, he spent a bunch of money. I thought it was $250,000 to get that ranking, but now, you know, his sales are just killing it compared to where he was at. So –

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah.

Cameron Yoder:
Take a zoomed out perspective. Ask why with everything that you’re doing. Make sure you’re getting all the data. Make sure you’re getting all the facts.

Casey Gauss:
Awesome. All right. We’ll see you guys later.

Cameron Yoder:
Hey, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more reliable information about what’s really happening on Amazon subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at Viral-Launch.com.

Casey Gauss:
And don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes if you liked or enjoyed the podcast. We really appreciate your feedback as we work to build this podcast for you. Want to be featured on the show? Leave us a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or ask us any of your Amazon questions. Our number is 317-721-6590. It will be linked in the show notes. Join us next week when we dispel the myth of Amazon sales velocity. Until then, remember, the data is out there.

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

Viral Launch CEO, Casey Gauss, and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder bring data-driven insights to the Seller community in their weekly discussions.

On the show you’ll get the latest Amazon selling strategies and best practices based on the company’s experience launching over 22,000 products and working with over 5,500 brands. Casey and Cam will bring you up to speed on the latest Amazon news, share stories of success and failure, explore the difficulties of entrepreneurship, and discuss the way Amazon is changing retail.

At the center of the show is the Viral Launch commitment to offering reliable information to today’s entrepreneurs.