Your Amazon Seller Questions: Q&A with Cameron Yoder and Becca Longenecker (Follow the Data Ep. 18)

Your Amazon Seller Questions: Q&A with Cameron Yoder and Becca Longenecker (Follow the Data Ep. 18)

In this episode, we field a few questions from our listeners. Being your own boss and running your own business is an incredible part of being an Amazon seller. But navigating the Amazon space all alone can be hard, and reliable information can be difficult to find. How does Amazon really work? What are the best strategies? Join host Cameron Yoder and producer Becca Longenecker to find out.

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Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Want to be on the show like today’s listeners? Have your own story of entrepreneurial success? We’re working on an episode that features our listeners! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.
  • Initial reviews are so important. Wondering how to get that social proof for your product? Check out our blog post from this summer about Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program.
  • Talk about barrier to entry: language is a huge one for going international. Read our recent blog post about the importance of getting a native speaking copywriter to create your listing. 
  • Check out the Viral Launch YouTube channel and look for Cameron’s Fireside Chats where you walks through how to get the most out of Product Discovery. 

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON:
Being your own boss and running your own business is an incredible part of being an Amazon seller. But navigating the Amazon space all alone can be hard, and reliable information can be difficult to find. How does Amazon really work? What are the best strategies? Today we field a few questions from our listeners to help you make sense of it all.

I’m Cameron Yoder, 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 28,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 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.

In today’s episode, we’re hearing from you and answering your seller questions. There’s an awesome variety of topics and some great content here for those of you who are just getting a product into FBA or who are looking to refine your selling process to make your business more profitable. Let’s jump in.
[fade out intro music]
BECCA:
Hey, I’m Becca Longenecker, the producer for Follow the Data, and I’ll be joining Cameron in today’s episode. Before we get started, I just want to give a huge shoutout to everyone who has called in and left us a voicemail, everyone who has subscribed, everyone who has left us a review, and everyone who has listened so far. There are a lot of podcasts out there, and we feel really honored to be one of the ones that you choose to listen to.
CAM:
Yeah, Becca’s our producer, and she gets to listen to every episode all the time, even the stuff, the content, that we don’t get to put into the episodes. And so I’m psyched to have her on the show, welcome Becca.
BECCA:
Thank you Cam. So at the end of every Follow the Data episode, we encourage you all to call into our voicemail box and leave us a message with your Amazon questions or responses to the show. And we’ve really enjoyed hearing from you, so today we’re going to play a few of those voicemails for you and answer a few of the questions that you all are asking.
CAM:
So let’s play the first voicemail response.
BECCA:
Alright
CAM:
And then we’ll go from there.
LISTENER #1 JOHN:
Hey, my name is John Farrell. I’m actually I’m new to selling on Amazon. I just listed my first private label product, and I think this is a question for myself, but I think that it could serve well for a lot of people who listen to your podcast and may be new. So basically to get my product ranking—and you’re saying that sales history is so important—so what I’m doing is I just listed my product last Monday, so it’s been exactly a week since I listed it, and I did 3 sales a day for the first week, and now I’m upping it to 5 sales a day for the second week, and then 7 and then I’m going to do a blast on Viral Launch.
But I’m having difficulty in … I’m getting a lot of different answers regarding … because my product isn’t … it’s still too new, it isn’t showing up on any pages of search results for any natural keyword terms. So what I’m doing is I’m having people. I’m I’m sending them to I’m sending them links to the product to buy from the link and hoping that you know one of these days, it’s just going to pop up on one of the pages, and then I can have them buy naturally by sending them the keyword and they can search through pages search for my product and buy it.
I’m not even sure if that’s the best way to do it. That’s what some people are telling me. I want to get your feedback on that as well as I wanted to know when I should expect to start having results as far as all when I should start showing up naturally on the pages for keywords, and if it … taking this long is you know not normal, so that’s that’s the question. I have for you guys. Thanks. Thanks a lot.
CAM:
Yeah, so that’s a good collection of questions and situations from John. And there’s a lot of … there’s a lot there, honestly, to go over. And so starting out, if you haven’t seen the podcast episode where we talk about sales history, I recommend going back and checking that out after this podcast.
So John, one of the first things that he talked about, and maybe one of the first things we should go over is the fact that his listing wasn’t necessarily active right off the bat. And we don’t necessarily have data to show that this happens for every single person that opens a product on Amazon. But from what we can see, that is a normal occurance for you to … let’s say you create a listing on Amazon, right? So you buy the product from like Alibaba, and then you create a listing on Amazon, and you create a listing on Amazon, and then you ship the products into FBA. And once those products get into FBA, a lot of people will think ‘Oh, well I can just start selling immediately and start ranking immediately, but in some cases the … when you search for your product, just through the normal search function on Amazon, it doesn’t pop up. And so there seems to be this period of time where maybe it’s going through Amazon’s system, or whatever, where it takes a little bit of time for it to load into Amazon and for you to really be able to … not even to … you don’t necessarily have to wait for that to gain sales because you can send people a direct link to your product, like John talked about. But when it comes to something like keyword ranking, and you can’t even find your product when you search a keyword, that’s probably not the best time to do something like a launch.
BECCA:
Yeah, um next Cam do you want to talk about the part of his question where he is talking about how he is giving away 3 units and then 5 units and then 7 units, and he’s kind of doing this … like building up sales velocity—a term that we’ve heard people talk about a lot—and in that Sales History / Sales Velocity episode that we did, you guys kind of try to explain that. Maybe you can go over that again?
CAM:
Yeah, so really when it comes to a brand new seller. This is less important. But when we talked about the comparison of sales velocity to sales history it’s sales history that matters more, right? So if you have been a seller for a long time, and you’ve built up a pattern of a bad sales history, you’re going to have a harder time launching, or ranking on a page for a specific keyword and sticking there. On the other hand, if you have a positive sales history, so if you’ve been selling for a decent amount of time, and your sales have been pretty good, then the … let’s say you launch on to page 1, you’re going to have a little bit easier of a time sticking on there because of your positive sales history. In John’s specific case, he’s talking about a very early strategy of kind of messing around with low numbers of sales velocity and increasing them, like within a week’s period of time. For John’s case, that’s not super important. Like that, honestly it probably wouldn’t make a difference, if you were to space it out like that. What matters more, what matters more in this case, than incrementally spacing out sales from specific people, what matters more in John’s case is keyword ranking, right? Which he might not be able to do yet because his product is not available to see yet to everybody. And more than that are getting reviews, getting his initial reviews. Like if I were to talk, if I were to sit down with John and talk about what to do first, I would say when you’re product goes live on Amazon, you need to get reviews in place.
BECCA:
Well, even before it goes live, right?
CAM:
Yeah, yeah! Even before. Like in John’s case, he should get reviews.
BECCA:
Even when it’s not showing up in search.
CAM:
Right, even when it’s not showing up in search. Even when he can’t do something like a launch to increase keyword ranking because he can’t show up in results. Getting those reviews in place is really going to solidify his social proof so that when he does go live, then he can perform something like a launch and get to the front page and have that social proof there and ready to go instead of just having no reviews in place.
BECCA:
Going back to that incremental change. I just wanna make sure this is clear. So I think a lot of people think that the incremental change is what Amazon wants to see—they want to see that you’re sales number, your sales volume is growing. But actually Amazon’s just more concerned with how high your sales volume is. So it doesn’t have to be incrementally changing over time, if you right off the bat can get that sales volume up and you can match the sales volume of your page 1 competitors, you can climb in the rankings.
CAM:
We’ve actually seen this and we’ve talked about this. Casey and I talked about this a little bit before. But there’s this small period of time, this grace period it seems like, when your product goes live for the first time. Or actually newer products, if you funnel a certain amount of traffic through it, at the very beginning, Amazon seems to take preference to that. It’s kind of like, Oh, you’re a new product, and you’re preforming really well at the beginning, so we’ll reward you. And in some cases, people can achieve ranking quicker and or stick on page 1 longer if they perform a launch right off the bat. Again, with that social proof in hand though. So with that … that’s a combination of good photos, good reviews, good price, all those things. But all those things combined together, really if you’re an early product it might be good to perform a launch if you have all those things in place right away.
BECCA:
That’s pretty cool.
CAM:
So I just want to summarize again because there are a lot of points in there that are important. But so when you’re thinking about sales history, it really is not that important if you’re a new seller. It matters if you’ve been selling for a little while and you have bad sales history. That’s gonna negatively affect your ability to rank and stick on ranking. If you have a good sales history, that’s good. If you’re new, you don’t really have a sales history yet. You just need to make sure that you’re not building a bad sales history, a bad reputation.
BECCA:
Alright, let’s move on to the next message.
LISTENER #2 DANIEL:
Hey, my name is Daniel Metz and I’m recent listeners to the show. I just listened to the episode about the Amazon reviews, and what I think is going to probably happen is that the reviews that you see will be weighted. Based on 30 days or 60 days or 90 days something like that, but they will still have access to like lifetime reviews just giving a greater weight to the more recent ones and that the actual star rating in order to be more accurate will reflect a more recent time frame as opposed to all of the reviews over the entire life of the product offering. I’m a recent user. I’m just now doing my first Viral Launch, and I really appreciate the company, just the the way the company is run. In comparison with all the other companies, and so just wanted to call and let you guys know. Thanks. Bye.
BECCA:
Thank you Daniel for that affirmation. We have really tried to differentiate ourselves in the space and to be a legitimate resource for sellers in a market where there are a lot of proclaimed solutions that don’t actually deliver on results. We have been and continue to be super customer-centric, results driven, and innovative, and it’s really encouraging when people recognize that. So thanks.
BECCA:
Daniel’s call was about the episode that we did on the future of Amazon reviews. So if you haven’t listened to that episode, I would definitely encourage you to go back into our feed and give that one a listen. Cam and Casey talk about the way that Amazon reviews are now and how that could potentially be bad for sellers in the future, and what they think Amazon will do to change that.
CAM:
So the concept is, if you’re new to selling, and you’re trying to sell this awesome new face cream, and everyone else has like 12,000 reviews, it’s going to be almost impossible for you to compete. So we discuss that and what we think Amazon is going to do.
BECCA:
Yeah, so that sounds like a definite possibility, Daniel. Casey and Cam throw out the idea of a weighted system in that episode as well, and it seems like a great way to go for Amazon. I also think you’re right that they’ll probably have to allow sellers to keep the lifetime reviews for their product. I think they would probably get a lot of backlash if they tried to take down legitimate reviews. Although, they have taken down reviews in the past. But yeah, I think you’re probably not far off with your prediction.
CAM:
Let’s go on to the next question.
LISTENER #3:
Hey guys appreciate you guys doing this. I’m a new seller. My question for you guys is really about launching, so I have a new shipment coming in. It should be within like the next 30 days month or so, and I’ve been reading through Facebook group try to figure out the best strategy to get things started get a launch going. So I know you guys do launches, but I’m also seeing a lot about running sponsored ads doing those at the same time, a little bit confused as to really what I should do, so if you guys could give your best advice on sponsored ads, running at launch, how those compare. Yeah, I’d really appreciate it. Thanks.
CAM:
That’s a question that we see actually a lot. So the question is, basically, how does PPC compare to a launch, or to running a targeted giveaway.
BECCA:
So PPC, or for those … or sponsored ads … payed per click advertising, PPC, is when you see those sponsored ads at the top of a product search, those top couple of products, they’ll says sponsored, and those are a way to get your product in front of people for a specific keyword and drive sales through that keyword. So it’s basically functioning the same way as a Viral Launch. With a viral launch you pick a keyword to target, and then you put that product in front of a buyer group at a heavily discounted price. And the sales that you get from that discounted product promotion are going through a targeted keyword. So with sponsored ads and with a product launch, you are getting those sales attributed to a keyword, and that’s the really important aspect of a launch and for sponsored ads as well.
CAM:
So they’re both trying to accomplish the same goal. However the main difference for something like an effective launch or PPC is, honestly it’s time.
BECCA:
Yeah, so the reason that we do a launch the way we do, where you’re discounting your product so heavily and putting it up on this buyer site is that we have … you know the buyer site has over 100,000 people subscribed who are checking in daily for deals, and with a heavily discounted product, you can move a lot more product. So you can have, you know, 10 sales a day or something like that whereas with PPC you might see 1 sale per day, 2 sales per day come through a specific keyword. And so the purpose of a launch really is just to get that volume because you can move up through the ranking so much quicker.
CAM:
A launch is simple. A launch is an attempt to match the sales of top sellers for a specific keyword, right? And with our launch platform and with other giveaway platforms, if you can funnel all those sales through a 7 day or 10 day period of time, that’s gonna be more effective than just throwing money in the air and hoping. PPC just takes so much more time.
BECCA:
And with PPC you’re usually targeting a handful of keywords all at once, and with a launch it’s just really really specific, and you’re just going all after that one keyword.
CAM:
So it does depend on the market that you’re in and the keywords that you’re kind of trying to rank for. A lot of people also ask if they should do PPC while they’re doing something like a launch, and honestly the answer is … well it doesn’t really hurt. At the same time, I know people who very effectively only run launches. So they take all the money that they would be spending on something like sponsored ads, which can be expensive, and they put it towards a launch, and if they drop in ranking, then they just run another launch. Monetarily for them, just looking at the numbers, it makes more sense with the keywords that they’re trying to target. Some people will do a launch and PPC, but basically a launch is going to be more effective. It’s going to be your base line.
BECCA:
The other thing I guess to say about PPC is, one way that it can be really helpful is to target a whole bunch of keywords or do those auto campaigns through Amazon and then you can figure out which keyword your product sells the best for or converts the best for. And that can be a good way to find a keyword to target on your product launch.
CAM:
Yeah, that is a good method that a lot of people use. It takes some time to get, but if you’re not sure about what keywords to target, it can be a really good option.
BECCA:
Alright, moving on to our next voicemail.
LISTENER #4:
Hey Casey and Cam, so I’m a fairly new seller in the Amazon game, and I had a question for you guys about selling internationally. I heard that it’s pretty easy to go over and sell internationally because the markets aren’t as strong and developed in the US, but I’m kind of wondering is it really worth it for me to go and sell international because I’m so new and so fresh in the game should I just spoke with my efforts on US or is it worth it to try international right out of the gate? I’d love to hear your thoughts. Thanks guys.
BECCA:
So that’s a tough one. Cam, what do you think about going international right away?
CAM:
Being completely honest, honestly there are 2 arguments here. I know sellers in both. I know sellers who have succeeded in both. First off, nothing is as easy as it sounds, so people often say, Well yeah, I’ll just start one of those Amazon businesses and launch it and it’ll be just super easy. I’ll make tons of money. But if you as an Amazon seller think back to the first time, whether you were using a course or not, I’m sure somewhere along the line of you starting your first Amazon business, or your first product, selling your first product, you thought: Hey, this is much harder, or some degree harder than I thought it would be originally. But international is a different game than selling on Amazon or is just different than if you were to try to sell outside of the United States. So my first response to this listener is that you need to establish what your goals are. What kind of numbers are you shooting for? How much effort or time or energy do you want to put into this? Because that could determine if you want to stick with your home country, where you’re most comfortable, or not. You also want to do more research on international markets and the US market. So for us, we use Market Intelligence and with that we’re able to look at sales numbers in Europe, sales numbers in the United States and market trends as well, and almost across the board, the numbers in the United States completely beat out the numbers in other countries. Now, you have to keep in mind the barriers too. So one of the biggest barriers in the United States is going to be competition. So just because there are a lot of sellers here. There’s a lot of traffic. So obviously if there’s more traffic, there’s going to be more competition. That’s the biggest barrier. And if you’re going international, then some of the biggest barriers are going to be something like language barriers—the copy for your listing—culture barriers—understanding how people are buying, different selling licenses and laws, transferring money back to your home country.
BECCA: On that topic: we have a podcast episode with World First from a couple weeks back that you should go check out. We talk to Lucy Marshall, and she kind of explains who they help Amazon sellers at World First transferring their funds back home.
CAM
If you haven’t listened to that and you’re an international seller, give that a listen. All that being said, there are some barriers to entry to consider, to really consider. And it all depends on what your goals are. Overall, start small, and once you feel confident in your ability to sell, then maybe maybe consider going international. But all that being said there’s still a ton of opportunity here in the United States.
CAM:
Well hey guys that is all for this week. Thank you so much for joining us here this week. Again, I just want to iterate, we really do love hearing from you guys and all of these were questions that we’ve received from you and that we’ve been hearing in the space, and so it’s honestly just really good to hear feedback, but it’s also good to hear questions that you have at the same time. So I’m gonna give our number here. It’s (317) 721-6590. We absolutely would love to have you call in and give any questions or feedback. We would love love love to feature you on the show.
For more insights and reliable information that will help take your business to the next level, subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at viral-launch.com. And also check out our YouTube channel. We’re really … we’re shooting for a lot of content in 2018. I’ve said this before, but check out our YouTube channel, we’re doing a weekly walkthrough of Product Discovery right now. It’s kind of like a course. And you’ll see those videos. They’re called Fireside Chats. You’ll see those videos under the playlists that we’ve created. And you will also see my face in those.
BECCA:
Don’t forget to rate the show and leave us a review on iTunes. That helps me out with my job. Your feedback helps all of us here at Viral Launch cater our content for you as the listeners and it helps other people find the show as well. We also want to say that we really appreciate everybody who has left a review and has given us feedback so far, and a special thanks to everyone who we featured on the show today who called in with a question.
CAM:
Again, thank you guys so much for listening. We are looking so forward to putting out more content for you. Feel free again to reach out in any way. Until next time remember, the data is out there.

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