Amazon Seller Questions: Seller Mistakes, Finding Great Products, Split Testing & More

Amazon Seller Questions: Seller Mistakes, Finding Great Products, Split Testing & More

Data is EVERYTHING here. If you’re an avid listener of the show, you know that. We’re pulling from one of our many sources of data today – Amazon Sellers. We help a LARGE number of Sellers every single day, and get to see where a lot of confusion is happening in the space. We get HUNDREDS of questions from Sellers every single day, and we’re answering those questions in today’s episode.

I’m bringing in two Viral Launch employees who interact with Sellers every single day. We’re breaking down the main topics here – ones that Sellers ask us about ALL the time. There’s honestly a LOT of good info here, and we cover it all quickly, so get ready to zone in. ALSO, just wanted to make sure you’re aware, I do a two live Q&A sessions each week on our social channels. One is through the Data Hunters, our Facebook Group, which is at 10am EST, and the other is just through our normal YoUTube Channel and Facebook Page at 1pm EST. If you have questions we don’t cover today, come ask me live during those times. When you join, let me know you listened to this episode, ill give you a shoutout. All that being said, lets jump in.

Listen to our last Coaching Episode: http://bit.ly/Ep-39
Ask me your questions! http://bit.ly/Cameron_Insta

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Licensing On Amazon: Another Avenue For Revenue With Paul Miller

Licensing On Amazon: Another Avenue For Revenue with Paul Miller (Follow the Data Ep. 32)

As an Amazon Seller, the hunt for great ways to expand your business never stops. Not many sellers in the Amazon community have considered, let alone heard of, licensing as a possibility. In this episode, we break down what licensing looks like and the great opportunity it holds as an addition to an Amazon storefront. Paul Miller, a successful licensor on Amazon, walks through how licensing has changed his business and how it can do the same for yours. Licensing isn’t for everyone, but simply considering it as an option is well worth the time. 

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Show Notes

  • Many sellers are looking for ways to expand their Amazon storefront. Some consider expanding their product line, others consolidate their product line to focus on true revenue-drivers. Not many have considered licensing as a viable option for expansion.
  • Paul Miller has experienced incredible growth due to licensing. Locking in a licensing deal with Nickelodeon has helped fuel this growth, as well as his drive to dig his heels even deeper into what licensing is able to provide.  
  • Licensing isn’t for everyone. There are a handful of factors to consider before jumping in.
  • Licensing is a great step for sellers that have driven into Private Label
  • Paul talks about the Licensing Expo as a great first step to get into licensing. Check it out!
  • Paul also offers a FREE course, walking you through licensing in greater detail. Head here to sign up.
  • Shoot us a response, question, or comment on Facebook  or anything we talked about on today’s episode!
  • Give us a call, and you could be featured on the podcast. Our number is (317) 721-6590

Transcript:

CAMERON YODER:

The opportunity that Amazon’s FBA program provides is incredible, allowing so many people the financial freedom to live where they want, invest in their passions and spend more time with their families.  But the opportunity does not stop with private label products.  Licensing is its own incredible opportunity for Amazon sellers.  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 30,000 product launches and our experience working with more than 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.  In this episode Casey and I sit down to talk to Amazon seller, Paul Miller, about licensing and how it’s changed, honestly changed, his Amazon business.  Paul Miller has been expanding his e-commerce brand since 2015 and says the best piece of advice he’s ever received was to seek out licensing opportunities for his product.  He locked in a licensing deal with Nickelodeon in 2017, which had skyrocketed his brand and culminated in a global mass-market distribution deal, which is crazy.  Now Paul teaches others how to follow his path, growing their businesses to a size they’ve only dreamed of.  And he’s here to talk to us about how to reach new heights through the power of licensing.  Let’s jump in.

What’s up, everybody?  We have Paul Miller with us.  Paul, how are you doing today?

PAUL MILLER:

I’m outstanding.  Thank you.

CAMERON YODER:

Outstanding.  That is outstanding in itself.  Before we get started, before we get started with who you are, where you’re from, what you’re doing, can you just, since we’re talking about licensing today, can you tell the listeners what licensing is, just in general?

PAUL MILLER:

Sure, I’ll be happy to.  So licensing is when one party basically rents another party’s intellectual property to use on their product.  For example, a great example might be a kids’ play tent.  Let’s say you manufacture a kids’ play tent and you go to Disney and you license, or rent, the opportunity to put the Disney characters on your tent.  That’s a perfect example of licensing.

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, got it, got it.

CASEY GAUSS:

And what are the basic mechanics behind that?  Does Disney get the majority share of the sale, like just really basic mechanics so people can kind of understand?

PAUL MILLER:

It has to do with a licensing contract that you do negotiate with a licensor, or the, you know, intellectual property holder.  In this case talking about the Disney Princess, for example, that would be – the Disney Princess would be the property.  The property owner is Disney, and they’re going to negotiate a right with you to use that property.  And in general that royalty rate is negotiable, but it’s probably in the area of 8% to 12% of sales.

CASEY GAUSS:

So Paul, can you give us the specifics surrounding licensing?  Like what does the agreement look like?  Just for sellers to understand, maybe even before they start getting into it if they want to, what an agreement looks like.

PAUL MILLER:

Sure.  So I kind of call this the anatomy of a license, and I’m going to talk to you about a license from the licensee perspective.  That’s the one, us as product owners, we’re licensing someone else’s character or intellectual property to put on to our product.  So again, back in the case of the Disney play tent, we’ve got the play tent.  We’re going to license these images or characters from Disney.  Probably the first big consideration is what’s called the minimum guarantee, and that’s the minimum guarantee dollars that Disney would want from you over the lifetime of that contract, which may be three, four, five years that you have to deliver as basically a mandatory royalty.  So there is the minimum guarantee.

CAMERON YODER:

If you don’t fulfill that guarantee what happens?

PAUL MILLER:

You’ll probably get the sheriff knocking on your door one day. 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay.

PAUL MILLER:

No, it’s a – I mean it’s an obligation just like a long-term commercial lease is.  So it’s an enforceable contract.  Doesn’t matter if you, you know, fall on hard times and can’t produce the product.  That’s a contract.  You owe the minimum guarantee no matter what.  I mean unless there’s a clause in the contract that says, you know, the factory burned down or something like that.  But that’s an obligation that you need to take very seriously.  So there’s the minimum guarantee, and that minimum guarantee is based on the royalty rate.  So the royalty rate is typically a percentage of sales, and that percentage of sales, as I mentioned before, could be from 8% to 12%, could be 5%, depending on the sales channels that you’re selling in and how you’re selling it.  So if you’re selling for wholesale, which is typically 50% of retail, that royalty percentage may be different than if you’re selling direct to consumer.  So it’s 10% on wholesale 5% direct to consumer.  Then there is even FOB terms, for example.  If you’re selling your product FOB to some big retailer you may even have a different royalty percentage on that. 

So there’s advance – sorry, there’s the minimum guarantee, there’s a royalty, and then there’s the advance.  This just keeps getting more fun.  So the advance is usually the amount of money that the licensor wants when you sign the contract, and that’s a portion of the minimum guarantee paid up front upon signing of the contract.  Now that’s not in all contracts.  In my case it was, and I had to pay a third of my minimum guarantee up front.  Now you kind of earn that out in royalties later on.  So it goes against your total royalties, but they do want that as a basically a show of good faith from you and know that you have skin in the game and you’re not going to just sit on that license and not make it because that’s basically an asset that they have that’s not working with some other product.  It’s working with yours.  So they want to make sure that you have skin in the game through that advance. 

And then finally, I would say the other big kind of negotiable on this is the term of the agreement that is, you know, how long it’s going to be in effect for.  In my case it was three years.  And also, the different marketplaces that you have a right to sell in.  They’re not all going to be the same.  Some licensors, for example, may not want you selling in Amazon, and if that’s the case then that’s something you might want to reconsider.  Or at the same time you may be required to present that product to retail distributors in your contract.  So that’s another thing, sales channels that you definitely want to look at and make sure that those terms and conditions fit your business objectives.

CAMERON YODER:

So that is – I think that’s a pretty good base to establish even just a basic understanding of what licensing is before we get into more details around how it is involved with Amazon.  But before we get to all those details, Paul, can you tell us just a bit about yourself?  So basically tell us about you first, maybe where you are, where you’re at and how you started selling on Amazon.

PAUL MILLER:

Okay, great.  I am in Virginia, if that’s what you meant by where I’m at, but started selling on Amazon about three years ago.  I was actually a multi-store restaurant franchisee running a group of restaurants that were having hard times at the time.

CASEY GAUSS:

Paul, could you share what that restaurant was?

PAUL MILLER:

No, I’m not going to.  You know what it is, Casey.

CASEY GAUSS:

I know what it is, and it was really delicious.  I really loved that place.

PAUL MILLER:

I’m afraid I might be violating some sort of confidentiality agreement if I was to –

CASEY GAUSS:

Got it.  That’s okay.

PAUL MILLER:

  say what it was.

CASEY GAUSS:

So all you need to know is it was a delicious restaurant that I was very sad when it went away.

PAUL MILLER:

Yeah, that’s right.  So business got pretty tough for me.  I went from three restaurants down to one, and I was looking for a plan B, and that’s when I came across Ryan Moran’s basically podcast,  Smart Passive Income.  Heard him on that podcast, and from there signed up for his email list.  Eventually signed up for Amazing Selling Machine through his affiliate program.  Joined the tribe, his tribe, and developed my products over the past basically three years, and along my way I was given some very good advice to seek out licensing opportunities as a way to kind of protect and expand my products, and through that developed a level of expertise by hiring lots of consultants, spending lots of money and working with licensors.  So today I have a license with Nickelodeon representing about four of their properties, and it’s been an amazing, amazing part of my business.

CAMERON YODER:

Now so when you started, when you started even just thinking about Amazon the intent was to, I guess, drop your franchises, right, and maybe move into Amazon as something full-time.  Is that right?

PAUL MILLER:

Yeah, that’s right.  It really started as kind of a plan B as I was mentioning before.  I was really on my last leg with the restaurant business, had a restaurant 2 ½ hours from my home.  It had kind of been neglected over the years as I had opened others.  So we decided to close the other ones and then focus very much on that one.  And so I was really, you know, concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to make it in that store.  So I was really looking for some plan Bs and came across Amazon.  And you know, what was a plan B quickly turned into a plan A and probably the best, best plan A I could have imagined.

CAMERON YODER:

Now where – you mentioned that you kind of – you were given some great advice into moving into licensing.  I feel like most sellers maybe actually even haven’t really considered licensing.  Where were you at in your Amazon-specific journey when you even started, first started considering licensing as an option?

PAUL MILLER:

It was about a year into my Amazon business when I discovered a category on Amazon that was doing very well.  I basically took one product that was for one specific market and kind of redid it for children in another market.  And it was on fire, basically.  I was having great success with it, but I was kind of terrified that somebody was going to try to rip me off or duplicate what I was doing.  So I was seeking the advice of everybody I knew in the industry who could help me figure out how to grow and protect my brand, and I actually spoke to a guy called – or a guy named [Mark Hirsch 0:12:12.5], someone who I had known from a podcast, and Mark gave me the advice if I were you I’d look into licensing.  And at that time I had no idea what he was talking about.  It took me a while, took me some research to figure it out, and we just made great progress.

CAMERON YODER:

Can you tell us about how – can you tell us about your first licensing deal?  Like did it just kind of fall into place?  Did you have to work really hard for it?  Like what was that first one like, and then maybe how did the pieces fall into place after that?  Like was it really easy after you started establishing a licensing relationship, or do you still have to work really hard at it?  Like what was that kind of first spark like?

PAUL MILLER:

Well, I’m glad you asked that because licensing is not easy when you get into kind of major licenses.  But it can be easy if you start small.  And that takes me back to my first license.  Mark’s advice to me was to check out the licensing show in Las Vegas, and that was I think it was about this time of year then, about March, and the show was coming up in May.  That’s basically the world’s biggest conferences for licensing.  And I think if you look up Licensingexpo.com you can find out more about that show.  But what I did is went on and registered for that show and built a profile about my company, and they kind of have a matchmaking service there.  And I immediately matched up with an author of a kids’ book.  That kids’ book was called The Whatif Monster, and she reached out to me and asked me if I would be interested in licensing her character.  It was a perfect fit for our product.  So I basically immediately replied to her.  We got on the phone together.  She was a children’s book author with probably 30,000 fans.  And I had my product.  That was a very easy deal to do.  We put together a simple agreement, and that was a first licensed product.  So as a point of entry going with kind of a smaller property, a smaller influencer is a really nice way to start.

CAMERON YODER:

Real quick, do you think that same process with kind of how you entered into licensing, do you think other people can do the same thing, or do you think that competition has kind of increased in this space where maybe it’s a little more difficult, or they have to find other avenues to enter into?

PAUL MILLER:

Well, I think it’s absolutely a great way to enter, and it does depend on your product whether or not something like, you know, a children’s book author or a character would work for your product.  Licensing is dominated by children’s brands and entertainment brands, but it can also – you can also do licensing with an influencer, for example.  So let’s say that you have a kitchen product and you have a high-level influencer in the cooking space.  Well, that person may not be world-renowned, but also may have 100,000 folks on their YouTube channel.  And if you basically license their brand or their name, put it on that product, they’re going to be incentivized to go out there and market your product for you.

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.  Now after your first licensing deal did everything just fall into place?  Like did you continue to just do that same process over and over again, or did you find it to be more difficult?

PAUL MILLER:

The first licensing deal, as I mentioned, was kind of a smaller level deal.  But it gave me a lot of experience, and it gave me some credibility in licensing.  So when I was contacted later on by a major licensor, a major property owner, I could show this license that we already had as a case study.  We didn’t end up doing a license with them, but just going through that negotiation process and understanding the different components helped me in my search for a better license.  And that’s kind of how we got to the stage of speaking with Nickelodeon.  It is a complex process, though, especially when you’re talking about, you know, working with a, you know, world-class company.

CASEY GAUSS:

So overall what would you say has been kind of the net effect or net benefit of licensing, in general?  It sounds like a lot, but the more I guess you could quantify it the easier it will be, I think, or the more tangible it will be for like our listeners.

PAUL MILLER:

The reason I’m talking about licensing is because we, as Amazon sellers, are always looking for a way to protect our products, differentiate our products and then reach new audiences.  So for me the net benefit is I have a unique product that has Nickelodeon characters on it, which even though I don’t have an exclusive, no one else can do that product without the license.  So competition-wise it makes for very good differentiation.  And again, it helps that audience who likes those products relate to my product.  And also from an IP protection standpoint, while people may have been willing to knock off my product from a little-known brand, they’re going to be much more leery of trying to knock off a product, you know, held by Nickelodeon.

CASEY GAUSS:

For sure.  And so can you kind of talk through what, you know, the launch process is on these products?  Like I just, from my perspective, if you have Nickelodeon characters on,  you know, whatever it is that you’re selling, it’s got to be so much easier to drive sales.  It’s got to be so much easier to, you know, get these products off the ground and really start moving them.  Would you say that’s the case?

PAUL MILLER:

Yes, I would say that’s the case.  Now while I love Viral Launch, it wasn’t necessary for this Nickelodeon product.  I actually was able to take, to launch the Nickelodeon product as variations of my well-selling products and just by having the visibility next to my, you know, Page 1-ranked products, they took off.  I was on Page 1 within a couple of weeks.

CASEY GAUSS:

Geez. 

CAMERON YODER:

Wow.

CASEY GAUSS:

Nice.

CAMERON YODER:

So during the Amazon seller journey would you say there is a point in time for a seller when he or she should most consider entering into something like licensing, or do you think anyone can start or enter into a licensing agreement at any point in time, like beginner to advanced?  Should they wait until a specific time, or can they even start thinking about potentially licensing with their first product?  What are your thoughts?

PAUL MILLER:

I think understanding licensing from the beginning is good to have in your pocket so that you know as you’re, you know, going through your Amazon journey that that’s one route that you can go.  But a licensor is looking for someone who has sales.  It’s going to be very unlikely that as a new seller, someone that doesn’t have sales on a product that you’ll be able to obtain a license because they are – they don’t want to tie up that property for someone who is already unproven.  So I would say the time to consider licensing is after you really are doing well in the marketplace and you have something unique because the licensors are always looking for that unique product to team their property with.

CASEY GAUSS:

So is there like a specific sales mark that means that you’re doing well enough to talk to this brand or whoever, or is there like, you know, you have to be number one in your market?

PAUL MILLER:

I would say that no, you certainly don’t have to be number one in your market.  And I think the level of sales that are required by the licensor depends on who you’re talking to.  Again, the folks who maybe have smaller brands or smaller properties are going to be much more willing to work with you than some giant.  I started working with Nickelodeon when we had about $2 million in sales.

CASEY GAUSS:

Gotcha.  $2 million in sales annual, over the course of a year, or in total?

PAUL MILLER:

That was about a year’s worth of sales.

CASEY GAUSS:

Okay, but you’re saying you don’t necessarily have to be at that level.  So if someone is doing $10,000 a month, let’s say, is that enough for them to now start talking with maybe some smaller brands, some maybe YouTube influencers like you had mentioned?

PAUL MILLER:

I would say absolutely, yes, and depending on who you’re working with on the licensor side, and you know, we spoke with Disney, Hasbro and Nickelodeon, the folks at Nickelodeon were much more entrepreneurial, and they could see the opportunity, and they were willing to embrace a unique product.  And they could really get the vision of, you know, what it would look like to combine their property with our product.  So it also depends on who you’re working with.

CAMERON YODER:

Has your experience as a whole with licensing, with licensees, been overall positive?  Like you talked about the difference between Nickelodeon and Disney, but even with smaller licensees, maybe in even your beginning, the beginning of your journey, would you say that everyone has been somewhat easy to work with or people are kind of gung-ho about it, or it’s just generally a mixture of appeal?

PAUL MILLER:

Well, for me it’s been an amazing, amazing story.  Even from – I still have a relationship with the author, Michelle, who we probably chat a couple times a week, and she really enjoys it when I send her a big fat royalty check.  And I really enjoy it when she’s promoting my brand to her audience.  So that has been amazing.  On the Nickelodeon side it really has opened up new doors for me.  Just to give you an example, very soon after our relationship, when our products were still in development, Nickelodeon invited me to an event out in Bentonville, Arkansas, you know, which you probably know is the home of Walmart.  And you know, we got to participate in this Walmart presentation, which was absolutely amazing for me.  How would I have been able to get to Walmart at that level without that license?  The licensors have an incentive to help you do well.  So a lot of times they’ll have teams who support Walmart, Target and big retailers, and their job is basically to try to get you into the door.  That’s pretty amazing.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, yeah.  Oh, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

Now what – let’s say – I mean we have a lot of different sellers at different points in their journey, right?  Different levels of selling on Amazon, so beginner to advanced level, right?  What information would you say, would you want to tell them to consider to decide whether licensing is right for them?  What information do people really need to know to consider licensing in general?

PAUL MILLER:

Well, you really need to understand the pros and cons before you jump in and spend a lot of time and energy because there is definitely a tremendous benefit to it, but there’s also a cost.  So on the cost side you have your time and energy, which is very important, shouldn’t be undervalued, but you also have attorneys’ time.  You have a completely different development cycle that you have to go through with approval of products.  Many times you’re going to have to – you may or may not have to hire a licensing consultant to help you along with that.  And you may even need some specialized design work.  So you need to understand both the benefits, as we talked about, and the costs that come along with it.

CAMERON YODER:

And where they’re at, their resources, their time, opportunity costs, right?

PAUL MILLER:

Exactly.

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:

So is there – maybe in your experience you’ve run into this.  Obviously you yourself have had a great experience.  Is licensing for everyone, or are there, you know, particular, I don’t know, categories, types of products, types of sellers where this just doesn’t make sense?

PAUL MILLER:

One of the ways that I teach people to think about licensing is take a walk through the store in your category.  Go to a big box store.  If you’re in outdoor, for example, walk the outdoor aisle and see what licenses are there.  And you’ll be surprised to see how many products in your category already have licenses on them.  So that’s one way to find out.  But there are some categories, certainly, that would be much more difficult to add a license to.  As I mentioned before, the, you know, children’s, entertainment is very big.  I think kitchen is also very big.  One of the pieces that I talk about in my course is the George Foreman grill, for example.  You know, kind of a really great example of a licensed product.  We all know that George doesn’t really make grills, but he does endorse them and put his name on them, and that’s, you know, that’s a famous, big licensing deal.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

Under what circumstances would you discourage someone from entering into licensing?

PAUL MILLER:

I would say that if you’re just getting started or if you’re really thin on resources it’s not really a good time to get started in licensing because, as I mentioned, it does take some other costs.  You really should have an attorney review your agreement.  One of the components of a license is a minimum guarantee, and that minimum guarantee is enforceable whether you sell zero products or a million products.

CAMERON YODER:

If listeners are listening and are feeling overwhelmed, because that is a lot, like licensing is an incredible opportunity, that’s a lot of – those are a lot of factors to consider for getting into licensing.

CASEY GAUSS:

Not to mention capital needed.

CAMERON YODER:

Of course, right, capital needed and everything else that goes with it.

PAUL MILLER:

Exactly.

CAMERON YODER:

If someone is feeling overwhelmed and just heard all of those things to take into consideration and just instantly says that’s too much; I can’t do it, what would you tell them if someone’s feeling overwhelmed?

PAUL MILLER:

I’d just say send a text message to Casey.  No, no, you know, it’s like anything else.  I didn’t know anything about licensing when I started, zero.  I showed up at the first Licensing Expo with not a clue.  In fact, I’m quite sure that some of the licensors that I talked to probably shook their head as I walked away going that guy doesn’t have a clue.  So I would say, you know, enter the world, jump in the water and start learning.  And you can learn by going to the Licensing Expo.  You can take my free course, which I’ll be happy to give you the URL to, start digging around, do some Google research.  It’s not that hard.  It gets more complicated as you go up the ladder of licensing with the big properties.  But again, starting out simple may be a great way to start.

CAMERON YODER:

Got it.  Paul, is there anything else that you would like to tell our listeners?

PAUL MILLER:

I would just go back and say that, once again, don’t be intimidated by it.  Look at the opportunity, understand the opportunity, and try to make a decision of whether or not that’s a good direction for your business to go in and see if it fits.  Understand the pros and cons before you take the commitment.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and off of that – I think Paul has mentioned this – you know, one thing that I don’t want to happen is that there’s always that get rich quick scheme just over the hill, right?  And so this is that, but isn’t that, and so in such that there is plenty of opportunity in licensing, but it may not be for everybody, or it is at the least not for everybody in their current state.  So please don’t see this as a hey, I’m going to get rich quick opportunity, but at the same time it may be just that.  So I think that it’s worth at least considering looking into and learning a lot more about.  But don’t, you know, if there’s – you have terrible photos, you know, you have a bad listing, you’re not ranking for you know any keywords, this is not going to be your saving grace.

PAUL MILLER:

I’m going to back you up on that 100%, Casey.  This is an advanced move, I would say, and not for the beginner and not for someone who is working on a shoestring.  It’s more of a strategic business move than anything else.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and you know, Paul had done like $2 million in a year on his product before he went through this.  So yeah.  Paul, thanks so much.

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, thank you so much, Paul.

CASEY GAUSS:

And so you know, I want our listeners to know – I had forgotten that you had a course.  For those that may be interested in checking it out, you know, we’re obviously not getting any commissions nor would I want any commissions, but I do think it is a cool opportunity, so if people wanted to like learn more about the course, where would they do that?

PAUL MILLER:

Well, thanks.  Well, we don’t have to worry about commissions because I don’t have anything for sale yet. 

CASEY GAUSS:

Okay.

PAUL MILLER:

But I have been asked by so many folks in our sector, and you and I talked the other day about friends of ours who went with me to the licensing show last year and came out and actually executed licenses right out of the show.  And that was Liran Hirschkorn and Andy Slamans.  And you know, they really encouraged me to put a course together, so I did put together basically an intro to licensing completely free.  You will get on my emailing list, so when I do have something to sell I will hit you up.  But it’s at nextlevellicensing.com/followthedata.

CASEY GAUSS:

Oh, nice.  He was prepared.

PAUL MILLER:

How do you like that?  So we made a special landing page for you guys.

CASEY GAUSS:

Nice.

CAMERON YODER:

Awesome.

PAUL MILLER:

And just check it out.  It really is, I believe, licensing is the next level of private label, and that’s why we called it that.  I also have, you know, once you finish the course we have a private Facebook group where we’re putting together licensing people with product people, just trying to make people aware of the opportunity.  When you do sign up I’ll probably put some emails out about the licensing show, so looking forward to meeting a bunch of folks out there.  That’s coming up in about the middle of May.  And look forward to seeing people out there.

CAMERON YODER:

That sounds great.  We’ll put the link to that, to the course, in our show page, but hey, thanks, Paul, for being here, for answering questions, just for being available.

PAUL MILLER:

I appreciate it, guys.  Thanks a lot.

CASEY GAUSS:

All right.  Thanks, Paul.  Take care.

CAMERON YODER:

Thanks, Paul.

What’s up, everybody?  I hope you enjoyed that conversation with Paul.  I was actually pretty interested to dive into the conversation of licensing since I haven’t heard many other sellers even talking about it.  For any questions that you have for Paul or for us around licensing, we would love to hear from you feedback around licensing or feedback from the show.  To submit any questions or responses that you have, feel free to hit us up on Facebook to shoot us a direct message and/or you can also leave us a voicemail.  Our number is 317-721-6590.  We’ll answer a couple of the questions, or maybe even on the next show in next week’s episode or the week after.  Your feedback is super important to us, too, and if you’re listening on Apple Podcasts please feel free to leave us a review and/or rating.  We love to hear from you guys.  All you’ve got to do is head to our show page, scroll down to where it says ratings and reviews and tap the star rating you think that the show deserves.  Then if you’ve got a minute leave us a review and tell us what you think of the show.  And if you know a fellow seller who might be interested in licensing send them this episode and tell them about the show.  We want to be a resource for those people, for you, for sellers and the information source in this space specifically, so please tell your friends, spread the word and share the show.  Thanks again for listening.  Really, we appreciate all of you and appreciate your time.  Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

3 Amazon SEO Tips from Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk (Follow the Data Ep. 22)

3 Amazon SEO Tips from Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk (Follow the Data Ep. 22)

Keywords are what set your listing up to rank well and sell well, but there’s a catch. People also need to understand what your product is and what it does from your copy. How can you inform shoppers and do Amazon search optimization at the same time? Join hosts Cameron Yoder and CEO Casey Gauss for this conversation with Viral Launch Lead Copywriter Yale Schalk. And find out how to set up the best possible listing with these 3 Amazon SEO tips.

 

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Contrary to common belief, getting ranking on Amazon is not about lowering your BSR. It’s about getting sales attributed to a keyword. Keywords are what set your listing up to rank well and sell well, but there’s a catch. People also need to understand what your product is and what it does from your copy. How can you inform shoppers and capture all your product’s keywords at the same time?

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 30,000 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 I sit down with our Lead Listing Specialist, Yale Schalk, to talk about the best practices for writing an Amazon listing. We’ll talk about the keyword research, writing for Amazon SEO and how to convert shoppers. Let’s jump in.

So okay, we have Yale in with us today. Casey’s also sitting in on this.

CASEY GAUSS:
What’s up, guys?

CAMERON YODER:
So we’re talking to Yale today about listing optimizations. First, Yale, thank you so much for coming in on the show. How are you feeling about being on the podcast?

YALE SCHALK:
Awesome. Awesome, Cam. Really, really excited to debut on our expertly-produced podcast, which by the way I just want to say that everyone should be subscribed to, and you know, every morning you wake up just find your nearest rooftop and shout it and tell everyone. But yeah, excited for that and really excited to kind of jump into some key information that I really know is going to help a lot of people out there.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale is also already on the ball with recommending the podcast, which is great. I love it. Yale is our Lead Listing Specialist, okay? And he’s been a veteran writer with 10 years of experience writing about retail products. So he’s written for brands like Nike, Adidas and Reebok and is known in the office for his excellent taste in sneakers, okay? So actually Yale, what is your favorite pair of sneakers?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh, wow, that’s – it’s literally an impossible thing to answer. You know, obviously, I was raised on Michael Jordan and Air Jordan sneakers, so I can at least narrow it down to that, but from there it’s all bets are off. There’s just too many.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, all that being said, Yale is definitely deserving to be on this podcast talking about listing optimization when it comes to Amazon specifically. But before we dive into Amazon-specific SEO and Amazon-specific listing ops, I want Yale – Yale, can you touch on just SEO in general, SEO as a practice?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely, for sure. So you know, when people think of, you know, the term SEO or, you know, properly search engine optimization, you know they think of Google, right? They think of, you know, their minds go right to Google because Google is this ubiquitous thing that is just out there. So but SEO is not confined to Google. You know, it’s like if you’ve ever seen the movie The Matrix, you know at the end when Neo sees everything in just this digital rain, and it’s just like streaming lines of green code everywhere, you know, I like to think of SEO like that. I think it’s, you know, it’s very much in the fiber of anything that you search on the internet, and it’s necessary, you know, any time that you type something into a search bar.

CASEY GAUSS:
Well put.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, The Matrix.

CASEY GAUSS:
I love that analogy. If you haven’t seen The Matrix you just missed out on a great analogy.

CAMERON YODER:
Watch The Matrix, buy some sneakers, and then you’ll be set. So that’s general SEO, right? So can you move further maybe into like, I don’t know, Amazon or Google specifically?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely. So the way it works is basically that, you know, the input for a search is almost always language, and then the search algorithm uses that language to return a set of results, and then to get your content in that results list you have to give the algorithm basically what it wants. So then that begs the question, okay, so what does the algorithm want? In terms of Google SEO, that’s about proving credibility with, you know, relevant headings and meta-descriptions and links, and of course language for Amazon. It’s different from the standard SEO set up in that the results exist within Amazon’s platform. You know, for example, you don’t navigate to a different domain when you click on a result. So Google looks for site credibility with links and traffic, while Amazon looks for language, you know, or specifically keywords. So it’s really important for everyone to keep in mind that Amazon is really its own ecosystem when it comes to how searches are conducted and how those searches help determine the results you get when you or, you know, your potential customer, is looking for something.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I think it’s important to mention that – I think this is a stat from either 2016 or 2017, but over I think it’s like 55% of product searches begin on Amazon. So when it comes to king of search engines, when it comes to product searches, I think Amazon takes the crown.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s something I don’t think a lot of people think of, simply put, Amazon as a search engine. But in fact, like you said, it is, and listings in a sense really are all about SEO when it comes to Amazon specifically. So Yale, would you be able to introduce to us just some tips, maybe three basic tips that you have for everyone when it comes to listing optimization and keyword optimization on Amazon?

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely, for sure. And you know, I think the good set up for this is like, you know, obviously everyone wants the highest visibility for their product. You know, ideally that’s page one. That’s what everyone wants to be on Amazon. So you really cannot afford to overlook the importance of keywords when assembling your product listing. You know you can have, and you know I never tire of saying this, but like you can have breathtaking photos, and you can have the most exquisite product description, but you know, without the proper keywords and the correct placement of those keywords in the listing, you know you’re basically – you know you’ve got a Ferrari with no engine. You know, it’s looking amazing, but it’s not going anywhere. So I just really want to emphasize, you know, first off that, you know, you can’t just throw information together and hope something happens. You know, I can tell you that it won’t. It doesn’t work that way. So it’s vital to get that keyword foundation in place.

So I would say for the first tip is plurals, plurals of words. So Amazon says that they account for plurals of words. So if you search swaddle blanket, you know, you’ll get different results than if you search swaddle blankets. So some listings will have, you know, both the plural and the singular form of the keyword while others won’t. So when someone searches blankets it’s, you know, hard for the algorithm to determine, you know, what exactly that person is expecting. So the algorithm is very smart, but it has its blind spots, and so one of the blind spots is it doesn’t know, you know, for example for this example that, you know, if you’re looking for multi-packs of swaddle blankets or if they’re looking for all the swaddle blankets on Amazon, so having both forms of the word, you know, or multiple forms of those words, those keywords, is really important for you to show up in any search related to your main search terms.

CAMERON YODER:
So tip number one, overall is suggesting to use both the singular and plural form of your primary keyword, or how many keywords do you think this would apply to?

YALE SCHALK:
I would say as long as you’re starting with your root keyword you want to kind of work in maybe the most common – and this is something that you’ll be able to kind of see in your keyword research, but and you’ll be able to notice patterns of what people are searching for, but usually you’ll just find like those simple little variations, those little, like little degrees of that root word, you know, just plurals and just different tenses of the word that people might throw in there when they’re searching for products.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think it’s important to mention also, I think one common mistake, and I don’t know if this is one of the tips, but you know, people always want to know am I indexed for this word. So just because you’re indexing for a word does not mean that you’re driving the same amount of keyword power or keyword juice, however you want to refer to it, to those words. So this is an important concept, and you’ll hear more about it.

YALE SCHALK:
For sure.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s go on to tip number two.

YALE SCHALK:
Tip number two. Tip number two is keyword stuff the title. Yeah, you heard that right. Keyword stuff the title. So there’s been – this has always sort of been a philosophical debate on, you know, are you going to be rewarded if you keyword stuff? Are you going to be penalized if you keyword stuff? But I can tell you in the case of Amazon, in the Amazon world you’re going to be rewarded. So the title is definitely the most important, you know, real estate in your listing in terms of SEO. So you should really use as many keywords as you can fit, you know, without compromising quality or under-serving your character limit or overstepping that. I mean when you overstep that’s definitely something you’ll be penalized for, but so you know, what do I mean by compromising quality? So you know you have to make sure that you’re showing shoppers the information they’re looking for, like you know, things like ounces or fluid ounces might be important to consider, you know, if they’re considering price, or you know, certain features like dimensions or certifications like organic are there to include. So you know, this tip is really about just including as many super relevant keywords, you know, while leaving just enough space for those important, you know, product tidbits that people are looking for.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I always like to say, you know, I would much rather have, you know, a 3% lower click through rate because my title isn’t as beautiful but rank for, you know, twice as many keywords or three times as many keywords simply because I’m putting them in the title versus having that super short, you know, elegant, you know, four-word title that has like my brand name and just a few other words. Let’s say it’s a frying pan, so brand, you know, stainless steel frying pan. There are so many additional words that you need to be including in your title to maximize the position and total volume of keywords that you can rank for; well, rank well for. And so yeah, I would much rather have this longer title, rank for so many more keywords than you have this beautiful title that may drive slightly higher click through rates.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, what’s your opinion on having the brand name in a title?

YALE SCHALK:
It’s awesome that you mentioned that because I was just going to follow up on that point. Yeah, a thing that I really want to talk about for a second is not insisting on including brand names in titles. I empathize with, you know, every seller that, you know, wants to do that. I mean, everyone wants to have the competitive advantage and get their brand out there, but I would say that you have to apply a pass/fail in terms of your brand name. So look at it this way. You just have to treat it as another keyword, and if there aren’t a ton of people searching for your brand name, then it’s always a good rule of thumb to substitute in an actual, you know, high-volume search term instead of your brand name. And I know that there might be a conception out there that, you know, people aren’t going to see your brand and you know, that’s something like that’s going to be a disadvantage for you, but you know, don’t worry. It will show up – you know, your brand is going to show up in the subheading. You just want to make sure that you make the most use of the title.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, to summarize it, people, you know, aren’t searching your brand name. If they are searching your brand name they’re going to see it in the search results. It says, you know, by brand in most categories. And even if not, if they’re searching for your brand name they should know what your packaging looks like because you should have cohesive labels or packaging or whatever in your photos. They will recognize your brand. You should not be concerned about them recognizing or not recognizing your brand. And by including that brand name in your title you’re just wasting super, super valuable character space.

CAMERON YODER:
I think the question should be what more valuable words you can put into your title that would take the place of your brand name.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, what is tip number three?

YALE SCHALK:
Tip three, prioritize keywords and then write your copy. Yeah, this is another thing that I’ve seen a lot where maybe sellers get focused on, you know, really fleshing out their copy, their listing, and they’re focused on, you know, stuffing as much information and even sort of messaging, you know, that they’ve come up with into the listing. But I would say that, as we’ve said, you know keyword is king, and you really have to sort of like lay that foundation first and then, you know, work in your copy from there. You know, again, it seems to make a lot of sense to look at your listing from your sort of branding ideas and everything like that. But you’ve got to get the keywords right, and then you know, then you can provide the insight and wrap everything around that.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think this fits well, actually, with your second tip, which was keyword stuffing the title. In a lot of cases I think people have a rough time picturing where – and correct me if I’m wrong, Yale, but people have a tough time picturing where to get started with keywords, and so maybe they’ll write – they’ll try to eloquently put together like a string of words that connect well, maybe have some keywords in, and then they’ll try to like piece together other keywords that they want to put into the sentence that they’ve developed.

YALE SCHALK:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
When in this case you’re saying like no, start with the foundation, like with your title. Let’s say with your title. Start with the foundation of as many keywords of like a bunch of high-end keywords, keywords that are going to convert or have a lot of traffic leading to them. Start with that foundation of all those keywords, and then maybe piece them together. Is that what you’re saying?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh, for sure, for sure. I mean you really do, like we said, with the title you really have to get the right keywords up there upfront and you know obviously try to assemble those in, you know, the most beautiful way that you can and sort of balance, you know, walk that line of getting the keywords and getting the product information up there for people, and then from there it’s really just a matter of prioritizing.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and this is what I was kind of alluding to earlier that I didn’t want to go into because I didn’t want to steal Yale’s thunder, but just because you are indexed for a word does not mean you are driving the same amount of ranking power. So what this means is just because you have, you know, keyword XYZ in your description that yes, you – or a bullet point or whatever – yes, you will be indexing for that, but just because you are indexing because the word is in a bullet point doesn’t mean you’re driving the optimal amount of power, and you’ll drive that optimal amount of power by having it in the title, preferably the highest volume keywords at the beginning.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, can you touch on just a little bit about how much energy people should be putting into their bullets, into their descriptions or their backend keywords? I think a lot of people tend to freak out about the bullets as much as they do the title. And you already mentioned that the title is going to be your primary keyword ranking driver, but where are the other aspects of a listing when coming into this?

YALE SCHALK:
Oh wow, yeah, so you the – yeah, of course, like we said, the title is obviously the most important part, and you know, where the keywords are really prioritized there. But from there I think the most important point for crafting your listing is to keep in mind that buyers by and large are on Amazon to basically scan information. They’re not there to, you know, read novel length listings, and a lot of the times yes, you know, obviously your product information is obviously helpful when they’re, you know, comparing products and trying to make a decision. But a lot of the time they’re just scanning that information, and they need it very succinctly. They need it very concisely, and that’s really going to a lot of times be the difference between, you know, someone adding your product to cart and checking out and, you know, maybe passing over and going with someone else. So yeah, definitely keep that in mind. You know, think of it in terms of a priority list. So the title is the number one priority, then the bullets number two, product description three, and so on. So yeah, definitely assemble your information accordingly.

CAMERON YODER:
Yale, is there anything else that you’d want people listening to know, even if it’s just in general, about listing ops or if you’d want to summarize in any way? What more, what else do people need to know?

YALE SCHALK:
I would say, you know, I think the thing that comes to mind most for me is that each segment of the Amazon selling process is so important. And you know, that’s really why Viral Launch exists. You know, we exist to help you get that right. You know, so I would say use our software. Get in touch with us to do your product photography. Get in touch with us to do your listings. You know, we really have – we’ve really refined and really perfected the entire process. So you know, we really are here to help you be successful.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s great. Casey, do you have anything to add?

CASEY GAUSS:
No, Yale’s just been killing it. You know I think that too many people – you know, I’ve definitely seen plenty of people say, you know, I don’t have time for keyword research. I don’t have time to put into my listing so I just threw something up, and I’m moving on. Essentially people just look at it as just another box to check, and the thing is like Yale mentioned at the very beginning of the listing, or sorry, the podcast, the listing is absolutely critical to achieving success on Amazon, especially as you continue to enter more and more competitive markets. The greater the level of competition, the greater your listing needs to be from a, you know, keyword structure standpoint. So if this is not on point it’s going to be so much more difficult for you to drive rankings, to sustain rankings and to drive sales. And so if you aren’t willing to take the time to invest in this listing, you know, I think your Amazon FBA journey is going to be pretty difficult.

CAMERON YODER:
This is one of those – it’s another one of those no-brainers. It goes with photos. Like why would you not have the best photos possible? Why would you not have the best listing optimization possible? If you don’t optimize this, if you don’t put energy or effort into it, then you’re not going to get the results that you could if you would have put that time or those resources into it.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, it’s just another corner that people like to cut that really ends up biting them, you know, later.

CAMERON YODER:
Don’t cut corners. In this case one of those corners is listing optimization. So do not cut listing optimization.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I got good feedback from somebody at a conference that I spoke at this weekend, and they loved the – you know, everybody’s looking for that silver bullet. And we say you don’t need a silver bullet. You need an arsenal. And one of those weapons in your armory needs to be an amazing listing.

CAMERON YODER:
Well thank you so much, Yale, for joining us and for providing so much valuable information on listing ops.

YALE SCHALK:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for listening to Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information about how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. For those of you who are looking for your next great product I have a series of product discovery walk-throughs videos on our YouTube channel that show you really how to leverage the tool. Just search Viral Launch on YouTube, go to our page and look for my face in one of the videos. Don’t forget to leave us a review and let us know what you think of the show. And if you really like the show and you like what we’re doing here at Viral Launch, tell your fellow Amazon sellers about us. We want to be a resource for sellers and the information source in this space. So please tell your friends, spread the word and share the show with other Amazon sellers.

Thank you, again, so much for listening. Feel absolutely free to hit us up on Facebook or tweet at us if you have any questions or feedback. And if you want to be featured on the show or have an Amazon related question or an idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Also feel free to just hit us up on Facebook or tweet at us if you want to be featured on the show, too. We can always take those questions and feature them on the show if you don’t want to call in. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Join Amazon Seller Coach, Cameron, as he discusses the effects of video on Amazon listings with special guest Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck, an experienced Amazon seller. Kyle shares insights gained from testing out video on his own products, and together they speculate about the future of video on Amazon.

Listen on iTunes

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, guys, what’s up? We have Kyle with us today. Kyle has been a seller on Amazon for a little while. Kyle, can you just say hello and intro yourself a little bit?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Hey, everyone. Yeah, Kyle from Pawstruck.com. I’ve been selling on Amazon – I think it’s been two-and-a-half, three years now, and prior to that launched the company in 2014. We sell on our own website, obviously Amazon, eBay and a few other channels. But as of late we’ve been focusing a lot on Amazon.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So I actually – I always love asking people, sellers this when we bring them on and when I’m talking to them, but from your perspective how much has Amazon changed? How much has the Amazon game changed since when you first started?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so you figure it’s only been a couple years, but things have changed drastically since I started. I would say in the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing on Amazon, to say the least. And then it’s like as soon as you learn new strategies on how to launch products and promote products, it all seems to change, which I think is a good and bad thing. It definitely pays off for people who stay on top of the latest trends and strategies. Kind of sets yourself apart from the competition. So I like it, and overall I think we set ourselves up well for growth here in 2018 and in the future.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s really good. And that actually kind of leads into something that we’re talking about today. So our topic today is all about video and video on Amazon. And this is something that’s – video on Amazon is something that’s super interesting that not too many people are talking about right now. It did get some buzz a little back when the beta was first announced and when people first found out about it, that Amazon was bringing video to sellers on Seller Central. But we’re focusing on video today, and Kyle has been a user of video on Amazon. He’s been – and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were part of the beta. I’m not actually quite sure how soon you were able to get in with video. How long have you had video on Amazon?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

I don’t remember the exact date, but it’s got to be – I would say over a year, at least. I was in the Amazon Exclusives program, and that’s how I initially got access to it through some contacts I made through that program. And since then I’ve actually left Exclusives, but I still have access to some of the tools, which include video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. But so baseline you’ve really had some decent time to see how to work with video on Amazon, see what it’s done for you, right?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, definitely.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So first question, first question for you, for all of our viewers; how – just generally speaking, how has video affected your listings?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So I guess the first thing I want to go through is all the places that we currently are using video, just to explain that for the listeners, and then I’ll let them know what I think it’s done for our sales and listings. So the first place we have it on a listing would be in the thumbnails. You’ll see it kind of right next to the photos. I’m sure everyone’s seen that before. It’s got a play button, and when you click on it it will play a video just in place of where the main image is. That’s one place. The second place we have it is about halfway down the page. You’ll see video under a related video short section. So we also use that. And the third place we upload video is on our Amazon storefront, which is fairly new, and we’ve got kind of a whole, almost like our own website within Amazon built out. And on each of those pages we’ve used video to show off our products in use. So on – I guess when you’re asking how has it affected our listing, it’s a tough question to answer.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I know, I know, I know.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, like most things on Amazon, they don’t give you a whole lot of data, which is too bad. You wish you had access to it, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to share it with the sellers.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So I can’t tell you how many people have viewed videos, how long they watch our videos or anything like that. And unfortunately when I did upload the videos, you know, we were making a lot of changes to our listings, so I wasn’t even really able to say like A/B test, you know, conversion rate before a video or post videos because we changed so much it really wouldn’t be a fair way of measuring success. So I basically just have to give you my gut feeling.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, yeah.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And my gut tells me that it’s definitely helped. Our conversion rates based on my research and talking to other sellers are equal if not much higher than other sellers or people in my industry. So I definitely think it can’t hurt you. It can only help you if you do it the right way.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So these three locations for videos – so you said in the thumbnails and kind of halfway down the listings and then on your Amazon storefront. Is there one – are all of these videos in each of these places the same, or have you created unique content for each of them?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So for us we had our videos done kind of all in bulk, so product videos, for example, they would shoot just one single product video, and we would upload the same video in all the places. So we didn’t customize it necessarily, but you absolutely could, depending on your needs. You can – it’s not like they’re all connected together, I guess. You upload them separately, so they can have different versions if you felt like one was better.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so you basically have the ability to customize putting a unique video at the top in the thumbnails, for example, or like a unique video halfway down?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely. And my gut also tells me that the video at the top I would assume gets a lot more views than the one halfway down the page. It kind of gets lost in all the other product recommendations and reviews and everything down there. But since we have the ability to do it, we upload it there, too, and so more people can see the video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. And that seems consistent with the, I mean just photos in general and thumbnail photos and EBC all in kind of the same way. With your videos that you’ve implemented have you found any customers giving feedback, or have you gotten any direct feedback from customers that have bought your products or looked at your videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, all the time. So we definitely try to interact with our customers as much as possible. We send out automatic emails after every purchase and every delivery and shipment. We definitely get a lot of responses that reference our videos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we sell dog products, and so our videos show, you know, dogs chewing our products or using it. So a lot of times we’ll get comments about how adorable or cute the videos were, or how helpful they were, or maybe just a follow-up question, something that we didn’t clarify in the video. They’ll mention that they watched the video and they had a question about X, Y, and Z. We also see it in our reviews. A lot of times people will reference the videos on the listings for whatever reason. So we definitely know people are watching them. We don’t know how many.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Do you think – right, unfortunately. Do you think there’s a little bit of a wow factor when it comes to videos on listings because it’s still – honestly it’s beginning to get standardized kind of, but it’s still pretty new? Do you think people still have that wow factor when they watch videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I would think so. I would think it’s definitely a way to set yourself apart from your competitors and other listings if you have video and it’s well done and they don’t. That’s a great way to set yourself apart, especially if you have a really high priced product, or something really technical, or one like ours that requires a high level of trust to purchase. I think video can be a way of kind of earning that trust or really showing people why they should trust you to spend that kind of money on a product because sometimes photos don’t do a product justice.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Or people don’t want to take the time to read a description to understand how it works or what it does. So our products are pretty simple. We don’t do any how-to videos, but I could definitely see where a how-to video would be helpful for a technical product in setting yourself apart.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. So technically speaking, I mean again you’ve had experience in setting up videos with your listings. Is it easy to do? Is it just easy to upload like an MP4 into Amazon and just like oh, there it is straight into my listing, or is it kind of complicated?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

It is pretty basic. Assuming that you have a normal video file and that your video is compliant with Amazon’s requirements – so definitely look into that. Like I’m sure you can’t – you know I couldn’t run videos saying like go shop on Pawstruck.com. You know, so you have to make sure your video actually complies with Amazon’s terms of services for videos. But assuming you do all the right things there it is just a matter of hitting the upload button and entering, you know, a title and so on. So it’s pretty basic.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting. Well, that’s good to know. So as a whole – again, just generally speaking video is a little bit newer, and it was in beta. Again, it was in a beta program that you had to get accepted into, and it kind of got rolled out to people that were brand registered. And now it’s beginning to have more of a mass adoption with sellers that are brand registered. Do you think that video specifically is something that sellers should be putting their time and energy into right now?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely, especially if you have an off-Amazon presence in any way. If you’re running any sort of off-Amazon advertising campaigns, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, something like that, or you have your own website, it definitely makes sense because the money you invest in video is obviously going to help you on Amazon, but you can also repurpose a lot of those videos. So something I haven’t really mentioned yet, but from our videos we have dogs using our products, and we are able to take high res screenshots or screen captures from various frames. So we’re able to get photos of the dogs using the product. And we use those photos as our secondary images on the product. So it’s kind of serving as both a video and a way to generate really good, high-quality photos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And we’ve also had the company that we use to produce the videos make shorter versions that are used for advertisements. So you can repurpose the videos in a different way, maybe to optimize for Facebook ads, for example, or Instagram. So you can get a lot of use out of them, and that helps a little bit with that upfront cost that I’m sure you’ll have to pay.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. So you talked a little bit about focusing off of Amazon. Have you found really good – I mean you’re able to – people generally are able to track attrition, I guess, or if people convert better outside of Amazon just because you can track, I don’t know, consumers a little bit better on something like Instagram or Facebook. Have you found really good conversions from using these videos on something like Facebook, or YouTube or Instagram?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we use those videos on our ads, and they’ve been pretty successful, but I wouldn’t really be able to compare them to anything else we’ve done previously because these are the only videos we’ve had. But one thing I can do – maybe we can put it in the show notes or [somewhere 0:20:09.1] because I don’t know off the top of my head, but on our website we definitely saw a huge conversion boost once we added our videos to our product pages. So I can look that information up, and maybe we can throw that in the show notes what exactly happened because that we were able to A/B test, which was really great. And we have all the information, obviously, how many people are viewing it and all of that.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. Okay, and so we talked briefly about this, but I think it’s something that people should know. It was – we mentioned it just a little before, but I want to reiterate that this video thing was available only to people in beta, like an invite basically. But now seemingly it is starting to get rolled out to everyone that is a part of the brand registry program. And so just for everyone that’s looking to get into video, it would be a good idea if you aren’t brand registered yet to just get brand registered. And brand registry involves a lot more outside of video. It involves a lot of different things. And potentially being brand registered just kind of opens the door for being able to be invited to things quicker or earlier than other people that aren’t brand registered. Seemingly Amazon takes preference to people that are brand registered. And I’m not sure if you could touch into that a little bit. Have you seen – in your time being brand registered have you seen early rollouts or just other things, including video, that have benefited you?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so I was part of the beta rollout of brand registry 2.0 so I was able to get in there pretty early and talk to some of the people on Amazon’s brand registry team and give them feedback as they built out the program and everything, and it’s definitely an emphasis of Amazon moving forward. For brand owners they want people to be brand registered, and they’re going to continue to build out features that are specific to those in that program. So like you already mentioned, any seller that has the ability to be brand registered who is not brand registered at this point in time, I absolutely recommend getting registered even if you don’t plan on doing video soon or ever. It doesn’t really matter. There’s just so much that the program offers, and there’s going to be some feature at some point in time that you’re going to want that you won’t be able to get unless you’re in the program. And I have a lot of colleagues and friends who are Amazon sellers who some of which are unable to get brand registered, and it definitely hurts. And they have a lot more issues with counterfeiters and people who are hijacking their listings, and they can’t really do a lot from a protection standpoint. And a lot of those people were in the original brand registry program and just because of some changes aren’t able to get in 2.0 at this point in time, and they really wish they could.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, so taking a look at – talking a little bit about brand registry, or taking that even further, what do you think Amazon is going to do next for listings in general? And we’re talking about video, which was a pretty big deal, honestly, to add to your repertoire of things available on your listing. What do you think Amazon is going to do next?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So when talking about product listings in particular, I think the next thing they’re going to do is build in some sort of augmented reality option for listings, probably on mobile I would assume. And the reason I kind of bring that up is because every time I talk to, you know, family members or friends about shopping on Amazon the one thing they always bring up as a negative – basically the only thing they can bring up as a negative is that they wish sometimes they could go to the store because they want to touch and feel the product. And a lot of times it has to do with apparel specifically, which makes sense, and Amazon is doing a lot of things to combat that with their fast shipping and return policies and even video, right? So being able to see the product kind of in use really helps the customer understand what they’re buying. So I think if you’re able to work in some sort of augmented reality into a listing that could take it even a step further. So, for example, if you wanted to buy some T-shirt, you’re unsure how it looks. It looks on a model. It’s like well you don’t really know how it’s going to fit on you. Or it’s on a white background that’s really hard to tell, but with augmented reality they have the possibility of, you know, you basically turning the camera on yourself kind of like a selfie and the T-shirt or clothing being put onto your body to see what it’s actually going to look like when you receive it. So my guess is they’re going to do creative stuff like that. I think that’s coming to e-commerce in general. People are going to keep innovating, basically removing that barrier or that one hiccup that makes some people want to shop in-store versus online.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. That makes sense to me. I mean there was an article put out not too long ago about how Amazon owns, I think it was about seven clothing brands on Amazon specifically and how Amazon is moving further or deeper into the fashion market. We also have that fashion camera. It’s a camera that helps you pick out clothes, basically. So seemingly I would totally agree with you. I think that’s an argument that people have for classic retail stores, right, is that you can go and you can touch and feel everything. And so for them to implement technology like that would be huge for the space. I could definitely see that happening. What does the inclusion of video tell you about what Amazon is moving towards with their overall website experience and aesthetic? You touched on this a little bit with the idea of that VR AR idea. But do you think that is going to carry through to their website as a whole?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I think so. I think video is just kind of an indication that they want to really show customers what they’re buying before they’re buying it. And like I said before, like photo can only take you – photos can only take you so far. So I think they’re – I’m sure they’re going to add video all over the place, or some of these new technologies, even maybe into somehow in, you know, search results or somewhere else maybe. I think it’s something that they’re definitely focused on doing. You see like if you go through your Facebook feed these days it’s almost – to me, at least, it’s like 95% video is what people are sharing. So I think Amazon understands that. I mean I think that’s part of why they rolled out the related video shorts portion to listings. They’re trying to compete with YouTube influencers and product reviewers. They want that ecosystem on their own website. So I think they’re going to continue to encourage video and other types of content. I mean they’ve already done it with enhanced brand content. I think they’re going to allow brand owners to really build out their brand on Amazon.

 

So with the storefront and video content, enhanced brand content, really nice photos, and I even think on listings they’ll – right now you only see really big brands, but you see the brand name. Instead of it being text you see a logo there for some of the really big brands. My guess is that they’re going to roll that out to people who are brand registered, that that might be something they’re going to have for everyone because it seems to me that Amazon wants people to build out their brand on Amazon, and that’s something they can set them apart from Walmart, Jet, other places like that is all the sellers are taking the time to build out a brand presence on Amazon. They’re probably not doing that on other platforms. So they can kind of really separate themselves there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Well, one final thing for you. And Kyle, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day just to be here and talking to us about video and what’s next potentially for Amazon when it comes to creatives and everything in between. For our listeners, what piece of advice, what one thing do you think that our listeners should focus on? We’re getting close to the new year right now, so what do you think that sellers should focus on at the beginning of next quarter, and what are you going to focus on at the beginning of the new year?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Okay, so the first one, first piece of advice I’d have is kind of a trick that I’ve been using that I forgot to mention earlier, so I’ll take this opportunity to mention it. So with video what we’ve also done is in our follow-up email sequences that go to customers, we let them know that they can click a link to go watch videos to learn more about the product that they purchased, and where we’re sending them is to a page on our Amazon storefront. So that is within terms of service since we’re sending them within Amazon’s own website. So it’s just a great way to get people to see your own videos if they haven’t already. It also gives the opportunity to cross-sell some other products within that video or maybe on the same page. And I think a really great use, which we don’t do because we don’t need to, but like I said with a technical product if you have a how-to video and you have it on your storefront and you send people there, you’re going to prevent all kinds of negative reviews, or returns or questions. You can send them there and explain exactly how a product should be used. That’s just going to be a great customer experience and help kind of your whole product overall. So I recommend doing that if you’ve got video already and aren’t doing that right now.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And for I guess your second question was what we as a company are focusing on the beginning of next year. So the main thing we’re going to be doing is just really ramping up product development. So we’re going to be trying to launch between two and four new products every month and really kind of set up a system where we are constantly finding, launching and kind of adding products to our catalog in a very consistent way and successful way because right now we’ve kind of done it piecemeal as things come up. So I really want to get more focused on that and set up the systems that will allow us to kind of scale that process.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. Well, hey, that’s good to hear, and that’s good advice. Kyle, you’ve been awesome. You’re in such a good spot, and you’ve had such great opportunity really to know video, number one, but get a lot of good and early experience with a lot of these things that honestly not a lot of sellers have had experience with. So thank you so much for sharing your own experiences with us and for giving your advice. It’s been awesome.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, of course. I’m happy to do it. Thanks for having me.

 

 

BONUS: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy (Follow the Data Ep. 11)

Follow the Data BONUS Episode: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy

We’re excited to announce the launch of Product Discovery, our latest software tool, and the best product finder in the galaxy. Tune in for a bonus episode where CEO Casey Gauss talks about why this is such a revolutionary release.

Finding a great product to sell on Amazon is vital to the success of your Amazon business; that’s why we created Product Discovery. Just enter your business goals, and filter for a list of personalized product ideas. You can find ideas by looking at individual products whose performance meets your aspirations, by looking at keywords and product markets with the metrics you desire, or by scanning top-performing brands and categories for the products that are driving their success.

SIGN UP TODAY

Or to learn more about Product Discovery,

 

 

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.

 

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