Tag: podcast

The Secret to Amazon Sponsored Ads with Viral Launch Head of Innovation Leo Sgovio (Follow the Data Ep. 23)

Sponsored ads provide sellers with an incredible opportunity to gain exposure to streams of shoppers. But most sellers don’t know how to utilize sponsored ads, spending way more money than they need to for minimal returns. Join host Cameron Yoder as he talks to sponsored ads guru and Viral Launch Head of Innovation, Leo Sgovio, to find out how you can grow your business using Sponsored Ads. 

 

 

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Sponsored ads provide massive potential for sellers to gain exposure to streams of shoppers, but most sellers don’t know how to utilize sponsored ads, spending way more money than they need to for minimal returns. 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, for success as an Amazon seller. In today’s episode we sit down with our Head of Innovation, Leo Sgovio, to talk about the best practices for sponsored ads. We’ll talk about how to use sponsored ads to your advantage without breaking the bank so you can put your money towards more important investments for your business. Let’s jump in.

All right, so we’re here today with Leo. Leo, how are you doing today?

LEO SGOVIO:
Amazing, guys. Thank you for having me today on the podcast. I’m really excited.

CAMERON YODER:
For sure. And you’re in Canada right now, right?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yes, I am.

CAMERON YODER:
What’s the weather like?

LEO SGOVIO:
It’s cold in Canada. It’s terrible outside. Actually, it’s not too bad lately. It’s a big plus so I can’t complain.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, that’s good. Well, just to intro Leo a little bit because he deserves introducing, Leo is a performance-based advertising specialist with expertise in multichannel digital advertising, and he’s the Head of Innovation here at Viral Launch. So he’s worked for over nine years in digital marketing, during which time, during this time he successfully built and managed multimillion dollar traffic acquisition strategies in travel, career, real estate, finance and online retail marketing, including Amazon.com.

So Leo, can you tell us about your past a little bit, just kind of everything that you’ve been involved with because you’ve been – I mean obviously you’ve been involved with a lot. So maybe just expand on the experiences that you’ve had and just briefly kind of what you’ve learned from everything.

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, thanks for the introduction, Cam and Casey. So like you said, I’ve been involved in the digital space for a very long time, and that’s really what gives me an advantage when it comes to understanding what the major search engines, including Amazon on the sponsored side of things, does. So I’ve been managing over $6 million, $7 million a year ad spend on both Google AdWords, Bing, Facebook. And so when it came to – when I started selling on Amazon.com I adopted sponsored ads almost from day one because I knew that it was one of the best ways to always drive traffic to my product and always have my product in front of people that were looking for it. So I didn’t use that as a second option when my sales were low, for instance.

And yeah, so going back almost like 10 years ago when, you know, Google was still in its infancy I understood that for them there was an advantage of, obviously, for us as an advertiser it was an advantage on using sponsored ads together with traffic that we were getting organically because there was a field that the search engine obviously looks at it. Okay, they’re making money when you buy traffic from them. And so there is some sort of reward when obviously they see that you are both paying for the traffic through their sponsored programs and as well as, you know, doing well organically. So it’s a win-win situation that works well for the advertiser and the partner you are working with, which in this case would be Amazon.com.

CAMERON YODER:
So how did you initially just even get involved in the SEO space?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, that’s funny actually. When I came to Canada, and I was visiting this country, I was already doing some SEO stuff back in Italy where I’m from, and I got really passionate about it. And I remember and I met one of my family members, and I asked him okay, you need to tell me what’s the hot job right now that is going to make me good money? And he’s like you know you should learn SEO, and a week later I was already Google certified. You know, I had already started all the hoops. And you know I got the certification of Google AdWords, and I was ready to rock it. And then since then I just, you know, kept studying and learning, and this is how I really got into it. But it became a really a passion for me. I would never do anything else right now. I mean I love e-commerce. I love, you know, like understanding traffic sources and generating sales online and all that comes with it. So I’m really happy what I’m doing right now.

CAMERON YODER:
I think your perspective is so valuable, number one, because you’ve been in the space for a really long time, not in just the Amazon space, right, but the Google space as well. So your perspective is very valuable, and it’s a perspective that not a lot of people have, especially in this space. And so I mean we’re talking about – this show is all about Amazon specifically, but there’s value in comparing Amazon to something like Google, especially when it comes to sponsored ads. So can you touch on, just here in the beginning, kind of what the difference is for when it comes to sponsored ads between Amazon, Amazon.com and something like Google?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, so I think it depends on like, you know, what perspective we look at it, right? So for example, in both cases, right, Google AdWords, or Bing, or Facebook, or Amazon sponsored ads, you know we’re familiar with display advertising. You know, format is pretty much the same, as well as, you know, text ads. So if we look at it from a format perspective, then, you know, it’s pretty much similar, right, when it comes to the way we build ads, like starting with a campaign, ad groups, and then, you know, looking it down all the way to keywords.

However, when we look at objectives that’s when things are really a bit different. So for example, on Amazon.com the main goal is to drive sales to your product. And so when you look at Google or Facebook instead there are so many different objectives. You can set it for your goals, for example, or it could be an email capture or, you know, an account creation. Or if you’re an e-commerce store obviously a sale, a purchase. So these platforms are similar in certain ways and completely different in others. So it really depends on how you look at it.

CAMERON YODER:
So really when it comes down to the primary differences Amazon is very focused, right? Like Amazon, the goal of sponsored ads on Amazon is just kind of one; there’s like basically one goal, and it’s to drive sales to your product. At least that’s one of the primary goals, right?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, and that comes, you know, because of the, obviously the intent of the user on the platform. It’s a different kind of intent. When you’re on Google.com you’re, it’s kind of, you’re looking for information. You’re still in the shopping process. You’re looking for something. You’re, you know, gathering information around the web, and then eventually you make your decision. When you go on Amazon.com you’re ready to purchase. You probably already have your credit card on the desk ready to be, you know, typed in – the card, right, the checkout page. So over there you’re going to be really – do your best to make sure that your product is in front of these people. And so sponsored ads help you with that specific goal, right?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, and that makes sense. People go to Amazon. If you’re searching in Amazon, like the search engine of Amazon, you’re intending to buy something off of Amazon.

LEO SGOVIO:
Correct.

CAMERON YODER:
If you’re searching in Google you’re searching for a large number of different things. It could be to buy something, but it could be just for like, for another piece of information.

LEO SGOVIO:
Correct. And you can see like the conversion rate, for example. It’s a good metric when it comes to, you know, understanding the difference between the two different platforms. Usually an e-commerce site, Shopify or WooCommerce, as a – in a good case scenario, like the average, let’s say, conversion rate is probably like 3%, 4%, sometimes lower, like say in the travel space I’ve seen is 0.8%. And on Amazon I personally aim for at least 25%. So it’s a huge difference there, right? So obviously user intent is, you know, where the conversion rate comes from, right?

CAMERON YODER:
Of course. So okay, in your mind, in your experience using sponsored ads on Amazon specifically, is it – is using sponsored ads more focused on making a profit or gaining something like keyword ranking, or a little bit of both?

LEO SGOVIO:
Well, yeah, I’d say little bit of both. I mean there are different goals that are usually set when I use sponsored ads. The main one is obviously to generate more profit, and I’ll explain that in more detail. Let’s say if I’m just launching a product and want to start generating awareness toward my brand or build sales history, which is very important for a brand-new product, then I don’t care much about profits. As long as I can break even my numbers look good based on the analysis that I’ve done prior to my launch. Then I’m fine with, you know, like breaking even, even losing maybe a few cents, a dollar. But my goal at that point is to generate, to build my sales history so that Amazon, you know, falls in love with my product because eventually it’s going to make money. So once I’m comfortable with these numbers I took the listing first of all to get a good conversion rate. And so when we look at using sponsored ads for rankings, it’s a little bit of a different strategy. But yeah, both – like I use it for both reasons. One is obviously to drive rankings. The other one is for profits.

CAMERON YODER:
So kind of the baseline, bottom-line goal of sponsored ads really, like we said before, is to drive a sale. But in that, that purpose and that primary goal kind of splits into two things. You can use those sponsored ads to either drive a sale or promote keyword ranking, really. Like it’s kind of twofold. So Leo, can you describe for us then, can you even expand a little bit more on advice you’d give when it comes to increasing ranking using sponsored ads?

LEO SGOVIO:
Sure. So the first thing I do when I start with a brand-new product, for instance, is launching ad campaign and set it on automatic targeting, which means that Amazon targets your ads to all relevant customer searches based on your product information. So if my product is in a highly competitive niche, which means that the search volume is high, obviously, I wait let’s say 4 to 7 days and then I download the report that shows me the customer search terms and the keywords that resulted in clicks on my ads.

CAMERON YODER:
You said you do that first, right? That’s like one of the first things you do?

LEO SGOVIO:
I actually, yeah, that’s one of the first things I do because I want to make sure that whatever I’m doing after makes sense, right, like I’m targeting the right keywords. And so at this point I know what consumers are searching for rather than just relying on you know, a guess, or I see how there through other tools. And I first tweak and optimize my listing to ensure that those keywords are included in the key section of my listing. For example, the title, the description, bullet point. This is very important because if I’m targeting something out through a launch, for example, either way or sponsored ads and my listing is not optimized, I don’t think I’m going to get as, you know, results as good as otherwise, right, if my listing was optimized for this keyword.

And so once I make sure that I have the right keywords in the listing I then create campaigns targeting these specific keywords using exact match and phrase match only. Then I look at the report. Usually if I have time I look at the report, you know, on a daily basis, maybe every two days. I just want to make sure that the campaigns are performing well. I look in my [unintelligible], and if it makes sense for me then I keep running these campaigns, or I tweak. So ideally this process lasts about a month, and during this month I try to build campaigns very targeted. So with my experience with, for example, Google AdWords, Google also, when you add a very thin campaign, a campaign, very tight so the name of your campaign, ad groups, what you are targeting in terms of keywords, as well as the ad copy. So I try to use the same practice, same guidelines on Amazon as well. And so I end up with a campaign that only has exact match keywords because those ones are clearly [unintelligible] and usually the CPC is pretty low, and then I go and use one for like phrase, phrases only. And then I keep an eye on this one because obviously it gives me a little bit more insight. It might be that search strengths change, or people are searching for the product in different ways because maybe a press release came out, or someone is advertising the product in a different way, and so people go on Amazon and search for it. So I try and go and discover these new keywords within this report.

But again, it’s very important that, you know, the listing is obviously, you know, it keeps optimizing it so that eventually Amazon grabs these keywords from your listing and ranks your product, especially if you have that automated campaign still running to gather data.

CAMERON YODER:
I think a lot of people get overwhelmed from this whole process. Like they see sponsored ads. If they’re not familiar with SEO they get overwhelmed easily, and then they just throw on an automatic campaign and then just leave that forever because it’s just easy to do. But I really like your process. And correct me if I’m wrong, but there were like maybe like three steps with it, -ish, maybe four. So run the automatic campaign, get the primary keywords, change your listing to match the most, like the best keywords, or at least use that as part of that process, and then run specific kind of targeted sponsored ads and then reevaluate consistently?

LEO SGOVIO:
Correct, correct.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that’s – and you’ve found that process to be just very effective?

LEO SGOVIO:
It is, yeah. It is. It’s like you said, just four simple steps. Like find, optimize, tweak and scale.

CAMERON YODER:
Yep. And that’s very easy to digest, and I, for our listeners I think that’s so valuable. Again, just to map it out and to make it less complicated, that’s great. So you’ve touched on this already a little bit, but when talking about looking up specific keywords you mentioned using auto campaigns. Again, that was like the first step that you mentioned, but is there any other way or any other thing that you would recommend for sellers to really dig into which keywords they should select to optimize sponsored ads or just there listing in general?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, so this is my perspective on things, but I believe that automatic targeting campaigns are one of the best ways to start because you’re buying data straight from Amazon rather than relying on tools that might not give you accurate results. And so you really see what users are searching, and this is also very good practice when you’re starting a Shopify site or an e-commerce site. Usually you build a campaign in AdWords with a broad match, and you just, well, you’re wasting money. You’re just throwing money outside the window, and that’s fine because you’re just buying data from that source. So it’s the best way to know exactly what people are buying. And so you have now a good set of keywords to go after.

However, if I’m just getting an idea of what people search, I usually – I do these, and I’ve shared with some people a couple of times, and I’m hoping that those that are listening will start adopting this method. What I do, I usually scan my competitor’s listing why I keep this Chrome extension open. It’s called SEOquake. This extension was initially used for, or was an SEO extension, was just, you know, built to understand what the page was optimized for and calculate the keyword density within the page. And so I use this extension to show me what are the keywords that this specific competitor, let’s say the top 50, are going after. So the SEOquake, once I click on a link, sorry, a page analysis, it’s going to show me a list of keywords. And then I can filter by two-keyword phrase, three-keyword phrase, four-keyword phrase [unintelligible] keywords. And it will sort them by keyword frequency. So it’s basically like a density score.

And so it gives me a good overview. It’s like okay, if this user, this seller is optimizing for this keyword it means that it’s probably working for him, right? It’s probably ranking well, and so I should also keep an eye on this keyword. And then what I do, I combine in Excel all the keywords I find using SEOquake, the keywords I have from the automatic targeting campaigns, and then some keywords – I also use the Google keyword tool to get an idea on, you know, what people search on Google because it’s very important considering that these days Google is still the homepage of any website out there, and every search starts on Google. And then my secret weapon, it’s actually the AMS person campaign builder, like the campaign builder, because what I do, the way I use it, I create just a fake campaign. I never launch it. But what you could do there, you just create a new campaign and, you know, ad group and then with AMS you have the option to actually advertise any product, not only yours. And so you can now select a competitor’s product, and Amazon is going to give you suggested keywords based on that product. And I thought that was amazing, right, because I get keywords straight from Amazon without really relying on anything else that I don’t know data.

CAMERON YODER:
So you create a campaign for a competitor’s product, and you don’t start – did you say you start the campaign or you don’t start it, you just –?

LEO SGOVIO:
No, I never start it. I delete it after. I just download the keywords that Amazon is giving me, and then I delete that campaign. I don’t need this. It’s just for me to see okay, this is what Amazon thinks are really good keywords.

CAMERON YODER:
Gotcha. Okay, wow. Shoot, I actually have not heard of that before. That’s great. And you found success from that so far, at least mixing that with other things?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, of course.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that’s great. And so jumping back to the other tool, the other tool that you mentioned was SEOquake, and I think the principle – I don’t think people are very familiar with the principle of what that’s doing, or at least with the idea behind something like keyword density that you mentioned. So in this case what this is doing, or one aspect of SEOquake with Amazon is it’s pulling – it’s basically kind of a – you put in a search term like fish oil, and then it searches for keyword density, which in this case means which keywords are being used frequently across each listing, right? And then it’s giving you that information.

LEO SGOVIO:
Well, kind of. Like so if you search for fish oil on Amazon, then what you will do, you will click on each one of the results, and once you are on the listing, then you will click on this chrome extension, SEOquake, and then it will analyze that page and give you a result of all the keywords that have been used in that page and score them by, like score them by frequency, right, or density. And so the ones that are obviously at the top, maybe if you look at one keyword phrase or the two keyword phrase you might find words like “buy now” or these things that don’t really matter because they appear on every page. But as you go down to like the third and fourth result, now you see like some pretty cool keywords, like for example fish oil, right? And then you get a 4%, 5% density. So this is now – I don’t want to go off topic, but it’s very super important for SEO, for example, we can have another podcast about it, but what I do usually, I analyze each keyword, each listing, and I see that on average each one is optimizing this listing with a let’s say 4% density, right? And so when I build my listing I try to match that or go a little bit higher so that when the Amazon bots go and crawl my page, consider mine as relevant as theirs, if not more, right? So that’s obviously now going into optimizing listing, but that’s what I use also the tool for.

CAMERON YODER:
Gotcha. And that’s very relevant. I think that’s something that not a lot of people are familiar with, so that’s great. I’m going to switch up topics just a little bit, just to keep things moving. But when it comes to cost, that’s one thing that a lot of sellers ask is oh, how much should I be spending on my sponsored ads, which I’m sure depends a which ads you’re running. But do you have any just general advice on costs that people should be spending or where people should cap themselves at, anything along those lines?

LEO SGOVIO:
Yeah, I actually have a really simple formula that helps to calculate the cost, and obviously it’s focused on ROI. But the formula is pretty simple. What I do, I look at my organic conversion rate. So for example, if my listing is converting at 30%, and then I look at the selling costs, so how much is this product costing me after all the FBA fees and the margin that Amazon is making, the referral fees. So by dividing that, right, by the conversion rate, you get your break even ACoS. So by making the calculation you get, okay, in order to break even my ACoS should be, let’s say, 10%. And so once you have that you know your organic conversion rate and the selling price, now you calculate your recommended default bid.

And now you obviously base your budget on that, right? Like if you cannot afford to spend more than $0.50 because now you’re going to lose money, then go below that. And so I usually calculate that default bid just before starting so I know that, and you know, in this case I’m breaking even. And then I tweak my campaigns as I go. So I launch, you know, like a bunch of different campaigns. The budget is obviously based on how much you can afford to spend. But at least you know that worst-case scenario you’re not losing money; you’re breaking even, unless you’re willing to lose money, for example, doing maybe just a ranking campaign but you don’t care about making money; you just want the product to end up on page 1. And so that’s usually what I do. It’s pretty simple, and I think it would be really beneficial for the listeners.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that’s really good. And there may not be another answer to this. I just want to kind of jump back to automatic campaigns. So automatic campaigns can be good for finding your initial keyword list, right? But are there any other things that people should use automatic campaigns for, or should they just kind of stay away from them once they get more advanced? Like you said before, it was kind of that first step in your process for optimizing sponsored ads and listing and everything. But is there any other place for automatic campaigns, or not necessarily?

LEO SGOVIO:
So I think the main goal of an automatic campaign is to give you that initial set of keywords, kind of like understanding of what people look for when buying, looking for your product. However, obviously once you get familiar with the sponsored ads and become more experienced with the platform I will suggest to, you know, keep automatic campaigns running with huge budgets. Most likely you’re going to waste a lot out of it but however, I still have some catchall campaigns that I’m usually running on automatic targeting, and those ones, usually what I do, I lower my bid so I won’t be more than let’s say $0.10, $0.15, and they turn out to be pretty profitable, to be honest with you. So yeah, I usually just keep a catchall one after I’m done with, you know, the optimization scaling process, and these ones will just catch everything else that I’m not covering in my targeted ones.

CAMERON YODER:
Yep. So once a campaign is, I guess, successful in your mind, in your eyes, once a product is converted organically for a keyword that you’re targeting through sponsored ads, what generally would you say is the next step, just to kind of lower everything down and keep on going or to just keep an eye on everything? Like where – what is the next step from that point on?

LEO SGOVIO:
Well, if you’ve identified some good profitable campaigns I would scale the budget as much as I could. I mean as long as you are making money I would just feed the beast, right? Traffic on Amazon, like is there. Like people are searching for your product. So why leave that, you know, food on the table for somebody else to eat it? And yeah, like I would still try to look for other low-hanging fruit. So what I usually do, for example, one of my best practices with not only like with sponsored ads I only go and target, for example, my competitors with display ads, right? It does work extremely well for me when I target some related products, not necessarily my competitors. Obviously I get some good results when I target a specific competitor, they’re selling the same product and I know I have better and more reviews than them. So it’s pretty easy to win that customer. But it’s also very profitable for me when I go and look at for example, I’m selling, I don’t know, a face cream and someone is going to buy something related to it, maybe like a face brush or something to like related anyway, but not necessarily my direct competitor. And that works really well for me. There is a tool that shows you, for example, the frequently bought together. It’s called YASIV, y-a-s-i-v.com, yasiv.com. It shows you all the combination of like it’s a graph that pretty much maps all the frequently bought together. And that’s a good way to target your competitors and non with display ads. Those tend to do really well, and what I do is – I’m giving away a tip here as well – I usually target one competitor at a time per campaign. And this way it’s easier for me to see which one is winning, and then I just pause anything that is below like, you know, like 10% ACoS. And like you know, ended up with like 1500 winning campaigns.

CAMERON YODER:
So this is a – I know it’s a relevant question, but it’s a little bit out there, as well. How much time do you think people should be spending on sponsored ads and optimization, just optimizing the ads that they’re running, the campaigns that they’re running or starting new ones? How much time should people be spending on this?

LEO SGOVIO:
I would say obviously at the beginning you need more time than later on when you’re product has really been selling organically. But I would say probably I think a couple of hours a week, like two, three hours a week is plenty. You don’t need to, like the first week just to set everything up, and then maybe the second week, you know, it goes down to two just to, you know, go through the reports and make sure that everything is optimized. Maybe even one hour is enough. It doesn’t take really a long time unless you have, you know, a lot of products. Then it’s a different story. Maybe I will use a service for that. But I wouldn’t, like personally, I don’t spend a lot of time on building and managing campaigns.

CAMERON YODER:
And I guess it takes time. Like you said, it’s going to take more time at the beginning.

LEO SGOVIO:
Of course, yes.

CAMERON YODER:
Especially if you’re not familiar with how sponsored ads work, or SEO, or practices in general, like that. But once you learn all of that, really I’m assuming it just becomes easy to kind of just press play and go and spend a couple hours here and there a week, optimizing everything.

LEO SGOVIO:
Correct, yeah.

CAMERON YODE:
So I mean you’ve given a lot of really cool hacks and tips so far, especially like yasiv.com and the other tool that was called – what was the other tool called, the chrome extension?

LEO SGOVIO:
SEOquake?

CAMERON YODER:
Yes, SEOquake. But are there any other just general hacks, tips or tricks that you would recommend for people when it comes to sponsored ads?

LEO SGOVIO:
With sponsored ads, to be honest, it isn’t – like it’s a straightforward process and platform. So there are no really hacks that you can adopt so that, you know, your sales go up. I mean it really comes down to how smart you are and how, you know, like if you think outside of the box, okay. Really like what I find really effective is the kind of wording I use in my headlines, for example, or my, you know, like display ads. I try to trigger some sort of interest in like, so playing with the customers’ emotion, and then that usually gives me a higher click through rate, which means, you know, lower CPC. And that applies to all the different, apart from including, you know, Facebook, or Google, or Bing, if you play with a good ad run you usually tend to perform much better. What I would suggest as a good tip is to, you know, build different variations of your ad, not only one, because one of them most likely is going to outperform the other ones. And so I think that’s super valuable.

CAMERON YODER:
So essentially split test the ads you’re running?

LEO SGOVIO:
Exactly, yes.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, Leo, thank you so much for being on the show. Thank you so much for everything you do, for all your information. Really, there’s so much value, I think, and in the space that a lot of people get overwhelmed by. Leo, again, thank you so much. Really it was a blast having you on the show.

LEO SGOVIO:
Thank you, guys.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, that is all for this week. Thank you all for joining us on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information about how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and also check us out on YouTube. I have a series of product discovery walk-throughs up on our channel that will really help you understand how to leverage the tool. And if you want to check it out, just search “Viral Launch” on YouTube. Go to our page and look for my face. So if you’re listening on iTunes and you like what you hear, don’t forget to leave a review and rate the show. You can also leave feedback on our Facebook page or tweet at us @viral_launch. Use the hashtag #VLFollowtheData.

And if you have a seller friend who you think would appreciate the show, tag them in your post and send them our way. We want to really be a great resource for sellers and the information source in this space. So please tell your friends. Tell your family. Spread the word, and share the show. And thank you all again so much for listening. And as always, if you want to be featured on the show, or if you have an Amazon-related question, or in conjunction with today’s episode, if you have a question for Leo or another idea for an episode, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

5 Tips for Product Photography from Viral Launch Lead Photographer Dustin Kessler (Follow the Data Ep. 21)

Having high-quality images of your product is integral to your success on Amazon. Photos can make or break your sales, especially in the age of Amazon where the primary indication of what your product is like comes from your photos. Join host Cameron Yoder for a conversation with Lead Viral Launch Photographer Dustin Kessler where he reveals 5 tips for creating better Amazon photos. 

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
To click or not to click, that is the question. Really, though, that’s the question that shoppers are asking themselves as they scroll through Amazon search results. And one of their main considerations as their eyes quickly pass over the page is product photography. Having high-quality images of your product is integral to your success on Amazon, encouraging shoppers to click and convincing them to purchase. Photos can make or break your sales, especially in the age of Amazon where the primary indication of what your product is like comes from your photos.

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 photographer, Dustin Kessler, to talk about the best practices for product photography, what to do, what not to do and why a professional photographer is worth the investment. Let’s jump in.
Dustin, how are you doing today?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I’m doing pretty good. It’s a Friday, and we’re killing at the office, getting a lot of stuff done. Excited to be here.

CAMERON YODER:
Dustin is excited to be here. We are killing at the office. We’re in a time of transition right now. We’re actually doing some construction on the office, opening up the space a little bit as our team continues to grow.

So Dustin, I want to introduce Dustin a little bit, and then I’m going to have him talk about himself just a little bit, too, but Dustin is our lead photographer at Viral Launch, and he has over a decade of experience in commercial photography specifically. And he’s worked with clients ranging from local coffee shops to Fortune 500 companies like Samsung and Walmart. It’s pretty crazy. He’s also done a ton of product photography with Amazon and Viral Launch specifically. So Dustin, maybe intro yourself a little bit. Also maybe answer first how many products do you think you’ve shot for Amazon specifically?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
For Amazon specifically I would probably say – I mean it’s definitely in the hundreds if not more than that, but I kind of – you know, I got into photography over 10 years ago now, just kind of picked it up as a hobby, really, really enjoyed it, started doing a lot of research. I’m the type of person when I get into something I really just like throw my entire self into it and learn as much as I can. So I picked it up in high school, ended up going to college for it, and about halfway through college I fell in love with just the idea of commercial photography, of telling a story through a scene, a product, lifestyle from the automotive field, to product, to fashion, whatever it was, just that entire commercial realm is kind of what I fell in love with. So it’s been a really interesting journey since then. I’ve done a lot of different things from, you know, just local coffee shops, helping them grow and helping them, you know, have this visual presence in this digital age, whether it’s through social media, or ad campaigns, email campaigns, anything like that, to working with, you know, huge Fortune 500 companies like Samsung and Walmart and others just to name a few. But it’s been a great journey, and I’m excited to be at Viral Launch, and we’ve done a lot of great things for a lot of great people. So looking forward to continuing that.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I think one thing that a lot of people forget, especially in this space – well, a lot of people kind of forget to, number one, get a hold of fantastic photos.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Sure.

CAMERON YODER:
But also the importance of telling a story with photos is something that not a lot of people know of, and that’s something that – I mean you, you are really passionate about, but it’s something that is hard for people in, I think that are selling on Amazon, to really see. And so today I’m really excited to kind of just pick Dustin’s brain for all of our listeners when it comes to photography specifically on Amazon because this is a space that’s really important. It’s something that’s going to capture your audience’s attention first on Amazon, one of the first things that they see. So Dustin, if you could, maybe break down a handful of tips that you have for us. What would be maybe one of your first tips that you would tell people, that you would tell our audience when it comes to photography on Amazon?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
So with Amazon, you know, you don’t have a physical product in front of you, right? You only see – you only see what the seller is showing you through their listing, whether it’s your photos or it’s your text, whatever it is. So you don’t have that product in front of you. You can’t have it in your hands. You can’t have that like tactile like oh, this is what the product is, right? So the biggest thing when it comes to e-commerce photography, and in this case Amazon photography specifically, is you have to be able to tell a story with your product, right? You have to be able to show your product in a way that makes people relate to it, makes people think oh yeah, I can definitely see that product in my house. I can see that product in my life being used for whatever purposes I decide to use it for. And you know, if you have – if you just have that main image, that main studio white background image, yeah, it could be the nicest main image in the world, but if you have nothing to follow it up with, you know, what story is that telling people? What is that relating to people? It’s just saying hey, here’s a product, right?

CAMERON YODER:
So that story then, that story is what evokes an emotional response, right? So the whole – this kind of falls into the idea that your photography should evoke an emotional response from a customer looking at your photos. And so is that accomplished then by the story, essentially?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I would definitely say so. You know, there’s that phrase that a picture says a thousand words. When it comes to product photography and telling a story through your product it’s not as much you as the seller saying these thousand words. You want your photos to say that. You want your photos to develop the story of their own and evoke that emotional response within the potential buyers because each buyer is going to be different. They’re going to look at the same products and the same story that you present, but if it doesn’t tell the story of your product well enough it’s not going to relate with them.

CAMERON YODER:
I do – I want to focus on this a lot because I think this is maybe – this is a very important aspect of product photography on Amazon. Could you give us – I see maybe listeners asking, okay, or telling themselves hey, okay, now I know that I should tell a story with my product, but can you give us like a comparable example of what that would be just for any random, like any random product on Amazon, what would telling a story for something like, I don’t know, oven mitts or like a grill brush look like?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
So we’ll take – we’ll take like the grill brush, for an example. You – per Amazon’s terms of service obviously you have to have a white background image as your main image, and at the end of the day there’s only so many ways that you can, you know, that you can slice that cake for the main image. You can pose it different ways, try to fill up as much of the frame, have like a badge on there, even though that’s a whole other, that’s a whole other story in itself. But there’s only so many ways that you can do that main hero image. But if you light it correctly, make sure it’s good, the product is in focus, like those are the main pillars for that main image. But then once you get into that story itself with those images with this grill brush, like there are so many different ways that you can use this product, right? Whether it’s, you know, getting flavor onto chicken as its grilling, or a burger, or a steak, whatever you’re using on the grill. Like there’s so many different ways that you can use it, and being able to tell that story of those uses is really important. But you also have to remember other aspects of the product. Is it dishwasher safe? Is it, you know, is there a certain temperature of liquid, stuff like that, where most people when they’re just taking a picture of their product they’re like okay, I’m going to take a picture of the product out of the box, in the box and then maybe next to a grill, right? There are so many different ways that you can show that product in use and tell that visual story.

CAMERON YODER:
Do you think there’s a – is there a benefit to telling that story through like a linear progression of how it’s used, so like oh, you open up the grill, like you put the grill brush in the grill, you wash the grill brush after, whatever? What do you think; is there a method to having a linear progression, or not necessarily?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I think there’s definitely a lot to say for having that linear method of photos. That’s one thing that we do for our clients specifically is when we send them out a photo set, a completed photo set, we generally try to lay out the photos in what the best story that we feel would look like. And you know, say hey, upload these photos in this order and see what your conversions are like in this way. At the end of the day it’s each person’s prerogative whether or not they put it in that order. I think there is something to be said for that story, though, in that order because it, you know, it shows somebody something from start to finish.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
It’s like reading a visual book where you open page one, and you’re like okay this is the product. Open page two, this is where you start using the product. And by the end you see the entire progression of that story.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. So okay, tip number one, tell a story. What about, what’s another tip?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I would say something that a lot of people don’t necessarily think about, and this may just be because people aren’t trained to think this way, is correctly lighting your product. There’s a lot – there’s a lot that goes into photographing products so features stick out, but also making sure that just the product overall looks very appealing. You can have a beautiful looking product, but if you shoot it and light it incorrectly it could look really boring. It could look – the image can look really flat. There could be, you know, no emotion evoked from that image, and that’s not something you want to do. Another thing that like in this digital age that we see people doing is the convenience of having cell phones with pretty good cameras, honestly, is both a blessing and a curse. But in the Amazon space I would go with the latter because you can take a photo of your product on your phone. It will look great, you know, it will look nice and crisp and bright, but that’s on your phone. Once you get it on to Amazon and you put it next to professional photographs, you know, maybe your background isn’t completely white. Maybe it doesn’t stick out as much. Maybe it isn’t quite as in focus as you thought. So there’s these things that are convenient for everyday life that aren’t necessarily convenient for product photography on Amazon. Because if you have a cell phone photo next to a professional photograph you’re going to tell a difference.

CAMERON YODER:
Oh yeah, absolutely.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Especially with the white background photos.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s say someone – let’s say someone listening bought, like just bought a starter kit, like a photography lighting starter kit. So they have maybe a handful of semi-good, semi-good equipment to use for product photography, but they’re not the best, maybe the most professional photographer, but they have good, like decent lighting equipment. What’s a really simple recommendation that you would give them on how to really just enhance or make the most of simple lighting equipment?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
So generally most like photography studio starter kits are a white like backdrop box, which most of the time we call a lightbox in the industry, two to three lights that they can set up, and obviously whatever camera they’re using, right? So that’s generally the starter package for when people buy like basic studio equipment. I would say YouTube is your best friend, especially if you’re the type of person that you’re eager to learn, you’re willing to do and put the work in that is required to learn these things to better your Amazon business. YouTube is definitely your friend. Look up lighting tutorials and stuff like that for product photography specifically because there’s going to be a difference between, you know, lighting a portrait and then lighting a bottle, right? It’s just going to look completely different. So I would definitely suggest people, you know, jump on YouTube. Go spend 30 minutes a day and learn because at the end of the day learning more stuff is not a bad thing.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right. That’s right. Well, okay, what about, what’s another general tip that you would give everybody?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
So this is a tip that I think a lot of people kind of overlook, and it is don’t overload all of your images with text and graphics. This is something that we see sellers doing all the time on Amazon, whether it’s on your main image, which if you put text and graphics on your main image you run the possibility of getting it flagged and taken down. Obviously nobody wants that. But just in general, in the rest of your photo stack on Amazon having so many words and all this text and all these graphics and callouts, like for some products it’s beneficial, but that’s the minority of products. At the end of the day your photos should speak for themselves.

CAMERON YODER:
Where is the line? What is too much?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I think too much is when you’re trying to basically copy every single one of your bullet points and put it on all of your photos, and I think that a lot of people try to do that. They try to condense their bullet points into – or don’t, or just literally copy their bullet points and put it on the photos. Or for like a mop with, you know, a telescoping handle, you don’t necessarily need to show a photo that has six additional detail photos of how to turn the handle. It’s pretty intuitive, right?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, it is.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
And there’s always – there’s always room for putting that text and putting those extra graphics on like a card that you put in the box. That’s how a lot of instruction manuals in most products in retail stores or companies that have been doing products for, you know, 40, 50 years, they have instruction manuals for a reason. You don’t necessarily have to have an instruction manual in your photo stack, and a lot of people get hung up on trying to explain so much about their product when 99% of people are going to be able to figure it out on their own. And it distracts from the image, and it gives you less room to tell that story and evoke that emotional response like we talked about at the beginning. And if you are not evoking that emotional response right away you’ve already lost that person. You only have a couple seconds to effectively communicate what your product is and what it’s about and really relate to that person. And if it’s – you know, if somebody’s looking at a photo and they’re not sure where to look because there’s text everywhere, you’ve already lost their interest.

CAMERON YODER:
This is one specific area that I think a large majority of sellers on Amazon that have graphics fall into, text or graphics overlaying in images, fall into the category of it being a bit much, right, of it being too much.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Absolutely.

CAMERON YODER:
So if you’re going to include text or graphics in your images I would really encourage you to be really intentional about it. Ask yourself if you need that text or if you need that graphic. Again, it can work really well, but since most sellers seem to fall in the latter category of it being a bit much I would really be careful with how you use it.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
And I would recommend like – some of the text and graphics that I see as beneficial are actually things that don’t necessarily relate to the product specifically, but more the seller in the sense of okay, if you have a product in a market that you see competitors with reviews about getting, about products being returned because of, you know, an issue or a defect or something like that and it seems to be a consistent trend, if you’re going to make it your company policy to have, you know, a moneyback guarantee maybe throw that up there as a graphic on one of your photos in your stack. Things like that I can see being beneficial, but trying to take your entire listing and throw it on your product in the graphics just, it looks tacky, and it looks like an ad, and it doesn’t evoke an emotional response at all.

CAMERON YODER:
All right. What’s tip number four?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
You get what you pay for. Quality is definitely worth the money. You can look up plenty of examples of, you know, big Fortune 500 companies skimping out on photographs. They’ll just hire, you know, somebody with a camera. They won’t do their homework on them. They won’t set a standard for what is worth the money and what isn’t. And it starts to go down a very slippery slope of who can I pay the cheapest amount of money just to get photos done.

CAMERON YODER:
What would your vetting process be? What would your vetting process – let’s say you’re not spending – let’s say you want to save money and you don’t want to spend an absurd amount of money on a professional photographer, but you still want really good quality. What would your vetting process be for good photographers?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Definitely the way that people present themselves. Do your homework. That’s the biggest thing. Do your homework and shop around. If you go to a photographer’s website and you see some photos that you really like, do you think it can translate into your product? That’s a big thing of okay, I found this incredible wedding photographer. She’s awesome, or maybe it’s a person that shot your wedding. Photos turned out amazing, but there’s no way that they could, you know, translate that into photography for your specific product. So definitely look for people that are well versed with product photography. It’s worth the time to do your homework and shop around because if you just hire any photographer they could be great in one area but not great for your product.

CAMERON YODER:
Really like if you have – if your goal is to increase your sales and you have just bad photos it’s not going to happen, right?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Right, exactly.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
And then you’re going to be, you know, you’re going to have paid for the service. You’re going to have paid for these photos, and you’re not going to improve your business at all. So it’s worth the time to wait a little bit to find the right photos or the right photographer, I should say, than just paying somebody to do your photos because you’re essentially losing money at that point. Photography is an investment.

CAMERON YODER:
Yes.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
And if you’re going to put money into an investment you want to make sure that you have the most probability to win at the end of the day.

CAMERON YODER:
I like to think of it like this. Think about how you’re paying for photos one time. It’s not a subscription. It’s not anything like that. It’s a single payment, and sure, it might be an initial upfront investment for you. However, think about how much more money you’re going to make after the fact you have these photos in hand, and customers seeing these professional photos done, think of how many more customers are going to buy your product because of those photos. It’s an upfront investment, but it’s going to make you so much more money and save you so much more time than the alternative, which is not having professional photos done. So tip number four, quality photos. Do you have anything else you wanted to add to that?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
To that, just kind of to make an example I guess for a lot of people listening, kind of going to bring back that wedding photography. A lot of people have experience with wedding photography in the sense that either they know somebody that’s had wedding photography done, they’ve had it done themselves, whichever it is. If you hire a really good wedding photographer the images that you get back you’re going to remember forever. If you hire a not so great wedding photographer and the images you get back are subpar, you’re going to remember your day. You’re not going to remember the photos. And it’s the same with product photography. If you hire somebody just to take photos of your product, potential buyers, they’ll click on it, and then they’re going to forget the image. If you hire somebody who knows what they’re doing and can tell an emotional story with your product and elicit that response, those people are going to remember that photo, which means they’re going to remember your product. So kind of to draw all back to that, like quality is worth the money, especially to make sure people remember who you are.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. What about, what’s your next tip? What’s the last tip you have?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Brand perception can go a really, really long way with photos. Just a visual, just a visual overall, whether it’s photos or package design when somebody opens up a box, they’re very similar in the sense that you can really kind of put yourself on a pedestal as opposed to just on a shelf with everybody else. You can spend that initial investment, get those great photos, make people perceive that your product is really, really good. But if you don’t invest that money and that time into finding somebody that’s worthwhile to hire to do your photos, your brand perception is going to definitely hurt from that. And you can make yourself look really, really good, or you can make yourself look really, really bad. Like I said before, you could have the most beautiful, high-quality product on Amazon, but if you have terrible photos of it people are going to think it’s a terrible product.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. Perception of brand bleeds into perception of product, right? It’s all connected. What is the takeaway from all of this? From these five tips, what is a big takeaway for people?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Hire a professional. If your engine needs to be replaced and you know nothing about cars you’re going to take it to a mechanic. If you need photos and you’re not a professional photographer or you’re not super excited about learning how to become a professional or at least put yourself at a professional level, hire a professional. It will save you so much time and money. It will save you credibility with your product, and it will give you a much better brand perception.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s really good. Five tips – five tips that really encompass, I think, again what Dustin said, the importance of photography and the importance to really hire a professional, but not only a professional, but a good professional when it comes to product photography specifically. So Dustin, can you actually – a couple more things. Can you touch on how your work with larger companies, like we said in the intro, with something like companies like Samsung and Walmart, can you touch on how work with them has really helped your product photography with Amazon in the Amazon space?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
A lot of times that I’ve done larger gigs for, you know, Fortune 500 companies, these bigger clients that have this significantly larger budget, you start to look at all of these things that go on behind the scenes in the shoot, and you’re like okay, how can I kind of like roll this into my own process and make this a lot easier? So whether it’s a location scout, a talent scout, stylists, anything like that, those are all – you know, those are all separate positions on these big shoots whereas with us we condense that all into the people that we hire. So you know, we hire these photographers that can be their own stylists, can be their own location scouts, can be their own model scouts and talent scouts and find the best location, the best people to present products very well. And I think that’s something that’s been very big about – or very important, I should say, that I’ve learned from these larger shoots. And like don’t get me wrong; having a huge team of people sometimes is really fun. It takes a lot more stress off your shoulders, and you don’t have to worry about so many different pieces of the puzzle. But learning how to be able to do all of that on your own and trust yourself and trust your judgment I think is really, really important as a professional photographer. It gives you more credibility, and it gives your work more emotion, I think, at the end of the day.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that’s really good. I think that’s really good. That’s an important perspective to take, or to bring into the Amazon space specifically. It’s something that you can take other places, too, not just Amazon, but to others. So that’s really valuable. Can you – actually there is one more thing that I want to touch on. Can you touch on I think a lot of people either run into this or are in it without actually knowing it. But there are people that are married to their photos. Sometimes it’s really hard to actually see what’s wrong with something that you’ve created, right, because it’s yours. So how, how would you advise maybe breaking the perception of, or breaking someone away from being married to their photos if their photos aren’t the best? How can we work around this, people being married to their photos basically?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
Sure. You know, and I think everybody kind of goes through this when it comes to photography, whether you are a professional or a hobbyist or you, you know, you bought a photography starter kit and you’re taking photos of your product and, you know, you think they look really great. But then somebody comes in and says hey, actually these don’t show your product very well. These aren’t that good. They’re not well lit, whatever it is. People tend to – and not just hobbyists or anything like that. Professionals do it, too. People tend to put a lot of their emotion into photography, which is a good thing, but also if you don’t understand how to remove that emotion and remove yourself from your work any critique that could make you better is only going to make you more stuck in your ways.

You know, I had the blessing of being able to go through certain college courses that were really, really helpful in teaching critique and criticism and feedback. Not everybody has that, obviously, but the one thing I’ve learned from all of that is if you can step back and objectively look at all the criticism and feedback and suggestions and changes, even if you don’t implement any of it, if you can look at it as being helpful or look at it as a way that you can improve or just look at something differently, I think that’s the first step in creating better content. You know, there’s editors in fields for reasons because if you write, you know, you write something and then it just went straight to print, what if there’s typos? You know, that’s why editors exist. And with photography if you don’t have – if you’re just putting stuff out and you never have anybody look at it, check over it, and you don’t take feedback or criticism, you’re doing yourself and your potential customers a huge disservice.

One of the things we do here is, you know, every time a photo set is done and ready to go to a client we have at least two people do a quality control check on it. And if a coach sees it going out and is like hey, like this doesn’t look right, they’ll say something, too. And at the end of the day the goal is to effectively tell a story. I had an example for myself when I did my first magazine publication shoot. I was super excited. I was like yeah, my work’s going to get published in a magazine. That’s great. It was an automotive magazine. And I spent eight hours on this shoot, went home, uploaded all the photos, had a peer of mine that has always been kind of a mentor to me. I sent him these photos on Facebook. I was like hey, what do you think of these? I just finished it. This is for my first magazine. And I was like hey, how do these look? And he told me that they looked like trash, just straight up. He’s like look, I’m going to be blunt with you. These are not good. You should – I wouldn’t publish this. And yeah, it stung, but at the end of the day I knew that the goal was to publish really good content. So I rescheduled with the owner. We shot the car again. And it turned out to be probably one of my favorite shoots I’ve ever done. So being able to remove yourself from feedback and criticism, remove your emotions from your work is just, it goes so far.

CAMERON YODER:
I would really encourage people in this space to seek out criticism, to seek out someone to prove your photos wrong because really your goal should be to provide the best photos possible for the price range that you’re comfortable with. And I don’t know, seek out criticism. Well, Dustin, what is one thing that you want to leave our audience with?

DUSTIN KESSLER:
I think at the end of the day the thing that I would like to leave most people with is you get what you pay for. Just because somebody has a nice, fancy camera doesn’t mean that their photos are going to be amazing. So do your homework before you buy. Make sure that who you’re buying from for your photos is worth the money that you’re comfortable spending, and don’t be afraid to spend a little bit more to get that quality.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Dustin. There’s a lot of valuable information here for a lot of people on photography in general, but also photography when it comes to Amazon specifically. So thank you, Dustin, for being here.

DUSTIN KESSLER:
No problem. I enjoyed it.

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 that will help take your Amazon business to the next level subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. I’ve been working on a series of product discovery walk-throughs that show you how to really leverage the tool. Just search for Viral Launch on YouTube. Go to our page and look for my face in one of those videos. And if you’re listening on iTunes, please leave us a review and let us know what you think of the show. And if you know another seller who’s feeling lost in the Amazon information war out there, send them our way. 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. And as always, if you want to be featured on the show, have an Amazon related question or an idea for an episode, feel absolutely free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

3 Tips for Launching Your Next Product from Viral Launches Launch Director, Andrew Field (Follow the Data Ep. 20)

Viral Launch has long been known as a successful launch platform, pushing products up to Page One in just a number of days. But to get your product to the top and make it stick, there are a few things you need to have in place. Join host Cameron Yoder for a conversation with Viral Launch Launch Director and employee #1, Andrew Field where he reveals 3 tips for ensuring a successful launch. 

 

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

 

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Page 1, the coveted seat of Amazon’s top-selling products, the only place where shoppers are really looking or purchasing. If you want to sell well, you’ve got to get your product to Page 1. Viral Launch has long been known as a successful launch platform, pushing products up to Page 1 in just a number of days. But to get your product to the top and make it stick there are a few things that you need to have in place.

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 we sit down with our Launch Director, Andrew Field, to talk about the best practices when it comes to launching a product and the strategy behind it all. So launching is an incredibly effective method when it comes to keyword ranking on Amazon. And today we’re going to dive into Andrew’s perspective on the dos and the don’ts when it comes to launching. Let’s jump in.

All right, so Andrew, how are you doing today?

ANDREW FIELD:
I’m doing great, man. Thanks for asking.

CAMERON YODER:
Doing great. Awesome. That’s good to hear. So just to introduce Andrew a little bit, I want to introduce him just because, just to validate his perspective, basically. So Andrew, believe it or not – well, believe it because it’s true – Andrew was employee number one at Viral Launch. Andrew, what do you have to say about that?

ANDREW FIELD:
I mean it’s been crazy watching the company grow over the last almost three years, going from a team of just Casey and I to now 40+ people. It’s awesome.

CAMERON YODER:
Dang. Employee number one is not something that a lot of people can say, honestly. Like some people jump on early with a tech company or just a startup in general, but Andrew was literally the first employee, official employee of Viral Launch.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yes sir.

CAMERON YODER:
Which is insane. So he is our – he’s Viral Launch’s Launch Director. Also to just kind of say where Andrew started, Andrew started – well, Andrew, talk about where you started.

ANDREW FIELD:
So basically I started in kind of a customer service role. I was always scheduling launches, so any launch that comes in, someone submits a launch for X number of units over X number of days, I’ll review it, make sure everything works, make sure the URL is directing to the right product, just kind of oversee everything that goes into that launch.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, and you’ve overseen a lot.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, just over 31,000 now.

CAMERON YODER:
You’ve overseen over 31,000 launches. You’ve approved, personally approved –

ANDREW FIELD:
Roughly 25,000 of those, probably.

CAMERON YODER:
So personally approved roughly 20 – you said 20,000?

ANDREW FIELD:
25.

CAMERON YODER:
25,000 launches. So he’s worked with a lot of sellers, personally and through just Viral Launch’s system, to help get them to Page 1. So he’s seen a lot of what works and a lot of what doesn’t work when it comes to launching and ranking on Amazon. So he oversees our launch platform, and he’s just seen a large number of people pass through the system. And that is what we’re working with today. Andrew’s perspective is very valuable, and is something that I think a lot of listeners here can benefit from. So Andrew, just to kick it off, I’m sure many people are familiar with this, but could you just outline what a launch is?

ANDREW FIELD:
So basically the idea of a launch is to get your product to match or exceed the number of sales for listings on Page 1 for your targeted keyword. So for example, like if a product – you want to get your product raking on Page 1 for a keyword where the average number of sales is right around 1000, we’d recommend probably around 200 to 250 units over like 7 to 10 days. And the idea is to drive all of those discounted sales through the targeted keyword to get your product to match the sales history and sales volume for the listings that are ranking on Page 1 currently.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, so just to like put it into a good perspective, the definition that we’re using today of a launch and/or promotion is basically looking at the sales on Page 1 for a keyword and matching those sales through something like a launch to get you to Page 1 –

ANDREW FIELD:
Exactly.

CAMERON YODER:
– for that keyword. Okay. So can you break down – again, we’re going to get into more strategy as we move on, but can you break down just how a launch works from start to finish? You already talked about it a little bit, but just kind of break it down for everyone.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so it depends on if a seller works with a coach or not. Generally if a seller works with a coach their launch is successful. So we have the knowledge to look at a market and say okay, you need to give away this many units to get ranking for this keyword. Maybe we would notice that this keyword might not convert well for you, so you probably shouldn’t target that keyword. So it depends on the keyword you’re going after. So we would look at the market to see what kind of sales they are doing and then base a recommendation off of that.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, that’s good. So let’s talk about – let’s outline – I want to outline three strategy tips that you have for people. Just what would your three top tips for people be when it comes to running promotions or product launches?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so first thing you want to make sure you have a well-optimized listing. So if your copy is bad or your photos are bad, that listing is not going to convert well once it’s ranking on Page 1. You want to make sure you have a competitive price point. So if your listing is 35% higher than every listing on Page 1, you’re probably not going to convert that well.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

ANDREW FIELD:
And you also want to make sure that you’re targeting the best keywords. So kind of the best way to figure out what the best keyword is, is to do a lot of research. So you want to look at many different keywords that you would consider relevant and then see which products on Page 1 are most comparable to the listing that you have. So if you see a bunch of products on Page 1 that aren’t necessarily similar to your listing it’s likely that you won’t convert well for that keyword. And if you see a bunch of products on Page 1 that are very similar to your listing, those listings are obviously converting well for that keyword, so it’s likely that yours would as well.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. So let’s, so just to go over those three tips that you mentioned, that’s number one, you said optimize your listing. Number two, you said competitive – have a competitive price point, really. And number three was targeting the most effective keywords, right?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yep.

CAMERON YODER:
So let’s break down – let’s break down each of these. So number one, you talked about – and you went over it a little bit, but specifically when giving advice to people about optimizing their listing, like again, out of everyone that you’ve seen, what works well from the perspective of the seller that should be optimizing his or her listing?

ANDREW FIELD:
So first and foremost you want to make sure you have a great title. Keyword rich, still reads well, but is going to help you rank for as many relevant keywords as possible. Some of the data that we’ve seen – so somebody runs a launch that should work based on the number of units that we recommend. We do a reassessment and see that the targeted keyword was not in their title. That can cause them not to be able to rank for that keyword. They may be indexing, but they’re not getting the same ranking power as they would be if they had that keyword in their title.

CAMERON YODER:
Now what about – can you break down the importance of a title in a product’s copy compared to something like the bullets or the description?

ANDREW FIELD:
So the title is going to be your most important. That’s where you’re going to get the biggest bang for your buck. Your most important keywords you want to put towards the beginning of the title. The less important keywords you move towards the back. But your most relevant keywords are going to be all focused on in your title. That’s where you’re going to get the most ranking effect when running launches.

CAMERON YODER:
And in your perspective, again, just from what you’ve seen with data and with launches, is there any – should people just cram a bunch of primary keywords together in the title or string them together like masterfully to create a title that makes sense, or like where’s the fine line between that?

ANDREW FIELD:
So there’s a perfect balance that you want to find. You want to find a balance between sales-inducing copy and copy that will also help you rank. So having a professionally-written listing is key, someone that knows the science behind writing a listing.

CAMERON YODER:
What about photos? What advice on photos do you have?

ANDREW FIELD:
So you want to have a photo that will catch the eye, just based on the thumbnail. So you’re main photo is going to be the one that drives the most clicks to your listing. So yeah, you want to make sure that your listing stands out from the competition with excellent photos. Once you get into the listing you’ll notice a lot of competition on Amazon likely doesn’t have lifestyle photos. That’s something that you can really give a competitive advantage to your listing if you have really nice lifestyle images showing the product in use. It helps develop an emotional attachment between the potential buyer and the product itself.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. I think with this first point talking about optimizing your listing, I think a lot of people get, just get lost from the fact that a product launch can get you to Page 1, right? But if those creatives are not in place, like if your copy is not optimized, if your photos are not great, then yeah, you’re going to lunch on to Page 1, but you’re not going to be able to convert once you’re there.

ANDREW FIELD:
Right.

CAMERON YODER:
And the whole goal of a launch, at least for us, our perspective is our goal for you is to reach Page 1 for that, or those primary keywords that you’re targeting and then to stick there. And your best chance of doing that, like you were just talking about Andrew, is to really optimize your title, your copy, the rest of your copy, and your photos.

ANDREW FIELD:
And definitely price point.

CAMERON YODER:
And definitely price point, right, which is your second point actually. That’s a really good lead-in. So your second point was to make sure your price point is in line with competition. Can you break that down just what you generally recommend?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so I mean that kind of starts even before sourcing a product. So if you can only source this product and you have to sell it at a substantially higher amount than other listings on Page 1, you probably won’t be able to convert. You probably won’t be able to compete in that market moving forward. Amazon is a space where you have to have the best priced product. You need to present your product in a great way, but you also have to offer a good value to the customer. Since most products on Amazon are private label nobody really knows and has an attachment to a specific name brand, so price point is going to be a huge converting factor for you.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s what – and we talk about on the show all the time and in our videos and everything, the importance of really setting your goals before you even start the whole process of really sourcing anything because if you set your goals on what you want to make, then that will kind of determine the manufacturers that you choose or the products that you go after and the margins that you’re looking for.

ANDREW FIELD:
Exactly.

CAMERON YODER:
Because like you said, I mean if you can’t handle the margins or the price war, then – or if you get into a market that is an average of $20, right, and you’re trying to source a product that’s like $40 because it’s better –

ANDREW FIELD:
Right, it’s going to be very difficult to compete in that market.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Okay.

ANDREW FIELD:
Even if you have a well-optimized listing, good copy, good photos, if your price point is twice as high as everyone else, best of luck to you.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Let’s talk – let’s touch on the third point, your third point that you made, or the third tip, general tip. So you said make sure that you target the right keyword. I want you to – can you break down for us what you would really recommend when people are trying to find the best keywords to pick to rank for? What’s your advice when it comes to that?

ANDREW FIELD:
So yeah, I get that question all the time. Basically you want to look and see what other listings like yours are converting for. Even another way, just run like an automatic sponsored ads campaign. Let it run for 10 days. See what kind of conversion you get for these keywords. See how many impressions you get for this keyword. And find the one that performs the best. That’s typically going to be the best keyword for you to target with the launch.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay. Other than that, like what about – and we have Market Intelligence, right, which gives us access to like sales estimate data. Would you use that in that case?

ANDREW FIELD:
Right. Yeah, I mean to an extent. It’s almost difficult when you’re just looking at sales estimation data because you’re not sure which keywords those sales are being attributed from. Mostly it’s common sense. You can tell which keywords are going to be most relevant to your product. You can use tools like MerchantWords to find – I mean other sales estim- or search estimation data. But that’s not always all that accurate.

CAMERON YODER:
I really think people overthink the primary keywords where, again, there are always exceptions to this rule, but really chances are if you’re able to put yourself in the mind of a buyer or of someone who is buying your product, you’ll probably be able to narrow down maybe the top three primary keywords that you should at least look into with something like split testing.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, and as far as finding the primary keyword, I don’t think that’s really all that difficult. If you look at your competition you’ll generally see that the primary keyword for that market is going to be at the very beginning of most all of your competitors’ titles. So that’s an easy way to identify the primary keyword.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, to look at your competition and see what they’re driving. And again, that doesn’t always mean they’re picking the right one, but typically –

ANDREW FIELD:
Right. If you see most sellers in a market doing that, that’s generally meaning that that’s the primary keyword for the product, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right, that’s good. Okay, so those were the kind of three general strategy tips, but let’s break down just launch strategy in general even more. So Andrew, what would you say – what are some of the most important things that people should keep in mind before they do something like a launch?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so I mean we’ve already kind of touched on it, but make sure that your listing is well-optimized. You have to have great listing copy. You have to have great photos. You have to have a competitive price point. The question that people always ask is once I get to Page 1 will I stick? I think people are asking the wrong question, and the question should be, will I sell? Because what good is it if you stick on Page 1 if you don’t sell? You need to be asking the right questions. So if your listing is going to convert, if it’s going to be competitive with the other listings in the space, that’s the question you should be asking.

CAMERON YODER:
What would you say about reviews?

ANDREW FIELD:
I mean reviews are important. I think we’ve kind of talked about this on the podcast before. Reviews are the currency of Amazon. That’s another thing that kind of goes into the optimization conversation. If your listing has far fewer reviews than other listings on Page 1 for that keyword, you’re going to find it more difficult to convert. Sometimes what we suggest right after running a launch is to drop your price a little bit, sometimes almost even to breakeven, just to generate sales, develop a strong sales history, keep that product on Page 1, and then you can gradually bring your price back up to like increase your margins.

CAMERON YODER:
Would you say there is like a flat number of reviews that someone should have before they run a launch, or is it kind of just dependent on the market that you’re going into?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, it’s completely dependent on the market. I mean you’ll find brand-new markets out there where the average review count is 10 reviews. You can run a launch on that product with zero reviews. You’d have no problem. But if you’re going into a market where the average review count is 500 reviews, you’re going to find it a lot more difficult to convert with zero reviews. So I mean if you’re looking for a flat number – so for example, like for a market with 500 reviews as the average review count for listings on Page 1, I would suggest launching with no less than 100. That’s kind of my suggestion, so maybe 20% of the average of listings on Page 1.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I think that’s a good baseline to build off of at least. Okay, that’s good. So next question, what do you see people doing wrong when it comes to promotions or launches? So what shouldn’t people do?

ANDREW FIELD:
So I think sometimes people have unrealistic expectations for how their product is going to perform after a launch. So getting a product ranking on Page 1 generally isn’t a problem. It’s typically pretty easy. But people think that all of a sudden their sales are going to skyrocket, which may not necessarily be the case. If your listing isn’t competitive you’re not going to see those sales. I know we keep going back to the having an optimized listing, but that’s how important it really is.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s important. It’s really important.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so I mean that’s why I think people need to discuss their strategy with a coach or a seller coach or someone that knows what they’re talking about before running a launch. Ask questions like will this listing sell in this market? Am I targeting the right keyword? How many units should I give to target this keyword? All those kinds of things.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, and this is not a – it’s not a plug for what we do. It’s just simply a really simple and easy thing that you guys can do and have free, really free access to.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, exactly. Like no matter what strategy you’re using to get your product ranking on Page 1, these are the questions you need to be asking.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

ANDREW FIELD:
Talking to people with experience is just a great resource for you.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, and that’s what our coaching team – our coaching team is meant to really give strategy to people.

ANDREW FIELD:
Exactly.

CAMERON YODER:
So they’re accessible to you. Okay, so let’s see. We see a lot of people, and we actually have – Casey and I have talked about this on the show before, too, but it’s always important to bring up because it comes up frequently, and it’s funny how often or how periodic this question comes up from people that are performing launches or thinking about performing a launch. But we see a lot of people talking, again, about how steep discounts don’t attribute ranking anymore. So what have you seen when it comes to that?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so I mean, like we said at the very beginning, I was employee number one. I’ve been giving launch suggestions for three years now. This has come up periodically forever. I mean I don’t think it will ever really go away. People are always looking for a reason not to give their product away at 90% off, which would totally understand. Nobody wants to give their product away at 90% off. But the data does not show that it doesn’t work. It still does work. Just for a specific example, just in the last like 14 days we ran three launches for a turmeric product, or three separate turmeric products. We got each one of those listings ranking on Page 1 for turmeric, turmeric curcumin and curcumin. Those are incredibly competitive markets where sales are 10,000+ a month. If 90% off promotions didn’t work there is no way that we would have been able to get those products ranking there.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

ANDREW FIELD:
So we just kind of let the data speak for itself. There is always going to be those rumors out there, but as long as the data is there to combat it, I mean I don’t see it being an issue.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s if – and that’s not to say that that could not change in the future, right?

ANDREW FIELD:
Right.

CAMERON YODER:
Because Amazon could pull a lever or something and all of a sudden maybe somehow, whether it’s accidental or intentional, make promotions not attribute ranking through stuff like that.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, absolutely. That’s been a topic of discussion forever. But as of right now that’s not happening.

CAMERON YODER:
Exactly. And it’s not like we will hide that information from you. Like –

ANDREW FIELD:
Right. I mean there’s no point in us running launches if they don’t work.

CAMERON YODER:
Exactly.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, I mean if launches don’t work we’re going to be straight up and say okay yeah, this strategy probably won’t work. Maybe there’s something else that we can try.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, and that’s why it’s important for us to keep you guys updated, at least from what we’re seeing with our launches since we run so many every single day and since Andrew has seen so many. It’s really important to help you guys know where we’re at and what we’re seeing. And what we’re seeing is that steep discounts still do work when it comes to product launches. Okay, so let’s see. When people are performing a launch, when they’re in the middle of the launch – dang it. Hang on. I lost my place. Oh yeah, yeah, okay. So let’s talk about when people are in the middle of a launch or a promotion. Will people, or should people expect to see results right away, or when should they expect to see something happen when it comes to keyword ranking?

ANDREW FIELD:
So my – like my typical launch suggestion lasts for 10 days, usually 10 days, seven to 10 days. Usually people will start to see ranking improve around day five. So during a launch you can expect to see a lot of different things. You can expect to see a big fluctuation in BSR, both up and down, big fluctuation in ranking, both up and down. But right around day five it typically starts to stabilize. So at day five you’ll start to see ranking like steadily increase. So like let’s say if you start on Page 3 for your targeted keyword. You might jump down to Page 6 during the first two days. Day three comes around and you’re back up to Page 3. Day five comes around, you’re creeping up Page 2. Day six, day seven, day eight, you’re moving up Page 1. That’s the typical – that’s typically what it looks like.

CAMERON YODER:
People tend to freak out when they’re on like day two of a launch, right? Yeah, explain that. Like they’re on day two of a launch and they see the product went down in ranking. They’re like what in the world? What just happened?

ANDREW FIELD:
Right, yeah. So I mean that’s just part of Amazon’s algorithm. That’s where people – I think that might even be where some of these rumors are stemming from where people run launches for like quote unquote tests, and after two days they’ve dropped to page 20 and they freak out, right? Let that launch run its course, and it will work. If you end prematurely you’re hurting your sales history, and it’s just going to cause problems down the road. Let that launch run, and you’ll see ranking improvement as long as you’re running with the appropriate strategy, of course.

CAMERON YODER:
And some of these – so some of these questions or this data is like dependent on the market, too. This specific question. Let’s say someone reaches Page 1 for their primary keyword before they expected to, like maybe before their expected launch day or the end of the launch.

ANDREW FIELD:
Sure.

CAMERON YODER:
Would you recommend that people stop their launch early, or just like kind of let it ride for a little bit?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, that’s a good question. So if a listing reaches Page 1 and organic sales pick up to match the listing, the other listings on Page 1, then yeah, I mean go ahead and end that launch. There’s no reason to give products away at that point. If you get to Page 1 and sales pick up just a little bit you may want to let that launch continue so you can build a stronger sales history and maintain that Page 1 ranking, and then you can see organic sales coming in in the future.

CAMERON YODER:
Now what would you advise when considering launch numbers specifically? So like when somebody wants to find out the number of units that they should give away or the number of units they should put a heavy or steep discount on, what would you say to that?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so I mean this is going to sound like a plug for Viral Launch, obviously, but Market Intelligence, a great place to start. Analyze the market. Analyze that keyword. See what listings on Page 1 are doing in terms of sales volume. And you want to match that with your promotion. So generally, to develop a strong sales history you want to have your launch last for at least seven days, sometimes more. So seven days is kind of like the window where you need to run a launch for at least seven days to develop a strong enough sales history to maintain Page 1, or to even get ranking on Page 1. The additional three days that I usually recommend on the end of that are to help develop an even stronger sales history. So once the steady flow of promotional sales stops you’re able to stay there longer and generate organic sales recurring.

CAMERON YODER:
What would you say, what would you talk about post launch strategy? What’s the best strategy people can implement after an initial promotion if they run one for a keyword?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so after your initial launch you’re likely ranking on Page 1 for your primary keyword. If your listing is competitive you’ll probably start seeing an increase in organic sales right away. But let’s talk about a scenario where maybe your product isn’t just as competitive as all the other listings on Page 1. I kind of alluded to it earlier, but like some of the recommendations we have are to drop your price a little bit. Develop a stronger sales history for that keyword. Other things you can do – I’ve got to think about this for a second.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, yeah. No, you’re good.

ANDREW FIELD:
I had a bunch of stuff for this, too. Yeah, so like another thing you can do is run another promotion for another keyword. The best way to see the most organic sales is to be ranking on Page 1 for as many relevant keywords as possible. So if you see that you have – you’re in a market where you have 10 relevant keywords that are all going to attribute to your aggregate sales you want to be ranking on Page 1 for all 10 of those keywords. You don’t want to just be ranking on Page 1 for one of those keywords, and then you’re only seeing 10% of the sales that you would be seeing if you were ranking on Page 1 for all of your relevant keywords. So generally I would say to target multiple keywords with multiple promotions.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s say you have two primary keywords for a product. If you run a launch for one specific one, and let’s say they’re similar. Let’s say maybe they’re similar, but they’re different enough to where you would need to run two separate promotions to rank for both of them. If you run – let’s say you run a pretty like intense launch for one of the primary keywords and you get to Page 1 for that keyword. Have you seen ranking attributed to the other primary keyword in some cases?

ANDREW FIELD:
Oh yeah, absolutely. So that kind of goes back to having a good, or a well-optimized listing. If you have those keywords in your title, if you have the correct keyword sequences in your title – so for example, like if you have like a fish oil, fish oil is your main keyword. Another keyword would be fish oil supplements. If you have fish oil supplements in your title and you’re targeting fish oil with your promotion you’re going to see a good, a sizable increase in ranking for fish oil supplements. You may even reach Page 1 for that keyword with the launch targeting another keyword. So yeah, I mean this goes back to making sure that you have a well-optimized listing.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, I think it’s good to, if people are trying to decide whether they should run a promotion for two separate keywords or run one targeting both or what have you, I think it’s always good to maybe even run one really targeted one for the primary, like the main keyword in that case, fish oil, and then see where you end up for fish oil supplements. And then if you want to just run another promotion for that right off the bat, you know where your baseline is going to be after the ranking has been attributed from the primary.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, no, that’s a really good analysis, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
So Andrew, what else – do you have anything else that you want to tell people when it comes to launches, or launch strategy or launch data?

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, so get advice. Don’t try to go it alone if you don’t have any experience. There’s always someone out there with experience that has looked into hundreds of thousands or however many markets and has the experience to tell you okay, this is the keyword you should target, this is the kind of strategy that will get you there, this is what an idea listing looks like in this market. You should try to emulate that. These are what your competitors are doing. This is your primary keyword. There are so many intricacies that go into a launch that you really need – there’s no substitute for experience and going into all the data.

CAMERON YODER:
Well, Andrew, thank you so much for being on the show today. It really is good to have a perspective like yours since, I mean you’ve been around the block. You’ve seen it all. You’ve seen brands built from 0 to 100, literally, and you’ve seen a lot of product launches go through. So thank you for taking time to be here and giving advice to everybody.

ANDREW FIELD:
Yeah, thanks for having me, for sure.

CAMERON YODER:
I’ll do and outro, but for now –

Well hey, that is all for this week. Thank you so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information on how to succeed on Amazon, subscribe to the podcast and check us out on YouTube. I’ve been working on a series of product discovery walk-throughs that will really help you understand how to leverage the tool. So just search Viral Launch on YouTube, and go to our page, and look for my face on one of the videos. And if you’re listening on iTunes it would seriously help us out so much if you would leave a review to let us know what you think of the show. And if you know another seller who’s feeling lost in the Amazon information war that’s out there, send them our way. We really want to be a resource for all sellers, and honestly, the information source in this space. So please tell your friends. Spread the word, and share the show with other Amazon sellers.

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

4 Tips for Writing Review Booster Emails from Viral Launch Email Guru Brandon Stewart (Follow the Data Ep. 19)

Getting reviews for a product on Amazon is becoming increasingly difficult. Amazon continues to implement new programs and Terms of Service, limiting seller’s abilities to elicit reviews. One age old strategy for capturing customer reviews is sending follow up emails to customers and skillfully asking for product and seller feedback. Join Cam and Casey as they dive into the data that has resulted from thousands of split tested email follow ups with in-house email copywriting guru Brandon Stewart.

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

Follow the Data Show Notes

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Getting reviews for a product on Amazon is becoming increasingly difficult. Amazon continues to implement new programs and Terms of Service, limiting seller’s abilities to Elicit reviews.

One age old strategy for capturing customer reviews is sending follow up emails to customers and skillfully asking for product and seller feedback. Today we dive into the data that has resulted from thousands of split tested email follow ups on Amazon. I’m Cameron Yoder

CASEY GAUSS:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 29,000 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.

CAMERON YODER:
In today’s episode, we sit down with our in-house email copywriting guru, Brandon Stewart, to talk about the best practices for writing email follow ups. Although this tactic for generating reviews typically only provides a minimal return, we believe that reviews are way too valuable to discount any method that produces results. In other words, if you can leverage these tips to get even one review, we believe it will have been worth it.

Let’s jump in

Okay so today’s topic, we’re talking about reviews. It’s a very good topic to talk about, and Brandon is here with us to give us the low-down on reviews with Amazon. So first, before we jump into Amazon, maybe Brandon, maybe you should touch on the email landscape in general, so outside of Amazon. What is the landscape of emails like?

BRANDON:
Yeah, so typically people sign up to get emails from companies like Nike or Disney or Southwest Airlines, you name it, and all the emails are a little bit different because people sign up for a particular reason, right? So Nike it might be because they want to see the new contest Nike has or the new videos or the newest shoes or sportswear. And the same thing with Southwest, they may want to see what are my mileage or points or how can I gain more points or how can I double my points, or … they’ll send a happy birthday email to them, and Disney you’re looking at new toys, new videos, new movies coming out: things like that. That’s really what the email landscape is today. People sign up to a particular company, and they’re receiving content from that particular company.

CAMERON:
Because they wanted to go there in the first place, right? So they chose to go the website, and they chose to sign up for their email. Right?

BRANDON:
Yes, yes just like that. Probably, for most of these, they probably signed up online. Some of them, like for example if you’re in a store, they may have you sign up for that for some free coupons or something like that in that store.

CAMERON:
Wouldn’t it be nice as Amazon sellers for people to come and want to sign up for our email follow ups. So that’s the … that’s the general email landscape right now. So compare that to then what Amazon is or what’s present on Amazon.

BRANDON:
Yeah, so Amazon it’s … so I don’t know, you probably buy a lot from Amazon. I know I do.

CAMERON:
Sure.

BRANDON:
I’m sure Casey does as well.

CASEY:
Oh yeah

BRANDON:
And whenever … I don’t always buy a repeat item on there. Many times they’re one-off products. I needed a new phone case for my newest phone or a car case … a case to keep my phone in my car to hold it there, and things like that. And many times they’re from private sellers, from these private labels. I don’t know who they are. I didn’t sign up to be a part of their email program or anything. I know nothing about this brand. And really it comes down to … you have to put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. If you were to send them an email, they don’t know you. They don’t know anything about you. And so you gotta, you gotta make things sort of small and brief.

CASEY:
I’ve been hearing about a lot … or I’ve been hearing about a lot of people saying, unsubscribing from Feedback Genius, FeedbackFive, whatever email follow up service provider because less and less emails are being sent out, I’m paying a monthly subscription, and I’m just not getting very many reviews from it. I have two thoughts there. One, listen to this podcast like you are so that you can get some tips on how to improve your email follow up sequence overall. And then two, anything that is driving any amount of reviews, I’m talking about one review a month, whatever, is worth however much money you’re spending. As reviews seem to be from our perspective, from our data, kind of the currency to driving success or driving sales on Amazon, you need every review possible. And so if you’re getting one review a month from your email follow up sequence, that’s one review more than if you weren’t. And honestly looking at the flip side, if you’re not using email follow up sequences, what are you using? Sure you may not be getting a satisfactory rate, but you are getting some kind of rate, and that rate is contributing to the top-line sales that you are or will be seeing in the future. So …

CAMERON:
It really is a refining process. It’s a process that you need to be involved with pretty heavily and keep a close eye on, and Brandon, today … today we have a pretty good handful of comparable steps or kind of tips in general for you guys to follow. And so Brandon, if you could start out, what is the first thing that you would recommend with the idea of revising email follow ups or things that you’ve seen work extremely well. What’s like tip number one that you can give our listeners?

BRANDON:
I’d say tip number one would be don’t … you have to write in such a way that gets their attention, so if you go in there, and you write a story such as “We’re a small seller, and we would love to have a review, and we thrive and depend on your reviews.” Well, you have to understand, people receiving this email, they honestly don’t care about your company, they don’t care about your business. And that’s kind of how you have to look at it. So you want to provide them something that’s worthwhile.

CASEY:
Not only that, but I know that when I see just a wall of text in an email, I’m not even going to read it because who knows how long it’s going to take me. It’s not interesting to me, right?

BRANDON:
And that’s usually what it is too. It’s 3 or 4 paragraphs of all about the company and all why they need your review. They must have a review to survive or if they don’t have a review from you they may go out of business the next day.

CAMERON:
How detailed would you say people need to be then? Because I’ve heard you talk about drama, being dramatic with emails where companies will write maybe not their whole company story, but they’ll try to maybe draw out this big story or somewhat of a story in their email. How detailed do people need to be or how dramatic do people need to be if at all?

BRANDON:
I mean, look at the emails you get from Amazon. They’re very simple; they’re plain, right? And you … it would be best … it’s, from what we’ve seen it’s best to mimic that style. Having something simple: here’s your package, it’s on its way. Things like that.

So number one is not writing all your story out. Now if you have an amazing incredible story—I was a broke college student, and now I’m doing well on Amazon, and hey leave a review—that may be okay, right? That’s a cool story to have. But don’t write something that is basically begging them to leave a review, which is what we see all the time.

CASEY:
I think it’s also important to qualify Brandon, I don’t know … I don’t think we’ve done that so far. So Brandon has … so we used to have this package, we are removing it from our site right now. It just doesn’t make business sense to have Brandon time there, we need Brandon focused on things that we’re doing internally at Viral Launch. Not launching products, I mean like writing emails to our Viral Launch customers. Anyways, Brandon … we had this service, we called it Review Booster, and one of the packages there was management. And so essentially, we would … Brandon would write the emails and then we would go in, implement them for you and then we would manage the subject lines or the structure or different language in the emails to make sure that we were optimizing your open rate and then click-through rate. And so Brandon literally did this for thousands of emails, brands doing everywhere from 40 million a year to people just putting their first product up on Amazon. So this guy has seen it all. He’s used all of the email follow up services. This guy has experience like, you know probably nobody else in the industry, which is pretty awesome. How’s that make you feel Brandon?

BRANDON:
Oh fantastic. All warm inside.

CAMERON:
So this tip was really centered around simplicity, right, and being simple.

CASEY:
Could you give us like an example?

BRANDON:
Of …

CAMERON:
Of being simple. What does being simple look like specifically in an email sequence?

BRANDON:
Yeah, so first one is the let’s say let’s squash negative reviews. Let’s go to another tip. And this is part of the simplicity, of that.

CAMERON:
So this is tip number two.

BRANDON:
Yes, let’s say tip number two. Here’s how you can squash negative reviews before they happen. So when you … so two things first. So Amazon sends out a thank you email or an email that you purchased a product. So you don’t have to do that. They also send you an email when your package ships. So you don’t have to do that. So what I would say is … what we’ve found works best is sending out an email when your product is out for delivery, and you can do that in specific email marketing platforms, email services for Amazon. And inside of that, it’s gonna have something just really simple. It’s gonna have something like “Your product is on on the way,” and it’s going to have an image of a product, right? And then it’s going to have a few tips and tricks about your product, depending on what you need to do. Say it’s a workout product, well you’re probably going to have to have a PDF or an ebook or a gif or a gif, whatever you’d like to say in there, of someone using that product, and it doesn’t have to be very detailed at all. All you’re doing is showing them how to use the product, that it’s on its way, and if there’s any issue at all, please leave me … please contact me right away, and then have a little contact link in there.

CAMERON:
So this is a primer, this is like a primer email. So they haven’t received it yet, it’s on its way, and this is email one of …

BRANDON:
Of two

CAMERON:
Of two.

BRANDON:
I would say three at the most.

CAMERON:
Okay.

CASEY:
So yeah, I think this is important for people to know. A lot of people just look at email follow up sequences as just a way to drive seller feedback or product reviews, but you know, as Brandon has seen, and you know as we think that you should be doing, you should be leveraging this to avoid negative reviews and potentially, as Cam is talking about, prime them for a good review. Show them how to use the product. Show them how to get the most out of the product. You know, at that point, you’re just improving the overall customer experience for them. And when Brandon talks about leaving a link so somebody will contact you, definitely you know, this is not the “Hey if you had a good experience, click this link. If you had a bad experience click this link.” This is something very simple like, “Hey if there’s anything you know we can do for you … maybe Brandon wants to share the exact language, shoot us an email, here’s the email link here.” Nothing more. No buttons. No tricking people to go where they’re not entirely sure they’re trying to go. This is very very simple, people. We wrote email follow up sequences for people, and I think they were expecting us to write, you know, a couple novels for them in these emails, but it’s like the data is showing us that the very simple, and again if you look at Amazon, they have an insane amount of data. This is how they’re writing their emails, just very simple, very to the point, using very simple language. You know, it can be tempting to use sophisticated language or something so that your brand appears very sophisticated, and I understand that, I think you need to take those things into account, but for the most part what the data shows us is that what works is very simple language. Brandon, you know, Brandon studies copywriters all the time. And you should be writing to the what? What grade level or something?

BRANDON:
Yeah, typically the eighth grade level. Um, I think what is it Ernest Hemmingway’s book The Old Man and the Sea, which won a, I think it won a Pulitzer Prize, was at the fourth grade level.

CASEY:
Oh wow.

CAMERON:
Really?

BRANDON:
Yeah

CAMERON:
Oh man. Well, okay so this … this second tip, you’re … just to summarize what this email, this initial delivery, this primer email would look like, again. So it would involve something like “Hey, your product’s on the way.” Right? And then it would involve, if there are instructions needed or if there are instructions involved with the product, including those with something like a video or a gif or gif, however you pronounce it. Right?

BRANDON:
Yes, to an extent, but with Amazon’s terms of service, you … you’re not really supposed to include a video. You can include attachments up to 10 megabytes. There’s nothing in there about video. We’ve seen it happen before … I haven’t heard of anyone being delisted because of that.

CASEY:
Or suspended.

BRANDON:
Or suspended or anything like that. It … you know, you’re more than welcome to try it. But according to Amazon’s terms of service, don’t do it.

CAMERON:
Right. So the … your product is on its way, possible informational thing, and then the third part, which I want to touch on again is the contact us button.

BRANDON:
Yes

CAMERON:
So this, the main tip is to squash negative reviews. It’s to basically put yourself ahead of those negative reviews. I think this contact button is what a lot of people miss. Where they try to or they get negative reviews for their product, and maybe they ask themselves “Oh, another negative review! How do I get around this or how do I prevent this from happening? This, I see as a really preventative step of making that happen.

CASEY:
The downside is that it’s hard to quantify the effectiveness, right?

CAMERON:
Right.

CASEY:
It’s not like Feedback Genius is sending you a report of, yeah, you know, you stopped five negative reviews this week.

CAMERON:
But it’s one of those things to have in place just in case. It’s like a Why Not?

CASEY:
Yeah, it’s a Rather-Be-Safe-Than-Sorry.

CAMERON:
Right

CASEY:
Especially if, you know, you’re just launching this product, getting one negative review right off the bat, you know … no good.

BRANDON:
Yeah, and it gives them a … essentially it stops them from doing that, right? It stops them from going “This product sucked, and I’m going to leave a bad review.” It says something to the effect of … I think the copy I use is, “If there is anything wrong with your order, please contact us or please let us know, please inform us.” And then there’s a big bold “contact us” link they can click on, and it goes right to their email.

CASEY:
And that way they know if something goes wrong throughout the process, hey, here’s who I can reach out to. Versus going straight to the review page.

CAMERON:
Review page, writing a one-star review, bringing your overall rating down.

BRANDON:
It’s essentially telling them we’re here for you, and we’ll take care of your problem for you, not a problem, not a big issue.

CAMERON:
And it’s not a guarantee, but it’s a chance, and if reviews is all about taking as many chances as you can get to improve your rating or to improve your overall score, and this is one of those opportunities that you would not want to pass up.

So, okay let’s move on to the next tip, tip number three. Brandon, what do you got for us?

BRANDON:
Well, for the third one, a lot of people want feedback, but what we’ve found is that feedback does absolutely nothing for your sales.

CAMERON:
Right, right

BRANDON:
And it’s really the review. So the second email to send out, third tip, is to get a review. And the best way to grab that review is not to ask them outright, “Hey, leave me a review.” or go back to that …

CAMERON:
Wait, hold up. Say that again.

BRANDON:
Hey leave me a review!

CAMERON:
So but you’re saying that’s not the best way to ask for a review.

BRANDON:
It’s not the best way to do that because if you think about you and I, or anyone in general, we want our opinion, to share our opinion, right? You want to say to someone, Hey what’s your opinion on this or what do you think about this? How did you feel about that product? Right? And that’s probably, from what we’ve found, is the best question to ask. So the email setup looks a little like this. At the top, it’s going to have something to the effect of: Thank you for purchasing or thank you for ordering and then the name of the product …

CAMERON:
Just to reiterate, this is email number 2. Right?

BRANDON:
Yes, that’s correct.

CAMERON:
Okay.

BRANDON:
And the best time to send out email number two is whenever they’ve used your product. So if it’s, say, a workout product, it may take them a week or two to even begin using it. If it’s something like a phone case, they can probably use that right away. In general, we’ve found the second email to send out, the best time is roughly five days after delivery, after they have that product in their hand and they can use it.

CAMERON:
So just to … I want to jump back a little bit. But the first email, the delivery email, is that after they’ve ordered your product?

BRANDON:
That is when it’s out for delivery.

CAMERON:
When it’s out for delivery.

BRANDON:
Yes

CAMERON:
Okay

BRANDON:
When it is going to be in their mailbox that day.

CAMERON:
Okay, so when it’s going to be in their mailbox that day is email number one.

BRANDON:
Correct

CAMERON:
And number two is …

BRANDON:
Five days after delivery

CAMERON:
Five days after delivery. Recommended.

BRANDON:
Recommended.

CAMERON:
Okay, okay good. So touch on that aspect again. It’s not asking for a review. It’s asking for their opinion.

BRANDON:
Correct

CAMERON:
Okay, tell me more about that.

BRANDON:
Yeah, it’s it’s … you can ask them to leave a review, it’s almost as if they have to do a solid for you. It’s like Hey, here’s a favor. Can you do this for me? Can you take time out of your day to tell me what you thought about this product? Well, more than likely they’re just going to click out of that.

And the best language we’ve found is something along the lines of “What is your opinion?” or “What did you feel or think about the product?” or “What did you feel about … and then you name the product.”

CAMERON:
So do you think people have a stigma against being asked to leave a review. Like, do you think sellers are aware enough to where that creates like a …

CASEY:
You mean buyers?

CAMERON:
Oh yes, sorry, buyers! Not sellers. Where buyers are … where buyers have this … have a negative feeling towards being asked, like Hey leave a review for this product. Do you think they feel that negative? Or they’re just not aware of it?

BRANDON:
I don’t know if it’s a negative feeling. It’s more of Oh I’ve got to do this other thing. I have all these things I have to do today. I just got home. I just sat down. I’ve got to feed my kids now, or I’ve got to eat myself. And I’ve got to go work out, and I have to do dishes. I’ve got to do the laundry, and now there’s this other thing this company wants me to do, someone wants me to do. Why would I want to do this for them?

CAMERON:
And so the opinion is not necessarily asking … asking them to just … that word that verbage is not necessarily not asking them to do another thing, it’s inviting them into something that they want to give, which is their opinion.

BRANDON:
Yeah, right, who doesn’t want to be asked their opinion on something, right? And that’s really what it comes down to. You try something out, and you say What did you think about that? What is your entire opinion on that?

CAMERON:
Do you think, people, listeners right now with all their email sequences set up, do you think it would be a simple step to simply replace the word review with opinion? Or is there specific wording or verbage that should be built around the idea of asking for an opinion?

BRANDON:
I think the best thing to do that is to help them with their opinion. And I don’t mean that in a negative way or a … some type of …

CASEY:
A manipulative way

BRANDON:
… influencing them in a certain way. So from what we found and the best way to do is to show them some reviews, some actual reviews from the product itself. So you can even have two five star reviews and a four star review. And you know, not everyone is going to have all five star reviews. You want to show them that people … you want to show them that you are not perfect, right? Not everyone thinks you’re perfect. I mean, someone may have left a four star review. And then give them one or two sentences, show them one or two sentences of that review. Make sure you put it in quotes. Make sure they know it’s a real review. And then after that, or before that say: Here’s what a few people have shared with us or here’s what a few people have told us about … and then the name of the product.

And then after that is where you ask, What is your opinion? What do you think?

CASEY:
And we do want to make sure that we again stipulate we’re not telling them to say these things.

BRANDON:
Correct

CASEY:
We are not writing reviews for them, anything like that. We are essentially just showing them, hey here’s what some other people have said. What do you think? And again, we’re not saying if you had a good experience, what’s your opinion. We’re not saying anything like that. We’re just asking what your opinion is. I do think that there is some level of inherent risk, one, just with sending email follow ups and maybe potentially with this language. So again, just wanted to stipulate: do this at your own discretion. Use whatever … however risk tolerant you are, assume that risk. But just know we are not saying this is 100% you should do this. We are saying we have never had a seller get in trouble for this kind of language, and yeah …

CAMERON:
I would also recommend … so part of one of Brandon’s recommendations, which was to have a contact us button, really helps you field negative feedback. So ideally, in a perfect world, you would have a great product that works all the time, that does not show up damaged at all, that doesn’t malfunction in any way. But having, having something like the contact us button does really helps you get ahead of negative feedback, number one, but number two, you should really look at the negative feedback that you’re getting if you’re getting any, to ask yourself Okay how can I improve my product. You should just be … you shouldn’t just have negative feelings towards negative reviews and say, Oh I’m just not going to pay attention to them; they’re all wrong. No, you should ask yourself if what they’re saying is true and/or how you yourself can improve your rating or how you yourself can improve your product, which will then in effect improve your overall rating as people review your product. Okay Brandon, we went over those tips. Those are three main tips. There’s a lot of stuff in there, but what … if someone was to come up to you, if a seller was to come up to you and ask, Brandon what’s the biggest … what’s one main tip that I can use right now to improve my review follow up, what would you say? The one, like the biggest thing.

BRANDON:
I thought I just gave them away.

CAMERON:
You gave … you gave … but even I would say if it’s one of these, pick one of them. But I’m asking you for the biggest one.

BRANDON:
Yeah, I think …

CASEY:
Which of the tips that we’ve given is going to have the largest impact?

CAMERON:
Right

BRANDON:
I mean, they’re both going to have a massive impact because if you’re going to stop negative reviews and then if you’re going to at least hopefully gain a review, those are both great things. Obviously, getting a review is going to do more for your business, hopefully, than anything else. than even stopping a potential, well … not stopping a potential negative review I guess, but … if you can get a review, I think the second email is the most important. It really is the most important one that we send out because you’re gaining a review from that person who just purchased, just tried it out, just used it, whatever you want to say. And now they’re going to give their honest opinion about it.

CAMERON:
Brandon, could you … could you go over with us, so we’re talking about Amazon Terms of Service, right now. Could you go over just what, what people should … what is not allowed from an Amazon Terms of Service perspective, what is not allowed in review follow ups.

BRANDON:
Sure. A few of the things that we see the most is linking to some kind of outside … website or your own site or even to Hey check out our Facebook page, or like us on Facebook. Those are all not allowed. Or linking to a YouTube video. Anything that goes outside of Amazon is not allowed. Amazon doesn’t like that at all. They want to keep the money going to themselves.

CAMERON:
Of course. Of course.

BRANDON:
So that’s one of the major things that we see. The other thing is including some sort of incentive to leave a review or even … not even saying Hey leave a review and we’ll give you a coupon. But putting a coupon code inside of a request for a review, right? That’s definitely frowned upon. That goes against Amazon’s terms of service.

Some other things are … if you hire your own HTML coder to create your email follow ups for you, doing something that is prohibited inside of an HTML tag that Amazon says on their website don’t use these HTML tags, or here’s what’s allowed don’t do anything else with that or CSS class, things like that.

We’ve also tested graphics before inside of emails. So if you’re going to make an amazing and beautiful graphic or some type of beautifully designed template for your email, it … from what we’ve seen it doesn’t do as well as … for example Nike, you get a … you receive a email from Nike. Alright, cool, great, awesome. And it’s going to be beautifully designed. It’s going to be that brand’s layout, and you’re going to identify with that because Nike has spent billions of dollars on advertising. In general, and so that aligns with the advertising you’ve seen online, on video, on TV, on YouTube, wherever you may have seen that, inside of magazines. And that email newsletter, or that email template aligns with that. And with people signing up for … buying your product, on email, that graphic, you know they don’t really know your brand all that well. They don’t know your … this is your color, and this is the exact font you have to use. They don’t know any of that. So keep it as simple as possible. Use large buttons that are yellow highlight … yellow background with a black text or a white text, just something like that.

CASEY:
Why yellow?

BRANDON:
That really stands out. What’s that?

CASEY:
Why yellow?

BRANDON:
It’s what Amazon uses, right, and it really stands out. It really helps to stand out, and I think it makes people go, Oh this is still in the Amazon ecosystem. I can feel that this is a part of Amazon.

CASEY:
It’s the little things guys.

CAMERON:
It is. It’s the little things. What about … what about tips or overall strategy for utilizing feedback services. So services that optimize your email sequences for you. Do you have any words on that or any mistakes that people make. What things aren’t people doing well with those services?

BRANDON:
Yeah, I mean it really is very basic. It really comes down to not making it easy enough … for example like Casey was talking about earlier, including a lengthy amount of text and then … or having multiple links inside of that email, you know. At the most our delivery email has one link in it: contact us. At the most, our review email has two in it. It’s got a what is your feedback … what did you think about this product, and the second one is Hey, if there’s any problems or anything we could have made better, please let us know. That’s another link, and that just goes right to your contact us.

CAMERON:
Gotcha. So the theme that I’m getting a lot is really keep it simple. Keep it simple. Have a well thought-out plan while keeping simplicity in mind. Have a contact us button. That’s pretty much it right?

BRANDON:
Basically! That’s really it. If you think about opening an email before, for example you’ve probably opened a Best Buy email. And they have 1,000 different products on there. Well, that email’s not going to have a very big, what we call a click through rate, where they click on something and go and buy that product because it’s overwhelming, there’s so much to look at that people will just instantly delete it or just go to their next email. So you want to make it as simple as possible. No excuses. One simple link in there.

CAMERON:
One simple link. Keep it simple. Simple link. One simple link, and asking for people’s opinion.

BRANDON:
Yes, and white background, black text.

CAMERON:
White background black text.

BRANDON:
You can make a big headline.

CAMERON:
Yellow.

BRANDON:
Yellow button.

CAMERON:
Yellow button! To mock Amazon.

BRANDON:
Yes, and I’ve seen in the past people using Amazon Seller, having that image at the very top of an email. I believe it is allowed. I’ve seen it used. I have not heard of anyone having …

CASEY:
Sorry, what was that?

BRANDON:
Using a small link or an image that says Amazon Seller on it inside of the email itself. And it’s actually using Amazon, the Amazon seller logo inside of that email.

CAMERON:
Interesting.

CASEY:
Yeah, I haven’t heard of it.

CAMERON:
I haven’t heard of anything like that either.

BRANDON:
And some good subject lines like that are asking them about their Amazon order. It’s not just How was your order? Or did your order arrive? It’s did your Amazon order arrive? Or how is your Amazon order? What did you think about it?

CASEY:
Again, you have to remember that a lot of consumers or a decent amount of consumers still think that Amazon is the one selling them these products, not, you know, brand XYZ.

BRANDON:
And that’s why it’s always good to not have your brand at the very top. Like thanks again for buying the name of your brand and then your product. Like, no they just want to know the product, and make sure you put an image in there so they can identify with what they just purchased.

CAMERON:
I think that’s really important to reiterate, the brand thing. So again people don’t associate with the brands that are on Amazon. They associate with the product, assuming that it’s Amazon selling them that product.

CASEY:
You know, I totally get it. The brand is your baby. You care about that, you want to push branding and … but you have to remember a lot of people don’t pay attention to the brand. They’re just buying whatever your widget is, and so if you say Thanks for your brand-whatever purchase, they may be confused. They may not know what’s going on.

And so always pushing it kind of from the context that they understand, which is I just bought this from Amazon, will provide better responses through open rates, click rates, and then also Brandon mentioned including an image, and the reason here is maybe you buy … you just had five things delivered throughout the week, you had ten, fifteen things delivered. I mean … it’s a lot, and so you need to easily show them so they can quickly identify, yes, this is the product you’re talking about. This is the product that I just got.

CAMERON:
Would you rather have your brand name in the email follow up or a better follow up percentage rate.

CASEY:
Yeah, would you rather get reviews or for some brand … or some customer to see your brand name again?

CAMERON:
I’d rather have reviews.

BRANDON:
But that doesn’t mean in the signature you can’t put your brand. Or probably the best thing to do is to put your actual name in there or the name of someone in your company. Humanize it! Not just hey this is your team at, and then the name of your brand and then a logo. Just try to humanize it. Like thanks again, and then your name and then the name of your company.

CAMERON:
That’s good. Well …

CASEY:
Thanks so much Brandon

CAMERON:
Thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for giving us these tips. We will utilize them.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s all for this week. Thanks for joining us on Follow the Data. For more insights and reliable information that will help take your Amazon business to the next level, subscribe to the podcast, check out the Viral Launch blog at viral hyphen launch dot com, and look for us on YouTube. We have a handful of Product Discovery walkthroughs that can really help you leverage the tool. Just go to our YouTube page, and look for my face!

CASEY GAUSS:
Don’t forget to rate the show and leave us a review on iTunes. We’re talking about reviews. WE all know reviews are tough to get, but they definitely help us all out. So we’d love them, and honestly just as a company was love honest feedback. So we’d love to hear what do you want us to talk about? What do you want us to avoid talking about? Or what is … maybe you don’t like the format of the podcast. We want to hear it all so that we can be better for you. So please tell your friends, spread the word, and share the show with other Amazon sellers if you think it would be advantageous to them.

CAMERON YODER:
Thanks again so much for listening, really we so much appreciate all of you taking time to listen to this podcast, as always if you listened to the last episode you heard people’s feedback and questions that they had. If you have any feedback or questions, feel free to leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember: the data is out there.

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

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

Listen on iTunes   Listen on Stitcher

 

Follow the Data Show Notes

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

 

Podcast Transcript

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

I’m Cameron Yoder, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show, we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 28,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

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

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

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

Listen on iTunes . See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

 

Follow the Data Show Notes:

 

Podcast Transcript

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Casey Gauss:
Yep, correct.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah, right.

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

Cameron Yoder:
Right.

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

Cameron Yoder:
Cursed products.

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

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

Casey Gauss:
Yeah.

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

Casey Gauss:
Right.

Cameron Yoder:
And we see it every single day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cameron Yoder:
Right.

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

Cameron Yoder:
A long time.

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

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

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

Cameron Yoder:
Right, right.

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

Cameron Yoder:
Oh, but what about fidget spinners?

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

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

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

Cameron Yoder:
Right, right.

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

Cameron Yoder:
Yeah.

Casey Gauss:
Yeah.

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

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

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

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

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

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

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

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