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159 Incentivized Reviews -Why Amazon REALLY Ended Them- with Brian Johnson Part 1 of 3

 
Brian Johnson of PPC Scope

Brian Johnson of Sponsored Products Academy

Today we have Brian Johnson of Sponsored Product Academy (& PPC Scope) to talk to us about PPC and the REAL reason for the  end of Amazon incentivized reviews. This is a guy that has been in ecommerce industry for years. He started out selling banking equipment on eBay for seven years before a friend pulled him into Amazon. He began launching his own private label products. This was about three years ago when Amazing Selling Machine launched. Read More

157 Amazon Account Suspension with CJ Rosenbaum Part 1 of 3

Today’s show is something that I feel is long overdue. I am always getting legal questions when it comes to selling on Amazon. We have with us CJ Rosenbaum, the founder of Amazon Sellers Lawyer, to help answer some questions about Amazon account suspension. Read More

156 How to Get Started with Splitly with Andrew Browne Part 2 of 2

Get Started with Splitly

The first thing to do when you get started with Splitly is to sync your Amazon account with Splitly. Splitly will then organize your products based on the best selling products. It also provides a hint as to what product you should start with. It will offer suggestions for each listing before you even start testing. For instance, if you are only using 5 of your 9 images, it will alert you.

Images and Pricing

The best place to start, when you’re ready to test, is with images and pricing. These are the easiest tests to run without much effort, and give very good results. Bear in mind that these are general suggestions and it will vary person to person.

Even if you’re not willing or able to get new images of your products, you can still test you main image. Simply test one of your other images as your main.

Pricing is another great test to run as long as you’re changing the price significantly. If you’re only adjusting is by $1, you’re not likely to see much improvement. However, if you alter it by $5, you’re probably going to see a large difference.

The best technique is to start wide, and narrow down through testing. Let’s say you’re testing $19.99 against $21.99, and you find that you get better results with $21.99. The next thing is to try $20.99 against $22.99 and see what performs better.

Splitly Features

One thing to keep in mind is how Amazon does it’s search results. Google isn’t going to boost a page in its results because it’s selling well. Amazon does. This is probably the single greatest factor in search ranking. So if you’re testing different price points, you will want to go with the one that has higher sales. Since this can complicate the test results, they released a new feature called Profit Beak.

With this feature, you set the minimum and maximum price for the product. The software will then update your listing every hour, and try a different price point. This allows Splitly to gather data much faster and they can determine the best price based on profit and sales. You can adjust it so it focuses on one or the other. It can also test multiple other factors including keyword ranking and conversion.

Keyword rank tracking is a standard piece of software that most people are familiar with. Now, you can tie it into Profit Beak. You can then tell the software that you don’t want to fall below number 10 on a keyword, and that become a new floor. So during testing, Splitly will monitor that and keep it ranked high enough.

What You Can Test

At its core, Splitly is a testing suite. When you get started with Splitly , the possibilities are endless. Unlike other tools, the software create more work for you because now you have to think of different ideas of how to tweak your listing. However, in the end, it will make you more money.

You can test a title that is packed with keywords against one that isn’t. This is really useful because the effects happen quickly. You can see your ranking change within 10 or 20 minutes. It’s very useful if you’re testing your keywords.

Your bullet points are another great test because it’s never easy to figure out the best way to go about it. It’s best not to stuff keywords in your bullet points. It’s best used for selling to potential buyers. You can look at the negative reviews of your competitors, and address those concerns in the bullets. Then you can split test them to figure out the best way to do it.

How to reach Andrew Browne

There is a lot of great resources at splitly.com. You can email them at hello@splitly.com as well as a live chat where you can ask them any questions you may have about the product.

155 How to Split Test your Amazon Listing with Andrew Browne Part 1 of 2

Split testing is a technique you can use to test which variation performs better. It’s very common in web design. An online store may want to find which color checkout button converts the best. They would then show half their audience one colour, and the rest another and track conversion rates. It’s very important to split test your Amazon listing to help optimise it.

Split Test your Amazon Listing

Andrew Browne co-founded Splitly as a way to use this technique with Amazon listings. This way you are able to test different aspects of your listing, to fine-tune every feature so it converts as good as it can. You can test different main images and title to find out which gets better traction. This uses objective data rather than your subjected intuition.

Best Place when Getting Started

Main Image

It is the first thing your customers see therefore has a major impact on getting potential buyers’ attention. If you split test your Amazon listing image, you can determine the best picture that will get people to click on your product.

One success story that Andrew shared was one he did on his own product. He wasn’t looking for results, he was merely testing the software. In doing so, he found that by changing the main image, to one he thought were do poorly, he improved his conversion rate by 50%.

Price

Another great place to start is your price. It’s easy to test and is incredibly impactful on your conversion and you can get your results quickly. Other places to test are your title, bullets, and product description.

Split Test Your Amazon Listing with Splitly

Splitly is an amazing tool that does the split testing for you. When your start you test, your listing updates at midnight, Amazon time, which is GMT-8. The reason for that is Amazon does your reports based on that time. Then every night at midnight, you listing updates with the other version of your listing. While it’s not true AB testing, it’s the best you can do with Amazon’s limitations, and it’s better than using your own intuition.

Which Products to Split Test

It’s important to understand that split testing isn’t for saving products. If you have a failing product, it won’t help to split test to try and save it. You need to have enough traffic in order to get enough data to make improvements. You want to split test products that are already doing well in order to improve them and boost them a few percent. You’re looking to improve upon products that are already getting traffic and sales.

Timeline for Testing

How long it takes to split test a listing depends on a few factors. The more sales your product gets, the quicker you’ll get your results. If you’re selling 5 units a day, Splitly will be able to collect enough data much quicker than if you’re selling 1 unit a day.

The significance of the difference places a large factor. If you’re testing a price difference of 5 cents, it might not affect the sales enough to determine a winner. Whereas if you’re testing a $5 difference, it will have a larger effect and the software will be able to determine which is better.

There is no specific number, it just depends on how long it takes Splitly to gather enough data to give you an answer. It may determine that there isn’t enough difference to go one way or another.

154 Time Management for eCommerce with David Aggiss Part 2 of 2

The great thing about running an Amazon business is the freedom it allows in your personal life. You can go on holiday as you want and you can take a day off as needed. You set your own schedule and make your own deadlines. That also creates one of the more difficult aspects of your job as an Amazon seller, time management. Today on the show we have David Aggiss and we’ll be discussing time management techniques when you’re running an online business.

Time Management for eCommerce

If you are first starting out, the challenge is finding enough time to work on your business. You have your full-time job, maybe a spouse and children, then your Amazon business on top of that. It’s going to lead to some late nights and long days. That’s the struggle of it. It’s important to set aside time-blocks for specific tasks. If you start working without this, you’ll end up working on a number of things and accomplishing nothing.

Customer service is a daily task. You’re probably going to be in Seller Central a lot anyway, which is a good thing so you can respond to customer questions and other issues as they arise. Once a week, you want to look at your listings. See if there is any way to improve them. You should take a look at your PPC and keywords to make sure they are performing how you want.

Time Management when Expanding Your Business

Expanding your business is an evening job. If you are looking to research new product lines or find new suppliers, make sure you have a few weeks available where you can put in some serious evening hours. You’re going to have to work everyday with emails back and forth with your suppliers, especially if they’re in China. Unless you can get on a Skype call, this process could take a week or more because of the time difference.

Skype is recommended to help speed up this exchange. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking into several suppliers, that Skype could get overwhelming. It is easier to maintain all the information if you limit it to email since that has understood, built-in limitations. Also, you will have a record of everything discussed.

Outsourcing

If you find that you don’t have the time to handle everything that you need, consider outsourcing. Be aware of what your strengths and weaknesses are. Focus on your strengths, outsource your weaknesses.

If you are making enough money from your Amazon business that you can afford to outsource, then you are probably pretty proficient at the day-to-day Amazon tasks. Then you’ll want to continue to handle those. If your background is in web design, then build your website yourself.

If, however, you don’t know the first thing about building a website and you have no idea how to work on social media, outsource those. Chances are you can find someone that will do it better and faster. If a task is going to take you a week, but someone who is an expert can do it in a day, pay them to do it. The task will get done several days soon and you now have that week to work on something you’re an expert in.

Focus Management

While time management is important, focus management is as well. Like I said before, you have the freedom to make your own schedule, but you don’t have a boss to keep you on track. It’s easy to lose focus and let your business suffer because of it. You have to keep in mind why you want to run your own business. Whether it’s to have a luxury house, nice cars, or to simply spend more time with your family. Whatever it is, whether it changes over time, always remember that and let it be your motivation to stay focused.

152 AMS – Amazon Marketing Services with Anthony Lee Part 3 of 3

AMS – Amazon Marketing Services

It’s offers more robust to you PPC advertising. The top banner ad on Amazon, that is usually a link to someone’s storefront, that’s Amazon Marketing Services. Sometimes there are ads under the Buy box, those are Amazon Marketing Services ads. It’s more exposure and drives more customers to your products which, in turn, could lead to more sales.

Getting Started With Amazon Marketing Services

It’s only accessible to vendors. This used to be invite only until Amazon started Vendor Express, which is open to everyone. Now you can get access to Amazon Marketing Services once you have a purchase order. So once Amazon orders product from you, then you have access to AMS and all the benefits that come with it. To learn how to get started with Vendor Express, please check out my interviews with Will Tjernlund.

AMS Workaround

If you don’t want to go down the route of Vendor Express, there is a work around. You can sell Amazon a product that you don’t intend to keep in stock. Go to aliexpress and buy 10 units of some item. Tell Amazon that you want to sell it to them and they will request samples. Once that process starts, you should be able to then sign up for AMS. Once in Amazon Marketing Services, you are able to advertise any products, not just the ones you have in Vendor Express.

Not only can you advertise products that are in your Seller Central, you can advertise products for items that Amazon doesn’t list you as the seller of. This is very beneficial if you have a Merch by Amazon account. If you sell Merch, you don’t have access to ads. With Amazon Marketing Services, you can then run ads for you t-shirts. You can check out my interview with Chris Green if you are interested in getting started with Merch by Amazon.

Issues with Vendor Express

It may not be worth it, for everyone, to utilize Vendor Express beyond getting your foot in the door. There are many issues with it because they take over the listing and they tend not to optimise it so it converts. However, it’s almost a necessity for some. For example, Anthony has a friend that selling a health and beauty product that he makes from home. Since he makes it from home it is impossible for him to get ungated. However, by selling through Vendor Express he is now able to get past that since it’s technically Amazon selling it, not him.

Vendor Express is making strides to improve the listings by making some of it available to the sellers to be edited. Some aspects, like the title, you may need to ask Amazon and jump through hoops for, but it is possible to optimise your listing.
Get in touch with Anthony:
He has written two books about selling on Amazon:
Bootstrapping E-commerce: How to Import and Sell on Amazon
Bootstrapping E-commerce: Advanced Amazon Tactics

You can contact him at he publishing company
anthony@reidandwrightpublishing.com

Zonblast offer an optimising service which is a great place to start. You can get more information by emailing support@zonblast.com.

148 Building a Brand with Manuel Becvar Part 2 of 3

Building a Brand Off-Amazon

As we discussed in the previous episode, building a brand away from Amazon is a very good idea.

Amazon owns you and your listing. They control everything. They can suspend your account at anytime. If you sell exclusively on Amazon, that puts you in a difficult situation. It’s a good idea to have multiple selling channels. That way, if any one goes down for whatever reason, you have other sources of income. Amazon only accounts for about 20 – 30% of Manuel’s income. Now, if something happens to his Amazon account, it wouldn’t shut down his business.

Another reason for building a brand is that Amazon is a race to the bottom on pricing. If you come up with a new product, in a couple months a lot of sellers have copied it and now everyone is lowering prices to get sales. If you have your own ecommerce site or wholesale, you can dictate the prices as long.

Off-Amazon Sales Channel

When building a brand, there are several options when it comes to other sales channels. There is jet.com where you can signup to be a third-party seller. Wal-Mart recently bought them for $3.3 billion. You can also sign up to be a third party seller on walmart.com. When it comes to these these third-party selling routes, it’s important to bear in mind that it may take awhile to be ungated. For those in the UK, you can use tesco.com. The downside to these platforms is that you are still a third-party that is subject to Wal-Mart or Jet or Tesco, etc.

Shopify

The best security would be owning the platform with Shopify. That way you control everything. It takes a lot more work than with Amazon as you don’t have the benefit of them shipping everything. However, the big issue is getting traffic. You can always find people on Amazon, but getting them to come to your site takes work, like all aspects of building a brand.

You have to work on SEO in order to be found. One strategy is to go to other sites where your target audience is. You can find forums or go to Reddit and talk to people that are interested in your category. For example, Manuel is selling VR products so he goes to a Reddit forum about VR and talks to people about a new headset Samsung is releasing. This can drive traffic to your Shopify store which will help your Google rank.

Ads are another way to boost rank and drive traffic. Google or Bing as are effective. You can use Facebook ads for conversion and email signup; not so much for selling products.

It can be more expensive and it takes a lot of work. But if you have good content, good SEO and traffic you can easily rank on page 1 or 2 of Google. That is building a brand that has visibility on the most powerful website on the planet: Google. 

147 Social Media Strategy with Manuel Becvar Part 1 of 3

Importance of a Social Media Strategy

Today on the show we have Manuel Becvar of Import Dojo. As Will Tjernlund mentioned during his interview, Amazon wants to increase their own private label operation. As Amazon become a larger competitor, you’ll want to establish your brand off-Amazon. Once you have a strong audience, this will not only help you sell more on Amazon, but give you the leverage you need if you wanted to sell on other channels. An important step to this, is creating a social media strategy.

There are differing opinions on social media. Some people say it’s a complete waste of time while others say it’s the cornerstone of their business. Social media can be a huge driver of traffic for your listings. When creating a brand, it’s important not to overlook the critical component that is social media.

Return on Investment

It’s understandable that people may think that social media is a complete waste of time. You’re not going to get instant results. You won’t see anything in a couple months. However, if you stick with your social media strategy, and keep building your social media presence, you will start to see in impact in a year or two. Manuel Becvar doesn’t run PPC ads anymore because of the success of the success of his social media platform. Now he can take the money he would have spent on ads, and use it on continuing to build on social media, and put it into his products.

You will have to invest in your social media. Whether that’s you putting in time, or paying someone to do it. Either way you decide to do it will still be beneficial. Even if you’re paying someone to put out content every week, you will still make more from sales than you would have if you put that money into ads.

Immediate ROI

If you’re creating a brand, then you might not have the audience for it to make much difference. However, you can always outsource it. There are sites, like Famebit, that will bring you together with influencers. These are people have have very large following on social media. You write up a campaign and get offers from different people. They will then review your product and send it out to there tens of thousands of followers. This can drive 2000 – 3000 people to your Amazon listings. Manuel Bacvar estimates that this led to 60 -70 additional sales in the first week. Well worth the $500 he spent on it because he wouldn’t have gotten that kind of return with PPC.

You could even contact them directly. If you go on social media and look up people that have a large audience and send them a message. This will let you target those that would buy your product.

Long Term Approach

As much as we all love to get a quick turnaround on our investments, you have to understand that your social media strategy takes time. Again, you can outsource this if you’d like. You can hire people to run your social media accounts and they will post new content weekly and maintain it.

There are a few techniques you or your VA can do to help grow your audience. The first step, obviously, is to post regular content. You need to be posting at least once a week on most platforms. Go onto other accounts that target the same audience to post similar content and follow their followers. The idea is that once you follow them, they will look at your content and will be more likely to follow you since they are already following a similar account.

Finding Your Audience

When planning your social media strategy, it’s important to target the right people. One way to do that is to target people that have purchased your products. This way you know they are interested in the category you’re selling in.

Manuel has grown his mailing list to over 800 subscribers in 2 ½ years. It’s very simple. As we all know, we need to put information in the packaging. This way we can encourage buyers to leave a review on Amazon, or to contact us, rather than Amazon, if they have an issue. Manuel goes a bit further and offers an additional 6 month warranty if they signup for his newsletter. His products are all coffee based. So now he has over 800 people that he can market to, who are also willing to buy coffee related products. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be a warranty. If you sell kitchen supplies you could offer a recipe ebook. You could simply offer a discount on their next purchase if they subscribe.

Google Trends and Facebook Ads

You can use Google Trends to help you build an audience as part of your social media strategy. You can look up your keywords and find out where they are popular. Then you can buy Facebook ads targeting those locations. So if you’re looking up hiking and you find that people in Manchester search hiking a lot, you can buy Facebook ads targeting Manchester.

Facebook ads are really good at building your audience and a following. They are effective if the user doesn’t have to buy something right away. So they aren’t useful for directing people to your Amazon listing, but if you direct them to your site and have great content, then they will be more likely to buy your product.

146 FBA Inventory Management with Jeremy Biron of Forecastly Part 3 of 3

Maintaining Ongoing FBA Inventory

There are many things that you have to take into consideration. You have to think of your lead time and everything that goes into it. Also consider receiving time at Amazon. It might take awhile for them to check it in. When planning a strategy for your FBA inventory, you should plan for the worst case scenario. There could be issues with it getting backed up at port or issues with your supplier.

Using Software to help FBA Inventory Management

A great thing about using software for forecasting, is that they can keep track of that, whether it’s Jeremy’s Forecastly or another piece of software. It tracks inbound inventory, current inventory, what you have in manufacturing, and true sales velocity.

You also need to consider spikes in sales. You may have consistent sales every day, but a couple times a month your sales spike. This is why you need to build in a safety stock. That gives you a cushion so that if you get a surge in sales, you have enough stock to cover it until your next shipment gets there.

Forecastly

Forecastly has many business that use its service. The software can then use this anonymous data to make predictions about Amazon as a whole. It takes ASIN level data over the past 30, 60, and 90 days to makes prediction about future sales numbers.

Their main focus is demand forecasting. It considers your recent sales including stock out periods. If you were out of stock, it can determine what you would have sold had the product been available. It also tracks the variability of demand which is something you can’t do in a spreadsheet.

The main thing you have to be conscious of when managing your FBA inventory is, what do you need to replenish, when do you need to replenish it, and how many units do you need to replenish. Forecastly tracks all that while monitoring your inventory and will recommend your orders.

Many sellers want to use a 60 day trend to determine their sales velocity which is a bad idea. If you selling in an upward trend, meaning your sales are growing, then your sales were much lower 60 days ago. This will make your average too low. Forecastly uses a 30 day trend to get the most up to date projections.

False Rule of Thumb

We, here at Amazing FBA, love a rule of thumb. Unfortunately, when it comes to FBA inventory, many sellers follow a rule of thumb that won’t help them, and could hurt them. It’s the idea that you need to have X amount of days worth of inventory. Whenever they place their order, they bring it back to this magic number.

For example, if you wanted to maintain 90 days of inventory and you order monthly with a 30 lead time. When it’s time to make an order, you have 60 days of inventory. Based on this, you would order 30 days of inventory.

You don’t need that much inventory. You wouldn’t need to order for another month because you have a 30 day lead time and you’re tying up cash in stock you don’t need. The rationale behind this method is security. The attempt to avoid stock outs by keeping a large amount of stock on hand.

Future of Amazon according to Jeremy Biron

Amazon will continue growing their own private label brands. So Amazon is now your competitor. International markets are growing. The European markets are booming. If you’re having success in the US, you’ll want to take those products to the UK and the rest of Europe. That isn’t as easy as it sounds. You have to come up with a separate replenishment strategy as well as deal with the tax regulations. There is an opportunity, though. Especially in Germany where 40% of the sellers are non-German, and very few are American. That means they are willing to buy from foreigners, but not many Americans are there yet.

As Amazon grows, the more warehouse space they will need. They are investing in new space, but they don’t want to overdo it. You will likely see seller-fulfilled-prime see some growth as a solution to this problem though will come with its own issues.

The inbound process is likely to change. It used to be that you would just slap on a UPS label. Then you had to also do the Amazon label. Now you have to do box contents. It’s going to get more and more complicated as Amazon continues handling more inventory.

If you want to receive a free tool for launching new products, head on over to Forecastly.

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