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151 Amazon Product Launch with Anthony Lee Part 2 of 3

Basic Launch Strategy for an Amazon Product Launch

There are a few things to remember with an Amazon product launch. You need to get as much traffic and sales velocity for your product as quickly as possible. This is a given in any sales capacity. Also, you need to high rankings early, as in on the first page, using an important key word related to your product. Run a promotion when your product goes live which will get people talking and stimulate sales velocity. You can make your products even more visible by turning on the automatic sponsor ads. Lastly, go after some reviews and use family and friends, who will be sure to help your product out in the early days.

Running a Promotion

It goes without saying, you need to find the primary and most relevant keyword for your product. This is something that people will be able to identify and make the connection to you as the one selling said product. You should make sure the keyword(s) are in the title of your product AND inside the URL address. People can be very lazy so when they are looking for something they are overjoyed when they can find it with relative ease. You can run Facebook ads, external ads and even banner ads from Amazon Marketing Service. Aside from Anthony’s launch too, Zonblast, you can also use Keyword Inspector and Merchant Words.

Spiking Algorithms in One Day versus Over Several Days

This has a lot to do with the total views your product actually gets during an Amazon product launch. If you have a low number of searches in a month, say under 20,000, you could see sales velocity stimulation in one day, see some solid movement, as opposed to over several days. However, if you only spike with search hit one hour of each day, your average will be lower. It would be much better for you to spread it out over a number of days for better results. Anywhere from 4 to 7 days seems to be a good time frame in which to work from. It’s all about averages. If you can spread your views and sales over a longer period of time, it will average out to a total that will look much better to you as the seller and to a potential buyer as well.

Product Manipulation, Spiking a Listing and Terms of Service

Make sure you understand Amazon’s new Terms of Service. ‘Free’ sales or giveaways are now considered product manipulation. The big reason the Terms of service were put into place was to stop people from operating multiple accounts and thus being able to receive ‘sales’ of the same product anywhere from 50 to 100 times during an Amazon product launch. Specifically, Amazon are trying to stop buyers from receiving codes to allow them to do this for free. You can now have your product suspended for this. Always remember this and you’ll be fine: Real sales are unique sales to an individual.

Reviews Can Help but Don’t Depend On Them

Great customer reviews are always welcome but you should not depend on them to help boost sales of your product. While Amazon won’t remove or stifle a review if a customer got a discount on your product (remember though, no coupon codes for free) they can take down good reviews, paid in full by the customer, if they have been attacking the buyer accounts. There is also some unpredictability overall in terms of the reason or reasons why Amazon removes some reviews. All you can do is turn the review machine on, have a great follow up sequence in place, and get reviews as naturally as you can. The best way to success is to have a great quality product and then you can worry about everything else.

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142 Amazon Launch Strategy for 2017 from Brad Moss of Product Labs – Part 3 of 4

We’re going to start this off wide open. Can you give us some tips on the best tips for selling in 2017?

Brad runs a one-stop consulting firm that helps Amazon sellers and one of the strategies they use is not to think of a product or product sales life cycle one dimensionally. There are different phases a product goes through. You want to identify those phases and what is need for each phase. A lot of people are wondering what to do for an Amazon launch. After the review blast is over, what do you do?

They have something called “Spur the Machine” that they do for their ASINs and sellers. It’s a four phase approach to the first step of getting something up on Amazon. In their experience, it takes about three months to get a product up and running and there’s a lot going into this.

They have four phases for launching a product.

  1. Prepare the launch
    1. Do everything you can with your branding and imaging.
    2. Optimize the backend to, your best guess, the keywords.
    3. Make sure you have brand control.
    4. Get your price point on-par or slightly below competition.
    5. Setup your review follow-up campaigns.
  2. Launch
    1. Push PPC ad campaigns for 2-4 weeks.
      1. Do automatic and your best guess manual one.
    2. Let them sit and see what the best keyword results are. Determine which keywords you’re overpaying for.
    3. Track your conversion rates and your sessions per product.
  3. Refine
    1. After 2-4 weeks, determine what needs to go from broad match to specific match.
    2. Start using AMS with the keywords you have found to be useful.
    3. Optimize your listing based on the initial feedback you’re getting.
    4. Push promotions for you products.
      1. It’s been said that Amazon give a bump to new products which drops off and promotions during this time will help push the product.
    5. Refine your review follow-up campaign.
    6. Use the data you have collected and refine you email campaign.
  4. Make a mid-term plan
    1. Now that your product is up and running, get some more reviews, stop your big promotion push, and make a three month strategy.
    2. Refine your PPC and AMS for long-term results.
    3. Set up long-term deals and promotions.

The big thing is to take a snapshot, then stop and review your data. People tend to keep going and make small adjustments along the way. Doing that makes it difficult to see what’s happening and what’s causing it.

You’ve told us how to get sales rank, and how to use PPC to drive traffic and then refine it to make a profit. However, the one thing people still worry about is getting reviews. How important do you think that is, and how do you deal with that side of things?

Some research was done on this topic. They gathered data from millions of SKUs and they found that the number of reviews stop mattering after 21 reviews. After that, it’s the amount of stars you have. Reviews matter for sure. Intuition would say that a product with 3000 reviews would do better than one with 100. However, according to the data, what really matters is the star rating.

How do you go about getting those 21 reviews in a post-incentivised world?

Brad has found that when you run promotions, there is a higher rate of reviews that comes from people buying your product. The normal rate is about 1-3% of people who buy your product, will review your product. That number jumps up quite a bit when you run promotions. Usually, you don’t have to give away more than 30-50 units on products with a lower price point. With product over $100, you could probably get away with less.

A Facebook crowd around your brand is a great resource. You can promote new products there and get a good response

What do you do specifically with a Facebook crowd? Do you have any specific strategies around that?

If you have built up a following around your brand. i.e. A Facebook page or group. You can leverage that following to help you. When you have an Amazon launch and are trying to get a new product out there, you can post about it on your page or group and tell them about your promotions, and ask them to leave a review. It’s a great resource if you have that following.

So you can ask for a review. When you do these promotions, do you do based on discount codes?

You can. It’s the idea of making your Facebook community feel special.

That makes sense. I guess the question is around the Terms of Service. If you give a promotion code to people where people on Amazon don’t have access to it, and you ask for a review, will that raise a red flag for Amazon?

It’s hard to say. Within Amazon, it’s an individual person making the call every time. They have their SOPs that say if someone is given a promotion for a review, take it off. If it’s in a grey area, Brad has seen them overreach their bounds too much. However, there should be nothing against giving away promotions for your products.

Let’s say, for example, I give an 80% off coupon. It’s a general code and not a one-time use. I send it to 200 people on my email list and tell them to check out our latest product and I add in something to the effect of asking for a review. Will that raise a red flag at Amazon?

It shouldn’t. It’s such a new thing and Brad doesn’t know what the internal procedures are but it’s not an incentivised review. You’re not saying, “Here’s a product so that you’ll review it for us.”

That’s good to know coming from someone that worked inside Amazon and explains a bit  about the inconsistencies with the implementation. You’re saying that Amazon themselves haven’t sorted it out internally yet?

Brad could see that argument between two VPs as he has seen in the past, however, he doesn’t have much more insight than that. All he can really go on is the success of promotions in that past that his firm has experienced.

139 Greg Mercer on Amazon in 2017 – Part 5 of 5

What are your thoughts on Amazon in 2017? What’s coming? And what do we need to do to prepare for it?

It’s no surprise to anyone that sales with Amazon in 2017 will get more complicated. There is more competition. It will probably weed out those that aren’t committed and aren’t willing to invest the time and money needed. It’s going to get more sophisticated. The person just throwing something up on Amazon probably isn’t going to make it. The ones that put in the effort, and work to make sure it’s a good product to sell will excel.

We’re going to need better listings now that there is enhanced brand content. More people will start using that making it more difficult for those who don’t.

Email follow-up sequences will become more important. They’ve always been important, but now that they are the only real way to get reviews, they are that much more important.

Inventory management will become more important. It’s not secret that Amazon’s distribution centers are bursting at the seams. That can’t really hold more products. So we will likely see stricter inventory control. Whether that’s higher storage fees, or they don’t allow to send in shipments on products that they already have a lot of inventory for.

It’s seems obvious hearing that, but I didn’t really think about it. A couple months ago we were trying to ship products to Amazon. We were warned against sending new products until after the holidays. And it’s fantastic that you were able to talk to Amazon lawyers. It’s reassuring to know that JumpSend is sound and don’t have to worry about getting flagged or banned for using it. I’m definitely going to use it with my next launch.

138 Greg Mercer on Amazon Product Launch – Part 4 of 5

One of the big things in 2017 we’ve got to deal with now, Greg Mercer, is obviously launching. In October of 2016, incentivised reviews were banned in the US, then shortly after, Germany, the UK, and the whole of Europe. How do you do an Amazon product launch now?

Greg has first-hand experience with this as he has launched six or seven products since October; three or four in the last few weeks. An Amazon product launch is very different after this updated Terms of Service was released.

Let’s take a 10,000 ft. look at this. In order to rank organically on Amazon, you need to have sales. There are a few ways to get sales. You can make your products really cheap, you can try to drive outside traffic, you can use deal sites like JumpSend. Without sales, you can launch your product but it will end up in the deep dark hole of Amazon and no one will find it. As Amazon sellers, we need to be thinking about how we can get sales on a product that is not organically ranking and  doesn’t have any reviews so there’s no social proof.

Greg utilizes his JumpSend tool. It’s a deal site where about 30,000 people are visiting and looking for good deals. It’s no longer a place to get reviews, it’s a place to get sales. It still works, and it is completely within the Terms of Service of Amazon.

So Greg puts his products on JumpSend. Then he offers it at a price people want it, which can vary. He offers about five coupons a day, maybe ten if it’s competitive. From this, he is getting sales. He will do this for about a week. After that time, the product will be ranking very well. From those sales, a few will end up resulting in a review. He will also turn on pay-per-click advertising (PPC). It’s costly, but it does get you sales. That’s what you need to get started; you have to have these sales.

Where most people go wrong, is that they get scared of spending the money. Usually, Greg has to turn PPC so high that he is losing money on that sale. If he is offering 70% off, then he is likely losing money. People seem to get shy about losing money. However, that’s a part of doing business but you will recoup this money in the long-term. A big problem for people is that they’re afraid to bid the PPC that high, or they’re afraid to give that big of a discount because they’re afraid of losing money.

That’s the gist of it. To do an Amazon product launch, you have to force sales somehow. The easiest way is deal sites and PPC. Then you’ll start ranking organically, and start getting reviews. Another thing is that you definitely want to have an email follow up sequence turned on. You can use any tool for that, but keep in mind that JumpSend is also a follow-up email service as well as a deal site. It’s nice that it is a full launch package. No matter what you use, before you do your first giveaway, you need to have some sort of email follow-up that asks for a review.

The first email will thank them for the purchase. The second may let them know that they can contact you if you have any issues. The third could ask for a review. With an email sequence you’ll see that you can get 10-15 reviews out of 100 compared to the 3 out of 100 you may get without one.

Going back to the coupons. Amazon forbids any action that tries to manipulate the sales ranking, and in a way, giving out coupons does that. It’s not so much following the letter of the law but how Amazon sees that. If you give coupons to only JumpSend users but not to the general public, is that potentially violating the Terms of Service?

There is a clause in the ToS that was release in the first quarter of 2016 that said something to the effect that purposely manipulating sales rank is against the rules. It comes down to, what does this mean? It is a bit of a grey area. Greg’s personal opinion is that Amazon put that in because, at the time, sellers were doing these massive giveaways, especially in the supplement category. They were giving away about 100 units everyday for a couple days. That is probably what that clause was looking to prevent.

So, is giving away a couple coupons a day considered manipulating sales rank? All Greg really cares about is making sales and ranking organically in the search results. Since those Terms of Service were released, there hasn’t been anyone, that we’re aware of, that has gotten in trouble for manipulating sales rank. Some have gotten in trouble for some review type infractions. They have been big sellers doing about $500,000 a month. One seller, their VA got in touch with a top reviewer, didn’t ask for a review but it might have been implicated that they expected one, and their account was suspended for two months.

Some sellers have mentioned that some of their reviews were removed if the discount was too high. The sales were legitimate and organic in every way, but if the discount was over 50% off the regular price, then they were removed. You mention that you might give 70%-80% off, does that create any issues, as far as Terms of Service?

Amazon’s ToS are really vague, so Greg bases his knowledge off data and what people are actually experiencing. Whatever you do, do NOT imply that they are getting the discount in exchange for a review! That is a clear violation of Amazon’s ToS. If a person uses a coupon to buy a product, you’re just giving out coupons to make sales. Since October, Gerg has noticed that some of the reviews have been marked “unverified”, so he assumes that those are the ones bought with a coupon.

There is no way to know since you can’t track a review to an order. It seems that, for now, they are sticking. They might not stick a year from now. For the short-term, they are nice to have since, when you do an Amazon product launch, you won’t have many reviews. So even though they are unverified, it’s better to have them than little to no reviews.

They’ve done a lot of testing, and there is no one number, say 30% off, that will get a product verified. Some products, you can give a 50% off coupon and it will show verified. You can give 20% on another, and that will result in it being unverified. Even if you post it publically in the listing.

It’s reassuring that you’re not hearing about people getting their accounts suspended for giving away coupons and that, if you have a follow-up sequence, you can still get reviews. Since you have so many JumpSend users, you have a good amount of data. Also, that Amazon doesn’t seem as trigger happy with this as they seem to be with reviews.

Greg gives away about 5-10 units a day. That isn’t really manipulating sales rank. If it was 100 units a day or 500 units a day, it is probably more likely that Amazon will come knocking on your door. You just have to be mindful.

With the reviews, it’s worth repeating, you CANNOT give a coupon with the purpose of getting a review, or expect a review, or require a review. There is no more incentivised review.

You were talking about adjusting to new realities in 2017. At the end of last year, we tried to launch some products without an Amazon product launch service. With all the talk around incentivized reviews being banned and the risk of account suspension, I think we were a bit too risk averse. So It’s good to know that JumpSend is still an option.

Greg and some others that were running review sites had the chance to speak with Amazon lawyers. At first it was a bit scary but in the end it was a great experience. The lawyers were willing to work with them because they were looking to make the whole industry more legitimate and do away with the whole incentivized reviews.

There were a few things that aren’t in the ToS, but they did put it in writing. Big picture, you can’t incentivise anyone you’re giving a coupon to, in any way, to leave a review. An example of this, is that there were a lot of Facebook groups that had implied reviews with each other. They were saying that you don’t have to leave a review, but if you do you get more coupons. That’s not okay.

They’re not cool with you checking their review profile to see if they left a review. You may not require a review, but maybe you could check  to see if they left one or not, and kick them out of the Facebook group.

Offering them more deals or giving them more coupons if they left a review is something Amazon is not okay with.

Basically, anything you do to check up on reviews, or anything link to reviews at all. That was when ReviewKick was relaunched as JumpSend. It’s totally legit and by the books. They have the lawyers blessing. You give out coupons to these people, but you have no idea who they are, you can’t follow up to see if they left a review. They don’t get more coupons for reviews. You’re just giving away coupons in the hopes of getting more sales.

Another thing that was surprising, Amazon’s not dumb. They are very in the loop. All these Facebook groups with the implied reviews, there is probably an Amazon lawyer in the group. Amazon is very attuned with what sellers are doing.

It’s surprising that people think they can fly under the radar. Amazon is one of the biggest companies in the world, and third-party sellers account for ⅓ of their sales.

95 Amazon Reviews Update – DON’T PANIC!

Unless you’ve been living on Mars, you will have gathered by now that Amazon has done a major update, basically banning “Incentivized Reviews”.

From What I’ve seen  on the Facebook groups, as usual,  in response to an Amazon shifting of goalposts, the usual panic and “The sky is falling!” mentality abound.

My advice is: Don’t Panic! There are and will be multiple ways remaining of gathering the necessary reviews.  I’ll be going into detail on that in the next couple of weeks.

More importantly, as I focus on in this episode, is to put reviews into perspective in the first place.

  1. The main purpose of giveaways as part of a launch is, and always was, to get Sales Rank by getting sales! Simple! Reviews were, apart from being a nice bonus, mainly a plausible reason for a drastic price reduction.
  2. We don’t necessarily need hundreds of reviews to compete. THis idea is, according to Kevin Kind, just “Hogwash!” In reality, I think it depends on the competition. In some markets, maybe you do need 100-150 reviews. But if you are that worried, simply avoid markets where you need 100s of reviews just to look plausible on page 1.  Go for lower competition niches, which is generally good advice anyway unless you have pots of cash.
  3. The average review (no. of stars) is way more important, in my and others’ experience, than the number of reviews. I’ve seen my conversions drop from 30% to under 10% in response to an average rating change of just 4.8 stars to 4.2. Quality not quantity!
  4. The quality of the individual reviews that FIRST display on your page is also crucial for better conversion. As Kevin King said,  you need to have a video review or two in there (it’s the only way for most of us to have videos in our listings at all). And customers’ photos are seen as way more reliable than our own, so those are very important too. You only need a few reviews to get selling anyway, so these are the ones to go for first. How? Watch this space and I’ll tell you, but for now, just know there are still multiple options open.
  5. Apart from anything else, organic reviews tend to have a flavour of authenticity (apart from not saying “given in exchange for a discount” which always looked lame anyway). SO have an email follow-up sequence in place to get them -and get selling! I’ve had around 3-5% conversion on this, so not huge. Some people have better, some worse. But it adds up. For example, if you sold say 10 units a day (300 a month) for 3 months and got 5% of those customers to leave reviews, that should give you around 45 genuine reviews. With judicious use of other methods of reviews, that gives a nice solid feel to your listing.
  6. Basics: Differentiate and make sure your product is good! That way, you will end up with high average reviews. Remember – the average review is CRUCIAL. Way more important than raw numbers.
  7. Finally, don’t forget, this update is (for now at least) only for amazon.com. SO if you sell in .co.uk or .de or any other European marketplaces, I would gather reviews while I can in the old-school way to get ahead of the game before the inevitable transfer of this new policy to Europe. Nevertheless, the quality of your first 10 reviews is still way more important than getting a ton of mediocre “in exchange for a discount” reviews. And organic reviews will ALWAYS be best.

#66 Q & A Tuesday No. 10

Q.1 Stefan CONVERSION RATES

Lets talk conversion rates – what sort of % are you all getting through ads and through organic? I am in patio, lawn, garden and getting a terrible 2-3%. I think it might be my main image.

I have tried the price. Its really weird – I tried price points between $10 to $25 and am not seeing a big difference in conversion %. Obviously at $10 I am getting more conversions, but I’m also getting more sessions. The conversion % is still 2-3%…. 🙁

Broadly: below 10% is not good in most categories; 5% or under is emergency level.

I would test price, which sounds like you have, and test main images.

Yes it will affect CTR but it will also affect conversion as well.

Q. 2 Alexandros BREXIT

Hello guys, does anyone here have an idea on how the Brexit is going to affect FBA businesses (apart from making importing more expensive) ?

As you say, main effect is making importing more expensive if you’re converting out of pounds and buying from the Chinese in USD (or probably RMB too).

If you have USD, keep them! They are more valuable than they were to UK sellers and probably will stay so for a while.

If you haven’t already done so, set up a USD account in the UK (eg Metrobank, my bank; HSBC) and set up a receiving account to receive your USD from amazon.com with Currencies Direct.

The Euro is also more valuable at the moment if you have been selling in Europe, but seems to be a more troubled currency than the USD. You can set up a similar setup (I haven’t done this yet as not yet selling in Europe).

Q.3 David PROFIT/AMAZON ADS

PROFIT HUNGRY: Just looking for some advice on whether or not I should keep PPC running on one of my new products…really trying to maximize the bottom line, not just increase revenue. This maybe be only answered by A/B split testing +/- Ads.

Below is a quick snapshot. Thanks!

1. Launched with no reviews this month and ranking on page 1 for just about any keyword I can think of now with only 2 organic reviews.

2. 1/2 my sales are coming from PPC.

3. Avg. CPC is ~ $0.50.

4. A lot of keywords I am in position 1. For keywords where I am raking 4-5 organically, PPC pushes me to the top stop on all Ad keywords.

5. Eventhough, the ACOS is acceptable on the main keywords, this Ad spend is driving down my profit margin.

OVERALL, IS THE AD SPEND WORTH IT? WILL I GET ROUGHLY THE SAME # SALES WITHOUT IT?

Broadly: is your ad spend worth it?- depends on a. your conversion rate b. your profit margin. Your ACoS of 11-14 % roughly looks good as long as you have a healthy profit margin.

EXAMPLE

If you spend 50 cents a click average (As you say) and you have for example a conversion ratio of say 20% (1 in 5), it will cost you $2.50 ad costs per sale made though Advertising;

Then if your organic sales are 50% of your overall sales (as you say) then your average cost of advertising across ALL your sales would be $1.25 a unit. If you have a $5 profit margin, fantastic; if it’s $1, you’re making a loss.

So the missing pieces are: conversion %age and profit margin.

In answer to “Will I get roughly the same sales without advertising” – simple answer: no! You said yourself – only 50% of your sales are organic. You will nearly always get more sales with advertising; the P & L question is whether you make overall more profit with it than without. To answer that, you need to crunch the numbers.

Q.4 Ben PROMO CODE WORRIES

I’d just like to clarify some details regarding discount codes.

I understand that I can limit these to one use per customer.

But does that limit it to one ITEM per customer?

So, a customer might be able to use the code once, but in that one purchase wipe out loads of my inventory?

Thanks everyone 🙂

Good news: as long as you use only a $ amount off, you are perfectly safe.

EXAMPLE A1

customer has your coupon code for $19 off.

Buys 1 unit of your $20 product, pays $1.

Example A2

customer has your coupon code for $19 off.

Buys 3 units of your $20 product, pays $41.

NEVER use %age off for a giveaway. Here’s why:

EXAMPLE B1

customer has your coupon code for 95% off.

Buys 1 unit of your $20 product, pays $1.

Looks okay, right?

BUT…

EXAMPLE B2

customer has your coupon code for 95% off.

Buys 3 units of your $20 product, pays JUST $3

or even…

EXAMPLE B3

Buys 300 units of your $20 product, pays just $15!

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