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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
You can. It’s the idea of making your Facebook community feel special.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
What are the other numbers people make mistakes on? What things to people go wrong on and how can they go right?
There are a lot of great services out there to handle promotions, but one major mistake is failing to calculate the cost of those promotions. It might sound like a great idea to give away another 10 units until you factor in the cost of that. It’s important to get those numbers in front of you because that is a lot of money.
Weigh your reasoning for doing that. Is it important to show Amazon that continued sales velocity? Do you want to hit 1000 reviews? Is that really important? For Ryan, he has goals outside of Hello Profit and Amazon. He wants to help others. By taking a look at his numbers and not just throwing money away to be the big seller, it helps him reach those goals.
It’s a very important element of selling on Amazon that is underrated and not talked about so much. Ryan was talking with another seller that had been working with Amazon for about a year that didn’t know what unit session percentage was or where to find it.
What this is, is the ratio of people that visit your page (sessions) to the number of units that those people purchase (unit session percentage)
This number is very important to Amazon. Amazon has very limited amount of space to devote to ads and they spend actual money on you promoting products on Facebook and other places.
So it’s in their best interest to promote products that will convert. So will they choose product A that maybe 1 out of 5 times someone that visits that page, will buy the product. Or, product B that gets 1 sale out of 10? Amazon wants the higher converting product because that means they will make more money of the sales.
Whenever Ryan got his unit session percentage up, he noticed a lot more traffic to his ASIN because Amazon started promoting that product more.
Is there a magic number of conversion percentage we should hit?
There probably isn’t a magic number but Ryan suspects that it varies by category. For instance, in beauty, shoppers will more likely comparison shop. So they will look at several different items before choosing, therefore conversion rates will be lower. Unlike hammers which shoppers will likely buy the first one they come to.
On a side note, Ryan was getting around 30% in home improvement, which is really good. Sometimes up to 40%. However, if you’re getting 20%, that’s still very good. If you’re in the teens, still probably above average. However, if you’re below 10%, it’s probably a sign there is an issue with your listing.
With unit session percentage, is it important to differentiate between units per session or orders per session? For instance, if someone buys 10 units in a single order, that gives 10 units for one order
It seems to be units per session that matters. So if you sell 10 units in a single order, it’s 100% order session percentage, but it’s it’s 1000% unit session percentage.
It’s unit sales that seem to drive Amazon. If Amazon can send an ad and get 2 units sold instead of 1, they get that 15% commision twice for the same ad. It is definitely in their interest to promote that product, so focus on units per session.
Refunds often denote returns, and returns are not your friend. You will get listings, and even accounts, shut down if you have too high a return rate.
Hello Profit has recently started tracking your refunds for you right on your merchant and product dashboard so you can see your rate of refund.
Now you can see if you are having a lot of refunds and can do something about it; check your customer feedback, reach out to them, interrupt that process somehow and contact the customer first instead of Amazon and give them their money back.[When I had a product where a customer wasn’t happy, I contacted them and apologized. Refunded their money and let them keep the product. Now, that product probably had a 5-6% return rate, but Amazon showed less than 1% because instead of putting “Faulty product ” or whatever that option is called,, as the reason for refund, I put “General adjustment”, which really means nothing]
Ryan brought up an example of his experience going the other way. He had a listing taken down because of returns. Once that happens, they start doing an investigation into your inventory which can take weeks. This is just as bad, if not worse than running out of inventory.
Customer order information
Hello Profit has not gotten into the automated email append world but it’s easy to find services for that, but HP makes it easy for you to do that on your own.
In HP you can pull up your entire customer list with all the information. You get the customer’s name, their real mailing address, and their phone number, and you can take that data to get their real email address.
It’s amazing what you can do with this. For example, you can look up which customers used a particular coupon code, get their email addresses and add them to Facebook as a custom audience. Then you can drive them to your ad. They’ll see recognize your product which will legitimize your company to them. Then when they click on it you can direct them to another item, or to review that item or anything.
This is data you can’t get directly from Amazon. You can download your order data from Amazon but it doesn’t give you the phone numbers, so you can use an email append service to find the real email. What you can do, and this is free, is download the customers that used a coupon code. You can get their Amazon encrypted email and write them that way and ask for a review.
What some of Ryan’s customers have done with this data, is look at seasonal items and find that they are very geographically located. The ASIN is very hot in Texas, California, and Florida. Then, they can go on Google and target those locations only and make a killing.
What top software tools do you use for Amazon selling?
Jungle Scout (affiliate link)
Cynthia Stine – She helped Ryan get his account back up when they were shut down for image non-compliance. Her team turned him onto Canva. They convert your images to make sure they are Amazon compliant.
Time Doctor – To keep track of his VA team as they come up withnew products.
Asia Inspection – To inspect the products before they leave the factory.
Slack – For internal communications
You can’t overinvest in your staff. They are doing the autopilot tasks. If they know that you love them, and that you care about them, and you give them praise, as well as some of your cash, they’ll love you back and you’ll be able to grow much better. Empower others so you don’t have to micromanage, and you can focus on growing your company.
What trends do you see happening on Amazon over the next 18 months?
I was listening to the cocreator of the Amazon marketplace and he was fielding this question about whether Amazon was just taking over the private label space. The bottom line is Amazon is going to keep growing and the marketplace, the thirdparty sellers, just does too well for Amazon to just take it over directly.
We’re essentially Jeff Bezos’s VAs. We’re doing the hard work to make Amazon grow into the biggest most well-rounded inventory that the world has ever seen. Amazon is too large to be able to focus on a single product the way third party sellers can.
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