"Build" Guide - how to Build your Private Label Business
Optimising your Amazon listing basically means setting up your listings to get the most traffic and the most sales. This is especially important because you want to be set up in the best possible position for success. Optimisation does not happen instantly but it is a process emanating from having the right foundation set up. Your optimization before your first product listing is actually the laying of foundation for your products or business.
Your images are the most important part of this process. First, understand the direction to which you are driving. The first goal is to increase traffic and the image is the first thing that people see. It’s the image that causes people to click on your product. You want to use the best, most captivating picture as you main image.
You need to optimise your image for all browsers and ensure it is captivating. On mobile, you want to use portrait images because they appear bigger on mobile devices. Use various shots from different angles. It is highly recommended that you use staged shots. These are the images where the product is shot where it can be found in real life. For example, if you are selling kitchen knives, have images of them in a kitchen next to a cutting board. Include images with people using the product because then the buyers can imagine themselves using the products.. Use infographics if you need to include complex information in a simple form.
When optimising your Amazon listing, a good title has to be keyword rich and feature oriented. It needs to be keyword rich because if has to be found by the Amazon algorithm. But it has needs to be easily read by humans. Your title can give the targeted buyers a brief description of the benefits and what the product does. Ensure the most important information is captured in the first 80 characters as this will ensure this section shows in all browsers. Don’t be too specific if your product has multiple uses. If you are selling a cat brush, it is likely that it can be used on dogs and other animals. Rather than saying “Cat brush” in your title, use “Pet brush.” This will attract owners of all types of pets rather than limiting yourself to a specific type.
Description and bullets play an important role in SEO as they are indexed by Amazon. The bullets give details on the uses of the product. The first three points are always the most important since those are the one that show up in mobile. The description area is important; put the most important information in the first part as this is what shows on mobile devices. Description also gives technical specification and makes your listing more professional.
As buyers understand the details of the product through the product image they become more comfortable with the price you set for the products. Ensure the image design justifies the price set for the products.
What would your advice be to someone just starting off with, say $10,000 and 20 hours a week, but still has a day job? How can they get started?
The general advice is to start small. Most people would say to start with something that can be air-shipped and fits in a shoebox. Kevin believes that is the wrong approach because that’s what everyone else is doing. Instead you should go where others aren’t. The items may be a bit larger therefore you might have to ship them by sea to reduce costs, but there will be less competition which means more potential for success.
Kevin has products in the kitchen category – he’s actually doing things that go on the stove, weigh 3-4 lbs apiece. Can sell for $10-20 profit per sale rather than $4-5.
Kevin is very emphatic about ensuring the quality of the products. Never, and he means never, ship products from China without an inspection. Whether it’s the first time working with the factory or the 6th. Always get an inspection.
Ensure that you take all these costs into consideration, and then make sure you can mark it up at least 3x. Preferably 5X Also, avoid any item that has been used as an example in a training course because there will be many people that will try to replicate it which in turn means more competition. Like Greg’s bamboo sticks or Manuel Beaver’s example product.
Finally, get good images. Pay to have high quality images of your items because it will make a difference and it will pay for itself through additional sales. Use all 9 images, at least 1500 pixels a side so they are zoomable.
Even if you spend $500 for great photos, and you sell one extra unit a day at $10 profit, you have your money back after a month and a half. A lot of people don’t read your copy. Kevin has put codes for 100% off in the description and only one person used it out of 50 orders. A vast majority of people will based their decision on the title, price, and picture.
A lot of this has to do with the fact that 60-70% of sales in the US are from mobile devices which limits how much copy people actually see. So you need to make the first little bit compelling. You have the first 200 characters of your description, and the first 3 bullet points (they have to click a button to see the others) . Make them count.
Make sure you have good packaging. Your logo should be everywhere you can put it as well as instructions for the product that prompts the customer to register the product.
Put an instruction sheet in with your packaging, that asks for a review on the back.
What advice can you offer about product launch?
Product launches are very important. Don’t skimp on product quality. You may get away with it for awhile but eventually the returns and negative reviews are going to catch up to you. Make sure to test the product yourself to ensure a high quality. The more you know about, the easier it is to market. Especially if you develop a product yourself.
As soon as there are 10-30 units of product ready (whatever fits in a case), he gets those sent over and then goes and looks for top reviewers – like Review Sniper, AMZSuite has something to look up top 10,000.
Or Google: Take competitor’s ASIN, Search string is something like:
URL=amazon.com ASIN “top 500”
Reach out – let product speak for itself. Customise it to person – send out 15 emails to top 500 reviewers – Kevin gets say 11 out of 15 to respond.
Don’t say “It’s great”; customise e.g. Milo is dog’s name, so put in “Great new product for Milo” in subject line.
We’ve got a great new product that Milo might be interested in trying out.
Here’s the link:
Let me know if you’re interested in receiving one in exchange for your honest opinion.
Don’t try and sell them on it. Let them click on the link – if they like it, they’ll get back to you.
Some of them get 200 emails a day. Some of it is garbage!
Kevin doesn’t chase them. Maybe 6-8 will write a review. He might do one follow up a week later.
I hope the item arrived okay. Let me know if you have any questions.
Looking forward to your comments.
Don’t say things like “I sent this to you for free – why haven’t you reviewed it?
The next step would be to invest heavily in pay-per-clicks for a few days.
He will bid say $5 a click for a few days on an Automatic campaign. Then dial back pay per click to say 50 cents a click. This will boost your visibility on Amazon. Any sales are just gravy.
All you really need is 5-10 reviews.
It will boost the SEO value of your product which will lead to high conversion rates. You may be losing money on these sales but it will establish you in the search results. At this point you will want to incrementally increase the price back to where you intend to sell it.
Reach out to your competitors customers. Look up top reviews of competing products and contact the top reviewers about your product with a personalized email. You can offer them the product for free for their opinion on it. This will help validate the product and get the ball rolling. The best would be to get a video review. Kevin recommends hiring a service that can connect your with reviews. He recommends getting two or three reviews per variation of your product.
It’s critical to have a good video review, on the first page. If you get one down the road, it may get buried. If you get it early on, it’s likely to stick to the first page. Kevin uses a service that has keen video reviewers. Even if it’s a boring simple product, a 45 second video makes a big difference.
Once he has several reviews, he’ll discount the product say $45 product down to $19, and go for PPC aggressively. He’ll start getting lots of sales for say 4-5 days, any reviews will be verified reviews. Low price boosts conversion rate. Losing money on each sale but cost of entry to market. Run for 200-300 units. It goes into algorithm.
Then raise to $24.95, $29.95 back up to $45 and that’s where it will stay.
If you go “out of range” (too high) with your price, you’ll lose the buy box, even if you are the only seller! Amazon flags it as an error.
Kevin looks at first shipment of say 1000 units as a cost of entry to a market. You have to buy your position. It’s an upfront investment. He’s got onto page 2, Kevin will spend a bit more to get to page 1, after which he will be into big profits.
You can have a product that is not in a competitive category so you don’t have to do much advertising. Just run a low bid ad campaigns.
Kevin had a sports category product that sold only 1-3 units a day, he played with various things till it took off. Now it sells about 20 a day at $14 profit per unit after advertising cost. Kevin recommends “Hello Profit”.
The importance of cost analysis (esp. advertising costs)
Kevin explains that the number of sales doesn’t matter. Profit does. People who run Facebook groups who boast about sales numbers don’t interest Kevin.
A lot of people have cashflow but they aren’t making profit. You can have 100 sales a day, but if you don’t factor in advertising and other expenses into your cost, you might just break even or actually be losing money.
Kevin uses spreadsheets to track his costs, once he has the data, he builds Advertising costs into Cost of Goods Sold. Kevin adds up what the overall cost of advertising is over all units sold. He knows therefore what his maximum spend on Amazon Ads can be to break even or to make a profit.
Don’t use ACoS to work out real ad costs.
EXAMPLE: Kevin has a custom product made in china for $20 each, $1.50 to ship, a few other fees, so hard cost is about $23. He sells it for $59. Amazon takes about a third roughly.
SO Amazon is roughly paying him $40 cashflow. Now he knows how much PPC costs – he can spend $7 a unit sold on advertising to make $10 per product. If say his PPC sales are ⅓ of his sales, he could spend $21 per PPC sale and still break even.
Don’t go off ACoS to work out true Ad cos per sale – you need to break it down. Export search term report into Excel or Google numbers etc. and create a pivot table.
You need to factor in COGS and changes of sales price. Lifetime ACoS is almost meaningless. You need to see what you’re making on every single sale: how much you made and how much you spent on Ads.
If you can’t or don’t want to do this analysis, hire someone else to do it.
Kevin recommends Hello Profit . It is a great tool that will factor in the advertising costs, manufacturing costs, refunds, fees, and everything else that affects your profit. Kevin logs in 3-4 times a day and it will automatically calculate COGS, Amazon ads, Returns etc.
It’s not perfect or as good as Xero or Quickbooks but it’s the best thing to do to keep an eye on what’s happening. Kevin uses it to adjust PPC. If you have more than one product, at least try their 21 Free or $1 trial. Don’t forget to factor in Refunds!
What is your process for keyword research?
Do it before you order. Once Kevin decides on his product, he does the research. Before he places his first order. Using Keyword Inspector and Scientific Seller , he will do research on his competitors to collect keyword data. Google Keyword planner is good for research, as is Merchant Words, but some of the words are not associated with your product.
Taking all the data gathered he uses Helium 10 to makes sense of it all to find the best keywords. It de-dedupes it [removes duplicate keywords]. He’ll use this tool to build out his listing. Kevin doesn’t repeat keywords in his listing.
Amazon is always changing so it’s important to stay up on the trends. Right now the title is very important. Everything in the title will get indexed by Amazon. If you have a title like “Blue Garlic Press”, it will also index you for “Garlic Press” – some are giving away 200 units to rank for 10 keywords.
The next thing to get indexed are the bullet points. Amazon tells you they don’t index those but that’s BS.
In most categories, they do not index The description doesn’t get indexed completely. Only part of it so you need to make sure that your strongest keywords are in the first or second line.
You can type in your ASIN in the Amazon search bar next to a keyword and see if your listing is getting indexed for that keyword
e.g. into search bar, put:
B00HEZ888K Soft-handled Garlic Press
Trust but verify!
Q& A Tuesday No. 7 Show Notes:
Q1: Anila: I know that inventory listed in Amazon.com can be listed on Amazon.co.uk under the same ASIN but can it work the other way round too? i.e. listed in UK first and same ASIN listed in US after?
Michael : Hi Anila, not done it personally but I believe so. Talk to SC – but maybe talk to more than one rep so you check it out properly.
Seller Central Response:
“Dear Anila,Thank you for contacting us. As per your concern, I would like to inform you that you can use the same ASIN in various marketplaces. Lets say, if you are selling an item on Amazon.co.uk then you can list the same item with same ASIN on Amazon.com or any other market as well.”
Q2: Dan: Quick question for those selling in the US and the UK – once you’ve set up your US seller central account, and then when you’re planning to sell the same product in the UK also, do you set up a completely new UK seller central account? When I try to set up my UK account, using my business email address, it says the email address is already in use. So should I set up a completely new UK seller central account using a different email address, and pay the monthly fees separately, or should I be somehow linking my US and UK accounts?
A2: Simple answer, yes, you need a new Seller Central Account for the UK. With a different email address. But actually it is a Europe account so it includes UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain Amazon marketplaces (ie all Amazon European marketplaces).
I think this is actually good news in that it diversifies your risk – even if your US account was shut down (worst case scenario), your Europe one should be safe – and vice versa (as ever, check the latest ToS at the time of reading however!)
Q3: Ben: I noticed in your blog post to support the latest podcast that you recommend using <b>bold</b> html in the listing. [also paragraph <p>paragraph</p>] I can’t get this to work for love nor money…is there something I’m missing or have amazon stopped this? All my competition has bold in their listings…
Rob Sleath – “this has been against TOS for at least a year, if not longer. However general consensus seems to be to do it until you get told otherwise. I think they typically give you a performance notification/violation and blank out the description entirely. Performance notifications etc. are serious, particularly if you’ve had a few before. If you decide to do it you might need to do it via flatfile upload if it won’t let you enter it in the backend.”
Michael: It may be that Amazon have stopped the ability to do this directly in certain categories. I tend to copy or try to beat the competition until Amazon raps me over the knuckles but you need to weigh up risk and reward.
Q4: Ruth Hi everyone, what are the rules now on getting friends and family to review your products? Is this no longer allowed or is it allowed with a disclaimer? I am selling in the UK and after many delays my product is finally being on its way so I am working on my listing and my launch plan. I am also looking at review groups but I do have many friends and family wanting to support me and buy my product which is great, but if they could review it as well that would be even better. Also, if you sell items through other means (like in a shop or market or somewhere that’s not on amazon) – can the customers still leave a review on amazon?
Hi Ruth, as far as I know it’s always been against ToS (Terms of Service) in theory. I think it always was, to be honest.
It’s an obvious conflict of interest. Amazon and their customers obviously want objective reviews. We obviously want favourable reviews!
Having said which, if Amazon can’t link the buyer to you, you should be safe. Apparently, it’s easy for them to put you together if you’ve used the same IP address etc., otherwise you should be reasonably safe. I’ve heard that they may be able to trace your friends if you are Facebook Friends with them. But I have no strong proof or insider knowledge either way. Again a risk you need to weigh up. I might do it on a small scale if I had to but I wouldn’t want to do a large giveaway that way.
Again, you have to weigh up risks and benefits.
Risking a listing suspension over HTML in description is probably not worth doing, as the Description is no longer indexed by the algorithm and probably has little impact on buyers and thus conversion these days. So if you have had too many performance notifications, I would give that a miss.
But getting Reviews is vital, so if you have no other ways of doing it, I might push it a bit more on that front.