October 2019 Amazon News

[NEWS] – Amazon Releases IP Accelerator Program, Live Video Creator

Amazon Announces IP Accelerator Program, Live Creator for Livestream product demo videos, and sales tax collection updates…

Sales Funnels - 3 Steps to Creating a Intent-Based Sales Funnel for Your Products

[How to] Build an Intent-Based Sales Funnel for Your Products

Learn why building an intent-based sales funnel will help you increase your conversions and build a stronger brand identity for your products in the online marketplace.

How to Write Optimized Feature Bullets

[How-To] Write Optimized Feature Bullets for Your Amazon Listing

A very common challenge for sellers when writing their Feature bullets and descriptions is accurately communicating the features of their products to customers in a way that will help remove barriers to buying the product and increase the chance for a sale. This article explains how to write your feature bullets so that customers will have no doubt that what you sell is what they want.

[POST] How to Beat the Summer Sales Slump Blues

[POST] How to Beat the Summer Sales Slump Blues

It’s summertime and you may have experienced a drop in sales. In eCommerce, we refer to this as the “summertime sales slump” or “summer sales doldrums”. In this post, you’ll learn about 5 different ways you can beat the summertime selling sadness!

How to Sell More Online by Removing Barriers for Customers

[How-To] Sell More Online by Removing Barriers for Customers

Learn how to sell more online by removing common barriers your customers face while shopping online. The easier it is for customers to find, validate, and purchase your products, the easier it will be for you to sell it.

Amazon Title Guideline Changes

[Important] – Amazon to Suppress All Listings Not in Compliance with Title Guidelines

Amazon announced on June 17th that it will begin suppressing listings from its search results if they do not comply with the Title Guidelines. What will this mean for your listings and selling privileges?

(Post) Amazon June 2019 Updates

Amazon Updates for June 2019 – Videos, Sales Taxes, and More…

Amazon released three major updates in 4 days to kick off the Summer selling season of 2019. How will these changes impact your Amazon business?

How to optimize your Amazon Product Listings

(Guide) How to Optimize Your Amazon Product Listings – 2019 edition

In this step-by-step guide, you will learn the steps required for listing optimization so that shoppers reading your listing will understand what you're buying and why they should buy it.

You'll also learn how to write your listing content for Amazon's “A9” search algorithms so that you are properly “indexed and ranked” for your product's most relevant and traffic-generating search term phrases.

Step 1: Optimize your title.

For indexing, the product listing title is the #1 most important string of text in your entire listing.  There are some very basic guidelines you should follow to ensure that the Amazon A9 search algorithm is indexing and ranking you properly for what you’re selling:

  1. Make sure your title has your primary traffic generating keywords ordered FIRST after your brand name.
  2. Be sure to capitalize the first letter of each word.
  3. Do not use special characters or punctuation (hashtags, quotation marks, periods, exclamation points) – commas are okay if used sparingly and it makes sense.  It is better to use the pipe symbol “|” or dashes “-” to separate phrases.
  4. Do not use any promotional or marketing language (“sale”, “best”, “warranty”, “guarantee”, “deal”)
  5. Be sure that your title does not exceed the max character limits
  6. If you have a product that has size, dimensions, and/or colors, put that at the very end, in parentheses.  An example:  Marvel Avengers Captain America Mens Graphic Shield Design T-Shirt (Blue, XL)
  7. Pay close attention to how your title reads naturally as if someone's actually searching for your product (write in a natural and phrase-driven voice)
  8. Mobile optimization: ensure your most relevant and traffic intense search phrase is at the front so that is visible to those shopping using the Amazon mobile shopping app.

Step 2: Optimize your images.

  1. The main image should have a pure, white background (no “pixelation” or “artifacts” ) and should fill up 85% of the image frame.  No text is allowed.
  2. All images should be “zoomable” which means that if a shopper hovers their mouse cursor over the image, they will be able to see a high-resolution close up of the product.  This will require images be uploaded with at least 2000 px on either side (width or length)
  3. Incorporate a mixture of high-resolution lifestyle images and infographics explaining the features and benefits of the product when in use.
  4. Avoid using stock photography.  Invest in having professional photographs taken of your products in use and on display.   People have keen eyes and can generally tell the difference between a “photoshopped” image and something that is really being used in the photo.

Here is an example of a listing with a good main image combined with lifestyle images (using the tried and true “stainless steel garlic press” example):

https://www.amazon.com/ORBLUE-Garlic-Stainless-Mincer-Crusher/dp/B00HHLNRVE

Step 3:  Write Benefit Driven Feature Bullets

Aside from your main images, price, and number of reviews, often times your feature bullets will be the final “conversion factor” in determining if a shopper browsing your listing is going to click the “Add to Cart” button.

Pro Tip:  Write bullets as if you were answering common/frequently asked questions or “concerns” the shopper has.  Think here about the specific utility and function of your product and why someone is wanting to buy it to begin with.

Well-written feature bullets will lead with the feature and follow up with the benefits behind the feature.  Alternatively, you can lead with a benefit statement, a use the features of the product to highlight benefits.

Here is an example that was taken from the listing referenced in the link above.  The features are highlighted in blue. Benefits are highlighted in red.

The Orblue Stainless Steel Garlic Press is a food-grade garlic crusher and mincer that sports an ergonomic design for quick and powerful processing with minimal effort. FDA approved for food safety.

How to write great Amazon Listing Feature bullets:

  1. Lead with features, follow with benefits
  2. Note how many characters you are allowed (most categories allow up to 500 characters) and utilize as much of this space as you can using keyword driven statements relevant to your product.
  3. Remember, as with the title and other content in your listing, be sure you are only using the most relevant and related keywords and search phrases so that the search algorithm will display your listing to potential buyers that are actually wanting and searching for what you’re selling.

Step 4:  Use your Description to Restate your Feature Bullets and Add More Detail

Did you know that when you check your listing on the Amazon mobile shopping app, the description, NOT the feature bullets appears first?

Think about how this impacts the ability for you to communicate the key features and benefits of your product to all those shopping using their smartphones (which accounts for more than 50% of all Amazon sales).

Write your description in such a way that outlines the same statements in your bullet points, but utilize the extra space here to make your statements more complete.

If you are brand registered and have Enhanced Branded Content enabled, you should use this feature to replace the description by leading first with your features and benefits as the description block will be replaced by the enhanced content.

Here’s what a good Enhanced Branded Content page optimized for mobile looks like.  Note that the seller has outlined the key features and benefits at the top.
optimized enhanced branded content listing on mobile

Here is an example of how to NOT write your product description – notice how the seller just talks about their business and warranty information.

Not to mention the fact that it’s written in poor English (likely a foreign seller). This forces the shopper to scroll to the bottom to learn more about the product itself.

It is recommended that you keep scrolling time at a minimum as people are likely not to spend a lot of time reading.  Attention spans are short and the sooner you can communicate your features to your potential buyer, the better.

Example of How Not to Write a Product Listing Description

Step 5: Optimize your Backend Keywords

Depending on the product and category in which you sell in, you may have the following attributes available to enter attribute data associated with your product.  These attributes are keyword and search-indexed, which means that Amazon’s A9 algorithms use the data in these fields to match customer search criteria. Amazon also uses it to target sponsored ads.

This is why it’s important to fill these fields out completely if you have them available.

These fields are:

  • Intended Use
  • Target Audience
  • Other Attributes
  • Subject Matter
  • Search Terms
  • Platinum Keywords (for Platinum Merchants only)

Let's say you're selling a men's blue ski jacket and you're trying to fill these fields out.

Intended Use would describe the most ideal uses for your jacket.

  • Skiing
  • Walking
  • Hiking
  • Snowboarding

Target Audience would be the people who are most likely to buy your product

  • Men
  • Women
  • Unisex -adult

Other Attributes are fields that describe other features associated with your product that might not already listed in your feature bullets.

  • easy to fold
  • dries quickly
  • easy pull zipper

Subject Matter are fields that contain information about the topics related to the intended use of your product.  In this case, skiing.  You can use Amazon's search results for “ski jacket” to come up with ideas as to what subjects your product is related to.  Just go to Amazon and search for “ski jacket” and note the sub-categories the search results are connected to.

use Amazon's search to find out what related subjects are connected to your product

From this list we see that we could add several subjects, but the most relevant to “men's ski jacket” would probably be:

  • Men's Skiing Clothing
  • Men's Activewear
  • Men's Snowboarding Clothing

In Conclusion

A highly optimized product listing is critical to converting traffic to sales on Amazon.  Of course, there are other key factors at play here – the primary ones being price and reviews.  Without a competitive price and social proof, despite a “well-optimized listing”, you will struggle to get sales for your products.

If you still are having difficulty achieving sales after implementing the 5 steps above to improving your on-page and backend content, you should look at your the type of product you’re selling, the price in relation to your competition, and the number of reviews you have.  There are always ways to improve your sales without having to get hundreds of reviews, but you must “win the sale” in other ways through other marketing strategies such as external promotions via social media, influencers, and paid advertising.

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Businessman over growing chart sales ranking

[Rumor] Did Amazon Change Its Sales Ranking Algorithms?

Rumor has it that Amazon has Changed the Sales Ranking Algorithms.

Every once in a blue super blood moon (or usually the first Tuesday of every month), Amazon changes their sales ranking algorithms.

This has been a pretty consistent occurrence for the past year or so, and for those of us that follow Amazon's patented A9 search technology, such changes are nothing revelationary or shocking (albeit disruptive).

The problem is that whenever these changes happen, it really sends a shockwave of confusion, panic, doubt, and unnecessary speculation as to what Amazon is doing.

Afterall, if we can put a finger on these changes, then we can find a way to “Crack the Code” and gain a competitive advantage.

However, this really doesn't serve us very well in the long-term.  The best thing to do is to try and understand what is happening, and then pivot and adapt the best way we can – and do so as quickly as possible.

So, What's the Rumor?

A tactic some sellers have been implementing or have implemented in the past is to give away their products at a really steep discount (greater than 50%).

The premise behind this strategy was that it would boost their sales rank (BSR) and (if the item was being purchased using a “super url” of some sort – which is considered rank manipulation by the way and against TOS) – they could also boost up their rank for keywords as well.

Panic or Not?

Now, I sense a lot of people are probably asking questions like:

  • If giving away products at a big discount isn't counting at all toward page ranking, then what do I do?
  • Do we NOT give products away at a discount at all anymore?
  • How is it possible for a new seller to rank to page one for a product?

All of these are valid questions and concerns.  So let me address these concerns one by one.

What Do We Do Now?

The first important thing to consider is, we don't know for certain if Amazon is NOT including discounted items sold in their sales ranking calculations.

It's a hypothesis.

But let's just use what we DO know to validate the theory.  We DO know that Amazon has been stripping reviews from listings where the purchase was made using a discount code of greater than 40% in many cases.

If Amazon is not allowing reviews for these items discounted greater than 40%, then why would they also count it in the sales ranking as well?

So the first thing you should try (if you have been giving products away at greater than 40%) is to stop doing that and adopt a launch strategy using discounts of say 25-40% instead.

If this positively impacts your sales and page rank, then you will have your answer.  If there is little to no change, then this confirms the theory is true.

Do We Bother Using Discounts Anymore?

Absolutely.  Discounts will continue to serve as a viable means of promoting your products.

You should use them but you should use them smartly.

But should you be using discounts to manipulate rank?

Amazon clearly is making a statement with this rumored change, that it does not want sellers arbitrarily inflating their sales or page rank.

They want customers to make the ultimate judgment (and rightfully so).

Remember that your private label product is likely being judged and tested against many others of similar products.  Amazon wants your product to win based on its own merits, on many factors, not just price.

How To Rank For Products Now?

Ah, so now we get down to probably the most important question in people's minds.  Ranking to Page 1.

Here are a few things you can do to get sales velocity:

Start an Amazon Sponsored Products Campaign (PPC) Right Away

Understand that when you participate in Amazon’s Sponsored Products program, you are “priming the pump” for not just pay-per-click sales, but ORGANIC sales.  Why?  Because whenever a customer purchases your product through a sponsored ad using a relevant keyword search term for your listing, it increases the relevance score for your product in the marketplace organically for that keyword.  This, therefore, helps boost your page rank and your sales.

*Important note about Sponsored Ads: it’s entirely possible to run your advertising campaign at a loss or break even during your first month or even two.  This doesn’t mean, however, that you aren’t profiting organically based on the sales from these campaigns.  Of course, you will want to consistently fine-tune and decrease your Acos ratio  (advertising cost of sales) over time – but this is a long-term and “forever” type of strategy – you don’t want to NOT advertise your products.

Utilize a launch campaign strategy

 A launch campaign is a great way to ramp up sales velocity.  A typical launch campaign consists of giving away batches of your product away at a steep discount for several days.  There are a few ways to go about this.  There is the fast (less effort on your part) and expensive way or the less expensive and long way (more effort on your part).   

  • The fast, more expensive way:  Sign up to a service like Viral-Launch.  Give them a total of 80 units to give away at 10 per day for no less than 8 days.  This will not just help you achieve sales velocity, but improve your page rank for the main keyword for your product.   You can get 50% off your first launch here
  • The slow and less expensive route (maybe):  This technique will take some time (8  weeks) and also require some knowledge about email marketing, list building, and good copywriting skills.  It involves building a Facebook page, conducting market research, creating a viral giveaway contest, collecting emails, and then promoting tiered discounts to the email list using time scarcity.   The details about this tactic are too lengthy to go into in this post, so look out for a supplemental guide and workshop in the future on how to do this!
  • Less than stellar results but may help give a boost in other ways:  Try an Amazon Giveaway!  When you do this, you are essentially buying your own product at “full price” which means that to Amazon, this is just like if someone made a purchase!  Obviously, this can temporarily boost your sales velocity and rank.  You can do this twice per month without Amazon blinking an eyelash, and if sales go stagnant, it can even help revive your listing! 

You can create an Amazon giveaway for your product by going to your Seller Dashboard and clicking the Advertising tab.  Then click on “Promotions.”  Then you’ll see this:

amazon giveaway set up instructions

 

Click on Create and set up a giveaway.  Now, follow the steps in this image (you may have to zoom in to read it clearly):how to create an amazon giveaway

 

 

Conclusion

No one knows for sure if Amazon is or is not using discounting sales in their calculations for sales rank.  And even if they are not, remember that sales rank is a moving target – it fluctuates hourly, sometimes even minute to minute.  So trying to base your performance and sales just on sales rank alone is probably not an efficient use of your efforts.

What is important is maintaining consistent sales velocity comparative to other competitors selling similar products to yours in the same category.  Selling consistently means driving traffic to your listing consistently and converting.  As a seller, your primary focus should always be on traffic and conversions.

5 Star Reviews

How to Get More Product Reviews in 2018

How to Get More Product Reviews in 2018

One of the top questions I see posted on Facebook and elsewhere online by new and veteran eCommerce sellers is: “How do I get more verified reviews for my products?”

In today's post, I am going to show you one tactic I have used for nearly three years now quite successfully in getting VERIFIED customer feedback for my private label Amazon.com products.

This strategy is best shown visually as I wanted to show you actual examples of how OTHER successful sellers are deploying this strategy to get hundreds to thousands of customer reviews.

Before you Watch the Video

Before watching this video, I want to just say that the #1 thing you can do to get “5-star feedback” – for any product – and on any eCommerce platform (whether it's Amazon, Shopify, Etsy, or eBay) – is to offer a high-quality product that people will LOVE.

The Hard but Real Truth About Reviews

The fact is, most online shoppers don't care about you, the seller.  They don't care about making your sales conversion rates skyrocket.

The truth is, most online shoppers care only about themselves.

What's more, they probably did a lot of research to ensure they got the BEST product at the BEST price possible.

How to Get More Reviews (without being pushy, spammy, or slimy)

Watch this video below, and you'll learn exactly how to get more reviews for your products.  This is a strategy that is fairly inexpensive to do (about $.10 cents per unit) and will help increase your chances of a getting a verified feedback for your product.