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How Efforts in Selling at Amazon Expanded Through Years - Amazon Marketing Tips with Anthony Lee - Part 1
November 15, 2021
How Efforts in Selling at Amazon Expanded Through Years - Amazon Marketing Tips with Anthony Lee - Part 1
 Things we discussed in this session:

A. Part 1

B. Part 2

Things we mention in this session of Seller Round Table:

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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er not and amy Wiis, Hey, [00:00:10] spk_1: what's up everybody? This is Andy on it with And this is selling a round table number 117 we have Anthony Lee back the myth, the man the legend Anthony thanks so much for being on. [00:00:23] spk_0: Thank you for having me again. [00:00:26] spk_1: Yeah, absolutely. So if you have not heard Anthony uh his backstory on previous episodes, you can go listen to that. But for the people who have never heard of you before, which is, I just don't believe it. You know, it's like not knowing who kim Kardashian is, you know, in the [00:00:41] spk_2: ambulance face. [00:00:42] spk_1: So Anthony tell the people who don't know the amazon kim Kardashian [00:00:49] spk_2: who you are and who is kim Kardashian? Okay, [00:00:53] spk_0: right. I wish I [00:00:54] spk_1: wish we did. So that I think our society would be much better off. But I digress. [00:00:58] spk_0: You realize that you just built a psychological bridge between me and kim Kardashian though. Hey, [00:01:03] spk_1: you know what, you might like rap stars. You know, I'm just saying, you know, I'm I'm just saying it might there might be some comparisons there. [00:01:11] spk_0: Okay, uh so yeah, the quick back story, I've been in the space since 2014, a cellar a consultant and I've actually worked for a couple of the big software software is in the space. I was with six lead for six years and then uh helium, 10, signal itics and moved away from SAS and now working with canopy management on the agency side. So I have access to a lot of data. I've seen a lot of data like to dig into the data the A. Nine algorithm and ranking. It's like my favorite topic in the world to nerd out about for way too long. And uh yeah [00:01:49] spk_1: awesome. All right so you know one of my favorite topics not only uh the 89 algorithm which I love S. C. E. O of course which I love. Um the other thing that I really love is launching right so that's kind of where you started Anthony. I would love to know [00:02:08] spk_0: kind of [00:02:09] spk_1: you know how you've seen the progression of launch then we look back you froze there for a minute but you're back now all of you [00:02:16] spk_0: froze and I was like no no [00:02:18] spk_1: no and I have a really good I'm going to pat myself on the back because I made the question really really long so that it would you know so that it would we wouldn't get any awkward silences but anyway I would love to know kind of the you know how you've seen launch evolved because that was kind of where you started and you know as a seller and and even in the PBC world that's still a very big part of getting getting a successful product you know moving on amazon so how do you think you know launch has progressed? Um you know what do you think today, what's working, what's not working where do you see the future of launch? [00:02:50] spk_0: Oh man. So that's actually cool that you asked that because I'm totally putting together an article in a and a webinar on that topic too because it's, it's just fascinating. But where I saw like I started back in the day when the very first kind of launch strategy that was widely adopted was to run facebook ads and they get a bunch of people in a facebook group And then give them free product because back then you could do 100% off discounts, give them a free product and then it would, it would boost your rank and then um it evolved from there to just using email lists to blast out the coupon code And it was like so easy to rank back then. And then it evolved into, you can no longer do 100% off. And then it evolved into like Weird things happen if you ever did over 90%. And then it evolved into rankings, just not sticking at all if you use deep discounts. And then it evolved into trying to push people more into full price and that's when everybody started doing rebates. And then it evolved into all these various ways to route people into the rebate because everybody doing search find or a single channel seem to diminish the effects and you know, now there's probably a dozen different ways that people tell you to launch. Uh some people just say don't do any of that only PPC, that's all you need to do. And I've seen that work too, but for some niches it's very expensive. Um like uh my buddy, Danny Macmillan did a PPC only launch for a really really, really highly traffic keyword and he had to spend $1000 a day and PPC to make it happen, but he did after like I think a month and a half that's really expensive, but that's not how it is for every keyword. Um Anyway, now I think in like the, I guess optimization and efficiency of trying to make the platform is user friendly for buyers as humanly possible, amazon's got it to a place now where a lot of these super black hat stuff doesn't seem to be as effective. It's a lot harder to pull off. Obviously there's still people doing it, but I mean these are very sophisticated operations because it's not as easy. So not everybody can just go and you know, be super black hat. Uh and I think that ends up being a good thing for the buyer. So what we're looking at now, that seems to work is, you know, still full price purchases, you can still pull off rebates, but you want to really diversify the traffic, make sure that it's coming from a lot of different places. Ultimately it forces the seller to adopt a more robust marketing plan, like you're looking at things like facebook ads and Pinterest ads, You're looking at things like email us, you're looking at, uh, mixing in there some discounts and lower discounts. You're looking at influencer marketing and, and um, Buy one, get ones and ultimately you just have a lot of traffic sources and you have some actual sales going through and you have some actual customer follow up happening and then you're getting real reviews and when you can set that up, this is what seems to be the best kind of environment for people who are doing launches. Uh, and I think all of that in parallel with people BC is the formula for, you know, that's working the best writer. [00:06:19] spk_1: Absolutely, and, and Amy and I've been harping on on people about this for years. Like, hey, it's coming PVC is gonna get really, really expensive, you're gonna, you need to send divers traffic to amazon you made, you were saying this two years ago, like, you need to make it a natural, you know, you, you, you can't rely on amazon PPC anymore or discounts or things like that. Like you, you have to do a, you know, kind of everything approach and hit it all at the same time, you know, especially during that honeymoon period, you know, with influencers with Pinterest with like pretty much anywhere you can think of, I was telling people like anywhere that you can think of, that, you can drive traffic from, on amazon launch, You should be. Um you know, of course there's some that work better than others depending on your niche. You know, I always use the example of, you know, you're not gonna sell office paper on Tiktok, but you know, you're gonna sell bikinis on tiktok like a mofo. [00:07:06] spk_0: Um, is that [00:07:08] spk_1: an official, can I say mofo? Is that like an, a, an official terminology? [00:07:12] spk_0: I mean, I think it is for gen x, I [00:07:15] spk_1: think I [00:07:16] spk_2: have a follow up question about launch. You know, something that more and more people, I had two messages today to random messages today, just about this one subject. I think people are finding it much harder to get reviews now because it used to be, we had all these tactics like you could even ask for reviews to rebate services and you could get away with it and it was okay. And, and now it's like, there aren't a lot of review loopholes left to just get those initial reviews. Now. Of course, you got to have your own launch list and then you don't have a problem because you can reach out to customers yourself, you can have that dialogue, which is what I always recommend. But would you agree Anthony like as far as launch goes, would you think I do, I am seeing across the board like the number one struggle is you know, I'll do listing reviews and people will not have any reviews and I'll be talking to, you need reviews. Like you need some initial reviews and then like, I don't know how to get them. I don't know what to do. You know? So what do you think about reviews? What's the future? Reviews and what do you think sellers going to have to get better at in order to have a successful launch? [00:08:29] spk_0: Um So First let's go over where the problem is, right? So when people are doing all these diverse launch strategies, here are the issues, right? You're doing influencer marketing, you want to get the influencer audience to really dive in. So you give them something like a 40% discount. Three people try to leave a review for a 40% discount purchased in the same day. Amazon goes, Whoa, that has to be verified. Sorry, boom. They can't do it anymore. You do buy one get ones which is like my new favorite thing to do now. Um you know, because it's treated slightly differently than a 50% coupon and then on top of that you get 200% unit, the session percentage, but that still doesn't count as verified. So those of you could shut down really quickly. Um you're doing rebates and everybody's scared like holy crap. Like I don't want to ask these people for review because that's like a surefire way to get yourself in trouble. Uh for the longest time. The best thing to do was inserts and now amazon is cracking down on those right there actually like suspending the listing and being like, you've got to get rid of these before we can let you sell them anymore, and they're showing the screenshot or the picture of the actual inserts. So they're actually looking these packaging and everybody's freaking out about that and that, I mean, that was a great strategy up until like, I think two months ago, so you're right, everything that we're trying is kind of being stopped. Um, ultimately, the only way that you can ensure that you will always get awesome, real reviews is like you said, you have to build your own list if you bring the customer from an outside source into amazon and actually build a relationship with them first. So they're like part of following your brand, then you bring them to amazon, you can communicate with them outside of amazon, and from that, the conversation can go into leaving a review on amazon, leaving a review on google, right? Leaving a review on, on the google my business, because that's something that you can also do, that would be very beneficial for your business. You know, leaving it on facebook, if that's a big platform for your brand. So that's the beautiful part about having a relationship outside of amazon bringing the customers to you first, and then to your distribution channels, is then you can build that up, is there some risk involved? Yeah, if one of them leaves a review on amazon and then tells amazon that you asked them for it. Um But that's like such a small risk. And ultimately the best thing for your business, regardless of what the rules of any marketplace platform is, is to build a customer list and build a list of raving fans period. [00:11:14] spk_1: Yeah, absolutely. So Anthony, what I'm curious about is, you know, amazon is, you know, constantly evolving and it seems like lately this is just my opinion that it's getting more anti seller, right? It's like putting more of the onus on running a business on the seller, right? So like, just today, I read about there's a new eight easy policy change. I don't know if you saw that, um which, you know, it's once again, they're pushing more of the the liability of the risk, the kind of um those issues to the seller. Um You know, what do you think, do you think amazon is gonna continue down that path? And how do you think this policy change is going to affect sellers? [00:11:54] spk_0: I think that they've always been down that path, and of course they're going to continue. Look, do you remember back in the day? So you're an old school head like meat. So you remember this back in the day when um everybody, like all the states were cracking down like, hey, why aren't you taking, uh state tax and all the sellers are like, because those aren't our customers and amazon's like, uh yeah, they are. But then on the other side they're like, no, they're not. And that's when the government finally said, okay, amazon, if you're not sharing the customer with them, then we need you to handle this. So then what do they do? They they were like, all right, well, fine. And they turned off all like, you don't get their address anymore. They turned off numbers a long time ago, like they did all that in response to the fact that now they can't force you to be the person that handles the tax. So they've been doing that forever. They're going to keep doing as far as this policy. Um I see. The thing is I'm not really sure how that impacts anything. If you add amazon to your policy. Like does does that somehow change the value of the policy in any way or what, what implications are there? Um I feel like there is some, but I've never, like I've never done that. I've never been like, well, here's this giant mega corporation marketplace, we're going to add them to the policy staff. Right? [00:13:09] spk_1: Right. And that that is an interesting question because I just with that, with that post there pushing that, right? They're really pushing that, that you buy that insurance and then they get to be a co policyholder. Um What's interesting about that that is then now, are you you know, somehow business associates and like, you know, as a as a third party seller. Now if you get soup does amazon, you know, if your million dollar policy can they now sue you and amazon? Which I am pretty sure they can now, you know like is that better or worse for amazon in a way, I almost think it's worse because now they're kind of saying like putting their signature on part of your business, right part of your liability. So that is going to be an interesting um you know, when that goes to court, which I'm sure it will at some point. That's gonna be an interesting battle. [00:13:54] spk_0: It [00:13:55] spk_2: says basically beginning september 1st. Just for those people who haven't seen this yet in their amazon news. I have pulled up right now, beginning september 1st 2021 we will so let me start over today. We are expanding our A to Z guarantee to protect both customers and sellers in the unlikely event, a defective products sold through amazon causes property damage or personal injury. Beginning September one, we will number one offer an efficient process for both parties to resolve such claims Number to pay valid claims less than $1,000 and not seek reimbursement from sellers who have valid insurance. So if you have insurance, you don't have to, they're not going to ask you for reimbursement? But if you don't mm could they ask you for reimbursement and make it easier for sellers to buy insurance at competitive rates through amazon insurance accelerator. That's definitely new. Right? [00:14:55] spk_0: So it's like the I. P. Accelerator right? They're going to have this portal of approved vendors and what it sounds like this is a direct response to the government basically saying hey amazon from now on you're liable for are done by defective products. And so how can they take total responsibility when it's the third party? This is how they get third party involved. So I have no doubt that this benefits amazon and at least that way. So now it's something bad happens. They're not the only one holding back there. Like hold on we're partners with this with the seller in this policy. I have no doubt in my mind that claims for over $1,000 will somehow push some of that onto the business that holds the policy to. There's just no way that that's [00:15:42] spk_2: it's just here we are updating this requirement for sellers to have insurance. Right? We're updating this requirement As of September one. Our business solutions agreement will require sellers to obtain product liability insurance which was always a requirement But a name Amazon as an additional insured. Once you reach $10,000 in sales in one month on Amazon if you're a new seller or an existing seller looking for a new policy. We've worked with an insurance broker to create amazon insurance accelerator. A network of vetted insurance providers to help you easily and affordably secure liability insurance. So that's interesting. It's like now they're having this $10,000 a month requirement. Once you reach that, then you have to have not only a policy, it doesn't say you have to have a policy through insurance accelerator, but you have to have a policy that has amazon named as one of the additional insured. [00:16:46] spk_0: I will say that I personally think that this is probably better for amazon for claims over $1000 but just like I. P accelerator gets you brand uh brand stuff. Well, before this trademark goes through, I feel like for claims under $1000 is actually, it's probably gonna be really good for sellers because of amazon. Just going to eat that. Then sellers are like, all right, well my insurance and amazon will handle this. And I don't even have like, I'll get an email and I know, [00:17:15] spk_2: but how often have you ever even heard of? Like, I've never had had to even use my insurance in the three years, four years now since I've had private private label and started with an insurance policy. I've never had a plan. [00:17:32] spk_0: I've [00:17:34] spk_1: never I've never had a claim but I had one customer contact me once who said that one of our products did damage to uh to like some property of theirs. And luckily they were cool. I was just like, yeah, I'll replace it. Like here's the money to replace it. Um You know. But yeah, I've never gotten an insurance claim either, but I think amazon because of the bad press now amazon can go to the press and say, you know they do everything, you know as much as they want to say like oh we're helping sellers, you know, ye p the you know, there's always an underlying Anthony like you said it's better for them, you know, they're getting they're getting all this, you know, flak about liability and cheating and all this stuff. So in the press, amazon is a really bad image right when it comes to, you know whether it's taking care of their workers, whether it's you know, putting mom, mom and pop out of business on Main Street, like all these things and so I think this is them trying to be like, we'll look at how awesome we are pressed, we're making sure that everyone's safe and so that's once again my opinion. But yeah [00:18:34] spk_2: and down that same road of none of us have ever had a claim and all of our years of selling with this new A to Z guarantee, is it going to, is it going to encourage and make it easier for more people to file claims And now suddenly maybe there's some back end way for Amazon to make more money out of it right because if the claim is over $1,000 then they're going to not only they're gonna get kicked back from all these providers. Oh man. Oh wow. We just backed ourselves into a corner. Yeah [00:19:12] spk_1: right. But amy so what I see here though is now that amazon if amazon is going to eat the majority of the agency claims which are under 1000 bucks which I think in that same post that said 80% are under 1000 bucks. I guarantee you they're gonna start pushing back way more on that you know Because in the past like as a customer you doing it is and they would just go, yeah here's your money back like pretty much no questions asked right? I bet now there's going to be probably a lot more hoops for the customer to jump through in order to get that refund right? That that that money back that's just my guess. But it can [00:19:46] spk_2: also have the opposite effect though. It could have the opposite effect because if I go to file a claim and I go oh have you been harmed in some way like here you know file a claim through our easy file claim process. Well right now if you go to a to Z. You don't see anything about filing a claim right? They [00:20:07] spk_1: buried it. Yeah they buried it. Yeah they buried it too though like yeah I don't know if you've noticed because um my wife just had uh molly just had like an issue with, I can't remember what product it was and she like tried to go into like file the A to Z. And it's like buried now. Like you almost can't even find it. At least what she said, she could barely find it. So once again, you know, who knows? It's going to be interesting to see how it plays out. But I agree with you in terms of depending on how they play this, it could be, you know, right for, for abuse. So we'll wait and see. I guarantee you, if it is, if it gets abused, they will issue a new update a couple of months from now saying, hey, we've updated this policy to, you know, $50 is now our new Macs or whatever. You know, you're going to pay the difference or something. So yeah, you like a carrot, the carrot before the stick, right? [00:20:57] spk_0: They could also backtrack it if customer responses to negative though. Like if they start giving push back and then, and then like the next thing, you know, you know, new york times comes out with this big piece about how customers are leaving amazon in droves. Guess what? That one back up because that's how they roll. That [00:21:18] spk_1: is. Yeah. So yeah, it'll be an experiment, I'm sure. So Anthony, let's change gears here now that you're at a PPC management company. I feel like we would be doing a disservice to not talk a little bit about PPC. So one of the things we were talking about a little bit before we got started was how, um, I didn't make it to prosper. You guys were saying to prosper that, you know, pretty much every seller you're talking to is complaining about, uh, skyrocketing PBC costs. Um, and you said that, you know, with, with canopy, you guys have a lot of data. So you're able to actually prove whether that's true or not. And you said you have been taking a look at that data. I would love to know kind of where you see the progression in terms of, uh, you know, PBC costs and, and how you think that's gonna play out for the rest of the year. [00:22:00] spk_0: Okay. So, well, first, you know, a little clarity on like what prompted this? Um, there have been some talks up up leading up to prosper. There was a few different sellers just, you know, in network and, and clients and whatnot who were like, hey, what's going on? Um, because they've just gotten off of probably one of the best years ever. Right? Covid spending through the roof. Prime day was pushed to october. So it's like back to back all these events. Then we get off this last prime day and then stuff kind of turns into crickets, which is funny if you actually, I saw the lemon are that we did about prime day. One of the things that I brought up was, hey, um, you know, don't get too excited because this might not look as good as you think it's going to after sure enough anyway, so a lot of people are freaking out like what is going on? Why are ads so high wire results so low? And then we get to prosper and you've got all these, not just sellers, but agencies talking about a cost is through the roof. I mean historically across like clients, Uh, an extra 10% since a year prior. And um, the marketplace pulse recently came out with this article about how the rising costs of amazon advertising anyway, if you look at the data. So I looked at, um, our, our partner data, but not only that, but PPC Entourage has a community dashboard, you can literally look at the past two years of data and it's, I mean if you put it all together and you look at it on the one hand, you got people saying see every year costs go up and, and this was to be expected right while the real estate was undervalued, it was going to slow you up. This is what happened when facebook guides. This is what happened google ads. This is what's happening. The Snapchat ads as we speak, Pinterest ads will eventually get there too. The point is though, is if you look at the charts though, Things are going up and then there was a sharp decline in 2020 And now it's even higher than it was in 2019. Everybody's kind of freaking out. And the thing is though is if you look at the swings in my opinion, this is a normal market correction. If you look at the swings, this is how stuff like that looks. If you look at housing price, if you look at currency, if you look at stock indexes every time there's an unprecedented swing low, there's always a larger than normal correction and then actually levels out. And that's what I think is happening right? I don't think some people have said this. They believe that one day a cost Across the board B over 50% and sponsored product ads will no longer be profitable. I don't think that's going to happen. And the reason is because there's no reason to believe that these unprecedentedly high levels which yes, I will admit Like what? 41%, increase from uh last year is I mean it's absurd. And then a pretty decent uh increase from 2019 as well. The willamette is really high, but there's no reason to believe that that's just the trajectory, right? I think we're going to see a correction even from this high because it looks like a market correction. And why would there be a market correction. Well, think about it in terms of the way the market has played out. We saw the best cpcs in a long time last year because due to the pandemic, everybody was shopping online, everybody was buying stuff, they usually never buy online. Like it was nuts. Well, right around prime day, which is like everybody's favorite holiday, the restriction started to ease and everybody was getting out of the house again. And here's the thing, I think that people are still going to buy more stuff than they used to online, but not this past quarter, probably not the next quarter either because my god, you can finally go to the mall. Like people that don't ever shop at the mall or shopping in the mall right now because they haven't been able to win over a year, right? So people just don't wanna be a further computer. So we're seeing that correction because everybody's like, forget this, I'm tired of being here right now. I want to go somewhere else. That's my take. [00:26:24] spk_1: It's interesting. I mean, you can see that across many different kind of uh thanks to you. I mean, you know, the highest ever people going camping and doing all this like outdoor adventure because they're like, wow, I just was locked in my house for a year. I hated that. So what's the opposite of that? The other thing is, is, you know, it's just mentality, right? It's like if you're at a seller confidence and everyone's saying like, oh my God, the the cost is out of control. I'm gonna start turning down or turning off ads just like the stock markets just like crypto it's all uh it's all driven by either fear or greed, right? So like depending on what side you're on. So if people are starting to fear that they're going to spend too much on ads, they're gonna start dialing back, which will naturally bring the market down. So I completely agree there. I, I think that's a really interesting point. The other thing that people do need to realize is, is amazon is, is constantly spinning up new ad spaces new uh, you know, ways to advertise on amazon. And it's so funny because to this day there's still so many people who are not using amazon coupons, right? I'm like, like even if it's 5% or a dollar off, like you get that orange flag, like why not? Like why aren't you doing that with combination with your ads, which also gives you, uh a lot of people don't know this like better placement on ads in terms of the ads will say like this is on bill or get a dollar off or whatever. So I think that, you know, water flows downhill so people are gonna start getting more and more creative. The other thing I want to mention, I love that you said that is there was a progression from, you know, all of a sudden it was like, oh, if you put google ads up, you're going to be a millionaire, you know? And then it was like facebook then it was instagram now, it's probably like Tiktok, I would say it's probably, you know, and, and all like these new platforms, it's trendy, right? So if you want to jump on there once again though, if you're some copy paper, sorry, Tiktok is probably not gonna work for you unless you're funny like unless you can do like a dollar shave club kind of thing. So now it's full circle people. I've been saying this for a couple of years now, google ads dude, you want to talk about cheap pads right now and not only that, but you know, people are searching for something really specific. They're seeking it. They're not just being shown it. So you have the much bigger intent there. So yeah, I've been saying that for a few years now and I think that a lot of people that I'm talking to that are getting really diverse in their, in their traffic, um, are the ones who are going to continue to succeed in the, in the amazon world. [00:28:43] spk_0: Yeah. No. Um, I was just going to stay on the, on the google ads front. This has actually been touched on. So it's interesting because I'm like really big on doing all of these crazy launch flows and I was doing rebates for a long time and I was for a while, I was pushing for everybody to push people to a google page because I had found all of these wikis from 2000 and 18 were internally amazon was saying, you know, they had this whole team dedicated to optimizing all of the catalogue pages for google. So they even admitted that they want conversions to happen from google because it's very important for amazon to rank for google. So I did that and then shortly thereafter seller tools was telling everybody, hey send them to youtube which is google property and then Casey Dawson uh ratio is coming out saying actually we're running google ads. We're seeing huge results in rank. So they were doing like these sneaky like redirects with you or else to mask it, make it look like it's google ad even if you're not running google ads but more of the story is like everybody that's on this has been telling people to push people to google because amazon really cares about the traffic that comes from google. Thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode, join us every Tuesday at one PM pacific standard time for live Q. And A. And bonus content after the recording at cellar roundtable dot com, sponsored by the ultimate software tool for amazon sales and growth seller, S C. O dot com and amazing at home dot com