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Maximize Ads to Get More Sales - Amazon Marketing Tips with Brian Johnson - Part 1
October 4, 2021
Maximize Ads to Get More Sales - Amazon Marketing Tips with Brian Johnson - 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_1: Welcome to the seller roundtable e commerce coaching and business strategies with and er not and amy Wiis. Mm hmm. Hey what's up everybody this is Andy are not with anyways and this is still a round table number 111 and we are super happy to have Brian, Johnson and Brian, thank you so much for being here. [00:00:22] spk_0: Glad to be here. This is gonna be fun. [00:00:25] spk_1: I I can't believe it's, it's taken this long. This is your first appearance, right? [00:00:29] spk_0: It is, [00:00:29] spk_1: I'm going to punish myself later for taking so long to invite you on. Really appreciate you being here. [00:00:37] spk_0: Yeah, no, I'm glad to be here. Thank you. [00:00:39] spk_1: So brian, we always like to get a little bit of background on our guests. You know, people always want to know kind of the journey to where you are today. So if you can give us go as deep or as not deep as you want in terms of, you know, maybe where you're born, grew up past jobs, hard knocks, you know, kind of the journey till today, feel free to take as long or as little as you like. [00:00:57] spk_0: Okay, all right, so here's the edited version. Um I was born as a small child. No, the, uh, I was actually, I was born and raised outside of Portland Oregon, which I happened to be at right now uh, this week, which for those of you are up in this area, um, you know, some recent bad weather, so it's a really hot weather right across the country, but um, but yeah, I'm actually based out of your saN Antonio down in a Middle East country. Um, and so that is where I've been down in the south, about 20 years. Um, the last 14 years I've been in the e commerce game. I, I spent the early part of my career's over in Fortune 500 Tech And then the last 14 years I've been e commerce self employed and the last six years in the amazon space, primarily focusing in on an area a topic that had a huge gap and that was amazon advertising. Um and that provided me a number of opportunities to I guess kind of like stand up and say like okay if I don't know the answer I'm going to get it. And that's kind of the habit that I always provided and people just kept on coming and asking for for more and more uh you know, as far as more and more advice and more and more tools, more and more resources and everything. And so that led to a number of companies alone, number of projects um that included uh PBC scope, which was an amazon advertising, software sponsored products academy 12 and three, so we did that for about three of those across four years. Uh And then of course my flagship advertising agency, canopy management and campaign management has now grown. We have, I'm not sure as far as I know, I know we're currently managing um over a billion dollars in Amazon revenue across our clients. And it takes, I want to say we have about 50 to 55 uh staff on our team around the world in order to to manage all that. So it is um it's been quite the journey as far as uh trying to get to get to that point. Um and it certainly had many points along the way where, you know, frankly, um you know, you always have setbacks, you always have pain, but that is the pain that kind of like sharpens the sharpens the blade, right? That makes it better, you know, moving forward. And so enough of that, um, and surrounding myself with people who are like me, who wanted to experiment, who wanted to do the research and the development and like, hey, what if we could do this, that kind of culture within the company continues to have us on the bleeding edge if you will. Um, as far as advertising technology and something that, that I've gotten very passionate about in line with Amy and that of course, is um, speaking to the target audience, really identifying who you're speaking to actually crafting your messaging so that you can not only attract and differentiate your product from competitors, craft your message to your target audience and of course increase conversion rates. So that is something that, that I lead with. I'm known for amazon advertising, both PPC and DSP, but I'm probably even more passionate about getting the messaging right and getting all these millions of product listings on amazon corrected from what they are now [00:04:36] spk_1: because most people [00:04:37] spk_0: are doing it wrong [00:04:38] spk_1: now. So true. It's so true. You know, that's just wonderful to hear because there are so many PPC agencies out there that are happy to take your money and don't even really look at your listing and you know, it's like why would you run ads that they're not going to convert? So I love that. True. So [00:04:58] spk_0: true. [00:04:59] spk_1: Yeah, that's absolutely the foundation, right? That's what Amy And I say it's always like the bad listing. If you start with the bad listing, it's like a deck of cards, right? It's just, it's not gonna it's not gonna stand up to the test of time. One thing, One thing I want to get into Ryan and we usually wait for this. But what I've realized is in the past, like every time we asked these Q four questions, like because there's that delay that comes between the posting of the podcast editing and all that usually like december, you know, 31st by the time the episode finally comes out, so, you know, a lot of people don't realize, but when you're planning for Q four, I mean it really starts kind of, you know, july august time is when the really successful people uh you know, successful companies in cuba that's when they start planning. So what are some tap tactics this year? Because I know it kind of evolves every single year, you know, you know, starting right now is when people are starting to kind of craft the the plan. Um the strategy for Q four in terms of amazon advertising listings, reviews, you know, kind of the all the different facets of getting that listing, uh moving before, before, you know, the prime shopping season. So are you doing anything differently this year compared to last year in Q four or what are some kind of, you know, things you can start looking at planning at? Uh, kind of crafting the, um, you know, the strategy for Q4. [00:06:15] spk_0: Yeah, I mean, it definitely changes every year. It has to, because the platform evolves, the competition evolves, the strategy evolves. Um, and of course, let's go and throw in pandemics and civil riots and all kinds of stuff here, just for fun. Um, you know, this year, certainly with 2021, between prime day and two weeks prior to cyber week, Black friday cyber monday. Um That is when we're pretty heavy as far as experiments. Now, traditionally summers are going to have lower traffic, amazon advertises less. They draw the traffic, they draw shoppers, um fewer shoppers onto the platform during the summer because that's when a lot of vacations occur this year is going to be interesting because it's a kind of combination of people have adapted to working at home more regularly and being at home. But then, uh, certainly a lot of people around the world of course have been just chomping at the bit to get outside the house, right, Like get out in the field, go camping and get it goes somewhere right. Um, and so there's quite a few family vacations, but it is not the traditional family vacation where it's like, oh my kids are out of school and therefore we're going to take a trip that we planned, you know, you know, six months ago, there's a whole lot of like weekend impromptu, hey, let's jump in the RV and go down to the beach or let's go see if we can find an Airbnb and um, I happen to be in both of those spaces, but the, uh, this year is, is, I would say in the United States it's going to be different than other marketplaces, that there are still a lot more lockdown. Um, you know, India is an example, completely opposite contrast to what's going on in the United States. But at the same time is the shopping is either going to be seasonal during the summer or it's going to be experimental. In other words, the shopping is not experimental. In other words, the shoppers are going to be looking for seasonal products that are appropriate for seasonal hiking, camping. BBQ bug repellent, you know, uh, heatstroke blankets, you know, one of the cases. Um, and so you still have to market, um, uh, tune advertising and tune your listings in order to market to the audience that's currently shopping for your product in this season, where it's an on season for your product. If, if primarily fourth quarter christmas is typically the hottest time, The high, the peak season for your product, then what you should be doing right now is doing experiments, doing testing, doing, checking to see how can I be aggressive in my advertising right now, just in order to kind of prove it out, even though the search volume and the purchase volume, you know, the search volume is going to be lower and the conversion rates are going to be lower. This is still the time of the season in order to be doing your testing. Because when you get to about two weeks prior to cyber week, you're gonna wanna pull that back because just like the two weeks prior to prime day, the conversion rates are going to drop like a rock, they're going to cut in half. Right? And so any kind of work that you do right now, when it comes to listing optimization, when it comes to add tuning that you do during the summer is going to have a compounding effect when you get into actual fourth quarter, when the traffic comes back, when amazon is fully fully invested in advertising to bring the shoppers back onto the platform, uh, that's going to be in the conversion rates start going up for the holiday season. And hopefully we have a more traditional holiday shopping season this year. We'll see, I mean, it's kind of, anybody's guess. We saw some recovery this uh, in 2020s Christmas holiday season. But then we had shipping, logistics, we're still gonna have shipping and inventory logistic problems going into fourth quarter this year. But I think that the shoppers themselves are gonna try, they're gonna, they're they want. to get back to normal, you know, they want to get back to something where it's like, oh I always do this this time of year, I was uh you know, go shopping for my family, you know, for those who celebrate the holidays. Um And so ideally we're gonna see a definite uptick. Um maybe not back to the levels of 2019, but I would say pretty close to it. I would say maybe on par with 2019, not necessarily exceeding 2019. of course was a recovery from uh you know, from a year of covid. Right? [00:10:46] spk_1: Yeah. The other the other interesting thing is going to be um you know, if if this big bad scary delta variant gets, you know, gets publicized and you know, and the, and the normal flu comes back this year. Um, you know, if you know, all of a sudden there's going to be this new panic. Right? So that's why I think kind of where you're saying like, you know, depending on ethnic wise it we're still in this zone where you know, who knows what's going to happen in terms of logistics and you know, maybe they figure out that, you know, that, that the virus came from the lab leak. And now all of a sudden the whole world is, you know, uh, you know, kind of not, I don't want to say at war, but at odds with china. Right? And then what happens? So there's so many kind of crazy very variants and crazy things going on right now that it's going to be really hard to follow that. [00:11:32] spk_0: Yeah, I would say that, I mean one of the things that we can rely on with with shoppers and sellers sort of shoppers are going to look for a bargain that's going to demand sourcing from places like china Taiwan India, um there's going to be shipping logistics, so that's one of things that we can count on from shoppers. One of things that we can count on from sellers is laziness, sorry, But but you know, as humans, we, we gravitate towards lazy towards convenient towards like how what's the minimum I can get away with. That provides a huge opportunity typically for the clients of uh, of agencies and consultants like ourselves who are out there actually trying to make a difference, trying to go, you know, whole force in one direction with the best practices that are currently working, that gives a huge competitive advantage. And so that's why I'm still teaching out in the community as far as, hey, here's some things that you should be doing, You're stalling any of 5% of of the, the sellers in the brands that actually implement any of that or implemented consistently for those of you who are action takers who do Uh actually take action to implement to try to do more than the next guy, you're going to have a competitive advantage simply because you're doing, even if you do, you know, 10, more than the next guy, you'll have a significant competitive advantage on Amazon. [00:12:56] spk_1: Yeah, absolutely. And I think it's gonna be really interesting because like you said, you know, amazon is becoming more price sensitive by the day. But on the flip side to that stuff, like, you know, you were saying logistics, you know, getting a container from china. Now, some people are saying it's three times what they were paying last year. So it's gonna be interesting To see how that plays out. Our seller's gonna start raising prices, which I think some of them already have um how that's going to affect the shopping season, right? Because if you know that the $9, you know, little would do dad that you could get your mom last year's maybe $18 this year, you know, or something like that. So that I think you make a lot of good points there. Um there's there's it's gonna be a lot of moving parts. But you know, one of those things that people never think about is if you, you know, people are like, oh I don't want to, you know, pay for a warehouse or a storage unit or how whatever scale you are, you know, I don't want to do that because I don't want that extra expense per month. But if you think, look at, you know, if you ship something right now during the summer season, it's probably gonna be half price to what you would do during the holiday season, which a lot of people wait till you know, late, august september things like that. If you get a warehouse now and you order now, you're gonna save money in that logistics and your chances of that inventory getting stuck at customs or your barge getting, you know, beached in the Suez Canal or, you know, something like that blocked by protesters, right? You're minimizing your risk there. So, so, um, you know, all of those things that are something that really uh, you know, keep your eye now, let's get back to the core of, of PPC. One of the, you know, one of the, I guess it's still relatively new in terms of what's been available, you know, for years now. But um video ads I still see, you know, so many sellers not uh you know, not not even deploying a single video at which you can do on camera now in like five minutes even if it's a terrible add, you know, the price that you're paying for. Those conversions are relatively low. If you do a somewhat passable video, um any tips or you know, anything that you can share with people tactics on on using those video ads to really maximize your Pc [00:14:56] spk_0: sales. Yeah, exactly what you're saying as far as like, you know, it's really easy to create those videos. Um you've got Canada, you've got an emoto, you've got Vietnam me, um you know, these are all tools that are available in order to, to make that initial add that initial ad is really very simple. Make a 15 2nd ad highlight in big bold text, like large text what your freaky benefits are and basically have them kind of, you know, drift across the screen, one at a time with some lifestyle images that include your product. It's not that complicated. Um, it really shouldn't, you don't need to hire somebody. You don't even need fiber. You can, you can do it yourself honestly, even if you get it wrong, get it up there. If you've got access to in order to, to publish at least one video, you know, you can put three if your brand register, you can put three on your three videos onto your listing. But make sure that, that first one that you have is the top three benefits. What's in it for me of using a buying and using your product? What am I going to get out of it? I don't care about what the features are. Tell me what's in it for me, What's the benefit to me? If I, if I purchase and use your product and mix it in, you know, tell people what that is. Uh, you know, have some kind of a little bit of motion. Doesn't have to be crazy. Just a little bit of motion, a little bit of background. Uh, you know, music and um, use that as a 15 2nd ad in your sponsor brand video ads and just get it tested this summer and start really um, identifying what that is now. If you are using certainly cure target, you can do both, cured and product targeting was sponsored brand video ads. Um I would do both. Certainly on the on the product targeting your typically targeting the weaker or post prime day, you're the out of stock. You're also going to get out of stock when it comes to cyber week as well. Uh, certainly take a look at any, any kind of competitor that normally it gets a lot of traffic because they sell, you know, there are bigger, you know, they're, they're the bigger elephant in the room that you got to tackle their, um, whatever analogy you want to use their, but if they go out of stock, amazon is probably still sending traffic, even amazon's own brands, uh, and their products go out of stock you get. There was an example of one that I showed to somebody, yes or last week was, there was an amazon basics in their specific subcategory that was out of stock. But you know, the amazon is still driving a whole bunch of uh, product because it says like oh we can ship this to you in two weeks, it will be back in stock, People, people want it now. You know, I was like what are my alternatives? Even if you never you know had the review rating or the price point in order to compete with a listing like that in the past now you do when they're out of stock. Um And then of course from a keyword standpoint, you know again you know use some of the classic or I should say classic but some of the current best practices when it comes to you know, go for um you know, targeting exact match phrase match. If you're gonna do broad match on a sponsor brand ad, make sure that you're using the modifiers modifiers is important to learn, you know, if you're not familiar with that um and then go for, you know, make sure that you're mixing in um a bunch of long tail multiple word, you know 4 to 6 keyword phrases um in order to draw the traffic, it takes a little bit of while to warm up. So don't wait until the last minute to start testing, start testing as soon as you can, you know, have something out. Uh you know get your video done in a day, get your add up the next day. Yeah. [00:18:36] spk_1: Yeah, absolutely. And and I still see um you know a lot of the clients I'm bringing on now, they don't even have a single video ad. And like you were saying, you know using canvas or something like that, you can do multiple versions with people realize that you can copy that can via video. That you just did change the text a little bit deploy and then see which one you know it's kind of like a little mini A. B. Test, you pick the best one, you try that again and you just keep refining and so you really that and then you know in Q four rolls around you're you're now ready. Uh like brian was saying to really get you know get those conversions, get that the you know that that budget cranked up and just keep pushing those sales. [00:19:12] spk_0: Exactly [00:19:13] spk_1: any right any new features I know that you know I remember back in the day it was funny because you know amazon for like multiple years it was like you know keyword targeting then it was like Otto then it was you know it was like every couple of years that would be like these new features nowadays it's just fast and furious on new features. Any new features you know we talked about video that's I guess relatively new. Any new features that, that have been released lately that a lot of people might not know about that are, that's working really well for you. [00:19:40] spk_0: Yeah, Well I would say that the new features, a lot of the new features have to do with some of the data that's provided some of the reporting that's available. Um, some of that is kind of secondary information, you know, like having, um, you know, budget, um, you know, knowing knowing whether or not how often you are in budget and you know, that's cool. That's interesting. You should check that. You should certainly be monitoring that um, around uh, you know, peak seasons, like prime Day, like uh, you know, the cyber week, you know, the holidays. Um, but that's more of an infrequent check. Um, some of the, you know, honestly, it's, it's kind of a back to basics if you have, um, you know, your sponsored, uh, you know, your product display ads, you know, as far as your product targeting ads where you're targeting assassins, competing assassins or related products, um, that works well very well. If you are doing, um, sponsor brand video ad, as you said, you know, let's come back to basics. If you don't have it, get it, you know, put it in place, start testing it. Um, most of what we see, any time we take on a new client canopy management, We look, and I would say 95%, it's really high number, probably 95% of the time. What we, the feedback that we get when we have that first kind of audit interview is, look, you're not, you're not even defending your own real estate. You're basically allowing your competitors to put a for sale sign in your front yard. You're not doing anything about it. You're not even putting up any kind of resistance. So a lot of times is just having the ad type coverage. Most sellers, most brands don't realize that it's no longer, you know, it's like, oh, there's four different ad types, whatever. There's over 30 different ad placements and, and add tactics today. Most people are not even where there's even half of that, you know, when we ask them. And so there's a lot of opportunity. You don't have to do everything. You know, you don't have to do category tart. There's, there's very specific ways to do category targeting ads. There's certain ways that you qualify product targeting ads. Um, it's mostly, uh, in that case, you're basically running product targeting ads. They're, they're kind of picking off your weaker competitors, either of those that have a lower Star rating, those that have a price point that's either $10 higher or $10 lower, which means two different ads. Um those that don't have prime shipping, those are all opportunities for you to step in and win the customer because you're providing something that they, that they are not seeing the value in the competitors that you're running against. I think, [00:22:11] spk_1: well, I mean, my next question for you is all about placement and I think that so many people just kind of, I don't just think I know this because I get clients that come to me all the time and they're saying my PPC isn't working, I'm paying too much money, I don't know what to do and I get in there and look at it and like, okay, well what do we have going on here? And then my first thing after I look at their dashboard is I go and I look at amazon and I'm like okay, [00:22:42] spk_0: where [00:22:44] spk_1: is your placement? What are you doing? What's your overall ad strategy? Because are you just setting up campaigns blindly and then going, I don't know, I'm spending so much money but you're not checking your placement. So my favorite thing to do is go into the placements tab and go, okay, hey look at you at top of search, you're here. And then like you said brian, as far as the different types of placements, I can't tell you and I know I can tell you because you probably see the same thing, but so many people are registered brains and I just want to scream at them like why are you only using sponsored product ads? Like you have all these awesome placements. You could headline search ads, video as you can be right in the by box with the display ads like what are you doing? You know, there's no strategy behind the ads. So can we talk about that? Can we talk about what kind of strategy should people be using for replacement and what are the best placements and add types for that? [00:23:45] spk_0: Honestly, if you, you know, for somebody who's like me and this is just, I don't have time to do all this. I don't know how exactly how to set up. I mean, if you want to boil it down to the most simple ad strategy that is going to still give you a significant competitive advantage over your competitors is turn on every ad type. You've got access to put in a little bit. You just, yeah, you're basically, it's like, you know, you know, call it a safety net, I call some of them like gold panning campaigns, but you know, whether it is a sponsor, product sponsored brand sponsor display, uh you know, automatic campaign keyword targeting campaign. Product targeting campaign category targeting, you could turn all of those on, Put in, you know, a small budget, you know, $15, on each campaign, just set up and set a little bit, set a bid that is um you know, half of your um you know what your break even bit, if you've calculated that hopefully you have for your products but go in with a little bit simply just being in a lot of [00:24:52] spk_1: places, would you use a fixed spitting strategy for that or would you do like dynamic down? I was always a [00:25:01] spk_0: better practice, right? There's always a better way of doing things. And yes, I do frequently recommend that's kind of a troubleshooting thing that I that I advise on a regular basis is when your first launching a campaign, if you have a campaign bidding strategy, yes, start out with fixed bid because that there's a certain way that that basically overcomes amazon's doubt about what you're running. They'll actually show your ad. I think that's that's kind of a rabbit hole I can get into. But at the most simplest thing is go out there, turn on as many ad types as you can and just put it at a really low bid. And yeah, some of those campaigns won't do anything, they won't have any impressions or they got really low impressions. But what you're doing is you're essentially setting up a kind of a safety net framework um that you will have an ad if amazon sees the opportunity where you have a whole bunch of competition that is not running that particular ad type, your ad will show, it will show at that low bid and basically you'll have a low a cost ad that will run when everybody fails. That's kind of what I'm saying with these kind of ads is you don't have to do everything perfect. You do want a lot of different kinds of ad types of coverage there even with a little bit, because what you want to do is you want to look for any opportunity to take advantage of competitors who simply just stumble, they run out of stock, they run out of budget. They're not running all the ads and I can guarantee you, is that the most Brands, most product listings that are being advertised on Amazon? They're only using about 15-20% of the ad types that are available. So if you simply just do a little bit more, [00:26:44] spk_1: most are using exact match to mostly [00:26:47] spk_0: use an exact match. Most are using sponsor [00:26:49] spk_1: product. That's missing all this opportunity, right? But [00:26:53] spk_0: yeah, [00:26:54] spk_1: it's because they've been taught [00:26:56] spk_0: that, you know, the advice that's flying out there, some of it is dated. Some of it has been wrong since the start, but somebody had a louder voice than like somebody like me or you who says like, what are you [00:27:06] spk_1: doing? You [00:27:08] spk_0: know? Yes, there are better practices. You can, you know, there's, uh, you know, people like us who spend our lives basically, you know, every waking hour, uh, knowing every little detail, every little exception. You don't have to be at our level, but you do want to at least try to make some kind of a presence through your advertising so that you're defending some of the real estate, so you're not making it cheap for a competitor running your to run their add on your product listing. 12 is when the opportunity is right, amazon will show your ad because your competition dropped the ball and they're not running ads and three of course is I'm gonna go back and beat this drum again is if you are not talking, if your product listings are not grabbing the attention of the shopper and your main image, your title and your content of your product listing is not speaking to what's in it for the shopper to own your product. If you're just stuffing a bunch of keywords in there, uh, in hopes that you're going to get magically ranked for some high search volume, guess what? You're not, this just doesn't work that way. Um, but you can gain the attention of a shopper, whether it's through ads or through organic ranking, but ultimately it's still your image and your title that is going to grab the attention and pull that shopper into your product listing. If you don't even accomplish that first thing where they walk in your front door in the first place, you're not going to convert them because they were not even in your shop, Right? So yeah, so the main image and title optimization for sure. Um, and then, and then second would be getting the a decent add coverage even at a little bit. [00:28:53] spk_1: 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 round table 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.