INTRO: $60.5 BILLION
Amazon did $60.5 billion in sales in 3 months (Q4 2017).
And you’re here to get your piece of that $60.5 billion.
Your timing is good.
For the first time in history, 2017 saw over 50% of units sold on Amazon coming from 3rd party sellers like you.
What do you need to do to get paid?
1 simple thing: appear in search results when a customer does a search.
They buy your product. And boom — your yacht’s parked at the marina.
This is called “ranking”.
So, you might be wondering: OK, how do I rank?
This is your definitive step-by-step guide to ranking on Amazon and making more money.
There are 3 stages:
STAGE 1: Page
STAGE 2: Performance
STAGE 3: Push
Now, an overview.
Then, we’ll cover 10 actionable steps for each Stage.
STAGE 1: Page = making your listing good.
STAGE 2: Performance = keeps all your listings and account on Amazon’s good side.
STAGE 3: Push = actively marketing your good listings to taste the $60.5 billion
STAGE 1: PAGE
▶ WHAT: aka “Listing Optimization”. The content of your Amazon listing (includes text content, photos, pricing, and category). Operates on the level of your individual product listings.
▶ EFFORT: 1 time. It’s “set it and forget it” 一 do it once and enjoy passive benefits.
▶ EFFECT: it’s necessary but not sufficient for ranking… which means that it gets you a seat at the $60.5 billion dollar table, but doesn’t guarantee that you’ll eat.
STAGE 2: PERFORMANCE
▶ WHAT: aka “Account Optimization”. Operational actions you take on behalf of your seller account to stay on Amazon’s good side (includes fulfilment, inventory management, and feedback). Concerns your whole seller account (above the listing level).
▶ EFFORT: Ongoing. You need to maintain a high level of performance. That said, most processes can be automated once you find what works.
▶ EFFECT: a healthy seller account maximizes earnings across your product lineup and keeps you from getting banned. Always good. This is more defense than offence.
STAGE 3: PUSH
WHAT: aka “Marketing”. Specific activities you do to make more money on Amazon.
EFFORT: Ongoing and active. As much or as little as you want.
EFFECT: This determines whether you rank or tank. If ranking was a race:
- Good “Page” is a good, well-functioning car
- Good “Performance” is your maintenance and license to drive, and
- the “Push” is stepping on the gas
When Stage 1, 2, and 3 are completed in order, you rank on Amazon and make money.
And now, here’s exactly what you need to do.
3 stages. 10 steps per stage.
STAGE 1: PAGE
He’s about to buy something on Amazon.com.
By the time he’s done, you’ll understand exactly how to improve your page to make more money on Amazon.
Owen works at a bank. He sits for 7 hours a day, so his back gets sore.
Owen’s co-worker Rupert (pictured below taking “sweet shots for my Instagram”) leans over and tells Owen to try a foam roller.
Rupert’s a weirdo.
But when it comes to health and fitness, he knows his stuff.
Our friend Owen belongs to the 64% of American households with Amazon Prime (Forbes).
When he needs something, he searches Amazon first (like 55% of all product searches, reports Recode).
He punches in “foam roller” on Amazon.com.
On his laptop, he gets this:
On his phone, he gets this:
You might be wondering: how does Owen’s story help you make more money?
It tells you what’s important.
Need a hint?
This heatmap via Seomaxx.com really brings it home.
When deciding which to buy, shoppers like Owen first consider: your main photo, title, then price.
This isn’t just about Owen (sorry, Owen).
It’s about the millions of Owens searching Amazon every second for what you sell.
Do these 10 things to make sure Owen buys from YOU and not your competition.
1.1 Main Photo: make it Compliant & Clickable
Fact 1: Western eyes read left to right
Fact 2: humans (like Owen) process visuals 60,000x faster than text
That’s why Amazon starts search results with pictures.
Your main image is ‘make or break’. If there’s 1 thing to outsource to a professional, this is it.
Here’s what Amazon tells you about your main image:
Images must accurately represent the product and show only the product that's for sale (i.e. Owen orders, UPS delivers, he cuts the smiley-face tape, and what’s in the box? That’s what’s in the photo).
MAIN images must have a pure white background (RGB values of 255, 255, 255).
MAIN images must show the actual product (not a graphic or illustration), and must NOT show excluded accessories, props that may confuse the customer, text that is not part of the product, or logos/watermarks/inset images.
The product must fill 85% or more of the image.
Images should be 1000 pixels or larger in either height or width, as this will enable zoom.
- JPEG (.jpg) is preferred.
We’ll return to your other 6 other photos as we follow Owen through to purchase.
The next thing Owen sees is your title...
1.2 Title: Brand Yourself & Rank for Keywords
Owen probably doesn't read the whole thing (especially on mobile, where it’s truncated).
But, he wants to know 2 things:
1. your product is reputable, and
2. your product is actually what he’s looking for
Here’s the formula for your perfect title:
[Brand Name] + [Main Keyword] | [Other Keywords]
ProSource Sports Medicine Foam Roller 33 cm x 15 cm/ 61 cm x 15 cm (13” x 6” / 24” x 6” ) with Grid for Deep-Tissue Massage and Trigger-Point Muscle Therapy, Multiple Colors
This formula answers Owen’s 2 questions:
(1) The product has a brand behind it; it’s not some generic item.
Your objection: “my brand isn’t big enough to put my brand name first”. The other perspective: “it’ll never be big if you never mention it”. Plus, Amazon is increasingly rewarding “brand” behavior. We’ll talk about this in Stage 2: Performance.
(2) The main keyword “foam roller” is right behind the brand name. This tells Owen that we have what he’s looking for.
The seller also hits other major keywords like “Deep-Tissue Massage” and “Muscle Therapy” in a way that’s punctuated, easy-to-read, and grammatically sound.
What are your “best” keywords?
Those with the highest-traffic and highest-relevance to your product. You can discover which keywords those are by using a tool like MerchantWords.
Amazon’s technical notes on your title:
- Product title length must not exceed a maximum of 200 characters (including spaces) in all categories. Some of the categories may have a different maximum title length than 200 characters. To know the accurate maximum title length for your respective category, please refer to your category-specific style guide.
And from the document “FBA Product Title Requirements”:
- Capitalize the first letter of each word
- Do not use ALL CAPS
- Conjunctions (and, or, for) and articles (the, a, an) should not be capitalized
- Don't capitalize prepositions with fewer than five letters (in, on, over, with)
Seconds after scanning your title, Owen checks your price...
1.3 Price: be High Value, not Low Price
The important thing isn’t being the cheapest; that’s a race to the bottom, and your profits will get competed away.
Rather, be the best value.
4 ways to do this are:
(1) Position your product for a specific type of person. For example, this is a foam roller for athletes. Athletes (and other demographics) pay more for a brand that “gets” them and their needs. As the quality and specificity of your solution increase, so do your margins.
(2) Be the Rolls-Royce of your market: build a deluxe feature set and charge a lot. Owen doesn’t know much about foam rollers. So, he uses the common heuristic “expensive = good”. In areas you’re unfamiliar with, I bet you do this too. Example: Hyperice charges $199 for this vibrating roller. Warning: you need the photography and product quality to justify your pricepoint or it’s game over.
(3) Clear functional improvement that’s obvious from your main image. For example, this foam roller emphasizes an “extra firm” aspect, obvious from its plastic shine. Other rollers don’t reflect light like that. Firmness is going to be important to some people. Warning: make sure it’s a feature that customers care about and is under-served.
And lastly, you can...
(4) Bundle. Add related products to your offering. You increase your overall ticket price, padding your margins in the process. Warning: the bundle must make sense, or else you eliminate the Owens that just want a foam roller and don’t want to pay extra for stuff that they feel is unnecessary.
On the topic of getting Owen to click us and not the other guy, there are coupons…
1.4 Coupons: Catch The Eye, Get the Click
You can create public coupons in Seller Central in the Advertising > Coupons section.
This creates an orange tag next to your product in search results.
This increases clicks and gives shoppers a reason to buy now (how long will your sale last? No one knows).
Here, a seller who’s lower on Page 1 uses a coupon to get more clicks. At first glance, it’s on par with a Best Seller badge.
Side note: coupons are limited to sellers with a Feedback rating of 3.5+. More on seller performance in Stage 2.
1.5 Keyword Density: More Keywords = More Chances to Win
Remember how Owen found us in the first place?
He searched for a keyword: “foam roller”.
But what if his back muscles were hurting and he searched “muscle therapy” instead?
If our listing is missing the keyword “muscle therapy”, we can’t show up in search and we lose the sale.
So, you must do thorough keyword research, which looks like this:
Go on MerchantWords.
Enter “foam roller” and download the results of that search.
But don’t stop there.
Go into the suggestions from the “foam roller” search. Download those, too.
Go to Amazon and type “foam roller” into the search bar. See what it suggests.
The keywords at the top of the suggestion dropdown are most-searched. Bottom = least-searched.
Scour the internet for keywords related to your product and compile them into 1 document.
Prune the list until you’ve found the keywords with the highest-traffic but also highest-relevance to what you sell.
More good keywords, more chances to win.
Now, back to Owen.
Assuming that Owen likes what he sees:
- Good main photo
- Good title
- A price that makes sense
- A coupon
He clicks on your listing.
But, you haven’t won the sale just yet. Owen is taking a closer look, but must be compelled to buy. Don’t trip at the finish line.
1.6 Other Photos - 2 Product Glamor + 4 Hero Shots
Owen clicked on your listing based on your main image.
The main image represents your 1st and most important image slot.
But you get 6 more chances to convince Owen to buy. Here are Amazon’s notes for these:
MAIN images should be supplemented with additional images showing different sides of a product, the product in use, or details that aren't visible in the MAIN image.
- All props or accessories must be presented in a way that do not cause customer confusion.
Of these 6, I recommend 2 on-white product shots.
Show curves, contours, different angles.
- Shows Owen what he’s getting.
Shows off high-quality materials (remember to be over 1000px so your pictures can zoom). For example, this seller uses their 2nd image to emphasize the foam.
So, that’s 2/6 down.
Then, 4 “hero images” showing the product is use (and more importantly: enjoyed!).
This is a psychological trick.
Humans are empathetic, social animals. When we see pictures of other humans, we automatically put ourselves in their position.
It’s not about the foam roller anymore, is it?
It’s about imagining yourself— young, in a nice house, 10% body fat, toning your core before a blissful day at the beach.
Your photos must promise a compelling post-purchase future.
Remove the friction of imagining how the product will make the future better by just showing them.
It’s a future so valuable that they’ll gladly pay you to make it happen.
1.7 Bullets & Description: Keyword Rich & Persuasive at the Same Time
Owen likes your photos, but he hasn’t quite made up his mind.
He scrolls down and sees your 5 bullet points.
And further down – your description.
2 things to do in your Bullets and Description:
(1) Put more keywords in.
(2) Convince Owen to buy.
The keywords that you didn’t have space for in your title but are still high-traffic/high-relevance go here.
Recall: more keywords = more chances to win.
We’ve already talked about keyword research, so let’s focus on using sales copy to convince Owen to buy from you.
He’s on the fence. Your text needs to push him (and his $50 order!) onto your side.
Humans can be complicated.
But when it comes to online shopping? Not so much.
In fact, Scott Galloway of market research firm L2 calls Amazon our collective “large intestine” providing a pipeline of pleasurable goods to households around the world.
There are only 8 things people really want: the “Life Force 8”.
Coined by Drew Eric Whitman in Cashverti$ing (2008), all people want is:
Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
• Enjoyment of food and beverages.
- Freedom from fear, pain and danger.
- Sexual companionship.
- Comfortable living conditions.
- To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
- Care and protection of loved ones.
- Social approval.
You’ll see best results by using (at least!) 3/8 throughout your listing.
More is better. But, implement them naturally.
Most sellers only list features.
You press the 8 buttons that actually drive purchase behavior.
Listing features without benefits adds friction to the Owen’s buying decision.
Because he needs to read the feature and then translate it into a benefit. Don’t make him think.
✕ DON’T: SiliBoy silicone baking mats eliminate the need for cooking oil. Easier and healthier!
✓ DO: want the very best for your family? SiliBoy mats cut oil from your cooking, which means easier and healthier meals for everyone.
LF8 Trigger: Care and protection of loved ones.
✕ DON’T: this blouse hugs your curves and makes you look great.
✓ DO: married 20 years? Doesn’t matter. This blouse will give him “first date butterflies” all over again.
LF8 Trigger: Sexual companionship (we got a little ‘Cosmopolitan’ there… because it works!)
✕ DON’T: powerful, impressive, hand-crafted in Italy. Invest in a true “power tie”.
✓ DO: it’s not just a tie — it’s your reputation. Put it on, close that deal. Discover what “power tie” really means.
LF8 Trigger: To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
But wait, there’s more!
Here are 12 killer sales copy tactics to make more money. Very powerful. Use ethically.
(1) Say “You”
Speak in the 2nd person: address the reader as “you” because, like hero images, it puts Owen in the driver’s seat. You’ll find that your ears perk up.
(2) Use Short, Simple Words
Don’t lose the sale because of complicated text. Big words add friction.
Make it easy! 5th grade reading level.
- “use”, not “utilize”
- “different”, not “disparate”
- “lots”, not “myriad”
But if a complex word is the right tool, use it. Everything in its time.
(3) Use the Active Voice, Not the Passive Voice
Always use this sentence structure:
[SUBJECT] + [VERB] + [OBJECT]
[OBJECT] + [VERB] + [SUBJECT]
✕ DON’T: The race was won by Wario.
✓ DO: Wario won the race.
Why? Our brains think in “Active” order: “item #1 does something to item #2.” Not “item #2 had something done to it by item #1”.
Easy to read = more sales.
For more tips like this, I recommend The Elements of Style (1918) by William Strunk.
(4) Use Stories as Trojan Horses
Use stories as Trojan Horses for your sales message.
Don’t give Owen a list of features.
Tell him the story of an office worker whose back was killing him (“sitting is today’s smoking!”), and how your foam roller made him a new man: surging with energy, ruthlessly efficient, and noticed by that cute girl at the gym.
- Survival, enjoyment of life, life extension.
- To be superior, winning, keeping up with the Joneses.
Heck, the power of stories is why “Owen” (and Rupert) exist in the first place — it’s easier to convey how to rank on Amazon by showing how Owen shops instead of:
Step 1: buy low, sell high
Step 2: blah blah blah
Step 3: write bullet points
(5) Loss is 2x More Persuasive than Gain
Sure, give LF8 benefits.
Tell Owen what he’ll lose if he fails to buy. As Jordan Peterson says: you should have a “heaven” to reach for and a “hell” to run away from. That’s 2x the motivation.
Humans are disproportionately loss-averse.
Anecdotally: loss is 2x more effective than gain. In other words: if you lost $50, you’d need to win $100 to get over that loss.
For example, tell Owen that:
- his household wastes $150/year because his current curtains don’t keep the heat in
- he spends $200/year on cooking oil when baking mats do the same thing for 1/10 of the cost
- the sunglass industry is a monopoly. Cut out the middle-man. You deserve designer frames without the designer markup.
(6) Mental Imagery
Use words that conjure mental pictures.
✕ DON’T: This car accelerates incredibly fast.
✓ DO: This car accelerates like a scalded cat.
Which is better?
“Incredibly fast” = abstract concept. Hard for Owen to imagine the benefit to him.
“Scalded cat” = concrete object. Owen has seen cats and knows: geez, that’s fast.
(7) Aren’t Questions Better?
Questions are better than statements (except for this one).
Questions make Owen think, then answer the question in his head.
Adding to that...
(8) Hypnotic Language Patterns
Danger: extremely overpowered (use ethically)!
✕ DON’T: why invest in silicone baking mats?
✓ DO: you might be wondering: why invest in silicone baking mats?
Hypnosis: if Owen wasn’t wondering this, he is now! You’re a traffic cop directing his thoughts to the desired destination.
✕ DON’T: you’ll feel amazing when you use the FoamMe foam roller.
✓ DO: I wonder if you realize just how amazing you’ll feel when you use the FoamMe foam roller.
Hypnosis: this is as close as you’ll get to Inception in real-life (unless this isn’t real life). It’s a gentle suggestion that tells Owen to “realize” something on his own, and subsequently take ownership of the idea.
✕ DON’T: get the very best for your family.
✓ DO: you’re here because you want the very best for your family.
Hypnosis: an undeniable statement that makes Owen feel understood, as if your product is designed just for him. When the buyer feels you’re uniquely suited to solve their problem, price elasticity increases.
(9) Use “Because” & “Imagine”
The word “because” raises compliance to requests from 60% to 94%.
You’re waiting in line to use the photocopier. You approach the current user and try to cut the line.
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine?” [60% compliance]
“Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I have to make copies?” [93% compliance]
- “Excuse me, I have 5 pages. May I use the Xerox machine, because I’m in a rush?” [94% compliance]
The word “imagine” triggers a mental “try-on”. It’s the mental cousin of the physical “puppy dog close” and “car test drive”.
“Imagine” is the Free Trial of the mind.
(10) Use Social Proof & 123s
Has your product been endorsed by experts?
Are there studies?
How many customers have you helped?
Tout these numbers.
The literal numbers.
Use numerals (e.g. “60,000”) instead of writing the number (e.g. “sixty thousand”) because digits stop the eye. More on-page engagement = more money!
(11) No Guarantees
Don’t give a guarantee.
Not because it isn’t persuasive (guarantees are very persuasive!) but because it’s against Amazon’s rules. Save it for your Shopify!
(12) Selling Supplements? Know Your Stuff
Selling supplements can be lucrative. But, look into:
- Getting Ungated
- FDA Regulations, Claims
- other stuff
1.8 Search Terms: Your Last Chance to Include Good Keywords
Search Terms are the only part of the Amazon listing that’s invisible to shoppers.
Think of them as tags.
Many platforms use tags (#hashtags, for example) to make content discoverable. It’s nothing new.
In this case, it’s a string of words (mostly nouns and adjectives) about your product.
When you add them to your listing, this tells Amazon that these terms are relevant to your product. Then, you have a chance of showing up for them.
Zoooooming on in, let’s check out 3 tips from Amazon’s world-famous “Optimize Listings for Search & Browse”.
3 KEY THINGS
Your Search Terms must be...
You sell a popcorn maker. Don’t include terms like “Ice cream, cones, bakery, obama, etc.”
More interestingly, “ice cream” and “cones” are food (and you have a popcorn maker, so you might think this is OK), but the association is too loose.
You sell a TON 3057 20-oz. Jacketed Fiberglass Claw Hammer.
Acceptable Search Terms would include: “nail pounder, nail puller, ripping tool”, because they’re synonyms— alternative names that the customer would use in search.
(2) TECHNICALLY COMPLIANT
Amazon doesn’t reward keywords that appear more than 1x.
So, if a keyword is anywhere else (your title, bullets, description) you don’t need to include it in the Search Terms section.
The same goes for pluralization and capitalization (you don’t need “Color, color, Colors, colors, etc.”) and punctuation (no dashes, commas, conjunctions, etc.).
Amazon wants unique, relevant nouns and adjectives written as a string.
A string with the words in the most logical order.
Example (in Amazon’s words):
“A customer is more likely to search for ‘big stuffed teddy bears’ than for ‘teddy stuffed bears’”.
Moreover pt. 2...
A string of words, original in the listing, no punctuation, in the most logical order, and within your character limits (limits vary by product category).
Usually, Amazon shows you your character limits right there in Seller Central.
And lastly, your Search Terms must be...
Your product is “Wood Bamboo Temple Wayfarer Sunglasses Green Frame” and you put “amazing, good quality, trendy fashion 2014, best seller, etc.”.
These are subjective, not an objective description. Sorry.
Ironically, the line as to what’s subjective vs. descriptive is itself subjective, so use your best judgement.
You can, for example, list topics related to the product.
Amazon says “Time travel” is an acceptable Search Term for the book “The Shadow Beast (An Adventure in Time)”.
PERFECT SEARCH TERMS (IN 4 STEPS)
Ready to cash in on these ideas?
Let’s write yours.
“Yoga mat” (classic Amazon FBA private label product, strong competition).
STEP 1: search the keyword “yoga mat” on Amazon.com.
STEP 2: copy/paste the top 10 product titles into WordCounter.com.
Hit “Go”. This gives you a sense of what keywords are used most frequently. In this case, we see:
Yoga: 13 (i.e. appears 13 times in titles among the top 10 sellers)
STEP 3: pop these keywords (one at a time - “yoga”, “exercise”, “pilates”, etc.) into a tool like MerchantWords, which gives you a whole family of keyword ideas along with monthly Amazon search volume.
When I pop “pilates” into MerchantWords, for example, I get these other keyword ideas:
pilates mat: 59,700
pilates equipment: 35,200
pilates workout: 18,800
pilates accessories: 18,000
STEP 4: work them into your listing.
Now, you know to include the keywords “equipment”, “workout”, and “accessories” in your Search Terms (or elsewhere in your listing).
The best keywords are at the intersection of:
High-traffic + high-relevance to your product.
Put your very best in your title. Your second best in your bullets. Your third-tier in your description. And any unused keywords in your Search Terms.
Want to enjoy the benefits of an optimized listing without the effort and annoying learning curve?
1.9 Brand Name: Build Legitimacy (and Rank for Keywords?)
In choosing your brand name, consider:
The name of the seller on Amazon (i.e. your company) should match the brand name in the title. Avoids confusion. Builds trust.
And, for bonus points: include a high-traffic keyword in your brand name. That way, you’re building brand recognition and ranking for keywords at the same time. Optional.
1.10 Category & Subcategory: Get it Right or Suffer Forever
When editing your listing, head to “More Details” then find “Category (item-type)”.
This allows you to classify your item as you see fit.
Accuracy is key; the category should be true to the product.
This affects your sales because shoppers often browse by category. If you’re in a category that isn't relevant to you, fewer sales.
One way to determine what category to choose is to look at a batch of 15 competitors (if there are any!), and see how they’re categorized.
Then, check their estimated monthly revenues with a tool like Jungle Scout to see if there’s a correlation between where listings are categorized and their revenues.
Here’s your action plan...
(Scenario 1) If competitors are all in the same category and have good revenues, use that same category.
(Scenario 2) If competitors are all in the same category and have bad revenues, what will you do differently?
(Scenario 3) If competitors are in various categories, check their monthly revenues to find a correlation between category and sales.
(3.1) If category doesn’t affect revenue, choose the category that’s more accurate for your product.
(3.2) If category does affect revenue, choose the category with more revenue.
And remember, some Amazon categories require sellers to be “ungated” in order to sell there.
So, of course, don’t choose a product category that you’re not allowed to sell in.
Here’s the full list of Amazon’s gated categories.
The most notable ones include Beauty, Clothing, and Health & Personal Care.
STAGE 2: PERFORMANCE
Being a "good Amazon seller" is too vague.
Let’s break it down into 10 “Do”/”Don’t” items.
Most multi-million dollar Amazon FBA sellers are doing these 10 things right.
2.1 Sourcing: Have a Unique Name & Form Factor
✓ DO: Sell a Private Label Product
Good: you source a product from a factory and print your own logo on the product.
Better: obvious logo + you make specific physical modifications that enhance the product. You improve its value to the existing target market. Or maybe, you make changes to add value for a certain type of person.
Best: logo + physical improvements + a distinctive form factor that becomes synonymous with your brand over time.
> Razer - it’s for people who prioritize gaming. Sharp, fun, bright LEDs.
> Apple - you buy it to impress people. It looks great and just works. Round, modern contours.
> Mountain Equipment Co-op - an outdoors aesthetic.
> Starbucks - your comfortable third place between work and home.
✕ DON’T: Sell a Retail Arbitrage Product
Sell retail arbitrage products and compete for the Buy Box. Great way to cut your teeth. But, I want you to make a meaningful amount of money.
By definition, RA is selling a product that already exists, so it’s hard to add value and therefore margin.
2.2 Brand: Build a Brand so You Can Charge More
✓ DO: build a brand and aim for Amazon Brand Registry.
#trendalert: Amazon is making structural changes that favor brand builders.
Meet Amazon Brand Registry. If you’re registered, you get:
- increased protection against counterfeits and listing hijackers
- the use of Enhanced Brand Content, which improves on-page conversions
- other stuff? We’ll see
I can see Amazon building a suite of benefits only available to registered brands. An “Amazon Prime”-like offering for 3rd party sellers. This is speculative, but I think the trajectory is correct.
To become brand registered, you need:
A brand name that has a live registered trademark.
Government Registered Principal Trademark Registration or Serial Number.
Images of the brand’s logo.
Images of products and packaging that carry the trademarked brand name. If the product is not branded, the packaging must be branded.
A list of product categories (e.g., apparel, sporting goods, electronics) in which the brand should be listed.
A list of countries where the brand’s products are manufactured and distributed.
Normally, objects have a set market price. Toilet paper: $7. Burger and Fries: $10. Windex: $5.
Brand lets you to shatter this price ceiling, transcending the margins of a typical physical product business.
Luxury brands add value by infusing their products with an intangible story via marketing over time; a shared fiction that most people believe. A brand.
Eventually, the product emits a social signal (usually tying the owner to a successful Life Force 8 trait: affluent, fun, youthful, etc.).
Branding is a function of widely-spread curated messages over time. But, it’s the only thing that allows physical products to transcend their inherent marginal cost. Worth it.
✕ DON’T: sell products that:
- have a generic brand name
- are commodities with set market prices
- have no room for differentiation or branding
- have no trademark and Brand Registry potential
2.3 Inventory Management: Always Be in Stock
✓ DO: stay in stock 100% of the time.
How long does it take your supplier to make more product? Are there any events (famously, Chinese New Year in February) that will slow your production schedule? Ask your supplier for a copy of their calendar. Know when they’re working.
If your current sales increase by +25%, +50%, etc. how much runway do you have? Produce well before then.
If your item is oversized, Amazon limits how many units you can keep in FBA warehouses at one time, so inventory management is even more crucial in these cases.
✕ DON’T: run out of stock.
Worse than the lost sales is lost ranking. Use belowcost.club to add additional sales to your lineup anytime!
2.4 Fulfillment: Use FBA, not FBM
✓ DO: use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA).
In other words: ship your inventory to an Amazon FBA warehouse prior to selling it. It then becomes eligible for Prime. Amazon handles shipping and most customer service. This guarantees fast shipping times, which means more happy customers.
And anecdotally, you enjoy better ranking than similar products from sellers who do the shipping themselves.
✕ DON’T: ship products to Amazon customers yourself. Hard to beat Amazon’s 2-day shipping. Plus, you’re on the hook for negative feedback re: shipping.
2.5 Customer Questions: Answer ASAP
✓ DO: answer customer questions on your listings. Add keywords to your answers, while you’re at it. It might help to index the listing.
✕ DON’T: ignore customer questions.
2.6 Consolidate Related ASINs into Parent-Child
✓ DO: if you’re selling different products, but the only difference is size or color (or some other minor difference) list them under a parent-child relationship. All your traffic, 1 place. This encourages cross-sells.
✕ DON’T: your product comes in red, blue, and yellow. You list each as a distinct ASIN.
2.7 Performance: Pre-Purchase Metrics on Point
✓ DO: keep the page content (text and photos) relevant to maximize these metrics:
- Time on Page & Bounce Rate
- Exit Rate
Take care of customers, and Amazon will take care of you.
✕ DON’T: use keywords that aren’t related to your product, even if they’re high-traffic. Tempting, but you get punished on engagement metrics.
2.8 Performance: Post-Purchase Metrics on Point
✓ DO: maximize these seller performance metrics:
- Order Processing Speed
- Order Defect Rate (ODR)
- Perfect Order Percentage (POP)
Accomplish these by using FBA.
Also, inspect your inventory for quality defects prior to shipping to an Amazon FBA warehouse.
Use FBM fulfillment.
Send inventory to Amazon without a quality inspection.
2.9 Packaging: Frustration-Free & Compliant
✓ DO: enroll into the Frustration-Free packaging program.
Favored by customers by definition (no one pays an extra $3.00 for “Frustration Packaging”), and therefore Amazon. See the pattern?
Prep and package your products in compliance with Amazon’s standards. Special rules apply if your product is:
- Loose in the box
- Sold as a set
- Case Packed
- Has Liquid
- Has Sharp Edges
- Has Batteries
✕ DON’T: ignore Amazon packaging standards. Like a bouncer turning away a guy in a t-shirt for a dress code violation, inventory can be rejected when it hits an FBA warehouse.
2.10 Badges: Become Amazon’s Choice
Amazon is hunting for the “best” product in each micro-category and labelling it “Amazon’s Choice”.
It points online shoppers in the right direction. Less thinking = less friction = more sales. Sure.
But also: Alexa.
Alexa represents a growing share of Amazon orders. When a customer does a search using their voice, Alexa can’t return dozens of simultaneous results like on mobile/PC.
Voice forces Alexa to present the buyer 1 initial choice (i.e. “Amazon’s choice”).
There’s nothing you can do to force the badge.
Take care of the other 9 Performance points above to maximize your odds: strong brand, in stock, FBA, attentive to customer questions, strong pre/post-sale metrics, good packaging.
Ignore points 1-9.
STAGE 3: PUSH
Stage 1: PAGE. Your listing has lots of keywords and persuasive sales copy.
Stage 2: PERFORMANCE. You take care of customers, and Amazon takes care of you.
These 2 are necessary but not sufficient for making the money you want.
In Stage 1, we saw that another keyword for foam rollers was “muscle therapy”.
You did keyword research and included “muscle therapy” in your listing. But, so did other savvy sellers.
If 2 sellers both have “muscle therapy” in their listings, which one does Amazon show on Page 1?
The one with more sales.
Specifically: “relative sales velocity”. How many sales are you making (in the past and recently) compared to your competition?
This brings us to Stage 3: PUSH.
Or, “ranking” on Page 1 of search results for your keywords.
70% of all sales are made on Page 1. So if you’re not there, you’re losing 70% of your earnings.
Another way to think about it:
We have the wood. Now, the match.
We have a tuned-up car. Now, the gas.
We have a good spacecraft. Now, escape velocity to reach orbit.
Here’s what happens next.
3.1 CALCULATE YOUR TARGET DAILY SALES
Amazon ranks products based on “relative sales velocity”. In other words: how many sales are you making compared to your competitors?
The average page 1 swaddling blanket seller sells 850 units/month. That’s 30 sales/day. If we want to rank on page 1 for “swaddling blanket”, that’s the gap we need to close.
Email me at email@example.com with your main keyword and I’ll send you a free estimate for your product.
3.2 YOUR PAST & PRESENT
BUILD SALES HISTORY
It’s like building a resume.
Amazon wants sales history (they want to know that the product has sold consistently on a daily basis in the past because this is as good an indication of future success).
The longer you’ve been making sales in general, the better (with a 30-day track record being better than a 14-day one, assuming daily sales are stable).
BUILD SALES VELOCITY
History is great, but Amazon asks: “what have you done for me lately?” That’s sales velocity.
Are recent sales trending up? Down? Flat?
More recent periods are weighed more heavily (i.e. making 20 sales/day in the last 7 days affects ranking more than if you made 20 sales/day for 7 days... 3 months ago). Old news!
Based on these 2 factors, Amazon gives you a Best Seller Rank (BSR) which is always in flux based on the sales you’re getting + what your competitors are doing.
We need sales to get the ball rolling.
Catch 22: how does a new listing get sales without any prior sales?
It's like: how do you get a job without any prior experience? (like those darn millennials)
You'll hear a lot of different tactics— and we’ll discuss the best ones— but it always comes down to this:
Promote your product at a discount to an audience that’s likely to buy it.
Promote: you need a group of people.
Discount: sellers offer a discount because it gives shoppers a reason to buy now instead of later. Also, it gives you the ability to sell a consistent number of units per day.
Audience: use a platform like belowcost.club (that’s us), Facebook, or Amazon. We’ll discuss where to find audiences.
We're not interested in making a profit per sale.
In fact, it's fine to lose money on each individual sale as long as it's part of a larger strategy to rank on Amazon and enjoy the money made from long-term, organic sales. Budget permitting, of course.
3.3 ESCAPE VELOCITY
Did you see the SpaceX rocket launch?
You need these giant rocket boosters to get the ship off the ground.
But then, once you’re in orbit and gravity weakens, you can coast. Relax. The system works for you, now, instead of pulling you down.
You need enough sales history and velocity to rank and once you do, the organic sales start happening on their own because of your pagerank and you can ease off promotional sales.
The goal isn’t to sell at low prices forever; only until you hit escape velocity.
But until this tipping point, it pays to be aggressive.
The system won’t tip in your favor unless you apply this initial force.
There's no logical reason for the algorithm to favor you over someone who’s making more sales (in the past and currently).
3 WAYS TO GET AMAZON SALES
So then, the million dollar question: how get initial sales?
Here are 3 proven ways.
It’s all the same concept: sell to a group of people who are likely to buy and send them a coupon code along with your Amazon link. Everything else is secondary.
3.4 AMAZON PRODUCT LAUNCH SERVICES
belowcost.club, or similar.
Amazon product launch services like ours build up a large group of targeted Amazon shoppers. We take your Amazon link and coupon codes and distribute them to ready-to-buy shoppers.
In our case, we unique Amazon single use codes so that they can't be used multiple times. More on how to create those here.
Shoppers are notified of your deal by email and online.
Sellers control how many coupons they submit so that they can control how many sales they get per day. This builds a consistent sales history and velocity. It works well and is automated.
3.5 FACEBOOK ADS
Same idea, but you get the shoppers from Facebook yourself. This allows for full control over the process,
Here’s what it looks like:
- create a new campaign
- choose the Lead Generation option (which allows shoppers to pop their names and emails into a form)
- target people who live in the United States and speak English as a native language (assuming you're running your promotion on Amazon.com, the US property)
- start at $5/day. Work your way up as results start to come in. Common but obvious error: if you’re not getting results, don’t spend more
- make the offer something like: “Want this swaddling blanket for $1? Enter your name and email here and we’ll send you a coupon!”
Or, pick the Traffic objective and drive the traffic to a landing page (built with a website tool like Wordpress, Shopify, or Clickfunnels - that’s in order of cost/goodness for you) that offers a general-use coupon code.
This is less secure (because a general code can be shared and used an infinite number of times), but avoids the logistical difficulty of assigning a unique code to a unique shopper once you find them.
Facebook ads are pay-to-play, but remember it's OK to invest money acquiring early customers because, again, the objective is to rank and make organic sales that way.
3.6 Amazon PPC
Skip the line and appear on page 1 starting today… for the right price!
You know for a fact that the shoppers you’ll reach are (1) on Amazon already and (2) searching for a keyword related to your product, so you’d be remiss not to include this in your strategy.
There's no offering single use coupon codes here for a deep discount, but this can still drive sales especially if your public price is compelling.
At the beginning, think of PPC as “buying data”. Maybe not initially profitable; you’re buying information on which keywords work and which don’t.
Run an Automatic campaign at $10/day.
After 7 days of Automatic, make Manual campaigns centered around keywords that work well in Automatic. Follow the money.
3.7 HOW TO GET AMAZON REVIEWS
Sales are king.
And reviews are queen.
In the short-term, focus on getting your 1st review. Preferably a good one. The marginal benefit of going from 0 to 1 review is very high.
By the time you have 50 reviews, conversion rate increases by 4.6%. That’s a permanent conversion boost that’s worth a lot of money over time.
Asking your family and friends is out of the question because the reviews will be tracked and removed.
Focus on sales (as we’ve been doing) because every new sale can be converted into a review. One precedes the other.
Realistically, expect a ‘purchase-to-review’ conversion rate of 1 - 5%.
Amazon prompts shoppers about reviewing their purchases on their end. This process is responsible for a baseline review rate of 1%.
And on your end, focus on getting sales (through launches, Facebook ads, and PPC) and then use Amazon's native Buyer-Seller messaging system to contact people who bought.
Ask them for honest feedback as part of your customer service sequence.
2 notes on policy compliance:
When using Amazon's Buyer-Seller messaging system, make sure that you stay in compliance with Amazon policy by asking for an honest review.
Not a “five-star review”.
Not “good” feedback.
Just their honest opinion.
(2) The Deal = only discuss reviews post-purchase
The buyer should have no conception that they’re getting the discount because they’re expected to review.
It’s not a trade, so not this: “I’ll give you a discount if you review”. Amazon banned this practice in October 2016. Asking for reviews is more like an afterthought. A chat you have with the buyer post-purchase. Framing it as a part of your customer service sequence is safe:
“Hey, how was your experience with the product? If there's anything we can help with, feel free to let us know. We love our customers and want to make sure that you have the best experience possible.”
Automate your post-purchase message sequence with a service like Feedback Genius or Salesbacker.
Here’s an example schedule:
Email 1: Your item has been shipped! (bonus inside)
Send the customer an email letting them know the product has been shipped. Consider a value add, like an image showing different ways to use the product. Or, a written list of 10 things to try out-of-the-box.
Email 2: How’s everything?
The product is scheduled to have arrived. Ask if everything is to their satisfaction. Deal with negative feedback here before it ever gets published as a review. Be liberal in issuing replacements and refunds for the greater good.
Email 3: What do you think?
3 days pass. If all is good, ask for the review. Something like: we love feedback. Your honest opinion of the product will help thousands of people make a better decision. Here’s the link to do so.
3.8 THE WHOLE PLAN (IN 4 PHASES)
Here’s your entire action plan in 1 place:
FIND YOUR FORMULA TO RANK ON PAGE 1
The average page 1 swaddling blanket seller sells 850 units/month. That’s 30 sales/day. This is the gap we need to close.
GET INITIAL SALES WITH BELOWCOST.CLUB & FACEBOOK
belowcost.club is good for automation and if you can offer a discount that's significant, you can get a lot of sales and control the quantities. I see this everyday.
Facebook is good if you want maximum control over who you reach (because Facebook offers extensive targeting) and what price you want your product to be. You can offer any %-off, but it’s better to set it to a “gotta have it” deal.
Use both in conjunction to get sales rolling.
TURN ON AMAZON PPC (AUTOMATIC, THEN MANUAL)
You've established a baseline.
You have regular everyday sales with a launch platform (say, 20 of our 30 target daily sales). PPC can provide the other 10.
Launch an Amazon PPC campaign on Automatic, first. A modest budget. $10/day or something. This generates additional sales closer to full price.
So, you have a mix of 3 sales sources (belowcost.club, Facebook, and Amazon PPC).
> 66% from discounted sales
> 33% from Amazon PPC
= 30 sales/day
The objective is to slowly, like a highway merge ramp, shift proportions from low-priced sales to high-priced ones, while maintaining our daily sales history and velocity at all costs.
> 50% from discounted sales
> 50% from Amazon PPC
= 30 sales/day
> 33% from discounted sales
> 33% from Amazon PPC
> 33% from organic sales (because we’re ranking now)
= 30 sales/day
The discounted sales and PPC have driven sales. You are ranking on Page 1, 2, and 3 for some keywords.
The million dollar question: can you “stick the landing”?
3.9 STICK THE LANDING
Whether your rank “sticks” depends on the organic demand for the product once it becomes visible on page 1 or 2.
Do organic Amazon shoppers actually click and buy it?
This is determined by the work you did in Stage 1 (Page). As well as getting your first review here in Stage 3.
Another tip to “stick the landing”:
As soon as you start ranking for keywords (i.e. you’re getting sales from customer searches), try lowering your public retail price on Amazon (MSRP).
This way, organic traffic that finds you with convert more easily.
If our swaddling blankets normally sell for $30, we lower the public retail price to $15 for 3 days, enjoy more organic sales, rank higher, appear higher for keywords, etc.
Rinse and repeat.
Maintain daily sales velocity at all costs: increase belowcost.club submissions, Facebook ad spend, PPC ad spend as needed on slow sales days.
Once you’re on page 1, eventually increase your price to normal levels. You keep the ranking, but sell for a higher price. Congratulations — you are now profitable!
The sales “diet” of a mature, ranking product might look like this:
> 33% Amazon PPC
> 66% from organic sales
(> with belowcost.club and Facebook to drive additional sales as needed)
= 30+ sales/day
Altogether, here’s the progression. Discounted sales pave the way for organic ones.
3.10 YOUR 3 UNFAIR ADVANTAGES (OR, COMPOUND GROWTH HACKS)
Use these 3 virtuous cycles to make money faster:
(1) Amazon PPC Compounding
From running pay-per-click campaigns, you know which keywords generate sales. Add those keywords back into the written text of your listing, so you appear for them organically.
(2) Page 1 Compounding
Organic sales beget more organic sales. Page 1 sellers have an inherent advantage because they’re on page 1. It’s theirs to lose at that point.
(3) Product Portfolio Compounding
Once your 1st product is a success, roll the profit back into more products so that you build a portfolio of strong players.
This will take time, and looks the worst at the beginning.
Most people quit. That's why business success is synonymous with “never giving up”.
Flywheels take time to gather speed. People quit before the speed ever picks up.
If you like this concept, I recommend The Slight Edge (2011) by Jeff Olson.
READY MAKE MONEY ON AMAZON?
I hope this helps.
To start your product launch, consider belowcost.club.
It's the most affordable way to get new listings off the ground and start getting organic sales. It’s 100% unlimited, so you’re able to build sales history and velocity for 1 or many ASINs.
Also, you don't have to worry about the infamous sales “death spiral” where you have a slow sales day, so Amazon ranks you lower, so you have a slow sales day, so Amazon ranks you lower, etc.
Check out https://belowcost.club/ to get started now!
Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org