Today I’m thrilled to have Casey Gauss on the show. Casey is the founder of Viral Launch which is both a software company and an Amazon product launch service.
They have two main software tools called market intelligence and product discovery which help you find profitable products to sell on Amazon and their launch service has catapulted many clients onto the front page of Amazon search.
Casey is also going to be one of the speakers at my conference the Sellers Summit in May. Anyway, Casey is an expert when it comes to finding and launching successful products on Amazon and today we are going to find out how he does it.
What You’ll Learn
- What it takes to launch a successful product on Amazon today.
- Which factors he looks for in products to sell.
- The most critical aspects of a product listing
- Does enhanced brand content really matter?
- Do giveaways still work?
Other Resources And Books
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Klaviyo.com – Klaviyo is the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store. Created specifically for ecommerce, it is the best email marketing provider that I’ve used to date. Click here and try Klaviyo for FREE.
Privy.com – Privy is my tool of choice when it comes to gathering email subscribers for my ecommerce store. They offer easy to use email capture, exit intent, and website targeting tools that turn more visitors into email subscribers and buyers. With both free and paid versions, Privy fits into any budget. Click here and get 15% OFF towards your account.
SellersSummit.com – The ultimate ecommerce learning conference! Unlike other events that focus on inspirational stories and high level BS, the Sellers Summit is a curriculum based conference where you will leave with practical and actionable strategies specifically for an ecommerce business. Click here and get your ticket now before it sells out.
But before we begin, I want to give a quick shout out to Klaviyo who is a sponsor of the show. Always excited to talk about Klaviyo because they are the email marketing platform that I personally use for my ecommerce store, and I depend on them for over 30% of my revenues as of last month. Now, Klaviyo is the only email platform out there that is specifically built for ecommerce stores, and here is why it is so powerful.
Klaviyo can track every single customer who has shopped in your store and exactly what they bought. So let’s say I want to send out an email to everyone who purchased a red handkerchief in the last week, easy. Let’s say I want to set up a special auto-responder sequence to my customers depending on what they purchased, piece of cake, and there is full revenue tracking on every single email.
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I also want to give a shout out to Privy who is a sponsor of the show. Privy is a tool that I use to build my email list for both my blog and my online store. And what does it do? Well Privy is an email list growth platform and they manage all my email capture forms. And in fact I use privy hand in hand with my email marketing provider. There are a bunch of companies out there that will manage your email capture forms, but I like privy because they specialize in ecommerce.
Right now I’m using privy to display a cool wheel of fortune pop-up. Basically, a user gives their email for a chance to win valuable prices in our store. Customers love the gamification aspect of this. And when I implemented this form email signups increased by 131%. Bottom line, Privy allows me to turn visitors into email subscribers, which I then feed to my email provider to close the sale. So head on over to Privy.com/Steve and try it for free. And if you decide you need some of the more advanced features, use coupon code MWQHJ for 15% off. Once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.COM/Steve. Now onto the show.
Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Casey Gauss on the show. Now Casey is the founder of Viral Launch which is both a software company and an Amazon product launch service. They have two main software tools called Market Intelligence and Product Discovery which help you find profitable products to sell on Amazon. And their launch service has actually catapulted many clients onto the front page of Amazon search.
Now Casey is also going to be one of the speakers at my conference, the Sellers Summit in May. And Casey is an expert when it comes to finding and launching successful products on Amazon. And today we’re going to find out how he does it. And with that, welcome to the show Casey, how are you doing today man?
Casey: Steve thanks so much for having me. I’m doing amazing how about yourself?
Steve: I’m doing well myself. I’m a little bit sick, so if I start coughing or whatever, it’s all good. I will stop eventually.
Steve: So Casey, you got a pretty cool story about how you started Viral Launch. Can you give the audience just kind of like a quick overview of how you got started selling on Amazon, and why you decided to start Viral Launch in the first place.
Casey: Yeah of course. So essentially I went to college for a couple years. I was running track and studying business. Always had all these ideas I wanted to give a shot at. And yes I taught myself how to code, dropped out of [inaudible 00:03:58] and a friend of mine was the guy with the idea for Viral Launch. So he was the Amazon seller and he always wanted to start a business with me.
So I built the original platform for Viral Launch just as kind of like a side gig. But pretty quickly we were making money and it was so cool to see the amazing success that some of our clients were having. And so that’s really how I started to get my understanding of Amazon, what’s working, what’s not. I love data, I love metrics, and so yeah I’ve never sold anything on Amazon but we’ve helped people sell literally billions of dollars on Amazon.
Steve: But you developed Viral Launch along with your partner who did sell physical products on Amazon, right?
Casey: Yeah correct, and I ended up, I officially bottomed out like a year after we had gotten started. He wasn’t really into what was going on, and I just saw the incredible opportunity and wanted to run with it.
Steve: Okay. So what I like about you Casey is that you run the service where you’re helping like thousands of Amazon sellers launch. And so you kind of have intimate knowledge over it like a wide range of different products on what works and what doesn’t. And so what I was hoping to do today was kind of discuss what it takes to launch a successful product on Amazon today. A lot of things have changed in the last couple of years. And I guess let’s start with what factors you look for in deciding what product to sell in the first place.
Casey: Yeah, so I would definitely say probably our biggest advantage right now is just our perspective of the space. So we work with guys just getting started on Amazon that maybe have a budget of $2,000 a month all the way to our largest private label client does just over one 100 million dollars a year on Amazon. So really, really wide range. And from I am a huge advocate of the go wide strategy.
And essentially what this is is looking for those products where you’ll only do 10,000, 20,000 maybe somewhere around $30,000 a month in top line revenue but competition is extremely low. And what this allows you to do is quickly get into a market; you don’t need to have a crazy marketing budget. You don’t really have to spend too much time maintaining the products, making sure that competitors are not coming in and pushing you out of the market.
I would much rather — the saying is, I would much rather sell ten products that do $10,000 a month in top line revenue than one product that does 100,000. There’s a few reasons why. In those markets where you’re doing six figures a month, you are going to have a lot of competition generally. You’re going to have to spend a lot of time, continued time making sure that you maintain your rank, that competitors aren’t using shady tactics to leave bad reviews.
It just becomes a big mess or it is just a lot harder to manage than getting into these markets where it’s no headache to get up, to get ranking, to start getting those initial sales, to reach maximum sales potential, and to move on. And once you build that process around the product launch, your product launch strategy once you build that process, you just continue to push new products through that process, and in low competition markets it’s really easy.
So there’s definitely a lot of guys that have success in the products that are doing six figures and make sometimes high six figures per product, but they’re spending six figures to get that product to become successful. So for the – yeah go ahead.
Steve: I was going to ask as part of your go wide strategy, do the products have to be related, or they’re just completely desparied products, truly individual?
Casey: Yeah, I mean that completely depends on what your goals are as a business, right? So if you’re looking to build the brand that you can then sell, if you’re looking to build the brand that you can try to take off of the Amazon, I mean cohesion is important among your product line. But if you’re looking purely for cash flow, then yeah you can just go really wide on just a bunch of random products.
So the biggest account that I know that does that, they did just over 30 million last year, and they just sell literally everything from pet products to health products to car accessories, I mean they’re selling everything. But they just really — they’re like that, that [inaudible 00:08:15] for picking off just amazing markets where the competition is low. They get in and they can just kill it really quickly.
Steve: So branding isn’t as much of a factor when you take the strategy, right? Are you going into this with the philosophy like if this product dies it dies, and there’s always going to be another product to replace it type of philosophy?
Casey: Yeah, I mean obviously the goal is not to allow products to die, and in these markets products die a lot less frequently than in these high volume markets where people just get burned out from competition or they lose their pulse on the market. In these high volume markets, you always have to stay on the cutting edge or else people will push you out, and that’s a big revenue source for you. If you’re making a quarter of a million dollars a month in sales and your $100,000 a month product goes away, that’s really going to hurt if you are doing, you have 100 products that are all doing $10,000 a month, and you lose three of those, I mean that’s not that big of an impact on revenue.
Steve: Okay. And so what are some of your metrics then to find some of these lower competition products?
Casey: Yeah so the quickest metric to identify is this market worth looking into or not is what we call the sales review ratio. So from a conceptual level, essentially we look at reviews as the general barrier to entry in a market. So let’s say I’m selling a fish oil, and everybody on page one has 10,000 reviews. Let’s just say for the sake of an example, 10,000 reviews. That means that I need relatively close to 10,000 reviews to sell at the same volume as those other fish oils.
Even if you had let’s say 1,000 reviews, independently if you looked at this product 1,000 reviews seems like a lot. But if you compared to the other products, basically I think from the data that we have for essentially that customers are saying, wow, I wonder why this product only has 1,000 reviews while all these other ones have 10,000. It must not be as good. That must be — people must not be buying it for a reason, because from the consumer’s perspective the only indicator of popularity on Amazon is review quantity. They’re not looking at bestseller rank or anything like that.
So what this means is basically we look at the average sales review ratio. So we estimate monthly sales, let’s say this product is selling 1,000 units a month, and they have 100 reviews. So 1,000 divided by 100 is 10. If they have 1,000 sales — if they’re selling 1,000 units a month, and they have 1,000 reviews, then the sales review ratio is one. And so the higher that sales review ratio, the essentially the higher the ROI is for the amount of work that you have to put in to get there, and the easier it is to get there.
So anyways we look for these markets where the average sales review ratio is like two to three. So if the top ten guys are all selling 1,000 units a month and they have 100 reviews, that’s sales review ratio of ten, it’s relatively easy to get in there, get 50 reviews, 75, somewhere close to that 100 review mark, you will be able to sell a decent amount of volume pretty quickly. So that’s like the number one thing that we analyze for a product’s market.
Steve: Okay. And in general, I’m just curious what do you see the correlation to be right now in terms of reviews versus sales?
Casey: Yeah so we don’t have — it’s not necessarily one to one in so much as like if you have ten reviews and you get x percent of sales then you get 30, it’s all relative. So in some markets you only need 10 reviews to sell 1,000 units a month, but in some markets you need 2,000 reviews to sell 1,000 units a month because it’s so competitive.
Steve: So you’re looking at a review ratio of at least three you said three to five?
Casey: Yeah so if you can get 10 or higher, then that’s amazing, and again on average. One mistake that we see people make when like making their product selection is again you search fish oil and they see one ASIN has low review quantity but they’re selling a ton of volume. So they’ll think, oh I just need to sell this one particular ASIN and I can replicate those results. But the problem is you can’t attribute where those sales are coming from.
Maybe they’re amazing at driving Facebook ads and that’s where their sales volume is coming from. You need to make decisions based on the performance of the market as a whole.
Steve: So how do you determine whether someone is driving a lot of external traffic to a listing? Like if you’re looking at all the listings on the front page for example.
Casey: Yeah so basically one, there is no sure fire way. Two, essentially the way that we do it or estimate is we say, okay, well the majority of sellers are not driving significant volume from external sources to Amazon. In which case if I look at the average of the market and say the top 10, top 15 are selling 1,000 units a month, then I can assume that the majority of those sales are coming from Amazon.
If there’s one person that’s selling 10,000 units a month, then I have no idea what kind of volume that this — or how this guy is driving that volume. So I’m not going to guess it’s coming from that search term. I’m going to guess; maybe it’s coming from somewhere else, in which case I may not be able to replicate it, so I don’t even want to try.
Steve: Okay. So you’re basically looking for outliers and ignoring them?
Casey: Right exactly.
Steve: Okay. And in terms of sales revenue, you’re looking for that 10,000 range, does that sound accurate?
Casey: Yeah. I mean so it’s relative to every – basically one of the sayings that we have is every product is a good product to sell so long as it makes sense to you in your business. And what that means is I have friends where if they’re not doing 50 to $150,000 a month in top line revenue for a product, they’re not happy with the product. But then other people, they come in; they only have two, $3,000 budget. If they’re doing three to $5,000 a month on Amazon, they’re very happy.
So it’s all relative, but in the go wide strategy, I would be cautious around products that get up into the 30, $50,000 a month range, because I’m adverse to competition in this case.
Steve: Okay yeah, so you’re basically just hovering just under the radar of the most popular products so that you get less hijackers and trouble in general, right?
Casey: Yeah exactly.
Steve: Okay. So in terms of creating the listing, what are some of the more crucial points of a listing that you need to pay attention to based on what you’ve seen in terms of helping other people launch products?
Casey: Yeah I think that the whole listing optimization process is one of the most underrated things when it comes to having success on Amazon. If you don’t have a well optimized listing, it can literally mean thousands of dollars and if you’re in those competitive markets tens of thousands of dollars lost in sales every month, because not only does it have an impact on conversion but the biggest impact is in how it performs in the search results.
And so basically the three main tips that people really don’t get, one of them people have a little bit different opinion on. But the first one is you have to have plurals in your title. So you need to have a singular and plural form in your title. So let’s say I’m selling a singular grill brush, right, I need to have brush and brushes even though it may not make that much sense. I need to have both of those in my title because inevitably people are searching grill brushes or brushes for your grill because yeah.
And so you need to treat these words different. You can see this by going and searching fish oil, you’ll see different order of the results. And so one example that we’ve had is we’re launching let’s say it was this guy’s grill gloves. And so we ran a promotion targeting the singular form grill glove but he only had the plural form in title. So we got him mid page two for the singular form grill gloves, we add grill gloves which is what he was targeting. But for the plural form he was like top ten on page one for the plural form because it was in his title.
So these are general, it depends on the market but generally the singular and plural forms of words of high volume, and if you’re excluding one then you’re missing out. Number two is kind of keyword stuffing your title. So I know people want to add these beautiful titles that really impact click through rate, and I mean you definitely need to use the data to your advantage. But I would much rather rank for two times as many keywords, three times as many keywords but have a lower click through rate, because in total in aggregate you’re going to be driving more sessions.
So I think that’s really important. And then number three is, don’t include your brand in the title. This is a waste of space and Amazon shows your brands in most search results right there. So I think it’s a big waste of space. People aren’t searching your brand unless you are a name brand like Nike or Toshiba or something like that. Your brand is there already and it just is wasting character count.
Steve: Interesting okay.
Casey: Another quick little tidbit is you should be putting a colon or a hyphen after the fifth word in your title. The reason being is by putting that colon in your title, the five words that come before that assuming there’s no stop words like and, the, that is what dictates your canonical URL. And so, your canonical URL — we’re not exactly sure if it helps SEO in Amazon, but we do know that it helps SEO in Google, so yeah.
Steve: That’s an interesting tip. I remember when I’m trying to get the canonical URL correct; it’s just trial and error for me. I didn’t realize that you could put a colon or a dash in there to force it.
Steve: Okay. So I know you guys do a lot of launches as part of Viral Launch. And I was hoping we could just talk a little bit about some of your most recent successful launches with your service. What exactly do you guys do these days step by step to launch a product on Amazon? Can we talk about like giveaways and sales velocity, and that sort of thing?
Casey: Yeah, yeah. So first off you have to have an amazing listing. Again in the example with the grill gloves, here this guy was missing out on sales because he didn’t have the singular form in his title. And so make sure you have a well optimized listing.
Steve: Does enhanced brand content a big deal?
Casey: So enhanced brand content is supposed to help conversion rate, and we’ve seen it everywhere from it has no impact; it has a small amount of impact. I don’t think or if it does have any impact on SEO it’s so small and it’s hard to tell with all the noise. But what you should be doing, this is a good question — one little trick is if you have enhanced brand content, make sure that your description in Seller Central is still filled out, because those words will still index and help you rank.
Steve: Interesting okay. So can you tell me what type of products where enhanced brand content made a bigger deal than the other ones?
Casey: So honestly we didn’t see any correlation around beauty products or anything like that. So we also have this little test tool, and we’ve done a decent amount of split testing around content and how this impacts conversion. Split testing content is hard though because sometimes when you update the title, it hurts your search ranking, then it also you see declines so it’s hard to normalize after you change.
Anyway basically again it depends on the market or the type of products specifically, but conversion rate is largely driven from like your product photography and making sure that you have the features like in your listing. From there it’s all about having the keywords in your listing to make sure that you’re ranking and getting as many sessions as possible.
If you have beautiful photos that highlight the products, that are helping them to understand how many pieces are in this, what do I get, what don’t I get, how big is it? Answering all these questions so they don’t even have to read because less and less do people want to take the time to read, they just want to know is this right and then buy it. So you do a lot of that with your photos.
Steve: I was just trying to get an idea of like where in the hierarchy enhanced brand content falls in your priority list. It sounds like it’s pretty low.
Casey: Insanely low yeah.
Steve: Okay, all right cool. Sorry let’s move on with the launch process.
Casey: Yeah so anyway make sure you have a well optimized listing. And then from there basically you want to go and understand two things. What is the main keyword? Again if it’s a fish oil, generally we want to go after the highest volume keyword, reason being is let’s say we went out after like omega three supplements, the problem is the people ranking for fish oil are seeing really high volume and because they have omega three supplements in their title, in their listing, they’re still getting keyword push or boost for these long tail keywords as well.
So it’s very difficult to compete for a long time or a sustained period of time on these long tail keywords because these high volume sellers for the big keywords are also getting power for the long tail. So that’s one little tidbit. So we want to try to understand your main keyword. Let’s say it’s fish oil, and then from there we want to go look on page one to try to find these pockets of lower review quantities.
So again let’s say everyone on page one has 1,000 reviews and there’s like a pocket where someone has 250, 175 and 100 reviews, and you only have you know 50 reviews or 100 reviews. We want to ideally try to rank you within that little pocket of lower review quantities so that relatively you are competitive when people are scanning through the results and they see your review quantity next to the guy above you, the guy below you, it looks relatively competitive.
Steve: So are you implying that you’re trying to get a specific rank so that you waged in between two lesser ranked items on the front page?
Casey: Yeah in terms of review quantity.
Steve: Interesting, okay sure.
Casey: So it’s not like we have things to an exact science where all the time we can get you exactly position seven for fish oil, but sometimes depending on how sales trend throughout the — are distributed throughout the products that are ranking for the keyword, we can get relatively close. And so that’s always our goal. Anyway so we want to find this pocket, and then we look at, we try to estimate the number of sales that are happening for that particular product aside for that particular keyword.
So you’re looking for sales, for keyword. There is no tool that does this, there’s tools that have search volume, but the problem with search volume is you don’t know what conversion rate is. So we have some Amazon data that shows us conversion rate for this word is 20%. So people that search that then check out. And then for another word, it’s 0.2%, so it can vary so much. You also don’t know what sales distribution around for the results are.
Steve: Sorry those numbers that you just spit out on conversion rates, are those the person’s listing in question because how else would you get those numbers in general?
Casey: We have some special data.
Steve: Okay, it’s just from real accounts.
Casey: It’s not from accounts, it’s from up from Amazon like actual Amazon search volume, clicks in the listings, check out, and add a cart and then complete the check out.
Steve: Okay because you’re basically scraping a whole bunch of listings, you’re looking at correlations, is that hoe you gain the data?
Casey: No, no, no. It’s literally Amazon and Amazon report that we have access to.
Steve: Oh interesting. Okay, I won’t ask any more.
Casey: This is a lot of caveats if you want me to talk at a higher level, I totally can. So anyway so we estimate what the sales volume is for that particular keyword. Let’s say we want to land in this pocket between positions seven and 11, we’ll try to estimate what kind of volume these guys are doing for this keyword. Let’s say it’s 900 to 1,000 sales a month, which equates to 30 to 33 units per day. And then we will run a launch targeting fish oil, giving away 30 let’s say 35 units per day for seven days is generally the rule.
And so the way that Amazon tracks – let’s just say the contributor to keyword ranking on Amazon is sales. And so they track sales history in these buckets in these 24 hours, 48 hours, three days, five days, seven days and then seven day interments trying to understand how sales performed recently, but then also historically. And so our goal is we find that we have a much better time ranking maintaining rank if we fulfill that seven day bucket.
In really competitive markets sometimes we’ll go 10 days. In super competitive markets where you’re maybe selling 20, to 30,000 units a month, we’ll try to hit like the 30 day mark and sometimes even a little bit more. But anyways let’s say it’s relatively competitive, we’re going to give away for seven days. You go put that into the Viral Launch platform or whatever platform you use to drive sales and you press go.
And so in Viral Launch, again I’m biased, it’s easy because the program magically distribute the coupons for you every day. We’re giving away those 35 units, but…
Steve: Are these pure giveaways or drastically discounted items?
Casey: Yeah drastically discounted at like 80, 90% off.
Steve: Okay so I have heard that Amazon uses the amount of money that it actually makes as opposed to pure units. Is that — yeah go on.
Casey: So that’s a huge myth, and so basically I feel like this myth pops up like every two, three months and like gets legs again and really comes back. And so right now there’s a big wave of this myth, right? And so there’s a couple of things here. Well one, just yesterday actually we did a study on here, we haven’t published it because we’re trying to decide what information we want to show whatever. Anyways the first two products in the report are like they’re number one on page one for their targeted keyword. I mean results are just as good as they have always been.
So I try to understand where these rumors come from or like where they’re based in, and I think it’s a couple. So one, it’s right after the holiday season and Amazon is taking into account the historical sales of the products that were ranking well and performing well in December. So when your product comes from page three or page 30 and it has poor sales history, it’s really hard to compete because when Amazon looks at the 90 day, 60 day sales history of these products that have been ranking on page one, they significantly outperform your particular product that you’re now trying to rank.
So that’s why it was harder like two weeks ago — from end of December to mid January, but things are becoming easier just as easy again. And then I think people don’t give away enough units, or people don’t have the keyword like in their title. You would not believe the number of people that try to run a promotion for fish oil; they don’t have fish oil in their title as an example which is again really critical like we’ve been talking about.
So I think that’s where the rumors or people are impatient. So usually keyword ranking is delayed two to three days, but sometimes it can be delayed five, seven or I think like the longest that we would feel comfortable saying is like 10 days. So if you don’t see something after like four days, some people freak out, they’re like, oh shoot, like I’m not ranking, I’m cutting this off. And it’s like well you just need to be patient because sometimes it takes like five days or whatever.
Steve: Let me ask you this, so why the rationale for a severely discounted product as opposed to just a full giveaway if it’s just strictly units?
Casey: Well a couple. One you save just a little bit of money, and then two Amazon doesn’t allow you to do 100% off giveaways anymore. So I believe it would have to be 99% off.
Steve: Yeah that’s what I was getting at.
Casey: Okay yeah. So I mean you save just a little bit.
Steve: Okay, all right so when you say targeting a specific keyword, are you implying like super URLs or what techniques are you using actually to target these specific keywords?
Casey: Yeah so the traditional super URL are 2014, 2015. That stopped working early 2015. So we’ve been using what we call a two step URL which takes them to a page before the listing, the landing page. We’ve been using that for a while, but yes it does target a keyword. We can drive rankings without, but then that’s a more involved process and it’s a lot less efficient and it takes a lot longer. But yeah so pretty much everybody is using these two step URLs.
In Viral Launch you are able to use whatever URL you want so long as it goes directly to Amazon. And so yeah, so I know a lot of people using these two step URLs and…
Steve: Can you be more specific. I’m sure a lot of people in the audience don’t know what you’re talking.
Casey: Yeah, so like we don’t share exactly that’s part of the secret sauce, but it’s relatively easy to find how to put together a two step URL. So if it goes to like — so yeah I’ll just say like one type of two step URL. This is not what we use, but it will take you to the seller store front, and will only show the fish oils. Let’s say you’re selling fish oil, it will take you to brand X, Y, Z store front showing only fish oils. And whoever is buying the product goes to that page through the URL and then they see the product, they click the product, they added to cart and they checkout.
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I guess my main question was you’re not having your people on your list type in a physical search on Amazon for your product and then buying it that way, are they?
Casey: No, never no. So one, that’s just not a good experience for them. I would imagine coupon redemption rate would be lower.
Casey: And then I just don’t like telling people what to do. That seems manipulative like if we’re taking you to the store front, like hey, here’s this brand’s products, and you are looking for their fish oil, so here’s this brand’s fish oils. I feel more comfortable doing that than saying, hey, like go search this, do this, and yeah.
Steve: Okay, and so these two step URLs, they do work like based on your experience with all these launches?
Casey: Yeah. I mean we’ve run probably like 25,000 launches since March of 2015 when we started using two set URLs, and they do work really well. I mean every month we’re testing out all the URLs that we are able to see, like this is how well each one works to understand what we should be using and kind of what’s available on the market, how things are trending.
Steve: Okay. And so you mentioned that you were doing these launches kind of staggered, evenly distributed across different days, do ads come into play at any point like sponsored product ads?
Casey: Yeah so I mean the goal is to drive as much volume as possible because the more — it’s never — there’s no such thing I think as overkill when it comes to like you’re driving these things. So if you give away too many units, you’re benefiting yourself in total because Amazon is taking into account the sales history. So if you sold a lot throughout this launch period, it helps you to sustain that ranking, it helps you to continue to drive ranking.
So if you’re supplementing back with something like sponsored ads or I’m a big advocate of lowering your price, I think you like the more willing you are to lose money upfront, the more successful, the higher the probability of having long term successes. So you should definitely run a promotion and have your sponsored ads going like crazy, lower your price like crazy, be willing to come close to breaking even so that you can continue to sustaining high sales volume so that you can continue to maintain that rank, you can continue to build up reviews. That allows you to perpetuate that increase in organic sales volume.
Steve: And so you’re generating all this sales velocity. Are you doing anything to kind of increase the review quantity at all, or are you just letting it go?
Casey: Yeah, so right now that is something that I try to stay far away from. That is like the one hot trigger for Amazon, and we’ve always kind of been lumped in with the review groups. People in the past always thought we were a review group. We were never a review group and I always wanted to stay away from that because it’s such a hot trigger for Amazon and I never want to even come close to getting on their radar around, are these guys doing shady stuff or not.
Also we would be putting our clients in jeopardy. I mean I guess that we have a 40 person company, like we can’t make these dumb decisions I guess if you want to call it. So yeah so you can definitely use email follow up sequences throughout the promotion although Amazon is on some products not allowing people to leave reviews if the product was heavily discounted. But I think that — and this is why I’m an advocate of lowering your price and running sponsored ads, because these are sales that you can get reviews from.
And I think that you should be trying, you should be throwing the kitchen sink at trying to get reviews because from the way that I see it, what the data is showing us, reviews are really the currency to success on the Amazon.
Steve: Okay and so are you doing anything different from everybody else outside of using like an e-mail service?
Casey: I mean yeah. I definitely use an email service. We do a lot of different things when it comes to using the e-mail service. We definitely advise people not to do any black hat stuff; I know there are so many people that are. So, one thing that we’re becoming more and more interested in is insert cards. I think that is a great area, I’ve never heard of anybody getting in trouble for that. So anyways, yeah that’s something that we’re starting to explore more, but yeah we haven’t really dived in and don’t have any secret tactics or data behind those tactics right now.
Steve: Okay. And in terms of determining how many products that you actually need to give away to rank on certain parts of the front page, can you kind of walk through how that calculation is done?
Casey: Yeah so essentially it’s you want to match per day sale for the people that you are trying to rank along with, or out rank. So if they’re selling 900 for the sake of numbers, if they’re selling 900 units per month estimated, then that 900 divided by 30 is 30. And so you need to sell 30 units per day.
Steve: Okay and how do you determine whether you need to do that for a week, ten days, for an entire month?
Casey: The general rule of thumb is seven I think after that. So if you — yeah it’s — I don’t have specific numbers around if your volume is X, then it will be ten, if it’s — so if — yeah I guess it’s just off the top of my head. If it’s over 4,000 units a month do ten, if it’s over 8,000 units a month, then do like 20 to 30. And honestly if it’s like 3,000 units a month and you’re willing to do ten days, or you’re willing to do longer, that’s just going to help you to sustain your ranking.
Another thing like the most aggressive sellers, the people that are the most successful with launches are the people, again they’re willing to lose money. And so it is a little bit hard for me to say that because obviously I’m biased. I’m not like saying use Viral Launch for longer. Essentially what these people do, actually you are building a set up so that you don’t pay us if you run multiple promotions in a month for the same products.
So I guess I’m not as biased. So anyways what these people do is let’s say I’m selling fish oil, the first ten days you target fish oil. And then the next five days you target omega 3, and then the next five days you target fish oil supplement. And basically you try to just go after the highest volume keywords as possible just to knock them out and try to rank for — blanket the search terms essentially with your product.
Steve: So given that the review rate is much more reduced now since you can’t manipulate the system, is ten days enough? Like given those ten days, you’re probably not going to get a huge number of reviews to kind of match your competitors in just ten days, and so does that imply that you have to constantly have giveaways for a sustained period of time?
Casey: So it depends. This is why I’m an advocate of lowering your price because that helps to sustain sales. Sometimes in some markets it can work wonders. So you’re running a promotion giving away 30 units a day, and you turn that off, you’re selling — let’s say you have a really low review quantity and you’re selling five units a day organically now. You lower your price and I’ve seen it where people go right up to 35 and it also helps to improve their ranking, just some really great things can happen from that.
And the way I try to help people under like justify that is essentially it’s like a higher priced giveaway versus giving your product away at 90%. To continue to sustain that rank, you can give it away at 40% off aka the lower price to continue to drive rankings. So the people that are most successful in these markets where you need a decent review quantity to be successful are the people that are just spending like you have to drive sales, that’s the only way you can drive reviews, sales volume.
So do whatever you can, lower your price, drive sponsored ads. But this is a huge reason why I’m an advocate of this go wide strategy right now because we’re specifically looking for markets where the review quantity is really low. That barrier to entry is really low and I can achieve maximum sales potential for this market in 30, 60 days because there’s not that many reviews that I need to be successful.
Steve: I see okay, and then at the same time you’re getting less people who want to hop on the listing because the revenue isn’t as attractive as one of the six figure product lines, right?
Casey: Exactly, some of these products I mean you’re giving away 30 units total, 50 units total over the course of the product’s life time and now you never have to worry about it.
Steve: One thing I’ve noticed on Amazon, there’s always these outliers where they have like a crazy number of reviews in such a short period of time. Do you have any idea how that’s happening right now, or do you think they’re buying the reviews? Are review groups getting busted, like what’s your overall take on the entire landscape of black hat?
Casey: I mean, my stance on black hat is never do it, especially when it comes to reviews. I mean this is the one area where I’ve seen people really get taken down because they’re towing the line or just doing things that they shouldn’t have been doing. But I mean I don’t know how much you want to talk about black hat because I don’t want to incentivize people to do it.
Steve: Yeah don’t incentivize people to do it, I just want what your take is and like any stories that you’ve heard, and whatnot and what’s going on in general landscape yeah.
Casey: So my take is that it really sucks because us guys that are not willing to cheat are paying the price for it, right? So everyone is incentivized to cheat because everybody is cheating and getting away with it and that’s the way to get ahead in these highly competitive markets and new markets. So overall this sucks. I really dislike it, I know a lot of people that are doing it and there’s a lot of different ways to do it right. So paying people through like friends network or yeah there’s definitely still those review groups.
The problem is, I think it’s hard for Amazon to detect these kinds of systems if they’re done well. And so I don’t know what the answer is like long term how Amazon is going…
Steve: There’s no answer. I was just kind of curious what … yeah. What is your take on like the people from China selling directly on Amazon? Are you seeing a lot more of those that you’re competing against?
Casey: Yes we are, for right now the advantage is that they don’t understand how to market it. They don’t know how to pull the levers to drive success, right, like they cannot conceptualize running giveaways because like they don’t understand how to lose money to make money. They don’t understand paying for great photos and great listing. They’re just trying to sell these products really cheap.
The day that these guys assuming that it happens really start to understand, oh this is what it takes to be successful on Amazon not just a low priced product that matches other people’s, that is the day that it becomes very scary for us third party seller, the third party seller market because at that point then we’re just a middleman. These Chinese manufacturers know how to sell; they do know how to do getting into the lower priced products.
And if you want to talk on the large brand side, I’m on like a bi weekly or monthly cost strategy call with a bunch of these like really large brands like L’oreal, Tome [ph] and all these big brands and these guys don’t get it either. And so basically they think that the trip to having success on Amazon, the only lever you can pull that success on Amazon is paid media. So they’re spending just tons and tons and tons of money on AMS, AMG, all these marketing programs that Amazon is having them just spend their money on.
They’re spending more – their spend on these ad programs is far outpacing their increase in revenue. And so some of them are just like we have to stop running ads, or we have to stop participating in these programs because we’re just losing so much money and it doesn’t make sense. So I think that’s definitely to our advantage, this third party seller market we’re on the fringes, we always know what’s working. And that’s why we’re able to drive success among these big name brands and these super cheap Chinese sellers at least for now.
Steve: Okay, hey Casey I want to give you some time to talk about your latest software releases, Market Intelligence and Product Discovery. Can you tell the audience a little bit about these tools?
Casey: Yeah so basically I think the most critical decision you’ll make in your selling on Amazon journey is product selection. And after running 30,000 launches, we’ve been able to see what works, what doesn’t, how can we help sellers set up for success. And we see so many people making bad product decisions, so we came out with Product Discovery and Market Intelligence.
So Product Discovery is an idea generation tool that basically allows you to search by product which we’ve all seen tools that do what we really kind of dive deep and really help people find these amazing markets is you are able to search by keyword, high quality keywords that you can filter by product score. So literally it takes like minutes to find five star products that you’re interested in your market.
Then we have brand search which allows you — we have millions and millions of brands that we’re tracking and it allows you to identify brands in your category that are growing, doubling their revenue every six months, or maybe they have a really high review rate and you want to go buy one of their products to see how they’re listing reviews so that you can maybe steal one of their tactics.
There are so many different ways to leverage brand search to identify good product opportunities, what products are driving the most successful brands. And then we allow you to sift through all 36,000 of Amazon subcategories to find these niches of opportunity. We just have a ton of data, ton of filters around helping you to identify your next great product essentially.
Steve: I remember looking through the brand search and I found this one company who was just killing it selling knockoff nerf darts and just making a killing. I never would have thought of that. Now Casey I know you also have a podcast. Do you want to talk about that a little bit as well?
Casey: Yeah thanks. So we have this contest called Follow the Data, and basically again running 30,000 launches, working with over 7,000 brands, we just have a ton of data around what’s working and what’s not, what are the common myths. And essentially we try to come from a place of data to help you understand how to get the most out of your Amazon business.
Steve: Cool man. Well I’ll be linking up all these resources in the show notes. Casey thanks a lot for coming on the show, really appreciate it and I’m looking forward to hanging out with you in May.
Casey: Same man, I’m pumped.
Steve: All right dude, take care.
Casey: Thanks, you too.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. With the millions of data points that Casey has at his disposal, he can definitely back up everything he says with data. And if you want to see him in person, check out my conference at Sellerssummit.com. For more information about this episode, go to my wifequiteherjob.com/episode204.
And once again, I want to thank Privy.com for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful and you can basically trigger custom pop-ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try, it is free. So, head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again, that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
And I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. You can easily put together automated flows like an abandoned cart sequence, a post-purchase flow, a win-back campaign, basically all these sequences that will make you money on autopilot. So head on over to mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O, once again, that’s mywifequitherjob.com/K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.
And finally I want to thank Payability for sponsoring this episode. If you’re looking to take back control of your cash flow, and scale your Amazon business fast, then sign up for Payability and say goodbye to cash flow issues and stock outs. With daily payments, you can speed up your supply chain, buy inventory at optimal times and stay in the buy box. The more control you have over your cash flow, the more buying power you will have. Visit Go.payability.com/steve to get started, and cash in on a $200 credit just for being a My Wife Quit Her Job listener. Once again that’s G-O.payability.com/Steve.
Now I talk about how I use all these tools in my blog and if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send the course right away. Thanks for listening.
Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we’re giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information, visit Steve’s blog at www.Mywifequitherjob.com.