Amazon Strategies for Increased Sales this Holiday Season

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Amazing’s Jason Katzenback (CEO and Co-Founder) and Kristin Dickson (Learning Strategist) were live on Facebook to review the successes of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. There were reportedly $7.9 billion dollars in online sales and Amazon broke previous sales records!

The Amazing duo goes on to offer valuable Amazon seller tips, including the importance of creating off-Amazon content, focusing on your brand, and optimizing your Amazon product listing. Katzenback also reveals lower pricing techniques that create sales velocity (providing long-term benefits) as well and the importance of leveraging Amazon promotions (like lightening deals) and learning  how to effectively run Sponsored Ads.

Don't Worry, There's Still Time!

We’re breaking down just how big Black Friday and Cyber Monday are for Amazon sellers and how to take advantage of some free training that gives you step-by-step instruction on how to increase your Amazon traffic. FREE TRAINING >> http://amazing.com/showdown

Posted by Amazing.com on Wednesday, November 28, 2018

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We’re Breaking Down Just How BIG Black Friday and Cyber Monday are for Amazon – Full Video Transcript

– Hello Amazon sellers. I’m Kristin with Amazing Seller Pro. This is Jason Katzenback with me and unless you were hiding under a rock, you’re probably aware that this last weekend was American Thanksgiving. For me, that usually means going home to see my family, spending time with my niece and nephew. They’re very loud, they’re very talkative, and they’re absolutely fascinating. For Amazon sellers, what that usually means is Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those are huge sales days. The numbers that we see coming in are just astronomical and it kinda blows my mind a little bit. And so, we know that that’s like a big day for selling things and for really hitting sales numbers that are gonna last the rest of the year. It’s also a really fun time for promotions, one of my favorite stories that came out of this was the New York Public Library ran a promotion reminding people that they could get 100% off of their books year round and free returns any time they wanted. Promo’s go a long way and they’re really helpful in getting your name and your brand out there but there is so much more to being a successful Amazon seller than that, as you know, which is one of the reasons I’m excited you’re here today.

– Thank you.

– Yeah, Jason Katzenback, real life Canadian but also co-founder of amazing.com and he was able to do that in part because he also started his own highly successful Amazon business so he has the tons of expertise that comes with that, so today, what I’m gonna do is interview you, ask you a bunch of questions that I have written out ahead of time, and then we’re also gonna take questions from our members, people who are watching right now who may have questions about how to increase their sales, conversions, how to know what they’re doing well or what they could be doing better.

– Cool.

– And I’ll just read them to you as they come in, but in the meantime, how do you feel about starting off with a couple of questions?

– Sure, but before we get into that, maybe we should just share a little bit of how awesome Black Friday was. This year was actually Amazon’s biggest weekend ever for Cyber Monday-Black Friday. It’s pretty incredible, looking at these numbers, the amount of sales. They said $7.9 billion in sales online. What was really interesting to me about this though, first of all, Amazon said today, it said that it was their biggest shopping day in history. So, you know, the growth of online sales, of e-commerce, it’s the future, you know. You see all these stores constantly closing, going bankrupt, you know. I predict that in 10 years, a lot of these big name stores will simply just be pick-up warehouses, where you can order online and then go and pick it up yourself. Kind of like the direction Walmart’s going right now. It’s just more convenient, you know. It’s interesting, before Black Friday used to start on Friday when the stores would open, you would see those, you know I remember back in the Cabbage Patch Doll eras where you had people–

– Were lined up in tents.

– Yeah, and fighting each other but now because of the convenience of online, Black Friday actually starts earlier, sales start, like, that whole week is actually really phenomenal. But then the day of Black Friday and Cyber Monday are absolutely incredible. One other thing that was really interesting to me is it said that the– by promotions on the sites, so Amazon promoting things but the next biggest shop came from paid search. So there’s a big thing to know, that, you know, you’re looking at, “Should I be doing paid search, “should I be doing social media?” All those kind of things, they’re saying only 1.1% of traffic came from social media. So that’s not to say that doing things on Facebook, such as we’re doing right now, is not extremely powerful but when it comes to really driving sales, this tells you right now that paid search is probably the number one thing you could be doing on Amazon, which I thought was very interesting. But with that said, yeah, let’s get into some questions.

– Okay, excellent. So my first question that I have written is let’s say, worst case scenario, an Amazon seller missed out, they weren’t prepared and they just didn’t have any good Black Friday or Cyber Monday sales, what should they be preparing for next? Because, you know, it’s not the end of the world, we can look ahead, what would you say?

– Well, the reality is, Black Friday and Cyber Monday are huge a huge spike but the sales just keep going, usually until about the twentieth of December and then you just see, they’ll slowly start trickling down and they’ll stop and the next thing is, they can go right up near Christmas because of Amazon’s quick turnaround for shipping. You know, they have the one/two day shipping. Some days, yeah, the one day for some cities and so you still have that momentum going and a big thing that I advise you to do is set up some promotions still, right away. You wanna really be able to grab the velocity of that community that’s going on right now, because that’ll actually carry over into the new year. I’ve seen it more than once where people missed out on Thanksgiving and all the Black Friday stuff and because everyone else was taking advantage of all the sales, come the new year, their rankings were lower, they had to really fight to get those rankings up but people that are taking advantage of the holidays, those sales really carry into the new year. The thing with advertising is sometimes advertising isn’t really creating an ad, it’s just lowering your price. So if you know you’re gonna spend $500 on ads, another option is just to lower your price so you know that if you sell this many units, it’s gonna cost you $500 and at the end of the day, it does the same thing but the cool thing is, when you lower your price and you get that velocity of sales during Thanksgiving, it gives you a longterm bump. So at minimum, I would look at, you know, there might be a strategy for you to not look at trying to be as profitable as you can during the holidays right now, look at trying to get as much velocity as you can and then let the profits really roll in in the new year when you’ve got that momentum going. Does that make sense?

– It really does, and I like that as a technique because it means you’re not necessarily just reliant, as well, on one big spike.

– Exactly.

– It’s a little more sustainable.

– Amazon’s really neat that way, where their whole algorithm, things really can work long term but once you get that velocity up and Amazon starts noticing, you know. Amazon likes their 15%, they want their 15%. That’s what they charge, you know, it’s on average about 15%, so if they see that you’re giving them 15% a lot of times, they’re gonna be giving you some rewards, pushing you up in things, showing them in different ads, so it’s really powerful to take advantage of that.

– I love that, the power of consistency. Yeah, that’s a great point. So speaking of, kind of, maybe missing Black Friday or Cyber Monday or both, let’s say somebody did sell on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but they didn’t get the sales numbers that they thought they were going to, what would you say they need to look at to maybe start optimizing, or maybe try to get those better numbers next time?

– You know, actually you did a survey of our customers, correct?

– Yes.

– Yeah, and our customers got phenomenal results, all our students, and the reason is because you focus on the real critical items. So first of all, you gotta make sure of your reviews. If you got less than four star reviews, you’re gonna really struggle. That’s gotta be your biggest thing. If you missed out on this, like, if you did things and like, if you just didn’t get the sales, if you’ve got bad reviews and a bad product, no advertising is gonna save that, you know. That’s the big thing. Make sure you’ve got a good product with good reviews, but make sure actually, as you saw in this, it tells you right here, and so there is a significant swing to online shopping, driven by promotions on sites, was 25%, and paid search, 25%. And then it says natural search only 18%. But another surprising part here too: email, 24%. So right there, you have paid search and email combined making 50%, so what that could be too, are you doing paid search? If you’re not doing paid search, you’re gonna miss out. You know, Amazon’s sponsored ads program has developed a lot over the last few years and they’re really aggressively going after Facebook and Google ads, Facebook ads and Google ads, and there’s a lot of technique to it but when you know how to do it, it can just skyrocket your results really effectively. And you wanna be using paid advertising, especially during promotion times because everyone’s gonna be shopping and you wanna make sure your job is to get your product in front of the customer and that means using every possible tool you have and paid search is huge. The other cool thing here is email. So, if you’re not collecting, or if you’re not doing inserts, if you’re not doing things to collect emails, you’re missing out because email is still a huge driver. Email drove 24%, social media drove 1%. That speaks volumes, you know, people can say, “Email is dead.” This shows you right here, that’s not true. Email is not dead. Collect email addresses and do paid advertising, but above everything else, make sure you’ve got a good listing and a good product. Make sure you’ve got good reviews, great images and a good product and you know, then set up promotions and paid advertising and things like that.

– That was excellent. Thank you so much. We know that Christmas is right around the corner.

– Yay, I love Christmas.

– I know. I will say my favorite holiday is actually Halloween.

– Is it? No, mine’s Christmas.

– Yes, because costumes and candy, that’s pretty much it. But Christmas is also a close second because of the way my mom decorates the house but in terms of Amazon sellers, what tips do you have for them for Christmas sales? Because they still have time, right? I haven’t finished my Christmas shopping yet and will probably be buying from Amazon.

– Well, that’s just it, I guess that would be my biggest tip, is don’t give up, you know. People, don’t think that, “Oh, I missed Black Friday “and I missed Cyber Monday sales.” No, no, no. As I said a moment ago, the sales keep going really until about the 20th, that’s when it really starts to dive so you’ve still got tons of time. I mean, people are just, you know, it’s just such a convenience now, the way you can use– shopping online, so take advantage of that, if you don’t have ads running, start running some ads. Do some promotions, you know, consider what I said about lowering your price over the holidays. The big thing is, if you can get your conversion rate up during this time, that will really carry you through, so those are the things. When you lower your price, and lowering your price doesn’t always work, sometimes lowering your price can hurt you, that’s why you wanna test it, but chances are, people are looking for deals right now. During the summer, or during off seasons, you can have your price higher and it doesn’t affect your sales sometimes but oftentimes, during these types of shopping periods, the low prices, that’s what people are looking for, those low prices. Again, every market’s different though, because I know we have certain products that we can actually increase the price during Christmas time and it sells better, so if you have a product, that’s a real, you know–

– Can you give an example of something like that?

– Yeah, so one of my products that does really well at Christmas time, it’s like a perfect gift. It comes in a great box and it’s something, one of those kind of products that just makes a great gift but if you have just like a standard like, say it’s a health supplement, you know, nobody’s gonna buy somebody a diet supplement, unless they’re just rude.

– It’s gonna be a very cold Christmas if they do. Merry Christmas, you’re on a diet.

– Yeah, so people are just generally buying those so those kind of things, you might wanna have a discount but things that are, you know, and you usually know, I mean, unless you haven’t been selling for long. You’ll see trends, like my product definitely, you know, during Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, those kind of things, it just peaks up, we can actually increase that price during that time.

– That makes a lot of sense. To that end, I know I have two more questions for you.

– Sure.

– And one of them is… Oh wait, sorry, I do have a question, so I’m gonna go ahead and put you on the spot. One of our questions is from Andy Arnot. He asks, “What are you guys doing for off site traffic? “On our account and our clients’ accounts, “off-site traffic with two step URL’s “is getting better results than even sponsored products.”

– Well good you, first of all, Andy. Off-site is huge, even things like press releases, it’s building content. We talk about the Ziegler method, we’re offering a promotion right now with the Ziegler method, where they’re just creating content. They’re creating really compelling content and what’s really powerful about that, you’ve gotta think. So what’s the mindset of the shopper? So if they’re already on Amazon, they’re already in the buying mindset. They’re a shopper that is looking to buy but if they’re shopping on Google or on other sites, they’re not usually shopping at that time, that’s more of an information, data gathering kind of thing. You know, when I just wanna learn something, like let’s say I want to know what’s the best camera? Well, I’m not gonna go to Amazon to find out what the best camera is, I’m gonna research it online first and then I’ll probably go to Amazon. So the same thing is with website content out there. Like, you wanna be pre-selling your customers. Figuring out where your customer’s hanging out, you know, what kind of product you have and where on the internet are they hanging out. Then you wanna be able to provide really good content, it can be video content, audio content, text content, images even, but you wanna be able to get that content out there and make it valuable. You know, I started back in the old SEO days, back too many years ago.

– What, like three years ago?

– Yeah, just a couple years, yeah, yeah. And you know, there used to be a bad habit of a lot of people to just, you know, you just cared about getting content on the internet, it didn’t have to read well because you just have ads on it, but now people are very much more savvy and if your content doesn’t engage them, or if it doesn’t actually have someone look at it for more than a second, the search engines don’t want anything to do with it, people don’t want it posted, so you gotta focus on really good content. I mean, I’m sure, Andy, that’s probably what you guys are doing, like publishing solid content out there. It’s not just about publishing, like, “Oh I got this coupon, come buy my product.” No, it’s about you know, really, and one of the principles I follow is called AIDA strategy, A-I-D-A. Attention, interest, desire, action. So you create content, or you first of all wanna get their attention, then you wanna get them interested in, you know, knowing like, “Hey, I used to,” or like, let’s say it’s a spatula. You want the world’s best spatula, that never breaks on you, if that’s a problem, I don’t know. So, then you–

– How hard are people baking?

– You never know, you know, some aggressive bakers. And then with the interest side, you really wanna start pulling them in. I used to be like that, I used to struggle with this. This is how things used to be for me, but now it’s different. Now I’ve got the best spatula in the world and you wouldn’t imagine, this thing never breaks, it flips pancakes better than any other spatula in the world so now you’ve created the desire. “You know you wanna flip the best pancakes in the world, so you better go here,” and then you have to tell them how to take action. So this simple formula was formulated around solid content. Spend a little bit extra time creating that content. Video content, there’s video content, you know, whether it be Facebook ads or YouTube, super, super powerful. You know, the big thing is, you know, one of the things I tell a lot of people is who here hasn’t heard of Coca Cola? You know, nobody will ever raise their hand, everyone’s heard of Coca Cola. Then why do we still see Coca Cola doing so much advertising everywhere? They do videos, they do articles, they do press releases, because if you’re not constantly putting your message in front of your audience, somebody else is. So if you’re only doing Amazon sponsored ads, then you’re only hitting the segment that’s giving somebody else the opportunity to put their message in front of them. So you really wanna be trying to do a broad sweep. The big thing, though, is when people obviously do the opposite. They kind of jump ahead of themselves, and they try to do too many things at once. So what I’d recommend above anything else, is get your listing optimized, make sure it’s really well optimized, you got good images, all those kind of things. Get your sponsored ads running. Learn how to do sponsored ads, we actually have free training, if you go to amazing.com/showdown, there’s a link actually in the description and Andy, if you could put a link in a comment too, where we give you some free training on Amazon sponsored ads, but really learn sponsored ads and once you’ve got that mastered, absolutely start putting content out on line. I remember when I first started. When I first started years ago, I was selling health supplements. I don’t sell in the health supplement market anymore because it just didn’t feel right for me. I didn’t wanna sell diet products where people, you know, I actually had customers respond and I was trying to send them emails afterward, like eating well, giving them exercise tips and I’d get often responses, “If I wanted to do that stuff, “I wouldn’t have brought your product.” So, I was just like, well, you know, this may suppress your appetite a little bit but it’s not gonna be a healthy choice, but anyway, when I first started, because I had the SEO background, I put content online right away because that was things I knew how to do and I actually had someone comment on that and say this sounded like a new ground but I found some content online and they sound like a really legitimate business, and the funny thing about that is the content was all from me so it just shows, people will look off of Amazon so definitely get sponsored ads, but something you can do, that’s the nice thing with press release and that, just get some content out there and just focus on your name brands. Whatever your name brand is, and don’t worry, the reality is, there’s not a lot of people are gonna be searching for your brand but if I go on Amazon and there’s a product I’ve never heard of before, let’s say it’s Jason Spatulas and so all of a sudden, I’m like, “Hmm, who are Jason Spatulas? Never heard of them.” Then I go to Google and type in Jason Spatulas and all of a sudden I see some content on there, right away, I’m like, “Oh, it is an established brand, “obviously they’ve been around.” Then you can go read on it and then obviously the content should be really preselling on why you put out such a great product. It really helps and you’re not gonna get huge numbers by that, but you will get some extra sales and then you just keep building up on that. I mean, I can keep going on for hours on this conversation. I think I’ll cut it off on there.

– I think that content piece is so important because there’s so much information available so easily all the time that people really do a lot of research so the more that you are showing people the benefits of yours over somebody else’s and really providing them with content that they want, that’s gonna help them build trust in your brand as well.

– I do wanna mention one thing, and you’re absolutely right, it’s that whole trust thing. I mean, the internet is so easy now to find out if someone’s legit or not, but one of the things Andy mentioned was the two step URL, and you know, there was a different type of URL I think it was called the brand name URL, which was kind of similar. You gotta be careful with relying all of your business on those kind of things. It’s not that they don’t work and two step URL does work really well but Amazon is always looking at that kind of stuff so just do me a favor, you know, and don’t establish your business, like, when you find something’s working, don’t say, “Okay, I’m not doing anything else, “this is all I’m doing,” because if all of a sudden tomorrow Amazon says, “The two step URL is void now, “we know how that works “and we’re not doing it anymore,” then all of a sudden, your business is gone. You know and that was something that I experienced back in the day because I really loved SEO, you know, I admit it, I was a black hat guy, which sounds worse than it is, all it means is I built my own wigs. If you talk to Google, anyone that builds their own wigs, is a black hat. But anyway, you know, I had all these strategies and then all of a sudden, Google decided no, those don’t work anymore and I was left sitting there like, oh crap. I never actually built a business. I built a hat, so you wanna make sure you’re building a business, and obviously I’m not gonna lie and say, “I don’t use those kind of strategies.” I mean, if something’s working on Amazon to get you a better result, use it but again–

– Absolutely. We’re just at our last question. You actually covered what I was gonna ask you, in your last comments, anyway, my last question for you is just this. A lot of our members reported that their sales overall this year were much better than last year. They were really happy with that, we saw one person who said he set a new record for himself, but what if you are someone who sells on Amazon but doesn’t have that history yet? What can they do?

– So first of all, did any of the customers say they had a worse year?

– I think out of 50+ responses, we had like three people that did worse.

– Huh.

– And then everybody else–

– Just because they, yeah.

– Yeah.

– Anyway, okay.

– And those three people, maybe I’ll just shout out to them and be like, “What did you do?” No.

– Yeah, it’s your fault.

– Oh God, no. But so, most of our people did substantially better but if you don’t have a sales history, what would you tell someone that they need to do so that if they’re newer to the game, so that this time next year, you and I are having this conversation and we have all new success stories from these people, that they’ve been wanting to share with us.

– So the big thing, I’d say the number one thing is be really cognizant of turnaround time of inventory. When I first got started, I could order inventory in late August, early September and have it by October. We’re pushed back now to where we’re having to order inventory early July. Now this is obviously dealing with our Chinese manufacturers, it’s just getting longer. There’s more and more people shopping online, there’s more and more sellers selling online and so there’s more and more demand on manufacturers, straight forwarders, all those kind of things, so really like plan that you start getting your inventory order ready to go next year for July. I’d recommend that because sales really start picking up in November. October a little bit, but November is when they really start ramping up so you wanna have your inventory in place. You know, actually, I love these numbers, I love that you got this because it tells you really right here what the plan is, too. Number one thing, driven promotions on sites. Leverage Amazon’s promotions, they have lightening deals, they have different things like that you can use. It tells you right there, that’s the number one traffic driver of sales this Black Friday. The number two thing, paid search. So start getting used to paid search, even if you don’t like, start learning. Go through that free training we’re giving you, amazing.com/showdown. Start learning paid advertising, it’s absolutely crucial. Natural search, make sure you’re ranking like, still natural search was 18%. Really make sure you know your key words that you should be ranking for. This is one of the most powerful things with paid search, I think, from a fast turnaround perspective, is on Amazon, when you start testing different key words, you immediately start to get insights into what key words convert best for your product. So, you might think it’s, you know, silicone spatula but it might be plastic spatula. And the thing is, it’s no guarantee that if your competitor is ranking for this term and getting great sales, you might not. There might just be something about your product that doesn’t really resonate as well, and with this other term, it resonates better. So that’s another thing by, if you’re not doing sponsored ads, because you know, another thing, I’m gonna give you so much here.

– I love it.

– A lot of people will think like, oh use free key word tools, all of these kind of things, if they’re not getting the keyword data from Amazon, it’s useless information. You know, a lot of people used to try Google ad words tools, all of those different things and it’s completely different dynamics of the user. When a person is on Amazon, they’re a buyer. When a person is on Google, they’re not. So they’re gonna use different terms and there’s a huge science behind the psychology of the words you use when you shop. So make sure you’re using Amazon data and one of the best ways to get that is to use sponsored ads because sponsored ads, that’s one of the great things that the auto-campaign, is that Amazon will start showing your product with different terms and in different places and it’ll start giving you insight. Now, that doesn’t mean you don’t wanna test different key words, so what I would do, if you have third party tool you wanna use, and it gives you recommendations of key words to use, start doing advertisements for those key words but don’t just think, “Ah no, this one says I should “optimize my listing for this key word,” let Amazon tell you what you should optimize for because, you know, then the reality is, come next year, you’re optimized for the best term. So you know when those sales start ramping up, you take advantage of that. And then the next thing is, it says here, email, 24%. Start collecting customer information, use inserts, really start, you know, create an audience. The big thing here, you know, I see social media only drove 1% of the traffic. Well, social media doesn’t, like, that’s direct social media, but if you’re using social media to create an audience and then you’re using services like ManyChat, where you can start creating messenger sequences and getting their contact information and then getting them to subscribe to emails. It’s just really powerful so when you’ve got it all figured out like that, you can take advantage of it. So the other thing, I guess, you know, I mean, it’s really cool and I guess I wanted to add to about how Andy said he’s getting great stuff off of Amazon, that’s the other thing, is, like, set up content in advance promoting your Black Friday deals. Press releases, I live and die by. I mean, I love them. I use them in every aspect of my business here at Amazing, I use them for my physical products business, they still work. The big thing about press releases, is they have to be news worthy. A big thing to do is find current news worthy stories. If there’s something going on in the news, tie in to that type of topic, but the worst thing you could do is use like a $5 outsourcer to just whip together a press release, then you’re just wasting time but if you actually create solid content, that works well. Make sure you’ve got good reviews. You know, if you’ve got a three and a half star rated product right now, do everything you can to get it above four stars by next year. Yeah, and that’s about it. I can probably think of more but for right now, off the cuff, that’s all you’re getting.

– Well, that’s still quite a lot, thank you. Jason, this is has been so much fun.

– Cool.

– I really enjoyed interviewing you and being here today so just on behalf of everyone who’s watching and myself, as well, thank you for being here.

– And please, please, please make sure to check out the free training we have for you at amazing.com/showdown, Andy put the link in the comment and it’s also in the description. It’s great free training, completely free, nothing that you have to buy. Check it out for yourself and I think we’re done.

– Yeah.

– We’re done. Have a great week, everyone, and take care.

– Yeah, we’ll see you all next time.