I’ve carried out hundreds of audits on Amazon seller accounts, both during my time working at Amazon as an partner manager, and now as a consultant at The Listing People.
An Amazon account audit is a bit like a car MOT. We conduct a deep dive into the account before pulling out key pain-points that are resulting in lost sales, or even worse, black holes that are burning cash.
It soon became apparent that 80% of sellers, whether they’re doing £10k or £100k per month, were making the same mistakes that were damaging their business. Mistakes that if not corrected will eventually result in them sinking to the bottom of the ocean, never to be discovered again. You can thank the continuous threat of China for that one!
This report reveals those mistakes, allowing you to go away, look under the bonnet, and determine what oil changes you must make to avoid the scrap heap.
If you think, “I’m too good for this report”, then that’s fine. But we encountered a seller recently that is doing £1m per month and isn’t ticking off all the boxes. If you’re smaller than £1m then, it’s probably worth 10-minutes of your time.
MISTAKE #1: They Don’t Have Fully Optimised Product Listings
This is the number one mistake sellers are making right now, that in the inner Amazon circle, is deemed as criminal.
With the increase in competition and customers’ expectations, never has it been a more crucial time to have a fully optimised listing to thrive on the marketplace.
So, why’s it crucial to have an optimised listing?
It comes back to RELEVANCY. Most sellers don’t know this, but relevancy is the #1 factor determining your sales rank for a keyword.
Relevancy is made up of:
How does your listing come into it?
Well firstly, it has a HUGE impact on your conversion rate. If you’ve created a highly engaging, creative listing that grabs the attention of the potential customer and solves their problems, then the chances of them purchasing that product significantly increases.
Secondly, optimised listings get ranked higher within Amazon’s search engine (their A9 algorithm), meaning your product listings appear higher in search results resulting in more organic traffic and consequently more sales!
So, how do you create an optimised listing?
You can split this up into 2 buckets:
- How beautiful is your listing
- How SEO friendly is it
The foundation of your listing is your keywords. Having a sound understanding of the target keywords is paramount. You then build on this with your titles, bullets, description, alt-text and backend content.
To kick things off your listing title needs to be short, sharp and punchy, informing the customer exactly what the product is, it’s features and their benefits.
You then need to compile compelling bullet points that highlight the key product benefits and how it can solve the customers problems. Tip: put the biggest USP first!
Followed by a belt and braces product description in HTML that further enhances the benefits of the product, or better still Enhanced Brand Content (more on this later).
Blend all of these ingredients together, strategically embed the highest converting keywords, and you’ve got a winning formula that will turn browsers into buyers.
Mistake #2: They Have Terrible Product Images
65% of the Amazon buying decision is based on images.
You have 3-seconds to grab the attention of a page visitor, with heat maps confirming that the vast majority of visitors turn their immediate attention to two factors: price and pictures.
Ensuring your product images are not only flawless, but also compelling and engaging is crucial to getting consumers to hit the buy button.
If your product requires it, you must be using a professional photographer. They are typically the foundation to your images. Combine this with a graphic designer to add the finishing touches.
Amazon have GIFTED YOU nine images to use, so make sure you use ALL of them. The number of times we see a listing with one tragic image. It looks un-finished, un-professional and un-inviting.
The first few images should be high definition product shots from different angles. The additional images should be lifestyle images, so the consumer can see the product in action and visualise themselves using it within their day-to-day lives.
Another proven way to increase engagement and showcase your products unique benefits is by creating infographics for your products. These easily digestible graphics grab the audience’s attention, luring them in with colourful, captivating content.
Mistake #3: They Aren’t Leveraging Advertising Effectively
Any search on Amazon.com now will result in an overwhelming display of advertised shelf space. Organic shelf space has been continuously decreasing as the marketplace shifts to a pay-to-play platform.
Alongside it’s impact on search term relevancy, advertising clicks may very well be the only clicks you can actually grab when launching. You can’t sit on the side line waiting for the organic flywheel to get spinning, as it might not ever start.
In fact, in a recent survey of major brands by Feedvisor found that 57% of big brands are paying for Amazon ads, with 97% of them reporting that they saw value in the results.
Why? Simple. Amazon ads directly correlate to sales.
Yet, the clear majority of Amazon sellers don’t have any form of advertising strategy in place. They simply follow a “set it and forget it” mentality. Spoiler alert: this won’t achieve success.
To succeed you not only need to set aside budget for Amazon PPC campaigns, but you really need to have a deep understanding of the metrics that go into creating high quality campaigns which can increase your sales 2, 3, 4 times over. Plus, be able to keep up to date with the continuous introduction of new, incredibly powerful, features.
You then need to know how to analyse that data, make bid adjustments, amend and re-embed keywords, target competitor products etc etc. The list goes on…
Remember though, don’t turn the traffic tap on unless you’ve actually got an optimised listing. If you can’t convert browsers, then you’re not just burning money, but you’re also having a negative impact on your relevancy, which means your organic rank is going to fall – plus, your cost per click will go up!
Finally, it’s no longer ok to rely on Amazon Advertising alone. You’re all competing for red hot buyers that are problem aware and solution aware. Which makes it super competitive and very expensive.
Utilise other channels to tap into new streams of customers, much bigger streams that aren’t necessarily problem or solution aware. Your competition don’t even know they exist. Build out your funnels with multiple streams pouring in to ensure you’re one step ahead.
Mistake #4: They Aren’t Building a Brand
The days of the mum and dad Amazon stores are numbered. Big companies with big budgets are now flocking in and gobbling up the stream of buyers that Amazon produces, making it harder for your average Joe to take a slice of the pie.
So, how can YOU prevent your business from fading away into the Amazon abyss?
By creating a BRAND.
And I’m not just talking about a one-product brand – unless that product is gold dust. I’m referring to a brand that serves a specific audience with a suite of different products tailored to exactly their needs.
Think Dollar Shave Club. They sold out for $1 Billion, all from having multiple products that served a very specific customer. They built a bullet proof brand, with mesmerising content and more importantly, had products that SOLVED the consumers PROBLEMS.
And here’s the best bit, Amazon have provided the tools for you to achieve just this, in the form of game changing selling tools such as, Enhanced Brand Content (see example of EBC we created for a client below) and Amazon Storefronts, which allow you to create captivating, unique content that not only distinguishes your brand from the competition, but has also been proven to increase sales.
With an Amazon Storefront, you can also drive external traffic from the likes of Facebook and Instagram to your custom Amazon landing page, where you can showcase your brands story, before building a connection with potential customers. Plus, video capability is available to all storefront owners, which is huge for any brands looking to build equity and showcase benefit driven features.
Oh yeh, this traffic is now trackable. As all marketers know, tracking and attribution is key to long-term success for any brands, because you can measure the success of different campaigns. Amazon Attribution is their new beta programme that will help show how consumers discover, research, and buy your products on Amazon. If you can, get on this immediately.
Mistake #5: They Don’t Have a Launch Strategy
Over 2.5-million sellers are now active on Amazon. Never has it been harder to make an indent into the market.
Unless you have a unique product that no-one else is selling, you must have a solid, proven launch strategy in place. This includes intense product validation techniques before you get anything on a pallet.
Yet, hardly any sellers execute a product launch. They naively list their products and expect sales to start flooding in immediately.
Granted, Amazon will gift you a ‘honeymoon’ period, where they will give your product some extra ranking juice, but unless you’re doing something else or are already a whale seller, you’re gonna be waiting awhile before things start spinning.
To enter the market with a BANG you must have a solid launch strategy in place.
There are some insanely powerful strategies that top sellers (we’ve talking million pound per year sellers) are executing right now using 3rd parties’ sites, such as Facebook, that get their product on page 1 within 8-days.
It all comes down to building out a funnel. Once you understand how to effectively do this, you can drive piping traffic to your Amazon listing, with a healthy discount, creating a surge of sales. By surpassing the sales volume of the current page 1 sellers for a target search term, you’ll not only be laughing in their face, you’ll also jump to page 1 yourself.
Obviously, there are more nuts and bolts to the strategy, but it amazes me how many people don’t have any launch plan in place, they wonder why their sales fail to lift off.
Mistake #6: They Fail to Forecast Inventory Correctly
All things going well your sales should spike on the biggest selling days of the year: Prime Day, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Therefore, it’s crucial you plan well in advance for these events to cope with the additional demand.
If you don’t have the stock available, you’re effectively leaving hard cash on the table. Nothing worse than gaining momentum, seeing sales crank up, before running out of stock and being left stranded on the side of the road, watching your customers drive by to another seller.
Furthermore, recovering from a ‘stock run out’ can be a MAJOR ISSUE. In a recent interview with Amazon Best Seller, Workout Logs, they revealed that running out of stock in their best-selling product set them back 6-months, due to the drop-in sales rank, so it’s crucial to ensure your inventory is managed well.
On the flip side, ensuring you’re not overstocked is equally important. Last thing you want is hundreds of units, and thousands of dollars in cash, tied up and sitting in a warehouse. You’ll actually be losing money, once you’ve factored in increased storage fees during different periods of the year. You’ve got to sit on that fine balance, ensuring cash is flowing, velocity remains high and you’re not sitting on stock.
Mistake #7: They Don’t Diversify Their Product Range
The chances of hitting it off with one product and turning over £20k a month are pretty slim, but by releasing multiple products in the same category, average sales across the board can soon add up to a chunky turnover.
You’re effectively hedging your bets, spreading the risk and then tracking the performance of what sells and what doesn’t. You can then drop off the poor performers, before going full throttle on the best sellers.
The top Amazon sellers also create a brand, by focussing on one category and developing products around that area. It’s better to become a major seller in one niche, than a nobody in a dozen categories.
Plus, having been on the inside of Amazon, we know that a larger range of products leads to increased sales for all of them. It’s largely down to total traffic and a bigger flywheel. So, keep on hunting.
Let’s wrap this up….
A lot of Amazon sellers are not winning because they don’t know what they’re up against. They weren’t prepared for what 2019 was going to throw at them, and so far, they aren’t prepared for what 2020 is bringing.
The thing is, by using Amazon as your marketplace, the whole deck is set up for you. But you MUST know when you are struggling, and then actually do something about it.
As the highest paid actor in the world (Dwayne ‘‘The Rock’’ Johnson) says: the wolf is always at the door.
Stay vigilant – and act now.