Feedback Friday: Seller Labs Talks Amazon and How to Hit Big on the E-Commerce Giant
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On November 16th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with Tyler Henderson, Partnerships Manager of Seller Labs to talk about what Seller Labs do and how it can help you with building your brand on Amazon.
Tyler Henderson: My name's Tyler Henderson. I'm on the Seller Labs team. I run partnerships and affiliates for them. That's coming and hanging out with cool guys like you, and the Seller's Choice team, as well as going out into the community, being a liaison, learning what the seller community wants, and working with them that way, with all the awesome people who are there.
So Seller Labs is a suite of software that helps seller's specifically on the Amazon Marketplace build their brand, and do everything that helps you with that on Amazon. That's everything from requesting reviews and seller feedback to running PPC, to looking at the data that helps you grow your business. We're helping both sellers and agencies, and brands all do that on the Amazon Marketplace.
Andrew Maff: Beautiful. So, it's a full suite of tools, correct?
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, we have a full suite of tools. We've got three tools, and another tool in beta.
Andrew Maff: Nice. Which one? I know Ignite, of course. Obviously, we use Feedback Genius all the time, as well. Scope is fantastic, and you have Quantify. Is that the one that's in beta?
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, Quantify is the one that's in beta.
Andrew Maff: I was like, "That one seems new." Nice. What is it, each of those guys does?
Tyler Henderson: Ignite, like I said, is our newest tool. That's the one that we've been working on, revamping for the better part of last year, and then we relaunched it [inaudible 00:01:34] this year. [inaudible 00:01:36] all on Amazon, and really get suggestions and manage it in a really cool, really efficient way. So, you're spending like, 20 minutes, 30 minutes a week on [inaudible 00:01:47] on, you know, what we think you should do. All automated, it's super awesome.
Feedback Genius is one of our oldest tools. It's been one of the first tools we bought to market. It's been around for about five years. What it helps you do is really build your brand. That's asking for seller's feedback, asking for product reviews, because most people don't realize that only about .5% to 2% of people leave a product review, but if you send an email making a request for one, you can see that number at least double, normally sitting in that 2% to 4% range. If you're trying to get those initial product reviews, which sellers on the Amazon Marketplace know are important, then getting that extra bump is going to help you so much, when it comes to sales.
Scope is a keyword research tool. It's going to help you figure out which key words are causing your competitors to really sell, and then you can look at that and adjust your keywords, and plan your PPC based on those keywords, as well.
Quantify helps you look at the data, tells you which items are most profitable. It's a kind of work in progress. It's in beta currently.
Andrew Maff: You guys clearly have, basically, all the bases covered, so we could sit here all day, and dig into each of them. Let's go on the assumption, I'm a seasoned seller. I've been around for a while. I know what I'm doing, but I don't want to jump into all four. Where do you usually suggest them to start off?
Tyler Henderson: I'd say, the first thing that you need to do before jumping into any of them, is to do a minor account audit for yourself, and take a look at yourself, and maybe figure out where you need to most improve your account. Because, obviously, PPC is something, and advertising on Amazon's a really "sexy" thing to talk about right now. People want to know, "How do I lower my A costs? How do you do all of these things? How do I structure my campaigns?" But in reality, if you're not converting well, if you have a bad conversion rate on any given listing, you don't need to start with PPC. You need to start with conversion first.
The same with reviews. It always helps to have more reviews, but if you don't have a good product, and you need to revamp that product first, then it always helps that, as well. That's my big thing is, you need to start with ... take a minor account audit, looking at your conversion rate, looking at which set, your session report, looking at the number of reviews, because maybe reviews, if you don't have very many reviews, what are the reviews saying? Should you be doing more customer support on the front end of that? Then of course, you can move into A costs, and the more advanced things from there.
So, I would say, start with a minor account audit.
Andrew Maff: I assume asking this question is kind of like asking a parent which child is their favorite, but I'm guessing that you guys internally, or at least you personally, have one of these tools as your favorite. What's kind of like, your go-to of like, "This guy works great. You should work with this one"?
Tyler Henderson: Totally. Feedback Genius is so O-G. People really sleep on it. It's been around for so long that people are like, "Oh, yeah. It's old news. I don't want to talk about it anymore. Why do I even need to be asking for reviews?" But like I said, the power of it is, it works. Email marketing works for a reason, and Feedback Genius isn't really email marketing, but sending that email and seeing that bump in reviews is going to help you. That's something you can do, whether you're an established seller, or you are a $10 million a month salary. That's something that you an do, and it will provide customer service, provide value to the customer, and then also bring you back value, as well.
Andrew Maff: Here, at Seller's Choice, big fans of Feedback Genius. We use it all the time. That's our go-to for trying to help people with review generation, which obviously, pretty much how we know you guys. I want to say it was like, June or July, or some time over the summer when Amazon kind of hit with that new email rule about, once someone unsubscribes, they unsubscribe from everyone, and all that stuff, which obviously, probably didn't help you guys, in terms of Feedback Genius. But we still have found some interesting ways. I'm wondering, what is it you guys know that you can still do, that's within TOS, that will still help bring in reviews, or at least, keep that customer?
Tyler Henderson: Totally. I love that question. I do want to talk about the black list for like, just a second, though. I think that there's a little bit of misinformation, like misunderstanding on what the black list is. Obviously like you guys ... the email black list is just Amazon catching up with the rest of the laws of the internet. Where it's just like, if you subscribe to a marketing list, you should be able to unsubscribe. And you guys work with people all across the internet, across all sorts of different platforms. Everywhere else, you can unsubscribe, if you subscribe to a mailing list.
But with Amazon, you couldn't do that. It's really, as a seller, it's to your benefit that people can unsubscribe now, because those people who unsubscribe from you were never going to respond positively. I know you want to say, "Oh, but I'm special. They wanted to respond to my emails." They don't. If they unsubscribed, they were never going to have a positive reaction to leaving you a review, or to leaving you a seller feedback. We handle millions of emails a month, and that's what we've seen is that, that negative reviews and feedback have gone down, and that positive reviews have gone down as well, but not as much, just based on that.
So, things that you can still do, and stay white hat that was the question, right? Going back to your original question?
Andrew Maff: Yeah.
Tyler Henderson: Things you can do and still stay white hat, there's still a lot. You can still ask for a review. You can still ask for a seller feedback. You can still provide customer support. You just have to be careful in the way that you phrase those things. You can't bait the customer into only leaving you positive reviews. You can't say, "We want you to leave a positive review, only if you're going to leave a positive review. If you've got a negative experience, go here."
You can't do that anymore. That was something that, a common tactic that used to be used. You can't do that anymore. That's considered review manipulation. What you can do is, provide customer service, offer to fix the problem before they have one, and then, in a separate thought you can say, "Hey, please leave me a review."
But you can't have the stars filled. We have a image that you can use within your emails. It's this, all the star thing, Amazon review stars. You can send those if they're not filled in, but you can't send them, if they are filled in. That's a great illustration of how Amazon kind of thinks. Where it's like, you can suggest the image of stars, but you can't suggest filled in five stars in yellow, because they view that as manipulation.
Andrew Maff: Okay. That's good. I like that.
Tyler Henderson: My suggestion is, always lead with customer support. If you lead with customer support, and you try to provide value in that way, or try to provide value by giving extra tips on how to use it, the classic like, give them the value added bonus, then that will help you provide a good customer service, and that's what reviews and seller feedback are ultimately assessments on.
Andrew Maff: Nice. Good feedback. I like it. No pun intended.
Tyler Henderson: What do you guys normally do with your accounts, not to give away the secret sauce, like with accounts that you work with?
Andrew Maff: Big fans of doing the AB testing. Testing, what is it, like order numbers that end in, is it order numbers or [inaudible 00:10:02], I can never remember. The ones that like, end in one through five, and then testing it with six through zero, and being able to AB test subject lines, and stuff like that's fantastic. It does have an email marketing feel to it.
Then, sending them down more of a funnel. First email being more of a ... if we have a consumable, so if we have a food or something like that, we just give them a recipe, and be like, "Hey, we hope you try it. Try it with this. You may like it."
Then they kind of see that email, they get familiar with it, and they see it next time, and they go, "Okay. Now, I'm going to open it," and that's when you request your review.
Tyler Henderson: That's a beautiful use case. I love that.
Andrew Maff: We do a lot of custom banners and stuff like that. I know, no email, no websites, none of that, but if it's well branded, and it looks nice, we find customers really ... We have an interesting approach where we involve Amazon in our off-Amazon approach. So, we'll drive people to a website where there's like, an "Available on Amazon" button that takes you to Amazon. The reason we do that is mainly to legitimize the brand a little bit more, and if people haven't shopped with you before, they're more comfortable to shop on Amazon, but you want to keep that customer. You want to be able to market to them again in the future, so what we started to do is, in those emails, have them fully branded, so if they had a great experience, everything went well, now we can get them to come over to the website, and be a little more ... try to get that margin back.
So, we try to look at more of the lifetime value to the customer which, in the email front, it's a nice way to really and try and keep that customer after an Amazon purchase, with the extreme limitations that Amazon puts you though, but it is one of the things that we do here.
Tyler Henderson: [inaudible 00:11:44] When I speak at events, and I'm talking to people of all shapes and sizes, have sold on Amazon before, have their own marketplace, their own website, I always try to encourage people that, you don't have to completely rebuild the machine. You don't have to reinvent the wheel, but you do need to edit the content so that it fits your audience on Amazon, because it is a different audience. It's like what you said, still having your branding, but making the slight edits so that it fits within Amazon terms of service, but it legitimizes you, and makes them say, "What if I search it off of Amazon?" And find your site, that's brilliant.
Andrew Maff: Let's pivot for a second. Let's talk about PPC real quick, because I know, obviously, I've spoken to Jeff Cohen. That is a fantastic T-shirt. Did you make that?
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, they're Seller Labs shirts.
Andrew Maff: Oh, I'm going to have to hit you guys up for one of those.
Tyler Henderson: I'll send you guys some.
Andrew Maff: That would be fantastic.
Tyler Henderson: I'll send the Seller's Choice office some.
Andrew Maff: That's great. Now, I forgot what I was going to say. I've spoken to Jeff, obviously, tons of times. I know he's a big fan of Ignite. He's always talking about Ignite when I talk to him, to Jeff, the CEO over at Seller Labs. We'll pivot to Ignite. I'm really curious with the new sponsored products targeting for interests, and brand specific, and stuff like that. Have you guys had time to even figure out how to utilize that option within Ignite?
Tyler Henderson: It's not currently available within Ignite. Our team is working on it. Part of the fun of being a software developer is that, sometimes these things are made available immediately to us, in APIs, and sometimes they kind of like, slow roll it out to us. That's one of those things where, we're working on it, now that we have access to it. I don't have a timeline on it, unfortunately. I'm not that involved with that, but Jeff and I are definitely like, champing at the bit to get them up and running with it, but I don't think that's something that's currently available.
Andrew Maff: As far as we saw, it just got released to pretty much everyone, quietly, and relatively recently. We've started to play with it. It's not anything even we have rolled out, just because we don't want to offer something that we're not 100% comfortable with. But it is a cool concept. My thought is that, they got rid of product display ads, and basically merged sponsored products, and product display ads, is kind of how I see that.
I don't know if that's true, but it is interesting, so I'm curious to see how that goes.
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, me too. It's really interesting to see how the ad platform on Amazon continues to evolve. Even from a year ago, and six months ago, we've seen the ad platform evolve, and I think we will continue to see it become refined from the three different services, to eventually one holistic service, and maybe even the different versions of that. Like you said, like the product display kind of merging in. I think we'll continue to see that, as well.
Andrew Maff: I don't want to take up too much of your Friday, so I'll wrap up with, I have one last question for you guys. 2019 trends that you guys are seeing. Anything on that?
Tyler Henderson: That's a great question. 2019 trends. I think that advertising is going to continue just to be like, the hot topic thing. I can't remember the name of the place that put out the report. I'll comment back in after this. I'll come back in a comment, but there was that report that came out, that showed all of the placements of the sponsored product ads, highlighted in red for each of the different searches. It's so significant. I think that what we're going to continue to see in 2019, is that being able to fine tune, and refine, both your listings ... because advertising's becoming even more popular, and there's such a priority put on it, that puts an even higher priority on making sure that you have your basics. If you don't have that foundation, if you don't have reviews, if you don't have an optimized listing, your A cost is going to be through the roof, and you're not going to be able to compete if you don't have those things.
Because, advertising already, I'm sure you can speak to this, advertising on some key words, has like tripled or quadrupled within the last year, easy. Sometimes it goes from not being competitive at all, to suddenly you're paying ... we went from 10 cents a click, to over a dollar a click within a couple months. As that only continues, and as Amazon continues to pace with, or out-pace Google, and Facebook advertising, I think we're only going to see the foundations become more and more important. That's my 2019 trend in a nutshell, I think.
Andrew Maff: Nice. Beautiful. I really appreciate you doing this with me. I don't want to take up any more of your time. I like to keep these relatively short, but we can do this all day. Why don't you give me some closing statement kind of thing on where people can find Seller Labs, because we're going to end up posting this everywhere, so that way, they can find you guys in the future.
Tyler Henderson: You can find us at SellerLabs.com, and that's S-E-L-L-E-R-L-A-B-S.com. We also have a great blog post that published with you guys, a month or two ago, about building your brand on Amazon. I think that's a great post, and probably a great place to start engaging with us, as well, and kind of understand what we're all about. Either of those two places would be awesome.
Andrew Maff: Perfect. Appreciate it, buddy. Thank you so much.
Tyler Henderson: Awesome. Thanks so much.
Andrew Maff: I will talk to you guys soon, I'm sure. Enjoy your weekend.
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, happy Black Friday.
Andrew Maff: Good luck out there.
Tyler Henderson: Yeah, you too.
Andrew Maff: Thanks, buddy. Bye.