Feedback Friday: Sellozo Talks Boosting Sales with Amazon Advertising
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On November 30th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with Nic Delorme, CEO of Sellozo, to talk about what Sellozo does and how it can help you boost your sales with Amazon advertising.
Nic Delorme: I'm Nic Delorme, CEO of Sellozo. A computer science degree from Purdue. Kind of a tech nerd definitely. I've spent basically the last 13 years of my life building automated and nationally scalable online advertising systems. Everything from like behavioral targeting systems to real time bidding systems. About a year ago, I was approached about this position at Sellozo about taking over the CEO's role. At first, I was kind of like, "Are you sure you want a nerd to come in here and run this thing," but they were at a point where they're building a lot of technology. It's very product-focused. There's a lot of innovation going on in the space. They wanted us to kind of build something that just made ...
Nic Delorme: The idea around Sellozo was to build something so it's easier for people to do sponsor product ads for Amazon sellers. It's an interesting space because the people that are selling ... It's everybody from an individual seller to larger businesses, but a lot of people are the very small business. The one guy at home trying to make it work or one girl at home trying to make it work or just a couple employees. They really rely on tools and different things to help them scale their business. The PPC, it's not trivial. It's easy to go on there and sort of launch a campaign. It's hard to make it work.
Nic Delorme: It's hard to sort of get the auto campaign launched, the manual campaign launched, what is an ad group, what's a keyword, what's a negative keyword. We were kind of like, "Well, why can't we build a tool that just makes it so that they can choose the products they want to advertise, tell us what the margin they want to have on it, and just let us launch these campaigns for them?" That's what Sellozo was sort of born from is the concept of trying to create a simpler way and a better way for people to manage this. Even for the larger businesses that have say thousands of products, at that point, it almost becomes impossible to manually manage keyword bids individually.
Nic Delorme: I mean you have to have some sort of automation, some sort of algorithm to be appropriately bidding on all of your bids and sort of detecting new search terms. Myself and a couple of the engineers that started this, since we had this background in advertising and we knew a lot about how to build these optimization systems anyway, so we're like, "Well, let's just bring some of those algorithms into this to make it easier," and that's what we did. The MVP, the first version of this, kind of went live at the beginning of this year. It was a pretty simple platform where, yeah, basically they could do what I said. It would launch the campaigns for them. It would automate the bids.
Nic Delorme: When search terms started converting in an auto campaign, we would automatically spawn the manual campaign for people. It'll transfer winning search terms over into the manual campaign and then be bidding on those keywords automatically. It made it easier. Over the last year, we had a lot of innovation. Kind of went from MVP to a much more advanced platform where not only are you able to kind of do this automation that we had, but also see how your organic revenue is being impacted by your PPC revenue. We have like great dashboards and reporting to show true profit and show as your PPC revenue is going up, are you seeing corresponding spikes in organic as well at the same time.
Nic Delorme: Other things that we've launched are like dayparting, so things that they don't offer in the Amazon system at all, where you're able to say, "Okay. From midnight to 6:00, I know people are just really not converting. It's kind of wasting my spend. Maybe I'm running out of budget before the day ends." People can turn on dayparting so that their campaigns automatically only turn on at say 6:00 in the morning Eastern time or something and then it turns itself off at 10:00 at night or whenever they want to. That's all configurable in the system. That's sort of the stuff that we've been doing. We started with PPC, but Sellozo's really about tools to help grow your business.
Nic Delorme: What can we do that automates things? What can we do that makes things easier? That's kind of what we've been building.
Andrew Maff: Okay. The automated Amazon PPC space is not exactly a quiet one.
Nic Delorme: Right.
Andrew Maff: There's multiple software companies out there that claim to basically do the exact same thing more or less. What really is the differentiator from you guys to all your other competitors out there?
Nic Delorme: There's a couple. One of them is that ours is much more fully automated. Most of the systems that are out there will give you recommendations. They'll kind of analyze your stuff. They'll give you a bunch of stuff that you need to do. You have this big list of things that you need to accept or apply. People still need to take this daily task of going in and applying your changes, where ours is much more of an automated platform. I'd say the other thing that we do that's much better than the other platforms is integrating with the existing campaigns that are already are there. I'd say 90% of the people that sign up for Sellozo have already at least attempted or have a substantial type of PPC set up already going.
Nic Delorme: Like they've got their own campaign set up, their own ad groups kind of put the together the way they want. We're able to kind of ... At the very easiest, they can go on and click a single button that starts optimizing individual campaigns that already exist. We can also link campaigns together. Say they have an auto and a manual campaign already created. They do this thing where they're moving keywords back and forth. We can say, "Okay. If you've already got those, we can link them at our platform, so we don't have to regenerate, to relearn any of these things." Other things that we do is we're able to ...
Nic Delorme: We see this all the time with accounts, but it tends to sort of explode in the number of campaigns and ad groups and things you've got and the organization that you have. You archive things and you create new ones. You sort of like try a bunch of stuff. Most systems only look at a single campaign and the data from that campaign and they try and optimize within that campaign. Where what we do is we try and pull the data together from all of the campaigns regardless of whether ...
Nic Delorme: If you are running the same product over in campaign A and now you're running campaign B, we still can leverage that data even if it's archived from campaign A in campaign B so that you don't have to start from scratch, to start over and learn keywords over again. There's a significant investment to sort of discovering keywords and learning what works and what doesn't work. That was one of the cool things that we wanted to make happen for existing sellers.
Andrew Maff: Nice. Amazon advertising in the past three, four months has released new stuff almost every few weeks. A couple weeks ago, maybe a little more than that at this point, the product targeting came out with sponsored products. Then today, I saw the automatic campaigns have now offered like different tiered keywording in there with the different categories and stuff. Let's look at the product targeting because they came out a few weeks ago. Is that something you guys are looking into on how to automate that process?
Nic Delorme: It definitely is. Sellozo was invited to a partner event a few months ago, so we kind of had a heads up that some of this stuff was coming along. We've definitely been thinking about how to use this asyn targeting, the category-based targeting. Right now, Amazon always tends to sort of launch things where it's available in the UI that you can do things, but it's not available in any kind of automated fashion. The APIs that support this stuff don't support any of these new targeting methods, but our team is already sort of trained on how to use some of these new features.
Nic Delorme: One of the things that was really important for Sellozo was that we have this SaaS platform and you log in, and you could sign up online, and you can just keep going on your own, but people usually need more help than that. People usually need somebody to talk to. You always have a one-on-one onboarding session with every customer that we have sign up. You get on the phone. You can talk about it. At that point, they can talk about, "Okay. What are the strategies to use asyn targeting or category targeting for you before we're able to automate that part?" Day one when it's available to us, I'm sure we'll be in the beta program for that API.
Nic Delorme: We'll be automating those pieces of it, but in the meantime, that's something that's talked about in the onboarding. Our top tier is the ultimate tier. It's much more managed. The very bigger accounts, we do all of that stuff for you. Anything that's not able to be automated, we're able to do manually on our side.
Andrew Maff: While you're talking about accounts, what is like the ideal seller to work with you? Because I know you mentioned like a lot have tried and then failed, so they're probably newer guys who haven't been doing this for awhile.
Nic Delorme: Yup.
Andrew Maff: I assume you guys probably have some on the other end of the spectrum. What really seems to be like the seller that works best for Sellozo?
Nic Delorme: Right. Definitely there isn't just one aspect to make selling work. PPC isn't just a silver bullet that you turn it on and all of a sudden you make more money. You have to have a good listing. You have to have good pictures. You have to have similar to use. The people that come on and are really successful are people that are at least somewhat established. They don't have to be a large seller, but they need to have at least had a dozen, 10 reviews, have sold a little bit of their products and have a decent listing. At that point, we can definitely help them grow from there.
Nic Delorme: I'd say the people that struggle the worst are the people that come on and they're like, "Well, I've just sent in my first product. I haven't had a sale yet. How can I turn on advertising today?" That's a case where day one is not necessarily the best idea. I guess there is scenarios where for ranking purposes, so say a private label seller is a really good example where PPC is almost getting to be a requirement where you're coming in with a new product in a category that's existing. There's already going to be products in there that are competing with you. How do you get to the top of the search results? Used to be that you could sort of do some organic things, but over the last year, it's become much more competitive.
Nic Delorme: I mean there's thousands of sellers signing up everyday to sell on Amazon. To be at the top of the listings, you have to spend a little bit of advertising money to get your new version of the coffee mug or whatever at the top of the listings to start building your ranks, to start building your organic revenue. Somebody's that trying to launch a private label, that's a perfect example. Somebody that has a little bit of established sales, that's a perfect person that should be using our platform. Really we have a completely free version of our platform that gives you this organic versus like your true profit reporting for free. You don't have to pay anything.
Nic Delorme: There's no monthly fee or any like limits. You can sign up for Sellozo today and get free reporting that at the very least gives you an understanding of what fees am I being charged. You're able to enter in the cost of goods and your inbound sales, inbound shipping costs. We basically try and give you what your true profit is on a product over time. We have built like a really amazing platform for people to use that. I've got friends of mine that are starting to be sellers and I say, "As soon as you start selling, sign up for Sellozo and at the very least use the reporting. Once you start going a little bit, then upgrade to our basic package and let's start helping you with the advertising."
Nic Delorme: At the very least, everybody should just be using it to get better reporting.
Andrew Maff: That's a nice added feature. It's interesting because we find the same thing here like it really is ... It's almost pay to play now. There is very few situations where you might be okay not doing PPC. Usually we find those to be very ... It's usually not very established sellers. It's usually a very established brand off Amazon seems to be the only ones because then you're just fighting for your own brand name. Even then, you can do PPC ads where you just do exact match and leave them as is. It is definitely becoming a very much a pay to play. It's becoming more and more competitive because more and more people are realizing that and they're releasing more options.
Andrew Maff: I'm really interested to see how anyone has the ability to automate the product targeting side of things that they just released just because of picking and choosing which asyns to go after or which category seems very manual to me, but I'm sure there'll be some data out there that someone will get.
Nic Delorme: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We definitely have some smart people that have built a lot of algorithms over the years to optimize advertising. My philosophy is let's make everything that we can automate, let's automate. Everything that we can't, let's make it as easy as possible to use. A lot of the things that we did in the platform to make it easier is we created this thing called the product view. Where instead of having to look at, log in ... Every platform you log in you see campaigns, you see ad groups, you see keywords, and there's these tabs and you kind of look at these big lists of stuff. We're really like, "Well, why can't you just go in and see my baby products and combine all of that data together and then look at it at a product level."
Nic Delorme: Combine the organic and combine the PPC together so that you sort of have like a cohesive like, "Okay. I'm looking at my 14 baby products. How is that trending over time? How is organic versus PPC working," and then be able to bulk actions on groups of products. Our product view is I think it's only thing out there that allows you to do something like that that pulls the data together in a way that for somebody like my mother or somebody that's trying to sell something in Amazon that doesn't really understand online advertising space, it's weird and it's weird terminology, can I just look at products and see what's working or what isn't working?
Nic Delorme: Can I combine my Christmas stuff together into what we call smart tags and filter by the Christmas tag and see all of the data, all of the products, everything, trends over time, and then be able to take bulk actions to be able to launch campaigns. Some of our customers come in and they look at a product and they can click on, "Okay, show me my advertising for this product," and they'll see that, "Oh, well, I was actually advertising this product 14 times in 14 different campaigns. I didn't even realize that I'm kind of competing against myself. Maybe I can clean that up." It gives them a really easy way to understand that and see that.
Nic Delorme: I think that as Amazon releases new features, as asyn targeting, category targeting, all the new things that they're adding, they're very bullish in advertising. The Amazon DSP is launching. I mean they're definitely pushing into the advertising space. It's not going to get simpler. It's going to get more complicated everyday, and using tools to help make it easier for the single seller that's at home trying to figure out this is going to be critical I think for people because Amazon isn't there to make it easy.
Nic Delorme: They're able to sort of create all these features and create all these possibilities, and it's up to us to try and figure out, okay, what works? What doesn't work? How can we boil this down and make it consumable the average seller?
Andrew Maff: Okay. 2019, what do you think is going to happen in the Amazon PPC world?
Nic Delorme: Well, I guess in the Amazon PPC world it's definitely going to get more competitive. I mean prices are going up. We can see that in our data. More sellers are coming in. That's pretty straightforward. They'll continue to do different targeting options. Slowly they're rolling new things in the API. I think for Sellozo, we're going to go ... Our business wasn't designed necessarily to be only PPC. We wanted to make automation something that was how do we just help grow businesses in all aspects.
Nic Delorme: One of the things we'll be launching as a repricer helping arbitrage, people trying to automate and hit that buy box, we've got some really cool reporting in our platform right now, that's free actually, that will show you over time what buy box percentage you have and what days you're red and what days you're green, about how much you're actually getting that buy box and that updates in a real time in our system. We're going to leverage that data. Be able to build an automated repricer for people. Just making it easier to scale businesses I think. We're going to see people ... Walmart is launching their platform. It's very in its infancy.
Nic Delorme: The APIs are very rough, but making it so that why can't you have a platform like Sellozo where you can log in and say, "Okay. I want to launch all my advertising on eBay, on Walmart, on Google and have it all managed and all the stats come in together." I think that that's the vision that I see Sellozo going towards in 2019 is automating what can be automated and making it easier for people to understand and grow their business so that they can focus on sourcing, they can focus on writing those great listings, they can focus on taking better pictures, they can focus on other aspects of the business and let's some of the things can be automated be automated.
Andrew Maff: Nice. Well, I really appreciate it. Thank you so much especially for taking time out of your Friday.
Nic Delorme: No worries.Andrew Maff: This will end up on YouTube, in our blog and all that fun stuff. Would you mind letting everyone know how they can find more information about you guys? Where they can find you as you wrap this up?
Nic Delorme: Sounds good. Thanks a lot for having us on.
Andrew Maff: Yeah. Thank you. Appreciate it, buddy.
Nic Delorme: Yeah. Talk t.
Andrew Maff: Everyone.