Get Amazon reviews by yourself or use a review service like HonestFew? We break down the costs.

Get Amazon reviews by yourself or use a review service like HonestFew? We break down the costs.

Which method saves you the most time and money?

So there has been much dispute between which method of promotion is more effective. The question is whether you should get Amazon reviews by yourself or use a review service like HonestFew? We break down the pros and cons of these two different methods. There are 2 main factors that will decide what you end up using, budget and time. Today we will break down the costs and compare which method will save you more time and money. With respect to the breakdown of time designated to these tasks, I am going to be quite conservative and round down to the lower side. This means that the timing for tasks will be based on the quickest amount of time you could imagine finishing something in. Please also keep in mind that as with most things, these tasks will most likely take you longer to do than expected especially if it is your first time going through the process of collecting reviews for your product.

If you're looking for 6 proven strategies for getting reviews, check this out.

For both examples, we’ll be promoting 50 units to 50 reviewers.

Get Amazon reviews
So let’s start the breakdown if you were to get Amazon reviews manually

1. Find the reviewers – 7 hours or more
- You can find various reviewers on Facebook (Free)
- Other social groups and networks
- Keep in mind that it’s not recommended that you have friends or family review your product as Amazon flags this and they will remove reviews acquired through this method swiftly.

After finding the reviewers you will need to send the message to them to indicate that you would like them to review a product for you or you could post in the group and wait until they respond. Depending on your product, you may get 2-5 people interested. If you don’t find enough people you may have to look for other review groups or post multiple times at a later date in the group. Because of the unreliable nature of this method, it’s difficult to tell how long exactly you would have to wait before you are able to get in touch with 50 reviewers. I experimented with this method to see what kind of result I could get. I created a posting for a listing that I wanted to giveaway in exchange for a review and posted it up in the group. I had only 8 reviewers contact me over a span of 23 days. This time doesn’t include actually doing a review, it just accounts for starting a conversation with them. Your mileage will vary with how much work you decide to put in with spamming listings but the return doesn’t seem to be good.

Get Amazon reviews

 

Get Amazon reviews
Repeat this process until you have 50 people who are interested in your product and after you have spent time explaining the basics of your promotion to all 50 people you can move onto the next phase.

Total Time spent: 7 Hours
-finding places to post your product review offer and then get wait to be accepted in to the group (1.5 hours and being accepted into the group can span a couple of hours to a couple of days)
-drafting your message and posting the listing into all groups (1.5 hours)
-introduce the promotional product you want reviewed (5 minutes X 50 reviewers = 4 hours)

2. Qualify reviewers – 10.25 hours or more

-Figure out whether the reviewers who you’ve just met are reliable

- Check Amazon Reviewer profile for previous review history
-Ask whether they can review your product in a set amount of time
-Asking if they are capable of writing reviews that abide by Amazon’s TOS

Before you can distribute the code, it’s vital that you screen your reviewers. Sellers who don’t do this end up learning the hard way why it’s important to screen reviewers. The people on Facebook are total strangers that you’ve just met. You have no other option but to trust them if you want them to write a review for you. The worst thing is that if you give them a product to review, there’s no liability after the fact. You can’t punish them or force them to do anything. That’s why it’s critical to ask the right questions beforehand to see if you’ll be able to get your return. This step can be extremely time consuming but it’s necessary if you don’t want to be burned by any reviewers. After you have asked some qualifying questions, you’ll have to confirm that they’ll state that they received the product at a discount or for free and that they got it in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. This is especially important because if this disclaimer is not included, Amazon will terminate the review as it breaks their TOS. Qualifying reviewers are very important because you have literally just solicited a random stranger who is interested in reviewing products. Unless you figure out if you can trust the person, there’s no way to know if they will actually deliver once they have claimed their code, they may just disappear and stop responding altogether, a number of things could happen as the reviewer loses nothing by ignoring you or deciding that something has come up and can’t do the review anymore. It’s a tough thing to say but it’s the reality.

After you have qualified your reviewers, it’s likely that there will be a few reviewers who aren’t up to your standards or liking. In this situation you’ll have to go back and redo the review finding stage for the reviewers who weren’t up to par.

Total Time spent: 10.25 Hours
-Setting up the terms of the review (7.5 minutes x 50 reviewers = 6.25 hours)
-Checking their Amazon Reviewer Profile (5 minutes x 50 reviewers = 4 hours)

3. Issuing codes – 3 hours or more
-general use code or single use code?
-distribute your codes to all 50 reviewers

You can choose to use a general use code, which would save a ton of time in distribution as you wouldn’t have to find a different single use code and send it to a different user every single time. The problem with random reviewers is that it’s possible to have your codes leaked and to have your products claimed by strangers who won’t didn’t even originally claim the code. There’s no way of knowing until after the fact and it’s very unlikely you’ll get a review from users who you have not even spoken to about a review. A situation like this is even more likely to happen if you send the same general use code out to reviewers and you have to get through 50 people. Combine this with the fact that they will most likely be operating on different timezones, your claim codes may be take a while before everyone can redeem it. If you’re waiting for all of your reviews to redeem your product before ending the promotion, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s much safer to spend the extra time and opt for handing out single use claim codes manually.

Total Time spent: 3 Hours
-Create promotional code campaign and single use claim codes (0.5 hour)
-distribute unique claim codes to everyone (3 minutes x 50 reviewers = 2.5 hours)

4. Collecting your reviews– 13 hours or more
-contact reviewers and check status of reviews
-if review isn’t done, you will have to keep following up

Once you’ve got your codes claimed, you’ve got to keep track of 50 reviewers and make sure that they finish your reviews.

The review collection process is probably one of the most difficult parts of the process because it can be a very big time drain. You want to get your value from the reviewers but verifying reviewers can take time as it’s definitely not as easy to get a reviewer’s attention when you’re asking whether they have finished their review rather than if they want a product to review. If you’re lucky you will have some reviewers who have given the product a review with the necessary information and such and have delivered on their end of the bargain on time. For the most part reviewers who are actively soliciting reviews from any seller have multiple products and timelines to deliver for which split their focus on your product. You’ve got to remember as well that a reviewer has their own lives and responsibilities to take care of besides your review.

It’s a stressful task to collect reviews, e specially if there are people who are late or nonresponsive or straight up just don’t care about you after they have received your product.
You’ll need to track the reviewers on an excel sheet or else you will quickly get confused as to who has confirmed what and when. When you’re at the review collection phase, you’ll just be dealing with follow ups and possibly a lot of customer service in case there were issues with your promo code, etc. Your job now is to collect your reviews from everyone. The review ratio is in direct correlation with how many times you remind the reviewer, there will however be reviewers who just disappear and that’s just one of the risks of using anyone to review your product.

Total Time spent: 8 Hours
-follow up with all reviewers to see if they are finished (6 minutes x 50 reviewers = 5 hours)
-check the actual review to see if there is anything wrong with it (10 minutes x 50 reviewers = 8 hours)

Congratulations on making it through the entire process for generating reviews manually! I haven’t included all the small things you’ll have to do to generate reviews but hopefully this gives you the main gist. Let’s see how much time we put in and how much money we saved.

Results:
Minimum time spent: 33.25 hours

Money spent: $0

Reviews received: No amount guaranteed, depends on how much follow up you do.

The total amount of time that you would have spent engaged in generating reviews would be a minimum of 33 hours and 15 minutes. The entire timeline for your reviews would most likely span 3 weeks from start to finish. It wouldn’t have cost you anything to do the promotion except your time and a considerable amount of stress and energy on your part.

 

Get Amazon reviews

Now let’s compare using a service like HonestFew to get Amazon reviews.

When you want to start a promotion, all we need is your product listing URL and your single use codes. Once we have that we can get started on developing your campaign and launching it. We deal with all the customer service inquiries about your product and we do everything in regards to the review collection process. That’s how simple it is to work with HonestFew. We also guarantee a reviewer rate of at least 65% on the total amount of units you promote. This means that if you don’t have at least 65% of your total promotional amount reviewed, you get your money back. No questions asked.

0. Setting up your campaign –  15 minutes on your part
-Give us your product listing URL and single use claim codes

1. Find the reviewers – 0 hours on your part
-Honestfew works with a variety of reviewers from Amazon top reviewers, to bloggers, to everyday people who just love to review product
2. Qualify reviewers – 0 hours on your part
-We ensure that reviewers who sign up know how to write reviews that abide with Amazon’s TOS and also include a disclaimer for every review that they do with us.
3. Issuing codes
– 0 hours on your part
-All single use codes are sent directly to reviewers through our automated system.
4. Collecting your reviews– 0 hours on your part
-
Reviewers have 2 weeks after they receive their product to submit their review. They are reminded electronically at certain times to ensure that reviews are submitted punctually.
-Reviewers who do not follow our policies are banned from our community and suspended from using our services indefinitely.

Results:
Maximum time spent: 15 minutes

Money spent: $299

Reviews received: At least 65% of 50 which is 33 reviews. Often times our review rate will be higher than that.

Comparing the 2 methods now, it’s clear to see which one is a better use of your time.
If you made minimum wage, the minimum time you would have spent generating reviews would have cost you $241. Now as a business owner I would imagine that your time is more valuable than someone who is mopping the floor for $7.25 an hour so let’s assume your hourly wage is at the $20 mark. At that rate, the time you spent generating the reviews cost you a minimum of $665.

If you had used HonestFew you would have saved yourself $366 dollars, 33 hours of your time, and lots of unneeded stress. You also would have received 33 guaranteed reviews instead of the mystery amount from Facebook reviewers.

Now with Amazon becoming more competitive, 50 reviews would be considered conservative. If you were set on competing in your niche you would probably try for 100 reviews. The time you will spend generating reviews will cost you a minimum of $1,330. A package for 100 reviews costs $499. You would save $831 and be guaranteed 65 reviews.

When the amount of reviews you are looking for goes up, it becomes much more effective to use our service because we have the infrastructure to scale and deliver you results. If you were to do everything manually, the risks, management, and follow up for your reviewers would skyrocket because there would just be so many people to manage.

If you’re interested in saving money and spending your time on doing the essential things in your business, take a look at some of our packages here: https://honestfew.com/shops/ or give us a call toll free at 1855-707-2395

This case study is exclusively based on our service and does not apply to other review services as we work don’t work the same as many others. We cannot speak to the success of other services.


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How to get followers using Instagram Marketing (Case Study: 0 to 1000)

How to get followers using Instagram Marketing (Case Study: 0 to 1000)

READ THE VERSION OF THIS WITH PICTURES HERE.

If you sell a private label product on Amazon and wonder "how can I sell more of these?!" read on.

Today, I'll show you how to get more followers with Instagram Marketing. 1000+ new potential customers, to be exact. It's a simple idea: we're building an audience by using a channel.

Let's define the terms.

The audience you build on social media should NOT be based on the specific product that you're selling. Rather, it should be based on the lifestyle surrounding your product. Selling silicone bread molds? Make a page about baking. Selling whiteboard markers? Make a page about productivity. Selling yoga mats? Make a page about yoga practice. Selling a scuba diving depth gauge? Make a page about underwater adventure. Your product is a natural accessory for a fantastic lifestyle. Define the lifestyle and post about it.

The channel is based on where your target audience already hangs out and what medium they consume content in (text, photos, video, audio). Beauty, health, self-improvement, fashion, fitness, cooking... they're all visual, romantic, and consumer, so use channels like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook. For parenting, eBooks, industrial, finance, scientific, waste disposal, home improvement, tech, B2B, medical... they're more technical, so use the written word in blogs, Reddit, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, podcasting. It doesn't matter which channel is "hot" right now. Where are your people already hanging out? Go there. Pick a channel where the need for your product already exists. Sell ice-cream in a Californian summer, not a Canadian winter.

Today we're talking about Instagram, the dominant photo-based social network. It's ideal for visual markets like kitchen, food, health, fitness, fashion, pets, babies, and home decor... because it's all pictures and video!

Why is Instagram Marketing a powerful way to build an audience?

Hashtags. 

You can use IG (that's what the kids call it these days) to reach entirely new people for free with hashtags (#). Instagram Marketing doesn't depend on mutual "friend" or "like" status to discover content from another person.

For example, I type "#love" into the Instagram search bar (this is the web version, not the mobile version), and I can instantly scroll through every time someone has mentioned #love in a photo. All 781,820,999 times. This is revolutionary. The world has cracked wide open. You can now see moments of #love from around the world, regardless of whether you know the person or not. What a time to be alive.


0 to 1000

It's decided: we want to build an audience on the Instagram marketing channel using the power of hashtags. We've defined the terms, so let's begin. Here's how to go from 0 to 1000, real quick.

Let's set up an Instagram account from scratch and see how we do, just you and me. Are you ready?

This experience is going to be so gut-wrenchingly detailed that by the time you finish this article, you'll be able to build and command the attention of 1000+ new potential customers. For us, this process took 37 days. For you, maybe more, maybe less.

I'm assuming you already know what product you're selling. If you don’t, learn how to source them from China, first!

Our target market today, in Amazon shopping terms, will be: Pet Supplies > Dogs > Apparel & Accessories > Boots, Paw Protectors.

The main keyword  is "shoes for dogs". This is not the "ultimate gold rush niche of 2015", but it's decent.

Here's what the Amazon page 1 looks like in Jungle Scout (if you don't have Jungle Scout yet, you can get it here. If you go through that link, you can support HonestFew in making full guides like this at no additional cost to you).

Now, we have our product (Dog Boots, Paw Protectors), keyword ("shoes for dogs"), and target market (dog owners who would buy shoes for their dogs).

Let's get into the technical steps, shall we?

1. ACCOUNT

Make an Instagram account using the Instagram app for iOS or Android. You'll need a phone with the app and a working email address (it won't be publicly visible, so you can even use unicorn_warriorz168@yahoo.com, your email from high school that makes your cringe). It's alright. We all have one of those emails.

2. HANDLE

Pick a handle (@). It's your Instagram username. You can always change it later.

Your handle should say it all. It's a point of self-identification for your target audience. Your target customer should be able to say "Yes, that's me!" and hit the "Follow" button.

Here are some example handles I made up. Just reading the Instagram handle should be enough for a person to say "Yes, that's me!" or "No, that's not me."

@ilovebaking
@cyclists_only
@gardeningmoms
@hotyogafanatics
@canadiancrossfitters
@iphone.photographers
@imountainclimb
@babyproofingmoms
@productivity_tips

Get it?

Since we sell dog shoes, we should have a handle with "dog" in it (and preferably "dog" comes first in the handle to get any natural search benefits Instagram might provide).

After many iterations and finding out certain handles were taken, let's do...

@dogownersonly

A star is born, ladies and gents!

Why it's good:
> It has our keyword in it ("dog").
> It's exclusive ("only").
> It actually deters anyone who wouldn't be interested in our product offer down the line. If someone has a casual interest in dogs but doesn't actually own a dog, they probably won't buy our shoes. It's self-selecting. @dogownersonly. Glorious.

Here's our newly-minted Instagram account. 0 posts, 0 followers, 0 following.

But in 37 days, this page will be surging with 1000+ potential customers that we can use for product launches, initial sales, and repeat business! This is the start of our fortune!

3. PROFILE

Warning: Facebook owns Instagram. As a result, your Instagram account may automatically be linked to your Facebook account upon set-up. Mine was.

And here's the thing... I didn't want Instagram telling my personal network to follow me @dogownersonly... while well-intentioned, that's kind of weird. You can unlink Facebook in the Instagram app by going to the gear symbol on the upper right hand side > Settings > Linked Accounts > hit Facebook.

Now, back to the profile.

Let's grab a profile pic. I search "dog" in the Instagram search bar. It shows all the top content and hashtags that have to do with the word "dog".

I stumble across a popular account called @dog.lovers. I look at some of their photos. I screenshot a photo that I think will attract some attention (it's a photo of an inconceivably small, puffy, white dog). It's adorable. As with the Instagram handle, your profile photo should denote exactly what the account is about. Ours is a cute dog... the type you'd want to protect by buying it some shoes on Amazon one day...

I pose a question in the Instagram bio for increased customer self-selection: "Love your dog? Join the party!" I almost hired a copywriter for that one, but I didn't. A few notes about the word choice:

> it doesn't say "Love dogs? Join the party!" It says "your" dog, singling out the dog owners. Self-selection.
> why didn't it say "If you love your dog, join the party!"? Let me ask you this: do questions make you stop and think more than statements do?

4. FIND CONTENT

Next, let's find some photos to post.

Disclaimer: it's against Instagram's TOS to post content from other people. With that said, most people do it. And in the beginning, you might not have much truly original content. Reposting is a fairly tame activity, but you must do so at your own risk. We assume no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for your Instagram posting activity. That said, we'll be using all reposted material for @dogownersonly. The original photographers will be credited in each Instagram post, of course.

I'm on my phone now.

Let's go to the Instagram search bar and look for "dog", "dog clothes", "dog shoes" etc. Also, visit some other popular accounts and take some shots from there. Whatever your market is interested in. Take 10-15 good screenshots of cool, relatable, likeable photos.

Browse from account to account, taking screenshots. In this case, I'm snapping photos of different dogs with an emphasis on photo quality, cool content, and a decent variety of dog breeds.

Scroll, scroll, scroll.
Snap, snap, snap.

15 minutes later, I have taken 20 good screenshots of dogs. Now that we have the pictures we'd like to post, it's time to add hashtags so that people can discover our content.

4. HASHTAGS AND POSTING

Photos are only half the battle. We have content, but it needs to be found. We need something powerful... something that connects us with the whole world: hashtags. #yes #thesolution #wedidit

You need hashtags in the description of each photo that you post. Without tags, our dog pics will float in the Instagram abyss, especially at the beginning.

To find which hashtags are used most (and therefore, perhaps, most viewed), you can use Websta.me/search (that's the website URL), a web-based Instagram browser.

Here's what we get on Websta.me/search for "dog".

From this, we know which hashtags containing the word "dog" are used the most. For instance, the popular hashtag #dogsofinstagram has been used in 28,159,312 photos. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're the most looked at, but it's likely. If our photo description has these popular hashtags, our visibility increases.

If you're not sure what a hashtag means (i.e. the correct context for using it), search it on the Instagram app, and the photos will give you a sense of how it's used. Here's the hashtag set I use in most of my pics throughout this case study:

#dog
#dogsofinstagram
#dogs
#dogstagram
#dogoftheday
#doglover
#dogs_of_instagram
#doglovers
#dogsofig
#doglife
#doglove
#dogphotography
#dogcrushdaily
#dogshoes

I save these in a note file on my phone, and copy and paste them in whenever I'm making a new post. I'll also add a few new hashtags depending on the particular photo. Like if it's a pug, I'll add #mypug #puglife #ilovemypug, etc.

Speaking of the #puglife, here's an example of one of my posts.

I decided to begin each dog photo with a quote, to provide a little extra value to the viewer. Value makes them more likely to follow, because it becomes more painful for them to miss my content than to click the "follow" button. Then, I enter my popular hashtag set. Then, I credit the original owner of the content. You can't see it in this photo, but I use a camera emoji, a colon, and then tag them @TheirInstagramHandle

5. WEBSTA.ME & INSTAGRESS

So now, we've posted 8-10 photos with the appropriate hashtags, and we've got a couple of likes and follows here and there. Whatever. Here's where it gets interesting. We're going to enlist the help of Instagress.com to grow our audience because your time is worth a lot.

Instagress is a bot (short for "robot"). It connects to Instagram's API to like photos and follow other users based on the hashtags that you select. But how does this activity get you more followers?

When you follow someone or like their photo, they get a notification. More often than not, they'll head over to your account to see what you're all about. If they like what they see, they'll follow.

This is why it's important to have an Instagram profile photo and handle that appeal to your target market. If they get a notification from you and they say "Oh, it's a dog account! I LOVE dog accounts!" that's exactly what we want. Don't make them guess, and certainly don't mislead them.

Ultimately, people will follow you if they enjoy your current photos and are confident that you can consistently deliver more of the same.

And a word to the wise:  don't use the Instagram app manually when Instagress is running. This will result in the Instagress connection being lost. You can reconnect, but it's a pain. So while Instagress is running, don't use Instagram on your phone in the same account.

When you set up a new account, Instagress gives you 3 free days (72 hours) of operational time. Awesome! Thank you, Instagress! You can turn the clock on and off, starting and stopping activity whenever you like. So you can use the hours as fast or slow as you'd like. Let's set up.

Enter your Instagram name and password.

Here's @dogownersonly as it appears in the Instagress dashboard. This is where Instagress reports the account's activity to you: likes, comments, follows, unfollows.

 

Here's what you see when you fire up Instagress for the first time.

And now, let's give Instagress its orders.

First up, we see these toggling activity options. Use these settings:

> Likes = on (meaning we'll be liking the photos of others)
> Comments = on (meaning we'll be commenting on the photos of others)
> Follows = on (meaning we'll be following the accounts of others)
> Unfollows = off (leave this off; this is for later, if you want to trim the number of people you follow. You can't have the Follows and Unfollows settings running at the same time. It's either/or)

And here we have the main settings.

> Activity speed = fast ("fast" has never caused problems for me, versus a slower speed. However, I'd begin on "Normal" and if all goes well, crank it up)
> Media source = tags (i.e. hashtags, which we'll pick in a minute)
> Media age = 1 hour (you want this to be a small amount of time, because you want to engage users who are active, on their phones, and ready to follow you back)
> Media type = photos; "all" is fine as well
> Min. likes on media = 1 (I picked to engage with media with at least 1 like, which denotes that the user has at least 1 follow and is active... unless they "like" all of their own photos, I guess...)
> Max likes on media = 100 (a large number of "likes" on a photo is great, but it may also denote that it's a popular account with no intention of following back, hence the like limit of 100. Feel free to experiment with this and all other values)

Then, we need to create the comments. These are the comments that @dogownersonly will be leaving on the photos of others (based on a set of hashtags) to get their attention.

Here's what Instagress has in the comments section by default: things like "Aww nice" "Love it!" and my personal favorite: "Such an inspiration". Can you imagine that comment making its way onto the wrong photo? You could inadvertently look like a lunatic. Delete them all.
As you can imagine, the more tailored-looking the comment is, the better it will perform. Just because we're automating our comments, doesn't mean anyone has to know.

For @dogownersonly, I'll be using things like "Beautiful dog", "Nice dog! #woof", "So photogenic", "Lovely! #dogsofinstagram" "Such a nice shot", "Amazing shot-- happy Friday, by the way!" (add this comment on Friday's only!), "What a beauty". You're also allowed to use emojis in your comments, which say a lot without using any words. That's ideal for this situation, so I threw in some dog, heart, and smiley face emojis as well.

It's best to create at least 30 unique comments so that members of your niche don't realize that you're leaving the same comment over and over again.

Make sure the comments are specific to your niche, but general enough to work in any scenario you can imagine. Remember, the comments will be automatically placed on photos that are tagged with the hashtags we'll select in a second.

Moving on, select the following settings:

Follow source = media
> Don't follow same users = yes
> Don't follow private users = yes (the follow-back rate with private users is questionable, so I just avoid it)

Let's talk about hashtags in the context of Instagress. This is crucial. As with the comments section, Instagress will have some generic tags pre-loaded on. Delete them all and add your own.

Our entire strategy relies on using what I call "consumer hashtags", meaning that we want our account to like and follow based on hashtags that consumers in our target market ACTUALLY use.

Consumer hashtags often include the words "my___", "ilove___", or "mynew___". By including these prefixes, we ensure that the content we're engaging with comes from a person who has a dog. The photo will probably contain a dog, at least somewhere. They're not a casual observer, and a corporate Instagram account would be less likely to use personalized tags like this.

Notice the distinction? When we were finding hashtags for the photos we post, we chose extremely generic tags like #dog, #dogsofinstagram, #doglover, etc. Those hashtags are popular, so they help with engagement. But when it comes to picking hashtags for targeted Instagress engagement, it's all about specificity. Think: "if I was a dog owner and I'm putting out content, what hashtag would I use?"

Let's return to Websta.me/search and get some consumer hashtag suggestions for Instagress.

Here, I've searched #mydog (this is a consumer hashtag, because the user who tags a photo with #mydog is likely to be talking about their dog) and got these suggestions back. These are great.

 

Here's the search for #ilovemydog, which yields even more great suggestions.

In Instagress, there's a section for tags. Pro tip: don't write your tags directly in Instagress. Put your list of tags in a Word doc or .txt file first and then paste them into Instagress, because once the tags are entered into Instagress, you can't copy and paste them back into regular words. True story.

Here are the consumer hashtags that I compiled. Any photos where these tags are used will receive likes and follows from @dogownersonly, and it's my hope that they attract people who own dogs and would consider buying shoes for them.

#ilovemydog
#ilovemydogs
#ilovemydoggy
#ilovemydoggies
#mydogisthebest
#mydog
#mydogisthecutest
#mydogs
#mydoggy
#mydog
#mydog

And I might go more in-depth with it, adding "my" + popular dog breeds. When it comes to Instagress, specificity is king:

#mypug
#mypugs
#mydalmatian
#myshihtzu
#mypoodle
#mybulldog
#myyorkie
#mychihuahua

Think now... what are some other synonyms for dogs? Puppies! Repeat the same prefixes "my", "mynew", and "ilove" with the ending "puppies". Here's what Websta.me spits back:

#mypuppy
#mypuppyiscuterthanyours
#mypuppydog
#mypuppyiscute
#ilovemypuppy
#ilovemypuppydog
#mynewpuppy
#mynewdog

Let's run these tags, and see how it goes.

And one last field to fill out here: the auto-stop feature. This just makes sure you don't waste your Instagress time. Stop if no activity = 1 hour. "Activity" here means likes and follows, so you want to minimize the amount of time Instagress is just idle.

6. LAUNCH!

We're ready to launch! Scroll up to the top of the page on Instagress and hit start! Before you begin on Instagress, make sure that you have at least 8-10 photos posted to Instagram so that users can see what your account is all about.

@dogownersonly is a new account, so Instagress gives it 3 days of time for free.

Make use of this time. Start during peak hours (6pm - 10pm). Then, consider pausing and testing more/different hashtags sets.

I've been milking the 3 free days, pausing intermittently. Here's an example of Instagress activity for a few hours: 325 likes, 62 comments, and 209 follows. This was done on "Fast" speed.

After using the 3 free Instagress days, we're at 280 followers. Not bad, but I need some more time. I buy an Instagress package for 10 days for $4.99. You can just PayPal it.

In the meantime, I did a little "on page optimization", if you can call it that. Notice what I added? Our Instagram bio now says:

"Love your dog? Join the party! Just launched [rocketship emoji] September 20th"

Why did I add the part about launching on September 20th? 2 reasons:

> Reason #1 is that I don't have a lot of photos. Only 18. Launching recently provides a good reason as to why I don't yet have many posts. It shows that I'm a young, up-and-coming account... not an old dog with no new tricks.

> Reason #2 is that people like new stuff. They like discovering things first, ahead of the curve. So if the date (September 20th) is close to today's date (which, at the time of writing it was), they feel like they're getting in on the ground floor of something new and exciting.

7. PATIENCE & TESTING

On October 4, 2015 we're at 540 followers.

I have a cool metric for you: FOBAR, short for "follow back rate".

From the Instagress screenshot below, you can see that my FOBAR is 540 followers/1915 followings = about 30% of people whom I follow reciprocate.

FOBAR shows you how effective your efforts are. If you have an 100% FOBAR, that means that everyone who sees your account through the hashtags you're using LOVE your content and decide to follow you on the spot. In my case, 1 in 3 people do this.

 

Cool bonus technique: during my time building @dogownersonly, Instagress introduced a new feature where you can engage with the followers of any page.

In Instagress, go to Main settings > Media Source > Followers of Usernames > (scroll down to Usernames) and enter a popular Instagram account in the same niche as you. In the Instagram dog picture scene, the leader is @dogsofinstagram. So I entered that handle, turned Instagress on, and got 40 followers in a few hours. Remember, I'd been using the same hashtag set up to this point. It was time to try something new. Targeting a base of followers is great. Give it a try!

With this new technique, I posted 2 new photos and left Instagress to target followers of @dogsofinstagram for 1.5 days.

However, targeting followers of the @dogsofinstagram page would sometimes shut off my Instagress due to a lack of activity. So, I'm resuming my consumer hashtag regimen.

Other cool bonus technique: if you want a similar effect to username targeting but you want 100% control, try this. Shut off Instagress, and go into your Instagram account manually (remember, you can't operate your Instagram while Instagress is actively running). Go to a popular account in your niche, go to their most recent posts, and engage with the likers and commenters (by following them and liking some of their photos). They're already engaging with an account that's comparable to yours, so the odds of them following you back are high. This technique is manual, but has an excellent FOBAR.

Here's the account at 695 followers. So far, we've run Instagress on our consumer hashtags and followers of @dogsofinstagram, and a little manual engagement.

In the photo below, it's October 20th, and the account has been active for 30 days. We're on the home stretch, with 895 followers. Just 105 more to go until our goal of 1000!

I've been running Instagress sparingly, at peak hours. Again, I define "peak" as weekend afternoons and weekday evenings (6pm - 11pm), when people aren't working and get my notifications instantly.

I added 2 more pictures (we've got 28 posts in total, now) and a few more days of Instagress running at peak hours, and we did it! I didn't need to spend more than $4.99 on this, in total. I think it's because of that pug in a hat.

Here are my stats in the last few days, as this 4-legged experiment winds down:

> October 23: 987 followers, 3481 followings (28.35% FOBAR)
> October 27: 1036 followers, 3579 followings (28.94% FOBAR-- the rate actually improved a little bit!)

When we started, we were a real underdog. 0 followers, 0 engagement. And today, we have over 1000 followers.


CONVERSIONS

Followers are great, but it's time to monetize. Here's how.

(1) Sell directly in your posts.
No need to complicate things. Sometimes you just need to sell. Businessman Gary Vaynerchuk started an Instagram account with 1 purpose: to sell wine. And this guy knows what he's talking about, having built his family wine biz from $3 to $60 million in revenue. The account is called @winedeals, and you should check it out to see a great example or direct selling on Instagram. I've also got a screenshot for you below.

Every post has:
- a photo of a particular bottle of wine
- a romantic description of the wine
- the wine's name and year
- a specific promo code for buying that bottle at a discount
- the before-and-after pricing with the promo code
- a prompt to buy from the link in the bio.

How do you monetize your audience? Sell to them. So simple. So effective. If you're hesitant to do posts like this, consider: if your product is good, you're providing value and shouldn't be afraid to sell. Who cares if people unfollow? They wouldn't have bought anyway, so you've both dodged a bullet. This strategy turns Instagram from a fuzzy "awareness" builder into a sales channel.

(2) Flash sales.
Edit your Instagram description to say something like "Reading this right now? For the next 60 minutes (ending at 6:30pm EST on November 19, 2015) get 50% off dog shoes with the code DOGOWNER on Amazon" and then link to your product listing in your Instagram bio. Make the Amazon promo code unique to Instagram, so that you can track conversions and see if it's working.

(3) Contests.
Do a picture post that asks participants to enter their email address in an entry form (which is linked in your Instagram bio) and share a particular photo (a photo that you post) for a chance to win free product. While not resulting directly in any sales, it's a good way to command attention and build your following, who you can sell to later.

(4) Direct Messaging (DM)
Disclaimer: don't abuse Instagram's direct messaging system. They might ban you. That said, you can direct message your followers with a special promo code for your Amazon product, with the Amazon product link in your Instagram bio. Include something that you saw on their photo feed (e.g. "That red leash you put on Eliza the other day was adorable. Anyways, just wanted to give you 20% off on dog shoes in case you need them this winter as a thanks for following me!") so that they don't report you. If it seems like a personal message and they're not interested, they'll politely decline instead of reporting you.

(5) Build an email list.
If you'd prefer to get their emails and send them further down a sales funnel, simply change your Instagram bio to say "Want tips on how to take care of your dog in cold weather? Sign up for tips sent directly to your inbox." Build a landing page on your website, and send your Instagram traffic there. Or, you can even trade an email for electronic goods: "Want a 20-page article on how to raise your dog the right way? Sign up for our mailing list and get immediate access".


To recap, here's the recipe for 0 to 1000 Instagram followers:

(1) DEFINE the audience you'd like to attract using the Instagram channel.
(2) SET UP an Instagram account, choosing a handle that speaks to your market. You don't need everyone to care; you just need members of your niche. Write a brief, self-selecting bio that shows that you launched recently.
(3) TAKE PHOTOS via screenshots of interesting content in your niche.
(4) POST DAILY or every other day with popular hashtags found on Websta.me, giving credit to the content creators.
(5) CONNECT INSTAGRESS after you have 8-10 pictures posted. Target consumer hashtags: tags that your target market is using in the content that they post. Use prefixes like #ilove___, #my___, or #mynew___. Turn on Instagress during peak hours (weekend afternoons and 6pm - 11pm on weekdays).
(6) HAVE PATIENCE. It took us 37 days (September 20 - October 27, 2015) to get 1036 followers. That's an average of 28 new followers per day. It's tough in the beginning, but builds momentum over time.
(7) CONVERT. Using direct selling posts, flash sales, contests, direct messaging, and email list builds.


You now have the knowledge to get followers on Instagram. Get out there and build your Instagram empire!

Loyal customers are the greatest asset a business has, and Instagram is a tremendous opportunity to find and connect with them. Take action and start today. 37 days from now, you'll be glad you did. I hope you liked this guide about Instagram marketing.

If you'd like to grow your business further, my company (HonestFew) specializes in getting sales and reviews for Amazon products. This causes your product to rank higher for keywords and make more sales. Many sellers we've worked with are now sitting happily on page 1, enjoying $1000s of extra dollars every month. Invest once, and reap the rewards forever. You can check out our seller pages here.

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6 Ways to Beat your Competition with Amazon Private Label

A successful product is like a pro baseball pitch: just a throw isn’t enough. It needs something special: a spin, a curve, an angle.

As competitors crowd Amazon, the need for differentiation grows. A product with an angle always has a customer.

“But how do I differentiate?” you ask. The 6B’s. The 6 Ways to Beat your Competition with Amazon Private Label.

These 6 strategies are also great to set you apart and make sales:

1. Better
2. Before
3. Brute
4. Bundle
5. Brand
6. Bulk

After reading this post, you'll be able to make a strategic decision about product positioning.

BETTER

Make it physically better. In what way? Amazon will tell you!

Go to Amazon.com, look at your competitors, click on the review count next to their star rating, then click to see 3-star reviews on the left. This shows you the “Most helpful critical review” on the right hand side.

Often, a customer drops a gem: a physical modification to improve the product. Visit another competitor. Then another. Then another. If there’s a pattern in the “Most helpful critical review”, make the physical change and profit. Make sure it’s a small change.  Big changes aren’t always financially viable.

Here we are looking at the leader for the search term "babyproof edge guards."
6 Ways to Beat your Competition on Amazon
We click on the "431 customer reviews" button, and click on the 3-star category, Amazon will show us the "most helpful positive review" and the "most helpful critical review."

The critical review suggest a product improvement. In this case, it's that the tape doesn't adhere as well as that reviewer would have liked. Look around. If you see a pattern in the feedback, your position could be "sticks better!"

6 Ways to Beat your Competition on Amazon

BEFORE

Sell it before anyone else. Many look at what’s already popular on Amazon and try to copy it.

And why not? That’s a good strategy!

But if this is your third or fourth product, consider a first-to-market play. Instead of sourcing Amazon to Alibaba, try Alibaba to Amazon private label. Ask your supplier what else they’ve got. Look at offerings on other e-commerce sites that aren’t sold on Amazon. Look at Wal-Mart, Target, Staples. Ask big box employees what’s been selling well, with the excuse that you need gift ideas for your (husband, wife, or other relative who matches your Amazon target market). Go to large online communities like Reddit, and ask what they want but don’t have in your product category. Look at product launch communities like Kickstarter, Indiegogo and Quirky and see what people are making.

BRUTE

Push it with brute force.

For example: you roll out 1 white, generic lint roller (pun lintended). There’s nothing particularly special about your lint roller, but you build up your review base to hundreds of reviews, and customers perceive your product as the definitive solution.

There's force involved in launching every new product, but the amount of force required depends on the leaders in your niche. The path to page 1 is a simple calculation.

BUNDLE

Everyone’s selling it on its own? Bundle in an accessory. Some common bundling techniques include:

- adding a book (ebooks are so 2014, add a real instructional pamphlet)
- giftable packaging
- adding a case or storage container
- add a warranty
- a product add-on that enhances the experience
- creating a full-on kit based around a specific activity

With physical add-ons, exercise caution.

If the customer can’t use the accessory with the main offering right out of the box, don’t add it. Don’t add “nice to have” items. They increase your shipping fees and add additional costs in the mind of the buyer.

Here's a good example of an add-on. For the search term "whiteboard markers", Expo sells markers plus the one thing every customer inevitably needs: an eraser. So, they bundled:

6 Ways to Beat your Competition on Amazon

Kits are a little different than bundles.

If you make a product kit, it’s less clear which product is the main offering. The best kits serve every need of an enthusiast in a certain area.

Here's a good example of a kit, as you can clearly see. Ha ha. According to JungleScout, these guys pull in $49k, $25k, and $24k per month respectively. The average person may not know about at-home canning, but an enthusiast does. And an enthusiast needs a full kit.

Kits are particularly effective if the combination is hard-to-find in a big box store, making your listing the only game in town.
6 Ways to Beat your Competition on Amazon

BRAND

Imagine that you’re grocery shopping.

There’s Nutella on the shelf. Creamy, thick, chocolatey Nutella. Next to it, there's a generic chocolate spread. If you buy Nutella instead of no-name, you're also buying pride, satisfaction, the feeling that you’re getting the best experience for you and your family.

Amazon is the same. Position your product so that it has a brandable term in the title, bullets, description. Take pride in your work so that your customers can take pride in it too.

BULK

If everyone else sells a single unit, can you sell a pack of 2? 5? 10? 25? 50?

Here’s a hack for you: consumers perceive larger quantities as offering some sort of a per-unit discount. Most people don’t do the math. They just assume. As a seller, you can take advantage of this phenomenon and sell multiples. But make sure the bulk deal is logical. Bulk hand soap: go crazy. Bulk 3-hole punchers: what are you going to do with those?

Here's one: novelty sunglasses. You can't make money selling 1 pair at a time (Amazon fees considered), but you can sure make money selling 36 pairs at a time!

Beat your Competition on Amazon

There you have it, the 6B's of product positioning:

1. Better
2. Before
3. Brute
4. Bundle
5. Brand
6. Bulk

Think about your product and how to spin it, and using the 6 ways to beat your competition on Amazon--they won't know what hit 'em. We hope you enjoyed our article on the 6 Ways to Beat your Competition with Amazon Private Label.

 


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Source the Perfect Product for your Amazon business (Templates + Real Examples)

Today, we'll be showing you how to source the perfect product for your Amazon business from start to finish.

Before we embark, remember these 3 sourcing principles...

(1) It’s a numbers game. More quotes = more information = better decisions.
(2) Don’t be afraid to walk away. As the buyer, you hold all the cards.
(3) Compile your data. Seeing supplier quotes side-by-side can help you reach a quick conclusion. We'll show you how to do this later on.

So let’s take action, get quotes, and find our new best-seller!

There are 2 ways to get quotes on Alibaba: Buying Requests and direct messaging (we’re talking about Alibaba today, but these ideas apply everywhere).

Post a Buying Request first. It helps you articulate what you’re looking for and starts working on your behalf while you actively message suppliers.

And hey, if you want to see footage from Alibaba and walk through everything step-by-step, check out the video version of this article.


POST A BUYING REQUEST

Alibaba.com has a big blue button on its homepage that says “Get Quotations Now”. Ok.

Source the Perfect Product for Amazon
"Get Quotations Now" takes us to the Buying Request form.

Source the Perfect Product for Amazon
Product Name: stuff the "Product Name" section with keywords like it's Amazon in 2012. It helps suppliers find the request. Jump into the Google Keyword Planner tool if you need more ways to refer to your product.

Quantity: if you don’t know the cost per unit, it's hard to say. You don’t want to set expectations too high, and you don’t want them to pass you by. "500" usually garners ample replies.

Details: when sourcing, never portray yourself as the final decision maker (e.g. CEO, President, Founder). Be a Buyer, Purchasing Director, VP of Product Development. Why? It removes the awkwardness of negotiation. Since you’re an employee, you must adhere to a budget. You have no choice. You must have the product specs a certain way. You have no choice. If they’re not talking with the sole decision maker, they can’t control some variables. That plays to your advantage. It also gives you more time to decide (“let me consult with the department”).

Upload Photos: upload many photos for reference. If you product doesn't exist yet, graft a few different images together. Nothing fancy, but be sure to convey the idea.

Here’s a Buying Request template to save you some time:

Hello! This is [name] from the [company] Buying Department.

I’m interested in buying an initial order of . If you can manufacture them, please send me an email:

[email address]
[note: you can’t actually include emails in the request, so write something like name [at] domain [dot] com]

In your email, please include:

(1) PICTURES: a detailed set of pictures of your product
(2) PRODUCT: what is your preferred price per unit/set?
(3) MOQ: what is your preferred minimum order quantity?
(4) [SPECIAL MODIFICATION]: what is the price of [custom change you want to make to the product]?
(5) AIR SHIPPING: what's the shipping cost to the USA by express courier (e.g. UPS, DHL, FedEx)?”

Why is this template the way it is?

- Use email. Ask them to email you instead of chatting on Alibaba. Why? To get their email address and to start screening suppliers. If you ask for an email and they only send you a message on the platform, they didn't follow instructions. That's not an immediate "no", but be wary.
- Numbered questions. School systems condition people to answer a list of numbered questions in their entirety. Unnumbered or long-winded messages invite unfinished responses, and drag out the conversation. We capitalize the main idea for each point for simplicity.
- Say "preferred". Say "preferred price” and “preferred MOQ" instead of just "price" and “MOQ” in case it's high and you need to negotiate it. By being framed as “preferred” they are less fixed payments and more fluid figures. This tip alone saves you thousands of dollars in the long run.
- Air ship. If your product is small and light, air shipping is fine. If it’s heavier and larger, you might consider the sea shipping/freight forwarding combo. If it’s done by express (UPS, DHL, FedEx), then they’ll clear customs for you, and you don’t need a freight forwarder.

Now, post the request. As you wait for replies to roll in, search your product on Alibaba and scroll for gold.


SEND DIRECT MESSAGES

How do you guarantee replies? Write to suppliers with a history of replying. Foolproof.

On the right side of the screen, you’ll see a supplier’s Response Rate. Also, Alibaba Trade Assurance now shows sales numbers. Generally, suppliers with transactions are more trustworthy. Sellers without transactions may also be great, though. Don't rule them out.

Let's source "flea collar." It's small, appeals to a specific niche, lightweight, brandable, customizable.

Scrolling down...

This pink collar has 2 transactions worth $10,000 and a response time over 72 hours. That's a slow time, but the sales add legitimacy. "Yes" to a message. Why not, right?

5 Flea Collar Example - yes

This blue flea collar has no Trade Assurance sales and a 72 hour response time. I'd be less inclined to send a message.  
4 Flea Collar Example - no

I’d be very inclined to message these guys. Great sales, great response time, great photo. 100% "Yes".

3 Flea Collar Example

Let's save you some more time. When you find a supplier that you like, use this template. It’s similar to the Buying Request, but this time we can include our email address:

Hello! This is [name] from the [company] Buying Department.

I’m interested in buying an initial order of . If you can manufacture them, please send me an email:

[email address]

In your email, please include:

(1) PICTURES: a detailed set of pictures of your product
(2) PRODUCT: what is your preferred price per unit/set?
(3) MOQ: what is your preferred minimum order quantity?
(4) [SPECIAL MODIFICATION]: what is the price of [custom change you want to make to the product]?
(5) AIR SHIPPING: what's the shipping cost to the USA by express courier (e.g. UPS, DHL, FedEx)?”

Look forward to hearing from you,

[Name]
[Buying Department, Company]

And when you’re sending them a message, change the subject line. There will be a template line in there... but don't use it!

Use something short; “Order of [Product]” or “I’m interested in [Product]”, or even type the supplier's first name in it. It stands out in their inbox and gets a reply before the mass of other private labelers. It's best to send messages at the beginning of the Chinese business day. For California, 6pm UTC. For New York, 9pm EST.

Send messages to at least 10-15 suppliers. You have nothing to lose.

Now, you’ve posted the Buying Request and you’ve messaged your top picks. The responses start to roll in. The results? Eclectic.

The good: some suppliers will send you an email (not an Alibaba message) answering each of the 5 questions point-for-point are shoe-ins. Treat them well. Tell them you appreciate the prompt response.
The not-as-good: some suppliers will send you an Alibaba message with a generic email response, or will ask how they can help. Don't discard them yet. This phase is all about getting as much information as possible. Simply re-send the original email or engage them on the platform.
The bad: some suppliers won't respond, or will respond days later. Maybe they were at a trade show? Don't discard yet.


ORGANIZE THE RESPONSES

We need a place to organize everything. A home base.

The goal is to get a lot of different quotes. An average will emerge. That way, it's easy to compare and find red flags. You don't want red flags.

Unless you're private labelling red flags.

Anyways, crack open a fresh spreadsheet and let's get going.

Make an Excel doc with 11 different columns. PCs can press Alt+Tab to flash back and forth from this window to your Excel. Mac users can press Command+ Tab. It's a nifty little trick.

Source the Perfect Product for Amazon

A1: Name of the supplier
B1: Email of the supplier (you'll have this if you don't go through Alibaba; and even if you do go through Alibaba, it may be on the supplier's profile)
C1: Website of the supplier (either web or en.alibaba site)
D1: MOQ of the product, or the quantity you're looking to order
E1: CPU (cost per unit of the product)
F1: Sample fee of the product (normally, this isn't in the first template as to prevent confusion, so sort this out later)
G1: Product cost
H1: Shipping fee (the Air Shipping cost to your place, or Amazon business warehouse)
I1: TOTAL
J1: Price per unit
K1: Notes (your personal impression of the communication as a whole)

Now, add these 3 formulas in the 2nd row:

G2: click the G2 cell and then write this formula: =D2*E2. MOQ multiplied by Cost per Unit = your product cost.
G1
I2: click the I2 cell and then write this formula: =G2+H2. This adds the Product Cost and Shipping Fee together for our grand total.
Source the Perfect Product for Amazon

J2: click the J2 cell and then write this formula: =I2/D2. This divides the total cost paid for product and shipping by the number of units you’ll be getting— your true price per unit, with everything accounted for (except for things you need to pay for when the inventory hits Amazon like Amazon's referral and storage fees, PPC, duties etc.). More on that another time.
Source the Perfect Product for Amazon

We're done!

Congratulations, you now own a universal sourcing template. This makes life SO much easier. Now, you can punch supplier quotes into the spreadsheet and see the total instantly. A lot of sourcing is about how the suppliers’ data sets compare to eachother. Feel free to add or subtract columns from this sheet. You may need to account for more costs than shown here.

But, numbers are only half the equation.

Now that we've got the technical side down, it's time to learn how to spot a good supplier using street smarts.


A GOOD SUPPLIER...

Is a manufacturer, not a re-seller.

You may have noticed that the exact same product is offered by different sellers on Alibaba. How can this be? Re-sellers. They (through no fault of their own) need to make money on the re-sale, so they'll charge a mark-up. Every dollar cuts into your profit, and ends up costing thousands in the long run. Here's how to screen out re-sellers:

- PHOTOS. Ask for factory and facility photos.
- EMAILS. Emails like "sales2@companyname.com" indicate a factory as opposed to "nancy@companyname.com". Not always true, but you should be talking to a member of a dedicated sales department, not a 1-person production. Once you get a good prospect, move to Skype or WhatsApp for faster chats.
- TOUR. Tell them your sourcing agent in China is conducting facility tours this month, and would like to stop by (you don't even need to follow through on this; just see how the supplier reacts). Or, you can do this for real.
- SKYPE. Ask them to video Skype you from the factory in an hour. Are they ready?
- TRADE SHOWS. Upcoming trade show listings on their site and on Alibaba. If they are willing to appear in person, that's a good sign.
- DOCUMENTS. Does your supplier have source documents that only the original factory would have? These include quality control docs that vary by industry (CE, FDA, ISO9001, RoHS, MSDS reports, material test results, etc.) and Adobe Illustrator (.ai, .eps) or Photoshop (.psd) files for their packaging and instruction manuals.
- BRANDING. Look at the version of the product everyone's selling on Alibaba. Zoom in. Is there a visible brand or logo engraved anywhere? Search that brand name online, and you've found the original.
- PRICING. When you're comparing prices in the Excel doc, who has the highest prices? This may indicate who re-sells, since they need to make margin on the sale.
- CUSTOMIZATION. Factories own the machinery used to make the product, so they can customize more easily than a re-seller can. If you ask a supplier to make a custom physical change and they can't, is it because their machinery can't do it? Or, is it because they don't have any machines to begin with?
- PRODUCT LINE. Re-sellers often offer expansive lines of materially different products. Ask yourself: does it make sense for these items to be manufactured in the same factory? If a supplier sells flea collars but also selfie sticks, they're a re-seller. True factories have breadth in a small area of expertise.

For example, here's the collar supplier who was a definite "yes" earlier. As you can see, they're all about paracord stuff. That's all they do.

Source the Perfect Product for Amazon
Plus, they can offer footage from the factory floor. Another good sign.
Source the Perfect Product for Amazon

Anyways, where were we? Right. A good supplier...

Is thorough.
- INSTRUCTIONS. Use instructions to screen. Professional reps read your instructions and follow them. For example, if you're chatting on Alibaba and ask them to email you instead and include their company website, pay attention to who follows the instructions and who doesn't. Pay attention to who answers the 5 sourcing questions point-for-point. Those suppliers are trying hard and deserve your attention.
- PAYMENT. Good suppliers connect with payment methods like PayPal and Alibaba Trade Assurance. These 2 methods in particular have some hoops and fees on their end, so it's a good trust indicator. However, good suppliers may not have Trade Assurance set-up yet and prefer T/T wire transfers, so it's not a hard-and-fast rule. You can pay for order #1 via PayPal or Trade Assurance, then move to wire transfers once you've confirmed the quality.

Doesn't need good English or a good website.
Factories are notoriously bad at marketing. Don't discard a supplier based on their English or the look of their site. More important than perfect English is their attention to detail, the effort they make to answer your questions, and the area of expertise of the factory.

Can supply you with a product line. 
Source with the future in mind. Does the supplier you're considering have an extensive line of products in the same area? In the case of the paracord supplier, order #1 is a flea collar. Once that does well, you can buy collars for cats, paracord leashes, paracord chewtoys, etc. Finding a good supplier the first time saves from having to do this process over again.


NEGOTIATIONS

Tips to come to win-win agreements with suppliers:

- THE 'HOLD THE BOX' TRICK. You're building a brand and want a custom box. Some suppliers may have an MOQ of 500 products, but and MOQ of 1000 custom boxes (because their packaging guy set an MOQ on it). 1000 boxes means you need to make 1000 units, right? No. Make 1000 boxes, ask them to hold 500 with them in China for your next order, and make 500 units as planned. They meet their packaging minimums, and you order the right amount.

- THE SAMPLE REFUND. Pay for samples with PayPal, and ask if the amount can be refunded if you end up placing a mass order. Affirm that they won't lose any money in the process, and that it will incentivize the Buying Department to go through with the order. You get your sample payment back, and they get more business.

- THE 'LONG TERM' APPEAL. If you can't seem to agree on the price, appeal to future orders. "It may seem that this order is worth only $3000," you say, "but we're a growing company, and a successful order today may lead to easy repeat business for you: $5000, 10,000, $20,000. What's the best price that you can offer me?" You get lower prices, and they win a long-term partner.

- DON'T SAY ANYTHING. If you stay quiet for a few days, they will follow up. After a few messages, they'll be more receptive to lower prices. In the end, you are the buyer and hold all the cards. The best negotiation tactic is being willing to walk away from the deal.

- PRAISE. If someone does something we don't like, we tell them. If someone does something good, we say nothing. Break the trend. Praise sales reps for following up, fast responses, good product certifications, quality, service. When negotiations hit, you'll be glad you've set a friendly tone.

- HAVE A BUDGET. Set a definitive amount you'd like to spend on the order, and stick to it. With MOQs, modifications, packaging, and shipping, it can be easy to exceed your budget. If anything, share your budget with your supplier and ask how you can work together to make it fit.


SAMPLING

You've found suppliers, compiled their information, and negotiated the price of the mass order. Now, you need a sample unit to test the quality. Going into a mass order without a sample is... risky. Always sample.

Here's the anatomy of a sample order:

- sampling fee = the fee for the product. It's free, unless you make a custom sample.
- custom work fees = fees for custom logo printing, set-up, stitching, mold fees (which can get pricey)
- shipping fee = most likely by air (DHL, UPS, FedEx), and will comprise a good chunk of the sample fee

How much should you pay? Expect anything from $30-$200, depending on the complexity of your product.

What do you do with a sample once it arrives:
- photography (photography first, while it's still unscratched)
- durability testing (drop test, waterproof, material)


PAYMENT

For the sample, use PayPal. It's instant and favors the buyer, in the event that something isn't right with the sample.

For the mass order, you've got options!

- Western Union: don't. If a supplier only takes Western Union, don't deal with them. No buyer protection; once the money's gone it's gone. Takes 3-5 days.
- PayPal: you can, but the fees on the receiving end are high, so most suppliers will be against it. You can offer to split the PayPal fees for order #1, and think of it as a sort of "insurance policy" on the first purchase. Instant.
- T/T Wire Transfer: the payment method of choice for most suppliers. It's done from bank to bank, and is fairly reliable. But like Western Union, there's no buyer protection. Takes 3-5 days.
- Alibaba Trade Assurance: Alibaba's escrow service. All payments are based on an online contract. The money is sent to an Alibaba-owned account, and then transferred to the seller. Some buyer protection, and has the send reliability of a wire transfer. Takes 3-5 days.

Source the Perfect Product for Amazon

Or, do a hybrid. Use PayPal or Alibaba Trade Assurance for your first order to get the protection, and then switch to wire transfers after a successful first batch.


THE NEXT STEP

There you go! Now you're ready to source the perfect product for your Amazon business.

In this article, we:
- took our idea
- sourced it on Alibaba using a Buying Request and direct messaging
- collected and analysed the pricing in a spreadsheet
- separated re-sellers from factories
- negotiated win-wins
- sampled
- paid for the mass order.

If you like this article, try these on for size:

How to optimize your Amazon listing for more sales (Amazon SEO)
How to get Amazon reviews (6 proven strategies)
Are you making use of your most valuable resource as an Amazon seller? 


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Are you making use of the most valuable resource as an Amazon FBA seller?

Creating HonestFew and also various other businesses in the past has made one thing very clear to me. It's given me a perspective on what's valuable and not valuable in the big picture of doing business.  These days there are so many blogs, tools, services, widgets, etc that can make it overwhelming. You end up getting overloaded. Don’t get me wrong, tools are definitely important to making progress but these days, it seems that sellers are forgetting an essential way of thinking when working on their business. Sellers are bombarded with so much stimulus that they've forgotten the essential things like how to value their own time. For example, if a seller was faced with the task of building a pool for a business venture, there are many people who would rather take a couple of weeks to dig a hole with their own hands if it did not cost them anything than to invest in a crane to automatically remove the dirt and do the work for them in a matter of days. At least this is what I’ve noticed first-hand with Amazon sellers.

What is most valuable resource as an Amazon FBA seller, you ask?

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It's time of course. More specifically, it's about valuing your own time. The great thing about time is that it is the equalizing factor, everyone has access to it. It’s a blessing but also a curse. It separates into two groups of people. The first group consists of people who use their time to invest and create infrastructure to build more without their time tied directly to the work so they don't have to be there to actually do it. And then you have the people who want to save money and spend all their time doing things themselves to save a couple of bucks here and there. Now I’m not suggesting that you blow your money on frivolous expenses; I’m suggesting that you consider investing in the aspects of your business that can be improved and bring lasting results with the help of services, tools, etc. Now if you have the skills to execute and automate certain aspects of your business yourself, that’s great and it’s more power to you. However just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should, Jeff Bezos could easily pack and fulfill your FBA goods to ship off to customers but he doesn’t because he’s needed elsewhere. Like you, he’s got to make the top level decisions, decide what the next step is to growing the business and how to create a system that can grow and bring more value to customers (and therefore be paid more).

Things to ask yourself:
1. Is doing this task worth my time or is there a way where I can delegate or speed up the process? Will it be worth it?
2. Are there more important things I can spend my time on instead of doing X

This idea really resonated with me recently when I was working with 2 seemingly similar sellers (or so I thought). I’ve had the opportunity to help various Amazon sellers who range from making $0 a month to Amazon sellers bringing in over $40,000 a month in sales and as such it’s been a great experience for me to observe what has made these 2 similar groups fundamentally different. I had worked with 2 sellers that helped me better understand the dynamic between what separated the successful Amazon seller from the seriously dominating Amazon Seller. I’m not going to use real names so let’s call the reasonably successful seller Jason, he had been pushing his private label product for 5 months and was making a very respectable $3,000 from his main product listing. The more successful seller, Blake had worked on his listing for 6 months and was earning around $29,000 for his main product listing which is amazing.

What’s important to note about this situation was that both sellers were in very similar situations besides the difference in earning power. Jason had been hustling at his listing which was pretty competitive. Blake was also in a competitive niche but he was crushing it. I’ve included the similarities and differences below that I noticed.

Similarities:
-Sold well researched private label products
-Used FBA as the fulfilment option
-Had optimized listings that presented benefits
-The sellers were both intelligent and dedicated to making their businesses grow
-Had learned from blogs, podcasts and participated in Amazon oriented communities
-Sold in competitive niches

Differences:
-The amount of money they were earning
-Slightly different time spent selling their respective products

Making sense of the situation at first was puzzling for me because these two sellers really didn’t seem very different, at least nothing noticeable enough to make a $26,000 difference. This prompted me to go deeper and look at some of the actions and thought processes they were taking behind their tactics and strategies.

Jason had decided to work with a smaller promotion to gradually increase his product ranking and to build traction. He had combined this tactic with searching for reviewers on Facebook and Tomoson. A hybrid approach of sorts. It was not a bad strategy but considering his niche and the fast paced Amazon selling environment, it just wasn’t enough to bring noticeable changes fast enough to compete with sellers who were also spending serious time and money on pushing their Amazon business above competitors. Now the conundrum I suppose is that maybe Jason is not beating the competitors and getting his rightful ranking and sales because he is not making enough and therefore he is not getting his rightful rankings. It’s a possibility but something has got to give, especially considering the way that Amazon is becoming much more competitive. It’s quickly just becoming the cost of doing business. The more competitive your niche is, the more you’re going to have to pay to compete. The less competitive your niche is, the less you will have to pay to compete.

For Jason, it was just a threshold of reviews and other factors that he needed to achieve before he could break into a leading rank that would bring him beyond the level of his competitors. The underlying issue wasn't really that he didn't earn enough to put back into his business but rather that he didn't value his time. It was a mindeset thing. He was spending his time on activities that produced diminishing returns for his investment. Spending serious time working on Facebook and Tomoson and other avenues trying to procure reviewers instead of passing it off to a professional to do prevented him from doing essential building tasks such as planning new products to introduce for sale, developing an eCommerce platform, etc. It also prevented him from increasing his ranking faster and generating more sales as the timeline for his reviews were much longer. The thing that a lot of sellers don’t understand is that every single day that you’re not ranked where your customers can see you is a day lost for sales. Sellers may save money initially by trading in their time to do menial tasks but that action can’t be scaled or automated to be efficient.

most valuable resource as an Amazon FBA seller

It’s a paradox, sellers want to be ranked at the top and make sales but they don’t want to do what is necessary rather than what is convenient for their product listings. It’s a risk, I totally understand that. Do your research and play it smart, find reviews or feedback on the service, product, or tool in question and once you’ve done your due diligence you’ve got to ask yourself whether it’s worth it. If it is, you’ve got to go for it or you’ll never grow. Do the cost-benefit analysis. For example, with our service; if it costs $1500 to get to a level where you can compete with listings making $10,000 a month, you would have made your investment back by the end of the first month and significantly more for every single month afterwards. However if you never get to that level, you’ll never see that kind of money and you’ll end up growing up business nominally.

When making decisions:
-Ask yourself if this is the smart thing to do? Would Jeff Bezos do this?
-Am I just being cheap right now or will this bring me results?
-Is it worth it? (Do some cost-benefit analysis)
In the case of Blake, he had a solid listing which when you boil the product down—wasn’t that different than Jason’s as there is a method to consistently optimize product listings. The main difference was in Blake’s approach.  As they say, the way that you do anything is the way that you do everything. He had a plan of action and decided to see that to the end. He did the research and took the calculated risk, it ended off paying handsomely. He ended up with his competitors on the front page and decided to offer a unique selling proposition that wasn’t available to customers already and relatively quickly overtaken the dominance in the market for his targeted keyword/niche. I suppose this kind of sense really does come with experience, normally some time spent in the "not valuing-time" mindset is needed until you grow out of that phase. It’s hard to jump from 0-100 for new sellers but it does become easier once you do your due diligence, research and learn about the factors that will influence how your product sells and is ranked.

At the end of the day, what I’m saying is not that you’ve got to spend serious money to get results or even serious effort, if you did great research and found a niche with serious sales and a low barrier of entry in terms of reviews, you could get ranked for relatively little. Sellers seem to have a notion in their head that the hard and long way is justified or would even produce better results. In my experience, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. This doesn’t mean that it’s easy or faster but there is a certain way of executing the right steps at the right time to get a desired result without exhausting and overexerting yourself. As an entrepreneur, if you want to be paid tens of thousands of dollars, you need to provide at least that much in value. The only way you’ll be worth that is if you value your time and create a system that will complement that. Respect your time and you will see yourself making more progress and impact with your efforts.

I hope you've enjoyed our article on the most valuable resource as an Amazon FBA seller, check out FBA university (our blog) for more great content on taking your Amazon Store to the next level.


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Picking winners in Jungle Scout: $26k niche found in 30 seconds

Jungle Scout is an Amazon product research tool that shows you review count, estimated sales, revenue... all nicely compiled in Google Chrome. Today, we're using JS to find a $26k/month niche in 30 seconds.

What is the secret to picking winners in Jungle Scout?

RPR.
Revenue per review.
High revenue is ok, but high revenue in proportion to reviews is a winner!

Here's how to calculate RPR:

(1) Find the market leader's monthly revenue via JS (e.g. the top seller makes $24,000).
(2) Divide their revenue by the number of reviews they have (e.g. $24,000/45 reviews).
(3) The RPR (revenue per review) is $533. That's a great RPR. What does it mean? If you compete with a similarly optimized listing, for every review you get you "earn" $533 if you eventually overtake that competitor.

Not a perfect metric, but produces clear 'YES/NO' decisions when looking for private label ideas. By the way, if you're looking for fresh product ideas or just want 100 good ones to fall in your lap, you're in luck.

To summarize: low RPR is bad; high RPR is good.

Some examples:

(1) LOSER: "vegetable spiralizer" $96,741 revenue/6734 reviews = $14 RPR.
I'll tell you right now: RPR values from $1-$100 indicate a long, grinding, battle for top spots. That's the misconception that RPR rectifies: it doesn't matter how much revenue the leader is making. If the RPR is low, it isn't worth it. At least without giving away a ton of product for review.
Picking winners in Jungle Scout

 

(2) WINNER: "kids terrarium" $26,203 revenue/43 reviews = $609.37 RPR.
With just 43 reviews, you'd be on par with the leader in terms of review conversion power, making each review that you get "worth" $600. And if you're in a position to take an opportunity like this, our Silver Package ($299) is all you need to take the top review count.
Picking winners in Jungle Scout

 

(3) MAYBE: "lollipop sticks" $9240/73 = $126 RPR.
If you introduce a similar product with an equally optimized listing and overcame their review count, you'd earn at their level. Maybe. However, RPRs of $100+ could still be a battle. Do more digging.

 

Picking winners in Jungle Scout

 

 

General rules for picking winners in Jungle Scout in 30 seconds:
- high revenue is good, but high revenue in proportion to review count is better!
- don't look in Amazon's top 100. Everyone looks there. Find weird, niche stuff that appeals to a specific type of person. It helps if you are such a person.  Everyone can sell a soccer ball, but what about darts? Boomerangs? Rock climbing stuff?
- just keep clicking. Maybe start in the top 100, but click away to product after product. Go layers deep, and find the untapped markets.
- add modifiers to searches. For example, instead of just "backpack", search: "industrial backpack", "commercial backpack", "bulk backpack", "kids backpack", "novelty backpack", "special backpack", "backpack accessories", "backpack alternative", "better backpack", etc.
- use auto-completion. Start typing a product name or category, and see what Amazon fills in for you.
- don't forget the basics: lightweight, fits in a shoebox (or better, your hand), no safety hazards (fragile, sharp, chemicals), not trademarked/patented/licensed, non-electric preferred. If it crosses one of these lines, beware.

Disclaimer: if you don't have Jungle Scout yet, it's essential. If you want to pay the same price while supporting more content like this, go through this link. But to be honest (and that's our job around here), we stand by JS 100% and would recommend it anyways.

Other disclaimer: this RPR technique gives you a bird's-eye view of a market. It's not totally predicative of success or failure. Other things matter: FBA/AMZ competitors, your differentiation plan, your budget for getting reviews, PPC for keyword ranking, the authority of your competitor's seller account, and many other factors. Thanks again for checking out our guide to picking winners in Jungle Scout. Happy Jungle Scouting! So in conclusion... let's sell some terrariums! Haha.


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Boost Amazon sales rank in a competitive niche fast | Amazon FBA guide

Amazon Case study: Boost Amazon sales rank in a competitive niche fast

[video_embed video="0W_n2JQzZMk" parameters="" mp4="" ogv="" placeholder="" width="700" height="400"]

Today we’re going to show you first hand how to rank on Page 1 in a competitive niche on Amazon. Here’s everything you need to know in 10 seconds:

Step 1: look up the search term for the product you’re selling on Amazon.
Step 2: calculate the average review count on page 1.
Step 3: giveaway enough products for review to overcome that average review count.
It’s that simple. Follow the steps and you'll be able to boost Amazon sales rank and get your product ranked on page 1 of Amazon in no time.
The rest of this article goes into detail on these 3 steps.
At HonestFew, we connect sellers with reviewers, so of course I want to partner up with you for this, but regardless of what strategy you use in the end, let’s rank.
To illustrate, let me give you an example.
It’s the story of Andy, a client of ours who started selling on Amazon 3 months ago. We worked with Andy on his product giveaways, and the product went from page 20 to page 1 in 3 months in a competitive niche.
We’re talking like "forskolin and iPhone cases" type of competitive. This stuff is vicious, getting your product ranked on page 1 of Amazon for something like this would be no easy task.
So in this particular niche, there are a handful of really strong guys (2 sellers with 1000 reviews and a handful of 500s). So off the bat, Andy knew this wasn’t going to be easy.
As a general rule, we’d recommend not picking markets where other sellers have over 1000 reviews, because you inevitably need cash to catch up, and the market may lack depth if 1 seller monopolizes all the sales.
But this market had some great volume, so he sourced and shipped to FBA.
As soon as the product touched down, Andy got in touch about a product promotion. He wonders, as many do:
I need reviews, but how do I know how many units to give away?
The answer: enough units to be perceived as a viable option in the mind of the buyer.
I’ll say that again: the number of units you need to give away is enough to be perceived as a viable option in the mind of the buyer.
Reviews are social proof and a sales conversion tool. As a customer, if you see one product with 200 reviews and another with 15 and they’re both similar, which are you more likely to buy?
Once competitive review counts are close, say 200 vs. 175, it doesn’t matter as much. At that point, it’s more about features and benefits. You just need enough reviews to be a viable option.
In the interest of protecting Andy’s niche and product, I won’t show them.
But with Valentine’s Day a quick 6 months away, let’s hop over to Amazon and look at some “scented candles” as a concrete example. It’s never too early to start shopping for Valentine’s Day, am I right?
Let’s look at the reviews: 200ish, 450, 260, 200, 70, 12, 2200 (that’s impressive—and these guys have got the right idea by bundling candles together and charging more for the pack, but more on that another time), and then quite a few in the hundreds down the page.
You can collect the review values from page 1 manually, or use a product research tool like Jungle Scout. It’s a Google Chrome extension that does it all for you.
Jungle Scout gives you a summary of every product in this “scented candles” search, and their data. We want to know what the competition looks like on Page 1, because this is where we want our product to appear.
And full disclosure, I put an affiliate link to Jungle Scout in the description, so if you’d like to see more content like this you’d be supporting the channel by getting Jungle Scout through that link: http://www.junglescout.com/idevaffiliate/idevaffiliate.php?id=256
Anyways, it shows you individual and average review counts. Right now, it’s 439. That seems pretty high.
Check to make sure the average isn’t being raised by something that isn’t a scented candle.
In this case, we’ve got these oils here at the bottom, which are bringing up the average review count. They’re inflating the data.
So nix that, and you’ll see the average has dropped to 305, which is accurate.
So now we know we need— let’s just call it 300 reviews, to have the same amount of social proof and conversion power as the other page 1 listings.
To get 300 reviews at a successful 75% review rate is 400 products given away. Say you can source the candles for $3 each. That’s $1200 in product, and add $800 for air freight (cause I feel like candles are kinda heavy).
So you need to spend $2000 + Amazon fees (which total $2 or $3 per unit depending on your giveaway price) to get 300 reviews and start selling on page 1 for “scented candles”.
Then, Jungle Scout will also tell you estimated revenue and sales on page 1. So there, you can see how long it would take to break even on this product purchase.
When I averaged the revenue from the top 15 “scented candle” sellers on page 1, the average monthly revenue is $10,000. So these scented candles would be profitable upon the second re-order.
What about Andy?
Well, we worked the same plan with Andy, only it was to get 400 reviews over the course of 3 months.
Month 1:
100-unit promotion of the products at $1 each + an HonestFew Video review given for $0. The sheer quantity of sales spiked BSR, got him on the map, and resulted in his first 87 reviews within 14 days (that’s our turn-around time). The review count upped his conversions enough to turn on Amazon Pay-per-Click, and the video review put a high-converting product video on his listing, which was then upvoted by buyers as Most Helpful.
Month 2:
We did a 200-unit promotion at $1 each. His rise became noticeable as he went from page 4 to mid-page 2. On mid-page 2, he was making 3-4 sales a day. Recognizing that our work wasn’t quite done, we ran another promotion.
Month 3:
The final 200-unit promotion at $1 each. The combined sales spike and review count resulted in selling at 10 units a day organically on the middle of Page 1. With those sales, he’s building his natural review count.
And if you’re wondering about Amazon’s updated terms of service on product reviews, the verdict is in: they’re fine. We made a whole other post about the do’s and don'ts, which you can check out here.
So today, we went through a timeless formula for Page 1 ranking:
Step 1: look up the search term for the product you’re selling on Amazon.
Step 2: calculate the average review count on page 1. We did this with Jungle Scout.
Step 3: giveaway enough products for review to overcome that average review count. Again, JungleScout gives you your estimated break-even point, and HonestFew gets your products in front of reviewers for honest evaluation.
Another take-away from Andy’s story, aside from making deliberate Page 1 calculations, is that product selection is key. It’s the 20% of the work that accounts for 80% of the results.
Pick a product with low or unoptimized competition, but high demand. If you do this with surgical precision, you can make sales without having to brute-force your review count. But, more on this at a different time.
We hope you enjoyed our article on how to boost Amazon sales rank and getting your product ranked on page 1 of Amazon! And on that note, get out there and build the business of your dreams.

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The New Amazon Terms of Service Changes You Need To Know | Sell on Amazon

Sell on Amazon – The New Terms of Service Changes during August 2015 and what you need to know for September 2015

[video_embed video="psxsg3uoTVY" parameters="" mp4="" ogv="" placeholder="" width="700" height="400"]

Amazon added a new section to its Prohibited Seller Activities and Action which has everyone buzzing. In this article we cover the new Amazon Terms of Service changes that you need to know.

I’ll now present an actionable plan to make more sales on Amazon, avoid losing seller privileges, and make the TOS changes work in your favor, instead of against you.

First thing’s first. Let’s get on the same page by checking out Amazon’s TOS.

Here’s the excerpt from Amazon’s “Prohibited Seller Activities and Actions”. You can read the full document here: http://amzn.to/1UDoxo3

For the latest on Amazon reviews, check out these pieces:

Amazon removes verified purchase badges (November 2015)
Will this get me banned? Getting Amazon reviews the right way (May 2016)
Amazon sues sellers for fake reviews (June 2016)

How do the new Amazon terms of service changes affect reviews?

But here’s the section on reviews. It reads:

“Reviews: Reviews are important to the Amazon Marketplace, providing a forum for feedback about product and service details and reviewers' experiences with products and services — positive or negative.”

From this, and from the Amazon Vine Program, which gives free product to reviewers in exchange for feedback, it’s clear that honest reviews will always be a part of Amazon’s system.

Reading on…

“You may not write reviews for products or services that you have a financial interest in, including reviews for products or services that you or your competitors sell. Additionally, you may not provide compensation for a review other than a free copy of the product. If you offer a free product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free product must be provided in advance. No refunds are permitted after the review is written.”

This takes money out of the equation. Make sure that you solicit honest reviews, with no compensation for the reviewer except a copy of your product.

And here’s what Amazon added recently:

“You may not intentionally manipulate your products' rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review.”

This is great.

It presents an opportunity for most sellers, because this new clause targets black hat tactics, and rewards sellers who build reviews by the rules.

We asked Amazon Seller Support to define the terms. Here’s what Amazon said:

New Amazon Terms of Service Changes

“Intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings”
means knowingly influencing the outcome of the product giveaway— in other words, asking for a positive review instead of an unbiased one. This is against TOS, because asking for 5-stars instead of an honest opinion is intentional rank manipulation. That’s a black hat tactic, so we’re glad it’s gone.

New Amazon Terms of Service Changes

“Offering an excessive number of free or discounted products”
We asked what counts as “excessive.” Like, is it 1000? 500? What’s excessive? Amazon says “excessive” isn’t a numerical value. It refers to offering multiple units to a single person—a single reviewer— because this might influence the review to be more positive. Again, a black hat tactic, so we’re glad it’s gone.

To make sure I understood, I posed this example: can I issue 1000 units to 1000 unique customers for free, granted there were no refunds, no multiples sent to the same person, and no solicitation for positive reviews. The answer?

Yes.

And while 1000 units is extreme, of course it’s permitted. It’s consistent with Amazon’s best interests.

Amazon wants people to test-drive products. So whether you’re giving away 100 or 1000 units, as long as the reviews are honest and free of manipulation, both quantities are fine. If you give away 1000 units of a great product, you’ll get great reviews. Give away 1000 bad products, and nothing can save you.

Say Millie’s Hairbrushes teams up with HonestFew to send 300 fancy pink brushes to reviewers for honest evaluation. One reviewer writes that she loves the design, it works well for her— but she had trouble combing her daughter’s crazy curly hair. A customer with straight hair sees the review, and buys the brush. A customer with really curly hair sees the review, and avoids a bad experience and a possible return. The customers are grateful, the seller makes a sale and builds their review count, and Amazon’s paid for their service.

Everyone wins.

Honest product testing will be around forever because it ensures customers get what they need and can buy with confidence.

That’s why we connect products with honest reviewers.

More to the point, we’re actually pioneering HonestFew Video, or HFV, which allows companies to get honest video reviews of their products. So for only a 6-unit giveaway, you could have 6 video demos on your listing. More about HFV here: https://honestfew.com/product/video-package/

To sum it all up, here’s how to avoid losing selling privileges when doing promotions:

Do:
- ask for honest, unbiased feedback on the products you’re promoting. In person, email, everywhere.
- have reviewers state that they received the product for honest review in their written review on Amazon
If you’re using HonestFew, we do all this for you with a guaranteed review rate. But if you’re promoting to your email list or something, be sure to use this language.

Do not:
- ask for positive or 5-star reviews
- pay or otherwise compensate people to write reviews
- issue refunds on products that were sent out for a review
- send multiple copies of the same product to a single reviewer
- write claims regarding your product’s BSR in your listing title or ad copy (things like #1 or Best Selling)
- review your own products or those of your competitors
- send products to friends and family for reviews

These changes aren’t aimed at you.

They’re aimed at those trying to rank by manipulating the review process. Build a good product that works well, optimize your listing, promote as many units as you need to get on page 1, and get where you deserve to be.

If you’re ready to put things into motion, you can drop us a line at https://honestfew.com/amazon-sellers/

We run product promotions every day for sellers who are looking to get to Page 1 without struggling for every review and sale. Thanks for reading the newest piece on the new Amazon Terms of Service changes, and stay honest.

For those of you who would like to continue the conversation, feel free to head over to the HonestFew Mastermind Facebook group. We’re a select community of Amazon Sellers. We share exclusive tips and content, engage with fun and constructive programming, promotions, and contests to win review packages. Best of all, it’s entirely free. So what are you waiting for? Join today! HonestFew Amazon Mastermind!


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