There are 2 ways to make more money on Amazon: on-platform and off-platform. Here’s the video version of this article, by the way. If you’re more of a visual learner…
Things to do on Amazon’s website to increase your sales.
On-platform methods are divided into 2 branches:
(1) “on-page”: optimizing your Amazon listing title, bullets, description, photos, and backend keywords. And…
(2) “off-page”: getting more sales and reviews for your Amazon product. And, Amazon pay-per-click advertising.
If you haven’t optimized your Amazon listing and got product reviews yet, stop here. Do well on Amazon before driving external traffic. I define “do well” as predictable monthly profit that aligns with your goals.
If you’re not there yet, let’s hang out in a different URL. Read those articles, or watch these videos:
On-platform sales are nice, but you’re competing with other sellers for a spot at the local swimming pool, straining for space.
But if you know how to drive traffic from external sources, you’ve got your own private beach. On your private island. Behind a 19-digit password-protected gate, surrounded by fire, guarded by your own personal SWAT team and Goro from Mortal Kombat, who only obeys you. The point is, only you can access it.
Things to do off of Amazon’s website to increase your sales.
Let’s break down off-platform tactics into 3 branches:
Disclaimer: do all of these techniques work?
Will they all work for you?
Because everyone’s got a different product (well, most of us…), a different target market, and a different skill set as a business person.
- You sell clothes for 13-year-old girls. LinkedIn may not work. Try Snapchat.
- You’re an extrovert, so use your charisma to market. Interviews, videos.
- Your product’s expensive, so you can spend more to acquire a customer.
That said, try many tactics to discover the 20% of activities that produce 80% of your sales results.
The time and money spent finding what works is the cost of entry.
It’s like a great relationship: you’ll endure a few bad dates to find one but once you do, every bad date was worth it in a weird, cosmic sense.
Let’s get started.
Old-school techniques that make people buy.
(1) Build an email list.
Use MailChimp, create web-based sign-up pages, store your subscribers in an email list, and start sending offers. You may choose to send only sales/“buy now” offers, or mix in some value (like blog posts, how to’s, and videos).
(2) Post to deal sites.
Run a “sale” with a deadline, dropping your price on Amazon for a limited time, and post the opportunity to a deal site. Check out Lifehacker’s best 5 deal sites: Slickdeals, Dealnews, Woot!, FatWallet, and Brad’s Deals.
(3) Run contests and giveaways.
Trade product for eyeballs. Three examples:
- “Share the link to my Amazon listing in your Instagram bio and tag me in a post @companyname for a chance to win a free product.”
- “Subscribe to my company YouTube channel, where I’ll be picking 3 lucky subscribers to win free products this week!”
- “Enter your email in this box and instantly get 50% off my product.” Again, you can execute this with MailChimp.
(4) Sell through affiliate marketers.
For those unfamiliar with affiliate marketing, it makes it so that people (mostly bloggers) can share a link to your product. And if someone from their audience clicks the link and makes a purchase, they get paid. The Amazon Associates program makes it all possible, so you can try targeting them in forums to see if they’ll help you promote.
(5) Customer lists.
Buy a list of customers and email them your Amazon offer. To give you a sense of what’s out there, check out Salesforce or Leadroster.
Go to Craigslist and make a post selling your product. If you give a discount on the sticker price, even better.
(7) Buy placement.
Google your niche and then add the word “blog” after it. Then, try “podcast”. Try the same thing on YouTube, but with the words “vlog” or “review”. There are people in your niche right now who have audiences. They want products to review publicly. You want an audience. It’s perfect. Send them free product or buy product placement spots with them. Give them a coupon code (say, 10% off) that’s particular to their audience so that you can track performance.
(8) Instagram sponsorship.
Use websta.me to find Instagram influencers to send samples to. You can also just look at keywords in the Instagram app and get a sense of who’s influential in your space. Then, approach those users directly using Instagram direct messaging.
(9) YouTube sponsorship.
Replicate this “find and sponsor” approach with influencers making YouTube videos in your niche. This will work well for products that need some demonstration like make-up, tech, and toys.
Find relevant journalists using Hey Press, and ship them product samples.
(11) Compilation post.
Once you’ve compiled some top influencers in your niche, create a list in blog form. Say we sell shoes for dogs, so our post is “Top 10 best Shih Tzu Instagram accounts”. Email the article to those influencers. Tag them on Instagram. Break the ice and segue to a sample.
Help a Reported Out (HARO) sends you daily emails with requests from journalists. Sometimes, you’ll see a publication putting together a story in your niche. Reach out, and see if they want to quote you and your brand. Most of it won’t be relevant, but it’s worth keeping an eye out.
(13) Online coaches.
Contact Udemy, Skillshare, and Meetup.com instructors in your niche. If your product fits with their curriculum, they might recommend it. Class discounts are recommended!
Writing, audio, photos, and video to sell product — and, where to post it.
Set up your own website through Shopify or Wordpress and create written content to help prospective customers. Make it good, distribute it, and send the reader to your Amazon listing at the end of each article.
(15) Guest posts.
Contributing a piece of writing to another blog for the purpose of selling to their audience.
If your niche appeals to businesses, publish posts on the platform and send messages to prospective customers. Also consider SlideShare, a LinkedIn product for the social sharing of presentations, infographics, and documents.
The question-and-answer platform founded by former-Facebook employees. Answer questions in your niche to establish authority, then link to your Amazon listing in your bio and answers.
A social blogging platform. In other words, a great place to duplicate your blog content to help it be discovered.
Use the search bar, find subreddits in your niche, and engage the community over time. Best used not for direct marketing, but for asking for feedback.
If you’d prefer to speak, make episodic content pieces in your niche. Link to your product in the show notes.
A social shopping site with the highest average order value in the social media arena.
Build an Instagram following of prospective customers. Don’t know how? Follow along in this 0 to 1000 followers case study, where I get 1000 prospective customers for fictitious pet brand Dog Owners Only.
Make an account and create “boards” of images that can be discovered by your demographic. For some good visibility, post content to shared boards with lots of followers.
Make use of fan pages and especially groups, because they facilitate engagement. Facebook is putting a heavy emphasis on video going forward. Speaking of which…
Increasingly popular center of attention for teens and young adults, Snapchat (like Instagram) is social media that exists purely on mobile. If you’re selling to a younger audience, this is your platform.
Whether you’re vlogging, unboxing, or screensharing like me, products that need some demonstration are best served by video. Link to your Amazon listing in the description.
That’s all for now. I wanted to give you a top-level view of what’s out there, as opposed to diving too deep into any particular topic. Now, you can do some research and decide where to go next.
Question of the day: what tactic or platform would you like to know more about?
If you need help making more sales on Amazon, contact HonestFew at the email or phone number on screen.
Leave a like and subscribe and I’ll see you in the next one.
To understand the state of Amazon reviews today, let’s take a quick look at Amazon’s development…
1995: a 31-year-old Jeff Bezos launches an online book store out of his garage. He considers the names “Cadabra” and “Relentless” (visit Relentless.com today and see what you get!), but settles on “Amazon”, the name of the largest river in the world.
1998: the New York Times reports that Amazon is expanding beyond books. Bezos aspires to be an online “everything store”.
2010: Berkshire Hathway subsidiary BusinessWire reports that Amazon is the single largest source of reviews online.
2013: Michael Jackson fans mobilize to negatively review and downvote positive reviews on “Untouchable”, a written biography of MJ.
2015: Amazon sues 1114 reviewers for writing paid reviews on Fiverr. Also in 2015, verified purchase badges are removed from units sold for review that have a discount of more than 50%.
2016: Amazon sues 3 sellers for creating fake accounts and posting positive reviews.
As you can see, a lot’s been happening in the world of online reviews. And as an Amazon Seller, it’s hard to keep up.
Don’t worry. We’ve done the research, so you don’t have to. By the end of this piece, you’ll be able to get reviews with confidence.
Put succinctly, Amazon reviews in 2016 are 2 things:
(1) Important and
(2) increasingly regulated.
Let’s break it down…
(1) Important: intelligence firm SmartInsights reports that conversion rate increases with review count, with 50 or more reviews accounting for a 4.6% increase in conversion rates.
But with ROI’s like these, people try to game the system. They’ll pay reviewers for posting, create fake Amazon accounts, leave negative reviews on competing listings, and the like.
That’s why Amazon reviews are increasingly…
(2) Regulated: Amazon has a two-pronged approach for regulating fake reviews: lawsuits to make an example of blackhat sellers (like the Fiverr and triple-seller suits), and changes to its algorithm, which are basically the rules we give computers for making decisions. Going forward, Amazon will have more refined systems for detecting fake reviews, and barring them before they’re posted. Legal as offence, software as defense.
If you’re an Amazon seller and you’re not sure whether or not your review practices are by-the-book, we’re setting the record straight today.
This is… the State of Amazon Reviews in 2016!
Amazon has 3 documents that constitute its policy on product reviews. These pages, along with others, are collectively called Amazon’s “TOS”, or “Terms of Service”.
First up, we’ve got “About Customer Reviews”, a top-level view of the reviewing world. It answers the fundamental question: why create a review system? In Amazon’s words:
“To capture all the energy and enthusiasm (both favorable and critical) that customers have about a product [and to] help customers learn more about the product or genre, hear the reasons behind your star rating, and ultimately decide if this is the right product for them or not.”
See, Amazon sellers need reviews for social proof and sales, while Amazon needs them to help buyers make better decisions. Thankfully, these objectives can harmonize if we know the rules.
Speaking of rules…
“About Customer Reviews” also gives instructive examples for Sellers on what to avoid:
Next, we’ve got Prohibited Seller Activities & Actions, which builds on the illustrations from “About Customer Reviews”:
“ 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 or discount copy of the product. If you offer a free or discount product, it must be clear that you are soliciting an unbiased review. The free or discount product must be provided in advance. No refunds are permitted after the review is written. You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products, in exchange for a review. Review solicitations that ask for only positive reviews or that offer compensation are prohibited. You may not ask buyers to remove negative reviews.”
See some recurring takeaways?
Refunds = bad.
Financial interest = bad.
Compensation for reviewers = bad.
Soliciting positive reviews instead of honest ones = bad.
What surprised some sellers is this sentence, which was silently added to the existing document in August 2015:
“You may not intentionally manipulate your products’ rankings, including by offering an excessive number of free or discounted products.”
This had everyone asking: just how many is an “excessive” number of products to sell for review?
None of the above. “Excessive” was later revealed to mean an excessive number of products going to a single person, as this would positively influence their review.
And lastly, there’s the Customer Review Creation Guidelines, the most definitive collection of review rules.
In the section called “Paid Reviews”, we get an explanation of how to sell product for review the right way.
“ We do not permit reviews […] that are posted in exchange for compensation of any kind. The sole exception to this rule is when a free or discounted copy of a physical product is provided to a customer up front. In this case, if you offer a free or discounted product in exchange for a review, you must clearly state that you welcome both positive and negative feedback. If you receive a free or discounted product in exchange for your review, you must clearly and conspicuously disclose that fact.”
Remember this: the last sentence asks reviewers to leave a disclosure about the fact that they received the product for review purposes. So, as a seller, always make sure that your reviewers include some form of disclaimer.
It’s been quite the ride.
We looked at Amazon’s review history (who’s bad?) as well as the current state of reviews today.
To end things off, here’s a definitive list of things to do going forward…
Stay honest. Encourage both positive and negative feedback on your product. Don’t solicit “positive” or “5-star” ratings.
Product only. Only offer products to reviewers in exchange for a free or discounted copy. No cash, gift cards, sweepstakes, in-game bonuses (for games) or the like.
Final sale. Don’t promise to refund reviewers after the transaction is over.
Avoid self-interest. Anyone writing a review who has a financial (or, I’d add, familial) connection to the brand shouldn’t leave a review. So that means you and your uncle should avoid reviewing your silicone baking mat, and bashing the competitors.
Let it play. Don’t ask buyers to remove negative reviews. Like any customer, you can provide customer service in the event of a bad experience, but asking them to remove a negative review will get you in trouble.
Disclaimers. Make sure that your reviewers leave disclaimers in the text body of their reviews saying that they received the item at a discount for evaluation purposes.
Be yourself. Don’t create multiple reviewer accounts and post Amazon reviews. It seems like an obvious infraction, but was the subject of the most recent lawsuits.
Reviews build social proof and can increase your conversion rates. And customers trust them more than anything you, the brand, can produce.
If you want to get Amazon reviews that adhere with Amazon’s Terms of Service, consider using HonestFew. It’s an all-in-one solution for getting more sales and reviews for your products. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org or here, at HonestFew.com.