[Step by Step Guide] How to Launch a New Product on Amazon
In this post, I am going to detail exactly how I launch products. I've been using this strategy from 2017 to huge success and I'll be using it in the future as well. It's a completely white-hat approach I've used to launch multiple New Best Sellers on Amazon.
With incentivized reviews now being banned, it's more work to launch new products on Amazon. But using this strategy, it's arguably easier to do with a higher probability of success as the additional work weeds out a lot of the competition.
The big key to this strategy is building a list of audience off of Amazon. Amazon is not unlike most traditional brick and mortar retailers in the world: they reward brands that have heavy marketing campaigns that result in higher in-store sales, normally through more predominant shelf space. Except that Amazon rewards sellers who bring outside traffic and sales to their products with more predominant organic search listings.
By using my strategy below I not only build a list I can promote my product to from day one but I can also validate potential product ideas. Hopefully, you're able to use either this complete strategy or parts of it, for your next product launch. For those who learn better with their ears than their eyes, I did a podcast on this very topic as well.
How To Build Your Off-Amazon Email List and Validate Product Ideas
The way I build most of my off-Amazon lists is through contests through social media, specifically Facebook. You can also listen the Podcast I did on running a Facebook contests for a more thorough guide on running these contests.
To execute this strategy you have to know the niche you're going to sell products into and definitively, a business name. If you still don't have a name for your business, you can use a business name generator like Squadhelp.
You also have to have a few different product ideas in mind. So, for example, I would know that I plan to sell pet products. I know I will probably sell dog collars, dog cages, or dog leashes but I don't know which one will be the most successful and I want to determine that before developing that product.
Building a List and Audience through Contests on Facebook
The first thing I do to build my audience is give away a gift card for one of the main competitors in a niche I will be selling in. For example, if I intend to sell a cat toy in the future, I will start targeting an audience on Facebook of people who like Petcetera. Every day I will give away a $25 gift certificate to Petcetera for people who enter the contest (simply providing their email). I normally run this contest for 30 days.
I tend to pay around $0.50 per subscriber on Facebook. To get a subscriber list of 5000, this means I'll pay 5000*$0.50 + 30*$25 = $3250 or around $0.65 per subscriber. To get more subscribers you may actually be able to get a lower cost per subscriber as the cost of the contest scales better with more entries. Below are some actual numbers for the ads I ran while validating one product.
My goal is to either get their email or get them pixeled on Facebook or ManyChat (or ideally, all three).
Validating Product Ideas
After I've built this audience for about 30 days, I try pitching my potential product(s) to this audience. Of course, at this point, I don't have a product. If my number one potential product is a dog collar, I will try and find a product on Aliexpress (or even eBay) that will likely closely resemble the product that I will ultimately develop (I'll actually drop ship this product from Aliexpress/eBay to any potential customers). It's not going to be exact and in fact, it's going to probably be inferior to the product I'm developing. But I know that if I can sell that inferior product then I'll be able to sell the superior product that I ultimately do develop.
My goal at this point is to try and achieve a 1% conversion rate on the campaign I run, knowing that I will probably get 5x this conversion rate on my superior product. I sell the product at cost. After I run the campaign I'm going to find out one of a few things:
- I met or exceeded the 1% conversion rate number, I have a solid product idea, and my dog collar will perform even better when I start selling it
- My conversion rate was close to 1% (0.75%-0.99%) which indicates I have a solid product idea with some tweaks to the ad copy and/or product
- My conversion rate was well below 1% (<0.75%) and I should consider other products
When I'm selling this potential product I send them to a Clickfunnels page. At this point, I may or may not have a website for my new brand and regardless, Clickfunnels is a much quicker and more compact and effective way to develop a landing page for this product. If you sign up for ClickFunnels under our affiliate id (click the preceding links) email us to firstname.lastname@example.org with the email you signed up under and we'll send you the exact landing pages we use that you can duplicate for your product.
After I've built my email list and validated my product idea, it's time to proceed to the next stage: launching the product on Amazon.
How to Launch Your Product on Amazon
At this point, I have a list/audience of around 5000 people. I've also validated that my product idea is solid. Now what?
Remember the ultimate goal of all of this is to launch a product to become a New Best Seller on Amazon and sustain its rankings. Being able to convert people through cold traffic on Facebook is great but let's face it: Amazon is the gold mine where 80% of people shop through.
Getting the Amazon listing ready and setting up PPC
Developing my product and having it Amazon-FBA ready is probably going to take the better part of three months. Perhaps shorter (or longer) but on average it will take about three months to develop, manufacture and get landed at Amazon FBA. In that time I don't let my list and audience go cold. I'll run the occasional contest or pitch other potential products in that time. The worst thing you can do is let that list and audience sit silently for months.
While I'm waiting for my products, I spend a bunch of time developing an incredible product listing page. We used to have the mentality of trying to get the listing page up as quickly as possible and worrying about perfecting it later. This is flawed logic. You want your listing page perfect from the beginning to have the highest conversion rate possible and get the best traction possible. On day one I want really good titles, imagery, bullet points, enhanced brand content and backend keywords. For the photography, I will often have one or two completed production products air shipped to me while I wait for the bulk of the shipment to be sent via air. This allows me to prepare the photography in the 20 days or so it takes to airship the rest of the shipment.
The other big hack when preparing your listing is to set the “Start selling date” at a time in the future. We want to get the New Best Seller badge when we launch our product. It's not the be all to end all but it will help our sales. We don't want to set our “Start selling date” as a date prior to us actually selling the product and lose the eligibility for that product. Set the date to a time beyond when you expect to start selling it and change it to the date you actually do launch the product. You can set the date when you add your product to Amazon's catalog under “Offer” (make sure you're in the advanced view if using the browser-based product tool as opposed to a spreadsheet)
At this point, I also set up my Amazon paid advertising. This includes Sponsored Ads, Product Placement Ads, and Headline ads (if you don't use the latter two options of advertising you need to start to now). I am very aggressive with my bidding for the first 3 weeks. A 50% ACOS is fine with me at this point.
Launching the Product on Amazon
Once my products are (finally) at Amazon I'm ready to launch the product. At this point I have the following:
- A validated product
- An email list
- A Facebook audience
- A Many Chat audience
- A killer Amazon Product Detail Page
- Amazon Sponsored Ads, Product Placement Ads, Headline Ads
Now here's where this hard work starts to pay off. My launch strategy is as follows:
- Set my Start Selling Date to the correct date
- Make sure my Amazon Ads are all running
- Drip my product launch to my email list over 21 days
- Advertise on Facebook to my Audience over 21 days
- Encourage anyone who engages us on social media or elsewhere to leave a review
Setting the Start Selling Date and Amazon Ad Review
The first two things about my launch strategy are pretty basic. I set the Start Selling Date (which I set above to an arbitrary date) to the actual date I will be selling. I also make sure all my Amazon Ads are running and that nothing has been rejected or paused.
Dripping to My Email List
The big bang in this whole launch strategy is my email campaign. When I'm doing my email blast, the important thing to remember is that I'm not blasting it all in one go. I'm dripping to it over the course of three weeks. Why? Because we want to show Amazon sustainable and consistent sales over a duration of time. It's better to have 50 sales a day over three weeks than 1050 sales in one day.
My emails sequence is as follows:
- Initial product sale launch
- We remind the list again in two days
- Ten days later we ask for people to leave a review
In our email, we're basically telling people to be the first to access our new product at an amazing deal. We don't actually discount the product a huge amount here, no more than 20% (this discount is simply our Amazon list price, no coupon code required). After our three week launch, we allow Profit Peak to run its magic and figure out the best price for our product.
We follow up the initial email two days later with a reminder email and then ten days later with a review reminder. There's no real way to correlate the emails to buyers/non-buyers on Amazon so everyone will get the latter two emails regardless if they purchased/didn't purchase. It's a slight weakness but not major.
For all of the links to our Amazon detail page, we use an Amazon Associates affiliate code. It helps track our sales and we also get a kickback on the affiliate income.
Advertising to Our Facebook Audience
We still have our Facebook audience of course at this point so we're also running ads to this list the entire time. We've tried a combination of running ads both to a ClickFunnels lead page first and directly to the Amazon listing page and seen similar results. A ClickFunnels page allows you to get more creative with your marketing, specifically by including multiple videos and more imagery.
If you have multiple videos for your product and/or marketing that goes beyond what you can do with Enhanced Brand Content then go to ClickFunnels or similar lead page. If you don't, going directly to your Amazon listing suffices.
Be Guerrilla About Soliciting Reviews
Finally, we're being really aggressive about soliciting reviews. Aside from sending a final review request email, we are also very obsessive about monitoring our social media and other platforms for any feedback from customers. We send a private message to anyone who has left a positive comment about their purchase on Facebook and ask them to leave an Amazon review. The same thing goes with anyone who emails us. If anyone says anything negative we're also proactive about correcting the problem before it results in a negative review. In one of our most recent product launches, we got over 100 reviews in the first six weeks. Sales velocity + reviews = money.
Read more: How to Get Amazon Reviews in 2021
As you can see, there's a lot of work that goes into my product launch strategy. The good thing is that much of the effort that goes into the first components, specifically the list and audience building, can be directly carried over to new products, assuming they're in the same niche. There's a heavy fixed cost to building that list but it reduces quickly over time.
What does your Amazon launch strategy look like? Do you have any questions about my launch strategy? If so, share in the comments below.
I can relate to all of these stories. The struggle is real. The question is… if you’re Amazon, how do you combat these issues.
For 1 I feel that Amazon should allow sellers who are in brand registry 2.0 to gate their products if they see fit. This would allow brands to protect the listings against counterfeit sellers. I understand that this may be counterproductive to Amazon’s goal of allowing the customer to get the best price but it would protect the customer from getting a counterfeit product and give us sellers some security against hijacking.
As for the reviews I honestly don’t know how Amazon is going to be able to reel this in, but they definitely need to. Almost every seller I know who has a product with any success on Amazon has been attacked in some way or another in the past year. I bring back all my returns and review them and I’ve been noticing a large up tick in products being returned that are not even opened. It is clear that people are playing games and I have no idea how Amazon would stop it.
As an Amazon shopper myself I have completely lost faith in their review system and I don’t believe anything I see. When I’m making a purchase I find myself clicking on the reviewer profiles to see if I believe that they are a real reviewer. I find myself sticking with brands that I recognize and not buying the small private label seller’s stuff. And honestly, I find myself going to Amazon less and less to buy because I simply don’t trust the system at this point.
Yup! Amazon has a bit of a monster problem on their hands. Price and reviews are arguably the two most important buying factors for Amazon customers and both of these are under attack from fraud. I think customers are a little bit more forgiving to review manipulation because it’s so prevalent across all industries now and most know to take reviews with a grain of salt (it’s a problem waiting to be solved by some silicon valley startup!). The counterfeit product issue is way more critical problem for them that I think they’re still not being nearly as pro-active about as they could be.
this is awesome dave. I’m learning a lot about amazon’s algorithm from your launch process.
Just gotta drive consistent sales over a period of the first 10-30 days and your listing will go up in ranking.
Outside traffic helps, so drive through facebook or elsewhere.
I heard that users typing in your product in the search results makes you rank higher. What do you think about that?
I’m not sure how much customers searching for your brand helps organic rankings. I would suspect about as much as it does on Google, which is basically nothing :)
Hi! I have read this article and listened to the podcast episode. I am so appreciative of this information. I have already started to implement this by running a contest.
I have a question about the process you use to verify a target audience for a product. Can you talk more about how you test and validate what group of people will actually buy the product. For example, you mentioned that you learned that 40+ women are your market, which you determined after much testing. I am interested to know the nitty gritty details about how you found that out.
I felt I needed to clarify this question…
I am building the email list by running a contest for the product I plan to sell. There are a handful of target markets that may purchase this product…like new Moms, woman entrepreneurs, brides, etc. I am current running the contest to these three audiences and am finding that the Mom’s to be is converting at a lower cost per email. Ones’s instinct may be to pause the other tests and put all the budget into Mom’s to be. But is this wise? Just because this target audience is converting the best for the giveaway doesn’t necessarily mean this audience will have the most propensity to buy, or does it?
Ideally you need make three separate lists and then launch to each list and see the conversion rate and then adjust your bids accordingly. Once you see what your conversion rate is for each list/audience you can determine your break even point for what you can bid on a subscriber. Until you have this you’re just guessing.
Ideally you have a strong hunch to begin with. For example, if you’re selling adult coloring pens, it’s probably older women, if you’re selling boating products it’s probably older men – you think run campaigns to those audiences and confirm your hunches . If you’re totally shooting in the dark you just have to make a few guesses and which audience the data supports. Post purchase emails really help as well to define a customer profile (of course you can’t do this through Amazon though).
I have a question about this article. In particular this sentance.
“My goal at this point is to try and achieve a 1% conversion rate on the ad I run, knowing that I will probably get 5x this conversion rate on my superior product.”
Can you please talk a little more about the ad you use? Is this a facebook ad you are targeting people who like your social media page or who entered the contests over the 30 days?
That was a typo – I think ad should be ’email campaign’ (i.e. the list Mike his built using Facebook ads)
Heard your podcast on the TAS and had a bit of an a-ha moment!
I get everything in your strategy and agree it’s the way forward – but curious to know what you aim to dial your ACOS down to post launch and how much this is as a percentage of your gross profit for a product.
I’m speaking for Mike here but normally we seek a minimum 3-4x markup on products and for a campaign like this he probably wants even greater margins due to the higher advertising costs.
I have one question about the “start selling date”.
I did setup my listing about 5 Weeks ago and forgot to change the “start selling date”. The products are not at Amazon yet and my listing is still inactive.
What about the Initial boost every new listing is getting for the first 7-14 days? Did I miss out on that because I messed up the “start selling date” or does this Initial boost only start as soon as my listing is active?
Amazon, to my knowledge, has never confirmed if this will start the timer or not. IMO, the time an item becomes active is when the clock starts ticking but what setting the start selling date does is keep you from accidentally going live with an active listing when the listing isn’t optimized yet (i.e. un-optimized listing)
Thanks Mike and Dave for the podcast and article…great stuff! This launch article doesn’t really get into keyword rankings and what to do to launch your product to get higher ranking for specific keywords…although you do touch on it in the podcast I am not familiar with the details of how this works. Do you have any tactical content in this area? Thanks so much!
We don’t really have any content on that right now but it’s much needed. Hopefully in the future.
Unfortunately getting 100 reviews in six weeks on an amazon listing will get you either banned or have all your reviews wiped. they’ve updated their review policy and are super strict if a listing gets too many reviews to fast, legit reviews or not, the BOT doesnt know the difference
Do you have a link to where it says this in the review policy? I agree too many reviews may lead to a flagging but I don’t think it is a black and white number. For example, if Playstation releases Playstation 5 it will probably get 100 reviews in the first hour. Either way, we’re happy for 10 reviews in 6 weeks for most products :)
Hello, I thought I had posted this comment and cannot find the answer anywhere… so unsure, but i want to run a Facebook contest for a competitor product..I’m wondering when you do this , what Facebook user do you put this under? My brand? Isn’t that confusing? Please advise! Thanks so much for all u do!
Hi Jessica – if you’re giving away a competitor’s gift card or something similar you can just host it under your account. Yes, it’s slightly confusing and that’s one of the drawbacks of giving away a competitor’s product instead of yours.
Great, Thanks Dave!!
hi ecomcrew! Quick Q, I created a sku on amazon back in July, just a title, no description or images, so I can have a FNSKU label printed. Now it’s finally ready to be sent in, I just checked the SKU again, I see that I forgot to set the start selling date to a future date (I left it blank at the time), now it’s showing the July date when I first created it as the start selling date. Does it mean I already I missed my “golden launch” period when my stats are boosted by amazon? Or since I haven’t had any stock, it doesn’t have any affect, and I can just change the start selling date to a date further away?
If you haven’t sent inventory in yet then you should be fine. Just set the date to the future now before you send in the inventory!
awesome value provided with this post and your blog in general. Thanks for sharing your knowledge so generously!
I am about to launch my product soon. E-Mail List is build with a solid 8.000 eagerly waiting subscribers. Yet, I want to give them a bigger discount of 40% and set the price to normal after the launch period. What I heart now is that AMZ doesn´t like when the price is increased that sharply – even when its done by a special price set for that specific period. Penalty could be loosing the buy box even as a private label seller. Can you confirm this / what are your thoughts on that? I could give out coupons just to the email list. But i would rather show a lower price to everyone. Any other suggestions/recommendations?
Hi Martin – If you raise or lower the price by more than 25% within 30 days normally you will lose the buy box (this has been the case for a while actually)
Great info and something I would develop further down the line, but am wondering; do you have any advice on best approach with only two hundred dollars available as a launch budget ?
That’s a really tight budget – I’d probably try drop shipping or creating a niche site to build a following around until you can get to at least $1-2k.
Hi Michael & Dave,
Great article. Really appreciate all of the value you are giving away.
I had a couple of questions I hope you could help clarify or provide further detail on.
1) When first looking to build your initial email list via a contest to validate a product idea, how are going about establishing a brand or platform with enough credibility / social proof to launch the contest? Or are you doing this at all? i.e. If you are launching a contest, are you setting up a facebook page and investing time up front posting and engaging regularly before launching the contest? This obviously takes some time and when looking to quickly test a viable product or market may be somewhat challenging. For example say you’re starting out and looking to sell a cat toy through a pet store. Are you first setting up your pet store’s facebook page, building some activity and engagement up over time and then launching the contest once your facebook page has some credibility? I guess I’m just trying to understand how you initially establish a platform to launch a contest if you haven’t even yet set up a store or facebook page to start. I feel like the article is missing an initial step here.
2) If the above is incorrect, are your steps more a long the lines of 1) set up new facebook page and begin posting content, 2) despite facebook page being brand new, set up a landing page for contest through Leadpages.net (I’ve heard you mention you use Leadpages for this process on another podcast), 3) host contest using Gleam, 4) run facebook ads driving traffic to your Leadpages landing page to capture emails via contests and split test conversion using AdEspresso until you find what works 5) after you have built up enough of an audience, market a similar product sourced via aliexpress to this email list using a ClickFunnels landing page to validate your product idea?
3) As mentioned, I’ve heard you on another podcast mentioning you set up your initial contest landing page using Leadpages, but in this article there’s no mention of it and only use of ClickFunnels during the product testing stage. Can you clarify or provide your rationale for using one or both?
Apologies for the length. Really appreciate in advance any response!
We’re always launching with an established brand; not launching with a totally new brand. Launching to a completely new brand and establishing trust/authority is a whole other topic – too much for this comment :)
We use a mixture of Clickfunnels and Zipify pages; Zipify being the better option if you’re hosted on Shopify; Clickfunnels if you don’t have a Shopify store.
Can’t get my head around $3000 for 5000 leads, given the ridiculously low open rates for emails these days. Messenger and many chat, maybe more value there I guess. Still, it’s a large spend.
As you say, “There’s a heavy fixed cost to building that list but it reduces quickly over time.”
Yes, it sucks. You’ll probably never directly make your money back but for most product launches on Amazon you need to be sending some external traffic.
Dave, do you feel this launch strategy is still valid now in late 2019? Have you updated this strategy?
The overall strategy of validating a product with a lookalike product and launching to a list is more valid than ever before.
We have a novelty product we’ve been selling for the last year or so and are thinking about taking the leap into Amazon… Is this guide still relevant given all the restrictions on rebates and review hacks previously used that are now banned when trying to rank at launch?