E176: Updated Amazon Launch Checklist

Greetings from Montreal! In the midst of shooting course videos and planning new content, Dave and I sat down to record this podcast. Both of us have considerable experience selling on Amazon and over time we have refined our strategies to be able to derive the best possible revenue potential from the products that we sell.

This episode centers around a checklist of what we do in the days leading up to a product launch and immediately after that. Dave rounds up the discussion and adds his own inputs at the end.

To make things easier, we have broken down the entire process into three phases. So, read on and take note!

Phase 1: What to do before the product goes live

  • Build that perfect listing at the get-go. Create a really great title with a bunch of keywords that you want to rank for (mixing in some long tail ones). Use about 2-3 keywords in the title.
  • Put the start selling date way in the future to allow for sustained sales over a 10-15 day period through the launch sequence timing. This hack also lets you avoid accumulating bad data.
  • Set up Amazon PPC in advance.
  • Airship a dozen units. 10 of which are given to YouTube influencers to help with the actual launch. In our case, the rest is divided between the offices in California and the Philippines. Promotional videos and images are then created out of these products.
  • Make headline search ads. These require a minimum of 3 ‘like’ products. Product listing ads are usually added at a later date. Data for which products to target are taken from automated sponsored ads campaign.
  • Make sure products are already available for purchase. Once they are, you can then pick a launch date. We do this on a Monday so if there’s anything that’s needed to be corrected or fixed, that can be done within the next 4 or 5 days.

Phase 2: Preparing for the product launch

  • The goal is to produce equal results over a 10 to 14-day period. Look at the existing assets for the brand and map that out within this time period.
  • Break up the email list in preparation for running the email sequence for the launch
  • On the launch date, launch a Facebook ad to fans that can also be shared on other social media assets (i.e. YouTube). This Facebook ad goes to a landing page for this new product. This helps build social proof.
  • Start advertising to everyone else.
  • Turn on Amazon’s Early Reviewer Program.
  • Do Amazon Giveaways to get that initial traction.

Phase 3: Sustaining traction after the product launch

  • Send a ManyChat broadcast.
  • Send your launch email to just one email segment per day and cycle through the rest of your email segments over a 10 to 14-day period. This way you sustain sales over a longer period of time, helping your conversion rate.
  • After gaining traction on Amazon, you can then focus on directing the traffic to your own Shopify store.

Other Useful Resources:

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If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!

Full Audio Transcript

Mike: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 176 of the EcomCrew Podcast. Just so you guys know, this podcast is also going to be on YouTube. We're going to be putting as many as we can on YouTube moving forward doing video versions of the podcast as well as the audio. So if you're used to listening to us on iTunes, that's all cool. But this will also be on YouTube on our YouTube channel. So go check that out.

So for this episode, we were just recently in Montreal, and I had the opportunity to sit down with my trusty partner in crime Dave Bryant to talk about how our launch sequence for launching products on Amazon has evolved over 2018. We're almost three quarters of the way through 2018 as this episode comes out, which is just crazy to me. And we've had a lot of success launching new products on Amazon this year in an incredibly white hat way. So, no coupons, or launch services or super URLs, or any of these types of things that could potentially get your account in trouble.

I firmly believe that the day of reckoning will come for all the people doing this stuff. And I'm not being a hypocrite; I also did this stuff back before the great review debacle of 2016 came around. But once that happened, it was kind of a wakeup call to not be doing that stuff moving forward. And most days I walk through life thinking, man, this isn't fair. There's all these people doing all these different things around me on Amazon. And it's hard to compete some days when you aren't doing black hat tactics to compete with their black hat tactics.

But what we've developed here and what I'm going to be talking about in this launch process really takes a pretty good stab at that. And it's a long term winning strategy that we continue to evolve and make better. So, without further ado, we're going to hop into the introduction and then right after that get into our 2018 Amazon checklist part two I guess because we did a version of this way earlier in the year. But this is the refined version or the upgraded version, or the late 2018 version whatever you want to call it. So, let's get into the intro and let's talk soon.

Dave: This is Dave.

Mike: And this is Mike.

Dave: So, today we are coming at you from Montreal doing our first live video EcomCrew Podcast. We’ll be putting this up on our YouTube channel. If you're listening on the podcast on your phone and your car wherever you are, you can actually go to YouTube and see me and Mike live on video, if you so are inclined. Today we are talking about Mike's Amazon launch sequence. So, we're actually going to go through a checklist of all the things that Mike goes through when he's launching a product and trying to get a best seller on Amazon.

We're going to talk about Shopify and launching out the channels too a little bit at the end. But really the focus of this is launching a product and getting it to a new bestseller on Amazon. Maybe, if not a new bestseller, at least getting that initial traction so it will actually have some stability and get some real sales in the beginning.

Mike: Yep. And I think the important key here is that this is all white hat tactics. I mean, giving some background on this. I mean, back in 2015 or so when I first started getting involved with Amazon, it was so easy. And I fell into the same trap of doing I guess what's considered black hat. But it seemed like it was what everyone was doing at the time, which was giving away a product for 99% off in exchange for an honest review. And it really worked. I mean, you could give away five or 10 units per day or whatever it was at the time depending on the product and it would just shoot to the top of the rankings. You do that until you had the rankings and you would just kind of slowly wean off, off of that and will continue to do well from there.

I think that it worked well for us because we also had the benefit even in the beginning of having high quality products. So, I think that once we kind of got to the top, we stayed there because we did get legitimately good reviews and a low return rate in some of the other metrics that Amazon looks at. But once Amazon got rid of the incentivized review concept, I really had to kind of go back and think things through and make sure that we were going to be doing something that was going to work long term and wasn't like the gimmick of today. So that's how this whole process came to be.

Dave: Yeah, that's funny. While we've been in Montreal here, we've been kind of talking back and forth, just off camera about how Amazon really feels like it's kind of Google of 10 years ago, where everything black hat that's the only way to rank. Google used to rank not necessarily the best content one, two, and three; it would just rank the content that has kind of gamed Google the best. Amazon feels like that a little bit right now. But I think Mike and I we've kind of shown at least with our brands that, yeah, there's a lot of black hat tactics, but there are some legitimate white hat ways to go about this.

It might take a little bit longer, it might not get the immediate results that launching this on review launch club will get, but the sales are more sustainable. It's a long term business. Yeah. And that's ultimately what I think both of us are trying to do is create businesses, not necessarily a bunch of money today in August, and then come September, October, our accounts are banned. So like Mike has talked about, these are all kind of white hack strategies, which are going to help you build a business, not just some fly by night product that's going to be gone in a month or two.

Mike: Yeah, man, the way I approach this basically, like if I was a fly on the wall at Amazon headquarters, what do they really want? What is their ultimate goal? And it's to have the best products rank high, same thing with Google. I mean, all the years I think back to the time I wasted trying to buy links, or do some of the things that were gray hat or black hat. Even though they worked, I would have been way better off from the very beginning, just doing what Google's main objective is, which is to write the best content about that that topic.

And even back before when you could buy links and all that stuff, it still was easier to rank if you just did really good SEO by putting out the best piece of content. So it's the same thing with this now where we're putting up — trying to put out the best product and not mean — listen, if you're using a URL at one of these super URLs or inserts or timestamp and keywords in there, you know  what you're doing. You know you're gaming the system and if you get your account shut down, you have no one to blame but yourself. I mean, Amazon is going to do something about this stuff eventually because they have to.

It's in their best interest to stop these games from taking place because people are getting products that shouldn't really rank up there that aren't as good as some of the other products and it's something eventually Amazon is going to be forced to do something about. And I think they're going to do it in a very public way by shutting a bunch of accounts down and scaring the living crap out of people. And I just don't want to go through that.

Dave: Yeah. And something I also want mention is that when they do go through these kind of sweeps of sellers, they don't do it kind of one here, one there and a couple of there. What they're going to do is they're monitoring these people right now, and it's almost like catching a local drug dealer in your town. They don't just go after the one guy and then let all the other kind of henchmen run away. No, they swoop everybody up in one swoop and then kick everybody off at once.

So, that's what will probably happen. Yeah, you're not seeing people getting suspended for these tactics right now. But it could just be that Amazon has their eye on them. And one day it's going to be a day of reckoning and they're going to kick off thousands of people.

Mike: I agree. So, let's dig into the whole process here.

Dave: Sure. So, I think we're going to break this down into three phases. We're going to talk about kind of what you do before your products are even live on Amazon or your listing for it. Step two, when your products, now you have them and you're ready to go live and getting that initial traction. And then I guess step three is what to do kind of after that initial launch phase on Amazon, how to keep that traction up and how also to market on other channels if you are marketing on other channels, whether it's Shopify or eBay, or wherever.

Mike: All right, awesome. Let's do it.

Dave: Okay, so what's the first thing you do? You've got a brand new product; you got a brand new product, all the development is done at this point. What's the first thing that you're doing Mike?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, so the first thing is to build that perfect listing. And this is something that's changed over time for us because when we first started selling stuff on Amazon, my attitude was like let's just get the thing up there. We'll worry about perfecting the listing later, because it's more important just to get the thing up for sale like it's in our warehouse. We want to get the thing up and running.

But what I've determined over time is that Amazon has a rolling moving average that they're looking at as far as tabulating sales, and once you produce bad data for them, and bad data meaning, like you producing inadequate results basically or subpar results as far as you're selling like two units per day, you establish that two units per day over a 20 day period where you're kind of getting your act together. Now, when you try to get to five per day, or 10 per day, it's not moving that moving average at all because if you have 30 days of data of selling two per day or 20 days, whatever it is, and now you have one day of selling 10, you're really moving average is like 2.1 or 2.05 or something insignificant.

And the reason that's important is because they're looking at your average sales per day to help with organic rankings. And you want to — if you're going to move your listing up in organic rankings, you have to be able to sustain sales for a long period time. And if you've already established subpar data, it's going to take a much longer period of time to kind of get out of that hole than if you launch with a bang to start with.

So, the first step is to create a really high quality listing from day one, which means a really great title that's researched well with a blend of keywords that we want to rank for. And this is a bit of a new one. So, I don’t want to spend a whole bunch of time here on this podcast talking about but just a little bit of a nuance here. People sometimes go too aggressively for a big keyword, especially when you're trying to launch a brand new product. That's really, really difficult to do. So, we're balancing some long tail stuff in there and trying to rank for things that we actually legitimately have a chance of being number one for, or certainly at the top of the first page for.

So, we're going to be looking at things that might not be like that home run, especially out of the gate. And the other thing that's really important is you don't want the title to read like a keyword stuffing mechanism. You want something that is going to get people to want to click through your listing. Remember, when someone does a search for a widget on Amazon, there's only two small things that they see before they actually get to your listing page, and that's your title and your main image. So, those two things are incredibly important. And if you stuff that title with a bunch of crap and it ends up going like dot, dot, dot, you're not going to get the click through that you need.

So, balancing that title out is really important to us. And then spending a lot of time creating really high quality photography is the other part of that. So, not only the main image but the images on the inside producing like really high quality infographics that have lines pointing to particular features or a bulleted list of features, things that make us better than others. A comparison table of us versus other products, a sizing chart if necessary. Obviously, every product is a little bit different, but really investing the time in creating that really great listing with the photography, the title and then also enhanced brand content. So, that's like the first step.

Dave: Yeah, and so the title, so just a quick question how many keywords are you targeting?

Mike: Typically no more than three, a lot of times two. You really got to be careful. Again, I mean very quickly you're going to run out of space that's going to go dot, dot, and also with a lot of categories, Amazon has been really limiting the number of characters. With some of our health care products, they are now limiting I think it's 50 characters and you also need to have your brand name in there as a part of that. So, like now you're really down to like 10, so you're really being forced to have fewer characters in there, which I actually think is good. I think it's going to help the platform personally by focusing on the things that are really important. And yeah, so we try to limit it to like basically two or three keywords.

Dave: So, I guess the key takeaway, two or three keywords if you have 180 characters, which for a lot of listings, Amazon still does. Don't just deliberately use up those 180 keywords trying to rank for every term because hopefully A, Amazon smart enough to figure out what your words are without putting them in the title and B, it just does not help with your click through ratio because it's confusing people. It's not an easy to read title. Okay so and then okay, your listing is perfect, you got great photos, you got a great title, your EBC, your enhanced brand content if you're eligible is up there. What else are you doing in terms of advertising and getting your campaigns up and going?

Mike: Well, before we even get the campaigns up and going, one of the things that's really important that I want to mention at this juncture is the start selling date. So what we do when we create that listing is we put the start selling date in the future like way in the future, months in the future to make sure that Amazon isn't starting that counter prematurely on us. We want to be able to like start the counter on the day that we choose, and we'll talk a little bit more about that here in a bit. So, at the count on the day that we choose and be able to sustain sales over a 10 to 15 day period through the launch sequence timing and not have any bad data accumulating on us. So, I just want to mention that real quickly.

But once that's done to kind of get back to your other point real quick, we will set up all of our PPC in advance, because PPC will not run until there's inventory and stock for the item. So, you want to have as much stuff done in advance, it's not good to be rushing at the last second to do everything, which is certainly the way that a lot of things in our company worked for a long time. Now we try to have everything in Basecamp and we have a checklist, much like the one that Dave is going through right now, and everything gets done in advance. And one of those things is PPC.

Another thing would be to have all of our Facebook ads ready to go as well. So we make sure that we have all the assets for that ready. And as a part of that, we produce a video that is going to be able to be of the product that we’ll use in enhanced brand content and as a Facebook ad and on the landing page. So, we have that done in advance as well.

Dave: So a question on that. Okay, your product is not yet live on Amazon. How are you doing the video for the product? Are you having it air shipped from China beforehand?

Mike: We do. Yeah, so that's something else we kind of figured out. If you look at that bill to have it air shipped and just like, oh my god, it's a couple of hundred bucks to have this stuff air shipped over here. But time is worth more money than anything. You start looking at storage fees and the capital you have tied up, and that's another whole podcast. But every week that you hold inventory, it can be adding five or 10% to your cash flow in a negative way putting you in a hole.

So, what we do actually is we’ll airship over here like a dozen units, 10 of which we use for influencers and we'll talk a little bit about that as well, but in advance we're getting that stuff air shipped over here. And we'll get 10 units of our product in YouTube influencers’ hands so they can review the product and be ready to help us with this launch sequence as well. And then we also have one product that we have in our office in California. And a lot of that we have an office in the Philippines so we get them a product as well. So, both teams can be photographing, videoing, and producing a video for us.

Dave: Okay, so the basic premise you have a big shipment, let's pretend it's a full container, a 20 foot container of stuff. Obviously you're not they're shipping over a 20 foot container, a 20 foot container is going to take probably 45 days to get everything cleared, air shipment is probably going to take 45 days.

Mike: Exactly, so we air ship over a case or whatever and the rest of it goes in the container. And so that saves us a full 30 days or 35 days of time. If we would have had to wait for that to show up and then start doing something, it's significant.

Dave: So that's basically 30 days to actually get these listings really, that's kind of your deadline right there, 30 days.

Mike: Yeah.

Dave: Okay so you mentioned influencers. What are you doing with influencers?

Mike: Yeah, so this is something that we had a love hate relationship with over time. We're currently in the love part of this because we figured out a new way of approaching this than we used to. So, we used to use a service like FinBit or not – yeah FinBit I think is what it's called which is basically a platform of influence. It's a way to interface with influencers that are looking to getting money or compensation in some way for promoting your product, or service or company or whatever, whatever it might be.

So we used to go on FinBit and we would list say something like we have this new product coming out, we really want you to do an unboxing and demo of it. And then they would give us a proposal of how much they're going to charge for that. And we would look at the size of their channel and kind of determine what we were willing to pay for. And what I found is very few of the influencers that that we worked with in that capacity, and there were some that worked out well, but very few really had our best interest at heart I think. It's like a most polite way to put it.

Our interests were certainly not aligned in the way that I really wanted. So, what we started doing and it's a lot more labor intensive, but it's been working really well, and this is something that our Philippines team helps with. We’ll type in a search on YouTube. So, one of the products we just launched recently was some water color brush pens. So for instance is like how to blend with watercolor brush pens, how to paint with water color brush pens, how to use whatever like all these how to type searches. And the people that come up in results are really the ones that you want to be targeting, because they really understand that product and that niche already.

Same thing for tactical gear. We would use like how to pack a bug out bag or things to bring on your hike or these types of searches where people are already subject matter experts on that particular niche, and they're probably actually interested in your product. So getting the product for free is already like enough compensation a lot of times. They are excited to get even a free [inaudible 00:18:47] of our product because it's something that they will actually use. And then we put things in the tiers, we break up channels in the three different tiers. I'd have to go back and look at my notes of exactly what we did because we've been tweaking this.

But let's just say like zero to 2,500 subscribers, 2,500 to 10,000 subscribers and like 10,000 plus. And basically what we told our VA is like in the bottom tier only offer them the product. If they will take the product for free and produce a video great, we'll give them the product. If it's in the middle tier, offer them the product and offer a couple extra of the product as a giveaway for their audience. And again, if they're already producing content for that particular niche, their audience is also going to be interested in that product.

And that helps the channel, the person that's wanting that channel is happy to be able to offer that giveaway because they can say like you have to subscribe in order to be eligible, or you have to leave a comment or something like along those lines. So that helps them and it's helpful to us. And then the last tier that the bigger players, we’ll offer them basically anything from our catalog. We’ll just tell them pick everything you want from our store, anything you want from our store and we'll kind of evaluate like sometimes they're kind of hoggish, but most of the time, they're pretty reasonable. They’ll pick three, five things; we’ll offer them some giveaways. And so basically, that's the way that we work that.

And just as a quick aside, usually about one out of 10 of these videos produces a relationship with someone that we can use on an ongoing basis for other types of video content. We've been working behind the scenes on producing content that we can resell like under our name, or use as a part of marketing collateral and other ways, and we will pay them a couple of hundred bucks per video to produce that stuff over time for us. It's typically smaller YouTubers, but that stuff can become really valuable as well.

Dave: Yeah, I was just going to add to that too. That’s something in my new business Offloading, Offloading products and four by four products, there's a lot of passionate people and they have these clubs. And so over the last year or so I've been trying to build relationships with some fanatical fans who are willing, hey, just give me some free products. And sure I'll take some photos, I mean videos for you.

Mike: They have the four by four, they have the winch, they have all this stuff that's hard for you to create a set for plus, they're good at doing video, right? They're already doing that in their own — as their career or hobby.

Dave: Hobby yeah.

Mike: Yeah. So they're probably better at it than either one of us are ever going to be and it produces like really great content.

Dave: Amazing free content yeah. And I think everybody can do that. And whether you're selling garlic presses or camera gear or whatever it is you're selling, you're going to have some fanatical fans, keep an eye out for them. And maybe you can get some free stuff from them just in exchange for free products. Okay, so moving on, we talked about setting up our PPC for Amazon, setting up Facebook. I think a couple of things we didn't mention is headline ads and product listing ads on Amazon.

Mike: So, we don't typically do the product listing ads right out of the gate. I’ll talk about that as a little aside here in a second. But if you have at least three like items, that's the minimum for doing headline search ads, we will set up headline search ads as a part of this. So like we’re just releasing some gloves for our tactical brand and there's three sizes. So, that's enough to be able to do a headline search ad.

Dave: A headline search ad requires three products.

Mike: Minimum of three year. For our watercolor brush pens, we have the brush pens themselves and then there's also 24 individual colors of refills. So, that is enough to produce a headline search ad. We also had paper, so the headline search ad is the pens, the paper and like one of the refill bottles. And when they click through, there's like 26 things on that particular ad. It's the pens at the top and then paper, and then we show all the refills. They work really, really well.

What we'll do is we'll add the product listing ads at a later date. The best data on which products to target on product listing ads come out of your automated sponsored product ad campaigns. So, once you start writing those for a couple of weeks, you can download that report. And what you'll see in the automated campaigns is a ton of ASINs in there, and those are ones that are converting well, and those become product listing ads. And we probably already have an article about this on the podcast. If not, we'll do one in the future. But that's kind of another whole can of worms for that.

Dave: Yeah. And I guess the downside with product listing ads right now, Amazon kind of closed the loophole before where you get product listing ads through having a vendor express account. They've closed that loophole. So unfortunately, if you're not in the AMS back end, right now, it's pretty tough to get in unless you have a vendor central account. But hopefully, I think they're going to open that up soon just like they have headline.

Mike: I've heard rumors that that's coming very soon.

Dave: Yeah. So, it might not be open right now as you're listening to this podcast, but might be in the future. So hopefully, this does become relevant for you at some point. Okay, so I think the listing is done now. Nothing more, you're just waiting now on your products to arrive from China.

Mike: Right.

Dave: Anything else that we would add to…

Mike: I think that's about it. So I mean, once the products do arrive from China, what we'll do — it depends on how long you’ve been selling on Amazon and how much you've seen this experience. But when you send inventory into Amazon, when it first arrives, it's not fully checked in. So like if you do have it for sale at that time, it'll say available on XYZ date, usually somewhere between three to seven days in the future. That will crush your conversion rate.

So what we don't want to have happen is have the thing available for sale and so when you look in your inventory dashboard in Seller Central that we see hundreds of units available for actual sale. And once we see that that's when we’ll change the start selling date to the current date and actually launch on that date.

Dave: Yeah, don't you love it when Amazon, you ship in 300 units and they sit in reserve for the next three, four weeks.

Mike: Hashtag sarcasm.

Dave: Yeah. So make sure that your inventory is actually available for purchase. Okay. So launch date.

Mike: Yeah, launch date…

Dave: What’s your strategy? Your products are now live, you haven't I guess you haven't turned on the switch now because you changed that start selling date to some arbitrary date in the future. I guess first thing is that you are going to make that start date now.

Mike: Yeah, we will make the date today or a lot of times, it'll be the next day. So typically, we try to have our launch day be on a Monday. That's what we found to be just the best day for us. Weekends, always for us on Amazon are slower than a weekday. And we want to try to produce consistent sales over a 10 day period or a 14 day period. And if we start on a Monday, then we really only have to do that over one weekend. So, we try to start on a Monday for that reason.

The other reason we'll start on a Monday is we're all in the office; everyone is around that Monday through Friday. So if there's anything that we want to correct or fix, or address, we have five days to be able to handle that. So, we’ll typically like on a Sunday night, set the date for the next day. And when we come in Monday morning we get started with our launch sequence, which we're going to be talking about here now.

Mike: All right, so first thing you do, do you send out an email? Do you — what else do we have here? You turn on your Facebook marketing, what's the first thing that you do?

Mike: It's sometimes a little bit different for each brand. But in general, what we're trying to do, again, the concept is to try to produce equal results over a 10 day period or a 14 day period. If we can do it over 14 days, we certainly try to do that. So we're going to look at the assets we have for the brand and kind of map that out and try to space that out evenly. So, it almost always is going to start with an email because we have printed the email list for all of our brands.

Dave: And just before you do that, your purpose for doing 10 to 14 days and not just one day one, one massive hit.

Mike: As I mentioned before, with this rolling moving average, it's really important to be able to produce results over a period of time. When we first started doing this concept, we would launch, we'd have this huge spike of 2, 3, 4, 500 sales in one day. And we would never rank. It was a great feeling, we'd have the new number one bestseller badge, we would have like this awesome BSR ranking and it was a cool feeling for a little bit. And then it was just like things would tail off and we never ultimately would rank well. And it was disconcerting obviously, in that situation.

And then at some point, I don't know exactly what the aha moment is, I'd have to kind of think really hard about what happened. But I think it was when we were trying to resurrect a product that was an older product that wasn't doing very well. And we started offering a coupon. So we were running some Facebook ads to a landing page offering 25% off if you give us your email address. And we were producing four, five, six sales per day for that product over a long period of time. And all of a sudden after like 20, 30 days, I saw like kind of like a hockey stick growth on our rankings curve.

And it just kind of dawned on me that this rolling moving average thing existed and started doing some more experimenting. And once I figured that out, I was like okay, when we actually launch, we're going to want to produce spaced out consistent results, and not just a spike. Because if you throw up a spike and then throw up a goose egg, or two or three on the board the following day, it just isn't going to help with the rankings.

So, what I see happen when we do it the way that we're doing it now where we consistently space it out, somewhere between day five and 10 and we and we use Sellics where have all of our keywords loaded in, all of a sudden we just like pop up on the map on the graph of where we're ranking and it's not on the first page but we won't be ranking at all, like zero rankings and somewhere between five and 10 it's like think we're there for like we’ll see ourselves kind of light up on the dashboard basically of that screen that Sellics has. And then in the days following that it's just a straight line up, like we're just shooting up on those rankings.

And we want to eventually get to the first page for those keywords that were really going after and that takes somewhere usually between 10 and 14 days. So by the end of the second week, which is pretty darn quick, we're oftentimes on the first page for really competitive keywords by using the strategy.

Dave: Okay, so you're turning on your email and I think what you're about to do too is that you're going to email to your email list and segments to avoid this one day spike.

Mike: Exactly. Yeah. So what we've done is we’ve broken up our email list into blocks of five or three depending on the brand.

Dave: And how are you breaking these blocks up? Are you doing it like at the time of subscription or are you just simply manually doing like downloading your entire email list and separating them into different groups?

Mike: It depends on the email service provider. So within Klaviyo, we actually use the time zone kind of as a trick to break it up into groups one, two, and three within x genetics and we are using that for through ClickFunnels. And for our Tactical brand, we actually had to download the list and then break it up manually because there was no way to do it otherwise. Otherwise there was going to be a situation where people were receiving the email more than once that have been part of multiple lists. It's kind of a little bit wonky the way that platform works. So it's going to depend on the email service provider that you're using, what you want to do with this but that's how we’ve handled it ourselves.

Dave: That's a nice little hack. So, most email service providers are going to intake their users’ time zone when they subscribe. And so basically you're saying, okay, Eastern Time Zone we're going to send on Monday, Mountain Time Zone we're going to send on Tuesday, Pacific we're going to send on Wednesday.

Mike: Exactly.

Dave: So, a cheap old hack to separate your email into three lists or how many lists that you want.

Mike: Yep.

Dave: Okay so email that into – you’re aiming for one email per week for two weeks?

Mike: So what we'll do, let's say it's broken up into five parts just for simplicity sake.

Dave: So a five part email.

Mike: Yeah, so like we'll have five 20% blocks. So block A gets sent out on Monday that 20%, then block B on Tuesday, obviously, then through Friday. As I mentioned, the weekends usually aren't that strong for us so we’ll go through and do a reminder to those five blocks of emails the following week, because 30% open rate, 25% open rate whatever it might be. So we’ll target nine opens — and I think that's actually is non opens or maybe on that particular one we're tagging them all, I’ll have to go back and look at that one. But regardless, we're sending a reminder email the second week to make sure that that message is coming through again, and we obviously see another spike in sales based off of that as well.

Dave: All right, so your Facebook marketing, are you turning this on, I guess concurrently with your email marketing.

Mike: Yeah, and so all this stuff kind of happens in conjunction and concurrently with each other. So, obviously emails are going out Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. Well, on launch day on that Monday, we're going to launch an ad to our fans. And if you remember I talked about this video earlier that we're going to use as a part of enhanced brand content and on our Amazon listing. Well, that video makes a really great Facebook ad, and we were thinking about that as we create the video.

So, we're making a video that not only complies with Amazon's enhanced brand content and video policy, but that would also make a really great Facebook ad, that would also make a good video on YouTube, that would make a good video on a landing page. So there's some things you want to be thinking about when you're making that video that helps make it good for all those purposes. And that's what we do. So, when we first launch the video ad or Facebook ad, we target our fans.

And one of the things we talk about in other parts of EcomCrew is obviously building a Facebook audience. And we have about 80,000 people now for ColorIt as a for instance. And so we’ll target that ad to fans first. Number one, they're probably the most apt or are willing to buy anyway because there are our fans. But the other thing is that they really help with the social proof of that post. So, they're going to be more apt to interact, to like the post, to comment on the post etc. So we let that social proof build for the first day or two depending again on the brand and how much traction we have.

Then we start advertising to other audiences. And what we're doing at the same time that we're doing this is we're monitoring our daily sales. And the great thing about Facebook is you can turn up or down your ad spend really easily, especially if you have a large audience to advertise into. So, throughout the rest of that 10 to 14 day period, we're picking additional audiences to advertise to and ratcheting up or ratcheting down the spend per day to also try to help keep a consistent number of sales. It doesn't have to be like exactly 52 sales per day. I mean, we're trying to be within a window of let’s say between 40 and 60 or something to that range. But we want to make sure that we're keeping up the pace of that.

So, some audiences are going to perform better than others. The downside here to those Facebook ads is you can't really track them. So, it's a little bit of a leap of faith, you're kind of spending money not knowing exactly which ones are producing the best results. But this is an investment that we're willing to make in our business because we know the value of ranking on the first page for Amazon way outweighs the spend that we're putting into the Facebook span. So, that's something we're considering.

Dave: And you're basically using Amazon affiliate tracking outs from Amazon associate [inaudible 00:34:13] at least to get some broad sense of how many sales you are getting. So it's not a total shot in the dark. But at least you have…

Mike: The problem is — so what we're doing, the Facebook ad goes to a landing page. We haven't really kind of talked about that yet, but also all of our emails go to the same landing page and Facebook ads go into this landing page. And we're going to talk about ManyChat here in a second. It also goes off to this landing page. And we use one landing page for all of this throughout this process because at some point in the process, we're going to stop sending the traffic to Amazon and divert it to our own store..

So, we want to have a central place we can make one change of a link on the button to go to our own store versus going off to Amazon because these emails and especially the Facebook ads have a fairly decent shelf life, definitely a lot more than two weeks. We'll get people that are commenting, etc, on the post. And eventually, the post kind of continues to trickle in traffic over time. And eventually, we just don't want the traffic going to Amazon anymore. We want to get it kind of going back to our store.

But we do use an affiliate link on that landing page. And we do have a decent idea that the landing page is producing X number of sales. We just don't know if it's email or ManyChat or the ads that's producing more sales than the other. The only way to get around that would be to produce three different versions of the landing page, which is more work than we want to do. Because what we find is that the more touch points, the more things we have to remember to do, the more chance that we make an error and we want to try to avoid that.

Dave: And over time, I guess you will get a sense of how many — what percentage of your customers will come from ManyChat, what percentage come through email, what percentage come through Facebook?

Mike: Yeah.

Dave: Okay. So we only got a few minutes here. People are I guess on their way to the office or commute hopefully is coming to an end. So let's try to wrap this up in the next few minutes. Okay, you mentioned ManyChat. It is a great plug, check out the EcomCrew ManyChat.

Mike: The whole reason that this video and this podcast even came to be is because we want to talk about this as a part of our ManyChat course which is now out. So you can go check that out at EcomCrew.com/premium. But ManyChat is like a really important component of all this because we've now got at the time of recording this video over 50,000 people companywide on a ManyChat list, something like 36,000 of which are for ColorIt.

So, what we're going to do there, we talked about in the course that we only want to send a broadcast at really opportune moments. And this is going to be one of them. You're launching a brand new product; this is like the key to the rest of your year success maybe, or your quarter at least. You probably have a big investment of product. This is the time to utilize that ManyChat’s tool shed or tool in the tool shed. So, the first thing is we also break this up into five parts because at 36,000 people on our list, if we sent out that message to all of them at once, it would completely overwhelm our staff. So, we break that up by putting a tag on them in the five bite size chunks of relatively the same size.

Dave: And what you mean by overwhelming your staff, in your experience, about 10% of people are they get a message from you on Messenger, they kind of think it's a real life person, they're trying to interact with that person.

Mike: Yeah. So I mean, if it's 36,000 people, that's 3,600 responses that we’ll take, that's a lot of stuff to respond to. So, you break that up over five days. It makes it more manageable.

Dave: Cool okay. So you're sending out that ManyChat, anything else that you're doing in terms of I guess marketing blast?

Mike: Well, we did talk about the influencers. One thing I do want to mention, we do try to get them to release their videos on their marketing calendar. We’ll work with them and try to get one per day over a 10 day period. This is a lot harder than it sounds because YouTubers don't necessarily listen. They'll want to be the first one to release a lot of times first of all, so sometimes they'll release it before the product is available, very frustrating, even though we tell them not to do that. Or they see the product is live and they put it out immediately because they know that the sooner they put it out, the better chance that they're going to be the one to rank for that product if someone is searching for it.

But for the people that are nice enough to listen to us, we try to space that out over 10 days. And you'd be surprised like the YouTube channels that we pick, one of things that I didn’t talk about during that influencer selection process, we're looking at other videos they're producing in their channel. So, it's not oh, they have 10,000 subscribers or 100,000 subscribers, we want to work with them because of that. We look at the number of up votes versus down votes they're getting on individual videos, and the number of comments that they're getting on individual videos.

And the typical people that we work with are ones that have like a hyper engaged audience. And because of that, it actually produces a decent number of sales. So, we find that to be quite helpful.

Dave: Okay. And a couple things, I guess I'm just going to quickly summarize maybe a couple of things that we forgot. Stage two you got your products all here, first thing at least I do is turn on Amazon's early reviewer program. 60 bucks go and roll. It's within your promotions tab, $60 and get up to five free reviews for a new product. So, that's 60 bucks you'll ever spend. Another thing that you can do and this is a whole podcast and blog topic on its own but Amazon giveaways are totally TOS compliant and you can get a bunch of free — not free, you actually have to pay for the products.

But a lot of initial traction and hopefully through those giveaways you're also going to get a lot of people who go on to buy your products. So, Amazon giveaways we have a podcast on that and a blog post on that.

Mike: Highly recommend checking it out. It's been probably the most effective thing we've added to the sequence over the last six to 12 months. It's actually been shocking in how well it works. And especially if you have a product that people really want, the general public wants, it really, really works well. If you have something that's more niche, it doesn't seem to work quite as well. But some of the things like our gel pens for instance, we’ll give away 10 units and get over 100 sales. I mean it's really pretty incredible.

Dave: Yeah, in my experience you’re either a huge flop or an absolute huge hit, and when they're huge hit you can really propel your products quickly up the search rankings. Okay so the last thing getting, now we're done with Amazon — of course we’re not done with Amazon, but now we can actually…

Mike: We are never done with Amazon.

Dave: Now we can actually turn on our other channels. And we might not have made this clear in the podcast that our purpose in this is to really propel our sales on Amazon in the beginning because Amazon, that early velocity really matters. On your own website, it doesn't really matter if you have like an immediate surge of velocity over five or 10 days. The Shopify obviously doesn't care; Google doesn't really care as much.

So that's been our purpose all throughout here is to get that initial surge all focused on Amazon. But now you've at least shown — hopefully you've shown that surge over 10 to 14 days on Amazon. Now is the time to turn on your listings on Shopify, if you're selling on eBay, turn on eBay listings. If you're selling on Etsy, turn your Etsy listings.

Mike: Yeah, exactly right. So, it might seem crazy to you that here we're spending, because it costs all this, we're giving up 15% to send all the traffic to Amazon. So, it certainly costs money or we're taking money out of our pocket or leaving money on the table, however you want to look at it by sending all this traffic to Amazon, we could send the traffic right to our own store. The reason that we do this is because its long term thinkers. And we know the extrinsic value of ranking on the number one on Amazon or on the first page for Amazon for a competitive term. And being able to do that in a white hat way like we're explaining here, that has a certain value to us.

And we can look at that and we know what that number is, and whatever money we're just leaving on the table over here because we didn't sell it through our Shopify store pales in comparison to the value of the Amazon rankings. So, once its ranking on Amazon, obviously we're going to turn our attention back to our own Shopify store. It's another great opportunity to email our list again and let them know, hey, this is back. This is actually in stock now at ColorIt.com, or with one of our other brands, whatever it might be. And again, it's just another great excuse too because a lot of people don't buy on Amazon.

That's actually something we hear a lot more frequently now is I refuse to buy on Amazon. It's actually kind of crazy. When we launch a new product, we hear this quite a bit. So, we'll email at that point and say, hey, it's on ColorIt now. We'll switch all the landing pages that we were talking about earlier. That link will then go to the listing on our Shopify store and we’ll continue to run Facebook ads at that point. But now we can optimize for purchases instead of optimizing for engagement on the post which is going to get our clicks. We can now optimize for purchases because now the pixel is on our site and we know a lot better what's going on with that and we can now focus on running ads to that product which typically it's pretty effective for us.

Dave: Okay, perfect. Well, I think that was about 45, 50 minutes.

Mike: A little bit longer than normal but…

Dave: Hopefully guys went into the office or the rush hour commute was not too bad. That wraps this up. We will have a blog post to accompany this at some point which will put things a little bit more visually to connect with new people who kind of marinate things better in your brain than in your eyes. So until the next episode, happy selling and we'll talk to you then.

Mike: And that's a wrap guys. Episode 176 in the books, don't forget you can go to EcomCrew.com/176 to get to the show notes for this episode. And I had mentioned that we were in Montreal recording a bunch of different videos and including this one here. But the main purpose of the trip was to record our new Facebook marketing class or Facebook Messenger class for e-commerce. And that's going to be coming out here in just a couple of weeks, and it'll be open to all the EcomCrew Premium members will be getting that additional course for free as a part of their subscription.

And if you're interested in being a part of EcomCrew Premium, our community there and everything that we're doing, you'll get access to all of our courses, our Facebook group, the monthly webinars, access to us via email to ask any questions you want and more. You can find that at EcomCrew.com/premium. I want to thank you guys again for supporting the EcomCrew Podcast.

It means a lot to us that you guys continue to support us week in and week out. It really is humbling to have this many people out there listening and supporting us. It really does mean a lot. It definitely keeps me motivated from day to day in trying to do new things and helping the community. So, until the next episode everybody, happy selling, and we'll talk to you soon.

Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.
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