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Jan. 6, 2023

Secret and Not So Secret Tips To Increase Your Sales On Amazon with Cameron Messick

Secret and Not So Secret Tips To Increase Your Sales On Amazon with Cameron Messick

This episode features Cameron Messick, the head of Amazon marketing at True Online Presence. He’s here to discuss today's topic which is Secret and not-so-secret tips to increase your sales on Amazon.  He recently wrote an eBook titled 10 Things Every Amazon Seller Should Know that is available at no cost.

Cameron shares what Amazon uses to decide in what order to list products for different searches. He talks about the different ways that a company can increase how many times their products are shown up for searches, without paying for Amazon ads just organically.

Cameron discusses the common errors he encounters when he reviews Amazon seller accounts and the benefit of FBM vs FBA.

Listen to Cameron's piece of actionable advice to someone not seeing great results and to those who want to sell even more on Amazon.

Cameron deep dives into the type of ads he finds the most successful for his clients.

Episode Action Items:

To find more information about Cameron, go to:

cameron@trueonlinepresence.com

 

ABOUT THE HOST:

Andy Splichal - Make Each Click Count PodcastAndy Splichal is the World's Foremost Expert on Ecommerce Growth Strategies. He is the acclaimed author of the Make Each Click Count Book Series, the Founder & Managing Partner of True Online Presence and the Founder of Make Each Click Count University. Andy was named to The Best of Los Angeles Award's Most Fascinating 100 List in both 2020 and 2021.

New episodes of the Make Each Click Count Podcast, are released each Friday and can be found on Apple Podcast, iHeart Radio, iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, Amazon Music, Google Podcasts and www.makeeachclickcount.com.

Transcript

Andy Splichal 0:00

Welcome to the Make Each Click Count podcast. This is your host, Andy Splichal. We are happy to welcome this week's guest to discuss today's topic which is Secret and not so secret tips to increase your sales on Amazon. This week's guest is the head of Amazon Marketing at True Online Presence. He recently wrote an ebook titled 10 Things Every Amazon Seller Should Know that is available to you at no cost a big welcome to Cameron Messick. Hi, Cameron.

 

Cameron Messick 0:26

Thank you so much for having me today. I'm excited to be on your podcast.

 

Andy Splichal 0:29

Yeah, you know, this is going to be great in perfect timing as we kick off the sixth season and beginning of 2023, with this episode, and let's let's start here, many companies, they just list their products, and they don't really know how the Amazon algorithm works. What does Amazon use? How do they decide and in what order to list products for different searches?

 

Cameron Messick 0:54

Yeah, kind of at the highest level view. It's all based on traffic and conversions that you're giving, you're getting first given search term. And SEO on your listings, obviously, but let's say for example, that somebody searches yoga mat, and your listing gets clicked the most for that particular search term. Your listing, if it gets click the mouse for that particular search amount of given in a given time will be ranked at the very, very top of the search results page for that particular search term. There's a lot that goes into how that ranks. But that's that's kind of a high level view of how you can get your how your products ranked on Amazon.

 

Andy Splichal 1:33

And so what are some different ways that a company can increase how many times their products are shown up for searches, without paying for Amazon ads just organically.

 

Cameron Messick 1:46

Really, without paying for Amazon ads, you need to make sure your SEO is just perfect. And when I say that, I say that with a little bit of hesitation, because SEO can really never be perfect. It always needs to be changing. You always need to track search trends behavior. Making sure that your keywords are in the correct places in your listings office is a very big, important part of SEO, for example, keywords that are in your title, rank much more, or make rank much higher than keywords and your bullet points in your description. So it's all about kind of knowing where to place the best keywords in your particular listing. And then the next best way to do it is really to make sure that if you haven't already launched your brand to make sure that your brand name isn't generic. We've worked with a couple people that their brand name is just so generic that they're competing against huge brands like Nike or SmartWater. And you're never going to win against people like that. So just trying to make sure that you that way you kind of in the long, long term, when people are searching for your brand name, you show up and you don't have to continue to pay to to defend your own brand name.

 

Andy Splichal 2:57

Yeah, you know, that is a great point for somebody just launching a company is really think about that brand name, I have one of my clients, who's a Google client, who sells pond founds, they're up against a competitor who has half off in their names. And they're not, they're not half off. But that's the name of the company. And that just so increases the click through rate. And it just had to, you know, had to be strategic on deciding. So the brand name is really important. Now, if somebody's just starting an Amazon store, how do they even know what keywords they should be including in their titles and their descriptions, all that

 

Cameron Messick 3:37

There's a lot of tools that you can use to pull Amazon data, I think the best one is probably Helium 10 It's the best and probably cheapest for what you get. It's a pretty, it can be kind of complicated to use. So definitely would recommend reaching out to some sort of agency even if it's just for like a small one time project to pull some keyword data. It's it can be very affordable. But yeah, using a tool like helium 10 to look at your competitors are very, very similar, like products is a great place to start.

 

Andy Splichal 4:11

Now, when you review a similar account for a client potential client, what are what are some of the errors that you see people making?

 

Cameron Messick 4:22

Yeah, I think the biggest error that I see is people not getting a trademark. If you don't have a trademark, you can't access most of the selling or a lot of the kind of most beneficial selling tools on Amazon. So get a trademark that way. If you have a trademark, you also need to sign up for what's called Amazon brand registry. If you have a trademark and you don't know what that is go Google it. And with the brand registry, you can access stuff like a storefront A plus content, it really just unlocks tons of more marketing opportunities for you as a brand. And another thing that I see is even if a lot of brands are brand registered, they're not used think those special tools really, at all, or even to their full potential, there's so many new tools that Amazon is releasing on a regular basis, most of the time only to brand registered people. So I would recommend following some sort of group, or something that just talks about new tools on Amazon, one of the ones that was released about, I think it's probably it's been about two years at this point. It's called Amazon posts. And it's still to this day of very, very underutilized, it's only available to brand registered sellers. If I've seen a lot of brands use it and get a ton of really good free traffic through Amazon.

 

Andy Splichal 5:44

Now, what is what does Amazon post, it's basically

 

Cameron Messick 5:47

Amazon's version of kind of social media, that's the easiest way to think of it. So if you already have your social media team, posting stuff about your brand, just repurpose that on Amazon. Essentially, what it will do is it will show your posts to products in similar and the exact same category that you're in, as Amazon deems that relevant as those posts get traffic. If the more traffic they get, the more they will show up to on on your competitors listings. Absolutely no cost to you. And what's nice about them, as opposed to social media. Is one post. If it does, well, it'll continue to show up forever. It's not like something that you posted a year ago can no longer be relevant today.

 

Andy Splichal 6:30

No, that's that's a great tip, because I think a lot of listeners probably are using social media for their products. What what would be an example Have you seen of a post that has some has some longevity has some legs?

 

Cameron Messick 6:46

Yeah, I mean, I work with a brand that sells beard, your growth products, very, very competitive category. They posted a post over six months ago at this point. And they posted that exact same post on Tik Tok and on Instagram. And it did very, very well in every single channel. I don't know, I guess the way they've made it just did capture a lot of attention. And it just went viral from basically week one on Amazon posts. And ever since then, it's continued to show up on our competitors listings again, at absolutely no cost to us. So it'll continue to drive traffic to our listings from that post.

 

Andy Splichal 7:28

That's fantastic. Now, another initial choice that a new seller may have is how to fulfill Do you FBM fulfilled by merchant Do you fulfill by Amazon FBA? I guess talk about the benefits of those and and how does somebody ultimately decide which one they should be doing?

 

Cameron Messick 7:52

Yeah, I mean, two years ago, I would say FBA only don't even bother with FBM. As of now, it's, it's honestly gotten very expensive to sell through FDA. So you definitely want to weigh both options. FBA definitely get the get the prime badge, which many people just filter by immediately when they search something on Amazon. So if you don't have the FBA prime badge, you're immediately going to be basically removed from the search results. Even if they don't filter by it, and the click through rate is way higher for FBA, depending on the category and it's anywhere from like one to 5%. So it's very significant. FBA is obviously fast and free delivery. So it could be one to three days shipping, depending on where you live in the country. FBA handles returns, and it's sometimes cheaper. The reason I say kind of way, I guess, an example of what I'd recommend FBM is let's say you're an apparel brand, for example, and you have you sell shirts, well I would recommend you do is if you have, let's say under a specific parent, so you have five different colors and five different sizes of each color. I mean, that's that, that's quite a few products. So I would recommend probably doing your top size as FBA for each color, and then do everything else at the end. That way you're getting the click through, kind of for my for example, when people filter out the prime badge only they'll still see your your best selling product. But then if they click on your listing, and they're already sold, they're already wanting to purchase your product. Even though your other products listing products are FBM. As long as you don't charge for shipping. They probably won't even notice and end up purchasing your product. Or even if they do notice, again, they're already on your listing so you have a chance to sell them even though it is FBM.

 

Andy Splichal 9:46

Yeah, that's a good that's a great strategy. Does private label factor into whether you should go FBA? FBM I guess I'm thinking if you're selling a product that nobody else is selling It might give you more room to fulfill it yourself than if you're selling a product that for other people are selling.

 

Cameron Messick:

I mean, yes and no. I mean if even if it's private label, but it's similar to a lot of other products on Amazon, which, if you can find a product, nobody else sells on Amazon Good, good on you. If it's similar to other products on there on Amazon, and it's a similar price point, or even more expensive, it's definitely going to have a negative effect if you only sell FBM.

 

Andy Splichal:

But I guess your

 

Cameron Messick:

competitors are selling FBA

 

Andy Splichal:

right, I guess I'm thinking, Is there any way you're ever gonna get the buy box if you're selling a product? That's the exact same as the same? UPC the exact same item as somebody else who's selling it FBA?

 

Cameron Messick:

You're selling? You're talking about resellers? Exactly. Yeah. If you're at a cheaper cost, and yes, you'll get the buy box, it has to be pretty significantly cheaper, though, it can't just be like a couple pennies. It definitely ranges on the time of year as well. Like when Amazon gets really overloaded, like Black Friday, for example, they might actually prioritize the FBM listings, because they don't want them to fill out as much out of their warehouse. So that's a good time of year to be if you're on somebody else's listing to be FBM. Even at the same price point. During COVID, they actually basically prioritized FBM the entire time, it was kind of interesting, during their kind of most of their busiest months are most when they had to layoff love their employees and they were also busy.

 

Andy Splichal:

Interesting, do you recommend that sellers have an FBA and FBM listing?

 

Cameron Messick:

Definitely. So especially if you're a private label, and I guess, really only if your private label is when this matters, when you go out of stock, and you aren't selling anything on Amazon, it just kills your ranking. So if you have a product that's selling 10 units a day, and then it starts selling zero, it just stops because it's out of stock on your FBA listing, or something's in transit. So you shipped something to Amazon, but they're taking a long time to check in, which is typical Amazon very, very common. Those zero sale days are going to just destroy your ranking. So you definitely want to have an FBM listing as well. Just to make sure to have that backup, so that you can continue to sell while your FBA inventory is either in transit, or whatever other situation you have.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now, you've already been given a lot of really good advice. But what would be the best piece of actionable advice that you would give somebody who's not seeing great results, or they might be seeing good results, but want to see even better results? selling on Amazon this coming year?

 

Cameron Messick:

You know, Amazon is its own beast, if you've sold online for your entire life, and you think you know everything about it, and Amazon just one more marketplace. And that's not necessarily correct, I would really recommend reaching out to somebody to do an SEO audit, a full account audit, and an advertising audit or all in one. There's tons of companies that do them. A lot are better than others, that's for sure. And we'll get into some things that are better or just some things to look for later. But in those audits, but really just getting those audits done or performing them yourself through tools like helium 10, you can enter your own asin in helium 10 and kind of see what keywords you're ranking for. And enter your competitors keywords and see what keywords they're ranking for and what they're doing differently than you. That's really kind of a good place to start, I guess.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now many sellers they'll think well I made this great product, there's there's demand for it. Maybe they've been selling it on their Shopify website on their own website they've been selling, they're gonna bring it into Amazon. And they're thinking I'm just gonna list it and people buy why should or should they not consider using paid sponsored Amazon ads?

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah, I unless somebody has just done a ridiculous amount of off Amazon, influencer traffic or if their brand is something like SmartWater or Nike, or something just very, very well known. Amazon has paid a play. Since about 2015. Amazon has become just ridiculously competitive in every single category. So that even in order to get placed for kind of the most generic keywords, you need to spend at least a little bit of money to get ranked for those keywords. So kind of the process would be to kind of choose what keywords you're hoping to rank for. And understand that longtail keywords are typically cheaper than kind of the short tail more frequent, least searched search terms. So go after the longtail keywords first start advertising for them even with a small budget once you start ranking organic Before those meaning that your when you search that search term, probably your sponsored ad will show up. Also a normal another placement, another listing, placement of yours will show up, it doesn't have that sponsor tag on the listing. So once they're both showing up, you can typically reduce your advertising budget for that particular keyword, but you usually can't ever turn it off. Otherwise, a competitor is going to come in and get more sales for that particular keyword and take it from you again. So it'll be always off and on and off and on, which becomes very expensive. But it's typically cheaper to just start with a higher budget, reduce it, move on to the next keyword type of strategy.

 

Andy Splichal:

What type of ads do you find you're having the most success with for your clients?

 

Cameron Messick:

You know, historically, it's always been sponsored product. Amazon has been focusing on sponsored videos just in general, they're typically a little bit more expensive, but the placement is much better. And the click through rate is very high. So if you have a good video for your product, definitely would recommend to that. But by default, you should always have sponsored product first. That's kind of like the foundation of Amazon advertising and build upon that.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now for the sponsored product ads. Are you targeting keywords? Are you targeting competitor ASINs? Or is it a combination of both?

 

Cameron Messick:

For sponsored product campaigns, I would always recommend starting with, I mean, okay, not always, I would typically recommend depending on the category that you're in, starting with targeting keywords. And then moving on to the products typically, it's way more expensive to target other products. And your your conversion rates going to be way lower, targeting other products. Now, I said typically, really the only cases that I would suggest not doing or not starting with sponsored product, or maybe starting with both at the same time for certain keyword targeting, doing the keyword targeting in product targeting at the same time as if you're in a category that has like $10 cost per click keywords, which definitely do exist like supplements, or a lot of pet products or baby products even have that type of really high cost per click. Yeah,

 

Andy Splichal:

you know, that's, that's funny, I have one that I just started working with a client who is selling beauty lotion. And it's it's price prohibitive to go after the keywords. And so we're just looking at the Asin. So that's funny that you had mentioned that when you had mentioned before, on running off Amazon traffic to your Amazon listing, have you found any success and what type of success we've had doing that?

 

Cameron Messick:

Oh, absolutely. Running off Amazon ads to your own Amazon listings helps you grow ranking more quickly. So within your subcategory. The way that an Amazon rep explained it to me was that one sale for off Amazon traffic driven sale is basically the same effect as to on Amazon sales would be for your ranking. So essentially, if you were to have 100, off Amazon driven sales, on your Amazon listings, it would count almost as if you had 200 sales on Amazon for for ranking purposes. definitely worthwhile. On top of that, if you're brand registered, you can also earn a commission of up to 10% back for most categories on Amazon. If you use their their link tree, so you have to build links through their brand attribution portal. If you build those links, and drive traffic using those links to your Amazon listings, and we're gonna pay you up to 10% for each sale that you get.

 

Andy Splichal:

Yeah, you had mentioned before, if you're not really familiar with Amazon, maybe you're you're hearing all this, you're getting overwhelmed. And so you want to speak to an to an agency. I mean, there's a lot of them out there. We're one of them. But I mean, there's a lot of other ones out there. What are some questions that that you would recommend somebody who's looking to hire an agency or looking to get an audit done? What kind of questions should they ask that agency before they you know, doing their due diligence and starting?

 

Cameron Messick:

For sure, if you're just starting on Amazon, and you really don't know a ton about it, I would shy away from advertising only agencies, you really want to make sure to get a full service agency. But the question you should ask them is to really explain the full process from kind of start to finish even though you can never really finish on Amazon because you always have to change and update just based on kind of the world and search terms. But just to have them explain to you the full process from start to finish about how they will grow your account. They should be saying something like, first we'll make sure that your listings are set to opt to convert and then we'll start advertising if they just say oh yeah, we're gonna jump in and we're gonna do this with ads and that with ads and this with ads, I mean, that's the scariest thing for sellers. That's usually what most salespeople will focus on. But if you're advertising to a listing, that's not set to convert, it's just a waste of money, you're going to spend a ton of money on ads without selling anything, you need to make sure your listing to set to convert, and then ads, I would also recommend asking them how they measure profitability. This is something not many agencies I found, will do, just to make sure that they're at least aware of your margins and kind of how they measure profitability on a regular basis. That way, you can make sure that you're actually making money on Amazon, it looks great, you spent 10% of your overall sales, but they might not understand your overall costs. So it's important as a brand to work with the sales rep of how they're going to continue to measure that to make sure that you're actually making money at the end of the day.

 

Andy Splichal:

Well, and you need to know Yeah, you need to need to know your numbers. Now, if you had a crystal ball, where do you see Amazon going over the next year to year and a half?

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah, I've been going to just about every Amazon conference, there is recently or for the last few years, and Amazon, I believe is going to focus more on video ads. If you don't have a video, currently, Amazon even has free tools to create your own that they recently just released. The reason I think this is well is Amazon just purchased freebie and Twitch, which are two obviously very, very heavy video, video platforms. And they're actually from what I've heard, they are looking to purchase some others as well. I also think that more off Amazon opportunities are going to come up for us to be able to advertise on or through the Amazon platform, that the ads will be placed off Amazon. And before that, I do believe that images are going to be more and more important. Each of those placements through DSP. Currently, you need to have really, really good imagery, or has to be pretty customized for each advertising placement. So it's going to honestly become if you don't have kind of some sort of graphic help for both videos and images. It's going to be difficult to keep up.

 

Andy Splichal:

Now, you mentioned you've been going to quite a few Amazon conferences in the last few years. How did you just curious how did you get started running Amazon ads and get involved in Amazon?

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah. Back in the day, I used to work in accounting. And I really was just getting bored with the numbers. And I had a friend talk to me that worked with an agency. And he recruited me into an agency I worked there for a number of years, worked with really the top Amazon managers there and kind of really grew my connections at Amazon really grew myself within the company, I actually started at the lowest level of our company, and grew to the highest level of our company, which was an enterprise growth manager, just within a year and a half, which most people took upwards of five years to do. So definitely was able to grow very quickly there. And then since then, I've left the agency that I was working at, and have been working, working for myself

 

Andy Splichal:

now. And now you're you're heading the Amazon and True Online Presence, who is the perfect client for working directly with you there?

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah, someone who is either already selling on other channels, and currently hasn't launched Amazon yet. Or anybody who is currently selling on Amazon maybe has just recently launched and is looking for some help there. Or anybody who's current has been on Amazon for quite a while that spending probably around $1,000, at least per month.

 

Andy Splichal:

And then in your bio, I'd mentioned that you also had just recently written an ebook Top 10 Things Every Amazon seller should know. Tell us a little bit about that.

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah. So I just wanted to make sure to pay for it to be as helpful as possible for everybody looking at it. So I did a lot of research based on the tennis itself. You honestly, there should be more like top top 1000. But I mean, that would be too long. I did the research, I did some research, just look at the most frequently asked questions frequently. Kind of most are top concerns and and base the questions on that. So really, I hope that you do have a chance to go and read it. And then it is helpful for you. I think whether you're an experienced Amazon seller or you're brand new to the platform, I wrote it in a way to make it easy to understand and also beneficial for anybody who is like I said either new to selling on Amazon or has A lot of experience on Amazon.

 

Andy Splichal:

Yeah. And if listeners want that book, I'll put the link in the show notes. There'll be right below so you can download that. Now, how can an interested listener besides being able to download the Top 10 Things Every Amazon seller should know? But how can an interested listener learn more about working with you?

 

Cameron Messick:

Yeah, they can contact me at cameron@trueonlinepresence.com. I believe you're gonna put that in the description of the podcast, right?

 

Andy Splichal:

Yep, I'll put that contact information in there. Well, this has been great. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we wrap it up today?

 

Cameron Messick:

Really just stressing, it never hurts to get an account audit. For my experience, paid audits are worth it. The reason I say that is because with a free audit, you're typically just going to get an audit from a sales rep. Who knows kind of like the key fear tactics to send to a brand to make it look like what they're doing currently is terrible. But typically, the paid audits are done by the people actually doing the Amazon work kind of the account managers of the accounts. So they're gonna give you a lot more realistic information as far as why something needs to be changed in your account.

 

Andy Splichal:

Great, and if somebody wants a paid audit, they can just email you at cameron@trueonlinepresence.com

Yeah. Perfect. Well, that is it. Thank you again for joining us today, Cameron.

 

Cameron Messick:

Thank you, Andy.

 

Andy Splichal:

For listeners. Remember, if you liked this episode, please go to Apple podcasts and leave us an honest review. And if you're looking for more information regarding Cameron or his ebook, 10 things every Amazon seller should know. Or contacting him eternally his presence you'll find all the links in the show notes below. In addition, if you're looking for more information on growing your business, check out our podcast Resource Center available at podcast on make each click count. I'm Tom, we have compiled all of our different past guests by show topic and include each of their contact information in case you would like more information on any of the services I've discussed during previous episodes. Well that's it for today. Remember to stay safe, keep healthy and happy marketing, and I will talk to you in the next episode.