Amazon is a $1.7 trillion company. What initially started off as an online bookstore is now one of the largest American multinational organizations that focuses on eCommerce, digital streaming, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and various other sectors.
Talking about eCommerce, Amazon is an entire eCommerce ecosystem of its own. And if you’re looking forward to launching your own Amazon storefront, the question is – “Should You?”
If so, when is the right time, and how does it work?
Robyn Johnson is the co-founder of Marketplace Blueprint, and she has over 10 years of experience marketing products on Amazon. Recently, Adam caught up with Robyn to get answers to some of the most burning questions related to eCommerce on Amazon.
More About Robyn:
Robyn Johnson has been heralded as one of the country’s foremost leaders on the topic of selling and marketing products on Amazon.com. Robyn has been a guest on shows like Entrepreneur on Fire, Confessions of A Marketer, and School for Start Ups Radio.
Robyn, the co-founder of Marketplace Blueprint, runs a digital agency that specializes in marketing products on Amazon. Robyn has over a decade of experience selling online on Amazon, eBay, and other eCommerce venues. Starting with only $100 taken from their emergency fund, she built a seven-figure business selling on Amazon and eBay in just a few short years.
Throughout This Podcast, Adam & Robyn Discussed:
- What are the common challenges Amazon third-party sellers face while trying to gain traction on Amazon?
- The way Amazon algorithm processes search intent and keywords.
- How to find the right set of keywords that’ll actually help you rank at the top of Amazon SERPs?
- What’s the best time to start thinking about scaling your Amazon business and revenue?
- Robyn’s three personal favorite Amazon tools
- How to make your way to the top of the Amazon SERPs strategically?
- Why does product positioning matter?
- The importance of focusing on long-tail niche keywords on Amazon.
- How competitive is the Amazon ecosystem? How can you apply the right set of tactics to grow your Amazon business in this ever-competitive market?
- The importance of building a rock-solid Amazon brand.
- How can off-Amazon marketing help you build brand affinity and recognition, which can further help you grow your Amazon business at a budget-friendly price?
- A few points Amazon third-party sellers should keep in mind to avoid getting their accounts banned.
- If you’ve recently launched a new product listing or your Amazon venture, how can you ramp up the reviews?
- Robyn shares more information about her Amazon Consulting Services – https://marketplaceblueprint.com/
Data fetched from a report indicates that at any given point in time, there are roughly two million third-party sellers actively selling on Amazon. We’re living in an extremely competitive landscape. Investing thousands of dollars in randomly crafted ads won’t do you any good.
To thrive in this ever-competitive world, strategic planning and implementation are crucial. What’s the most important part is – building a rock-solid brand – a brand that people can trust and put their faith in.
And we’d love nothing more than to help you out with that.
We will bring your unique story to life and not only increase your average order size but set you up with a profitable sales system that works for you 24/7 on autopilot in the next 30 days – or we keep working at no cost until you do. Book a Call Here
Powerful Recommendations for Awesome Readers & Podcast Listeners Just Like You:
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- The One Philosophy That Will Create a Habit of Success for Any Entrepreneur.
- The Truth About Why 88% Of People Buy From Brands Today
- Josh Fronger: How Can Business Systems Help Your Brand Achieve More Freedom & Generate High Revenue?
- Shawn Wenner: The Key Marketing Strategies That Grew the Pastry Arts Brand Rapidly
Episode Transcript (unedited, will likely have typos):
Adam G. Force 0:00
How do social entrepreneurs and small businesses create an authentic brand people love so they can get the edge they need to stand out, create Predictable Revenue and compete against the big guys. That’s what we’re here to discuss. I’m Adam forest, the founder of change creator, and this is the authentic brand mastery podcast.
All right, what’s going on everybody? Welcome back to the authentic brand mastery podcast, we are ready for the next discussion here today. So if you missed the last episodes with Josh finger, he is part of the group and team who created work the system. So really, I mean, this is a really great conversation, I think there’s gonna be a lot that stimulates you and how you think about your business. And it is, when we talk about working the system, it’s kind of like taking the ability to step out of your business and see the bird’s eye view, and really start creating systems and processes that will create more efficiency and free you up a little bit. So powerful conversation there. I know, we all want more freedom in our business. So if you missed that one, go back, check it out. Today, we’re gonna be talking with Robin Johnson, she is a leader in the topic of selling and marketing products on amazon.com. This is a big part of the E commerce strategy. Just think of it as a revenue channel. But you know, there’s a lot to learn. It’s a whole environment to understand. So Robin, you know, she’s been on shows like entrepreneurs on fire as well, and stuff like that. And she is the co founder of marketplace blueprint, which is basically an agency that’s just specializes in marketing products on Amazon. That’s what they do. Yeah, so she’s got over a decade, decades of experience selling on Amazon, and they help all kinds of different brands, and she has tons of good insights. So if you’re an E commerce brand, or you’re thinking about e commerce, this can be a great conversation for you to understand that environment a little bit more and what really makes it tick. So if you’re an E commerce company, we’ve been working with a lot of brands in that space. And if you could add, what would it mean to your business to add 1000 new leads every month and get paid to do it. That’s what we’re doing right now. And when we build your sales system, if we’re not getting the results, and you’re not profitable, we keep working with you at no cost until you are that’s how confident we are guys. We have one spot oh, maybe too soon. If you just stop by book a call if you want to chat and see if this is a good fit for you. We’d love to learn more about your business and potentially partner up. Just visit us at change. creator.com Okay, show me the heat. Hey, Robin, welcome to the authentic brand mastery podcast How you doing today,
Robyn Johnson 2:59
I am doing great. I’m so excited to be here and to be able to share what I’ve learned over the last decade or so.
Adam G. Force 3:06
Decade nice. You guys are doing some cool stuff. I thought it’d be a really good complementary strategy and conversation for us to have that will help all the E commerce entrepreneurs in our world here at change creator. So just so they know what you’re all about, why don’t you just give us that rundown in a nutshell a little bit about your background and what you’re kind of working on these days to help these guys well,
Robyn Johnson 3:28
about like 1112 years ago, I kind of lost track, I started just buying things. I started with $100. And I started buying things garage sales. And from there, I moved from to eBay and to Amazon I built that kind of bootstrapped it to about a million dollars in business and just a couple of years. Just you know a little bit by little bit after that I started coaching high volume people who are reselling on Amazon. So you know, people who you even today are going into, you know, Nike stores and TJ Maxx is in Walmart, and they’re buying things and reselling them on Amazon and doing multiple seven figures sometimes. And you know, as we started to expand, we started to do work more directly with brands buying wholesale. And I saw what a huge problem. Amazon can be for brands, it can be incredibly frustrating. It can take you away from your goals if you’re not careful. And it can be a place where it just seems like everything defies logic and is just really, really difficult and takes a lot of time and energy to understand. So we have kind of spent the last five years or so building up an agency that works specifically on Amazon. We do Walmart and eBay too for some brands. But we really focus on Amazon because it is such a weird ecosystem, but it has so much power for brands, especially emerging brands if done right. Okay. Yeah,
Adam G. Force 4:45
I mean, I love that and I love that you’re it’s kind of like I guess you define it as a wholesale approach, right? It’s it’s really like getting on the shelf somewhere in a store, but you’re on the Amazon shelf, if you will. And you know, I like that because I was I talked to him and worked with a lot of entrepreneurs and in who are in the E commerce space, and a lot of times they come to us saying, Well, we’re making money through wholesale, but my website’s not really doing anything. So we are the comp we complement each other nicely. So, tell me a little bit about what are the common challenges you’re seeing with entrepreneurs who are trying to actually get some traction on Amazon.
Robyn Johnson 5:29
So it works differently. So the way the search algorithm was works, the way the ads play with the algorithm for search, it’s very Search Driven, so it’s very bottom of funnel. So it can be very difficult, if you have a new category, you have something revolutionary, then Amazon can be a difficult place to launch not impossible, but difficult, you have to have a lot of strategy in the way that you do it. If you if you come in, you just got you know, let’s say you’ve got a really great garlic press, then you know, you’ve got something that’s, you know, standard, people are already searching for it, Amazon can be a great place, but it can be very competitive. And so one of the big things that I you know, when we see is that whoever is in charge of that, whether it’s a multi million dollar company that’s got somebody you know, Joe’s running their e commerce side, or it’s, you know, I’m a shark tank size kind of company, and I’m trying to expand right now, that is that Amazon takes so much time to learn that it can be easy to feel like you’ve tried Amazon, or to feel like I you know, I gave it a good go and not get the results. So we had a publicly traded company that came to us, and they just were having horrible results, we actually were able to grow their sales so much. And they already had an agency. So it’s not like we went from zero Amazon presence to to, you know, some Amazon presence, they were able to get a $40 million investor round, because of the increased revenue that we drove just on Amazon and here. So you know, it can be really, really powerful.
Adam G. Force 6:53
Hmm, that’s interesting. And so I guess now, you mentioned it’s very bottom of funnel. And are there. I mean, if you do marketing, for example, on YouTube, like you can literally kind of get a real gist of what some of the key words are just like when you do Google, is there a game like that being played on Amazon?
Robyn Johnson 7:15
Very much. So there are several tools out there that can help you kind of look at it. So you, let’s say, you look at your competitor that you saw on the trade show floor that you see kind of on shelves next to you, and you look at their page on Amazon, there’s actually tools that will tell you what keywords, they’re ranking for what they’re ranking for. And you can use that to kind of identify, and that’s even what we do within our agency is is a starting places, we look at those competitors and say, Alright, these, these are the keywords that are ranking well, for this product, and here’s how much search volume and you know, let’s look at the kind of customer that’s going to come in through that keyword phrase. And that can kind of identify how much we’re going to attract what we’re going to be able to use. And on Amazon, we can even target specifically those product detail pages on advertising. So, you know, not only can we target by keywords, kind of like search ads, but Amazon starting to roll out more advanced targeting that is more demographic based, more action based. So a little bit more like Facebook, it’s still early and so they’re still figuring that product out. But it’s pretty exciting.
Adam G. Force 8:22
Okay, well that’s interesting. And I mean, at what stage is it I always think that timing is important in life whether you know in anything business life, like just timing can matter to the results that we get help so can you help people listening understand when is the the best time to start thinking about this as an approach to you know, expand on their revenue.
Robyn Johnson 8:48
So if you have a new to category product, so something we feel you have to I had this lady who came to me she was actually a really close friend of a mentor of mine so I really felt like I needed to help her because you know, this was somebody that was important to somebody that was important to me and it was the seatbelt person so it was designed with a little seatbelt for your purse so that when you stopped your purse wouldn’t tip over and I was like well this is a great add she thing is selling retail stores and I was like well you know I want to help you. But Amazon is really about what people are typing in so clickety click what are people typing in the search there is no
sir, you’ve been using your product or your man, how would they search and you’ve there’s tools out there. The same tools that I mentioned before, I’m gonna name three that I really liked. Helium 10 cell zone and merchant words all great tools. They all they all have like they’re super strengths in different areas. We actually use all three in our agency even though there’s a lot of overlap overlap. But you can actually look and see you know kind of about how that how that is working like how much structure Following there is, so if there’s if you if you’re like, Okay, people are going to be looking for left handed underwater basket weaving kit. And you you can say okay, well there’s like four people searching for that a month. That’s not going to get me. But if you look and you say okay, okay, there’s, there’s 3000 or 10,000 people a month searching for our brand because they saw us on Entrepreneur on Fire, they saw something, right? Yeah, yeah. And now’s a great time to go on Amazon, if you have a traditional product that people are already searching for. So you have a new tennis grip, that’s the best tennis grip ever, then you can start on Amazon right away. But you have to look at how many. So we what we do when we’re looking at, like when we do an audit for a brand to see if they’re a good fit for the agency is we look at, alright, so this is the ad budget that you think you have. Or sometimes we don’t have that information, but we might say are your primary competitors are selling like $300 300 units a month. This is you know, this is about how much we need an ad spend. Because on Amazon, which makes it unique from Google. Amazon is like the Do you remember, just the most greedy search engine out there. So Amazon’s searching is going to capitalize on whatever input to the top, whatever Amazon thinks is going to get the best sales for that product. Yeah. So if you when you run ads, you generate those conversions to show Amazon, your product is a good fit for that search. And so you kind of have to It’s a chicken in the egg have to have sales in order to get sales on Amazon. So we use those advertising the advertising and maybe some clippable coupons, to generate enough sales. But in order for to really be successful, you do need to have enough ad budget to push yourself above where those competitors are to be on page one, because we all know Page Two is the best place to hide a dead body.
Adam G. Force 11:46
Yeah, I mean, it’s very rare that you really are flipping through page two and three to find. And what has I mean, I have to imagine that the competition to get on page one has, you know, continues to grow, and there’s more saturation. So even you know, just like, you know, biz op, you know, marketing on Facebook, you know, you’re gonna pay more to get your CPA good. CPMs. Right. So I’m assuming that the similar, I guess approaches are taken here, right? You’re gonna run into some of that as well.
Robyn Johnson 12:22
Yes. So let’s say I have a PBX phone system, you know, those office multi line phone systems to try to get to the top of phone is going to be very expensive, and it’s not going to convert very well. So just like traditional search marketing, we’re going to go to the longer tail, more relevant keywords, and that’s going to have really good conversion. And then as we get conversion, we start to rank on those pages. And then, you know, as we get conversions, then we can slowly work our way to the top, where I feel a lot of places a lot of young companies fail as they say, Okay, well, I’m a phone system. And they just focus on phone system, when there was actually another keyword phrase, that would have been easy for them to win at, and that their competitors are really focused on. And then utilizing lots of different types of ads. So most people on Amazon are using sponsored products, which is the easiest entry. But especially if you have a trademark, you have access through brand registry to add products that other people don’t have. So you can use video ads, which takes up four pieces of the search takes like a whole bar. You can use sponsored brands, which is kind of like the headline search ads at the top. And you can use that to end even product targeting on your competitors, depending on the right circumstances that depending on how much brand affinity your your competitors have. Yeah, that may or may not be effective. So if you’re competing against Amazon Basics, that’s probably a winning strategy. If you’re competing against Lego, it doesn’t matter how great your plastic bricks are. Lego fans only want Lego. So you know, it’s going to depend on the product positioning for your brand.
Adam G. Force 13:53
Okay, yeah, got that loyalty positioning. I mean, so there’s a lot of considerations there. I mean, it’s it’s a whole business ecosystem itself. So you know, and it seems to operate in similar ways to, you know, marketing on Facebook or YouTube and things like that. You got different keywords, different audiences, longtail all that kind of stuff. So, and what kind of budgets? I mean, I guess every category is probably different, right? So yes, you know, from going after socks, and, you know, obviously, just like in any Google search, like you’re not going to own the category socks, but you could get socks for men with two left feet. There’s your long tail niche keyword, right? So you now you’re, you’re going to be more cost effective, though, with that kind of long tail search. So do you own is it like your own? Can you own multiple, small like long tail searches so that you can get a comment like a, you know, a combined effort basically, that’s usually where
Robyn Johnson 14:52
we’re gonna start with young brands. So, brands just kind of emerging and we have like a, you know, finite budget cap, you know, some of that, you know, There are some smaller, you know, add some smaller products that we work with that they’re like, as long as we’re getting, you know, as long as we’re getting a five or six row as you spend as much as you want. And then we also have, you know, brands that are like you have $3,222.25 Don’t go, you know, you know, we have some companies that have a smallest, like a $500 a month ad budget. So it depends on how niche you are. And if you’re like, Well, how would I know? Without, you know, downloading everything that’s in my brain, do a search for your product. So you know, you’re gonna say, okay, so left cannon, let the left Kenneth Sachs, left footed socks retrieval two left feet, and then you look at the ads that are on there, if you see ads for left handed scissors, and for, you know, for regular socks, you know, that aren’t exact match, then those CPCs are going to be lower. Or if there’s no ads at all, that’s great. If you go like, but if you look at like blue iPhone case, you’ll see there’s a they’re all exactly match. They’re all iPhone cases, they’re all exactly that there’s no Android cases, the closer Titan type those ads are in and the more placements you see, the more competitive it’s going to be. So if you’re trying to like well, I don’t even want to bother talking to an agency or something along those lines, before I feel realized how much this is going to cost us. And that’s a good place to kind of start to see is, you know, starting at, you know, the brand branded search. If you have if there’s people already typing in your brand name, then usually, then that’s going to be a quick, easy way for us to get you sales on Amazon, and keep your competitors from stealing your market share.
Adam G. Force 16:32
I mean, our brand, are people searching brand specific is it usually like topically like searched? You know?
Robyn Johnson 16:41
So it there if you have brand affinity. So we have a couple of brands that were non digitally native that when we started with our brand, almost, you know, we were really focused on getting as many sales from their branded search as possible, because they had a very small ad budget. So there are people who type in, you know, so in general, Amazon customers are looking for they want what they want. So they’re going to type in Barbie Malibu, Dreamhouse, not doll house. So they’re, you know, because they know that the more specific they get, the better the results they get, intuitively, okay, so if you have people who are already if you’re already in brick and mortar, if you were already on Shark Tank, if you know you have a great influencer marketing program, and people are searching for you, that’s going to be the lowest hanging fruit, fruit, low hanging fruit. I don’t know what a low hanging fruit would be, but low hanging fruit for you to get to sales on Amazon. From there, you can expand out. I don’t know if that answers your question. But, it sounds like you have stages to go through depending on where you are in your brand. Right? So you gotta start getting some kind of traction and, and you do an audit basically, to see where are you at? Like, where would it make sense for you? So we know our starting point. And then you’ll kind of grow through stages. Yeah, I mean, and Amazon? You know, it is? I always found it to be like, do you when you’re running business on there? Are the people that you work with? Like, do they get the email addresses and build their email list and customer like, do they get that data as from the customers?
Robyn Johnson 18:13
No, because So Amazon is very Amazon, the best way to get kicked off Amazon is to try to remark it outside of Amazon, the Amazon for a while we used to get email addresses and address email addresses and physical addresses, then they realized marketers were using that uploading it to Facebook takes away their dollar because now you’re not advertising on Amazon. So they’ve kind of cut that out. There are still some sneaky ways to get it here and there. But usually, I’m not going to recommend those two brands. So wherever your is running your strategy, especially if you have a successful DTC, or if you have brick and mortar presence, you need to be having a strategy that takes that into account. And make sure that when you’re not cannibalizing your ecommerce sales, because there are customers who will go to Amazon first. And there’s a subset of those who will not if it’s not on Amazon, it just doesn’t exist. Yeah, there’s also a subset that will also check your website. So we want to make sure we’re not cannibalizing our website sales, we want to make sure we’re if you especially if you’re in small specialty brick and brick and retail, brick and mortar retail, you’re not making them mad by having a prices below the MSRP. And if you bid box, you’re going to have complications from resellers being on the listing, which can sometimes stop you from being able to run ads or sell through the way that you wanted to. So whoever is kind of helping you navigate this should really look at your existing distribution strategy and what you have in the future that’s planned, and building that strategy proactively around that not reactively.
Adam G. Force 19:37
Yeah, I mean, I feel like there’s a lot of work to be done. So doing yourself is a little bit daunting, because, you know, great, you can come up with a keyword strategy. Let’s say someone you know, figures that out and they get on page one, but if you’re a smaller brand that no one really knows you don’t have a lot of brand loyalty or awareness. There’s still going to be several others that are competing with you on different variables, including the reviews, and I know, people just put a lot of leverage on those reviews. So are there strategies to help the smaller unrecognized brands? You know, ramp up reviews and things like that? That?
Robyn Johnson 20:19
Yeah, so there’s a there’s a there’s a tool that Amazon has provided called the requested Review button. So you can be pushed Matt to make sure that you’re getting as many reviews as possible. There, there are, there are things I’m going to Blackhat tactic called review clubs, where you get a bunch of people in a Facebook group, and you say, hey, I want you gonna buy this product. Nope, he pay you the money back. That’s a bad idea, no matter who’s telling you, that’s a bad idea. Like they’re like, you know, that little tick tock like, how would they know they’re gonna know, to be suspended forever? Don’t do that. So yeah, if you’re looking to make a quick buck, or somebody who’s coming in as a serial entrepreneur, you’re just looking at, you know, maybe you could get away with it. But if you have a brand that you really feel, you want to have a long lasting relationship with Amazon, stay away from anything where people feel like they have to whisper to tell you, Amazon it because of the culture of Amazon, they look very poorly on that kind of behavior, and it can make it so it’s harder for you if you were to get suspended or flagged for suspension in the future.
Adam G. Force 21:18
Yeah, no, that makes sense. And I remember several years ago, there was a company called zon blast or something. Yes. And they would help and are they still around? They I think they
Robyn Johnson 21:29
rebranded or something I don’t know, I haven’t heard about them, like lately, but that people can come in that space. And that’s the other thing is, you know, you want to make sure. So I see you know, a lot of so a lot of times people will hire a ghostwriter to write articles for them. But that ghost writer just looks at the other article. So if those articles are wrong or out of date, then you’re getting. So make sure you’re looking at where the sources of information, if you’re looking want to know more about Amazon advertising, Amazon has a free certification program, kind of like the Facebook, Facebook does, walks you through if you if you Google Amazon learning console, there’s some modules in there that will walk you through some of the pieces of ads. And it will walk you through some of the things where people from a Google background usually get a little wonky, because like the definition for broad match is a little bit different than it has been in the past. For Google, there’s some things that are that look, they are labeled the same, but behave differently. So it kind of will walk you through those.
Adam G. Force 22:25
Okay. Yeah, that makes sense. Awesome. Well, Robin, I mean, so let’s say people listening are feeling like, hey, you know, this is a place I’ve been wanting to get into, I need help. Where do they? Where do they learn more about you guys and find you to chat and see if it’s a good fit? Yeah, so
Robyn Johnson 22:43
our website is marketplace blueprint.com. If you go to marketplace, blueprint.com Ford slash show, then I have some resources there that you know, you all have my like the social handles, so you can follow me on Twitter, or Facebook, I also have a Facebook group. So if you’re already on Amazon, and you’re struggling, you can go in there and ask questions. And then I also have like a 20 page like listing optimization guide that gets you started. And then we’ll do like a free mini audit where we’ll take a look at your listing and say you’re really far off or you’re really close like change a couple things. You know, just a quick count of five minute video review that I’ll do on on your on a listing or two of yours. Just because I know Amazon is very, very difficult to manage and we want to make sure that everybody who comes to the platform has the best shot of actually
Adam G. Force 23:30
love it. Awesome. Thanks again for being here today. Appreciate all your insights.
Robyn Johnson 23:35
Thank you for having me. I really appreciate it.
Adam G. Force 23:39
Thanks for tuning in to the authentic brand mastery podcast. Don’t forget to stop by change creator calm for more information, fresh articles, content and our services if you’re looking to build a brand that people love, and please stop by iTunes, leave us a five star review. We appreciate your support