[Webinar] How to diagnose why your sales on Amazon are falling

December 30, 2020

Meet The Speakers

Bradley Sutton

Bradley Sutton

Director of Training & Chief Evangelist

Listen to the podcast

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • The three factors that drive Amazon sales and how to diagnose what is causing your sales to drop
  • Bradley Sutton shares a case study in which the sales of coffin shelves spiked, then sharply dropped
  • The metrics that brands need to look at in order to diagnose a decline in sales
  • The importance of consistently identifying keywords that generate sales and market gaps left by competitors
  • Where can brands find their PPC position history within the Helium 10 software?
  • How to pull historical data from before you started tracking your performance
  • Bradley reveals the main reports that brands should be downloading on a regular basis
  • How brands with large catalogues and hundreds of SKUs should diagnose declined sales
  • Bradley’s strategies for prioritizing and tracking competitors and keywords
  • How Amazon Prime eligibility significantly affects sales
  • Can you pay to get the Amazon buy box?

In this episode…

If you’re a brand selling on the Amazon marketplace, you may sometimes notice a decline in your sales despite your consistent ad spend. This can be traced back to three different factors: the amount of traffic at the top of your sales funnel, the conversion rates of that traffic, and the pricing of your product.

In order to accurately diagnose what is causing the decline of your sales, you should look at a number of different metrics on your seller dashboard. By evaluating the performance of your paid advertisements, your keywords, and your competition, you can better pinpoint the problem areas behind this unexpected drop.

In this webinar by Buy Box Experts, host James Thomson talks to Bradley Sutton, the Director of Training & Chief Evangelist at Helium 10, about how to diagnose a drop in sales on Amazon. They share the metrics that brands should look at when this drop happens, the best strategies for tracking the performance of your competition, and the importance of securing your Amazon Prime eligibility. Stay tuned.

Resources Mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode…

Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.

The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.

Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.

Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.

Episode Transcript

Intro 0:09

Welcome to the Buy Box Experts podcast we bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.

James Thomson 0:18

Welcome all. Thank you for joining us today. I’m James Thomson from Buy Box Experts and I’m joined by my colleague Bradley Sutton from Helium 10. Thank you all for joining us. I know from some of the notes beforehand that some of you are dealing with tropical storms are all dealing with COVID and all the craziness that comes with that. I appreciate you making an hour available today for us to share some of our thoughts with you on some of the challenges of what do you do as an Amazon seller when your sales start to drop inexplicably, we’re going to go through and diagnose how do you actually take the necessary steps to evaluate what’s happening and what do you do to fix the problem? and selling on Amazon is a very, very complicated effort and there are so many moving parts. We wanted to do this particular discussion today on what seems to be an obvious question of Oh, yes, my sales go up, my sales go down. But there are definitely situations where it’s not apparent which levers you may not be focusing on. And so we want to talk about how to diagnose across the key levers where there may be problems in your business that you can take action on, and hopefully repair the situation so you’re back on track. I’m going to share my screen here. We’re going to use a PowerPoint document together as we go through our conversation. We will be taking questions and answers at the end of the discussion, and certainly welcome discussion throughout. So let’s, let’s do a quick introduction here. Bradley, do you want to do one introduce yourself?

Bradley Sutton 1:51

Yeah, sure, for I see some familiar names here and the attendees, but for those who don’t know me, my name is Bradley and I’m the Director of Training and Chief Evangelist here at Helium 10. I was a consultant for Amazon sellers before then, so I was on your side of the aisle. Before then I launched over 400 products for different companies. Never for myself, I was doing everything for other companies I work for for clients. And then I used to use Helium 10. That’s how they found me. And they’re like, Hey, you should come work for us. And the rest is history. I keep my knowledge fresh, though. I understand that in this day and age, if you’re trying to be an educator on Amazon, you can’t just use your, whatever works for you in 2017 and 2018, or something, because everything has changed on Amazon, as we know. And that’s part of the topic of all we’re going to talk about today is how things constantly change. So I’ve in the last, just this year alone launched four different six figure products, just to make sure that everything that I’m teaching actually does work and it does. So that’s my background.

James Thomson 2:52

Thank you, Bradley. I’m James Thomson from Buy Box Experts. We are an Amazon agency that works with brands Helping on the first party and third party side, I was fortunate enough to work at Amazon for about six years back between 2007 and 2013. All of it on the marketplace side working both in launching the FBA program, as well as helping to recruit sellers to the third party marketplace. I’ve also been involved in launching The Prosper Show, which is an annual educational event that some of you may have participated in and written a couple of books on the Amazon Marketplace. Let’s let’s jump in and actually look at the big question on hand today, which is, how do we think about diagnosing a situation where you’re losing sales, your sales have turned in the wrong direction, and you’re not sure where to go to be able to establish what the root causes of the declining sales? Turns out? There’s only so many different things that could be in play. And so we’re going to talk about what those different dynamics are and what kinds of internal and external tools are available to help do the diagnosis. Think of it as a patient comes into the emergency room, there’s something wrong with them, you don’t know what’s wrong. And so figuring out what are all those diagnostic tests that you need to go through to evaluate what, in fact, may be causing the pain points for the patient, or in this case, your third party seller account. So very quickly, if you think about your sales on Amazon, at the absolute lowest level, there’s only three types of factors that ultimately drive your sales, the amount of traffic at the top of the sales funnel, the amount of traffic that converts, and then your pricing on the product. So if you’re not getting enough traffic, you’re not going to have traffic coming to your site that will eventually convert, open up its wallet and start making payments for some of the products that you’re selling. And so we’re going to talk through not only these three high level issues, but also grant polarity within each one of them, and talk about the types of data sets that are available to go look at to make some of those diagnosis, it is important to understand our whole conversation today is asen specific. If you’re seeing declining sales in general across your account, being able to figure out the exact root cause needs to start by first breaking the problem into an ace and by Ace and discussion. You may have some products that are up some sales, product sales that are down until you d average and look at the particular asen you’re going to have a very hard time figuring out exactly what the problem is. You may have multiple skews that are suffering through the same types of problems. But the discussion needs to happen at the asen level for us to be effective at being able to diagnose and then treat the problem. So just a quick reminder here as we think about the sales funnel on Amazon, we talked about traffic at the top of the funnel. We’re talking about how much traffic both organic and paid Traffic you have within Amazon within the Amazon site. Also for some brands, they may be driving external traffic, that’s not part of the traffic they’re already generating on Amazon. If the total traffic has dropped quite a bit, then it’s going to have an impact naturally at different parts of your funnel throughout the rest of the process. Once we move beyond traffic, and we look at customer conversion, there are literally 30, 35 different metrics we could be looking at. We’ve included here some of the most important metrics around are your products prime eligible, if they’re not prime eligible, the likelihood that customers are going to buy them is likely to drop. Do you have the right kind of content to help customers work through the problems that they’re trying to solve? in evaluating your product for their particular needs? Do you have enough reviews to help customers gauge the likely quality of your product? Do you even have buy box eligibility on your products, you could have an amazing product with amazing reviews. But if you’re not by box eligible, it’s going to be, it’s going to be very detrimental to the likelihood that you end up converting customers into buying customers.

As we talk about pricing, we’re talking not only what is the absolute price level, you know, is this a $40 item compared to competitors selling at $30. But we also want to know, the higher the price point, the slower customers will typically be to buy a product. And so you’ve got to understand both the absolute price and your price relative to substitutable competitor products. And then finally, are there recent changes in your pricing, sharp changes ups or changes down that may be resulting in customers either being more likely or less likely to purchase your product? So with that very, very high level sales funnel discussion. We want to spend a minute and talk through what are some of these particular metrics and where can you find them today, as you think about waiting to diagnose by looking at data within Seller Central, so we talked about organic traffic, paid traffic, AD AD budget. These are all tools that you can pull information out of Seller Central. As we go through today’s discussion. One of the recurring themes you’ll see is there are a lot of the same pieces of data within Helium 10 tools. I’m not recommending people use Seller Central, I’m not recommending people use Helium 10. There are certainly if you are using Helium 10. Some of the data is presented in a much more user friendly manner than what Seller Central would present. But it is important to understand that there are different ways to compile the information that you might need. long list of stuff here and again, we will share this deck after the presentation. But as you look at different conversion metrics around the types of product content, whether you’re prime eligible, whether you in fact have inventory on hand, these are all the types of metrics that you should be looking at. As you go through the process of evaluating Why have my sales dropped, we’re not going to talk about every single one of these metrics in today’s discussion. But I’m happy to provide this, as I say, as part of the file that we share after discussion. So that you can work through those, because of some of your particular situations, you may have some of these metrics coming into play driving lower sales. Lots of stuff here. And again, I don’t want to burden everyone by reading all of this through our discussion. But there are a number of different metrics within the conversion stages where you’re going to need to go in and evaluate, do we have the right kind of content? Are we by box eligible? Do we have additional competition on the listing that’s hurting our by box percentage, all of these types of things, not only do you want to measure at a particular point in time, historically, have our levels changed and is that causing a slow decline in our overall sales? With pricing, more information we talked about here in terms of your absolutely Pricing your relative pricing. Looking at some of the prices that you may have external to Amazon, there are mat monitoring tools that you can use that will help you understand if your products are on Amazon, potentially higher or lower priced than the same products available elsewhere. All of this plays into Amazon’s willingness to award a buy box to anybody and potentially award it to you in particular. So with all of that, I’m going to turn things over to Bradley to take us through a particular case study, which will help to provide a lot more context to the whole process of diagnosing what happens when we have a decrease in sales. Bradley does want to take it from here.

Bradley Sutton 10:42

Now it’s kicking back there. You’re doing great. Hey, James. Well, guys, um, those of you who are familiar with Project X that we did on YouTube, it was a case study where we actually launched a couple of products late last year and this is one of them. This was a coffin shelf. This is a live product that you guys can See on Amazon now, you know, we’re not making this up, you can just type in coffin shelf and Amazon and you’ll see this. And there’s something interesting that I noticed when we were preparing this is this is something that, you know, probably I should have been doing in real time. But you know, hey, Helium 10 is my main job. This was just a side case study we did. But as I dove into it, you know, when James first talked to me about this webinar like wait a minute, this is there’s some interesting trends here. Let’s see if we can diagnose what exactly happened. So as you can see on the next slide here, there’s going to be a chart of the revenue over time, let me explain what you guys are looking at right here. So this is just a screenshot from our Helium 10 profits tool that shows the sales since about the middle of February. And so for the next few slides, we’re going to be talking about these different chunks in time. So you see where there’s three lines there. So that first chunk is from about the end of February, until about March. You can see sales were pretty low right? Then from April to May that middle chunk there, you can see obviously there’s, you know, double, if not more triple the sales during that time. But then all of a sudden towards the end of May, on until June. Now again you see a drop, it didn’t drop all the way back to February March levels, but you see a drop. So basically our homework is this. What we’re going to do today is, Hey, can we dive into the numbers of all of those things that James has mentioned in the previous slides? Can we dive into there to get some like why you know how many times in the Facebook group so you see, Why are my sales down? You know, like anybody else having a bad day? I bet you see this constantly, but I don’t see too many answers as far as why so that’s what we’re going to dive into. Let’s dive a little bit deeper now into the actual Patriots. Now this is from Seller Central. Okay, so this is in Seller Central your Detail page sales and traffic is the only place you’ll actually know, little known fact tools can’t display Helium 10 doesn’t have this because this is so In that you can only get in your seller central account. It’s very important that you guys understand these metrics here. So under the detail, page sales and traffic as you see on the top right there, I had put that first block of dates, all right from late February to March. And as you can see, there is a total of about 12,000 pageviews, which works out to about 300 a day. And the average daily sales during that period of time was eight you know, some might say, well, that’s an hour there eight people a day wants a shelf shaped like a coffin but as you see, as you’re gonna see, this is gonna go more one sale per 35 pageviews. Take a look at the second group of dates here from early April now to mid May. The pageviews jumped way up, right, but for 17,500 so went to 450 a day. All right, almost a 50% jump up in pageviews per day. But look at this, the average daily sales went to 26 per day. Or one sale for every six team pages. So there’s that spike in the sales we see. Now the last part here, the last time period was from that day from the kind of the middle towards the end of May, through the middle of June. And now we see a sharp drop in the pageviews. From or, sorry, the overall pageviews of 9000. Still for 40 days. So the per day is not too bad. But what we see a sharp drop in is actually the one sale per 26 pageviews. All right, it didn’t get so bad like it was in the first part, but it definitely dropped. All right, average daily sales 17 we had a huge drop off in the sales as well. So what are the questions that we need to ask based on this information? Let’s go ahead and go to the next slide. And ASCO. So number one, first of all, what brought more page views in May Alright, so that middle section, I was there the spike in pageviews. Number two, why did the conversion seem to go up? All right? That’s something you guys need to be asking yourselves. Or when that happens, not just be happy about it. Oh, this is great. I got more conversions. Woohoo. Now, ask yourself why don’t always just ask yourself why, when something bad happens each ask yourself why when something good happens so you can double down on that if possible. And number three, why did conversion and sales dip in June I mean, still better, it didn’t go back to the February March. But you need to understand why it dipped. So let’s, let’s dive into that a little bit further here. Um, one thing you guys can do, it doesn’t matter if you have Helium 10. Or if you have Helium 10. You can use Cerebro to do a reverse ASIN search. So you can see the highest search volume keywords where your own product is ranking like let’s say in the top five or top 10 because that’s obviously where you’re probably getting a lot of sales. Don’t have hillington. No worries if you’ve got Brand Registry And I know a lot of you are, you know, larger brands, you probably have access to Brand Registry. If not, you need to get on that right away, you have access to something called brand analytics. And through there you can see where you’re one of the top three products on Amazon getting clicks for a certain keyword. And conversely, it also we’ll show you from those top three who are getting the biggest portion of the sales for a keyword. And so by using these both tools, I could see that these three keywords, not the only keywords are getting sales for but it was probably a good chunk probably like a good 50 to 75% of the sales are coming from these key three keywords coffin shelf, Gothic home decor, and Gothic decor. Alright, so now we got a baseline. What’s the next thing we want to look at? Well the next thing I want to look at is the search volume history. We’re going back to Helium 10 on this and it’s this is something so important. A lot of people they have tools that that will show the search volume for like, you know, current searches That’s great, you need to do that. But if the tool you’re using shows the history, you have got to look at that. Because search volume does not stay the same week by week. There’s seasonality, right? You know, a coffin shelf, you might think, Oh, yeah, obviously, during Halloween or something like that, you know, sales or the searches are going to spike. But just just because it’s it might spike during Halloween. That doesn’t mean that’s the only time of year that’s something might spike or something might have Valley. So take a look here at your screen. You guys should see the three different keywords the search wine history, the first one there you see on the coffin shelf, there was a spike. Look at that right in April there. Remember those three different time periods? You can see a clear spike in the searches. So maybe that’s one of the reasons why there was more impressions. It wasn’t like some crazy exponential spike, but it definitely could explain a lot of the extra page views Gothic home decor another spike around April and May You know, what was happening during this time? You know, that was maybe when people were really locked down during the Coronavirus and, and they’re possibly shopping more for things in their house looking for different hobbies. So you know, you’re trying to understand where this spike came from for this kind of product that you would maybe normally expect to only spike during Halloween time or during that time of year. The last one Gothic decor, same thing, a spike we see. Now, keyword ranking is something important. All right. So just because a keyword search volume is spiking, it could literally mean nothing to you. If you’re ranking on page three or four, right? I mean, if there’s 1000 people searching for it, or 10,000 people searching for it, if you’re on page four, well guess what, you know, nobody’s still nobody’s really seeing your product, you know, but a very, very small percentage of those people are patient enough to go on. So this is the next thing I looked at was the keyword ranking history of these three of that product. So for coffin shelf, hey, we just see competitive A lead from the from March all the way until June it is like page one position one. Alright, so that one was consistent Gothic home decor, a little bit of there’s some peaks and valleys there. But for the most part, as you can see, it was also a page one product, similar for Gothic decor, mainly page one, especially during that peak season. But interesting enough, in that third part, we do see some dips, which we didn’t see in the middle part. Right. So we talked what else that James talked about before we talked about, you know, your organic placement, but we also talked about your paid placement, your PPC, right so that’s the other question you need to ask yourself, how are you showing up in sponsored ads so let’s take a look at these next graphs here. And you’re gonna see this exact thing we’re still hearing in Helium 10 on the first one coffin shelf sponsor, so that but basically what this is showing us is where Helium 10 has detected your product as a sponsored ad, you know, not in the organic. That was the previous one. This is the sponsored ad. So again, we can see here during that middle section of the where the sales were peaking, it was just again, pretty much consistently apart from like, maybe one day there. It was like the very first sponsored ad that showed up, but look what was happening in that third period of time, all of a sudden, there are some days where it wasn’t even showing up as you can see there. And then all of a sudden, it was dipping, like it was probably dipping to page two, even which never happened. More than once in that middle section. You see the same thing happening in the other two keywords where it was for the most part, consistently on page one for the sponsored ads. But then in that last period of time, there’s so much fluctuation meaning that we were getting pushed from the top right, so now as you guys can see we’re drawing the picture a little bit more. We have a little bit more visibility as far as what’s going on. So now, when I saw this, I’m like, hey, let me dip into the actual PPC numbers, right? I want to see the numbers. This is great, right? And see where we showed up. You know what was happening with my impressions, etc. Here’s that first period of time you guys see it from February 20 to March 31. I’m listening to the Helium 10 ads tool. You guys can see this information if you don’t, if you don’t have Helium 10. Just go to your seller central. Go to your campaign manager and your reports. And you’re going to want to download your campaign reports or search term reports. You can do this right from your seller central dashboard. Look at this first one. All right, we can see here. There we spent 1700 dollars in this first period of time right? For a total sales of what it says there about others about 5200 Yeah, 5050 $190 worth of sales. All right. Now overall bat goddess of almost 1 million impressions. That’s a pretty decent amount of sponsor per impression. And about 6000 clicks. So if we break that down by day, that’s about 23,000 impressions a day, through sponsored ads 150 clicks a day, and about four sales a day coming from PPC, right? Let’s look at that, that peak season now right? Now this is April 10. To may 20. Spend was up. Okay, so we were paying a lot more 30 $700 30 $700 for sponsored ads during this time. But look at the number of sales, we got almost $13,000 worth of sales coming from just PPC. Or the total impressions didn’t go up too much. It didn’t go up too much, you know, went from about 1 million to a little over a million. But clicks were double. And you can see the click through rate doubled as well. sales went up to 385. So per day, we were getting about 27,000 impressions. Again, not too much more than that first period, but due to the higher click through rate, it was 282 clicks per day. If you break this down, and 10 orders a day, coming from just PPC alone, that’s that’s more orders that were coming for all, you know, all organic and PPC put together from that first period. Let’s look at the last one. And that’s where things are starting to get really weird here. All right. Take a look at this. All right, this is where things get interesting. Now, this is the third time frame from What’s the date here may 20. May 20, about to June 13. Right. Now, in this short timeframe, there were actually 2 million impressions weighing almost as no, as much or more than those first two time periods. Put together. Right? Ad spend was only about $2,000. And sales were $5,000 but only 151. Sales coming from PPC. The CTR the click through rate was down by all Almost 75% All right, daily, we had way more impressions than those other time periods, 95,000 impressions, but 271 clicks a day. But something that’s hot that’s that was higher than ever before. But what were the sales down? Now, if you’re working with your calculator right there, you will see that it’s only down to seven orders a day from PPC despite all of these other page views.

James Thomson 24:28

So Bradley, rather let’s let’s talk about this for a minute. It’s easy for someone to say okay, well wait a minute. In the middle section, you doubled your ad spend. And so yeah, you had better performance and paid driven sales because you spent twice as much on advertising. But the story is not that simple. It’s not just that we spend more money. When you look at the third, the third time frame, impressions, more than doubled with half the ad budget. So something else is going on here, where people are paying attention to these keywords. But you’re getting a disproportionately lower amount of the sales from all this increase in traffic. So that tells me that there’s something going on with other products that, you know, are driving general interest in the category. But you’re not keeping your fair share of that. And so now we can look at where’s the detail? This is fascinating. Once you look at that third section, the first two time frames just tell you, well, you spent more money and you got more sales out of the additional incremental spend. But the third part doesn’t make any sense, that trend doesn’t continue that way. So there’s some sort of macro issue in play here.

Bradley Sutton 25:41

Yep, absolutely. And this is the I mean, Seller Central doesn’t tell you that, you know, Helium 10. doesn’t tell you that all right. When you just show you the numbers you Seller Central shows you the numbers. You’ve got to go the extra mile and ask the questions why this is happening or else you know, you’re just kind of drifting off into the sea, and just being taken wherever you want to go. So, what let’s, uh, let’s go to the next slide. And then let’s kind of have a review of what we’ve learned so far. All right, so the search volume was fairly consistent. Alright, we saw some spikes, right? We saw some spikes in the middle section that could explain a little bit more of those impressions that we were getting, but it’s nothing where it was like 10 X or something like that. Like, you guys remember the N 95 masks and hand sanitizer during March and April, you would see like 1020 X, the number of search one, we didn’t see anything like that. The keyword ranking was again, pretty consistent. We did see some different trends towards that last section where all of a sudden things were fluctuating. That was like, that’s pretty interesting, but overall, it remained reasonably consistent. The PPC placement was high until that third section, all right, so like if you guys remember, where we were showing up in sponsored results was almost always at the top but in That last period of time, it kind of dipped and it was fluctuating. You guys remember those peaks and valleys that we saw, but the PPC impressions were way up. That was like one of the big differences. I mean, who million right there. Right. So what question does that bring us? Why did the organic and PPC sales go down? All right, let’s take a look.

You want to talk about this a little bit? Yeah.

James Thomson 27:24

Yeah. So when, when you have that many more impressions, and we get back to this concept of there’s something going on in the whole category where your sales are falling? Is it because of the change in market share and you’re getting, you’re still keeping your share of the market share, or as we saw with impressions, impressions went way up. But your sales didn’t seem to keep up with market share. And so figuring out what’s going on with competitive activity, it’s not just you looking at your product in a vacuum, but what’s happening to you. Your product relative to other competitors. This is where we’re going to start to see some stuff that makes sense around. Oh, there’s things that other companies have been doing that are greatly impacting our ability to keep our fair share. So let’s let’s jump back to some of the reports you have here.

Bradley Sutton 28:16

So so basically what I did was I was like, hey, I need to define my market First of all, so what I did was you know, I tried to take you know, some main competitors are based on the first page of organic results for some of my those main keywords that I just showed you guys, the coffin shelf and Gothic decor and Gothic home decor. And I created here within Helium 10, market tracker, like a market so I can see all right, what’s the market volume, all of these top products put together? How much are they making? What’s my piece of the puzzle? And historically, what’s going on? Let’s go to the next slide. And let me show you guys what I found here. Now, as I was diving into the sales history estimates, we could see that this is Not the Project X coffin shelf, right? This is one of the ones that I was tracking. And that look at where they came onto the scene watch this next slide here about this graph on look at that they came onto the scene are kind of like around the May 22, May 20, May 22, around there, right when we saw that third period start or sales, all of a sudden started to dip when our PPC conversions started to fluctuate when our sales were declining. So boom, this is the final piece of the puzzle. This new player on the market, they were stealing market share and they were also having more people click possibly out of our ads because now they had another choice like we almost had a monopoly at one point in the coffin shelf space. But now you know, like, let me just take you guys through the buyer journey right you know somebody, you know types of coffin shelves or something. Maybe they saw our sponsored ad or they did it in gothic horror. They click hooked into our listening and they’re scrolling there on the page. And it wasn’t like there were other relevant products showing up in sponsored ads, you know, in the sponsored products on the bottom there. So like, what would people end up doing? Hey, our conversion rate was super high in that middle time because we were the only game in town, and people would just hate it if they clicked on our ad. Now they bought our product. Now all of a sudden, though, people scroll down to the bottom and they see this other coffin shelf. It’s like, oh, wait a minute. This is pretty interesting. At the very least, people are clicking out of it, right? What happens guys in sponsored ads the way sponsored ads, it’s not just one impression, and that’s it. So let’s say somebody clicked on your sponsored ad for our, our sponsor for the project x. And they didn’t buy at the time. Now they start going all over Amazon, right? They go to another they go to this other coffin shelf, they go to something else. Our sponsor that follows him, each of those is an impression. So where the buck stops here Kind of like before, people would just buy our product. Now, people have CDs, other options. And now there’s all these more impressions. And guess what, you know, our click through rate is going to go down because of all these other impressions. So let’s, let’s put it all together here on the next slide and just recap our journey to kind of find and deduce what exactly happened here. So we looked at the revenue over time, that was that first graph that we showed, and that’s what you guys should do, hey, my sales are up, my sales are down, what’s going on? A graph it all out. All right,

James Thomson 31:35

That’s, that’s the output of all these other inputs. So you’re going to see your sales go up or down, and that’s going to trigger a need to look at some of these input metrics.

Bradley Sutton 31:45

Absolutely. Absolutely. And what are some of these metrics? All right, well, we see there number two page views of the impressions, you can only get that in Seller Central. Make sure to take a look at that and don’t look at it just in the if I would have just looked at that from March. And then put it all the way to June or July or something, I wouldn’t have been able to see trends, break it up into sections where so that you could, you know, you can really dive in deep and examine what’s going on. Next step, we identified the top keywords that are generating sales. All right, sales on Amazon, if I’m not pushing a lot of outside traffic, you know, if I don’t have some big social media campaign or something that I’m doing, where’s our sales coming from? It’s coming from keywords, either organic or PPC, still coming from keyword searches, right? So you’ve got to identify where the biggest chunk of your sales are coming from which keywords, then dive into the search volume over the time did more people search for these keywords than before? Are fewer people searching for these keywords? You need to look into that. Once you’ve done that. Next thing is look into your organic position of the keyword. Alright, so are you on page one? Are you at the top of page one? Are you at the middle of page one, have you fallen off of page one? Where are you showing up for yourself? organic results, do that same thing for the sponsored results. Okay? Are you the first sponsored ad that comes up? Meaning that you’re probably at the top of the page? Or are you the eighth or ninth, which doesn’t sound so bad, but until you realize that the eighth or ninth sponsored ad that shows up on our search results, that’s page two, so probably you’re not even being seen as much anymore. Then take a look at your PPC spend. And its performance. You that was probably one of the most telling slides there on how the impressions and sponsored ads popped way up and our click through rate and conversion went way down on the keywords that really showed me that something else is going on. And that’s what brought us to that final step is if you’re attract, track, your markets don’t just you know, be so laser focused, you’re only you know, worried about your own rank and your own sales, but be monitoring your top competitors and even maybe newer players in the market and more times than not Almost every time, if you’ve gone through all of these steps, this last step here, that is what’s going to show you of why something went up, like maybe maybe the sales went up, because guess what one of your competitors went out of stock, or went off of Amazon got suspended, wherever now, all eyes are on you. Or On the flip side, like on our case here, when sales go down, it’s because somebody’s eating into our market share.

James Thomson 34:24

Bradley, let’s go back one slide, I want to ask you, here’s a key competitor that shows up and all of a sudden is practically doubling its visibility. How can we use some of the same metrics we’ve talked about here to figure out what it is that these guys did to become so relevant? So as I think about everyone that’s here on the phone, we’d all love to go and eat half the lunch of our competitors. How do we focus on where we should be playing RF supplanting our efforts around you know, growing disproportionately relative to our competitors? Yeah, and let’s assume everything here was done white hat by I’m not saying it wasn’t. But let’s assume everything is being done whitehat How do I diagnose where there’s opportunity for me to take advantage of product gaps? The competitive set out there may be currently underperforming on certain things?

Bradley Sutton 35:15

I’m glad you brought that up, because I think that’s a super important thing that people need to be looking at now. I would say it’s half and half half of it, probably. They’re just maybe duplicating or piggybacking on your success. You know, maybe they got Helium 10 they got another tool. They got brand analytics, they can see hey, this up this Manny’s mysterious oddities. You like that brand name? James. If we ever do work on a project together, don’t worry, I’ll name a brand for you. For those who don’t know Manny is the founder of Helium 10. So we named this brand after him but maybe they were looking at our Proctor like wow, they’re doing great on coffin shelf Gothic decor, Gothic home decor. We’re going to double down and try and rank really high on that and you will use See that if you’re tracking them here and market tracker, keyword tracker, whatever you’re using, you would see, hey, maybe they got to the very top of page one. But here’s something that I don’t see enough sellers doing. And here’s the thing, this coffin shelf was launched at the end of last year. Now for a coffin shelf, probably the same keywords usually. I mean, it doesn’t change over time when people search, but it could be, it could be some new trending keyword that maybe at the time you launched your product, you didn’t even realize about it. And if you’re not doing analysis on the newer players, or even on the trends or your your customer avatar, you might not realize that now all of a sudden, people are using macabre decor or something which is something I learned about studying this niche it macabre means like something to do with death or something like that, right? And you don’t even have that keyboard you’re listening to. So when you see somebody pop up like this, one of the first suggestions I would do is those same two things, run analytics and use Cerebro to go see Are they ready? ranking for some pretty nice keywords that have some decent search volume that aren’t even on your roadmap. And if so, guess what? You need to go and add those keywords to your listing and maybe start sending sponsored ads to it. And you’ve already got the advantage over new players because you’re established. Amazon loves, you know, products that have been doing well consistently for a keyword is it’s harder to knock them off. Now, you can take that advantage, though, and start ranking for those keywords that you didn’t even realize were relevant to your niche. And that’s when you can really make sure that you’re staying ahead of the competition. Yep.

James Thomson 37:40

Yep. That’s great. Bradley. certainly wasn’t one of the things that when we’re talking with companies, they want to go and spend all this time optimizing their listings, and they think that’s a one and done exercise. Well, it’s one and done if absolutely nothing else changes in the competitive set. But as we know, Amazon is an open marketplace. There’s new competitors every day. customer preferences change. And so going back and refreshing the research to make sure you’ve got the right keywords that that becomes a good way to essentially early warning signal that there may be new trends from a competitive perspective or new trends from a customer search perspective that you need to be aware of so that you don’t slowly slowly fall off the cliff and wake up one day saying, How did this happen? The data is all there for us to look at. We just have to, in a diligent disciplined manner, go back on a regular basis, and make sure that for at least for our top listings in our catalog, we are quarterly by annually going back and refreshing the keyword research to make sure that we’ve got the most up to date information competitively. And from a customer search perspective. Let’s um, let’s actually jump to the conclusions I want to I know there’s a bunch of questions that have come in, I want to talk through this is one one set of you know, diagnostic sticks that Bradley has taken us through where we were able to start at the top with traffic and local conversion. And then eventually, you know, in this case, there wasn’t a pricing issue. But there were definitely traffic and conversion issues through this, the discipline of going through and understanding why you’re up, why you’re down, what you’re doing, right, what you might not be doing, as well as a new competitor. These are all parts of the steps of staying current with the competitive landscape and understanding what your competition looks like, and how do you remain relevant, at least on a fair share basis with customer search. So to be clear, most of what we looked at today can be found in Seller Central pulling reports out of Seller Central. One of the challenges here is that if you’re using Seller Central, you’re going to have to download files and save them because some information is difficult to compile on, or Amazon only lets you go back so far. So for example on some of your top listings, If you want to look at market share information, you’re going to have to pull that at whether that’s a monthly or quarterly basis, you’re gonna have to pull that information, store it, and then go back in a quarter from now or in six months from now and see how you’re doing on a relative basis with with Helium 10. There are ways that you can go back and look at historical information and compare it to real time data today. That makes it a little bit easier to get that long attitudinal view. I don’t want sellers to be blindsided by some of these sudden competitive changes or some of these sudden changes in customer behavior, the discipline of a weekly monthly quarterly exercise of understanding who you’re competing against, and what you need to do to remain relevant with customers. That’s hard to put in place if you’re basically so busy putting out fires every day with Oh, I got to optimize this listing or Oh, I got to fix this PPC campaign. Those little fires are all important, but this is truly a situation where you can miss the forest for the trees. Trees, that if you’re not going back and looking at the competitive landscape regularly going and looking at our customer preferences are changing, you will eventually become irrelevant. Even though your product is still as good as it used to be. It’s just not getting the attention from customers that you’d like to see. So anything Bradley, you’d like to add before we before we tackle some questions from the audience.

Bradley Sutton 41:20

Um, just just the fact that I mean, I know there’s different companies who are on here of different sizes, there are some who are who are newer, there are established brands, guys, regardless of where you’re at in your Amazon journey, whether you’re brand new making $1,000 a week or whether you’re making $100,000 a week, these same principles apply. So I want everybody to, if they’re gonna take something away from this, just make sure that you guys are doing these analysis, regardless of what size you are. Because guess what? I would venture to say that 90 to 95% of your competition are not getting deep into the numbers, or they don’t even know that they can get this deep because they don’t know how to use Seller Central, they don’t know how to use different tools. So you use this competitive advantage of analyzing what’s going on to make sure that your market share stays high.

James Thomson 42:16

So, just before we jump into the particular questions, I want to remind the audience, yes, we will be sharing a recording of today’s discussion, yes, we will be sharing the presentation materials so that you can go and look at those. Again, we have thrown a lot at you. And when you’re trying to learn how to do open heart surgery, you don’t just look at it once. I mean, there’s a lot of different steps that everyone’s going to need to go through to diagnose their particular competitive situation. All of this will be shared with you. I’d like to like to jump into some of the questions and certainly invite the audience to add more questions to the q&a section at the bottom. We had a question come in in terms of where within Helium 10 does one go to find PPC position history Tell us more about that. Bradley.

Bradley Sutton 43:01

Yeah, so that’s in your keyword tracker. So if you’re tracking your organic rank in, in the keyword tracker, it’s also a separate graph on the right hand side that you click on. And that shows you your PPC graph, not only from writing, like if I were to add a keyword and an ace, and right now, in the past, it was just okay, from now, this is day zero. And now going forward, I can track but actually you add something now, you can go back historically, we’re going to show you that data, even, you know, a year ago.

James Thomson 43:32

So there’s a question in the market tracker. Is there a way to pull a stoical data dating back further than when you started tracking? Same thing with Cerebro? Same thing with keyword tracker? How far back can you go? And for someone who’s just getting started in a particular category, understanding what the competitive set looks like and who the big players are and what they’ve been doing in the last six months, 12 months? How do you use your tools to gauge that kind of information?

Bradley Sutton 43:58

So the one that gives his Oracle data is a keyword tracker. So you throw something in there. And you’ll see, it’s great to see, hey, what keywords did they launch with? Like, I think they launched with this keyword? Well, no, throwing it into a keyword tracker will show you from two years ago when they launched which one they are on page seven and which one had like some steep climb. So you can actually see what were their main launch keywords in the market tracker. That’s one of our newer tools. We’re not showing historical data there yet. But hey, that’s why we started showing it in the keyword tracker, because we got that request a lot. So if that’s something that you’d be interested in, make sure to let customer support know, we’ll look into that Cerebro is also within the last 30 days. But I’m always looking for something interesting, like a potential to maybe show historical Cerebro information. I think that would be really helpful. That’s a great suggestion.

James Thomson 44:46

There’s a lot of data out there. And we’ve talked today about how to pinpoint certain types of reports so as to be able to diagnose when sales are up or sales are down. We have an interesting question here that’s come in around What are the main reports we should be downloading on a regular basis? And which ones? Can we schedule the download automatically? Let’s talk first about the reports that one should be downloading on a regular basis, whether that’s weekly, monthly quarterly, what are your thoughts on that Bradley?

Bradley Sutton 45:17

My number one go to metric for Seller Central is definitely the brand analytics. You know, I love diving into that. So if you guys don’t need another reason to, to get Brand Registry, which is by the way, you have to have Brand Registry in order to have analytics. I mean, it’s worth it just for the brand analytics itself. So I actually have that on my test accounts set up as an automatic download, you know, I’ll get an email from Seller Central every week as far as that goes. As far as the other things go. A keyword tracking is something that I look at weekly. I also get a report from Helium 10. about that. I’m looking at my markets, maybe every three or four days. Cerebro is something where I can just get a broad view of where my competitor is or myself or ranking? I kind of like to do that maybe once every month, but do the cadence that works that works for you. You don’t want to do it like every day because all of a sudden, now you’re going to get like analysis paralysis, and you’re not going to know exactly Hey, when I make things like like PPC James, I’m sure your team doesn’t look at, hey, let me run my entire search term reports every single day and make changes every single day of the week. You got to find the cadence that works for you.

James Thomson 46:27

So a question that’s come in from one seller who’s got a very large catalogue. This whole process of being able to diagnose wire sales up where sales are down? How do you do this on a scalable basis? If you’ve got 700 800 listings in your catalog, you know, thoughts there. I look at a question like this and my first thought is what’s worth analyzing? If you’ve got 700 products, you’re not getting 700 equal parts to your business. So prioritize your listings. If you only can only have time to look at 20 skews, you know, which 20 SKUs makes sense on a sales basis. Some of these products may have a half life that eventually you have to drop because you’re no longer competitive with lots of friends, and you’re not going to not going to see them through forever. But, yeah, if you have 700 products in your catalog, and you’re trying to figure out why up, why down, that’s a lot of work. But realistically, if you’re selling on Amazon, every one of those skews, you need to treat as a separate P&L, which means you’re deciding if it’s important enough for you to throw it into the mix. Is it important enough for you to diagnose? I kind of feel like, you know, back in the old days, I had 12 kids to work on the farm, and if one died, no big deal at 11 more, well, you’re gonna treat your Amazon business the same way. Or do you say every one of these is important, and they need to have equal visibility? thoughts on this, Bradley?

Bradley Sutton 47:52

Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s a tough question. You do what works best for your business. You have to find that line where Again, I bring up a term analysis paralysis, you can’t just make, you know, your whole business about looking at the numbers. And now now you have no focus on your marketing efforts or, or your other efforts, you know, you’ve got to find that line. But, um, systems, you know, if you can systematize, any of these things, like whether it’s, hey, I’m going to download this report from Seller Central. And I’m going to have, you know, these amazing pivot tables set up in Excel or Google Sheets, and I’m going to have a team in the Philippines or I’m gonna have a team somewhere who are just dedicated. And that says, if you got a team of 10 people, maybe you’re only paying $5 an hour to, hey, that’s a very legitimate business, because you guys can see the impact this can have, you know, look how much sales went down from 26 a day to 16 a day, right? And guess what, I should have been doing all of these things then, but I’m not running this Manny’s mysterious coffin shelf as my main business so I only found out about this three months later. Because I’m trying to look back into what happened. But what would have happened, if I would have caught that earlier, maybe I wouldn’t have had a month and a half of 10 per 10 sales per day less. I mean, that adds up to thousands and thousands of dollars. So it is worth the investment of time. But you just got to find that balance where you’re not letting other parts of your business suffer.

James Thomson 49:20

Even if I have diagnostics on every one of my hundreds and hundreds of skews, you may not necessarily have the time to be able to take action on every one of these. And so part of it is knowing where the problem is, but also deciding Is it a problem that is worth your time to go solve. So yes, it’s easier to solve these problems and to monitor things, the smaller your catalog is, but you may have good, very good reasons to have larger catalogs. just recognize that there is a random walk to every product. And so if you become too hyper focused on any little change one way or the other, you’re gonna drive yourself crazy. I would start by saying what are your biggest selling products and products that you’ve decided you’re going to plant the bets on. Those are the products you want to keep an eye on. And I would rather you focus on fewer products, but monitor more regularly. Rather than say, let’s have 500 products, we monitor that we do that once every six months. It’s just you know, Amazon hates to sound cliche, but the 80/20 rule, often you can get more than 80% of your sales from less than 20% of your products. And so you’ve got to have very clear visibility there. There’s only so much, you know, confirmation that you can do that you’re in fact doing all the right things to drive your business. let’s shift gears. Another question came in, how do you track competitors? If there are so many and every day those competitors are different? You could end up with hundreds of different keywords. How do you prioritize competitors? How do you prioritize keywords when the competitive set might be rather large?

Bradley Sutton 50:55

The first thing that I do is the way I prioritize the committee Competitors is not just in the sales volume, but the relevance to my product. And that’s not something that you know, is a formula. relevance is not a formula. But it’s you basically want to choose like the five to 10 competitors at the top, who are most similar to your product in form function feel price, because guess what that means that the customers who are buying that product are your exact same customers that would have or could have bought your product. Now, on a keyword, guess what, there’s 300 results that show up, I guarantee you, it’s not 300 all our share the exact same customer base, so try and find the ones that are most relevant and, and I see olena here says that, hey, there could be 100 main keywords, there’s not all right. Could you be ranking for 100 or 1000 keywords? Yeah, I don’t care what size it is. Even if it’s a hand sanitizer. It could be the 8020 it could be 9010 rule 90% of your sales are going to come from maybe like 10 keywords, not 100 keywords like that I don’t care what size of the product. It’s always just a handful of keywords that are your main products. Now, as the bigger you get, could you be getting more sales from other keywords? Yes, but it’s still the same thing. There’s still a core, right five to 15 or 20 keywords that are going to give you the biggest chunk of your sales, I say focus on those.

James Thomson 52:21

So let’s spend a minute and talk about that. Let’s say there’s three keywords that matter most for your category. One of the common complaints I hear from sellers as well, it’s so expensive to do PPC on those three keywords because everybody’s bidding on them. And yet the flip side is if you choose not to participate in those three keywords, and you’re only doing longtail terms in your PPC strategy. You may have a fantastic A cos on long tail terms, but you’re not really accessing the main part of the pie where most of the sales activity is happening. How do you make sense of this using top keywords in organic versus using topics keywords and paid. What do you think about that exercise when you may not build a Ford adequately to participate in PPC on top key terms?

Bradley Sutton 53:09

Sure. Well, for me, the one metric that you know, a lot of people don’t talk about what a weight is, today’s Tuesday, right? Today’s Tuesday. So what food? What food do you eat on Tuesdays tacos? Tuesdays, right? Sorry. So you got to think about your, your tacos or your total costs. Sometimes it might seem that you’re not very profitable on a certain keyword if you’re just looking at your costs. But you gotta understand that like we talked about before, when you do these impressions, you know, these ads, they follow the customer around, alright, so like, it’s not just a, you can’t just look at it so linearly. Um, so I would look at your tacos. And yeah, maybe it looks like you’re taking a loss on a certain keyword. But if it’s going to impact your business as a whole, and you can stay profitable as a whole, I would still constantly make sure to advertise for the keyword but like you said, James, you, you do, also do those long tail keywords. But if you are only focusing on the long tail keywords that have maybe a 10th of the search volume. Yeah, you could be losing on your overall market share if that’s your strategy.

James Thomson 54:15

So there’s really no cost to indexing or trying to index on keywords in organic search. So at an absolute minimum, make sure you’re doing the keyword research on a regular basis to make sure that you’ve got the right organic search terms in your listings. Make sure you’re refreshing that periodically, especially on your top listings. From an advertising perspective. The good news is you may start to see some terms that are not yet absolute top terms, the terms that are quickly becoming more relevant, where it may still be inexpensive for you to do PPC on those. And yes, for some of the top most expensive PPC terms, you may not be able to afford to play in that space all the time, but you least need to know what those terms are. One of the things that we’ve seen with Very expensive PPC terms is even if you do a small amount of regular advertising on those terms over time, again, over time, your organic search will get rewarded from that PPC investment that you’re making, as long as it remains stable and consistent that PPC spend on those top terms. You know, this, this will slowly help your flywheel to spin a little bit faster every month. So you will start to get better and better organic search placement. So as you think about it I can’t afford to spend right now on PPC for these top terms. No one said that you have to be the only guy with 100% visibility in your PPC ads. just just just plan to have some visibility all the time on a regular basis. And over time, you may not be rewarded on the PPC driven sales, but you will be rewarded on the organic search driven sales.

Bradley Sutton 55:54

Yeah, absolutely.

James Thomson 55:55

We only have a couple more minutes here. A couple of questions have come in with regards to Could you talk a little bit more about how prime eligibility affects sales? So talk to me about what you’ve seen there, Bradley.

Bradley Sutton 56:09

Yeah. So this is an interesting, an interesting thing, because throughout his, you know, the last three years, it’s like, basically, if you don’t have a prime eligible listing, I mean, your sales will be like, one 10th or 150, if you just have like some fulfilled by merchant where if all your competitors have prime, and you don’t, you know, that’s like a death sentence for your product. Now, it’s funny because that kind of changed a couple of the months during the pandemic, where almost nobody could get prime and some certain categories because they weren’t essential products and Amazon wasn’t allowing them to become prime. And so it was an even playing field though. And all of a sudden, people were still buying fulfilled by merging it but basically because they had no choice but during the quote unquote normal times where all your competitors have prime you’ve got to have a you’ve got to have prime on there because that’s the whole reason why people even have Amazon. I mean, me as I don’t know about you, James. me as a buyer, when I when I’m shopping on my app, or Amazon, one of the first things I do is I hit that button for the to filter out the non Prime listings because I want my stuff the next day or the day after. And so if you don’t have Prime, I mean, you’re not getting in front of too many people.

James Thomson 57:16

So let me share a couple things with this. When you stop at the top of the funnel, more than 65% of customers on Amazon do unbranded product search. So they’re looking for a coffin shelf. They’re not looking for Manny’s coffin shelf. Exactly. So they’re doing unbranded search. If you’re signed in as a Prime customer, Amazon is going to show you Prime eligible product offers first. So if there’s 20 products, 20 different coffin shelves, and you happen to be selling one of them and it’s not Prime eligible, you are very unlikely to show up at the top of organic search because your products are not prime eligible. Well, because consumers aren’t always brand loyal here. What ends up happening is If you’re not at the top of search, or worse yet, you’re not even on the first page of search, you’re not in the consideration set of consumers, they’re going to disproportionately focus their, their, their their shopping experience on what shows up on the first page of search. If you’re not on the first page of search, you can have the best mousetrap in the world, nobody’s going to see it, nobody’s going to care. So you’ve got to basically make sure that you have every opportunity to show up on the first page of search, being prime eligible is easily one of the two or three biggest levers that’s going to help you get on page one. Once the customer goes to the product page, and they actually look at the product detail page, and they’re saying, Okay, this product looks fine. Oh, is it Prime eligible? Is it not? If it’s not Prime eligible, the likelihood that a customer is going to convert is also going to drop substantially. When I was at Amazon, granted, it’s been seven years but I was when I was at Amazon. What I found is that when you take a product that’s not Prime eligible and you make it Prime eligible, you’re the first person to make the product prime eligible. It is not unusual. For product sales to jump over 60%, literally overnight, just because it’s Prime eligible. It’s not just because customer conversions are better, but it’s because you now have a much better chance of showing up in the consideration set on the first page, when Prime eligible when sorry, when prime customers search for products that Amazon says really, we’re going to primarily show you Prime eligible offers. So you very much want to be Prime eligible. There are a couple of exceptions if you’re hazmat, or if you sell oversized products that are particularly heavy where the economics of double shipping don’t work. Yeah, okay. You may be forced to not do Prime. The problem is if Amazon first party has an offer, that’s hazmat, or that that is an oversized heavy product, they’re going to have a natural advantage because first party products are going to be Prime eligible no matter what. But that’s I mean, that’s an aside from our conversation. So definitely be looking at using Prime in many ways. It’s table stakes for being relevant to Amazon customers. Even if You are prime eligible, it doesn’t mean you’re actually going to get on the first page of search results. But the chance of you showing up on the first page of search results without prime is basically, you know, tying one hand behind your back and having to overspend on advertising, the path to first page is going to be much, much longer. We’ve got time for one more question here.

Unknown Speaker 1:00:21

Can you pay to get the buy box? Somebody asked, Can you pay to get the buy box?

James Thomson 1:00:28

I don’t, I don’t. Basically, if you want to be buy box eligible, you need to play into the Amazon buy box algorithm rules which have to do with Are you prime eligible? Do you have the lowest price or near the lowest price as a seller? Are you even buy box eligible from a performance perspective? So no, I think the answer to this question is you can’t buy the buy box. You can’t say please Can someone make me the buy box winner. Instead you have to put together the right offering with the right characteristics. For Amazon’s buy box algorithm to say, You are worthy of being at least rotated into the buy box. From from time to time.

Unknown Speaker 1:01:09

You have been able to, it’s not a pay to play.

James Thomson 1:01:12

It’s not a pay to play. Yeah. So we are at the end of our time together. I want to thank all of you for joining us today on our call. Thank you all for joining and good luck with selling. Take care.

Intro 1:01:25

Thanks for listening to the Buy Box Experts podcast, be sure to click subscribe, check us out on the web, and we’ll see you next time.