I requested Ken Freeman, a former Amazon vendor turned advisor, if a model may nonetheless make hundreds of thousands on that market. “It’s laborious however not unattainable,” he informed me. “Eight years in the past you possibly can get wealthy promoting yoga mats.”
Having launched as a bootstrapped enterprise, Freeman now seeks established firms as purchasers, ideally $10 million or extra in income per 12 months.
He and I not too long ago spoke, addressing heightened Amazon competitors, black-hat sellers, and extra. The complete audio of our dialog is embedded beneath. The transcript is edited for readability and size.
Eric Bandholz: Give us your elevator pitch.
Ken Freeman: I’ve been within the ecommerce house for almost a decade. I began with bootstrapped drop-shipping companies, which advanced right into a bootstrapped FBA enterprise, which advanced right into a seven-figure firm I offered in 2019 to Thrasio, an aggregator.
Since then, I’ve began many extra Amazon companies. That’s my specialty. I like exploring the Amazon market. I created a number of companies, and for the final 12 months and a half, I’ve been vp of Amazon at The Ridge, the pockets model. I’ve not too long ago began an Amazon company known as Full Circle, which focuses on direct-to-consumer sellers.
I like technique. I’ve performed almost 10,000 video games of chess, I’ve completed jujitsu for about 15 years, and I’m very aggressive. I’m not one of the best product or branding particular person, however I like teaming up with people with unimaginable merchandise and types. The concept behind Full Circle is to merge these with cutting-edge methods on Amazon.
Bandholz: Many sellers like me are cautious of black hat rivals.
Freeman: Black hat techniques might be many issues, corresponding to rivals clicking in your sponsored advert listings or taking down your listings — through people or robots. The worst is the place there’s a transparent battle occurring, and black hat sellers will artificially inflate their rankings. It’s simple to get tons of Amazon accounts in China, for instance. It’s a matter of 1 account taking place and switching to a different. It’s not a long-term technique. However they’ve received some loopy tips. It’s each spectacular and horrible on the identical time.
Considered one of my manufacturers was primary in a aggressive house. It was wild how usually we skilled takedowns, the place rivals would falsely allege a violation from us, and Amazon would then take away our listings till we proved in any other case. Competitors is intense while you’re within the high 10 spots. However till you then gained’t get aggressive motion towards you. There are telltale indicators to observe for, corresponding to advert spend going off the charts or price range operating out. Amazon has some automation to detect click on fraud, and it returns that cash. However it will probably’t detect every little thing.
Bandholz: How do you succeed on Amazon legitimately?
Freeman: Obsess over studying and surrounding your self with others doing the identical factor. I’ve been in a seven-figure mastermind group for 5 years now. Keep on the chopping fringe of what’s going on. You must grasp each facet of the pay-per-click recreation. The quantity of sponsored advert spots on Amazon is insane. It have to be 4-times what it was after I offered my model. Amazon makes a lot cash from advertisements. It’s a pay-to-play system. You must grasp it.
Scrutinize knowledge for each product. Look carefully on the key phrases and see how your pay-per-click spend performs on a key phrase degree. What’s your return on advert spend? Use that to spice up a very powerful key phrases — your “golden key phrases.” Get loopy granular with knowledge. Amazon has offered some superb instruments within the final six months to do this.
Bandholz: So it’s all about pay-per-click advertisements?
Freeman: You must do every little thing to win, greater than PPC alone. A very good evaluation charge and gross sales velocity on a key phrase degree will assist that key phrase rank larger. Your itemizing has to transform nicely. “A+ Content material” is an Amazon program that’s now free. It was loopy costly. It helps your itemizing convert higher. I’m data-oriented. I see ones and zeros after I take into consideration Amazon.
It’s all about optimizing your click-through charge through pricing and pictures. Titles are vital, too. We analysis each key phrase. What’s the conversion charge for that key phrase by way of the market common and the highest three?
We observe efficiency over time. Say we modify the primary picture to enhance the click-through. As soon as we’re comfy with the conversion charge — within the high 10 of the class — we are able to push the advertisements.
A correct evaluation funnel is important. Amazon’s phrases of service deal with soliciting critiques. Primarily you can not pay for them or provide incentives. Some issues might be tastefully completed, even when they violate Amazon’s guidelines.
If in case you have loyal neighborhood members that love your model, you possibly can entice them by way of electronic mail lists and group boards. You may say, “Hey, love you guys, and thanks for being part of the neighborhood. We wish to give you a product at no cost. We’re getting began on Amazon. We’d love your help.”
You should buy critiques by way of Amazon, too. The service is named Vine. I like to recommend it relying in your product. There’s the “honeymoon interval,” which lasts for roughly 45 days from the launch of a list. Once you’re getting began, you wish to hit the bottom operating by way of PPC. You will get 30 critiques from Vine for about $250. It’s extraordinarily cost-effective on a per-review foundation.
Bandholz: Can a vendor nonetheless make hundreds of thousands on Amazon?
Freeman: It’s laborious however not unattainable. Eight years in the past, you possibly can get wealthy promoting a yoga mat on Amazon. Fortunately, I received into Amazon earlier than the most important wave. Many DTC homeowners have a really damaging sentiment round Amazon, which I perceive.
However many shoppers will solely purchase on Amazon. They may see your Fb advertisements and go proper to Amazon and click on or kind your model identify or key phrase. Should you’re not there, seemingly a less expensive, crappier different will probably be. With out a presence on Amazon, you’re not catching that spillover, which might be materials.
Bandholz: The place can individuals attain out to you?