I have been selling on Amazon since 2013 and it has been my largest source of income since 2014. I love the business model and think that using Amazon FBA is the best way to build a scalable physical product brand in 2017. But I am seeing a disturbing trend. There are lots of people who have bought into the dream, invested a lot of money in creating a product and a first batch made, but haven’t put any thought into how to sell it once it arrives in the Amazon warehouses. I hope to rectify that mistake in this post by telling you everything I know about marketing your Amazon FBA business.
This article is really for people who have set up or are in the process of setting up an Amazon FBA business. If that’s not you then I suggest starting with this post:
Marketing your Amazon FBA business is first and foremost a creative endeavor – the marketing that works is the marketing that everyone else isn’t doing. So let me put it bold: this is not a how-to guide, this is just a collection of tips and tricks that work for me. I suggest trying them all out and going with what works. In the words of Bruce Lee:
Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.
Now on to the goodies. There is a lot here so I am going to split my guide on marketing your Amazon FBA business into a few categories:
- Getting More Views On Your Listings From Amazon
- Including pay-per-click and Amazon search optimization
- Getting Views On Your Listing From Outside Amazon
- Including influencer marketing, giveaways, and traditional advertising
- Improving the Conversions of Your Listings
- Including listing improvement and getting more good reviews
Getting More Views On Your Listings From Amazon
Appearing In Amazon Searches
The best way to get views on your Amazon listing is to appear at the top of the list when someone searches for the product. There are two ways to do this. Either:
- Get selected by Amazon’s algorithm as the most relevant result for the searched for keyword.
- Pay to be at the top.
In the below image I have done a quick search for ‘water bottle’ and put a red square around all the listings that have paid to be there and a green square around the organic ones.
It is pretty bad really. If someone searches for ‘water bottle’ they need to scroll down before they get to any listings that haven’t paid to be at the top. Marketing your Amazon FBA business is quickly turning into a pay-to-play setup.
Pay-Per-Click Advertising On Amazon
Amazon PPC is pretty easy to understand and is the simplest way of marketing your Amazon FBA products. It is an auction based system. For each keyword everyone bids on how much they are willing to pay per click. Then Amazon chooses a winner based on the bid amount and how suitable they think your product is.
We don’t know exactly how the auction works as it is secret. What we do know is that you don’t pay the full bid amount. My best guess is that the winner pays the bid of the closest loser. So if I bid £10 a click and the next closest bid is 50p. I will pay 50p. That is a guess, but an educated one. It does make it quite difficult to choose a bidding strategy, luckily we can let Amazon do that for us. More on this later.
The system is the same regardless of which Amazon marketplace you are selling on. The below screenshot is from my Canadian seller account.
ACoS is one of the key figures. Provided this is better than your profit margin you will be making money. So if your profit margin is normally 40% after production costs and all Amazon fees, you will be making money for any ACoS below 40%. (If you’re not a natural mathematician and are struggling to work out your profit margin you can use a third party Amazon seller analytics software, such as Fetcher).
Recently there has been a lot of complaints about Amazon PPC. In the USA it has got very competitive and the average ACoS people are seeing has been growing. Which is one of the reasons I have shown you my Canadian campaign manager in the screenshot above. My ACoS on every other marketplace is about half of what it is in the USA. Here is the exact same campaign on the USA site:
The ACoS is over double. In fact, it is so high that we almost make no money anymore. Marketing your Amazon FBA business on the USA site is getting very competitive, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth doing.
I will run the PPC campaign even if it breaks even. Extra sales lead to more reviews (see below) and help you climb the bestseller rankings. So even if sales from the PPC campaign don’t make any money, they should lead to more organic sales. (That’s the theory anyway!)
Setting Up An Automatic Campaign
The most simple type of Amazon FBA PPC campaign is an automated one. Set a small daily budget (maybe $10 to begin with), choose the products you want to advertise, let Amazon choose your bid and then let it loose. It is that simple and takes just a few clicks.
Generally, I suggest doing a separate campaign for each item that is completely different and targeting different keywords. If you have items that target the same keyword, put them in the same campaign and the same ad group. If you put them in separate campaigns you risk bidding against yourself for the same keyword.
Amazon will automatically select keywords and bid on them for you.
After a week or two, you can go in and optimise the campaign by reviewing what it has been bidding on and telling it the keywords not to bid on. In the campaign manager click on ‘download the search terms report’ and open it in excel. Here is a screenshot of one of my search term reports:
Note: The combination of letters and numbers are ASINs of other product. That means that my product appears as a suggested alternative to other seller’s products.
I am looking for any search terms that are out of place and shouldn’t be there. It seems that Amazon is struggling to tell the difference between the search term ‘table tennis racket’ and ‘tennis racket’. I therefore need to go in and tell Amazon not to bid on ‘tennis racket’.
If you’re a bit of stats geek you can also look into which exact keywords or competitor products aren’t converting and remove them too. There is a lot of good data in those search term reports!
Back in campaign manager we go to ‘Campaign Settings’ -> ‘Negative Keywords’
The only thing to be aware of here is the difference between Phrase and Exact. Phrase includes any search term that has your keywords in that order in it. It also allows for variation of punctuation and capitals.
So in this example, phrase would also include:
- Best mens tennis racket
- mens tennis racket gift ideas
- the very best men’s tennis racket for father’s day
Exact requires that the keywords to be the only words in the search term. But does allow for different punctuation and capitals. Exact would include:
- Men’s tennis racket
- mens tennis racket
- MENS TENNIS RACKET
This is important. For ‘mens tennis racket’ I am happy to add it as a negative phrase. But for the term ‘tennis racket’ I only want to add that as a negative exact. If I added it as a phrase I would also be telling Amazon to not bid on keywords such as ‘table tennis racket’, which is the opposite of what I’m trying to achieve!
And that is all I am going to say about automatic keyword targeting. Just log in periodically, make sure it is still profitable and tweak.
Once the campaign has a profitable ACoS you can start raising the daily limit until you are spending all the Amazon will allow.
Setting Up A Manual Campaign
If you want to take a more hands on approach you can choose to set the keywords yourself. Some people have a lot of success doing this, but in my opinion it is only worth doing in a few very specific situations: where you have a high converting exact phrase you want to bid on. If you have a profitable exact phrase then it is worth it because your bid can be slightly lower.
Let’s look at the screenshot below to show you what I mean:
In this image, I am creating a campaign targeting the keyword ‘Water Bottle’. There are three levels of matching. Exact and Phrase we have already covered. Broad is like a more abstract Phrase and includes synonyms.
If someone searches water bottle in Amazon and there are three bidders on the keyword all bidding the same amount, Amazon will choose the Exact bidder above the Broad or Phrase. You can see from the screenshot that the Broad will need to pay 75c whereas the Exact only needs to pay 56c.
As automatic campaigns only use Broad, this can give the manual campaign quite a big advantage.
Now enough of PPC, onto some cheaper ways of marketing your Amazon FBA products.
Amazon Search Optimisation
I am not an expert in keyword optimisation and what exactly it is that Amazon looks for when choosing the top organic results. But I can guess:
- Your listing needs to be obviously a result related to the search term
- Have good reviews
- Have a high bestseller rank
- Have good conversion rate
We will cover reviews and conversion in a later part of this article. Having a bestseller ranking is all about selling a lot within the last 24 hours (one of the reasons why it is worth doing PPC even if you just break even).
So that leaves us with being relevant for your search term. This is called keyword optimisation. The concept is simple:
You want to have the phrases and keywords that people are searching for appear in you listing
When you create your listing there are a few places where you can put keywords. I have numbered them in decreasing importance.
- The name. – This is the title that appears at the top in bold.
- The key features. – These are bullet points that appear at the top of the listing page.
- The description. – This is a human-readable description further down the listing page.
- The search terms section. – This is a back end section that customers can’t read. It is only for Amazon.
You want to include your main keywords in the title. And then put your more unusual ones further down. And the really abstract ones that you can’t get into your description place in the search terms.
Be a bit careful with the title. You want to balance telling Amazon exactly what the listing is about with keeping it attractive and readable for human beings. I am sure we’ve all seen keyword stacked Amazon listings that are unreadable. If your title is putting off human buyers, then you are doing something wrong.
As I said, I’m not an expert so I will avoid trying to give advice on keyword density or anything like that. Have a play around and see what works. If you’re struggling to think of keywords, you can use those that convert well in the search terms report of your PPC advertising.
It is worth checking to make sure that Amazon is indexing your keywords. You can do this manually by searching for the keywords and seeing if your item appears. Or you can use a third party tool such as Keywordinspector. If your keyword isn’t indexed you can contact seller support to try and get it added.
You can take this keyword optimization to a huge geek out level, and there are some pretty advanced tools out there to help you do it. Splity is the main one. It allows you to do split testing with your product pages. Basically, it will automatically try out different descriptions/titles/search terms and find the ones that convert the best.
They’re very good but expensive. To track 500 keywords costs $97 a month, 100 costs $47 a month. It’s pretty advanced so I don’t recommend investing until you already have some sales and want to optimize further. A slight description change isn’t going to take you from no sales to lots of sales. But it could take you from 50 sales a day to 60, which would more than cover the cost.
Getting Views On Your Listing From Outside Amazon
The biggest difficulty when marketing your Amazon FBA business by getting more views from Amazon is that every other FBA seller is trying to do the exact same thing. It is very competitive and even if you’re in a narrow specific niche, chances are there are at least a couple of other people trying to compete with you.
One solution is to move away from Amazon and try and get customers coming straight from an outside website to you listing.
Influencer Marketing – Getting Influential People To Recommend Your Item
The technique I have had the best results with is to contact websites that are recommending my competitors and asking them to consider my product.
Let me show you an example. Let’s say I have just created a new yoga mat. My first step is to find out what review websites are appearing high on Google for relevant keywords. Stuff like:
- What yoga mat should I buy
- best yoga mat
- top yoga mat on Amazon
You get the idea. Here is the fist page of Google for ‘best yoga mat’:
I have drawn a red box around every website that is making money from affiliate links to Amazon. That means that if you read one of their reviews, click through to Amazon and buy a yoga mat, they will earn a commission.
If you’re interested in learning more about affiliate links, that is how this blog makes money. Read my income report for a breakdown.
My tactic is to email every website and offer to send them one of my products to review. Some will agree to that, some will ignore the email, and some will ask to be paid. Whether it is worth paying for the review really depends and you’ll need to use your own judgment to decide.
Websites aren’t the only influencers who are worth targeting. Popular Instagram and YouTubers are also worth considering. They are both emerging markets and there are many content creators who don’t know their worth. As such you can often find a popular Instagrammer in a niche who is willing to promote your product in exchange for just a free item.
I am sure there are a lot of other influencers out there you can target. Use your imagination! If you can find people who your competitors aren’t approaching, that gives you a big advantage.
Giveaways & Deals On Offer Sites
People love a deal. And by offering your product at a ridiculously low price it can be quite easy to get a lot of sales. You aren’t going to make any money from these sales, but you will help you climb the bestseller rankings and you will get some reviews out of it.
IMPORTANT NOTE: You cannot offer someone a discount in return for a review. But reviews that come as a side effect from offering a discount are fine.
There are lots of websites and communities that allow you to list or promote discounted items from Amazon. One that was built specifically for Amazon is JumpSend.
You create a coupon code on Amazon and create a deal listing on JumpSend. Then whenever someone clicks through on your deal they will be given the coupon code to buy your product. It’s also a pretty good site for finding very cheap deals on private label items.
Amazon’s own Lightning Deals is another example. For a one off fee ($150 in use, £25 in UK) you can get Amazon to advertise your item on its deals page. You need to offer a large discount, it is only for a short time and you can limit the amount of stock available.
To create a lightning deal go to ‘Advertising -> Lightning Deals’ in Seller Central.
JumpSend and Lightning Deals’ biggest strength is also their biggest weakness. They are designed and optimised for Amazon. Which means that there is a good chance your competitors will also be using them.
If you want a real competitive advantage, I suggest finding niche specific and non-Amazon related deal sites as well.
We’ve spoken a bit about pay-per-click advertising inside of Amazon. But it is worth being aware that there are lots of platforms outside of Amazon that also accept PPC advertising.
Here are a few places you might want to look into:
- Facebook Ads
- Reddit Ads
- Google Adwords
- Advertising on Instagram
It is very easy to sink a huge amount of money into advertising, so be careful. Start small and track how much you’re spending vs how many extra sales you get. Only once you have a positive return on investment should you think about scaling up.
I won’t go into this sort of advertising in a lot of detail here because I have previously written about it. Check out this post about how I use Outbrain to drive traffic to favorable reviews of my products, which then converts to more sales on Amazon.
Improving the Conversions of Your Listings
Marketing your Amazon FBA products isn’t just about getting as many people as possible to view your listing. Once you have people viewing it, you want as many as possible to go on and purchase the product. This is known as conversion and is important for two reasons.
- Improving conversions is a good way to make extra money without having to get more views on your listing.
- A good conversion is a factor in determining how high you appear on Amazon searches and how much you pay for PPC advertising on Amazon.
Having A Top Quality Listing
The better your listing is the more likely someone is to buy your product. There are really two things you can optimize here:
Good Photographs (and videos!)
Your main photo needs to have a white background but apart from that Amazon doesn’t seem to mind if you get a bit creative with your other photos. You can even include a video.
I suggest including anything you can to help convince a customer to buy your product:
- Answering common questions in the images. Such as a picture showing the dimension and weight.
- Include text showing the products key features.
- Show any awards your product has received.
- Include anything that sets you apart. Such as a long warranty.
- Make the products look awesome in the photo.
Taking good product photos is both an art and a science. You can try and take pictures yourself but the reality is that you probably won’t be able to make them good enough. Which is a problem, because the cost to hire a top professional can run to many thousands.
We take a slightly more creative approach in my business. We search on Instagram for people who are in our niche and have made it a hobby to take amazing photographs of similar items. We contact them and pay them to photograph our products. So far this has been working well and is a lot cheaper than going to a dedicated product photographer.
Here are some good listings I’ve plucked from Amazon:
Just like every part of marketing your Amazon FBA business, there is no right or wrong way to do the product images. If it works and leads to extra sales then go for it. If you think of something creative that no one is doing, don’t be afraid to give it a go!
If you have lots of different images and not sure which ones are best, you can use Splity to test them and find the combination with the highest conversion.
If you have a basic listing there isn’t actually much freedom in what we can include on the product page. We are limited to just selecting a bunch of bullet points that appear below the title and a long form description that appears quite far down the page.
A lot of people won’t read the description, but almost everyone will read the bullet point features. So make sure they are as good and convincing as possible. If you are selling on a marketplace that isn’t in your native language, please please please get a native speaker to edit it for you.
Getting Good Reviews
People spend a lot of time worrying about getting as many reviews as possible. They are important but I have found that once you get above about 20 reviews there are real diminishing returns – each extra review only has a small impact on the customers’ decision to buy your product. And having good reviews alone won’t make you appear higher on Amazon searches. More important is to make sure that your reviews stay at an average of 4.5 stars or higher.
There are a lot of shady methods for getting reviews that I do not recommend. The advantages from getting a few extra reviews are outweighed by the risks of having your seller account closed because you broke some terms and conditions.
The one grey-area method I do recommend is to get your friends to buy your product and leave a review. Don’t give them a discount and don’t refund their purchase because that could be seen as review manipulation and get you in trouble with Amazon (and their reviews removed).
After the initial few reviews, I like to set up automated emails asking customers to leave a review.
Amazon allows this but doesn’t make it easy, there is no way to set up automated mass emails from inside Amazon Seller Central. Instead, we have to use a third party service.
I personally use Feedback Genius. It is very simple to use and has a lot of customizability. There are different plans to choose from but the smallest one is free and allows up to 100 emails a month. Then $20 for the next 1,000 emails.
There are a lot of rules about how you can use emails in marketing your Amazon FBA products. You cannot:
- Incentivise a customer to leave a good review. That means no “get 20% off your next order if you leave a good review”.
- You cannot include a decision tree to filter different types of reviews. That means you are not allowed to say “if you loved the product click here to leave a good review, or if you were in any way unsatisfied please click here to message me directly and I will do everything I can to fix it”.
- You are also not allowed to include a link to your own website in the email.
If Amazon catches you breaking these rules you could lose your seller account.
So if you can’t include any of that, what can you include to encourage them to leave a good review? My personal preference is a two email chain.
The first email simply includes useful information about their purchase and asks that if they are unhappy to email me. Here is my template for some table tennis bats I sell:
My name is Sam and I’m one of the creators of the xxxx. Thank you so much for your order!
I wanted to reassure you that we’ve got you covered. If you aren’t completely satisfied with something when your order arrives, then let me know and we’ll get it straightened out for you ASAP.
Additionally, if you have any questions about your order or our products we’d be happy to help you out.
If you’d like to get in touch, you can just reply to this message and we’ll respond promptly. No question is ever too small or unimportant.
I’m going to provide some usage tips for your xxxx:
- After receiving your bat, the first step is to remove the protective film on each of the black and red rubbers. The rubbers should feel a bit sticky to the touch. It’s this surface that enables you to create the incredible spin that our bats are known for.
- The bat should be stored in its case between use. If left out for a prolonged period of time the rubbers should be cleaned.
- As you use the bat, the rubbers will start to attract dust from the ball and will lose their feeling of stickiness. They can be cleaned by wiping them down with a bit of water on a clean cloth.
- After about a year of heavy usage, the rubbers will slowly lose their spin and should be replaced. They are designed to be easily removed and new rubbers can be stuck down in their place. Alternatively, a new bat can be purchased.
- The bat has been tested and approved by the International Table Tennis Federation, meaning its legal for use at tournaments of any level. So go, win some matches and enjoy the bat!
All the best,
This email sets the tone for the level of customer service I want to offer as well as heading off bad reviews before they happen. If someone complains and I can’t fix their issue, I just don’t send them the next email.
Remember, good customer service is another way of marketing your Amazon FBA business. If people have a good experience they will tell other people leading to more sales.
My second email asks for a review:
First off, I wanted to say thank you once again for your support. Our small business wouldn’t be able to grow and continue to produce top quality table tennis bats without your help.
I noticed your order was delivered a couple days ago, so I hope that you’ve had the chance to try it out and make sure you are happy with everything.
We are always aiming to improve our products and service, and we would really appreciate if you could take 2 seconds to provide us with some feedback:[[product-review-link:Leave a review]]Thank you again for your trust and support.
As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, or even just want to have a chat, send us a message by replying to this email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
All the best,
The text in square brackets is shortcode which Feedback Genius converts into links that are customised for each customer.
Once again experiment with the wording of your emails. Ohh and if you find any good tricks please drop me an email to let me know.
Conclusion – Get Marketing Your Amazon FBA Business
To wrap up, I really want top reiterate what I said at the beginning. Marketing only works when everyone isn’t doing it. If you can think of ideas for marketing your Amazon FBA products that aren’t on this list, then give it a go and if it works stick with it. Don’t follow the crowd. Use your own creativity. And don’t be afraid to try and fail different ideas.