Keith O’Brien is the CEO of Page.One agency – a team of marketing strategists and creatives that helps you grow your Amazon FBA business to the next level.
In this interview, Sergey and Keith talked about how to grow an Amazon FBA business in 2020, what’s the difference between winning the click and winning the buy, and why branding might not be the best option for small businesses.
Join us, and thank you for reading!
- If you’re serious about Amazon FBA, it’s not late to get into it in 2020. There are a lot of new sellers this year, but 90% of them are going to flush out by the next year. Grow your Amazon FBA business with patience.
- Selling on Amazon comes to two things: winning the click (through the main image, title, and BSR), and winning the buy (through descriptive copy, stunning images, and product differentiation). Once you win the click, it’s much easier to sell.
- Use reviews to create product differentiation, but then don’t forget to communicate those improvements in your listings.
- Be patient with Amazon PPC. Don’t tinker too much and expect to see quick results. You need to give time for the results to show up.
- If you’re not serious about pushing your company to the scale when branding becomes valuable, don’t obsess over it – focus on what works.
Do you mind sharing with our readers how you got started with the Amazon space and eCommerce in general?
If we go back through all of my histories, we’re gonna be here a minute 🙂
But we started around the Amazon space, about five and a half years ago. A business partner of mine founded a company called “I Love To Review”. If you’ve been around for more than three years, you probably knew that company. I partnered and then took over as CEO about six months later. That was the first to market product review company in the space. We built that whole business around giving FBA sellers an option similar to the Vine program. That was only open to Vendors at the time. That’s how we got started in the space. And then when the big review Armageddon came down in 2016, we closed the doors of that company and opened up an agency.
Great. What services does your current agency offer for sellers who want to grow their Amazon FBA businesses?
One of the frustrating things to us in our first business is that we could put 500 compliant reviews on a product in a couple of weeks. But often their listings were awful.
Five years ago, there just wasn’t nearly as much content available. Content in terms of how to set up your listings correctly to grow your Amazon business.
So – we said, well, how can we serve sellers in this space? You know, we had thousands of clients all over the world. So we started off with content optimization. We launched our photography and design team shortly after that. Then our advertising management team. And then last year, we launched our brand management team.
We have clients that will come in and we’re just updating listings and creating content, keywords, copywriting, that kind of thing. For some, we just do the A+ content. Some we are updating all the photography across their catalog, they’ve been on it a while. And for some, we just run advertising. For some, we even manage the entire business.
Now – we have a lot of agency founders on the show, and the question I like to ask founders is, “What point of differentiation do you have“? Because there are so many agencies on the market. How are you different?
Very few agencies do everything – content, advertising, and photography. Most agencies run the advertising and they might even manage the brand of your Amazon business? That means they’re gonna do content, but almost all of them outsource photography, a lot of them outsource content. A lot of them even outsource content overseas. But all of our team leads are in-house in Florida. And we have tons of contractors that work with us. But you know, our content teams and writers, they’re all in the US. Bringing my answer to a close, we get all the pieces. And understand how each piece is so important and how they all fit together.
When you grow an Amazon FBA business, it’s all about, can we get a visitor? Can we keep them there long enough to take some action? All those things work together from the content to the images to the storyline of the content to the A-plus to who you’re targeting and advertising. So that’s what’s unique about us.
Yeah, it’s cool that a seller can just come to you and not worry about outsourcing a particular service to some other agency. Before we get practical, I want to ask you this – and you probably get this one a lot. Is it too late to get into the Amazon FBA game and grow their Amazon FBA businesses in 2020?
I think it’s too late to start selling on Amazon in 2020 if you’re looking to make a quick buck. Five years ago, you could really put almost any product up. And if you did a few things right, you’d make money. That’s definitely not the case anymore. It’s not even enough anymore just to differentiate visually your product. You got to do all of the other things well. And you’ve got to do them for a consistent amount of time.
So, if you’ve got a long term vision on the business, and you can get to a place this year. Build on it and get to another place next year, then by no means is it too late. 90% of any of the sellers in any category is going to be different next year, right? 90% are going to flush out, but most of the sellers next year are going to be brand new.
The time that we’re in, with the coronavirus, in the next couple of months. There’s gonna be a lot of people that just hang it up and just say, “I’m done.”
But if you’re serious about it, you can still start and grow your Amazon FBA business.
But on the other hand, people have more time on their hands to tinker into new things. So we might see growth in the number of sellers just because of this new time available.
With any challenge, it’s going to kind of fleece the market. When things get harder, some people just don’t want to do it. But when things get harder, it actually creates a barrier to entry. And that’s actually good. So generally speaking, the field is kind of leveled a bit now than it was a year ago.
So – the takeaway: if you’re not serious about Amazon FBA, don’t get into it?
But that should be a good piece of advice no matter what it is, right? So if you don’t really like your girl, you shouldn’t be in a relationship. If you don’t actually want to lose weight and you shouldn’t join a gym, right?
Okay, turning our conversation into marketing and digital marketing on Amazon. Could you talk to me in any depth you want, what’s the anatomy of a great product listing on Amazon? What key factors influence the viability of a product looking at a list?
That’s a big question. I think there are two places: you first got to win the click and then you got to win the sale. So right now you have your search results conversion. You’ve got all these eyeballs looking at you and you’re competing with those 48 other listings to win the click. There’s a handful of things that are going to influence that. Like what your product looks like, the price, the star rating of your reviews, the number of reviews you have to an extent.
The first is your main image and your title. Then – where you are in the ranking. But where you end up in the ranking has a lot to do with the percentage of those that are going to click on. All of those things are under your influence.
But once they’re on your page, it’s a whole different story. If winning the click is top of the funnel, right now they’re on your page – it’s in the middle of the funnel, right? This is where all the work that you really do is happening. It’s understanding who your customer is, so you can speak directly to them. It’s understanding what problems your product solves so that you can dig into the pain points. And everyone wants to talk about what their product does and that’s important, but really, people just give a shit about what it does for them.
The things that influence the middle of the funnel is your copywriting, the rest of your image stack, and whether it tells a cohesive story. If you’re A+ design, you know, do you use the right images to get in front of any objections that people may have? Do you handle anything that might be more difficult about your product like, well, what do you get, what kind of Q&A do you get on your listing? if you can solve that in the listing, it’s better.
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Can you say that winning a click is easier than winning a buy in such a funnel?
If you look at your impressions to click rate, they’re abysmal compared to the conversion rate of your listing. I think that once you get someone on your page, depending on the cost of your product and marketplace and stuff, you’re going to convert a decent percentage of the time. It’s much harder to get the click originally.
But reviews matter a huge deal – and it’s usually hard to get those initial reviews on Amazon, right? What’s the strategy to get those reviews for a new seller?
First of all, the old company was generating about 30,000 reviews a month when we shut it down. Looking back now, I think that we created a lot of demand. I think that yes, reviews definitely help, yes reviews will change your conversion rate. Yes, reviews will make your advertising perform better and you’ll be able to spend less to get the same results, but it should never be something that stops you from going forward in your business.
We launch products all the time and we don’t do any blackhat stuff or even gray hat stuff, we launch them through a very specific PPC pricing model and we sign up everyone up for an early reviewer program. We’re going to you know, do the inserts. We’re going to do follow up emails and we just really try to drive sales right so reviews come in when sales volumes are good.
Do all the things that you need to do, put all the things in place, have early reviewers, inserts, follow up all the core basic stuff that’s not going to get you banned and kicked off and just drive sales.
Can you use reviews as a way to understand what your key point of differentiation might be?
100%. I think that most people that are doing product research for their own brand, when they get into identifying a niche, should go through the route, the reviews and the Q&A that a customer has with their product. It doesn’t matter what you think about your product, or if it’s a great idea, get into the heads of what people are actually saying about it. And most people I think are taking that look at all the things that people hate about other products and making that stuff better with theirs, and then diving into that – but I think what people forget to do is then tell people about that stuff like inside of the listing. So you have all these pain points right now, or your product compared to the others (and you can name them but you don’t have to).
If you’ve solved five known issues of this product and you don’t have a comparison of competition leading competitors to your own brand on your images, like “I’ve done it” – you just spend all the time creating it and doing all this hard work for nothing. You’ve got to make sure people know that you’ve solved the problem.
Going off from that, should sellers consider doing off-Amazon marketing for their business? Most interviews talk about PPC advertising on Amazon, but there’s not enough said about social media, Facebook Ads, etc. in terms of growing an Amazon FBA business.
Yeah, I think that the answer could be yes or no. I’m a big fan of learning the core fundamentals when you grow your Amazon FBA business. And you want to learn the core fundamentals of the marketplace that you’re selling. So if you haven’t really got on top of your own Amazon PPC, you probably shouldn’t be messing around with Facebook advertising, right? You’re probably going to spend more money unless that’s your background. If you’ve got a social media or Facebook or digital marketing background, then literally have to figure out the things you need to do if you can drive sales with good conversion to Amazon.
You’ve got an arrow in your quiver that most people don’t have, right? And so yes, you should exploit that advantage as much as you possibly can. If you’re brand new to digital marketing or just learning Amazon, and you’re doing this maybe 10 hours a week, as your side hustle, you’ve got plenty to do, right?
So get your business going, crank it out to where you have some profit, maybe outsource to somebody that has an expertise in that. Unless you are just that person that really can dive into something, learn it really well and then get to a point of proficiency quickly but yeah, super high value if you can do it. It’s a super big waste of time if you don’t do it well.
Look, there’s never a shortage of shiny objects in this space, right? There’s always something else that you could do and spend your time in. And only so many of them are actually really valuable: your conversion to the increased traffic that makes sales.
Everything else is kind of background noise.
Do you see any of your clients use influencer marketing to grow their Amazon business?
Not a lot of our clients particularly. I think that is an area that can be done well and can be great. But most people just think it’s a black hole of time. You know, there are some platforms out there that help you make the job easier.
But why is it a black hole? Is it because not many people understand how to work with influencers?
I think it’s a little bit like when people used to do friends and family to get reviews. You put this group of 30 or so people together. These are all your closest friends and family, they buy your product, you send them a coupon and like three people leave a review, right? I mean, take that to an influencer market that you have no relationship with. Almost everyone that’s gone down this path has the experience when they send someone a product, this person disappeared, they don’t respond. “Oh, I never got the product, can you send another one?”
On your LinkedIn, it says “If it isn’t growth you’re after, we can help you leverage your time and increase your decision ROI” – in what ways can a seller increase their decision ROI when they grow an Amazon FBA business?
I think that there are a couple different types of mentality when it comes to a brand owner. You’ve got the person that is always going to do everything themselves, the DIY-guy. And there’s no judgment on any of these different descriptions.
So you got a DIY-guy, they’re never gonna outsource anything, never gonna pay anyone to do anything related to their business. And then you’ve got the kind of part-time DIY-guy, they say, “This PPC thing is not my thing. I want to focus on this, this and this,” they like being creative or doing the packaging and all this kind of stuff.
And then there’s the guy that says, “I want to actually own a business,” – I don’t want to be the operator. I want to be a business owner and they may start doing everything themselves, but their plan is “I’m going to outsource piece after piece after piece until really my whole business is everything outside of product sourcing and the brand design is under management.”
And, again, nothing wrong with any of those things, right? The third one’s the most expensive, you’re going to pay the most out of your business. While the first one’s going to be the most expensive in terms of your time when you grow an Amazon FBA business.
So it really depends on what you have more of – time or money.
Correct. You know, or it really depends on where you want to be in a couple of years. So if your goal is to exit, then at some point, you can exit any kind of DIY. I can exit the middle guy, but the marketplace for who will buy the business is going to be vastly larger on someone that’s got their business under management.
Now you’ve got someone again, the market is in the toilet at the moment, but someone who’s, you know, semi-retiring, you know, 55 you know, is leaving the corporate job and they’re looking to buy a business. And they’re looking to buy and grow an Amazon FBA business between, say, one and 3 million, right? That guy does not have a background in Amazon. So to come into a business that’s mostly under management is really attractive because it’s spitting out profit already. But if you want to go in and figure out how to keep their PPC going – that’s a whole another thing. It just depends on what the endgame is.
When business owners ask you for advice on increasing their time ROI, what advice do you give?
It’s easy to tinker a lot with your listings and you gotta have a little bit of patience when you grow an Amazon FBA business. There’s an attribution window in advertising. You have to get enough sessions through something before you change it again. So many people are tinkering through this stuff constantly, like, how they like they have no idea what they did to actually make the change and the result. I think that having a little patience on the optimization of your listing is something that really helps.
What is your contrarian view that goes against the commonly accepted notions in the industry? Basically, what truth do very few people agree with you on?
I think branding is overrated on low price point products. I don’t know if that’s contrarian but you know, I think there’s a lot of conversation, “You’ve got to build a brand!” – and sure, I think that is helpful. But I think most businesses that are making under half a million a year or under a million a year, are generally never going to get to the benefit of a brand. I think we have a lot more ego and a lot more value in our brand.
So – I think that unless you’re really going to push it to the point where you get a return on that brand value, you should probably spend less time and money and get to a better ROI without it by investing your time in something that works.
That’s the best strategy if you want to grow your Amazon FBA business.
Where can people learn more about you and your business?
For me personally, LinkedIn is probably the best place, Keith O’Brien. And then company wise, we’re at page.one, so not pageone.com but if you typed it in we come up anyway, but page.one.