Amazon Marketing for Food & Beverage Products [Food and Beverage Marketing, Part 9]

If you sell products on Amazon, don’t miss this episode where expert guest Aalap Shah discusses Amazon marketing strategies for food and beverage CPG brands, emphasizing A+ content, storytelling, and tips for optimization, advertising, and market share.

Want more niche marketing insights on Food and Beverage Marketing?

This episode is Part 9 in a multi-part series on food product marketing and sales. To continue learning on this niche, visit:

And for a detailed resource guide on how to market a food or beverage brand, bookmark this step-by-step expert advice here:

  • How to Market a Food Product | The Ultimate Resource Guide (coming soon!)

Watch the Podcast Interview on Amazon Marketing for Food & Beverage Products with Aalap Shah (Part 9 in the Series):

This episode on amazon marketing with Aalap Shah, covers all of the following and more:

Note: These timestamps correspond to the video version of the episode

0:00 Amazon Marketing
1:36 Introduction to the Niche Marketing Podcast
2:09 Finding 108 Agency
3:08 Aalap’s Journey to Founding 108 Agency
6:18 Startup Strategy: Amazon vs. DTC
8:50 Setting up an Amazon Account
10:16 Importance of Brand Registry
11:45 Leveraging A+ Content on Amazon
14:59 Building Compelling A+ Content
18:22 Importance of Reviews on Amazon
18:44 Procuring Genuine Reviews on Amazon
24:52 Understanding Amazon Advertising Strategy
28:47 Balancing Cost of Sale for Amazon Ads
31:48 Key Elements for Amazon Success
40:04 Exploring Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA)

Key Takeaways

1. Amazon as an Equalizer:
Amazon provides an opportunity for smaller brands to compete with larger competitors. Aalap highlights that Amazon allows even the ‘little guys’ to compete effectively, which is a significant advantage for emerging food and beverage brands.

2. Importance of Brand Registry:
Registering your brand on Amazon is crucial for protecting your product listings and unlocking advanced features like A+ content. This helps in maintaining the integrity of your brand and enhancing the quality of your listings.

3. A+ Content for Enhanced Storytelling:
A+ content is essential for telling your brand’s story effectively. It allows for richer product descriptions, comparison charts, and the inclusion of high-quality images and videos, all of which can significantly boost conversion rates.

4. SEO and Keyword Optimization:
Optimizing product titles, bullets, and descriptions for SEO is vital for visibility on Amazon. Using tools like Helium 10 or Jungle Scout can help in identifying the right keywords and optimizing listings to rank higher in Amazon search results.

5. Inventory Management:
Maintaining inventory levels is critical. Running out of stock can negatively impact your rankings, so it’s essential to ensure consistent availability of your products to avoid losing visibility and sales momentum.

6. Advertising Strategies:
Investing in Amazon advertising is crucial for driving traffic and sales. Aalap discusses various advertising strategies, including sponsored listings and remarketing ads, and emphasizes the importance of setting a budget and monitoring ad performance to achieve a desirable ACOS (advertising cost of sale).

7. Reviews and Social Proof:
Generating and managing reviews is a key factor in building trust and credibility on Amazon. Using tools like FeedbackWiz to facilitate review collection and leveraging email and SMS for follow-ups can help in garnering more positive reviews and enhancing your product’s reputation.

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Amazon Marketing for Food and Beverage Products With Aalap Shah

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About Our Guest Expert: Aalap Shah

As a Chicago native and founder of 1o8, Aalap Shah has spearheaded transformative marketing strategies for CPG brands aiming to conquer both traditional retail and digital landscapes. His journey in digital marketing ignited from a blend of entrepreneurial spirit and a deep-seated desire to make a tangible impact—both in business and the community.

Navigating the complexities of modern commerce, Aalap and his team at 1o8 have fine-tuned a methodology that not only increases ROI but also fosters sustainable brand growth. They believe in nurturing the 20% of customers who drive 80% of sales, redefining what success looks like in crowded markets.

From winning the Trailblazer Entrepreneur title by the Carson Scholarship Foundation to being celebrated as a Young Emerging Philanthropist by Crain’s Chicago Business, his career has been dedicated to crafting marketing ecosystems that thrive on innovation and inclusivity. Serving on boards and volunteering for impactful causes has only deepened his resolve to deliver excellence.

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Transcripts of

Amazon Marketing for Food & Beverage Products with Aalap Shah (Part 9 in the Series)

Note:

This transcript (of the video version of this episode) has been provided to assist you in finding extra information specific to your needs and goals. We have not edited it line by line for grammar, spelling, punctuation, or spacing. Please forgive errors. Feedback welcomed at social@theagencyguide.com.

Chapters

0:0:00 Amazon Marketing
0:1:36 Introduction to the Niche Marketing Podcast
0:2:09 Finding 108 Agency
0:3:08 Aalap’s Journey to Founding 108 Agency
0:6:18 Startup Strategy: Amazon vs. DTC
0:8:50 Setting up an Amazon Account
0:10:16 Importance of Brand Registry
0:11:45 Leveraging A+ Content on Amazon
0:14:59 Building Compelling A+ Content
0:18:22 Importance of Reviews on Amazon
0:18:44 Procuring Genuine Reviews on Amazon
0:24:52 Understanding Amazon Advertising Strategy
0:28:47 Balancing Cost of Sale for Amazon Ads
0:31:48 Key Elements for Amazon Success
0:40:04 Exploring Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA)

Long Summary

In this insightful podcast episode, Aalap Shah from 108 Agency in Chicago shares his expertise on Amazon marketing for food and beverage consumer products. He details his journey from a CPA to founding a CPG consulting agency, highlighting the essentials of Amazon marketing such as account setup, brand registry, and leveraging A+ content.

Aalap stresses the significance of thoughtful product assortment planning and starting with Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) to establish brand identity before expanding to Amazon. Listeners gain practical advice on utilizing market research tools like Helium 10 and Jungle Scout to optimize product offerings and the long-term approach required for Amazon success. The discussion further delves into strategies for enhancing product listings on Amazon through price competitiveness, product assortment optimization, SEO, images, advertising, and compelling A+ content.

Aalap emphasizes the pivotal role of A+ content in connecting with customers and boosting conversion rates, urging brands to focus on high-quality images and effective storytelling. The interview also covers the importance of reviews in building credibility on Amazon, advising on ethical review acquisition methods and tools like FeedbackWiz for review management. The conversation shifts towards understanding the Amazon algorithm, factors influencing rankings, and the correlation between advertising spend and search visibility.

Strategies for maximizing advertising impact within the Amazon ecosystem, including engaging visuals and storytelling, are explored. The importance of optimizing product images for enhanced user experience and utilizing innovative techniques like 3D images and augmented reality is highlighted. Listeners gain valuable insights and best practices for improving their Amazon product listings and succeeding in the competitive e-commerce landscape. The comprehensive interview extends to topics like proper advertising spend allocation, image optimization, video utilization, and effective advertising strategies.

Emphasis is placed on competitive research using tools like Helium 10, aligning advertising goals with overall strategy, and exploring niche-specific strategies for success. The conversation also touches on off-Amazon marketing, particularly the potential of TikTok advertising for driving traffic to Amazon listings and maximizing sales growth through social media advertising.

Addressing Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), the interview recommends leveraging FBA for its conversion ease and efficient inventory management, especially during peak demand periods. The importance of brand registry for ‘Buy with Prime’ and holistic consulting services catering to the diverse needs of CPG brands aiming for success on Amazon and beyond are highlighted. Aalap’s expertise provides listeners with a comprehensive understanding of Amazon marketing strategies tailored for food and beverage CPG brands, empowering them to navigate the e-commerce landscape effectively.

Brief Summary

Aalap Shah from 108 Agency shares insights on Amazon marketing for food and beverage consumer products, highlighting essentials such as account setup, brand registry, and A+ content. He stresses strategic product planning and starting with DTC before expanding to Amazon, emphasizing long-term success.

Strategies for enhancing product listings, utilizing market research tools, maximizing advertising impact, understanding the Amazon algorithm, and leveraging innovative techniques like 3D images are discussed.

The interview also covers the significance of reviews, ethical acquisition methods, and off-Amazon marketing through platforms like TikTok for increased sales.

Leveraging FBA for conversion ease and efficient inventory management during peak demand is recommended, along with the importance of brand registry and holistic consulting services for CPG success.

Tags

Aalap Shah, 108 Agency, Amazon marketing, food and beverage, consumer products, account setup, brand registry, A+ content, DTC, product planning, market research tools, advertising impact, Amazon algorithm, 3D images, reviews, ethical acquisition methods, off-Amazon marketing, TikTok, FBA, inventory management, brand registry, consulting services

Transcript

Amazon Marketing

[0:00] Amazon marketing. We couldn’t wrap our food and beverage CPG marketing series without going into some depth on Amazon. While this episode in this entire series is focused on food and beverage consumer product goods, really, this episode is applicable to any CPG marketer or entrepreneur looking to get a primer on Amazon. My next guest is Aalap Shah, a former CPA, turned toy store owner, turned digital marketer, turned agency owner, and he’s the owner and founder of 108 Agency in Chicago. 108 is a boutique agency offering comprehensive consulting for CPG business owners of both startups and established brands. And they know all about Amazon marketing. Aalap and I are going to cover all the basics around Amazon marketing as CPG. We’ll also talk about the fundamentals associated with digital advertising on Amazon so that you don’t get crushed by those larger competitors.

[0:48] One of the great things about Amazon is it gives the little guys a way to compete. Just as a bonus, Aalap and I are going to talk a little bit about TikTok, talk, a platform that he’s experiencing great success with for his CPG client roster. If you’re selling a package good and you want to compete on Amazon, this episode is for you. And if you’re a food and beverage CPG owner, you should definitely check out the rest of our series all about how to market a food and beverage CPG. We cover branding, we cover influencer marketing, PR, retail strategies, and now Amazon. To get more niche marketing content just like this, don’t forget to hit subscribe, smash the like button if you like this episode, drop us a comment if you’re digging what but you’re here and stay tuned for this excellent episode with Al Jaha from 108 Agency.

Introduction to the Niche Marketing Podcast

[1:37] Welcome back to another episode of the Niche Marketing Podcast. As always, I’m your host, Jon Bertino, founder and CEO of The Agency Guide. If you’re unhappy with your agency, and most people are, then please give us a shout. We represent 300 different vetted agencies and consultants to whom we could matchmake to your specific needs. Find us at theagencyguide.com. Today, we are here with Aalap Shah from 108 Agency. Aalap, welcome to the show. Thanks for having me.

Finding 108 Agency

[2:03] Excellent. So, we are wrapping up our series on food and beverage product marketing. And it was through a unique twist of fate that I found you. I think a lot of folks think that I only book agencies that I have deep relationships with or friends. And actually, that is not at all the case. We do a little bit of everything. And we just came to know each other recently. I was working my way through a forum; a Slack channel dedicated to food and beverage marketing and came across you guys as kind of a trusted leader in the space.

[2:33] And at the moment, my focus wasn’t on Amazon. But later, through a totally different mechanism, I started Googling around about best Amazon marketing agencies for CPG or food and beverage, specifically in this part of the country. We’re in Chicago, back at the Chicago Podcast Studio. And sure enough, you came up again. Awesome. So, you’re doing something right. I hope so. Because if you spend a little time looking for the best agencies in food and beverage, you’re bound to come across 108. So, let’s start with who is 108 Agency?

Aalap’s Journey to Founding 108 Agency

[3:04] What do you guys do? And what should listeners know about your agency? Yeah, all good questions. And I’ll start with a little bit of background.

[3:12] Just how you found me, I found marketing in a very long kind of path and journey. Started off being a CPA and studied accounting at school and e-commerce. I got into to the world of Deloitte and corporate work.

[3:28] Ended up working 80, 90 hours a week, jumped into toy store ownership, opened up my first toy store out in St. Charles, which is a suburb of Chicago, fell in love with marketing, grew it into two locations, was able to exit. But that spark, that marketing, that idea that I sold something that made, in this case, kids happy, but my intermediary was their parents and getting them to think about what toys and how to think about play and imagination was super cool. That led me to find a social media agency in around 2012, I want to say. And that really just gave me this opportunity in Canvas to start thinking about digital marketing and SEO. And back then, similar to like kind of how I imagine Amazon is today, SEO was like snake oil. Nobody wanted to touch it. Nobody really believed in it.

[4:18] And I really used it to build up my agency. We ranked number one for social media agency, I believe at that time in the country. And that gave us enormous opportunities to work with the coolest brands. Um, over that seven-year journey, um, I fell in love with the idea of DTC and Amazon and kind of that intersection between, um, how people buy. And I, I’m an insanely curious person. So, I ended up buying an Amazon business on a platform called Flippa, which exists today. And my mission was to take my investment and learn everything I could about building an Amazon business.

And I’ll preface this with that I’m vegetarian and I’ve never gone fishing in my entire life. But I ended up buying a sports fishing business that sold fishing belts and gaffes. And it was really a great crash course into vendor central, seller central, advertising, importing product from overseas into straight into Amazon’s warehouses for FBA, running advertising, like managing POs, product development.

So, it just gave me this insanely awesome amount of information on how to run an Amazon business, which really motivated me to create an agency around it. So, I was able to exit my previous social media agency and I built an agency around consumer, especially food and beverage, health and beauty, and toys are kind of our main areas that we work in.

[5:46] Really founded on the principles of how we win on Amazon, D2C, and at the retail channel like Whole Foods, Kroger, Target for our clients across the board.

[5:56] So that was about six years ago. Yeah. And you sold the fishing business? I did sell it. And I’m lucky enough that I sold it to someone that I knew who is awesome at content and loves fishing. And so, he has really parlayed that into a very efficient business so that he could now be my head of Amazon.

Startup Strategy: Amazon vs. DTC

[6:16] And runs a seven-person team at my agency around it. Excellent. And I’m glad you laid the foundation or gave the context that you and your agency know Amazon quite well, but you also do direct-to-consumer through e-commerce because I think it means you’re impartial or not biased towards specifically leveraging Amazon, which is actually precisely where I needed to start. Obviously, Amazon, selling through Amazon has some advantages, but also lots of disadvantages. advantages.

So, let’s think startup CPG brand, a brand just trying to get their footing. Let’s say they have an established brand, the brand is established, and now they want to start selling. Do they start on Amazon? Do they push DTC first? What’s your general recommendation for the right split in this regard? I love that question because I put in the lens of my five-year-old who is constantly asking me to open up my Amazon app because of things that he sees at Target or Walmart, or at the grocery store, and he is such a consumer already. And to him, it doesn’t matter if it’s the .com or if it’s the Amazon or if it’s Walmart, right?

[7:18] What I would counsel my emerging brands and startups is really thinking about the assortments that you want on either platform. So, whether you sell on D2C or you sell on Amazon, it’s gonna require some level of investment. If I’m a one or two product or two SKU brands, maybe a start.

[7:36] D2C might be the best place and the most economical, which seems contrarian, but here you can control a message, you can control a story. All that content you’re going to build for your D2C can then be transferred to Amazon or Walmart or some of these other platforms down the line. So at least hopefully you’re getting a little bit of extra use. But here at least you can build your first party data, like your email and SMS. That to me is so important to own your own data in today’s like almost allegedly cookie-less world. and that’s coming about. You get to do a little bit of testing.

You get to see what your margins are. You get to see how people are reacting to some of your paid media. I think once you start seeing that traction and growth, you know, can we sell 100 units or 1,000 units? You know, whatever that metric might be based on like your retail price, start exploring Amazon. And that whole process probably takes 30, 60 days to set up an account, get through all the hoops of jumping and setting up an account. But at least you have some traction, some data to start thinking about, well, how much are we going to bid on a sponsored listing? How much are we going to invest in a sponsored remarketing ad?

[8:44] What’s the gap in that marketplace? So, it just gets you a little bit of runway,

Setting up an Amazon Account

[8:47] I believe, to really leverage Amazon effectively for your brand. Okay. And you mentioned some of the hoops associated with setting up an Amazon account. Could you explain why it takes 30 to 60 days and what some of those hoops are? Yeah. I mean, you can imagine Amazon wants to protect the consumer, which is why it’s so easy to return things, much to the angst of some of the clients that I work with. It’s just so easy, right? And Amazon has a brand promise to fulfil and deliver against, so they want to make sure that they’re, so sellers and merchants are of quality, you know, have the right legal documentation, are at least from what they can tell, a legit company that is going to be providing services.

Now, if you have a supplement brand, if you have a GAF, right, you might have to go through some extra hoops of documentation and certifications to make sure that your products are tested or safe and all those things. So, there’s a whole bunch of things happen, but it really just starts with signing up for an Amazon account. And that I recommend, no matter where you’re in the stage of your journey, to always just sign up. Sign up to be an Amazon seller. Because as long as you get that process going, when you’re ready to sell on that platform, you’ll have an account ready to use.

[9:56] So, it’s going to require business documentation, your products, if there’s any certifications against them. And then your account will go under review before you’re even allowed to list a single item. Okay.

[10:08] And when you talk about some of them, again, hoops as you refer to them and

Importance of Brand Registry

[10:11] things that you need to set up to get going, where does the brand registry come into play? I guess first, if you could define what the brand, define what the brand registry is, and then if or why it’s important or why it matters. Yeah. Brand registry is so, so incredibly important, especially if you own the trademark. So one of the requirements, there’s several requirements of brand registry, but one of them is making sure that you can show that you own the brand and that you have a trademark. Usually this requires like a secret password between your lawyer, your IP lawyer, and Amazon to provide a code to make sure that your trademark is actually legit and registered. I’m oversimplifying a little bit here. That’s okay.

But brand registry in general will help protect the quality or your product listing page. So, it’ll help you control the folks that are selling against your brand and being able to monitor and making sure that if I own the All-Up brand on Amazon, that the people that could sell against me are people that I’ve either decided can sell on that page or cannot sell. So, it helps just protect your brand and that quality assurance of your product. So, it’s one of the most important steps, and it will also unlock other features of Amazon when you have brand registry, things like certain advertising features like the Amazon store. So, it’ll allow you to really fan out and build out your brand once you have brand registry. But for an emerging brand or a startup brand that may not have that trademark yet.

[11:38] Um, or some of the documentation that’s probably the other parallel path that you’d want to be on is to get some of that documentation in place so you can

Leveraging A+ Content on Amazon

[11:44] fully control your brand. Okay. And I believe one of the features that the brand registry allows you to unlock is A+ content, correct? So, could you now, if you don’t mind defining what that is and the role you see that playing in an effective Amazon presence? Yeah. So, if I just kind of take a step back, you, um, have created a seller central account. Um, you’ve listed a few products. Hopefully you’ve applied for brand registry, which is a process of its own. You’ve gotten approved for brand registry. Now you have access to a whole bunch of features. And what I counsel my clients on is that this is a marathon and not a sprint. More often than not, you can do a lot of things wrong and trip up if you get through these different stages too quickly.

[12:27] So what I’d like to advise or just kind of talk and just brainstorm with my clients on is what is our product assortment and mix. So, let’s just say that you are an almond brand. Almonds are a relative commodity, right? So, before we go to list on Amazon, can we use a tool like Helium 10 or Jungle Scout, which are two very popular tools that people use to research on Amazon? Some of this is just like that research, like strategy and prep before we even get on, on, on the account.

And so, what’s the gap? Is there a six-ounce bags? Is there an opportunity for an eight-ounce bag? Can we do a sampler pack or a variety pack. So, as we go in, start building our Amazon account, thinking about our product strategy is really going to be one of the keys to success and help also tell a story through something like A+ content. So, what I really often advise is, what do we want to list? How is it different than our D2C? Do we have to think about our retail partners if we’re in any retail right now?

[13:24] Because price is going to be important if our product is listed on Amazon and a competitor of Amazon’s. we may not win that buy box you know; Amazon might suppress our listing if our products cheaper. And I’ve had this happen with clients at another retailer. So, a lot of it is thinking about your product assortment as you go to market on Amazon and where the gaps are that we can fill. And hopefully we have something to match that up. So easy ways is bundling, or maybe it’s a different size. Maybe it’s a different SKU, right? Like there’s different ways that we can differentiate. Then I kind of think about this in like a three-part opportunity. Let’s get our SEO right. Right. Back to SEO and that story that I was telling earlier, SEO is insanely important as you think about people finding your product. Then it’s the images. So, making sure that we’ve optimized images, which I’m sure we’ll get to in this conversation.

And then our advertising strategy. And then finally that A+ content. So, if we’re able to unlock that A+ content, it’s almost a gold mine for us to be able to tell our story. By unlock that, you mean get approved into the brand registry. Into brand registry. So, if you are unlocked and you’re able to do A+ content, that is our best chance to tell a story of our product. It’s kind of like going to an aisle of a grocery store and looking at the back of the box. What’s that story you want to tell? How do we want to tell it? Do we have comparison charts?

[14:45] And how do you showcase some hopefully social proof? roof, maybe you can’t really showcase any logos or have a brag bar necessarily. But how do we convey the credibility of our products through that story that

Building Compelling A+ Content

[14:58] we can tell through A+ content? Sure. We’ve helped several brands find great Amazon agencies, but I personally have never been behind the scenes or under the hood, so to speak, building out A+ content. My understanding is it’s a little bit like a drag and drop website experience. Is that an accurate comparison? I think for sure you can absolutely so absolutely the mechanics of it is more like building a Squarespace or a Wix site you’re dragging and dropping but.

[15:24] The real unlock to that is having just gorgeous imagery. So, like, how do you build- Tell your brand story. Exactly. It’s like a picture’s worth a thousand words. 100%. We’re selling because people use their eyes to buy on Amazon. And they’re looking at the reviews too.

But we want to make sure that we’re telling a really compelling story. And it doesn’t look like, you know, back in the day, I used to build like GeoCities websites. Right. It doesn’t look like that. Precisely. So, it’s like the difference between having a, you know, a higher end custom website versus a GeoCities website. You remember those, right? Clearly, you’ve been around the block here.

[15:57] So it’s going to boost your conversion rate, right? In addition to all those other branding elements, you increase, you got to figure the beautiful designs, the storytelling, the social proof, all these things that allows you to unlock is going to help with your conversion rate.

[16:10] And the difference is significant. You know, there’s stats out there, depending on where you’re looking at research, that you can see a 10 to 33% lift in sales by having A+ content.

So, just by actually having that A+ content is important subjectively what is good A+ content versus not to me good A+ content tells a really compelling story in it tells me the why the what and the how so why is your product important you know let’s say it’s an ingredient story that we want to tell and then how am I going to be using it and then showing me some of that social proof um that could go along with it that that makes A+ content stand out amongst just like hey here’s like basically the back of my box right yeah here’s what a way here’s what it costs here’s a picture on so forth and that’s what I was referencing to like it’s a trifecta of things that have to come together for an outstanding um what I would consider like a product or an ASIN like that listing page itself you’ve got to have a really good title um that is optimized for SEO it’s not stuffed with keywords yeah but we it’s like a compelling headline that happens to be optimized for SEO yep you’ve got to have really great bullets, right?

How do we make those stand out? How do we tell people your RTBs and your benefits and your product and, and, and just really tell that story in a very short timeframe.

[17:30] And then how do we optimize every single one of our image slots and how do we use video? Video to me is probably one of the most important ways to tell our story. So, you have eight to nine slots, let’s call it, you know, if you have a food and beverage brand, always make sure to have a nutrition label, right? These are like common tactics that, you know, people will just throw up some lifestyle images and wonder why it’s not performing.

And, or they’ll be like, hey, I’ll buy three images. Like, great. I’m done. I checked the box. I’m like, Nope, fill out the entire slot. Cause people will thumb through them. Then of course you have the A+ content. And then lastly, the reviews. I mean, that is so critical, especially if you’re a new entrant in a crowded category, right? Like if I’m trying to sell peanuts, or whatever it might be, fishing belts, having and making sure that you’re acquiring and really.

Importance of Reviews on Amazon

[18:22] Creating opportunities for reviews is very, very important. Let’s stay on reviews for a moment. How can you procure more reviews? It’s always a tricky question. And the platforms themselves, in this case, Amazon are always very protective of the integrity of the reviews that you can’t manufacture them. But if I’m a CPG brand and I’m on your clients and I say, how can I get more

Procuring Genuine Reviews on Amazon

[18:43] good reviews? What would you say? Yep. And it’s so, so, so awesome that you asked that question because just like an SEO, there’s a lot of black hat ways to get reviews and that is going to get your account banned at some point, maybe not today, but sometime in the future. So those are around you. There are still people. Absolutely.

Okay. I’m sure. I mean, when I look at some of the competitive listings for the products that we manage, I’m like, there’s no way that they could have that level of review or all those five stars, right? Like it just, it’s not feasible, but it happens of course. Right. So, but what I found tried and true over the past 10 years of doing this is like doing things the right way allows you to like kind of, you know, be around the longest or you’re always going to have a place in that Amazon ecosystem. So, there’s tools like FeedbackWiz and others like it that you can use to kind of help facilitate that review collection.

[19:37] Amazon does have a messaging system. You can’t be explicit. You can’t offer anything. Those warranty cards and things like that. Those are maybe like kind of gray tactics in terms of getting reviews. Like when you slip into the package, you can slip into the package and the QR code to register for a warranty. That’s in a Gray area. Amazon actually doesn’t love that, right?

Because they don’t love it. It’s a very gray tactic and we actually advise not to do it, but we know brands are out there doing something. I mean, I order plenty of things from Amazon and get those cards, making it as easy as possible. This is where I think email and SMS and having those opportunities to have a relationship with your consumer is a great way for you to at least be able to promote that you’re on Amazon or at least.

[20:22] Ask for those types of reviews, right? Like had a great experience, please review us on X, Y, and Z platform.

[20:28] But there’s a lot of grey area around and you want to be careful. So, we usually stick to the automated systems wherever we can, like FeedbackWiz and building out sequences to really get that customer excited to review us. Okay. Let’s work backwards a little bit because you’ve touched on some really interesting things that I want to unpack in a little more detail. Let’s talk the algorithm in general, right?

So, you mentioned SEO, both of us have a background than SEO. So, this is in my comfort zone. But what’s not so much in my comfort zone is the fact that the Amazon algorithm works differently. It does. It’s not the same as your traditional Google SEO. So, let’s start there. What are some of the different variables that impact how someone ranks on Amazon that are different from, from Google?

Well, again, I think here there’s three elements to this. One is your product title, right? And, and how you’re going to talk about your product and is it if it’s an HMB product you list HMB or are you going to list something about GLP-1s? HMB is a supplement that helps you retain a muscle mass for example. Okay I was thinking about that. Is this an Amazon terminology?

Yes, so it just happens to be that I’m working on a product in this area. Yes GLP-1 is a weight loss. Weight loss drugs right so first just making some decisions like how do I think my consumer is going to be looking for my product, so this goes back to that strategy like where do I going to be positioned? Where am I slotted in? Am I in food and grocery? Am I in supplements? Am I in outdoor?

[21:52] Sometimes you just have to make category decisions to think about where you’re going to rank and try to get that bestseller or the top products or any of those badges and also just where you’re going to show up in search.

[22:03] The second is those product bullets are a really big area for optimization, but consumers actually read them. So, unlike some of the things that we might do in SEO like, meta data and like meta descriptions, people actually read those product bullets. So how do you optimize them? The third one, which is not often talked about is, so let’s just say that you get all those things, right? You get your listing all optimized for SEO. You’ve optimized your images, all that good stuff.

What’s not often talked about is how you lose those rankings. So, let’s just say that you have those rankings and then it’s easy to lose them by not having inventory in stock. And that’s the detriment. And the con is that the minute that you run out of product, you will be dinged. And so, all that hard work you put into getting up in rank will get lost.

[22:52] Another area of opportunity is offline traffic. Amazon loves, just like retailers do, when you’re sending traffic to the listings. So, you can use deep links in TikTok, in Facebook, in Meta, all these different social channels to really help build traction, which will also help your Amazon rankings. Um, so, um, if I just had to kind of sum it up, uh, Amazon or to rank on Amazon, it’s kind of a combination of good on-page SEO, as we would call it, um.

[23:20] Off outside traffic and your in-stock rate, um, which is probably not often talked about. Right. The inventory was definitely one of the ones I was, I was thinking about. Another is simply if you’re selling, right.

[23:33] So Google, I don’t think is incorporating any type of, well, they don’t have access to your sales. Well, I guess they do through e-commerce, but whether or not the product is actually moving, I believe has a lot to do with whether or not you’re ranking Amazon. Is that accurate?

Understanding Amazon Advertising Strategy

[24:53] We don’t know really, right? But I certainly think that as a factor in how you’re going to show up in search, what is going to help influence is how much you’re spending on advertising. Now, it’s not necessarily like the more you spend, the higher you’re going to rank, but at least you’ll have more opportunity for traffic and for that conversion to happen, right? So, there’s like a correlation there that exists in my mind. And there’s a lot of different ways to advertise.

There’s probably like at any given time, like over a dozen plus tried and true methods of advertising, whether it’s just sponsored listings, whether it’s the retargeting, whether it’s the Amazon store advertising. But your basic everyday advertising strategy is going to influence your sell through and conversion rates across the board. Okay, interesting.

So, if you want to see yourself move up in the Amazon listings, you should take a close look at spending some money on advertising because maybe or maybe not there’s a specific boost Amazon’s giving you, but there’s definitely a second order effect that more traffic, more eyeballs, if it’s converting or, performing well with your landing pages, that’s what’s going to likely give you that boost in the algo. Well, it’s just how people talk to us about SEO, right? Like, is there a correlation between spending money on Google versus not. And no one knows, but certainly it’s interesting to see. More at bats, right? It’s more at bats. At least you have more opportunity. I agree.

[26:10] And then there’s other little things that you can do that I see my clients, areas of opportunities, just like social posts, so taking all their social content. Amazon has a social feed. So just parlaying that content or customizing it for that, just to build on that story and making that stickiness of that page happen. So, if I have some social posts on Amazon, on. I have good images. I have a good story. Now I have some social posts that I’m feeding from like my other networks. And we start having a reason for someone to spend more than like 10 seconds on my page. I get them to keep on scrolling down.

Hopefully I’ll get them down to the reviews. Now they’ll see how much people love my product. Yeah. Speaking of giving them a reason to stay on the page images, you touched on it before any off the cuff best practices you could give listeners about how to have better product images within the site, better product images, or even I think like just how we want to use our slots to our advantage. I’d say two to three images just on our product. Can we get a 3D? Can we insert some sort of AR, right? Like how can we think about those images to give people an experience that they can enjoy?

[27:14] Almost feel, see, and touch the product, even though we can’t, right? Like, unfortunately, we’re not like in that, um, Star Trek era, uh, where there’s holodecks. Yeah. Um, but what I, what I advise my clients often on is going to be like, have two to three very detailed product images. Um, the next two to three, how to use lifestyle. So, show me how I’m using the product and where it’s going to be in my home. And then we want two videos.

Um, one video could be founder especially if it’s a founder-led brand, about the story and why they created that brand. And the second video should be just about the image itself, not image, the product itself. Can I see the different views and see some motion around the product? So that’s how I would think about image optimization on Amazon. Okay. Switching gears, a little bit, on the advertising side of the platform.

[28:03] For food and beverage companies specifically, any advice you would give a small food and beverage brand when it comes to how much to allocate in terms of Amazon ad spend and how would you set their expectations or how that experience is going to go? Well, one of the best metrics you can look at is a cost, right? So, what I, when I sit down with brands thinking about Amazon is going to be the ad cost of the sale, right? Or what percentage of our revenue do we want to give to advertising? So sometimes brands will want to do, sometimes they’ll just tell us, hey, Al, we’re just looking for market share and being the category leader. And at that point, your cost of sale will be very, very high, like 80, 90% to really tap into that market share.

Balancing Cost of Sale for Amazon Ads

[28:48] Oftentimes, because we’re talking to startup or emerging brands, they need to be profitable too to invest in their growth. So, we’re really looking for a 30% or lower number on that ACOS, which is going to limit our opportunities to really offset some of the key players out there that are spending thousands and thousands of dollars. So, a couple of different ways we can do this. We can look at Helium 10, which is my tool of choice at least.

Can you explain what Helium 10 is? Helium 10 is almost like a box of tools that gives us like competitive research, keyword research, advertising research, shows us opportunities. So, let’s just say I’m launching a hot sauce. I can put in the word hot sauce as a keyword, and I can see all the listings and sales maybe within plus or minus 20% of the actual sales volume. And it’ll tell me like, hey, there’s a lot of heat around six-ounce hot sauce bottles, but maybe there’s an opportunity for an eight or 16 ounce. Is that a product I can develop and slot in? It might give me some ideas on price and what to charge for. It might tell me velocity of sales. I can use that data to think about my advertising campaigns.

[29:55] As you can imagine, the actual budget for advertising is really subjective, but at least $1,000 is probably a minimum amount that I’d set. That gives us about $20 per day or $20 to $30 per day to see how things are working. And there’s lots of different strategies here. You can go for max bid and kind of exhaust your budget, but at least get the sale and the eyeball.

[30:17] Or something like gold panning, which is just bidding at $0.50. Let’s say it’s a $4 keyword and we’re bidding $0.50. cents. We’re waiting for other brands to exhaust their budgets. And then we’re going to get those remnants and eyeballs at that low cost for us. So, there’s a couple of different strategies you can definitely deploy within the advertising realm. But the key is to find the keywords that are going to be the most profitable and stay within your goals. Are we going for market share or are we going for profitability? If I’m a smaller brand, let’s stick with the hot sauce niche in a reasonably competitive niche, which I say in food and beverage most are.

And I don’t have a lot of ad budget. Should I be content with just breaking even when it’s all said and done to start racking up viewership and sales and brand awareness? Is that how I should set my expectations that I’m just trying to get, again, to break even initially? Or do you think it’s reasonable, again, in a relatively competitive category to actually start making a profit right out of the gate? Time is a factor there. So, I would say like, there’s a client that we started with in a relative commodity on Amazon, let’s just call it like kind of the fruits and nuts category, that had $0 in sales last April and today are probably doing $40,000 to $50,000 a month. Nice. And what is that, about a yearlong effort?

[31:40] What are the ingredients of that success story? It’s all the things we just talked about.

Key Elements for Amazon Success

[31:44] It’s telling a great story, having good images, having good content, having good SEO. Those are just basic Amazon 101 that we often find that’s missing and that we need as part of the story. Of course, brand registry and the Amazon store. Amazon stores, for example, contribute to up to 10% of your sales. Then it’s your advertising strategy. What are the keywords we’re going after and what are the opportunities we see?

[32:09] Then it’s relentless product optimization. So, what we initially found was that some of the merchandise that we had, for example, let’s just say we had a six-ounce bag of cashews, just were not competitive.

And so, pulling those and really focusing on advertising products that were competitive or were different than some of our competition out there. And then when we come to advertising, there are some keywords you’re going to invest in because you want that eyeball. Ball and there’s some keywords that you know are going to convert and maybe it’s a size and product, but whatever you do is patience when you’re a startup when you’re a larger brand of course in larger is all relative but at this stage we can really think about profitability because we have volume now we have reviews and now we can start thinking about how to get to that 30 percent um a cost that we’re shooting for um if you’re now this changes a little bit let’s just say that you’ve gone viral on tick tock you might have more opportunity right up to me is if you already have that momentum and publicity and awareness of your product you might have i used to sell toys so those fidget spinners or animal rubber bands right like those are all trends rainbow looms those are all trends that that you had back in the in my toy store days that might be easier to parlay into profitability on Amazon.

[33:33] Just because you have that word of mouth and that momentum. But for the average brand, let’s just say going back to hot sauce, there’s so many hot sauces out there. So, what’s our story, what’s our differentiator, and what’s our patience level, on getting to where we wanna get to? Yeah, no doubt that the more saturated a category is, the more you really need to rely on great branding to differentiate and tell the story. So, sticking again with a small CPG, I’m on Amazon and that’s my primary channel to get sales. Where’s the one place you would apply marketing dollars off the Amazon platform to start to grow that brand? Because, and you really must get asked this question all the time, right?

Hey, I’ll up, I’m on Amazon, we’re working together. That seems to be going well. I’ve now got a little additional marketing budget to do something else. Should I work on direct-to-consumer SEO? CEO? Should I do PPC ads? Should I invest in my organic social presence? I know it’s a broad question, but where does it take you? No, I love it. I have an exact, a great answer to that. In the last like 90 to 120 days, I would say TikTok is probably one of our best channels. We have some pretty awesome data showcasing without changing any variables on Amazon, how much TikTok ads can lead to growth on that platform. So, we’re working with a cookie company right now.

[34:52] We have sprinted through and just been testing on their behalf, Google ads, meta-ads, and TikTok ads. TikTok is kind of in the last cycle of our testing here. And that has shown a direct increase in sales by a magnitude of like three to four X without changing anything else about our strategy on Amazon. And you’re pushing all that traffic to Amazon, not to the website. Absolutely. So, we have embedded the links directly to those ASINs within our TikTok ads.

Now, the TikTok ads themselves are, of course, creative, right? They’re not focused on sales, but there’s great content from our influencers that get tagged and then lead directly to that Amazon listing. And we’ve seen great success on that. Overall, where I’d say investing is paid social ads because you’re going to get that awareness and that branding that you’re looking for at a highly targeted level. So, it’s one of the best forms of offline traffic that you can use for Amazon and gets right into the heart of increasing that visibility in the algorithm for, for Amazon.

[35:54] Okay. And you know, while we’re on the subject of social media platforms and, and, and buying ad space on those, we might as well stay there for a little bit on balance. Are you finding that you’re waiting more of an ad spend towards TikTok talk over the meta platforms at this point? 100%. I mean, right now that’s not the process with why tick tock reminds me of some of the hoops you have to jump through with Amazon in terms of getting listed and setting up for advertising.

Uh, it’s just right now it’s like, it’s just where everyone’s at. Um, it’s, I think it really starts with like your kids are on tick tock. So, then parents join in because this question gets asked a lot. Like, so my demographics, not really on TikTok, you know, it’s not, it’s not who I’m selling to. And I’m like, oh no, like you are on it because you want to see what other people are doing.

And, and it, once you get there, it’s a vortex. Um, and so the way that, that TikTok has set it up, you know, with the creator and affiliate network, with the ads, with the shops, um, it’s really a really wonderful shopping destination. And it’s really an effective tool to drive traffic to Amazon, to create some of that awareness. Of course, TikTok more than likely wants you to sell on their platform because they have all the.

[37:11] Ability to do so. And I certainly would encourage it as another channel, but from an advertising perspective, it’s one of our most successful channels right now. Okay. Just one more TikTok question. I love TikTok. Because I’m intrigued. I think we might have to have you back to talk a little bit about TikTok with us. It’s my understanding, and please do tell me if I’m mistaken, that you need to have a more sizable advertising budget to make a dent in TikTok. Is that inaccurate? Is that inaccurate? I think so.

I mean, we have clients, this cookie company that I’m talking about, we’re probably spending a thousand bucks a month. That’s it. And we’re seeing those massive increases in their sales. Wow. And it’s not holiday. It’s not seasonal. It’s just a great piece of content. We try to rotate in three pieces of content every single week and test different things out. And we’re just spending a thousand bucks. So, you can do a lot with a little, and this is what I tell all my clients, even on Amazon, you can do a lot with a little start with a thousand bucks. Or 500, right? Like I’m a CPA originally, so I’m pretty conservative in that way.

[38:12] But what can we do with this? What’s the data telling us? And then let’s start growing and expanding. And I feel like that has, you can easily then take a look at all that and all the numbers and then say, all right, if I move to 5K, what happens? If I move to 10K, as long as we’re efficient with our ROAS or the sales, that makes a case for business investment. And with the cookie client, are you also sending that traffic directly to Amazon or to a website as well? Directly to Amazon. Wow. Yeah. I feel like I’ve had a little bit of a breakthrough moment here. I’ll hopefully some of our listeners had as well. We’re running out of time. So, is there any aspect of effective Amazon marketing for CPG that you feel like we didn’t cover?

You think we covered it pretty good? I think we did really good. I think the only area we haven’t covered, which goes to your last question, is that buy with prime button. So, Amazon’s rolled out and we love this feature. it just makes your website so let’s just say you’re that cookie company, there’s a buy with Prime app that Amazon has launched for Shopify and you can add that to your site and so your consumer can choose to buy directly from you or through that buy with Prime button on your site on your product detail pages, the beauty of all this is that the fees are a little bit lower and you get to keep all the data so now you get to cookie that customer you get to use your pixel against them you get to run retargeting to your D2C so I love that last question that you asked, because even though there’s just such less friction in sending your customer to Amazon.

[39:39] Amazon’s trying to make it easier to also partner with D2C sites. And it’s a win-win in my mind because.

[39:46] The cost of sale is a little bit lower, but then the best part is you get to keep the data. Because that’s the one drawback of Amazon or a Canby is that you just don’t have data on your customers. Yeah. And you know, actually I did think of something else we didn’t talk about, and that’s FBA. Yes, absolutely. So, we’d be remiss not to talk through Amazon without touch,

Exploring Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA)

[40:03] at least just touching on FBA. So, in general, are you, do you encourage clients to use FBA? Do you encourage them to fulfil themselves? I absolutely encourage FBA because think about how we buy, right? On a daily basis, like I’m more likely to buy something that has a prime badge on it than has a FBM tag on it. And I even saw that with my own business. Uh, and that’s why I really switched to sending things to FBA when I own my, uh, sports fishing business, because it just, the conversions were much better and faster and easier, um, for me to manage. Um, so just a little bit there.

To me, FBA provides a very great solution around inventory management, around shipping costs, and then also with that consumer, making it easier for them to buy with that Prime badge. Right. And in order to buy with Prime, you do need to be enrolled in the brand registry. Isn’t that correct?

[40:59] I am fairly certain. I’m a little bit rusty on that side of things, but I’m pretty sure you can send anything to their warehouses that you’d like to across the board, and I highly encourage it. I mean, in the holiday season or peak periods, one thing you have to be cognizant of when you are sending and having Amazon manage your inventory and fulfil it for you is peak periods. So, we’re about to come on prime days, right? And they’re big sales. Amazon will actually cut off your ability to send inventory about a month or two ahead of it. So, some of it, I mean, thinking about your shipping plans and like how you’re going to stock inventory and not run out of inventory and affect the algorithm.

[41:40] You want to be mindful of just making sure that you’re staying aware of all the requirements. So, you can’t send inventory or before the holidays at a certain point, your storage limit might be reduced. So, what’s, you know, how are you going to plan to stock and fulfil Amazon inventory? And that’s where you might have like fulfilled by merchant as a backup on your listings and SKUs, just because at least you’re always in stock and able to sell and keep things moving. And we had that with the key toy client a couple of years ago. They had the hottest product. Amazon didn’t check in their inventory. And so we were just like looking at our daily revenue and seeing it fall. So just quickly setting them up on FBM and then they could send it out.

That was a key win on that side of things. And your agency will consult, I believe, essentially from a 360-degree view on these types of considerations for CPG brands. Is that correct? Absolutely. Yep. We can do everything from the start to helping you send the inventory in to managing the advertising and beyond. And direct-to-consumer stuff as well. Of course. Great. And so, if anyone wants to take you and your team up on having them help, what’s the best way to get in touch with you? 108.agency is our website. Really great way to get in touch with us or on LinkedIn. My name is Aalap Shah. All right. Excellent. Thank you. I appreciate having you here.

Thanks for having me.