Proven Amazon Course

128 OEA Podcast - Best Amazon Sponsored Products Campaign Strategy and Tips

What’s up empire,

Joshua Woodward here your podcast host.

Today we have on the show Brian Burt and Brian Johnson. They are the experts on Amazon’s sponsored product campaigns. If you have not heard about this amazing amazon service and what it can do for your organic ranking; prepare to be dazzled.

If you want to learn how to optimize, scale and master your amazon sponsored product campaigns go to, http://theonlineempireacademy.com/spa

Until next time Empire,

Have a fantastic day!

--- Transcripts Below This Point---

Joshua:
What's up, Online Empire Academy? I'm your host, Joshua Woodward. Today we have on Brian Burt and Brian Johnson, from Sponsored Product Academy. If you haven't heard about what they're doing, Brian and Brian have gotten together and created a course teaching you guys how to optimize scale and master your Amazon sponsored product campaigns. I think it's absolutely an amazing tool and I wanted to have them on just to kind of talk through the basics of why we need to do Amazon sponsored product campaigns. Why is it important to do that? Why can't I just list my item? What does it do for my business?

We recently did a survey. Thank you, all of you who responded to that survey, but we did this survey asking you guys what you wanted to learn more about and this one of the top things we heard back from you guys. We wanted to bring on the experts in this field. We wanted to see what they had to say about that. Thank you, guys, so much for tuning in and let's hop in.

All right, guys, we are here with Brian Burt and Brian Johnson. They are the Amazon sponsored product campaigns experts and I want to dive into this idea. As I talked to you guys before, this really is a subject that's needed within our community. It's something not a lot of people are talking about, which I find really irritating as I'm wanting to go out and do stuff with my Amazon brands and just kind of the private-label industry. I'm finding that there's a huge gap in the market. Whether it's PPC or even driving people to your site and making sure that you're keywording correctly, there's not a whole lot out there and when it is out there, you have to be a genius to go through it.

I'm really excited because we have these guys on, Brian and Brian. I'm going to refer to them as their last names because it would get a little confusing to go through it. You guys, introduce yourself. Brian Burt, introduce yourself first. We'll do that. It's a little easier that way.

Brian B.:
Yeah, sure, Josh. Thanks for having me on. This is fun, man, now that we've got the audio situated. I'm not using my big microphone anymore. Pushed that guy away. Yeah, my name is Brian Burt. I've been an online seller for almost 10 years. I've been in the Amazon game for just over a year and in that time I was able to grow from about 0, well exactly 0, to over $150,000 a month and that's going up quite a bit. I have a goal: a million dollars a month. I'll show you my whiteboard at another time, but it's on there. The one thing that was holding me back here was really my sponsored product campaigns. I had no idea, just like you mentioned, what was going on. That's how I found Brian Johnson.

Joshua:
Brian Johnson, introduce yourself now.

Brian J.:
Okay, so I'm Brian Johnson. My background is actually I've been in e-commerce for probably about a decade. Part of that was eBay. I did pretty good as far as selling office and banking equipment and that kind of stuff on eBay. Then I got pulled over to the Amazon side of the house about 3 years ago through a friend of mine. I started with my own private labeling and launching products of my own. Got asked to start consulting for some other brands that were off Amazon to try and help them with everything end-to-end.

About a year ago is when I switched over and just dedicated my time to the same kind of confusion and the need to understand the sponsor product side of it, for the pay-per-click advertising on Amazon. Drove me to continue to research it more and more. Finally, a year ago I just committed completely into the sponsor product side of the house and I pretty much live and breathe that in my consulting practice now.

Joshua:
Gosh, man. I think it's fun. We've all been there. We've been in the frustration of ... We're probably going to use some lingo, Empire. The first one is PPC, which is pay-per-click. I'm sure there's some other ones, so if we hit those, I'll make sure to pause and give an explanation. For the viewers who don't understand Amazon sponsored product campaigns, it's a large sentence, but can you break that down for our audience in just a really layman's term or way?

Brian J.:
Sure. As far as pay-per-click advertising goes, it's basically just a method for product advertisers to basically get their product listing in front of the face of the shoppers. The way that they do that is they can show their ad along the rest of the products that are showing up in Amazon search. Then when a shopper sees that advertisement next to their search results, and they click on that advertisement, then the advertiser pays a cost. Basically there's a cost-per-click that they pay for the right to basically get their advertisement in front of that shopper in order to get them to come to their produce detail page.

Joshua:
Now, there's a lot of talk about Amazon sponsored ads. Is this the same thing?

Brian J.:
It's not, actually. Amazon has changed their naming convention over the past couple of years. Their sponsored ads was actually their external advertising, so basically external companies could link to outside websites. They've shrunk that down to put it into another part of their marketing services, but then the sponsored products is specifically where any of us as private-label sellers, we can run advertisements for our products to get onto, basically to showcase our product on the very first page of search results next to some of the bigger products and bigger sellers that have been around for awhile, have a much bigger audience, and we can get our ad right up next to them simply by paying for each click that comes through.

Joshua:
If I'm understanding it correctly, Amazon sponsored product campaigns, that would be the internal. Within Amazon, when I click in Cannon EOS T6i, the camera we use, I go to search that. That would be I'm ranking, I'm sponsoring, or I'm paying for this sponsorship to be the number one. Then Amazon ads would be external, as in Google searching a Cannon Rebel TO, whatever.

Brian J.:
Yeah, the sponsored ads would be more of a case of where it's actually they'll have additional links, maybe in their ad network, maybe at the bottom of an Amazon page. It takes you off of Amazon. Sponsored product ads keeps you on Amazon because it takes you to the product detail page where you can actually sell your product on Amazon. This essentially is driving shoppers to your product listing by short-cutting a lot of the work. By getting in there and saying, "You know what? I'm going to pay to have my ad run right next to all the rest of the results so that I've got very high visibility," and it not only drives sales, but it also gives you a huge amount of information as far as who your audience is, so that you can really target in and really increase your conversions as well.

Joshua:
Wow. Now, Brian Burt, Brian Johnson has been helping you to develop your business, correct? How have you found that this has helped and using sponsorship has helped your listings?

Brian B.:
Yeah, one of the biggest advantages that I've found, well first of all, there's a lot of misconceptions out there. There's a lot of people saying this and that about Amazon PPC or sponsored products. Brian and I have talked a lot about some of the myths that exist. I think the real tricky part is they seem pretty logical, so it's easy to buy into these myths. One of the biggest ones that blew my mind, and it actually saved me a ton of money and increased my conversion rate exponentially, to the point where I was about to kill off one of my private-label products, but we revived it and I was doing quite well. I considered it a double, not a home run, but it's a solid double. That's great. That's all I wanted.

Joshua:
Hey, I'll take it, man.

Brian B.:
I want doubles and singles all day long.

Joshua:
I'll take it.

Brian B.:
One of the biggest myths is that paying more per click will result in being at the top of the listings in terms of Amazon's placement. Brian told me that probably wasn't the case and so now, in fact, I'm paying less per click. My listing is much more relevant and my conversion rate has absolutely skyrocketed. That applies to all my products. I've got almost 30 SKUs now. I think the real winner is that he's helped turn around what I considered to be loser products.

Joshua:
It's an interesting. It's almost like you're taking this idea of, "I can take a product here and it doesn't have to be a winning product, but then I can make it a winning product." You just talked about making it a double. At least you're hitting it. Can you guys break down that process for me of how you've developed, in this case, a product that wasn't doing fantastically, and then made it a product that is at least making sales?

Brian B.:
Brian, do you want to explain it?

Brian J.:
Sure. The first thing, of course, we were doing is that we needed to understand as far as what the numbers were. A common challenge that most people don't understand as far as what they're even making on a per-product sale basis after all their expenses and everything. They don't know how to compare that to what they're advertising costs are. It's not simply just about getting your advertisement for a product in front of shoppers, it's about about getting in front of the right shoppers.

Then also learning more about the audience as far as being able to target them correctly, especially target the ones who are very interested in your product. Honing in as far as understanding the audience and controlling how your campaigns, as well as how your product listings shows up on Amazon, is essential as far as to get those higher conversions and actually turn it from just an expense column over to actually making a profit.

Joshua:
What role do keywords hold within this? It sounds like that could be a really huge piece of this puzzle.

Brian J.:
The keywords are basically our attempt as sellers, or as advertisers, in order to try to connect our product and our advertisement for our product with the shoppers who are looking for our product. The keywords are basically us asking Amazon to show our advertisement for related searches that shoppers are making. The challenge on that is we don't necessarily know, especially as most private labelers come in, we don't necessarily know everything about the customer audience who's buying our product because we've learned that it's more about the opportunity of the sale, not necessarily, "I'm passionate about my product and I'm going to sell it on Amazon."

We'll introduce a product and we think we understand the audience who's going to buy it and then we go and start advertising and we realize quickly, based on the data that sponsored products can bring back, is we don't necessarily know the terminology that most shoppers actually use because they use a lot more creative language than we would ever think of. If you can identify that and focus in your advertising into some of the terminology that they're actually using, then you pick up a much more passionate, much more specific audience, that it costs you less because you're targeting a smaller group. Then your conversion rates go way up. You're really laser-focusing.

Joshua:
There's kind of a loaded question in this. Share as much as you can, but how do you find those search terms? How do you find what they are searching? Because that's a problem. Let's be real. Unless you have a giant group of people in front of you and you're like, "Why did you search the way you searched", that can be hard to find those keywords. How are you doing that?

Brian J.:
Yeah, we don't exactly have a focus group, however, because unlike some other platforms, maybe you get some additional information as far as the keywords or the search terms that people use in order to come to the website in the first place. Amazon doesn't share that with us. We have to use the pay-per-click platform and the sponsored products platform in order to run advertisements. Either have Amazon control them or we control them, which of course is the preferable method.

Once we understand who that audience is and how to target them, there's various ad reports. There's actually 8 different advertising reports right now. There's 1 or 2 of those that we use pretty much on a daily basis in order to be able to look to see which customer search terms were actually used in order to see our product ad, as well as click through to see our product detail page, as well as convert to our product. We basically get visibility into pretty much the whole sales funnel up to the point where our ad is shown and when they actually check out. We can connect down to the specific search terms that shoppers use in order to find our product and how well they consider our products related to what they were looking for as well as, obviously, the conversion rate, whether or not our product offering connected with what their needs were.

Joshua:
Brian Burt, I'm going to ask you a question. Okay, my question for you is you've kind of played with this a little bit and kind of played with the Amazon PPC and even Amazon ads, what have you found has really helped you grow and develop your brand within these keywords?

Brian B.:
Right, right. Pulling the reports that Brian showed me how to pull was the biggest advantage because just like Brian said, there's people out there searching for some really wild key terms. Some of them convert extremely high, that almost have no relevance to what you think your listing's about, especially when you start off running an automatic campaign. That's where you get the best idea. We always recommend that whenever you start a campaign, the first thing you do is go with an automatic campaign and you let Amazon validate your listing. When you do that, Amazon finds the key words that it thinks are relevant to your listing.

Once you do that, you can pull that report and some of those key terms are just wacky, but they work and you would never have found them if you were using the standard tools like MerchantWords or Google, Keyword Planner or anything like that. I think that's been the biggest advantage is really understanding what people are searching for.

Joshua:
Amazon sponsored product campaigns, there is so much in that sentence, but really, there's a huge opportunity here, the ability to have all that information. I love analytics. I always have. Even as a kid, understanding what people are searching and why they're searching it is always interesting to me. To know that I'm going to get a ton of information is really exciting for me. There's a big question within this, especially this realm, is how does the beginning seller do this? Is it possible for somebody who's not private labeling to start running Amazon's sponsored product campaigns?

leveragerandom

Brian J.:
Yes, absolutely. You certainly can, even if you're doing something like a retail arbitrage or online arbitrage where you're maybe not the only seller of a product as long as you own what they call the buy box. Basically where you're the default seller when somebody clicks on the "Add to Cart," then you are eligible to run advertisements. You can run sponsored products as long as you're able to position yourself.

Usually there's some other requirements for when you're selling a product on a listing where there's multiple sellers. Usually that has to do with you have to be at the right price, you have to have a good seller performance, that type of thing. For those who are in the retail arbitrage and online arbitrage side of the house, they know exactly what it takes for them in order to actually get to sell their product. For them to understand the mechanics of that and if they can maintain that, they can continue to run advertisements, gain additional insights into whatever niche that they're working in, as well as obviously turn over their product a lot faster than they could simply just by listing it against 20 other sellers.

Joshua:
Go ahead.

Brian J.:
I was going to say the ideal side of it with the private labelers is if you can create your own listing of your own product, then most cases, you've got control over the buy box.

Joshua:
It sounds like something you would almost want to be, the people who are out there creating bundles, this would be probably a more feasible thing for somebody creating bundles and/or private-label product. Correct?

Brian J.:
Yeah, absolutely. If you take the competitive advantage of trying to set yourself apart from everybody else who's selling the same product, then you're likely going to have to have your own listing because you've got a unique offering. Whether that's adding on an eBook, whether it's a bundle, anything that separates you from everybody else, you can create your listing and therefore you're likely to have the buy box, which means you can take advantage of advertising. Then all of a sudden you can explode, as far as your sales, because you can really identify, like we said, you can identify what the language is that your shoppers are actually using so you can, not exploit it, but you can offer the best solution, the best products, based off of what your audience is looking for.

Joshua:
Burt, primarily what avenue are you selling in? Private labeling, wholesaling, RA, OA? What are the things that you're focusing on?

Brian B.:
Good question. I've been 100% private label since the day I started.

leveragerandom

Joshua:
Wow.

Brian B.:
Yeah, I've never done anything outside of private labeling. Now, I've bundled within my own private-labeling business, which I think is really fun. I've done some reverse bundling, which is a new concept I'm just stumbling across right now. It's just been a blast. I've launched other businesses. I currently have a lot of businesses. This is the one that I've seen go up the fastest. There's really no end in sight.

Joshua:
There's so many different avenues to make money. Why is it that you like private labeling?

Brian B.:
I think it's brandability. I like owning the product. I don't know if it's a little bit of ego involved, but I think there's more money and less work there. In my opinion, the way I learned was from a student of mine in another form of internet marketing. I was teaching him another aspect of internet marketing. He was a high-end coaching student. One of the requirements was that you can't do anything else. I need you to be 100% horse blinders on the thing that we're teaching, and that was pay-per-lead, so lead gen and whatnot. He said, "Okay, that's great."

Two months in he said to me, "Brian, I know you said horse blinders, but I found this really neat thing called private labeling and I really want to try this on Amazon." We went back and forth and I said, "Sure. Do what you think is right." Within 2 months, he had already grown over $30,000 a month. It's kind of the proverbial student became the teacher kind of a situation. I said, "Dude, what are you doing? You've got to teach me." He taught me and it's been great ever since. He kind of likened it to ordering a pizza. He said it's as easy as ordering a pizza. Now, that's really oversimplifying it, but when you're just getting in, that's the kind of hook you need and he pulled me right in. It's been so much fun ever since. I've been 100% obsessed.

Joshua:
You have this business. How have you partnered, or the better question is, do you do sponsored ads on all of your products or is it just certain ones?

Brian B.:
100%. 100% of all my products. Yeah, absolutely. It wasn't that way for a long time. If I had a campaign that I thought was losing, it got turned off immediately. This kind of goes into another myth that I was referring to earlier is that I think it's somewhat common for people to understand that a strong sponsored product campaign will increase your organic rankings. If you're listening to this and you don't know that, that is the advantage of running a good sponsored product campaign. It does help your organic rankings.

One of the things a lot of people didn't know, and I didn't know, is if you turn it off immediately, let's say you've been running a sponsored products campaign and you see after a month it's not working for you, if you turn it off, it actually hurts your organic rankings just as much as running a strong campaign helps your organic rankings.

Joshua:
Really?

Brian B.:
I think a lot of people didn't understand that and that's one of the big ones for me. I always run it. I'll even run it sometimes if the goal is just to break even. Anything over breaking even for me is great. Most of my campaigns out of the, Brian, how many, 30 or so that I'm running are doing pretty well. I'm happy about that.

Joshua:
That was my next question and either of one of you can answer this, but what is the ROI when you're using sponsored ads. Because it does scare me a little bit when I'm like, "Oh man, I'm pouring a ton in. If I'm just going to keep these things, because it's going to hurt me if I shut them off, I'd better be having a good ROI on this. The return on investment, it's got to be good." What does it look like for you guys? How does that work?

Brian B.:
It's almost like you segued perfectly into that because that's the third big myth that we covered recently is that making sells does not equal earning profit. Brian, you can talk about profitability better than I can.

Brian J.:
Yeah, part of that comes from because in my consulting practice, I've consulted with hundreds of sellers and worked with some big numbers as far as advertising on Amazon. It's a very common story is that I get people that's like, "Yeah, you know, I'm not sure if I really need to work on these. I kind of want to learn more about how the advertising works and how the sponsored products works. All I know is I'm doing great. I'm selling a ton of merchandise."

We go in and then we start taking a look at the numbers. It's like, "You realize you're bleeding money right and left?" They're like, "What are you talking about? Look at all these sells I'm making." It's like, "Yeah, but you don't have your advertising dialed-in and optimized correctly to actually make a profit because your profit margin of your product is this and you're spending amount higher." You're getting plenty of insight into who your audience is, which is awesome.

To me, that's the primary reason to do the advertising is to get that, to be able to see who your audience is so you can focus in on them, but there's a lot of things you can do in order to make it from you're losing money to at least you're breaking even and, in a lot of cases, bring it down so that you're actually profiting. While you're doing the market research, you're also making a profit.

Joshua:
Gosh, man, I feel like we're just kind of hitting the top of the iceberg. I'm like, "This is good." I know there's so much more to it. Before we end, I wanted to get from both of you, just from both of your perspectives, what are some of the do's and don't's of getting into Amazon sponsored ads.

Brian J.:
Okay. Probably one of the first ones for me is understand that I guess the common assumption that people have is that, "I'm turning on advertising so that I can just sell product." Really, your biggest do is to use it as a tool to understand your audience so that you can better address their needs and better connect with them because that has 10 times the value of just the units that you're selling through the, advertising because that can affect your organic rankings.

Because you can basically use that information about what the shoppers are actually searching for in order to modify your product listing that sells on the organic search results, so that you can compete better against other competitors. You can have your listings shown higher. You can be more targeted in on specific converting search terms that people are actually searching for, not simple, "Well, Amazon suggests that this is a keyword that's searched for." There's no value to it until you actually can assign a dollar figure. The only way you can do that is through sponsored products.

Joshua:
What about you, Burt?

Brian B.:
Yeah, I would say don't make the mistake of turning on your campaigns and ignoring them. That happens a lot more than you think. A lot of the people in my groups and Brian's groups and probably your group, too, turn on the sponsored campaign and they ignore it. They think it's doing well. They're moving product. Sponsored products is something that needs to be maintained and looked at pretty regularly. It's a little unfortunate that you can't turn it on and it just does well, but Amazon is becoming competitive so don't just turn on your campaigns and ignore them. I made that mistake awhile back. Won't do that anymore. I would say on the do side, do listen to Brian Johnson. Do follow him. Do take his advice. He's been a huge help for me. That's my don't's and my do's.

Brian J.:
It's good to have the geek in the house there.

Joshua:
Yes, totally.

Brian B.:
Resident PPC geek.

Brian J.:
Yep, that's right.

Brian B.:
Our secret weapon.

Joshua:
What are your guys' any words of wisdom? Amazon sponsored products, there's a ton there. Obviously, we just hit the iceberg. There's so much underneath us, but what are some of your ending words of wisdom?

Brian J.:
I would say definitely don't wait. If you launch a product, if you've got a priority-level product, don't wait because you can start collecting information about your market as well as the competitive pricing and competitive bidding for your particular product from day one.

One of the misconceptions is that you need to wait until you have enough reviews, otherwise you're not getting conversion. The problem with that is, yeah, it's focusing in on using advertising just for the sake of conversion. It's leaving on the table the biggest piece of it, the rest of the iceberg if you will, which is the market that is hidden within Amazon and being able to identify who that audience is for your product. That's huge compared to simply just selling product.

Don't wait. As soon as you start listing your product, get that advertising started so you can start getting that feedback, that focus group, on who your audience actually is for your product.

Brian B.:
Yeah, I'm not going to top that.

Joshua:
He just drops the mic. Done. Done. That's good. Again, there's so much here and I know for me, there's so much that I don't still understand. Probably, realistically, I'm not going to understand the whole thing because I don't have the time to really dive into it, which is a lot of what you guys are probably going through in the community. It's like I don't have the time to really dive in and dig into what Amazon is and who Amazon is.

Brian Burt, Brian Johnson have actually created a course kind of walking through you what Amazon sponsored product campaigns are and how you can use it. Everything we talked about today, they go way more in-depth. If this was inspirational for you, and I know it was for me, I'm going to start looking into how to optimize those things and work on the stuff we already have, you guys can go to the OnlineEmpireAcademy.com/spa. That stands for Sponsored Product Academy. That's their course. You guys can find out more there. You guys, share just really briefly about what this course is and what it can do for the people.

Brian B.:
I think it's, simply said, it's a 4-week intensive course that takes you from no matter what level you're at in your sponsored product campaigns, we have people jumping in that don't even have a product yet. They just really want to understand sponsored products which is, by-the-way, one of the smartest things you can do. It goes all the way from beginner to super-advanced. I am not personally super-advanced, so I can't speak to that, but it's a 4-week intensive for anybody. Maybe, Brian, you can talk about some of the more advanced stuff.

Brian J.:
I think just from the feedback that we have from the students, from the community, is definitely that even though we start out with some very early foundational concepts with the course, is we have some intermediate or even advanced-level sellers that come in and even right out of the gate, they go, "Well, I didn't realize that this particular piece worked that way. That totally changes my perspective as far as how I should be running my campaigns because I didn't even understand exactly how the ad auction works."

Honestly, there's not a lot of people who really understand how Amazon's ad auction works, including Amazon's own seller support team, who often simply their advice is, "You need to add more keywords and you need to bid higher." I cannot tell you, I've lost count as far as how many times that people said, "Well, seller support told me this." It's like, "Yeah, but they're not trained on how the system works."

We actually get into detail and we say, "Look, this is how it works. This is how everything as far as their filters, their relevancy, how they make matches between your ad and your product and your customer and the categories that you're in, then they go to sort all this together, and they take in these other considerations that you didn't even realize was even in the running, part of the equation. Then at the very end, oh and by-the-way, your bid comes into play, too." Which is the first thing that everybody thinks is like, "Well, I just need to bid higher because that's what seller support is telling me," and yet it's the last thing that's actually considered. Turn it upside down and really get under the covers and really understand how the engine works so that you know how to make it work better.

Brian B.:
You know, just as an aside on that, I hunted Brian down to make this course because it did not exist. I had him on a webinar and then literally in 3 days I was in Austin. We were filming for this thing with the film crew and 3 camera guys and a boom guy, a director. It turned out fantastic. You guys should check out the videos if you're listening to this. They're really cinematic, but also Brian delivers a ton of content. You know, nothing like this exists. I built it as much from a selfish perspective as I did to help the community, but really, those are the best type of products. When you see, like you just said, a gap in the market, there's just not enough education out there, then that's an opportunity and I think we're really hitting the mark here. We're really fitting that gap with the Sponsored Products Academy.

Joshua:
I love it. Well, again, if you guys want to go check that out, go to the OnlineEmpireAcademy.com/spa. Again, standing for Sponsored Product Academy. The OnlineEmpireAcademy.com/spa. Guys, thank you so much for coming on. I've so enjoyed it.

Brian B.:
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Brian J.:
Yeah, very glad to be here. Thank you.

Joshua:
Until next time, Empire, have a fantastic day.

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