Arlen: Wellcome back to the eCommerce marketing podcast. Everyone. I am your host, Arlen Robinson. And today we have a very special guest Stephen Pope, who is a founder of My Amazon Guy. He started his career as a TV reporter in Idaho, then was an eCommerce Director for 10 years for brands ranging from Gold & Silver Coins to Women’s Plus Size Clothing. After dozens of requests to side hustle consult for Amazon clients, he started the agency to make it easier to growth hack the platform. Steven owns MAG, My Refund Guy – a clawback FBA service, and Momstir – a Private Label FBA Wine Glass brand. He has more than 300 tutorial videos on YouTube showing how to handle ANY problem faced on Amazon. Steven also hosts a podcast with interviews from other Amazon experts.

Steven: Thanks for having me Arlen. Appreciate it. Yeah, no problem. 

Arlen: And yeah, I’m glad that you’re able to get on and I’m super, we’re excited to talk to you about today. We’re going to be kind of diving into pay per click advertising, SEO and various strategies to drive traffic and sales.

Not only direct to consumer sales, but also for. Those sales that occur on Amazon and for the sellers out there that are either sewing on Amazon or thinking about selling on Amazon. I know you are the man, you are the kind of the expert at 

Steven: hand. 

Arlen: I can definitely, you know, the shits, the white on that subject guide.

Steven: When I first made the, the agency name, my wife and I were talking the laundry room and she’s like, well, what should we call the company? And she says, Well, how do people normally introduce, you know, I’m like, I don’t know. They just say, I’ve just got this Amazon guy. I was like, perfect. That’s it? So here we 

Arlen: are stuff, man.

It’s always best to keep it simple. You know, if people said they got that Amazon gun gun guy, you are that guy. So, yeah. But before we kind of dive deep into those topics, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about your background and you know, specifically how you got into what you’re doing today? 

Steven: You bet.

So before I started Amazon and e-commerce, I started out my career, there’s a television reporter and I loved working on the beat. So to speak at appliances on airplanes, interview, Don Wells and Fonzie, and. Obama comes to Yellowstone and all that good stuff. So I’ve been there and had a fun ride. I did have a coming of age moment when I was in Wisconsin doing a live weather hit at midnight, 10 o’clock rather, and everybody was home in their pajamas.

Got on the air, miss my cue felt like an idiot looked like an idiot and decided I wanted to be home in my pajamas. So I said, Hey, there’s this passive income thing called e-commerce right. Right. Of course we all know. And anybody listening to this knows e-commerce is definitely not passive income by any stretch.

But, uh, over the years I ended up gravitating towards Amazon increasingly where half the economy is and where all the demand is. I do a good job for one guy and he’d refer me out to 10 more and you know, the rest is history, but yeah, so I consider myself a growth hacker. Somebody that goes in there figures out how to pull the right levers to grow traffic, the improve conversion rates and grow any sales on Amazon.

Arlen: That’s good stuff, man. And you mentioned the past, the term passive income. Yeah, I do really think that is kind of a misnomer. It is a little bit misleading when people say passive income. I really don’t think there’s really any such thing. You know, when you’re dealing with the internet, I think it kind of misleads people to think that you can just set some things up and then just sit back and just have money rolling in to a certain extent you can get systems in place to.

You know, effectively have things kind of run in a sense on autopilot to a certain extent, but there is still there’s things that have to be paid attention to, I think, regardless, as far as revenue driving and then pulling in income. So yeah, I would agree that, yeah, I don’t know if there’s really such a thing as passive income 

Steven: people want there to be.

I mean, everybody aspires to do whatever it takes to be an entrepreneur and. Go get it live the dream by all, by all means, but, but be realistic. That’s that’s my authentic advice. I’m going to speak. My truth is Gary V say and there, there is no such thing. The thing is passive income on Amazon. It is blood, sweat, and tears.

You got to invest and you’re going to get some stuff wrong on a frequent basis and there’s problems every day. So we frequently spend about 80% of our time fixing problems instead of marketing. Yeah, 

Arlen: exactly. That’s, that’s the name of the game. And so that kind of leads me to, you know, my first subject of her first question for you is when it comes to driving traffic and sales, what are some typical strategies that really any eCommerce business can start doing today?

Whether they are doing direct to consumer on their own site or. They’re Amazon sellers, or they’re doing kind of a mix of both which I know these days, there’s a lot of people doing both where they have their own direct to consumer site, as well as their own presence on Amazon. What are some kind of basic strategies that people can really just immediately start doing?

Steven: Yeah, I definitely would endorse a diversification being in multiple locations. You don’t want to be. Beholden to the Amazon God, as it were, if Amazon suspends your account and you don’t have a Shopify or another platform to use, you’re going to be in trouble. So there’s a really a bunch of things that you can do to grow sales on Amazon.

First of all, I assume everybody’s got their product business up and running and they’ve, they’re trying to invest in e-commerce and that’s kind of the assumption I’m going to operate on. Under for this podcast, the fastest way to grow sales on Amazon is number one, make sure you launch as many products as you possibly can.

The more product you launch, whether you’re a retailer that buys direct from wholesalers. And you’re just one of many retailers on the Amazon listings. If that’s your model. Or if you’re a private labeler and you’re building out your own products and brands, the product you launched, the more consumers you’re going to see, I think e-commerce can be boiled down to this monitor your job as an eCommerce person or business is to sell more products.

To more people more often for more money. And the best way to grow sales is to have as many products as you possibly can. After that, I think diversification of platforms is really important. So don’t just make Amazon on your one trick pony, just in case suspend you. And that frequently happens. Geo locations, don’t just sell in the United States Canada’s and easy play Germany in the UK.

They’re growing markets as well. Amazon has expanded to Singapore, to Japan, Australia, middle East, you name it. They are trying to grow their platforms. Now most of those platforms are too small to invest heavily in at this time, but they need to be on your radar for potential possibilities. After that advertising and traffic generation will be the next most important thing you do.

This is an area that can be broken up in to earned media traffic. SEO A-plus content design, all that good stuff. And then the other is paid media, which is your paper, click advertising. We could definitely, we could do a whole podcast on any one of those topics. And I know we don’t have time to do that, but I will say there is a bunch of things that you could do today to grow your sales on Amazon.

The one hot topic, a recommendation I’d make on Amazon ads is get up. Video ads, video ads have never been more hot than they are today. And the advertising cost of spends are lower on ads, proportionately versus sponsored products. Right now that’s unprecedented. The fact that a more engaging advertisement is more cost effective, that it tells you everything you need to do.

You need to pivot over to video ads, right? 

Arlen: That’s interesting. And that’s something. Yeah, actually I wasn’t really aware of you would, you would think it would be the other way around where the video ads would be, see a lot more expensive than, you know, the regular sponsored ads. But I guess I’m just kind of at that point now, when you’re speaking of these video ads within Amazon, How exactly does that work?

How are they displayed? And like, how would you move forward with that 

Steven: aside of your seller central account? If you go to advertising campaign manager, you must have a brand registry in place to qualify. That means you have to have a trademark. If you don’t have a trademark, we do help sellers get trademarks, just go to my Amazon guy.com.

And while you’re in your advertising portfolio, You click on sponsored brands and then select video ads. I know that was a little bit of a couple of steps you’ve got to take to get to this location. I’ll send you a link so you can add it to the show notes, but while, while you’re building that, there’s a bunch of specs that are required to set up video ads.

I recommend you shoot a 32nd clip. Don’t have any black ours on your contents and have some music and a voiceover and show until the product. If you had. 30 seconds. What would you want me to know about your product and why should I buy it? And you should, the features, you should show the features. So if you’re.

If you’re selling a steak sauce or a steak rub, you better be showing that puppy, the rolled in that steak sauce, and then put onto that grill and show me those flames. If you’re not doing that, then you are missing out on free free clinic. Now, obviously videos cost money, but, but what I’m saying, you’re going to be proportionately spending more money to convert people.

If you don’t have great content. Yeah, 

Arlen: that that really makes sense. You know, you got to show it to sell it things the bottom line, when it comes to video, otherwise what’s the point of it. What’s the point of even having the video, if you’re not really showing it total sense. One of the things that you did mention also is that with Amazon, it’s really kind of best to have as many products out there as you possibly can.

Now. For those sellers that are also doing the direct to consumer on their own sites, on their own sites or shopping carts, whether it’s Shopify or what other plaque that they have. Do you think that’s still a good rule of thumb or is it a little bit different dealing direct to consumer? Do you want to be a little bit more narrowly focused?

If you’re. You have your own site and presence. 

Steven: So when you say narrowly focused on your own site and presence, I mean, should you have good content videos or you were talking more about to not need a giant cattle because that’s kind of what you were 

Arlen: getting at exactly. Do you want to narrow down your catalog to maybe kind of just key products or key particular categories?

Steven: I think each brand or each business will be unique on that question. If you want to be a big retailer where you’ve got everything, you possibly need to run a restaurant and you’re going to be selling everything from plates and forks to spatulas, then you’re going need a broad, broad catalog. If you’re selling the coolest widget ever.

And you’ve got a patent on it, completely brand new, then. Totally different ball game. You may only need one product to go live on your website. So it just really depends on what your portfolio looks like today. And then you can act accordingly, but your objectives really will dictate your strategy. And then the actions that you take to hit those objectives should be in alignment.

So if you’re trying to get your single skew product into Walgreens, And you want to get a couple hundred thousand reviews on this sucker, then you better be displaying the widest distribution network possible, and you only need one product, but again, if you want to be that restaurant equipment business, then you’ve got to have a in depth catalog, probably some dropship supplement in addition to whatever your privately labeling and retailing as well.

Okay. 

Arlen: Gotcha. That makes total sense. Yeah, really? This is going to be based on the type of business that you have and then, you know, kind of go from there right now for new eCommerce business. That’s, let’s say fresh out of the gate or going, let’s say both routes, the Amazon and direct to consumer. Should they initially focus on paper, click advertising, or also consider a longterm SEO strategy.

And if so, how do they really go about doing this and how do they kind of juggle both strategies? 

Steven: I think as Amazon has entered the maturity phase, The more sophisticated the platform, the more likelihood you need to be a sophisticated seller to win. So the answer to your question is you’ve got to do both and I would answer the same way for your own eCommerce website as well.

I’m a big SEO guy. My claim to fame is when I [email protected] This is a gold and silver precious metals company in a single year. I increased their SEO, organic traffic, not paid organic, my 10 million uniques year over year. Uh, more than doubled it and Oh, by the way, just sit $2,000 an ounce. It’s up from like 1700 from earlier this year and that’s news in itself.

But the economy in shambles and man has it never been a better time to sell online because retail is falling apart and we could speak for ages on that question alone. But if you focus on content creation, you become the library. Of expertise, you will get eyeballs. There’s no question about it. The challenge is, is that most people do not fully understand how to have a proper SEO strategy.

So I’m going to talk about SEO first and then I’ll talk about paid media. I recommend a three phase SEO strategy, and I am literally only person on the market talking about this. So this is brand spanking new. We’re just rolling this out. We’ve been doing this for our clients at my Amazon guy. And we’re now kind of, okay.

We’re we feel comfortable enough that it’s so successful. We were going to open the open, the trade secret to others. So in short three phases phase number one is just to simply apply the best practices. The difference between SEO on your website versus Amazon is as follows on Amazon. You have a search term field, and you want to have no comments, no duplicate words.

No pluralization of your singular words and you want to include misspellings. And a little bit of Spanish. So that’s phase one best practices. We do that day one on any client phase to kick off around day 30. We like to call it the pink word update. The brand dashboard has a tool that will put in pink.

Any word that is already in your title or bullets, technically doesn’t need to be in your search term field. We have found though, by including it in phase one, we get the maximized return. For investment. So we do include it on phase one, but in phase two, now that we’ve got an idea, we’ll manage, we’d go ahead and rework it.

And it gives us usually somewhere around 30 to 50% additional keyword, additions, or character counts. Into the search term fields. That’s phase two, the pink word update phase three. We do this around day 90, and then we do this ongoing every month. And we like to call this phase three, the strike zone update.

And what we do is we use a tool called helium 10, and we look at all the keywords that are ranked 20 through 50. There are dozens of tools that are equivalent to this for your website. Conductor. Searchlights one of my favorites. There’s SEM rush and a dozen others. And whatever it is, you just look at these keywords that are in striking distance.

And we found that if you focus on keywords and ranks 20 through 50, you can pull some of those up to the top 15, and then they will start to produce. We call that matriculation. Of your index keywords phase one is fewer all about improving your index. That is go from 500 keywords index to 15. I’ve seen a hundred keywords index.

What do I mean by index? That is when anybody searches a product term or a search term or phrase within Amazon that you show up for it in the first 300 results. So if I’m selling a funny wineglass, I want my product. I’m not drinking alone. I’m social distancing, wineglass to show up number one.

Organically on Amazon and, uh, I side hustle a wineglass brand. That’s why I use that particular example and, and I’ve been hard at work to try and make that happen. And I happened to do have the number one funny wineglass on Amazon. And that’s that social distancing. Wineglass. Okay. And so we want that to show up for funny wineglass.

We want that to show them for social distancing. We want it to show up for gifts for quarantine. All of those phrases are each a key phrase for index. So I know that was a long mantra, but I like to hit this one home because I feel so strongly that people don’t have an SEO strategy for Amazon. And we feel strongly that we have a phenomenal strategy in place.

Yeah, 

Arlen: that’s good to hear because I think you’re right. There’s a lot of brands there just kind of jumping out there and don’t really have any, any type of strategy in place. And, you know, are kind of just guessing playing a guessing game, but it, it, you know, it’s almost the same as if you have what your own site, where are you going to be going through the diligence of content?

your link building? No, there’s a definitive strategy involved. For SEO strategy for your own website, and you really have to kind of follow that same type of model for your Amazon presence as well. So yeah, that really makes a lot of sense. Now, you know, you previously did mention a few tools there that.

You know, can come into play as far as trying to find those right keywords and search terms phrases. You mentioned the SCM rush, helium 10 and some, some others. Are there any other tools that you guys utilize your team utilizes to help better manage your campaigns or PaperClick campaigns or just overall?

Well, your SEO optimization strategies. 

Steven: Absolutely. My favorite tool for anything related to SEO is Helion 10 and they just have a best in class tool. I also have used jungle scout as well for advertising management. There are dozens of automated PPC tools out there today. I think humans are better at managing ads than computers are.

I think that could change very quickly, but. In the last 90 days, we’ve seen Amazon rollout five or six new advertising segments that weren’t really on the front of lines. Um, 90 plus days ago, and all the robots are really good at bid man management. They can do things like change your bid during a time of day, day of week, that kind of thing.

But what they don’t do is they don’t have a strategy. They don’t know how to segment campaigns appropriately. They don’t know, they don’t have anything better than a shotgun keyword approach. So for those reasons, we actually recommend using the in seller central tool, bulk update for sophisticated advertisers management.

So if you’re spending under a thousand dollars per month, you don’t need a tool and you don’t need an agency to help run your ads. Once you’re above about three or 4,000 a month. Yeah. That’s when it makes sense to bring in an expert or a tool of some kind and we come in and we’ll build out a hyper segmented strategy, 10 different types of campaigns ranging from offensive ACE and targeting defensive branding.

Video ads, display ads. One of my favorites is called a custom brand headline, an image. And if you don’t know what that is, you’re behind in the April behind the curve rather. And in short, a branded headline ad with custom brand images increased the size of your ads by two X on mobile phones. And of course, bigger ads means better branding, better performance.

So there’s all kinds of things you have to have in place. But that book update file that we talked about. We like to. Do these changes in bulk based on macros and based on factors of previous performance. And we’ll run that through our gauntlet of best practices and continually monitor those campaigns for performance.

Arlen: Gotcha. And that kind of really rings true to what we said earlier, where these things happen has to be monitored, you know, constantly consistently you can’t just come out there and make the changes and just walk away from things. And so you gotta be on top of it either. You have a dedicated person that’s kind of your Amazon person.

Are you. You know, work with a team like you, you guys have to help manage the campaigns for you, or, you know, you, if you’re just kind of a one man shop, you just gotta be on it. That’s the bottom line. It’s not a set it and forget it type of thing. I get. I get 

Steven: that. Yeah. It’s definitely not. If you’re looking for a set it and forget it, go do eBay ads, you just give them a percentage of your cost per acquisition and fully automate.

That’s a black box for you. 

Arlen: Definitely. Yeah. That’s the route to go. If you want to, would you want to kind of be kind of hands off one quick thing though. I did want to circle back on that you mentioned as far as your recommendations for the search terms that you’re coming up with with Amazon, you you’ve mentioned of course, coming up with these terms, not putting no commas and then putting a little bit of Spanish.

What’s the purpose of putting a little bit of Spanish in there. 

Steven: We all know that Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States. There are many Spanish native speakers that are searching in Spanish, on Amazon. It’s an undertapped market. And for an extra five minutes of your effort, go Google your top three keywords and translate them to Spanish and put it in your search terms.

You’re going to start indexing on this because your competitors. Are not focused on it. And what’s really interesting is Amazon is on record saying that they don’t index a plus content. That’s the content at the bottom of an Amazon detail page. I know for a fact that that’s simply not true. I’ve tested this.

I’ve put three Spanish keywords. On a particular product and, and we put Spanish just on like one photo, all text and it totally index for Spanish. So there’s definitely a huge amount of technical value into your SEO implications. And it’s not just put up a nice, good design. You need to have something in place behind the scenes as 

Arlen: well.

Yeah. Good to know. Yeah. I was really curious about that because yeah, like you said, I knew that the Spanish speaking languages is huge and a lot of sellers don’t. I don’t think about that. And yeah, it’s definitely a way to, to kind of boost your listings. I see for, you know, for sure now, you know, as we get ready to wrap things up, I’m always a huge advocate in looking at what some of the major eCommerce brands are doing cross platforms and, you know, specifically within, within Amazon.

So what are some. Brands that maybe you either work with, you’re familiar with that are currently doing a great job with their PPC, their SEO, and just really kind of getting out there. What are some things that you’ve seen that they’re doing to get this accomplished? 

Steven: Yeah, here’s the interesting thing.

It’s not the corporations that are winning. Corporations have big budgets, but they’re unsophisticated. They, they begrudgingly show up on Amazon. It’s the private labelers that you’ve never heard of. Like if I listed out 10 brands that are doing well, these things on Amazon right now, you would never have heard of a single one of them.

So instead of name-dropping, what I will say is follow the data. So use a tool like helium tend to look at your competitor competition and figure out who is bidding on keywords. So if, if you sell funny wine glasses, like I do you go in and you search funny glass, you download all of the competitor’s sales data using helium 10 and then figure out, okay, here are my three number, top three competitors go to each of their listings and then download all of their keywords.

And what’s really cool is you can see all the keywords, the organically index for, and also the advertised keywords. In addition. And based on that, you’ll know, who’s dominating the space because the more keywords you’re showing up for chances are you’re spending more money. And if you’re spending more money, it’s because it’s working.

So that’s what I would do. I would follow the data. Yeah. 

Arlen: That makes a lot of sense. A lot of times I’m advocating to my listeners, know this, that the best to follow these. Large brands because you know, they’ve got millions and billions of dollars of marketing that is being spent to make certain decisions, but it’s a little different now in the whole Amazon world.

Like you said, a lot of these big brands are not sophisticated and don’t have a sophisticated presence they’re spending their marketing dollars elsewhere or focusing a little bit more on the direct to consumer. So yeah, I, it really makes a lot of sense where you just need to follow the data in your particular areas and.

Let’s see what those leaders in those areas, what they’re doing and seeing how you can 

Steven: kind of, if 

Arlen: not one, how you can get close to behind you. No, for sure. So, yeah. That’s great advice. That’s awesome. And I definitely learned a lot and as we all know, Amazon is bigger than ever at this point, you know, due to.

This whole pandemic and the fact that most many people, these days are just purchasing more and more things online because there’s been so many shutdowns that ever occurred. So, uh, you know, it’s, it’s bigger than ever. So I think that kind of the, 

Steven: so I came out, they were up 44% in may 44%. That’s incredible.

And you know what? I think the numbers are going to look like in Q4. I think it’s going to be a hundred percent. Wow. He’s going to be a higher percent up year over year. So, so there has never been a better time to sell on Amazon. And one other big piece of news, too, Amazon, Amazon’s going to run out of space.

Their warehouses are going to be so chock-full your competition’s going to stock out. So it behooves you to get your stock in now for Q4. 

Arlen: Great piece of advice and you’re right. That makes sense. They only have so much room in the, in their warehouses, so you gotta jump on it. Yeah. I guess why, why do I want to iron is high for sure.

Well, thanks a lot, David. It’s been a pleasure speaking to you and I’ve learned a lot and I know our listeners have as well, but before I let you go, I always like to switch it up a little bit. And just so our listeners can learn a little bit more about you outside of what you’re doing day to day. What’s one fun fact that you can let our audience know about you.

Steven: I’ll give you two, I’ve got three kids under five, so my hands are constantly 

Arlen: full. I can imagine 

Steven: kid things, but the fun fact, the funner fact, if you will, is that when I was in high school, I was a nationally ranked chess player. So I still casually play today. Always like to strategically think ahead. And I’ll tie that into Amazon with my closing thought.

If you are trying to show up where the puck is right now, Moving over to a hockey metaphor, you’re going to be in trouble. You need to be where the puck is going to score Wayne Gretzky style. Otherwise you’re not going to think ahead. You’re going to be behind the curve. 

Arlen: Great metaphor. I’m just envisioning that I’m not a huge hockey fan, but I’ve seen some hockey games before.

And, um, that makes a lot of sense. You’ve got to go where the puck is going. You’re going to be not where it is right now, because otherwise yeah, you’ll be left behind. So great piece of advice. And I appreciate you sharing that. Lastly, if our listeners want to get a hold hold of you and pick your brain anymore about selling on Amazon or.

PPC or SEO or anything in general under the kind of the whole world of eCommerce marketing, what is the best way for them to get in contact with you? 

Steven: My Amazon guide.com. And if you’ve listened this long, I’m gonna give you my email address. It’s just simply Steven and my Amazon guy.com with a V. Okay.

Arlen: Great. Well, thank you for sharing that, Steven. We appreciate it. And thank you again for joining us today on the eCommerce marketing podcast.

Steven:  I appreciate it. Thanks for having me. 

Podcast Guest Info

Steven Pope
Founder of My Amazon Guy