PLH 82 | Amazon Mistakes Brands Make

The most successful brands continually look for ways to increase conversions and improve customer satisfaction. Established brands usually have their systems in place, but when you’re constantly dealing with the day-to-day operations of your business, it’s difficult to see the glitches in your processes or strategies, and that could affect you in terms of competition or changing markets. This is the reason why we often see established brands making common mistakes that can hurt their bottom line. Jenna Lieber from Turnkey Product Management came up with the five big Amazon mistakes brands make to help you avoid these oversights.

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This is our third topic that we’ve been covering here on Product Launch Hazzards. Unfortunately, Jeff could not make it. He is in Alaska. We thought he might be able to make it, but the Wi-Fi is a little spotty up there. It’s just me for this one. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is Jenna. I work at Turnkey Product Management. We are a company that consults companies on Amazon, basically managing their accounts. We also have a course that teaches you how to manage your account. I wanted to do something a little different than what we’ve done the last two times. We had a team meeting about this and I was like, “What can I do for this presentation? What can I do to make it a little different?” They were like, “We should talk about some mistakes that we’ve seen with our clients, with people that have talked to us and gone through the different consultations.”

We came up with five big mistakes that people make on an Amazon. There are more than five mistakes you can make selling on Amazon, but we thought of five big ones, maybe five mistakes that you wouldn’t think about that people make. We’re going to go through them. Our team brainstorm, we did have a sit-down meeting, “Let’s go over mistakes that we’ve made, that our clients made, that people we’ve talked to have made.” We came up to close to a hundred different mistakes. These mistakes were on and off Amazon. We went through the past mistakes that we’ve made and we’re bringing you our top five mistakes companies make selling on Amazon.

Mistake number one, not listing product variations when you have them. Mistake number two, sending products into Amazon that don’t match your images. Mistake number three, not asking for seller feedback. Mistake number four, not using external marketing. Mistake number five, not following Amazon terms of service. I’m going to break down these five mistakes down, talk a little bit about them and talk about our experience with them. We’re going to start with not listing product variations when you have them. Here’s an example of a listing that has different product variations. You see the four different flavors they’re offering. If you scroll down on that same exact listing, you would see that they have different sizes. What does a variation do for you? A variation means more reviews, more options for your customers and more sales. It’s a great way to put everything that you are selling in one place on Amazon.

It shows your brand, it brings the brand together, paints that picture for the customer and helps sell your product. With the review, if you have only one product gathering reviews, you’re going to have fewer reviews than if you have five products that are getting reviews. This is a great example because this product has over a thousand reviews and it’s a great product. It’s one of the products that Amazon represents a lot of the times if you go to trade shows and everything. They have a close relationship with them. Part of the reason they have all these reviews definitely has to do with the fact that they have so many products on one listing.

I want to talk about different variations you can go with. There’s color, sizes, flavors and material type. That’s a few that we’ve used but there are definitely more that you can explore on Amazon. One of my favorite examples is material type. Material type Amazon doesn’t have a very strict preference of material. One thing we’ve done with one of our clients is a yoga mat. We have two yoga mats on there. That’s technically the same exact yoga mat, but there are two different materials. They’re made out of a different type of rubber. It’s for people that are allergic to latex. What we’re able to do is we’re able to have two yoga mats on that one listing, which 100% helped upsell the two of them and also increase those reviews. That’s one example of material type.

I’ve worked for a beverage company and one thing they were able to do is we were able to create multiple variations on there. We had size variations where they offered sixteen counts, 32 counts and 64 counts and they were also able to offer all their different flavors. They had literally every single flavor in size that you can think of. They had it on that one listing. It also goes to show maybe someone didn’t know that you have that flavor, maybe someone didn’t know you had 32 counts, so having all of that on one listing is huge and very beneficial for your brand on Amazon.

We’re going to move forward to mistake number two, which is sending products into Amazon that don’t match your images. This one might sound a little silly to some people, “We wouldn’t try to do that.” The reality is when graphic design starts to get even more impressive than it already is, a lot of people use their images a little differently. Maybe they’re not using that exact image of their product. Maybe they’re enhancing it a little bit more, making it look a little bit different than the actual packaging. The reality is if it does not match the product that is on the listing, Amazon will suspend you. We made it simple here. Your images equal your products.

Your sales copy equals your product. Click To Tweet

This was one example that I came up with. Let’s say the first image says powdered food and then it has the brand name and it has some descriptions on the bottom of it. Then you have a second image on the side that doesn’t say powdered food, it just has the brand on there. If a customer is shopping and they see your listing that powdered food, but when they get the product in the mail and it doesn’t say powdered food and they tell Amazon, you’re most likely suspended for up to two weeks because that suspended process is a long one. Amazon has to physically see that product to make sure what the customer is saying is true. Amazon’s busy. It takes about two weeks and they go to the warehouse. One time they sent us a picture of the product at the warehouse and said, “See this doesn’t match the images.”

That’s a different story, but it honestly happens where maybe you’re dealing with a third party warehouse and you’re not seeing what different suppliers are sending in. It’s very important that every single part of that packaging that you’re presenting on your listing matches that exact product. Do not try to make it look fancier than it is because Amazon can flag you for it. This also goes for the sales copy. Your sales copy equals your product. One thing we’ve seen in the past is people will use keywords that they know are important for that product or that niche. They know that a keyword can help boost sales. They’ll put that keyword in there. The reality is, if for example, if that keyword is an ingredient, maybe turmeric and you don’t have turmeric in there, but maybe you hit it a little bit in the listing and you’re trying to just rank for turmeric, you’re saying that you have turmeric in there and there is none in there, Amazon can flag you for it and they can suspend you until you make that change.

This goes for features. Don’t put there that your product is able to save world hunger when it can’t. You need to make sure that your features are actually what your product is. That goes for ingredients and that goes for size as well. If you’re saying that it’s a two-pack, there has to be two in there. This seems very straightforward, seems pretty simple, seems like there’s no way people are making mistakes like this, but it does happen. We’ve seen it a lot in the past where people are trying to make their product that much better on Amazon but the reality is, if a customer reports it to Amazon, Amazon cares about that customer. Amazon’s first situation is they’re going to shut you down until they can prove who’s right or wrong because they care about the customer unfortunately more than the seller.

We’re going to move on to mistake number three. Mistake number three is not asking for seller feedback. This one is a big one. I’ll start by talking about the differences between seller feedback and product reviews. A lot of people don’t understand the differences between the two. It is very interesting. Seller feedback, I feel, is overlooked a lot of the time but it shouldn’t be. Seller feedback truthfully is a pretty awesome tool. It represents the seller. I am all for it but a lot of people overlook it. Seller feedback is essentially a review on the seller, that feedback could be something like, “This seller has great customer service. I reached out to them, they helped me in six hours,” something like that.

A product review is, “This is the best cell phone case I’ve ever had. How have I had a phone without this case for these many years?” The seller feedback is on you as a seller. The product review is on your product. Now that we’ve figured that out, I’ve gotten that all squared away of the differences. I want to talk about why people overlook seller feedback. The reason people overlook seller feedback is that it is hidden. If you want to see your seller feedback, what you would do is you would go to your listing and it says, “Sold by blank but fulfilled by Amazon.” Just click your brand name and that takes you to your storefront. That’s where you’ll see your seller feedback.

Seller feedback is incredibly cool. It’s a great way for customers to be able to see what kind of a seller you are and that percentage does show a lot. That’s pretty much what seller feedback is, why we like it. I want to talk about the perks of seller feedback, why we think that everyone should be doing it. How we ask for seller feedback is we have two auto-responder messages. The first auto-responder message is a seller asking the customer for seller feedback. It’s pretty simple. Just ask, “How is our customer service? How did we do? Here’s a link for seller feedback.” That’s pretty much the gist of what it says. It gives them a link straight to seller feedback and they answer that link on seller feedback.

The second email is a product review asking for the review. The reason we ask for seller feedback first is that we want to potentially vet those bad reviews if there is any. If you’re asking for seller feedback, a lot of times customers don’t understand that that feedback has to be about the seller. They’ll leave their product review in there and a lot of the times, if it’s an angry one you could potentially stop it. Let’s say someone says, “This phone case is the worst phone case I’ve ever had. I don’t know why they’re even made.” It’s an aggressive, mean review. What you would want to do is you want to reach out to that person and try to figure out what went wrong. That’s when you’d be able to vet it and provide awesome customer service and you can also stop asking for a review on that auto-responder. That’s one way to do it is vetting those potential reviews.

PLH 82 | Amazon Mistakes Brands Make

Amazon Mistakes Brands Make: It’s very important that every single part of that packaging that you’re presenting on your listing matches that exact product.

It goes the other way as well. If someone posts something positive, “This is the best phone case ever. I can’t believe they made this. This is awesome,” what you can do is you can ask them, “Thank you. Can you please share that with our other customers in a product review?” It goes both ways, but it’s basically vetting and trying to get that product reviews out. Another thing is solving customer service issues. It could simply say, “Only one came or it’s missing parts,” or something like that. You can then reach out to them and say, “So sorry to hear that. Please reach out to our customer service team and we’ll get this squared away as quickly as possible.” It’s solving those customer service issues before they become a product review. Also having a good relationship with your customers, we know that’s very important, that’s one thing to think about.

Another thing also is seller feedback can easily be removed. The reason is a lot of customers don’t understand that seller feedback is feedback on the seller. They think it’s a product review. Amazon, if you ask them, will remove seller feedback if it’s about a product. If someone says, “One-star, worst product ever,” you can easily tell Amazon, “This is a product review but it’s in my seller feedback. Can you remove it?” Amazon will 100% remove it because it’s a product review in the seller feedback. That’s why we ask for that seller feedback first because we know we can get it removed if it’s bad on the product. Unfortunately, customer reviews are not that easy to remove. If you have seller feedback, you are able to use coupon clippings. Coupon clippings are the new promotion that Amazon is running. If you don’t have seller feedback, you cannot participate in coupon clipping. You definitely want to be racking up that seller feedback so you can get coupon clippings.

Relying just on Amazon marketing will not make you a top seller. You need to be pushing outside of Amazon as well. Click To Tweet

We’re going to move on to mistake number four, which is not using external marketing. Let’s talk a little bit about external marketing and why it’s so important. I’m sure a lot of you know, especially if you’ve been on Amazon for a while, this is not the same Amazon it was a few years ago. Things are getting a lot more competitive. There are more sellers than ever. There are more people making counterfeit items. Reviews are harder to get. This is simply a tougher market than what it used to be. You need to be using things outside of Amazon to support your Amazon business. Amazon pay per click is awesome. It’s one of my favorite things to use. Our marketing team does a fantastic job of running those ads, but at the same time, you need to be pushing outside of Amazon as well. Relying just on Amazon marketing will not make you a top seller. That’s the reality at this point. You need to be doing that extra stuff to push you to that next level.

One thing a lot of people don’t know is when you’re using external marketing like Facebook ads, Amazon is able to see that. They are able to see, “This seller is pushing traffic from Facebook to Amazon, let’s increase their ranking. They care and they want to make sales on Amazon.” That’s one way to boost your ranking on Amazon is using that external traffic. As we talked about before, how do you use external marketing like Facebook to push traffic to Amazon? What you’ll do is you download your customer list off of Amazon. You can set a certain date range or you can do all of your customers you’ve ever had. What you do is you download that list, you plug it into Facebook and Facebook is able to find those customers choosing their last name and their zip code. They’re able to locate a good amount of them.

It’s not 100% because some people might not be on Facebook, but it will come pretty close. A lot of our clients get about 60% of that list found on Facebook, maybe 70%. It depends also on your market. What you do is you create an audience from that customer list and then once you have that list, once you have that audience, you build a lookalike audience off of that and then you just keep building that list over and over again. That is your Amazon list. I know a lot of people don’t like to share traffic. They don’t want to steal traffic from their Shopify website. They don’t want to send more traffic to Amazon because they’re sharing a percentage with Amazon. They would rather those sales beyond their website.

PLH 82 | Amazon Mistakes Brands Make

Amazon Mistakes Brands Make: If you have your audience for your Shopify and your audience for Amazon, just run separate ads.

I 100% understand that. I know those are your customers, but at the same time, a lot of customers trust Amazon. It’s understanding that some customers might not buy on your Shopify but they’ll buy on Amazon. That’s why we definitely recommend at least doing a portion. One thing we say is to just keep those audiences separate. If you have your audience for your Shopify and your audience for Amazon, just run separate ads. The Amazon customers are only sent to Amazon. The Shopify customers are only sent to Shopify. Having those two separate lists also is a good way to do it. Another thing we always tell people is, “Why not have a small budget every month for just Amazon and see how it goes? Are you making that ad money back? Are you getting that ranking up like you want?” Test it. See if sending traffic to Amazon is worth it for you.

I’m pretty positive it will be worth it for you, but I would recommend trying it because it’s definitely worth it. It’s worth that extra effort. At the end of the day, it’s about growing your brand and Amazon is a huge part of growing your brand. Google Ads is a great one to use on special holidays, Prime Day not just Facebook. You can use Google ads as well. We would highly recommend it. Next time we talk, we’re going to talk about one of the cool strategies we have coming up with Pinterest. That’s another one that would be external marketing. I would recommend using the external marketing not only to grow your brand but to get that ranking up on Amazon and show Amazon that you care about making sales on their website.

We’re going to move on to our last big mistake. This one I am sure is another no-brainer but at the same time, it needs to be repeated because a lot of people break these rules. Mistake number five is not following Amazon’s terms of service. The best way to describe it is they will catch you. Amazon is Big Brother. That’s the thing a lot of people don’t understand. Amazon will catch you if you are breaking their terms of service. I know it seems like, “There’s no way they’ll catch me because there are so many sellers out there. How can they be watching every single one of us?” The reality is they are. One example is pretty simple. Amazon went through and wiped out a ton of reviews from customers that they thought were being biased or they had some type of a track record that these reviews were no longer valid. There were some big accounts that they got thousands of reviews knocked off. They are placed on a timeout now where they can no longer get reviews.

This is a big time for Amazon where they are cracking down on the rules and it’s not even affecting just sellers anymore, it’s affecting customers. Customers can get in trouble now if they are accepting payment for a review. That’s something to be aware of and understand that Amazon does know and assuming they don’t know can be a dangerous game. We brainstormed a few of the big ones that we see people making that they think they can get away with. Reviews are the biggest defense for Amazon terms of service and the reason being is Amazon’s number one concern is their customers. When you’re messing with Amazon reviews, in Amazon’s mind, you’re messing with their customers. With reviews being the biggest defense, one thing that’s pretty common is review groups on Facebook.

Variation means more reviews, more options for your customers, and more sales. Click To Tweet

If you went on Facebook, typed in review group, you would definitely get hundreds of hits of Amazon review groups that are out there to accept free product for a review. The reality is Amazon and Facebook are friends and from our understanding, Facebook is sharing that data so they are able to see what customers are doing those things. Even if they’re not going to catch you, they will most likely catch that customer that is doing that and that customer can get in trouble. I would recommend staying away. Don’t do it. Amazon is cracking down on it. They know. Big Brother is watching.

Leaving a review on your own listing, this is another one. Seems like a no-brainer but definitely want to repeat it and stress what that means. Amazon tracks you using the IP address. If your seller account has logged into your home IP address, that means you should not be leaving a review from that IP address. They will catch you. They know that IP address has been on your seller account. If you go to your mom’s house and you have worked from her home on your seller account and you asked your mom to leave a review, they know that your seller account has logged into that IP address, so now your mom cannot leave a review.

That’s another thing to keep in mind is even when you’re asking friends and family to leave these reviews, you have to understand if your seller account has logged into those IP addresses, that does raise a red flag with Amazon and they will send you a pretty scary letter where they’ll say, “We’ve seen that you’re messing with the reviews. You’re messing with the terms of service. This is your warning.” Amazon’s known to send those warnings but at the same time, you don’t want to risk it. You never know if they’re going to stop sending warnings and start suspending accounts, so something to keep in mind.

Another one is paying people on Fiverr to leave a review. This is not just for Fiverr, but that was the first one I thought of. It could be any site like that. Amazon is able to find that out. It’s the same thing with the review groups on Facebook, just don’t do it. Another one I see is an image in sales copy can get you in trouble as well. Mentioning your competitors or other brands that aren’t yours, you’re not allowed to do that. If you have a makeup brand that you run and you mentioned that it’s similar to MAC or it’s similar to another brand, you can get in trouble and they will take that listing down until you fix it.

That’s one thing to keep in mind. Breaking any image rules like no white background. Your main image has to have a white background. If they catch it without a white background, they can take down your listing until you fix it. That’s one thing a lot of people think they can get away with. People do get away with it but then all of a sudden, your account will be suspended and then Amazon, they’re not very fast guys, they’re not going to fix your problem as quickly as you would like. Just avoid doing it. Try to get that white background image that fits your product, that works for you. That would be my biggest recommendation. Mentioning your website, email address, phone number anywhere, don’t do it. Amazon will find it. I know a lot of people try to sneak their website or their email address on those auto-responders and in those PDFs that you can attach. Amazon does have a system that does scrape those PDFs and make sure that there’s no website in there, that there is no email in there.

If Amazon does catch you, they could suspend your account or take down your listing until that issue has been solved. Just make sure you are paying attention to those Amazon terms of service. You don’t want to get on Amazon’s bad side. You don’t want to be getting those warning letters because the reality is Amazon won’t forget that. They won’t forget that you broke that rule once or twice or maybe three times. Eventually, you’ll run out of warnings. That’s what I’m trying to say. That’s the big mistake number five is ignoring Amazon terms of service. Do not do it. That’s our five big mistakes. If you have any questions at all, it can be about this presentation I gave or it can be about Amazon in general, I’ve had a few of you guys reach out to me. I appreciate it. I love helping you. Please email me if you have any questions about your Amazon account or need any advice. Please reach out to me.

PLH 82 | Amazon Mistakes Brands Make

Amazon Mistakes Brands Make: Just make sure you are paying attention to Amazon’s Terms of Service. You don’t want to get on Amazon’s bad side.

Erin asked, “Jenna, do you think Amazon is working with Facebook? It has the ability to see our Facebook Messenger messages.” I’m not sure about that. From my understanding, Amazon is working with Facebook in the sense that the data on customers, they are watching those groups. These groups that are marked private are not really private. I’m sure we all know that about the internet. As for Facebook Messenger, I’m not sure about that. I would recommend being a little cautious, but I feel if a customer’s messaging you or anything like that, you’re already off of Amazon. It shouldn’t be an issue. Did that answer your question or are you referring to maybe messaging someone in those review groups or can you maybe explain it a little bit more?

What I was asking is previously my other listing. I was asking people to review swaps. I secretly did it within the Facebook Messenger but I deleted the conversations after the review. Do they have the ability to see the track record of what they’ve done after we’ve deleted it?

There’s potential that Amazon could eventually find that out. I heard this at Prosper that Amazon has been cracking down on those groups that they are able to see stuff, which is crazy. I would recommend not doing it because I do think there’s a connection there with Facebook and with Amazon. The big recommendation would be to try to avoid doing anything like that.

I’m not doing that anymore. I’m focusing mostly on building a subscriber list, launching it and then getting reviews from people that have raised their hand already in my subscriber list.

What are they saying now? They’re saying emails have about a 20% open rate, but those ManyChat messages on Facebook are up to 80% or 90% open. That’s incredible that you’re doing that. I would definitely recommend running some engagement stuff there. Maybe some contests for some reviews. Definitely, use that to your advantage with ManyChat because that is an incredible tool for sure.

Thank you. I appreciate it.

Do we have any questions or anything?

I think that’s it, Jenna. Thank you so much.

Thank you so much. Have a great day and I’m looking forward to the next one.

Tune in to Jenna’s next Office Hours. Connect with and find out more about Jenna in our Experts Directory.

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