Jana Pfeiffer November 24, 2020 6 Minutes
Categories: Ecommerce | Ecommerce Marketing
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Since 2013, you have been professionally active in the Amazon cosmos and have become one of the experts for Amazon and Amazon SEO in Germany. What made you leave your original career path and start as an Amazon expert? Tell us something about your vision.

After 10 years in the Bundeswehr, I was discharged for health reasons. Therefore, it was rather not a direct decision. My wife at the time always searched diligently in the surrounding area for companies and jobs. In anticipation of the second child, we actually just went to the open day of the Jöllenbeck GmbH. When I realized they produced gaming accessories, the application was quickly in the mailbox. Marketing and purchasing were the possible positions. In the end, I became the interface manager between sales, purchasing and marketing, so to speak, and was allowed to develop packaging and instructions, conceptualize texts and images, and also participate in sourcing. All thanks to a perfectly built team around it. The only thing I didn't think about was optimizing everything on the shelves of the stationary trade, and I opened Pandora's box... That's how I came to the topic of Amazon. 2 years later I was allowed to join the freshly founded agency factor-a as its first employee. We grew quickly because I was able to get into the absolute depth of the vendor side for 2 years. As a product manager with all the areas around it, I knew where the shoe pinches and how to solve this interorganizationally (fortunately I had also studied something like that) and implement for Amazon.

The next step on the bucket list for Amazon followed - I started at KW-Commerce - a very successful seller. Everything runs differently there - that was new - but also marked by success. Personally, I then had to quit - but instead of finding peace, I went into self-employment. Bucket List - become an Amazon Coach - also achieved. Sold my own products, with cooperations it also went very well and I noticed that there are a lot of things going wrong in the industry - unfortunately until today. There are some random guys telling something and pretending to be the kings - talking a lot of crap and can't prove or implement anything - that's when I realized what I actually want. Helping people to help themselves was the motto of my work. I just want to show everyone else how to solve something - I always leave the implementation and the knowledge to the other person. Over time it became apparent that data rarely lie and that's how I came to AMALYZE - in the end it was the perfect complement to my way of thinking. And so my bucket list ended up being completed with a tool for Amazon. Only I didn't work on Amazon itself - but I don't see that as a necessary approach to have a clue about it 😉

Anyone who wants to successfully sell products on Amazon is often confronted with a multitude of instructions, tips and tricks. Which topics would you take particularly seriously? And which topics are often neglected in your opinion? 

Products must also be in demand and solve some specific problem. But then you also have to communicate that. In some cases, no value at all is placed on the customer and their needs.

The price point is absolutely important - but not a toy. Price structures in demand show up on the different SERPs depending on the search term - surely you can't just ignore that!?

If you need to advertise on Amazon to sell, you have a different set of problems. Unfortunately, ADs are seen as an all-purpose weapon - but they only destroy your margin. Here the necessary expertise in the use of the means and their evaluation is missing. Actually, advertising on Amazon should be the last resort, not the first. Game theory clearly shows where the advantage of all merchants would lie - turn off all the advertising and you would all benefit in total.

Most failing approaches could have been prevented by upstream analysis. This is absolutely neglected. Independent research for solutions is also virtually non-existent - people rely on posts in social media without checking what would be the appropriate solution in their own area.
If something doesn't work, it's always Amazon's fault or the customer's fault and you switch to a new product. It is forgotten that Amazon is only the end of the food chain - this is where you eat - inspiration, browsing, demand creation - all this takes place outside. The Amazon marketplace is limited in its search volume. But the customers are out there everywhere!

I'm less concerned with what is neglected - more concerned with what is over-prioritized. On the one hand advertising and on the other hand ratings. Data speak now times clearly against the whole valuation hype. In particular, the pure quantity does not matter - even Amazon has shown this with its own data. From 20 reviews, the maximum of additional conversion is reached. We have already commented on this in so many ways - but other formats will certainly have more information on this in the future. I would just like to explicitly point out how currently ratings are generated, shows that it only serves to influence the sales algorithm - that is, to buy products via certain words - the rating is only a means to an end but not the actual goal.

The product is available on Amazon, but sales are not increasing as steadily as desired. The product also ranks very low in searches. What next steps can be taken to further increase sales?

First of all, the question is why someone assumes that sales have to increase steadily? Market saturation, absolute lack of better representation of the added values, one product of many, so how do you stand out at all?
Why does everyone think you can just list clothespins and after a few days or weeks, yes, your own clothespins must be the only ones customers buy?
There are so many different customers walking through the marketplace every day - no one can meet all their needs.
A ranking far below is rarely a problem, filters and further formulated keywords push you quickly back to the top for good articles. Do I want to appear with a 20€ average price keyword with 50€ products? Where customers buy cheap or want to have mainly red, I have to look as a seller of a blue, 50 € product now times nothing. Here often lies the error in the assumption that I must appear under a certain word at all high up.
Increasing sales should never actually come before increasing profits. Advertising out and often much better. Better images and content and already more customers are converting with "equally bad" findability. Building external awareness is much more important than a position on Amazon. "Pinterest-ready" is currently almost mandatory. You have to play on the daily interaction channels - if you manage to stand out, to please, to create a need or to be perceived as a brand, people will automatically search - then it doesn't matter if Shopify or Amazon or worst Ebay - the customer will search until he finds you.

Content, performance and relevance factors - Amazon's ranking algorithm takes a number of influencing factors into account when deciding which product to display at the top of organic search results. What is the best SEO strategy to rank as high as possible with your products?

You simply have to be relevant at the time of the query. However, many forget the simplicity of A9. Quite a lot of customers interact in a certain way and search results pages are simply the sum of all interaction. A bit of magic to see if the product is in stock nearby, a bit of performance factors to the retailer and item mixed in - done. To be honest, that changes quite frequently as well. SERP volatility - that is, the changeability of search results is then the result of the many different tastes or buying intentions that hit Amazon products every day. The easiest way is to analyze the search queries whether you want to belong there and whether the price fits. Then the search query should best still be presented exactly in the order in your own content. Everything else develops only over a lot of time - means you need patience. To push yourself up somewhere in the short term with external means, or with advertising, is not a long-term effective approach.

Once products are for sale on Amazon, there are a variety of advertising options that help products rank as high as possible in search results. What process would you recommend to sellers regarding Amazon PPC campaigns? 

Advertising should always be just another means - but not the first and not the only means to present products in a sales-promoting way. You must never forget - a bad product is then just an advertised bad product. No bid in the world will improve your broken conversion rate. Never mess with the bid - there's no point - and which way are you playing anyway? Up or down? That's when you're more successful in the casino!

Calculating the margin and the possible bids is absolutely important. Your maximum investable amount for advertising times the conversion rate of the article should be your approximate average click price. But also only with the goal of financing advertising media from the product margin.
Furthermore, it is helpful to always calculate all advertising costs of the Amazon channel against all sales in the Amazon channel. So you get a better picture of the situation. The costs per orders are my favorite. Values such as ACOS and ROAS are absolutely misrepresented by Amazon both as a vendor and for sellers - so these numbers are useless, especially since worse values can often show more profit at the other end.
You also have to split advertising. Keyword-based, product-based and automatic. Supported around the fundamental division by self-protection, competitors and generic areas. Approaches that tell you you have to go from automatic to broad to phrase and exact, unfortunately have no idea. Every good tool can immediately show which keywords are relevant or where the sales of other or own articles come from - so why wait forever and take opportunities with negative keywords, when you can start directly above great advertising.
Last but not least - always develop solutions for your articles and don't copy other approaches.

You have many years of experience in e-commerce and have advised many sellers and vendors on how to use Amazon. What are your key learnings that you have been able to gather lately? Looking back, what do you wish you had known earlier?

I think the most important thing is that nothing has really changed in the last 7 years. The problems are the same, the approaches to solving them are still the same and the team structures are absolutely understaffed. Everyone wants to make money, but no one really wants to work sustainably for it and get deeply involved in the matter or train and hire employees for it. Failure is blamed on Amazon and the customer or on Far Eastern competitors, but the company's own search for solutions and reflection on cause and effect are missing.
However, this is also an advantage - so much remains to be done to pass on the necessary self-help to the sellers and vendors.

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