As you’ve probably heard by now Amazon has changed its policies regarding whether or not you as a private label seller can ask for a review on your product in exchange for a discount on the product. What Amazon has said is, “No, you can't.” that's going to be a problem for many private label sellers because they have centered their entire product launch sequence around the allowance of reviews for a discount. So how does this impact the way we go about launching a new private label product on Amazon? That’s what this roundtable discussion with Scott Voelker, Chris Shaffer, and Dom Sugar is all about. The guys chat about the actual policy change, what it means for product launches, and why in some ways, it’s a better thing for the private label community overall. You can hear the entire conversation on this episode of the Amazing Seller podcast.
The recent Amazon review changes actually level the playing field for all private label sellers.
It’s important to look at the recent changes to Amazon’s review policies from the perspective of a brand new seller. Before this change the climb to a successful product launch was made very difficult because competitors with bigger budgets were able to invest lots of cash in building reviews through giving huge discounts to potential customers in exchange for a review. But now, Amazon has removed that possibility so everyone is required to launch their product without the benefit of huge discounts in exchange for a review. In short, the big boys in any niche now have to deal with the same limits as the little guys. You can hear more insights into the ways the little guy seller benefits from the recent Amazon review changes, on this episode.
“I don’t care about reviews, I care about sales!”
The strategy of getting lots of reviews on Amazon for your products is meant to build the social proof for the value and quality of your products. That way more people will possibly feel comfortable buying your product because others have done so, and are happy with it. But that’s all assuming that more reviews equal more sales. But it’s not always the case. Scott has interviewed plenty of sellers who have launched and gotten a huge jump on product sales without any reviews. On this episode, both Chris and Dom agree that sales are much more important than reviews, not only because sales put cash in your pocket but also because sales are what causes your product to rank higher in the Amazon search results. Reviews don’t do either of those things for you. Find out more about how the guys view this Amazon policy change, on this episode.
Why did Amazon make its change to the review policies?
Everything Amazon does is to increase the ability of sellers to sell quality products. That’s how Amazon makes its money, through sales of truly helpful, high-quality products. The recent changes to the “review in exchange for a discount” policy is aimed at making sure that the reviews given for products actually reflect the product quality, instead of being done in exchange for a personal benefit to the reviewer. That should enable the reviews on any product listing to be more honest, giving potential buyers more assurance that the products they buy from Amazon are something they will be happy with. Amazon will have fewer return issues and the platform itself will become better trusted and more effective. But the change will require sellers to come up with new ways to launch their products and use reviews effectively. You can hear how Scott, Chris, and Dom are thinking about the issue at this point, on this episode of The Amazing Seller.
If you’re going to run your own private label business, you’ve got to learn how to flex with the changes.
As with any business, Amazon private label sellers have to learn how to adjust to the market and selling platform changes. Amazon will never be a static sales platform, meaning that Amazon will always be tweaking its algorithm and policies to increase sales and make their business more trusted and secure. As a seller on Amazon, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with those changes each time they are made in order for YOUR business to remain viable and healthy. On this episode of The Amazing Seller, Scott’s hosting a roundtable discussion with a couple of guys who have been working in private label sales for a long time. They’re discussing the recent changes and the types of pivots sellers will have to make as a result. Be sure you listen. You’re sure to hear things that you hadn’t thought of yet.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to the podcast and his buddies Chris and Dom!
- [2:47] What did Amazon do to change their review policies?
- [6:05] Dom’s thoughts about the news once he had time to think it through.
- [9:00] How this change levels the playing field.
- [11:43] Why Chris and Dom don’t care about reviews and the impact this change has.
- [23:35] Why Amazon made this change: to stop people from abusing the system.
- [28:15] This change is going to help you do more accurate product research.
- [32:10] Why you’ll have to change email follow up sequences as a result of this change.
- [36:30] Scott’s idea about how to change his approach to his own review club.
- [41:51] Why this change is not as dramatic as it first appears.
- [47:00] Why an email list is the single biggest asset in your business.
- [49:00] The vine program: What is it and how to do you get into it?
TRANSCRIPT TAS 267
TAS 267 : The Future of Reviews and Amazon Sellers (Round Table)
[00:00:03] Scott: Well hey, hey what’s up everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is episode number 267 and today we’re going to talk once again about the future of Amazon reviews and I am joined by my good friends…
[read more=”Read full transcript…” less=”Read less”]
…Chris Shaffer and Dom Sugar once again because this just happened. We wanted to hop on a call and really kind of air it out and go through the thought process and what we agree on and what we don’t agree on and you’ll hear that in this roundtable discussion. I think it’s really, really important to understand that right now, yes, things are changing but there’s different ways to go about launching even though this is happening and that’s what we talk about.
Now, I did want to remind you I did an episode with Chris Shaffer not too long ago, a couple of days ago, actually a few days ago now. I’m going to link that up in the show notes and you can find the show notes by heading over to theamazingseller.com/267 and you can get the transcripts there as well. There was kind of an emergency kind of podcast post there that I did and I posted it up there so there’s not even an episode number for that. Literally we did it last minute. It was just a bonus and if you want to listen to that just go over to the show notes to this particular episode and you’ll find the link to that recording. Again, it was the day after we heard this news.
But I did want to just say that this isn’t the end of the world. It’s not like the end of your business. It’s not the end of launching products on Amazon. It’s going to level the playing field which you’re going to hear us talk about and it’s just going to change things. So, it’s like any business, things happen, things change, we have to adapt, we have to pivot. I’m going to stop talking now so you can listen to this conversation, this in-depth conversation that I had with Chris Shaffer and Dom Sugar, all about the future of Amazon reviews.
[00:01:48] Scott: Hey everyone. Welcome to this emergency Facebook Live because you guys have probably already heard the big breaking news from Amazon and what we want to do here today is jump on. We were going to wait till Friday but we said you know what, we probably should jump on and do this discussion and I wanted to bring on Chris Shaffer and Dom Sugar and kind of get their thoughts and opinions and kind of just talk through this. I think there’s really no game plan here but maybe what we could do also is if you’re on Facebook Live or on Periscope, go ahead and share this.
Let other people maybe know about what we’re going to talk about because this is breaking news, really it is. It just came out… Yesterday was the official announcement and then from there everybody just started blowing up. We want to address it, if you have questions obviously put in there. There’s going to be a ton flying in so just bear with us.
We are just kind of going to go through our random thoughts of what we’re thinking about this; the good, the bad and the ugly. Chris, you want to get started with your thoughts and maybe we can also maybe walk through… Why don’t we start with this? Walk through… You’re probably not prepared for this, I’m sorry. Can we pull up the actual… There’s the statement that Amazon gave us and maybe while you’re doing that maybe we can get Dom’s thoughts on this announcement. What we can do is read through the actual verbiage in a sense and see exactly what they’re saying unless you want to just give us the cliff notes. I know you read through it a dozen times.
[00:03:18] Chris: Yeah, I’m going to have to give you the clip notes because with all the software running it doesn’t like when I change windows.
[00:03:23] Scott: Yeah, that’s fine.
[00:03:25] Chris: We don’t want to crash the emergency Facebook Live.
[00:03:27] Scott: Exactly.
[00:03:28] Chris: Regular Facebook Live is fine, the emergency one, that’s not so good.
[00:03:30] Scott: The emergency one is important.
[00:03:32] Chris: Basically they updated terms of service to say as a reviewer, you can no longer create, modify or encourage anything that comes from a paid source, including giveaways. The way that this was phrased before is essentially you can’t do it if you’re being paid but you can do it in the case of receiving the product in exchange for a review. So they don’t want you to create a review, edit a review, do any of those kinds of things if you got the product in exchange for a review.
I think after reading both the terms of service change and the statement that was published through TechCrunch and some of the other publications that are out there that that word exchange really is the key to that because basically what they’re saying is they don’t want people to feel obligated to give a review just because they got a discount on a product. Let’s be honest and I said this on the emergency podcast that we threw together earlier on this same topic they don’t want you to basically be able to pick and choose who gets that discount and therefore get the review because they don’t view that as actually an unbiased opinion. They ran through studies and did some of these things and saw that reviews with a disclaimer were much higher than the average review on Amazon. This is kind of their reaction to that.
I would say that they specifically came out today and inside your seller central account you should be able to see some FAQ. I know the Jungle Scout Blog post was updated this morning with this as well that you can still do promotions and discounts you just can’t do it in exchange for the review. One of the worries that a lot of the sellers had yesterday when this came out, they kind of just dropped this in the afternoon without much context, was that you wouldn’t be able to even do discounts and promos and some of those kinds of things. They’ve said no, you can still do that but you just can’t require that anybody leave you a review in exchange for the discount or promo.
[00:05:20] Chris: It makes your feedback sequence all that much more important and if you have a list, and you and I talked about this a little earlier, review groups are just lists. It’s a very convenient way for us as sellers to be able to launch to a list. If you have your own list it makes it even easier than it was before. I don’t view this as a massive tectonic shift and I said that earlier as well, I do see this as a change and I think it’s going to benefit the more serious people, the people who are treating this like a business. I think long term you’ll see the benefits shake out for the people who really want to build and launch and grow, not just on Amazon but beyond Amazon as well. You’re going to have start picking up skills that translate both on and off Amazon as you start to grow your business.
[00:06:05] Scott: Yeah Dom, what was your first reaction, “Holy crap!” I mean, that’s one of them. What’s the other one? After you started to process what had happened because that’s kind of what happened to me too. I’m like, “Oh my gosh, what does this mean?” We can’t go out and solicit reviews anymore… And that’s my phone going off here. Hold on here, that might have disrupted the Periscope. No, we’re back. That was my son calling here. Hold on here, we’re going to have to decline him.
Sorry Scotty, you just got declined. For you Dom, what was the process? I know it was a shock at first but then you start thinking about… You’ve been through this before, this type of stuff. You’ve been doing this for over 15 years. You even said it, “Amazon has done it’s changes, other platforms have done their changes, Google’s done their changes.” And it’s always like, “Wow, what up, what I’m I going to do?” Where is it now that everything has kind of settled in your brain?
[00:07:12] Dom: At first it was like a big “whoopty doo” something’s change again but this was the bad boy, this is big news. Whatever the other little ones change here, change there but I mean this is Amazon gate, right, Watergate. This is $10 million worth of jewels being stolen and UK firm are asking news. Actually, I have one of my buddies here, he wants to talk about if for two seconds because it’s so break news-y. “Hello, Kermit the frog here, with Sesame Street News!” Anyways, see how big it is. Even he knows about it. He wants to do a big update today. He called me, he said, “Listen this is big news.” So Kermi knows about it then it’s big news.
[00:08:15] Scott: You never know what Dom’s going to do that’s what I will say. Dom is still laughing and smiling.
[00:08:20] Chris: That’s how you know we’re live, that just happened.
[00:08:23] Scott: Yeah, that just happened, we know we’re live. I couldn’t even filter that out and have a delay button on that.
[00:08:29] Chris: Wirecast lets us do that, so we’ll have to set that up.
[00:08:37] Dom: Yeah, you know what, it’s part of it. It’s definitely a game changer. That’s the first thing I said to you when I emailed, this is a game changer. Definitely it’s going to change it up. I don’t want to go over this for the half an hour, hour we’re going to be on here. I have a whole rant that I want to go through but I don’t even know if I can get through it all. There’s just so much that’s of interest to me versus what’s out there already. We’ve just got to pivot, that’s the big thing again. It’s going to make it a better playing field, we won’t have to spend as much money on reviews anymore.
[00:09:12] Scott: Let me cut in there real quick because I think we can break this down into all those little bits of rants that you have. The first thing you just said it’s going to level the playing field, okay. I think that’s important because I think people with huge budgets, they’re spending thousands of dollars a month on reviews and giveaways, like every single month. How do you compete with that? It’s harder. Now, for us, I think it’s an advantage because then we can go ahead and we can create our own list. We can create our own way of launching our products and you can still go after people for reviews. You just have to do it in a different way.
You can’t put out there, “Download the coupon here to receive 50% off if you leave a review.” If you say that, wrong, can’t do that but if I just gave a 50% discount and I just advertise that on Facebook and someone lands on my page and then they say, “Yeah, I’d love to do that.” They opt in, they put their email address in. Now they’re on that list. On the thank you page I might give them the coupon code but nowhere does it say I’m giving you this because I want you to give me a review. That cannot be in there but now if we do that on the backend of that, we can then follow up with them and say, “Hey, thank you so much, really appreciate you investing in your new garlic press. If you have any questions let us know and by the way here’s a pdf with 10 recipes.”
Nothing’s changed there and then on the backend of that we can the say, maybe on a third or fourth day email we can say, “Hey, just checking back in again, want to make sure that everything came as promised, if you have any questions… By the way, could you do me a quick favor, could you head over to Amazon and let them know how I did for you? Let them know by giving us a feedback or a review, that would be really, really awesome of you. Thank you so much.” See, I didn’t dangle the review has to be there because if they don’t give me a review it’s okay. Is that how you’re interpreting it Dom?
[00:11:04] Dom: Well, I mean to be honest, I think they’re blanketing everything. If you’re not part of the vine club… You have two options for reviews, vine club, their products whatever is running on their vine program if you’re a vine reviewer. Two if you buy the item without a discount organically you can leave reviews. If you give any type of discount, doesn’t matter how you do it whether…
[00:11:27] Scott: I don’t agree with that.
[00:11:31] Chris: This is the conversation Dom and I were starting to have last night when he told his lovely wife that he and I were going at it and throwing hay makers. We were really just yelling at each other via text on Skype but it’s one of those things where quite honestly we don’t know that yet but even if they say you can’t use promos, you can’t get a review from a promotion which it doesn’t sound like they’re doing when they cleared that up a little bit today, you could always launch at a lower price.
[00:11:59] Dom: That’s true.
[00:12:00] Chris: You could launch at 5 or 10 bucks. What they don’t want you to do is they don’t want you to pick and choose who gets the discount or who gets the promotion. If you launch at 10 bucks or you launch at 20 with 50% you don’t need a coupon offer because Dom one of your concerns with launching a 10 is that drives the price down for everybody but if you launched with you don’t need a coupon thing because you can run those promos where you don’t need a redemption code when they add it to cart. It’s just 10 bucks.
[00:12:29] Dom: That’s right, I do that on some stuff already but…
[00:12:32] Chris: If you can drive any traffic to that then you get what matters. Here’s the thing and you and I settled on this last night. I like the review. The review helps drive conversion rate but I don’t care. What I want is sales, right and there’s 100 other ways to get sales. The reason that at the front end of the launch process and I see some questions like, “Scotty, you got to come up with a new launch process.” The reason that the reviews are in the front of that is that it boosts your conversion rate for all of those other things that you do; PPC and organic sales and all of those kinds of things but the sales are what really drives everything.
If you do a giveaway and you happen to get a BSR boost and you end up on page one for garlic press but you’re not selling and you’re not converting, you don’t stay on page one for garlic press. You have to get those sales once you’re there. If you move up organically and Scott I told you this this morning, my first two products, we didn’t launch with reviews this way because we didn’t know that this way existed.
[00:13:32] Scott: There was a bunch of people in the Facebook page saying that they launched a product without any reviews and they’re doing great. I have someone that’s actually a lost episode that I just found that’s going to be posted this following Monday or this coming Monday and that guy launched with only 5 products, like 5 pieces and he didn’t have any reviews. It doesn’t mean you have to. I also think it’s going to be a little bit different as far as how you select the products that you might be launching. It might be going after products that don’t have the 500 to 1,000 reviews, like that could be it.
Dom, you and I both talked a little bit yesterday about this. Like you said, maybe what you do is you launch at a lower price point and then you’re driving sales there and then through your follow up you’re still going to get the email sequence that you’re going to send through there where people can leave a review. My I guess challenge here is to really think about that is what Dom just said. If you receive a discount, you can’t leave a review. I don’t agree with that because what happens if I have a little section in the promo box down below where they want us to give away a discount and they go ahead and they buy a product on one of my other listings and they start going through my follow up sequence, they can’t leave a review? That doesn’t make any sense to me.
[00:14:51] Dom: They’re obviously going to know that it’s an inside channel. Like what we’ve been doing before is we put the add-to-cart coupon. 15 bucks, we’ll take 5 off. The problem is that when that shows to the consumer, they don’t see that 5 dollars off because you can’t put it in your title or in your picture. Until they go into your listing and see your second picture or your first bullet point then they’ll know it’s on sale. But you’re right, if you’re going to have a 30% off, people buy two things off us all the time, 2 to 3 things and we give them 15% off but that’s internal they’re using that coupon. It’s generated there.
[00:15:25] Scott: But if I have my own source of traffic and I offer a 20% off discount because I want to help my customers out, you’re saying that 100 of those people that went go over and buy can’t buy because they got 20% discount?
[00:15:39] Dom: Right now, this is me there’s a million people going to have a thing. I’m thinking when they put the foot down for this, it means any discounts and I think they’re going to cap it somewhere. If it’s over 25% you’re not leaving any reviews…
[00:15:51] Scott: That may be so, that I agree with. That may be so but I don’t think that any discount at all is where they’re going to put the foot down. But again, we’re talking about like in the initial launch phase, we’re just trying to get that established base of reviews but now if we have a sale price… Are you saying if we have our manufactured retail price, our selling price and then our sale price as we’ve done before and it’s got the little scratch out through it and we do that, do you think that people can leave the review if they buy through the sale price?
[00:16:19] Dom: Yeah, of course they can because that’s not a discount.
[00:116:22] Scott: I’m just asking, I’m just asking because if we discount that we can play with it that way too.
[00:16:27] Dom: You could, that’s what I said. It’s all going to be entry point and PPC now. You come at a low entry point, the problem with doing that is your competitors come down so that’s one issue. Your PPC is going to be higher obviously because you’re going to be putting more into it but that’s one way to do it or you put it at a regular price, offer a code internally that marks it down, throw something on your second page that says, “Buy now, $10 off.” Put it in your top bullet point, play around with that. Again it’s all going to matter on what category you’re going in. If there’s only three of us selling it, no problem, you don’t need a review. I have told Chris that yesterday. I don’t really care about reviews. I care about my feedback and I want my sales so I can move my own keywords up.
[00:17:10] Scott: True.
[00:17:12] Dom: I’ll be honest, I got a product right now, it sold 50 things already I didn’t give a giveaway, I don’t even have one feedback and I sold 50 things in a week. The problem is that’s the issue right there, the organic buyer doesn’t leave reviews. For two years we’ve been a community that’s been teaching the culture of let’s give reviews, you just give a product away for reviews, that’s going to turn into the value of your product, it’s going give you some ranking which is going to turn into sales, your conversion and give you the reviews.
Now we’re totally scrapping that out after two years, it’s a big pivot point for everybody. Now, we’re going to have to figure out a new plan to do it. There’s going to be lots of ways to do it, you just got to figure out some way that’s inside the terms of service and again until we know all of them, I don’t know if it’s 50%, 25%, no coupon, the way they worded it is no coupons. If you give a coupon you’re not going to be able to leave a review which I see it’s kind of harsh or harmful…
[00:18:17] Chris: Well, that’s not what it says though.
[00:18:19] Scott: It doesn’t say that Dom. What it says it’s basically if you give a discount in exchange for a review, you can’t do that. Where is the line there, I don’t know.
[00:18:32] Dom: What did I just say? Sorry, that’s what I just meant. You can’t give in exchange. You can’t give any type of discount in exchange for a review…
[00:18:40] Chris: Meaning that there’s an expectation of that review. I’m not trying to crap on your ideas but I’m basing that on the way the FTC has always described that. For those you guys who don’t know, the whole review disclaimer thing is not an Amazon policy, it never was. It’s a Federal Trade Commission, the US Federal Trade Commission policy and it was a big deal a couple of years ago with bloggers who were getting products in exchange for review which is the same thing. The expectation was that you would live an unbiased review so they had to create this disclaimer that said, “I receive this product in exchange for my unbiased review.” Amazon adopted that as part of their terms of service.
If there’s no that exchange there, I don’t know why they wouldn’t and the reason I say that Dom is twofold. One, they very specifically said that you still can give products away in exchange for a review if you use vine so they clearly do allow some discounts but the other one is it doesn’t make sense for them to axe all reviews on any discounted price ever because then if I buy something on a Lightning Deal as a regular consumer, I can’t leave a review. If I get a 20% off coupon from that seller I can’t leave a review. It takes out real reviews which they don’t want as well. I don’t think they’re going to come back and say no reviews ever but even if they do, you touched on a good point, sales are the driving factor.
[00:19:57] Dom: What you’re talking about though… Lightning deal’s internal, your coupon code internal your discount. These are internal not external sources. That’s not driving a Facebook page, that’s not using your list.
[00:20:09] Chris: There’s no such thing as an external promo code, it’s an internal promo code.
[00:20:14] Dom: I don’t know how to explain it. You’re giving these out for the purpose for a third party to use it…
[00:20:23] Scott: Right, but how would they know that a third party had got…? They’re going into the platform, they’re buying it through the coupon that was issued by Amazon so whether it’s done through there or through the actual listing itself how they got there, they ended up on the platform somehow.
[00:20:39] Dom: If it’s giving away one a week they won’t know but if you’re doing 50 in one day and 25 the next day…
[00:20:46] Scott: Again I think that again comes down to I think we’ve all talked about that, to give away that many that fast in any time is kind of risky.
[00:20:56] Dom: I mean it sold even 25, even 30, just say 20 a day then, 10 a day, 10, 10, 10 for 7, 8 days it’s still 80, they’re going to know you’re giving away the coupon codes even if you don’t get one review, you know what I’m saying. I get what you’re saying okay, lighting deal’s controlled by them. If you want to buy from lightning deal, you leave your feedback on the product whether it’s one cent or $1,000 but they control that. They don’t control the review but they control the product being on sale and what the discount is.
[00:21:25] Scott: I think there’s a lot of speculation, that’s what I think. I think no one knows and you have to think about what does Amazon want? Sales. The review isn’t there for Amazon, the review is there for our customers that come there that trust the product to buy the product and turn into a sale and that’s where the ranking come from. Chris, you and I talked about that this morning. To get ranked, it’s all about sales. It’s not about the review, it’s about the sale.
[00:21:50] Dom: But Scott, Chris, that’s what the issue is. This is what I think, the consumer said to Amazon, “Hey, everytime I go into these products from these private labels,” they don’t go private labels, they’re going to go, “why don’t I see this honest review for a feedback?”
[00:22:02] Scott: Exactly.
[00:22:04] Dom: “I want to get it for free, why do I have to pay for it. If they don’t say that, it’s okay, wait a minute there’s 800 reviews and 700 of them are like this and only 100 people rank, I don’t really trust this product anymore. I’m not going to buy it off amazon.” That’s what the consumer said to Amazon. And Amazon will go and say, “Okay, we’ll make it, if you don’t spend $5 on your account you can’t leave a review.” That doesn’t work. Three weeks later, okay, you’ve got to spend $50 dollars. That didn’t work. Jeff Bezos comes in and says that’s it, nothing, sorry, no reviews unless you’re part of my vine. Next week, “Hey, you want to be part of the vine group? It’s $2,500.” That’s the process, you understand what I’m saying.
That’s what I think’s going to happen but it’s a consumer that’s mad because they go to Sony and Apple and there all really nice reviews and then they come to a garlic press and it’s all the same stuff, over and over and over. Every product you turn to, “I want the garlic press with the oversized bag garlic press but was sold together.” That’s what it is. Consumers just spoke it out and Amazon said, “Okay, just like Birkenstock pulled out. We have to do something about it.” They panicked, they come in, they help and then they… It’s for one, two days you get a hype like this and I think it just kind of eases off and then they’ll change it again in six months from now, something to implement but it’s fully for the consumer.
[00:23:24] Scott: 100% it is and you know again as much as it puts a little kink in the process, it is the best thing that they probably could do to eliminate people abusing it. I mean for us you might say, “I don’t abuse it. I only give out 100 units and that’s all and then after that that’s all organic.” That might be so but there’s people out there that are hammering it just like hijackers. It’s like hijackers come in, they do this, we make a change and it’s always going to be that way when you have people coming in trying to manipulate the system.
My whole philosophy moving in the beginning here into this process wasn’t about technically manipulating, it was getting the ball rolling so this way here we can start to get our organic sales and then go ahead and get our organic reviews that can come in naturally. I know you said no one leaves them. There’s some people that leave them, it’s just not the 80% ratio that we’re used to seeing on a review club.
[00:24:20] Chris: And if you test and tweak those emails, you can raise that percentage significantly, just ask Bill Strutwall. He managed to go through some testing on his… Looks like we got booted off Facebook Live, so yay for that. We’ll post this Periscope in the comment section there.
[00:24:35] Scott: How did that happen?
[00:24:37] Chris: Facebook crashed, it happens. We’re not the only people this week that have had that issue but I think that’s the key. You’re not going to get the same percentage but you’re still are going to get reviews. And like we’ve said over and over and over again, it’s not about the reviews itself. It’s about the sales that you get from being in those keyword positions. Sales are what drives that. Don’t get me wrong, reviews help drive sales, they’re a conversion factor, period, no question, end of story but that doesn’t mean you don’t get sales without reviews. It happens all the time…
[00:25:13] Scott: I think it depends on the product though too. I mean if the product that you’re going up against only has 8 reviews… I’ve seen products right now that I’ve looked into that don’t have couple reviews, three reviews and they still getting 300 sales a month. Some products aren’t dependent on the reviews because the competition doesn’t have the reviews in place. That’s where you’re going to run into that problem and that’s where it will become hard. Let me ask you this Dom, do you think that they’re going to go back and they’re going to get rid of reviews that have the disclaimer in there?
[00:25:49] Dom: I would imagine so. If you tried to do it within the last couple of days, sneak them in, those are definitely. I don’t know how far they’ll grandfather in but they may a little bit but they already did that, remember? That was the last panic, the last biggest…
[00:26:00] Scott: I had people as asking me that today through email.
[00:26:03] Dom: I think if you did a few launches the last couple of days thinking, “Okay, I’m going to get these in before they…” They’re definitely going to take them off you but back to the reviews, again I mean you don’t need one review to sell anything, I get that but it’s a comfort, it’s a sleeping blanket. You want to have that page filled up so when the consumer comes to your product, it looks like you have social acceptance with your product and that was the whole basis of it which will make people want to buy stuff. Again, I’ve already proven to myself that I don’t need that and this just happened, just fluke that we sold a bunch of stuff.
But again, my concern is that to fill that space up, not even my own customers and I have a 3, 4 step process which has worked brilliantly over time, we’ve tweaked it, we’ve played it. It’s just generally they want to buy the stuff. I do it myself. I buy from a website, I just delete it, I don’t even leave feedback and I’m asking other people to leave me buying off Amazon and I just delete it. I know people just do it, they just can’t be bothered. They walk in the store, you just walk into Best Buy, you’re leaving, “How was everything today, everything good? Hold on sir, is everything all right? You want to fill out the survey?”
[00:27:08] Chris: Dom, they do that, they do it via email though.
[00:27:12] Dom: Yeah they do but all the people just delete that all the same. We could go on about this forever, I’m just saying to you that it’s not essential but it was an integral part especially because we’ve learned it. We’ve built the culture around it for two and a half years, get reviews, get reviews, get reviews. It’s just hard to just pivot and say, “Okay, there’s no more reviews.” What do you do?
[00:27:32] Scott: The other thing that comes in in here and we can talk about this real quick is now you’re going to look at maybe your numbers in Jungle Scout and those are going to be a little bit skewed.
[00:27:47] Dom: Yeah, it’s going to be hard with no reviews.
[00:27:48] Scott: Right so you have to almost have to let this die down a little bit, maybe give it 4 weeks, 5 weeks and let the dust settle and then you’re going to see those sales numbers that you’re going to be seeing now, you really don’t have to worry so, so much. You still do have to do your due diligence and stuff and go back in time and stuff and look at camelcamelcamel, look at all the history and all that stuff but for the most part, you’re not having to look at that front page and being like, “I wonder what one of these or how many of these actually ran a bunch of reviews recently.” On a positive note, it’s going to help your product research, it’s also going to weed out lots of people that don’t want to do this now. That’s just way it goes.
Think about going back to the Google slap Chris that you and I were talking about. I was talking to John Haver just this morning as well on his. It’s nothing new as far as these different updates. If you’re going to play on someone else’s land and their property, you’re going to have to deal with these slaps because people are out there manipulating the system and unfortunately that’s what happens and then they have to clean it up. But then what’s going to happen is it’s going to weed out a lot of people. A lot of people that weren’t doing like the back linking and stuff for websites years ago but they were just ranking kind of naturally, the people that were ranking above them one night, basically overnight, gone. Everybody else rose to the top.
[00:29:11] Scott: Is this going to be a transition? Yes. Is it going to be a process? Yes. Does it mean that you can’t launch products on Amazon? No. I think that it’s still possible and if anything I think it’s going to be, I don’t want to say easier but it’s going to be I think a little bit of a different approach that you’ll have towards doing it that will then in turn allow you to compete with everyone on the same playing field.
Now, someone that does have a big list already, this is here our list goes back and I’m actually helping a woman, right now who has a list. She’s a blogger, I’ve talked about her. She’s got a listing and she didn’t run one review promotion, she didn’t run anything. All she did was she drove sales through her link, going to her product page and they bought products okay and that’s where all of hers came. I think she only did a coupon code for 20% for the first 2 days and then after that and there was nothing in there say, “Go give me review, do this.” It was just you’re on my list, here’s a little something because I’m launching a new product and I want you guys to have a discount, thank you.” That’s it.
People with bigger lists you’re going to see that that will give you leverage even if you don’t give much of a discount, even if you don’t get a review, who cares. You’re getting the spike in the algorithm to boost yourself in the rank, period.
[00:30:25] Chris: You’re getting the sale and that’s what matters long term.
[00:30:29] Scott: Yeah. Does it suck? Yeah, it does suck but in the same breathe it kind of forces you to go at it in a different way now. I know Dom, you and I talked about it yesterday about it. You’ve already got thoughts as far as what you’re going to do to try and experiment. You’re going to experiment now and see. You’ve got what, 3, 4 products getting ready to hit Amazon warehouse. Now you got to come up with a new plan of what you were going to do before.
[00:30:56] Dom: For us it's not going to be too bad because already have a seasoned account. We have lots of feedback, we have lots of reviews on our other products. Entry point is going to be a little tougher now. But again, we can't ignore the fact that it happened. Listen when you Milli Vanili Amazon for two years, two and a half years with these reviews and they want to put their size eighteen foot down in their playground you got to walk around it and follow their rules like you said. That's why you're so big on about going outside the Amazon channel so you can build…
In case something like this happens, you still have another source. I'm in a lucky position that I already have that, you have that. It's good but again, when I heard the news I said “woopty doo.” It’s not like I started crying like, “Oh my god, this is over.” You just have to do it different ways until all the sand, dust settles exactly. You don't know what's going to happen. Maybe 20% is good. Fine. Just send a bunch of emails 20% off, you’ll get one out of you’re a hundred sales or two or five but it’ still good. You get a couple, make sure you send everyone… Now it's going to be more important that you send people to your feedback.
[00:32:11] Scott: Let me ask you this. What you're saying though is you can give the discount codes all you want but what you're saying is that person might not be able to leave a review.
[00:32:21] Dom: I'm not sure how Amazon is going to do it. As soon as they see a discount, they might not… I haven’t' split tested anything. Somebody out there is going to find out before us or maybe at the same time. I gave away 20% and there was no problem, they can leave a review. That's going to take a couple of days.
[00:32:36] Scott: Even if they can't leave a review, what I'm saying is if you're… Let's just say, with sales you start to get ranked whether you have reviews or not. If we can get sales through our own customers or people that, like I said, if you've had a customer list of any kind and you're able to then in turn target that towards Facebook ads or wherever and then you're able to show them your product and get a hundred sales in a day, even if it's just 20% off, well even if Amazon doesn't let you leave a review you're still going to get credit for the sale.
[00:33:09] Dom: If I can get up to a 100 or 1,000 on my main email oh my God it would be great. Another concern is the email sequence. Now, we ask for a feedback first and then we go to the review obviously because there’s a negative, so what’s going to happen now? We are going to have 20 guys that you gave stuff away too and you had 20 organic sales. How do you split it? How do you know who's who? How do you know…?”
[00:33:30] Chris: You don't have to. That's what I'd tried to say to Scott this morning. If Amazon doesn't want me picking and choosing who gets it, then everybody gets it.
[00:33:41] Scott: Everybody gets the message.
[00:33:42] Chris: They can't leave a review, they can’t leave a review but…
[00:33:44] Scott: Dom what I was…
[00:33:48] Dom: You want your organic sales to leave reviews. What if they just leave you feedback as the email and they don't leave you a review? Now you can do that because you can sort through your list who got the discount.
[00:33:58] Scott: You could but I wouldn't do that. If you wanted to go straight for the review after your first email that you kind of just make sure everything is okay, then just make that straight across the board and let Amazon go after the feedback. Maybe that's the approach.
[00:34:19] Dom: I always say the same thing. Leave us your feedback, thank you very much. Then after when you leave a positive you back and say, hey would you mind leaving a review. You're going to have to skip all the people you give discounts to.
[00:34:32] Scott: I don't think you have to skip them because even if you send them the email they end up doing it, it's not going to hurt you. I don't think that it's going to be like…
[00:34:43] Chris: You're not giving that discount in exchange for the review any longer. That's the mindset shift. You're getting 20% off on the product because I want to give you 20% off on the product.
[00:34:55] Dom: I understand that. I mean if you give them a fully free or…
[00:35:02] Scott: No, no. Honestly at this stage, I wouldn't do the $1.95, the free. That's where I'd change that strategy like if anything was to change in the strategy which there will be a few things the one main thing would be it would not be 100% off.
[00:35:18] Dom: When you use the review clubs you're still getting the sales. You give a hundred coupons, you get the sales but they just can't leave reviews.
[00:35:23] Scott: I get that. Yes.
[00:35:25] Dom: That's what I'm saying. If you do that, you got to sort out the email. You got to push the feedback, then when you get feedback, if you look through the list who’s giving you positive you have to go one by one like you always do and you got to basically the ones that are organic say, “Hey could you leave review for us.” Anybody that’s not organic, you just don't do that follow up, that’s what I was going to say but you're saying get rid of it all, don’t even do that. You’re saying, don't worry about giving out.
[00:35:53] Scott: No what I'm saying is I wouldn’t go right now personally, how it sits. I wouldn't go to a review club and give 75% off.
[00:36:01] Dom: I wouldn’t do anything today, that's for sure.
[00:36:03] Scott: You see what I'm saying. See now what I've been gathering too with some of these review clubs, including Review Kick it's like now what they're going to do is create that to be a deal site. Now, you have a deal site that you can go into and for us we're going go in there and say we want to give 50% off or 40% off but there's going to be nothing in there saying, “You're getting this in exchange for a review and you have to leave a review.” That's where they are going to try and do it. Now, does that even make it seem like that's going to work 100%. I don't know. Look at Slick Deals.
Slick Deals has been around forever, they're giving discounts. I still think that you're going to be able to give discounts. My problem with doing that unlike a review club it's already been trained to do this. I think they're going to naturally go in there and they are going to still go through the process of leaving a review and putting in the disclaimer which I think that will be bad. That's why I would rather almost build my own platform, my own review little club that doesn't know about how to properly do a review. Then that way there they're green. It's like me just saying like you just got a deal great and then maybe I follow up some emails and they're not familiar with the review process. If they leave me a review, it's organic. Does that make sense?
[00:37:15] Dom: It does but okay, here's my next question to you. What if you got one product, you've been selling it for a year and you’ve only 60 of those names from the insert cards and stuff?
[00:37:28] Chris: Do you only have 60 sales over the course of the year?
[00:37:31] Dom: No, you have tons of sales obviously.
[00:37:34] Chris: We can go get more names. That's not a problem because we have those customers. It's not a very complicated process especially as a seller. That's why I said earlier it's a multi-step process to build your own list but it's a skill that is easy to learn and once you've done it you can do it again. It translates if you want to do anything off of Amazon. I don't think it's… It's not like an unreachable goal. It's not an unattainable goal for anybody. If I can do it, anybody can do it. I'm not that smart. I don't say that lightly. I don't think I'm the smartest guy in the room and I have the ability to do that. Dom you have the ability to do that too and you've done it by accident and a lot of your stuff from the sound of it because you have those people. You haven't done some of the more advanced and intentional stuff.
It is something that you can do and it's an option even if everything else… Let's be clear on this guys. It doesn't sound like everything else is going away. It sounds like it's going to be some small changes there. If everything else goes away, there's always the traditional method. This isn't like a new thing. This is the traditional product launch method. It's the pre-review group method. Build a list of people who are interested, sell them the thing.
[00:38:53] Scott: Going back to keep it really simple and I did this with my first product and it worked really well is I just went to Facebook, I targeted audiences that would be interested in my product and then from there I just offered a 50% off discount or maybe a 25% discount and then they'd opt in for it. Once they opt in for it, I’m building a list of emails that are interested in that product so I can keep doing that just keep spending money on that versus spending thousands of dollars to do a launch. It's the same idea except I'm not going to have to give away my product now for free.
If I can take all that money that we put into maybe launching a product, I can take that and build list and then launch to that list and then I have that list for the next product or even to spruce it up. Maybe want to buy a second one for Christmas. I can do a little Christmas promotion. I can do those things and again it's as simple as finding your Facebook audiences, targeting them to a landing page which anyone can make and Lead Pages or any landing page service connected to an email account, Aweber, Mail Chimp and that's it.
Then you just send a follow up email that says here's the code or email me and I'll give you the code. You can do it seen like that if you want to. I think that that right there is going to be powerful and then here's the other cool thing. Once you build that list, guess what we can upload that into Facebook and now we can create a lookalike audience of those people and then start running that same promotion to those people.
[00:40:16] Chris: That last strategy is where I ask if you only have a 60 sales because if we have any information about those people, we can turn it into a list. Again guys, if you're just starting out this is probably over your head in terms of all of the things that you need to do. Focus on finding a product that fits the criteria and then worry some of that stuff. If you aren't like at the launch phase right now, none of this stuff should even be a thought in your mind. At least in my opinion, you guys can feel free to yell at me if I'm wrong. Bill says you lost me with ‘Chris is not so smart'. No I just sounds smart because I say things loudly and with authority.
[00:40:56] Scott: True. No, he is smart but he does talk loud.
[00:40:59] Chris: I'm not the smartest guy in the room though or maybe….
[00:41:05] Scott: Dom's head is glowing pretty good there today.
[00:41:08] Chris: He's got a nice halo going but I think the long story short guys on this is that it is a change. All change is scary. I've been through this in different industries, I've been through this with Google and the first reaction is the same exact thing as the first reaction here was which is the sky is falling, the walls are crumbling, everything is coming down. Nobody is ever going to be able to rank on Google ever again. There was the same exact reaction that I saw yesterday.
Then a week goes by and you go okay, here's two things that I need to change. Scott, you and I were talking about that this morning. We’ve taught all this stuff to go back and look at the content. We're going to like change some of the podcast stuff so that we don't lose anybody and we don't want anybody to have incorrect information. When we looked at it, it's not nearly as bad as you think it is when you look at what it actually says and some of the clarifications. It's just you probably won't be able to do the free give away anymore and in fact you can't do the free give away unless you want to hope that someone will give you your review in exchange for a free product.
Dom, that's why I said earlier I view this s a good thing because let's be honest and I said this to you last night, at 50% off I can afford to give away a heck a lot more product that I can than at zero. There might be break evens so in theory then I can give away product in perpetuity at 50% off until I get to where I want to be as long as I have a traffic source coming into that or at the very least if I'm still losing a little bit of money, I can give away at least twice as much or three times as much or five times as much at a discount even if it's just to get the sales. What I'm trying to do is I'm trying to drive traffic and then on the back end of that if I happen to get a review, great because it's going to help boost my organic sales and it's going to boost the crap out of my PPC.
[00:42:55] Scott: Now, again, we can sit here and talk for days which we'll probably talk about this again on Friday so we'll have to do an update on Friday. Again, Dom, I know you've been around the block here so you know these things happen, they are changed. You were joking with me through Skype last night like, “This happens.” What are you going to do?” “I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that.” When you had dinner you thought about it but it didn't really faze you because you've been through this type of stuff and you know it's going to work out. To me, for you a seasoned seller it actually makes it even a little bit better because you don't worry about people being able to just go head and bully themselves to the top because they can spend a lot of money.
I think it's a positive thing in disguise because on the front of it seems like oh my Gosh that ruins the launch but it's going to ruin it for everyone. Everyone is the same so now we just have to be a little bit more creative. We have to also, I think when we're picking up those products we got to be just a little bit more dialed in and I think if we can do that then I think we're going to be okay. It comes down to what Chris and I have been talking about here which we're going to do day two of the live event all about is building your external list. Right now, Dom if you had a list, which you have a list in some of your other markets but don't pertain to this market? But if you had one in your brand right now of 30,000 people and they bought from you and you send out an email tomorrow and you wanted to give away 50 codes, I guarantee you could give away 50 code like without a doubt.
That's the percentage is there. Like that's so easy, you’d probably give a ton more but what we're talking about is how could you get a list big enough so this way here…? Not even say big enough but I guess active enough that they’ll actually do what you want them to do and they really enjoy the product and they want the free product but if you're able to do that with a list, if you took that money in the launches that you've done and you’ve built that list, that's an asset. People don't realize that. Instead of you just renting the list from one of these review clubs you're owning your list.
[00:44:57] Scott: Yes, you can’t say, “Leave me a review,” but you can have a really kick butt like follow up sequence that gets them to know they can trust you a little bit and then leaves you a review. Yes, your percentages aren’t going to be there as much as they would for that but it's still there. Then to drive sales and we all know it, you're going to get a certain percentage that are going to want the deal. The other thing I heard today too and again, we got to wrap this up. The other thing I heard today too, I heard this from Bill actually, Dom you probably heard the same thing, he might have told you but this one girl that I actually had on my podcast, her name is Kizzy and she basically is a top 500 reviewer.
Let me tell you something. This isn't just disrupting our lives, this is disrupting the top reviewers that Amazon is saying now you can't do it. Now what's going to happen is you can do it but here's the thing. People like us aren't going get those discounts anymore. Because of that, those reviewers a lot of them are doing it for basically presents and getting gifts for Christmas and filling your house with these things that wouldn't have been able to have. To us it's just we're giving product away for free or at a discount.
To these people it was a way for them to get stuff that they normally wouldn't have been able to get. I was reading some of the comments from these people and they were just like my whole Christmas is shot now because I was looking to go on Review Kick or one of these review sites and get my Christmas gifts for my kids or for… It's not just us it's affecting, it's affecting everyone but we just have to put in perspective and we have to say what's the next step moving forward. I think it's just tweaking that process and I think everybody will be fine. Like Chris and I have been talking about building that external list that is going to be the game changer for me and that's what's going to give you that more control and being able to really feel and safe and secure that when you want to launch another product you can launch another product and you're doing it totally white hat. Anything else you guys want to wrap up with before we jump off here?
[00:46:51] Chris: I just want to echo that, just a little bit and Scott I said it a little bit to you at TAS Breakthrough Live in May probably thirty times and I know Dom is sick of hearing it by now but that email list, that customer list, that list of buyers is your single biggest asset in your business. Amazon is a channel and they've never even really given us access to that list so you and I over the last few months have really been talking about some ways to access that list. but building that list is important for your long term business success and it was important before yesterday and it's going to be more important into the future because it's not only going help you launch additional products on Amazon but it's going to help you do things outside of the Amazon eco-system which is still there and it's still going to be the place to go and launch at least in my opinion because they are so going to do 80% of the work for you. They still have all the traffic, they still have the credit cards, they still have all the buyers, they still have the website, they still have all of those kinds of things. It's just a small change, at least in my opinion to the launch process itself. Everything else essentially stays the same.
[00:47:55] Scott: Dom, last thoughts?
[00:47:56] Dom: I just think it's going to, it's definitely going to affect the entry level person. I feel bad for people that are just at the launch stage. I'm helping one girl and her stuff just got into Amazon, she's just getting ready to do the launch phase for the reviews. Now I’m just going to work with here, we're going to figure this out. That was a lot of my emails that we got today. Actually even our internal, we have an internal review club of like top 1,000 reviewers and about three or four of those say, “What are we going to do now?” I guess I’ll enjoy getting free product is basically what they said.
In essence it might even help a little bit even if you're giving away 50/60 things away not for the review just giving away so you can move some stuff around ranking on your keywords, your BSR and you might actually get more people taking you up on those opportunities. Now they don't have to leave reviews. You just take the product and thank you very much for giving it to me and oh great, I want to leave reviews, sure I'll take it.
[00:49:01] Scott: Let me ask you this people, before we jump off, someone asked on Periscope about the Vine program. You know anything about that as far as the details?
[00:49:09] Dom: I know it's a paid program and it's an exclusive invite program. I've heard anywhere from $1,500 to $2,500 to be part of the vine program but it's invite only. Your Sony's, your Apples that type of stuff. Samsung's, they pay them that fee and only those Vine members, if you can see, they have Vine member right beside them on all the listings when they give you feedback. It’s a two-step program, I'm assuming they're going to open that up to private labelers but probably just probably the hot volume guys.
100,000 a month, 200,000 a month guys because there will be volume for them and they have a product that obviously people… That will be interesting what they do there because they stopped to wait for them to make some more income and then this way they control anything. That’s the issue. They want to control reviews so their market place isn't saturated. What were they saying too? They were saying even private label stuff was like only 10% or 15% reviews on their site. Like organic reviews were like 80% or 90% still. So it was only like 10% to 15% that were actually getting a affected, the reviews but it looks a lot when you look at your competitor and they've got 1,500 reviews and 300/500 of them are all…
[00:50:27] Scott: They even had a software out there so you can find a fake reviews on someone's listing.
[00:50:32] Dom: That's right. Bill was showing me that. That's right. ABCD or stuff like that but again… I just think we have to pivot again and we’ll find ways I think as a community, as a private label culture because it's a small community even though there’s thousands people in it, it's relevant only to our livelihood. We'll figure it out as a team. We'll work together and like you said, we'll have a new launch process out shortly and that's just the way it's going to be and again, it's definitely going to be help with the grey and the black hatter’s which are the guys you don't want there anyway.
[00:51:07] Scott: I agree. This has been good, this has been a great talk, conversation whatever you want to call it, a round table, square table, whatever we are at. I just want to jump on here and talk with you guys. I know we talk privately about this but I figured what better time to do it than now and we'll probably publish this on the Facebook page and probably even the podcast. Just wanted to say, just keep at it. Guys just understand that this is not new as far as these changes. Changes are going to happen in any business, whether you're brick and mortar and you got a competitor that moves in down the street or you got stuff like this happening. It's part of it. It's part of the process.
Again, as I talked about before you can be the 97% that works for someone else or the 3% that works for yourself. This is some of the stuff you got to deal with and it's up to you to decide if you want to deal with it. That's it guys. Keep at it and just keep focused on sales and reviews. You still have to focus on getting the reviews but you have to get them the ethical way and the honest way and that's through really a feedback and a review system that you can build through Salesbacker or Feedback Genius.
Any of those. Again, you don't want to put in there that you have to leave a review in order to get this discount. I think that's the big thing. You can't exchange it for that. That's it guys thank you so much. Dom, thank you brother. I appreciate you, you know that. Boom, boom, boom. Chris, I appreciate it and all your insight and your help even though you say you're not the smartest guy in the room, well this room you're but in most rooms…
[00:52:39] Chris: I won't even go that far. I know a lot of useless things and a little bit of useful stuff.
[00:52:47] Scott: I would say you're pretty smart guy. All right guys. That's it, that's going to wrap it up. We’ll talk to you guys later and Chris I know you said that you don't really have to shut down Facebook Live so that's cool because I guess we're already turned up off for Facebook Live but Periscope we'll see you guys later… That's awesome. All right guys. That's it. That's going to wrap it up.
Breaking News… “Kermit the Frog here…”
All right, a little comedy there to make things feel a little better for anyone else out there that's having a rough day, Kermit the Frog everyone. That’s it.
Guys, remember I'm here for you, I believe in you and I'm rooting for you. You have to, you have to, even though through these tough times you got to do what… What are you got to do Dom?
[00:53:47] Dom: Take action guys.
[00:53:50] Scott: You got it. Take action. We'll see you. Peace. Take care. Take action.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Jungle Scout Blog
- Jungle Scout
- www.TheAmazingSeller.com/116 – Episode with Amazon Top Reviewer Kizzy
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