May 5, 2020

Sabir x Matt Higgins (Live on Linkedin)

Everyone’s life is different. The things that worry you and the things that fill your day are completely different from the concerns and activities of your neighbors, friends, and family members.

We’re all living together on this planet. All 7.5 billion of us are packed into 200 million square meters. And yet, we couldn’t be further apart; we couldn’t be more different.

It’s a tragic fact of life, but it’s something that has drastically changed in 2020. COVID-19 has been the ultimate leveler. And as tragic, destructive, heart-breaking, and terrifying as it has been, at least it has brought us all together.

This is something that Matt mentioned at the start of our discussion, noting that the entire population of planet earth is dealing with the same problems right now.

It was a poignant way to start an interview, and it only got better from there.

Selling On Amazon And Your Website

During this interview, Matt and I discussed the importance of getting your online business on the Amazon storefront.

It’s something that many e-commerce businesses fail to do, but something that we both consider to be essential.

Amazon is the biggest e-commerce platform in the world. You wouldn’t build a blog and ignore Google; you wouldn’t build a multinational brand and overlook the United States. And if you want your e-commerce business to succeed, you shouldn’t ignore Amazon.

At the same time, however, that doesn’t mean you should reject all other options. Two storefronts are better than one, and with the internet, you have a wealth of opportunities at your disposal.

With that said, here is a rundown of the most pertinent points that we discussed.

The Importance Of Eradicating Uncertainty

You sit down at a restaurant table. You’re hungry, you have $100 in your pocket, and you notice that there is only one dish on the menu. There’s no description, the name is nondescript, and the picture shows a generic plate of mush that could literally be anything.

Do you buy, do you track down the waiter and ask a bunch of questions, or do you leave and go to the Pizza Hut next door?

Most of you will leave, and so you should, because you need more details about the things you purchase.

This analogy works very well in this day and age because it’s a situation that many businessowners are forcing their customers into. They hook their customers with a social media ad, and because they got them onto their site and paid for the pleasure, they assume that the customer is ready to buy.

A basic ad, often no more than a picture and a few lines of text, sends the customer straight to a product page and directs them to the “Buy it now” button.

But like the hungry patron staring at the menu and wondering whether they’re looking at oatmeal or stew, that customer has no idea what they’re getting themselves into.

This is the uncertainty principle, and your goal as a website owner and marketer is to remove as much of that uncertainty as possible.

You can do this by applying the following three rules:

1. How To Build Your Social Credibility

Your social credibility is your reviews and recommendations.

But this has to extend beyond a few blatantly faked testimonials. These can work as visual representations of genuine reviews and can also act as product explainer videos of sorts, but 90% of your customers will assume they’re faked, so use them sparingly.

Actual reviews from user-generated review sites are much more effective. Take snapshots of your Amazon, Facebook, or Trustpilot reviews—use widgets, Instagram comments/pictures.

It should be visually appealing, noticeable, and positive.

Many small business owners are under the assumption that customers will review them by choice. They believe that if a customer has a good experience, they will search for Facebook pages and Trustpilot pages and express their opinions.

In actual fact, this rarely happens for good reviews. If a customer is actively searching for your brand on review sites, it’s because:

  • You have tirelessly and painstakingly helped them with an issue and they feel indebted to you;
  • they are already an active reviewer and like to record all of their experiences, or
  • they had a bad experience and want to vent.

Unfortunately, this latter point is by far the most common.

I can use Trustpilot as an example here. Look for a company that hasn’t claimed its profile and doesn’t send invites and compare it to one that does.

Apple is a great example. One of the biggest companies in the world and one with millions of happy customers and brilliant support, but it hasn’t claimed its profile, it doesn’t request reviews, and so its overall score is atrocious.

2. Being Transparent

Customers need transparency. They need to know how much they will be charged, what they are getting, and when their item will be shipped.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment.

How many times have you found yourself trawling a website, growing increasingly frustrated with the lack of clarity? It doesn’t matter if this info is eventually revealed during the checkout. They need to know before they order, not during and not after.

Maybe they’re buying a birthday present or taking a vacation, maybe they have limited funds; whatever the reason, clarity is key.

3. Posting Content

This is an easy one and an obvious one, but it’s also essential.

Your landing page needs content relating to your product. It should tell your customers what it is, what it’s made of, how it works, and why they should buy it.

Consumers will have a lot of questions about your products and these need to be answered clearly and concisely.

Tips To Improve Your Sales And Customer Acquisition

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a sharp increase in online spending. Consumers are getting bored and desperate. They’re stockpiling essentials, shopping as a hobby, and trying things to pass the time.

As a result, customer acquisition rates are the best they have been for years. This is not a time to reduce your spend, it’s a time to increase it, especially if you’re in an industry like food and beverages, health and fitness, and entertainment, all of which are flourishing right now.

This is something I mentioned during the Manifestor Mindset discussion, along with the following tips.

1. Focus More On The Most Effective Platforms

While many new digital marketers focus on social media, the tried and tested methods remain the best. Google Ads is one of the cheapest ways to drive traffic to your website.

Search, display, and shopping ads can provide a massive ROI, especially during COVID, when there are more consumers searching for the products you’re selling.

If I were to list the three most effective marketing platforms, it would look like this:

  1. Google Ads
  2. Amazon
  3. Facebook and Instagram

Of course, some websites are better suited to social media platforms, but if you have a product/service to sell or content to offer, you will benefit from using Google Ads.

2. Organic Marketing

Organic marketing is something that doesn’t require you to constantly feed the machine.

Google Ads is effective, and you may reach a point where you can generate $10 for every $1 you spend. But you’re still spending $1 and you’re still limited to specific product searches.

With organic marketing, you’re generating traffic passively.

SEO is the best example. By optimizing your product pages, adding blogs, and creating solid content, you can rank higher in the Google search results.

If you’re not a content creator then you will need to pay for that initial outlay, but in time, it will pay dividends.

Email marketing can help as well. Use programs like Mailchimp and Klaviyo to build an email list and to send them periodic messages. Build their support by providing free tips and content; sell to them via promo codes and exclusive offers.

Use subject lines to pique their curiosity and convince them to open the emails. Keep the content short, punchy, and helpful; don’t send too many emails (you don’t want to annoy them) and keep GDPR regulations in mind if you’re shipping to the EU.

3. Mobile Optimization

In the last few years, Google has begun penalizing sites that have little or no mobile optimization, while rewarding those that are fully optimized.

More than half of all internet users are connecting via smartphones and tablets, and if you’re marketing your products on Facebook and Instagram, as much as 80 to 90% of your target audience could be mobile.

Make sure your site is optimized for mobile, which means it needs to look good, flow well, and keep all key links and CTAs in the first screen.

Customers won’t buy your product if they have to flick, tap, and pinch multiple times just to find the buy button.  

How To Crush Amazon

Amazon lets you sell your products in two different ways. You can either act as a vendor, in which case your products will be sold and shipped by Amazon, or as a seller, whereby Amazon simply becomes a platform through which you sell your products.

Both have their merits, and in my Manifestor Mindset discussion with Matt, I discussed both and looked at the ways you can optimize your sales through this platform.

To simplify the process for you, these tips work from the top of your Amazon page to the bottom and cover all of the key sections.

1. Post 7 Images And 1 Video

Images are essential to your success on the Amazon platform. Customers always judge books by their covers and if you don’t have an appealing thumbnail, they won’t be interested.

Once you draw them in with that thumbnail, you need to keep them there with half a dozen other images. Post pictures from multiple angles and include some other key selling points.

There should be an image showing the product in use or describing how it can be used; an image showing the instructions/ingredients; an image with recipes (if applicable).

I find that 7 images work best. I also recommend showing the product in action.

When posting these images, make sure they relate to the product and not just to your brand.

This is not the time or the place to spread your brand message, no matter how appealing you think it is.

The truth is, when a customer visits your Amazon page, they are there for the product. They do not care what you do and why you do it.

2. Optimize The Title And Bullet Points

Over half of all search traffic occurs on Amazon. Technically, that makes Amazon bigger than Google.

It also works in a similar way and can be optimized to a similar degree.

When you create your title and your content, you need to create it for potential customers, as well as the Amazon search algorithm.

The title and bullet points are the most important parts of this page and the ones that need to be optimized the most. You’re not just optimizing for text, either, as you also have to think about smart voice optimization via Amazon Alexa.

Get this right, and you could see your customer acquisitions jump significantly.

3. Optimize Price And Control

If you have control of the brand, see who else is selling your product. Are they undercutting you, are they cluttering the space and stealing your customers?

To control the market, you need to be the only one selling that specific product. Send these sellers a message and ask them to stop. If that doesn’t work, you can take things further and cut off their supply or send a cease and desist.

When you’re the only one selling, you have more control over the price and can consider changing it to find the perfect price point, one that generates the highest ROI.

Subscribe and Save pricing models can also help, with customers agreeing to receive regular shipments of your product in exchange for a small discount.

4. Be In The Right Category

This one should be a no-brainer, but it’s one that so many sellers get wrong.

If you want to reach the right customers and be promoted correctly by Amazon, you need to be in the right category. There are hundreds to choose from, and this can complicate matters, but you can look at your competitors to get a better idea of where you need to be.

5. Get Videos On Your Page

Videos can add to the customer experience and provide some clarity and social credibility. Ideally, you want genuine reviews from influencers using your product. Alternatively, post sponsored placements where they showcase the product’s features or provide a little more information.

Even an unboxing video is beneficial. As long as it gives a customer some additional insight into the product, it can help.

6. Answer Questions

This is where the uncertainty principle comes in. Customers will always have questions when viewing your product for the first time and some of these will be too niche to be covered by your product description and bullet points.

The Q & A section is a great tool for providing some clarity.

Answer the most frequently asked and the most important questions, getting advice from testers, reviewers, and customer emails, to create your list.

7. Push For Reviews

Optimize your Amazon page to ensure customers get requests for reviews. Amazon won’t do this automatically.

It’s often said that you need at least 10 reviews to start reaping the benefits, but that’s not entirely true. The actual number could be 2 or 3; it could be 10,000. It all depends on what your competitors have.

If you’re selling in a space that has over 100 competitors, all with 1,000 reviews, your 10 reviews aren’t going to mean much. If you only have one or two competitors and they have 0 to 2 reviews, you’ll be in the best position.

Don’t be tempted into buying fake reviews, however. Not only are these easy to spot, but Amazon tends to remove them very quickly and that could hurt your business.

You need genuine verified reviews. It may take time for them to arrive, but if you keep sending those requests, they will arrive eventually.

8. Create A Brand Page

While your brand info shouldn’t clutter your product page, it can be pushed to your brand page. This is where you can tell your story, and anyone who needs that info can click the link at the top of the page and see what you’re all about.

Get creative and make it visually appealing. Don’t simply list all of your products.

9. A+ Enhanced Content

This vendor-only feature can double your customer acquisition if used correctly.

It should be optimized for the consumer and for Google. Add lots of visuals, write SEO-optimized text, and create something that is seasonal, something that you change multiple times a year relevant to each season or event.

Conclusion: The Manifestor Mindset With Matt Higgins

I had a very productive chat with Matt and as you can see, we covered a lot of key points about selling on Amazon and on the internet in general.

For more videos from Matt, take a look at his Manifestor Mindset page, where he chats with experts from many different fields. I also featured Matt on the This Week with Sabir podcast, where we talked about the ways that you can raise capital for your fledgling business.

About Matt Higgins

Cofounder, RSE Ventures; Executive Fellow at Harvard Business School; Recurring Shark on ABC’s Shark Tank

If you own any kind of e-commerce business, it’s no longer a question of IF to be on Amazon, but when – and how best to do it. Sabir Semerkant, founder of GROWTH by Sabir, and I discuss Amazon tactics and how to pivot to e-commerce in the time of Covid-19 (coronavirus).

Read the article at 5 E-Commerce Hacks You Probably Aren’t Using (But Should Be) by Matt Higgins.

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