How to Start a Profitable Business on Amazon – Guest Post

The following is a guest post by Mark Armstrong. Mark started off as a business consultant for small SEO and web design companies. Eventually, his heart went towards e-commerce and all the awesome things that are happening in that niche. He has a plan on creating his own website but for now, he is focused on reaching out to people with a similar mindset and getting his name out there.

The reason why FBA (fulfillment by Amazon) is such a revolutionary program is due to the fact that it made online trade (and trade in general) simpler than it ever was before. In fact, this feature is on a rapid rise in popularity and this year alone there are 1,029,528 new sellers on the platform. In the past, there was a belief that the use of a third-party marketplace is a stepping stone or a temporary move but this is no longer the case. Amazon went above and beyond to allow its users to customize and improve their presence in order to persuade them to see this marketplace as a permanent solution. Nonetheless, getting there is much easier if you have a solid start. Here are some tips that could point you in the right direction.

1. Finding the right product

As soon as you pick the niche (which is somewhat subjective), you’ll be faced with the most important task of them all – picking the right product. Here, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution but there are some factors that could make your life a lot easier. For instance, an item that’s light in weight is easier to transport, whereas an average product sale price that’s between $10 and $50 tends to be the most profitable.

Also, when inspecting other products, you need to check the number of monthly searches of their top 3 keywords. Ideally, you would see over 100,000 searches per month. One last piece of advice that a lot of people tend to forget about is the question of whether it’s a seasonal product or something that generates revenue all year round. Remember, there’s no right or wrong here but the degree to which these fit your plans may vary.

One of the things that you won’t hear that often is the fact that China is probably the fastest-growing market on Amazon. In fact, its share is about 25 percent of the Amazon marketplace and there’s a growing number of sellers from this region (especially in Hong Kong). Therefore, finding an item that sells well in China might give you a boost.

2. A frugal start

The main reason why FBA is such a popular feature is due to the fact that it allows you to launch with as little as $2,000. This means that you can enter the business world without selling assets or getting in debt. In fact, you can use this program in order to amass an initial capital, regardless if you aim to make your own e-store later on or remain on Amazon for good. Still, just because your break-even point is close, this doesn’t mean that you can afford to underestimate or ignore it. Therefore, you should make all the necessary steps to cut your operational costs even further.

The first idea you need to consider is the notion of drop shipping, which allows you to trade in items without having to purchase them first or keep them in storage. Of course, this minimizes your profit per unit but it also insulates you from the risk of overinvesting in a product that people aren’t interested in. It also allows you to keep your logistics much simpler, due to the fact that you don’t actually have to handle the issue of storage yourself. One more thing you can do to minimize the cost is to find a local manufacturer and supplier. Here, the term local refers to the proximity to your customer, especially if you’re trading in a foreign market.

3. A good return policy

Perhaps the most important reason why you need your own e-store, other than avoiding the fee, is the fact that there are so many fake items on platforms like Amazon. This somewhat ruins the reputation of the platform and causes a general audience to be less trustworthy towards those using this business model. Needless to say, the only way to avoid this is with the help of a good return policy. Nowadays, this process can be automated and facilitated with the use of an Amazon refund tool.

What you need to consider is the fact that by offering a refund for your products you A) demonstrate that you are confident in their quality and B) have respect for your customers. This way, you’re also demonstrating that you’re more interested in maintaining a good relationship with your customers than making a one-time sale. Also, a person returning the product is usually not satisfied with it and offering them a full refund might, potentially, prevent them from leaving a negative review. In this way, a good return policy also becomes a method of damage control.

4. Work on your brand

In theory, all you have to do in order to start selling on Amazon is make a registered account, however, in order to maximize your profit, you need to do substantially more. First of all, you should host a website, potentially even a blog. Nonetheless, like Amazon, there are just platforms for the promotion of your business. What you also need are brand markings like a logo, a slogan, and a company name. You need to understand that buyers tend to judge products by the title of a listing. In order to maximize your appeal, you need to include a brand name, the name of the product and list a couple of features to the title.

5. The importance of images

The downside of selling items on Amazon (and of e-commerce, in general), lies in the fact that your audience can’t personally examine the product like they would if they were to visit a brick and mortar retail place. The closest you can get to make up for this is to take quality photographs, use adequate photography methods and upload them to the product page. The method is particularly important and it depends on the type of the product. For instance, a ghost mannequin is ideal for selling clothing items, while it’s an unavailable option for other product types.

Conclusion

In the end, you need to understand that the choice of staying on Amazon or switching to a platform of your own depends only on your preference and long-term plans. As for the profit and chances of advancement, there’s really no limitation. You see, over 70 percent of all U.S. consumers have a tendency of buying from Amazon and there are those who managed to profit from this idea. In fact, the simplicity of this process is something that could potentially allow a one-person startup to earn several thousand dollars per hour. Nevertheless, it will take quite a bit of time and effort until you reach this stage.

CRO: Small Improvements Can Lead to Huge Wins

Conversion rate optimization, or CRO, is the process of making changes in the many different places and ways that users interact with your company’s digital content in order to improve the overall experience and convert more prospective customers into paying customers.

There are so many changes you can make, and so many places you can start. That is, naturally, both a good thing and a bad thing.

The Good

The good thing is simple – there are so many steps that you can take to improve the conversion rate on your site that it’s hard to fail. Any person or team taking the steps necessary to run A/B testing on the site, user experience studies, or any other kind of user testing aimed at increasing the conversion rate, should find pockets of opportunity and success.

The Bad

The bad thing is that there are, for some people, too many changes one could make. It becomes a problem of where to start, and how to prioritize. So much time is spent up front trying to figure out how to begin, that many teams never do.

Let’s address one common issue that many teams tasked with conversion rate optimization run into. That is the myth that only major changes can have the impact your leaders require.

In an effort to impress the people at the top of an organization, CRO teams feel like they need to find the biggest issues and solve them first. They assume that in order to add value, they need to make big changes, and that those big changes need to lead to huge growth in conversion rate. After all, managers and executives are responsible for allocating resources, and unless a CRO team strikes gold, they may be shut down.

And while I’ll admit that there are not enough high-level marketers out there that fully embrace and understand the benefits of conversion rate optimization, we all would do well to disavow ourselves of the “big changes only” myth.

Small Improvements Can Lead to Huge Wins

The best way that I know to demonstrate that is with an example.

Imagine a CRO team working for a startup in the health industry. This company’s mission is to make it easier to find and book and appointment with a specialist. Their website and app aims to allow users to search, filter, find, and learn about specialists in their area, and shows them available dates and times to make appointments.

The CRO team knows there are a lot of different tests they can run, so they brainstorm ideas and put a big list together. It’s not clear where they should start, but they know they have to.

They decide that the first test they want to run is a simple one. When someone lands on their search page, instead of showing all the filter options up front, they create a simplified search and hide the other options under an “advanced search” button.

The test goes live and after about 30 days, it is clear that the new design is beating the old design. There is a 5% increase in the number of searches and a 2% increase in the number of appointment bookings. And while those may sound like small numbers to the outside world, 5% more searches and 2% more bookings on a site that draws 300,000 visitors each month means 6,000 additional bookings every month. And over the course of a full year, if a booking is worth $5, that is $360,000 in new revenue. For one small test!

Conclusion

Yes, your assumption that some tests will add more value to the business than others is correct. However, that is no reason to procrastinate or argue about where to begin. Simply begin. Because the successful tests will build upon each other, and will grow in the value that they add over time. And the sooner you start, the sooner you will find a result like the one above.

For every month you delay, you are costing your company $30,000.

How to Get People to Click on Your Buttons: A Crash Course

click-here-button.jpg

Buttons are everywhere online, having replaced text links in most places as new technology has shifted consumers from clicking our mice to tapping our fingers.

Buttons are the go-to link. And they are critical for marketers to get right.

Why? Because buttons act as your calls to action and navigation. They are the tools that people use to get where they want to go, as well as the tools we use to get people where we want them to go.

A button exists to be clicked. But not all buttons will be clicked with the same frequency. Which is why we created this crash course on buttons. By the time you finish reading this, you will be prepared to create better buttons (buttons that get more clicks).

There are five critical elements of every button:

  1. Color

  2. Size

  3. Text

  4. Design

  5. Action

Button Color

When it comes to choosing a color for your buttons, there is no right answer. However, there are many wrong answers.

Many designers choose the color in one of two ways: they either stick with one of their brand colors or they choose something that stands out as unique. Both are valid options, as the color of a button interacts with the color of the rest of the page, and should call attention to itself as a part of the larger design.

But the research says there are some colors that are just more likely to get clicked than others. Bright, bold colors are more likely to draw a user’s attention. Oranges, blues and greens tend get clicked on the most, in that order.

Choose a color that stands out from the rest of the design, and one that makes reading the text on your button simple, and you can’t go wrong.

Button Size

A button that is too small is too hard to hit with a finger. A button that is too big looks ridiculous as it takes up such a large portion of one’s screen.

Believe it or not, there is a ‘correct’ button size. Here we look to Apple, who recommends a minimum button size of 44 pixels wide by 44 pixels tall. The key here is minimum. Not every button will be a perfect square, nor does every design call for the same size button.

But in designing your buttons, you will want to stick to the 44-pixel minimum on the smallest side, otherwise you will be left with buttons that are difficult to tap.

Button Text

The most common button text is “Click Here”. It’s also the worst.

Studies continually show that more descriptive text works better than generic actions. Instead of “Click Here”, yours might say “Learn More”, or “Get Started”. It might say “Claim Offer” on a sales page. Or “View Now” on a product description.

Use the text to explain to the user what they are going to get if they click, rather than simply using it as a way of telling them what you’d like them to do.

Button Design

Your buttons need to look like buttons. That might sound obvious, yet too many websites include buttons that look like flat squares. If you can’t tell the difference, you are in trouble.

There are a number of ways to make buttons look more like buttons. Many designers have taken to rounding corners – even if just slightly. Others opt for pill-style buttons, which take rounded corners to the extreme, creating an oval shape.

One can also use shading to ‘elevate’ your button, setting it apart from other elements on the page.

A final way to prove to users that your button is a button is to identify it as clickable. And you can do this with actions.

Button Action

A button action is a visual clue that a button is clickable. This is often done with a hover effect. A button may change color – becoming slightly darker or lighter – when a user hovers over it. It might shift position ever so slightly – growing larger or smaller – with bolder text.

And when clicked, the button can be given the action that looks like it is being pressed, just like one would expect with a button in the physical world.

Different Emails Deserve Different Designs

There seems to be a tendency with many companies these days to settle on one email design and use it for every email that they send out.

The reasoning makes sense. If you find a template that works for you, why not use it as much as possible? It’s easier for your design team to only do the job once. It’s easier for your email team not to seek design and coding resources every time you want to send out a new email.

But marketers must weigh the convenience that this approach offers with the very real impact it can have on your goals and objectives.

Every email that we send out has a purpose. If it didn’t, we should not send it. The purpose of your monthly newsletter might be to keep people engaged, and add value for your customers. The purpose of your prospecting emails might be to generate quality leads for your sales team to follow up with. The purpose of your promotional emails is likely to generate direct sales.

Because the purpose of each of these emails is different, it stands to reason that the design you use should be different.

Here is a link to a nice promotional email from The Athletic. In it, they are offering a 50% discount on their basic subscription plan. The email works because it is simple, calling attention to the offer with bold text and a button that stands out. They don’t need to clutter it up with a bunch of content or imagery. It gets straight to the point.

Now compare that with this email from Apple News. This is a more traditional newsletter, offering a curated list of articles that a subscriber might find interesting.  This email is laid out nicely, offering readers the chance to scroll through and click on any of the articles they want to read more of.

Both email are good, though they look nothing alike. And that’s because they were designed to do different things.

When designing your emails, don’t reach for the same template you have been using forever. Instead, start by identifying the purpose of the email. What is your goal?

Then take that to the design team and have them help you create something that achieves that goal for you.

Spend Less, Sell More

How do we sell more?

Ask this question to a group marketers and you are liable to get a bunch of different answers. However, you will find some common trends.

One solution that is used all too often is – spend more money. The thinking goes like this:

If we spend more in advertising, we will drive more leads, and some of those leads will turn into sales. Hence, if we spend more, we will sell more.

It’s not wrong. Statistically speaking, most companies can grow revenue by growing their advertising budget. But there is a limit to that. Besides the fact that many companies simple can’t afford to spend more money today for revenue that may or may not come in tomorrow.

Good thing for them that there is a better way. You can actually sell more by spending less. How, you ask?

Conversion Rate Optimization

Today, you drive people to your website. And I am willing to bet that most of those people leave without ever buying anything from you.

Why is that? Were they unhappy with the prices? Did they get lost on your website? Did they want to review your competitors first?

We don’t know for certain, but we can test new approaches to find out.

Conversion rate optimization is a tactic for marketers who want to sell more without spending more. It is a tactic for turning more of your existing visitors into sales.

By focusing on improving the overall conversion rate of your website, you can grow your revenue without growing your advertising budget. And that does wonders for your bottom line.

Check out our recent series on conversion rate optimization tips and get started today.