Episode 161

3 Tips from Top Brands on Amazon

Andrew Morgans - Marknology & Startup and Hustle Podcast
May 19, 2021
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Andrew Morgans is a true OG when it comes to success on Amazon.  Andrew is the founder of Marknology (think marketing combined with technology) an Amazon brand accelerator and the host of the Startup Hustle podcast.  He’s been helping brands grow on Amazon for 9 years.  Needless to say a LOT has changed on Amazon in 9 years and Andrew has seen a little bit of everything.  In this episode, we go deep into what successful brands are doing right now on Amazon and where things are headed on the platform….

  • Andrew’s philosophy of “if your product can’t sell with your photos and videos alone, you need to go back to the drawing board.”
  • How your copy and photos should flow
  • How A+ content, storefronts and copy really come down to just 2 things
  • Andrew’s favorite tools that he uses daily…but when he doesn’t use them to make decisions.
  • How to view Amazon ads in light of how the advertising industry is shifting
  • Going international - Amazon is doubling down on international growth…why now is the time to consider it for your brand

Andrew Morgans

Via LinkedIn

Via Instagram


Marknology

Via YouTube


Startup Hustle Podcast

Mentioned in this episode: 

Jared Mitchell

Prosper Show

PickFu

eE Episode 73 John Li - PickFu

Amazon Posts

Amazon Live

Helium 10

Jungle Scout

MerchantWords

Twitch

“Who Not How” by Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy


Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Hello and welcome to another edition of the E-Commerce Evolution Podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry. Today is all about Amazon. I am thrilled to be speaking with my guest and really excited about this topic.

Brett:

My guest and I first met through a mutual friend of ours, the legendary Jared Mitchell. Jared made the connection and when Jared makes the connection, I pay attention, right? I think everybody does. Andrew Morgans is with me today. He's the founder of Marknology an Amazon brand accelerators. We're going to talk about, what are top brands doing on Amazon right now? Hey, we may riff into really anything and everything e-commerce. We're both e-commerce guys, so anything is fair game at this moment. But with that, Andrew, welcome to the show man and thanks for taking the time.

Andrew:

Thanks for having me. I'm excited to get into what the brands are doing. I have a lot of fun talking about strategy as it relates to Amazon. I think there's a lot of light bulb moments with e-com guys that maybe aren't living in the day-to-day of Amazon. It's just fun to share what some of the other brands are doing, what we're doing and even what some other agencies are doing. I talk to a lot of other Amazon agencies and we get into stuff.

Brett:

Yeah, it's really cool. Then we're an Amazon agency as well, and I know we've got a little overlap between what we do and what you do, which is awesome. But you've got a real front row seat running the brand accelerator, so we're going to dive into that. Before we do though, let's get your 60 second background, because I know you're a legend in online marketing. How did you get started and how did you end up here helping Amazon brands?

Andrew:

Okay. I'll skip the long story and start with helping brands throughout the last nine years on Amazon. I got a degree in Computer Science, Networking and Security. Started out as a NOC technician at MasterCard global and pretty prestigious companies as far as dotting that line on a resume. I was overwhelmed by what that meant. I had been touring, playing music and finally got my degree and was jumping into the corporate world and was overwhelmed. But once I was in there about two or three months and picked up some of that tribal knowledge of what the other guys were doing and what the ropes look like, I honestly felt like if I wasn't being held back, I could outperform within the room.

Andrew:

In regards to just doing the job, it wasn't that hard of a job. It was like watch the networks and see if they break and if they do, start reporting on it and call ... project manage the solution out. After about a year of that, I just had enough and I was like, "If this is IT, this is not for me." I didn't know what IT could be. I didn't know about e-commerce at that time. I moved from Kansas city to Tampa, Florida and took a job at a startup. I had NOC technicians blow me up for jobs, safe you know they kind, they give you back rubs and Red Bulls and stuff at work. That culture sounded fun to me..

Brett:

Sort of nice, Red Bulls and back rubs. Can't complain.

Andrew:

It did like. It really did and they were literally pitching me that in the interviews and stuff, and I wanted that environment. I was in a new city, starting a new life and having coworkers and that culture was enticing. But I didn't want to go back to that job. I went to this startup company and they were a car parts website. They had four or five different sites and we sold everything from hitches to aftermarket car parts and all of that. There wasn't a lot of car parts online nine years ago. Not really. I'd like to think I'm personally responsible for several million of the parts that are there today.

Brett:

Yes. ..take credit.

Andrew:

We were contacting brands like mom and pop shops being like, "Do you have photos? Are your parts online? We'd love to have them on our site." I was learning that call to a manufacturer or that call to a brand and telling them that we want to optimize their stuff. At that time we were just drop shipping a lot. We'd put their parts up, organize them, have them fit the right mix of models and when people ordered them, we'd placed a call into that company and get it ordered. Then we started private labeling.

Andrew:

We started bringing stuff from China, like tonal covers and trailer wheels and trailer lights and things that have big margins that we were moving a lot of. I was there for a little over a year, but I learned a ton. I did over a million in sales with those just on eBay and Amazon with what I was putting up. Life of the van took me back to Kansas City. I started at Us Toy Company, which is a midsized retailer, 300 employees or so at the time, eight brick and mortars. They had traditionally been a catalog business, so challenge number two, right?

Andrew:

One was like, none of these car part companies have any digital assets or anything like that. No photos, no descriptions, nothing. Number two, we had photos, but they were photos for a catalog or very small descriptions to fit as much as you can in a catalog. It's just a different layer.

Brett:

.. just like a schematic, like a sketch. We worked with some auto parts companies, and it's like, this was not going to really work on e-com.

Andrew:

Okay. That was definitely with the auto, but now I'm in the toy, the toy business here in Kansas City and the toys and the catalogs was traditionally like toys were sold through catalog way back when, and this was a company that had a lot of reach back then. They did everything from outfitting preschools to the Chucky Cheese type toys to more toys like Lego and Thomas the Train. I know way more about toys than I ever should probably. But they had issues too in regards to digital assets. It was a huge overload to take four brands and get photos and copy and all this stuff.

Andrew:

But plug me in; I was hired for my experience on eBay and Amazon. My last startup came in, we started optimizing things like that, getting logistics, using FBA, using Amazon advertising when it came out and grew sales by 1.3. They'd already been cruising a several million in sales, kind of plateaued for a while, so to see lift was the big deal. It was there that I started freelancing. Got top 10 in the world on a site called Upwork at the time in the marketing category.

Andrew:

I think I was just really the only Amazon person in the marketing category that was US-based honestly at the time. A lot of people were building Amazon stores, but they were doing it for themselves. I was helping them-

Brett:

There's a bit of humility on your part, but also I love the transparency, and yeah, it's still a newer game, right? Sometimes it's hard. We try to hire seasoned Amazon ads specialist, and they're really hard to find, so..

Andrew:

It's hard have only been out, if you haven't been all in, if it hasn't been the only thing you're doing, if you've been at a company where you're doing a lot of different things, how can you be an expert at something that's so new? You can't even really take courses on it or go to the university or anything. I just started doing these jobs and Upwork works just like Amazon in some ways, where if you're getting reviews and you're getting positive feedback and you're getting people that are booking you, they continue to promote you.

Andrew:

It was there that I got client like Adidas. Adidas had that light bulb moment for me where I'm like, "If Adidas is hiring me to help them on Amazon and they have these massive agencies-"

Brett:

And they're hiring on Upwork that's crazy too. That's interesting.

Andrew:

There were not Amazon agencies. There were not marketing agencies that had Amazon arms or branches of it. There were not Amazon conferences like Prosper at Vegas. There was barely even e-commerce conferences, much less the Amazon. I was capitalizing on it and I was getting results. If you've ever been a freelancer ever doing a side job or a project for someone, it goes way better when you're successful. I was doing affiliate marketing. I was doing email marketing. I was doing web because my passion is e-commerce really in general.

Andrew:

But across all those projects, every time I did an Amazon project, I was winning and it was like, we were selling stuff. They were wanting to keep me on, wanting to keep me hired. I just went all in on Amazon. That was probably about a little under, a little over seven years ago and started building Marknology. I knew I couldn't learn everything myself as a consultant, so I early on knew I wanted a team. I'm more of a team player myself, and I wanted a team, so I didn't have to obsess about everything graphic related or I didn't have to obsess about writing copy and SEO. I didn't love it.

Andrew:

I loved the science behind it. I didn't love doing it. I started building a team to mirror a lot of what's needed on Amazon. That's how my Marknology came about. We've worked with over 300 brands managed, managed over 200 plus million in sales on the platform, and really starting out with tiny brands, to even get to those numbers. The brands that were embracing Amazon were the ones that were really looking outside the box, ones that were really trying to either private label or just find another opportunity, because they weren't finding opportunity. It wasn't the big Adidas of the world being like here's-

Brett:

Right. They came on later ..

Andrew:

... here's 100 million. Yeah, like it's happening now.

Brett:

.. or something, they're working directly with Amazon not on the marketplace.

Andrew:

Yup.

Brett:

Really excited to dive in. Another thing that we have in common other than just being buddies with Jared Mitchell is, we're both from KC. KC, MO shout. I grew up in Springfield, Missouri, which is where OMG is headquartered, but I was born in Kansas City. All my family is from Kansas City, so go Chiefs, go Royals.

Andrew:

Home grown. Let's go.

Brett:

Yeah man. Home grown that's right. That's right. Let's dive right in and let's look at what are top brands are doing on Amazon. When you take on a new client, so if someone comes to you, they want to use your brand accelerator, they want to tap into the brain of Andrew Morgans and team, and you start optimizing, you start looking for growth opportunities, what are some of the most common levers you pull first or things you do to really start to improve and scale? I'm sure there's several, but what are the most common?

Andrew:

Well, It does start out with a conversation with the brand. I know that sounds basic, but it's very important to understand what their goals are on Amazon, what they're hiccups have been, what their roadblocks have been, what's been working, what's not, because I can come in and look at metrics and there's not always red flags. There's not always a clear direction on where to go. it's super important to just understand what's going on at their companies. As I get into manufacturers and brands, I'm learning that it's not just what's being done on Amazon, it's what's happening internally at their company.

Andrew:

They might have an issue, I say issue, but they might have some stuff to overcome with their sales team. They might have some stuff to overcome with their accounting or financial team. It's really those people that are, let's say giving the e-commerce manager or even the CEO of that company the most struggle, the most hassle, the most issues to getting in e-commerce. They can't understand it. They don't know how to make sense of it. They don't know how to ... They might be a North American distributor for a company in France and be having map pricing issues from 1D to 3P and not understand what's going on. Well, I'm not going to see that initially, like in an audit.

Brett:

Just at looking at the data, looking at a cost, looking at you don't know the story.

Andrew:

I'm going to get any of the politics, and understanding the politics can tell me what to focus on for that company and what to make them feel comfortable with early on. That's just a little veteran trip. I'm sure everyone has their own way of doing that. But for me, it's not just like, it's our way or the highway. It's really trying to figure out, what their pain points are. Growth is going to be what I'm going to naturally go to. If it's not growth, I want to know what else is an issue. Then whenever we're into the account, we've gotten access; I'm going to try to plug all my tools in. I'm trying to plug in my advertising tools.

Andrew:

I'm trying to plug in my reporting tools. I'm trying to plug in my analysis tools, so they can start gathering data. As I get plugged in, I can start using that data to make decisions. But as early on as possible, I want to start getting data from the brand, whether that's advertising keywords, whether that's sales reports, sales numbers, conversion rates, things like that. I'm in, and the things that we're focusing on are first in my opinion the product detail page. Unless they say, "Hey, we're losing money left and right on advertising, jump in and stop the bleeding."

Andrew:

At first, it's going to be, "Let's get the product pages looking great." If someone has a thousand skew catalogs, we're not taking all thousand. I think that's one of the big issues with the big brands is that they want to focus on the big picture and make changes that affect everything, but that's not how Amazon works. Amazon works in a one-to-one way.

Brett:

It is.

Andrew:

It's identifying in those early conversations as well, what are your top sellers? What are products that we should focus on first? What would you like us to really optimize? Traditionally it's like, take five or 10, start focusing on those, everything from imagery that captures the attention; give a shout out to a partner, pickfu.com. It's a way you can have Amazon customers evaluate the seven images on your Amazon, or maybe you have 10 or 15 you're thinking about and really get customer feedback on what they liked about those photos, what they don't. We take it to that level. My visual director in that team is digging in and really evaluating their photography. Is it good for Amazon?

Brett:

Actually quick shout out the guys from PickFu who are on the podcast long ago. Great guys based in San Francisco where they were at the time ..

Andrew:

Okay. I've only worked with the ladies on the team, but they do awesome work and it's just like, you want to take your stuff to the next level? You want to really dominate, take that extra time and use a service like PickFu and have some customers give you some real feedback. As we start dealing with bigger brands and manufacturers, I have less issues with that artist really holding onto their photos, because they're the ones that did them. But it's super important, and I'm starting with photos, even though we're both ad guys. I know OMG is strong on the ad side, but the photos play a part into the ads.

Brett:

A huge part.

Andrew:

The first image that you see, I only avoided it because I didn't really have anyone on my team that could do it in-house and so it was, I needed to rely on the brand to go out there and get good photos and really dictate what needed to be happening on Amazon. I would show them examples, but it just wasn't executing very well. Now that we have it in-house, it's not even about it being a profit center and me talking about it in that way. It's like literally maybe the most important thing on Amazon next to the copy and stuff.

Andrew:

A lot of times we're tying in the value proposition of the products, the bullet points, for example, maybe the headers of those bullet points and what's really important, pulling those into the photos. A lot of people are trying to copy what people did in the early days on Amazon, which is just jam pack all this information, almost like infographics into these photos. I don't really think that's the way anymore. The marketplace changes and so on those photos, we're really trying to just hit big text, the main key points, storytelling stuff.

Andrew:

If your product is simple, talk about your story, talk about why you built the brand, up sell your other products if you can in some of those photos. There's a million things you can do with them. If you just have a lifestyle photo with no call to action or no value proposition there, it's a wasted photo. It's not helping anyone buy, I can guarantee you that. Starting with photo and then we go to copy and ...

Brett:

Just a couple questions on photo. Do you typically recommend adding video as well? Does that make a difference or is that just a case by case basis? I know if you had a thousand skews getting video on a thousand skews is going to be really tricky.

Andrew:

Well, no, I love video and thanks for bringing that up. I just think that most brands are not prepared for video in general. I come back to video almost like when we've done a phase one. Now, if they've got video, there's usually a simple ask that goes right up front that's just like, "Do you guys have video? If not, we'll re-circle." But I highly recommend video. Amazon is promoting video. If you align yourself as an agency or a consultant or a brand to just buy into what Amazon is trying to do, and when they push a new initiative jump in head first and try to figure it out, whether it's video, whether it's Amazon post, whether it's Amazon live, whether it's whatever the case might be.

Andrew:

Typically, I've always found wins in that. Video, you could probably go to my YouTube and find a couple year old video where I was just talking about how video is going to be huge on Amazon before it came out. The brands that had videos ready to go for video ads, we crushed it before anyone else got up to speed.

Brett:

Yeah sponsored brand video is just, it's still killer. It's not as amazing ...

Andrew:

Click through rate is amazing.

Brett:

Yeah. It's not as amazing as it was when it first launched, but still fantastic. Often the best performing ads.

Andrew:

I think Amazon dialed it back more so than just competitors getting into this space. I think it was a little bit of both, like Amazon just giving amazing results early on. They played us a little bit. But the click through rate is still fantastic. If you are paying attention to those types of metrics on your listing, how high is your conversion rate? Those things matter to Amazon. The videos are the best because the click through rate is fantastic. But yeah, it's video. If you have a thousand skews, think outside the box. You don't have to have an individual product video for every single skew. You could have a brand video.

Brett:

A brand video. Yeah. You load up on your best product photography and you got lifestyle, and you got showing what's inside the box and just a variety of pictures and then yeah, have a brand video on there for those that want to see it and really want to dig in deeper. That's ..

Andrew:

Yeah. Could you sell your product with just the photos and video? If yes, you're doing a good job. If no, get back to the drawing board is how I feel. The copy and everything else we do compliments those things. But that's where customers are living today is, photos and video and things like that. A lot of what the big brands are doing that's working is simply a strategy that has intentionality. They have intent on the keywords and the story they're trying to tell and the advertising that's backing it up and it's all working together and there's intent.

Andrew:

I think even the brands doing lots of sales, it's honestly very rare nowadays that I have a full scope of team, when it was just me doing ads or simple things like that. There was some brands that were just already doing enough that they didn't need me. Now, a few years later with our team being able to do storefronts and eight plus pages and advertising and SEO and international brand production and all those things, it's very rare that I meet a brand or a manufacturer that's even crushing it, that doesn't need some level of Marknology to help them out or another agency or an expert.

Andrew:

It's just, whether it's too many, you need more hands or you simply just need more hands in there, more time, more people that know what they're doing to handle your store, or your advertising is doing well, but is your advertising and the SEO or the keywords in your listing, are they mirrored? Do you have a strategy around that? In summary, it's like focus, focus, focus on those product pages. Before I spend anything of the brands dollars on advertising, I want to make sure our pages are looking great.

Andrew:

Let's say they have a thousand skews, as they release five, I'll say, "Okay, let's start advertising on those five." Because I don't want to lose their trust in spending endlessly. I want to get more ad budget. If they give me $2,000 to start with, and those $2,000 perform, I'm going to get $4,000, I'm going to get $6,000. If I start with two and I'm like, "Oh, we learned some stuff. We need to really backpedal to get these listings up to speed and then try again." I feel like as a consultant, as an agency owner, I'm doing them a disservice because I'm starting on a bad foot.

Andrew:

We really start with the product pages. I think if Amazon was on this call or on this podcast, Zoom, they would say the same thing. Whenever they give you advice, they're saying, "Assuming that all of these product detail pages are really dialed."

Brett:

Right, that's the foundation, if that's not solid, you're going to be wasting money overpaying, underperforming with your ad strategy no doubt. Then a couple of quick copy tips and ideas. I know you talked about people just loading up as many images as they could in the past. I know in the past also people would just load up the headline and the headline was a paragraph basically, and then you had all kinds of crap in the bullets and stuff. What, does good copy look like now on Amazon in your opinion?

Andrew:

Okay. It's just fine. It's like a dance. It's a little bit of art, a little bit of science. On our end, we are legitimately researching competitors listings. We run reverse look-ups on them, which tells us what keywords they rank for. We are combing their reviews for customer feedback to see how we can be better. We're using tools like Helium10, Jungle Scout, MerchantWords, all of them to get a keyword base for the listings, like what keywords matter. I'm not going to give my exact science because, there's a little bit of art to that, but it's essentially finding keywords that have good search volume, not necessarily the highest just because search volume and making sure they're extremely accurate to the product.

Andrew:

Meaning like, sometimes you'll type in, let's say red photo frame and you'll see that a bunch of other listings come up, brown photo frame, black photo frames, blue photo frames. In my opinion that could be dialed in better, whether their ads are sloppy and they're broad or the SEO in the listing is just not as specific to say that it's a red photo frame and so you're hurting yourself. Sure you're getting more sessions, you're getting more traffic, but you're actually getting people that bounce off as well. It's like trying to get copy that's extremely relevant. I'll give like an example here.

Andrew:

I think it's worth learning. I'm launching two products for a brand and they're both baby products. They're both photo frames and one of them is a 12 months, like pictures of the baby for the first year of their life, and the other one is a kit baby hand print and footprint that goes in the photo frame. The hand print and footprint photo frame, I can advertise on anything almost and it's getting sales. What I mean by that is, baby photo frame, infant photo frame, hand and foot baby kit and infant gifts, newborn baby gifts, you name it, right?

Brett:

It's a pretty broad appeal-

Andrew:

Pretty broad appeal.

Brett:

... and it kind of crossed different categories and things like that.

Andrew:

The other one, complete opposite. Now I'm not discouraged by that, because sure the other one can get more sales volume, et cetera and all those kinds of things, it almost makes it harder though to dial in. The other one which is a first-year baby, if I just did baby photo frame, it's not what people are looking for. It needs something like first year, or it needs like 12 month or it needs like first year of life or it needs like something very specific to what we're selling. If I just was going after photo frame or baby photo frame or infant photo frame in my copy of that first year, 12 month photo frame, for example, I would not be hitting the mark with accurate SEO.

Andrew:

On the advertising side, it's the one that's telling me what's working and what's not. The advertising is going to then dictate what I do in the copy to come back and revise it and get it more accurate and more dialed in. Does that make sense?

Brett:

Totally makes sense. Absolutely. That goes back to something you said before, where you're having this conversation and really understand the brand and the goals of the brand and the company, and you're being very intentional. Then also part of that is understanding the nature of a product, because there are some of those products that really have pretty broad appeal and they're cross categories, and then there are other products that's just, it's very specific. This is very niche product and so we branch outside of these specific keywords in the specific frame. It doesn't do well.

Andrew:

Yeah, I think a major hiccup to brands that, and this space has grown. Some of the understanding on the other side of who I'm working with has grown as well, and there's more understanding just in general. But it was very often that I would have a brand or a client that would launch products and be successful early on, one because I know what I'm doing and we're taking guesses, right?

Brett:

Yeah, sure.

Andrew:

But also some of those guesses would hit too early and I almost wish we had struck out three or four times and then hit gold on product number five or something, because whenever they get it so easy the first time they're expecting that to happen each time. In this example, you can see that I'm not discouraged by either product; it just requires a different level of analysis and a different level of work and a longer ramp up time to get that product super dialed in and going. Some people would just launch a bunch of products and be, give up on half of their products because they're not taking off, because they had this pre-assumption of what it should do.

Andrew:

Those are the products like ... That's why if I can just rant a little bit, the wholesale game, the reseller game, which a lot of the people have put out a lot of Amazon content on YouTube, on Instagram or whatever. They're just finding hot products. They're finding those five hot that were moving and trying to replicate those versus being the team that's going to make the bottom five kick-ass. When you can dial both of them and you feel like, "Well, I got the keys to the kingdom so to speak." It really comes down to SEO and advertising.

Andrew:

All those things we're talking about, the intentionality behind it is just if you have intentionality, that's usually what's missing. Not every brand is missing that, but a lot of them are missing ... We know what we're doing, but how do we pull it all in together where it's all helping each channel or each part of Amazon is helping the next one.

Brett:

Yep. Totally makes sense. Love it. What about any other content on the product detail page? Are you doing an additional brand content? Is there other things you're thinking about beyond copy and what ...

Andrew:

I mentioned it briefly, but just went over it probably just speak in my terminology, a little tech speak too much, but A Plus Pages and storefronts. Marknology is basically, I'm not sure that there's anyone we're working with that doesn't have a trademark, which gives you access to brand registry. Once we started understanding how all of this works, not having that felt like our hands were tied behind our backs.

Brett:

Sure.

Andrew:

We can engage with a brand that doesn't have it and educate them on how to get there, but it has to be in the plan to get there. The storefronts and A Plus Pages for anyone that doesn't know that's listening, are essentially like if you're on an Amazon listing and you see the brand name at the top, maybe it says, "Sold by Marknology" or, "This is the Marknology product," you click on that and it would bring you through to the store that almost looks like a website. Then the A Plus Page is where the description would be.

Andrew:

But if you've ever bought anything on Amazon, which I'm sure everyone listening has, and you're scrolling through the listing and you get to the reviews, there's a description of the product. Sometimes it looks like a magazine article almost like kind of a branded thing. What we're really trying to do is, we're mixing what they're doing on their website to the storefront and trying to have cohesion here and really have the same brand voice and brand messaging in both places. Then with the A Plus Page, more like dial into the product itself if possible, story tell, what are added values, anything that the first seven photos didn't cover, we want to cover here.

Andrew:

Then you can cross sell right there. A Plus Pages give you a chance to compare your other products against each other. Kind of like, say like this receiver has this and this receiver has these features and this receiver has these features. You're just showing all of your products right there. It's one of the only spots in Amazon where you can, without a variation jump to more products in the same person's store without leaving and going back to Amazon.

Andrew:

For brands that's absolutely huge, when it comes to introducing maybe a new product or a product that's not selling as well. You can take your big product, show off your younger product or your underperforming product and really, really boost it.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. We've had a lot of luck with A Plus Flash, EBC, enhanced brand content and there's a lot of improvements to be made there. That's often an overlooked thing, more overlooked than even photos and copy, probably less important too ..

Andrew:

It's more challenging.

Brett:

It's more challenging, yeah.

Andrew:

You don't just need a photographer. You need a graphic designer that understands the layout. A lot of brands are just smashing way too many keywords in there. Our eyes, if you're looking on a mobile phone or like, we just don't even read it. If you get to a point where you're trying to keyword stuff, but no one can read your listing to understand the story you're trying to tell, you're wasting your time. I know a big challenge for Marknology was, we probably really faced this about three years ago when we really started taking on this hurdle, but it was like, what do you do with brands that have 200 new skews a spring or a fall that all need A Plus Pages, they all need updated on the storefront. It's a lot bigger undertaking. It'd be like creating 200 individual landing pages on a website.

Andrew:

That was a big challenge for us. We needed a bigger team to be able to handle brands of that size, and really forced us to optimize our processes.

Brett:

Cool. Love it. All right. We talked about maybe not all things PDP, but we went deep, we talked about a lot of good stuff. Then where do you go from there? Is it ads or what's the next step for?

Andrew:

We talked about ads and how it's helping me to dial in those two new products. Advertising is absolutely huge on Amazon. If you're not advertising, you're dropping the ball. There's no way that you're getting any feedback on the keywords you're using. You're not able to dial in your conversion rates by getting the right traffic there. It's a pay to play platform, and sure in the early days, maybe not, but it is now. It's a very, very big part of the Amazon flywheel.

Andrew:

But let's leave advertising there because I think there's a lot of people that talk about advertising in regards to Amazon, because if you were in the PPC world, if you're in advertising before Amazon came around, you have a lot of expertise and so you'd jump into Amazon through the ad platform. I think it's the third largest now, third largest advertiser.

Brett:

It is. It's growing like crazy. It's over 20 billion in ad revenue in 2020, which is the size of Facebook maybe four years ago.

Andrew:

They acquired Twitch.

Brett:

That's the size of all of Facebook, but this is just Amazon's ad revenue, which is crazy. It's still growing like a weed.

Andrew:

Something under the radar is the Twitch stuff, and I'm not completely into that. If you get in there, you let me know, but Amazon acquired Twitch and Twitch has, there's more gamers than ... They have more viewers than all pro sports combined across the world.

Brett:

Crazy.

Andrew:

That is an insane stat. You can Google it, you can look me up, you can validate what I'm saying, but gamers now have more views and more eyeballs than every other pro sport or entertainment thing that we're watching combined, and that's crazy to me. That will at one point be included in Amazon advertising stats. I wouldn't suspect that they wouldn't pass maybe even YouTube or Facebook depending on what happens. Because another thing is, all this international expansion which is really where Amazon's focus is now and becoming global. I'd like to talk about that a little bit, If you don't mind, what kind of some of those other things are doing.

Brett:

Yeah, let's do it. And just one thing I'll chime in. I don't know about catching Google and Facebook. We'll see. I would not like tell Jeff Bezos, you can't do something because ..

Andrew:

Well he's gone now. He's gone, right?

Brett:

Yeah. The rumors I hear are that he just did that because he didn't want to sit in front of the Senate. He's still involved. He's the chairman of the board or whatever, but yeah he's not the CEO. But I think with some of the privacy ... I don't want to get off on a tangent too much, but just a really quick note, with all of the privacy updates right. I was 14, Google was saying now they're going to do away with third-party cookies on browsers in 2022. There's just lots of things changing there. Really the winner when those things happen is people that own first party data or people that have data and who has more shopper data than Amazon? Nobody.

Brett:

Amazon's ad platform, I see it being more and more relevant and more powerful as we move into this privacy first web. We'll see how it plays out, but yeah, the Amazon ad business is going to continue to be huge, and you're right, if you're not utilizing it, you're missing out because it's a requirement.

Andrew:

Yeah. Bezos, I've researched the guy. I've built a business around what he built. I've spent my time trying to get into his mindset and what he was trying to do. I have never talked to him obviously, but reading books, reading ...

Brett:

But he's a listener, so if you have a message, I'm sure he listens to this podcast, so you just quick shout out to Jeff if you want.

Andrew:

Cool. Thanks, Jeff. No, but he started with the books to really get customer data and build customer profiles. From the books, everything else has come out of it. from the very, very, very beginning customer data and customer profiles has been his MO, and so it's not hard to understand that is the core behind everything that we're doing. The difference is just that he hasn't given everybody else access to that personalization.

Brett:

Right. That was really smart on his part for sure. Okay, cool. Let's dive into international expansion, talk about that.

Andrew:

Yeah. I'm finding just a lot of wins. I'm finding a lot of wins for my brands that are expanding, and Amazon's making it easier and easier and giving tons of incentives. I have one of my brands that we've grown 4X, 4X, 4X, 4X, and we're in the millions, so it's not like $4,000. We're still growing like that in the US and we're looking to expand to Canada and the EU and UK, and Amazon's incentivizing us to do so, so giving us a rep, giving us, paying for VAT, paying for the paperwork to get registered there. If you pay attention, like I said earlier, if you pay attention to what Amazon's trying to do, where they're putting their money, where they're putting their incentives, where they're bribing buyers and manufacturers to make moves, you can understand what direction they're heading pretty easily.

Andrew:

Put your ear to the ground the old West ways and just hear the horses coming kind of thing, and I'm like, it's not really that hard to predict where Amazon wants to find wins. I think that's where the opportunities lie. That's a little nugget for anyone listening, but I think ...

Brett:

I think it totally makes sense because if you think about it, how much more growth does Amazon have in the US? There's still growth, no doubt as there's more and more purchases move online, but if they want to keep the same rate of growth, that's going to become impossible when you're just so huge in the US, so international expansion it is definitely the next ..

Andrew:

Massive right? It's understanding localization when it comes to translation. A lot of people are getting that early push and using Google Translate. The next level is get localization, translation. That's been a huge win for us. That's what some of the big brands are doing. It takes a lot of time to translate A Plus Pages and get them all done. But if you imagine being an expert on Amazon, like let's say, you're Andrew Morgans and you are launching a brand and you're doing it right when Amazon started instead of nine, 10 years later trying to get in the game or whatever as an expert.

Andrew:

That's how I feel about international expansion. You're getting into these marketplaces before they blow up, and so there is some risk, there is some early mover risks there. But Amazon Australia, for example, great seasonality for a brand that has a winter selling season or a barbecue selling season, for example, summertime. Use Amazon Australia, offset your seasonality. Be smart about where you're going obviously. If you're selling foods like Amazon Singapore or Amazon Brazil or Amazon India, what do those populations eat? What are they missing? What are those ex-pat communities and those communities eating? You could literally grow off an ex-pat community. Do they have those products in those countries? Or can you be the first to bring them there? One of the biggest wins that I've found and we've been talking advertising is on the advertising side in those countries. A cheap-

Brett:

It's the ground floor there too. It's probably dirt cheap, lots of inventory available, so you're getting a ..

Andrew:

When I launched in Australia for the first time, I honestly didn't think it was working because it was just charging me like $5, and I had everything dialed all the way up. I was just like, "Is there not enough searches? Are the ads not working, whatever?" It was just that the cost per click was literally pennies. I was just like, "Am I not being charged? What's going on?" That's how crazy it was. But the way that the platform works is as your listing gets sales under a keyword, like let's say it's AirPods, right?

Andrew:

Every single time you get a click and a sale for AirPods case, your listing gets stronger and stronger and stronger. You should think about it like that. Then it becomes proactively, how can I get more of those so that I'm ranking even higher, higher, higher? Well, imagine going to another marketplace, you're the first one there, instead of even having to pay for ads, and maybe you are paying for ads every time someone types in AirPods case, you're the only one showing up. You are dominating. I know I'm pushing it kind of hard, but I really just think it's a huge opportunity when you have people slugging it out in some competitive categories here in the US, and I think there's 18 marketplaces now across the world that Amazon is.

Andrew:

As they add these programs like global export or global listings, or the programs where you can be in Canada and Mexico at the same time and in the EU, you're in all those marketplaces, eventually EU, US Canada, Asia, for example, will all be unified I think under an Amazon, kind of Amazon umbrella if you're selling in all of those places and you'll be able to combine inventory and things like that. For our brands, I'm always trying to be just a step ahead and try to help them prepare for what that would look like.

Andrew:

Don't set yourself up in ways now that you won't be able to scale later if that happens. Things like having the same skew, naming conventions and simple things like that that just matter.

Brett:

Cool. Any research tools or strategies you'd recommend for international. Someone's listening and thinking, "Okay, I got to think more internationally, got to get serious about it." Where should they research, explore? What should some of their first steps be?

Andrew:

I think they should try to ... Even I, like I used another agency to help launch one of my brands in Japan. I didn't do it myself, and then I took over. Once it's up and running, I can run it and with my tools and different things like that, but I found a partner to help me do it. They understood ...

Brett:

A partner in that country? That actually goes back, there's a great book that I read recently called Who Not How, and usually the best answer is a who not a how, and sometimes we're asking the wrong question. It's not how do you do this, but who could be helping me to figure out the how.

Andrew:

Can help me do this. Exactly. In some countries you need to have a business license there and some countries you don't. In some countries you need to have VAT, or tax collection in other countries you don't, and Amazon's doing that automatically. There's a little bit of nuances around that. I'm actually working with Amazon right now on a guide, partnering with Amazon on a guide on international expansion.

Brett:

That's like awesome. Looking forward to seeing that.

Andrew:

Like what need to know. How can they compare you? Things like that.

Brett:

I want to get a digitally signed copy, Andrew with your ..

Andrew:

I don't know if they'll even say Marknology helped at all, but we're an Amazon advertising partner like a lot of agencies that are in this space, but this is one of the projects we're giving feedback on and having some fun with. But you talked about the tools and I love the tools, but I use the tools for analyzing data and what to do with it and helping me run ads better. I rarely use the tools for proof of market, if that makes sense. I'm just not the type. I don't need all these answers to make a decision. I lead that way and I try not to.

Andrew:

But if you're doing it yourself and that's not your way, and I say that because if you've been doing this nine years and some people have even been doing it longer, there weren't a lot of brands in specific categories or niches at that time. If you're doing research, you're going to come up with, no one's here selling this. There's no one here selling men's high-end suspenders at $99 a pair. They're selling them at 9.99. I think Amazon is just a cheap marketplace. You've got wrong data. You miss an opportunity.

Andrew:

That happened to me lots of different times. I've been the first to launch products before they were competitors to study or categories to study the movement, and we were very successful. I take, it is important to see what is that market, what's that category doing in those marketplaces? Or like, is there a potential for us to be there, but there's also, if you can shoulder it, if you can bear that burden or take that leap of faith so to speak, there's a huge upside to be there first, even if you'd have to wait on that marketplace to grow in nature.

Andrew:

I promise you if Amazon has launched there, they're not going away. If that marketplace gets below or slower than some of the others, they're going to push the crap out of it. Let them be pushing your brand while you're there early chilling.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. I love that. That's fantastic. This has been so good, man. Great energy, great insights, just really fun. As people are listening, obviously I think we've got a pretty good picture of what Marknology does, but we'll talk about that really quickly. Where can people learn more? What are the first steps? Then curious if you have any resources you'd recommend too.

Andrew:

Totally. We are on the web Marknology is a made up word, M-A-R-K-N-O-L-O-G-Y, just e-commerce being in the middle of marketing and technology. I just didn't really want to pay for an expensive domain. I was poor back then, but if you search Marknology, a lot of resources come up because we're the only one. But everything from YouTube, you can find us on YouTube at Marknology. You can find us, I have my own podcast Startup Hustle. I'm on Tuesdays. I cover all things e-commerce and Amazon, would love to have you tune in there.

Andrew:

Bring a lot of guests on just like yourself here. We just talk, we were talking YouTube on that episode a lot, so covering all things, e-commerce really. I'm on Instagram at Andrew Morgans. I love connecting on Instagram, is one of my organic platforms that I started on a few years ago, so I'm very comfortable there. But on YouTube on Markknology.com, you can find more information on us. We got customer testimonials. We've got some of our case studies that we've done there.

Andrew:

We've got who are we and meet the team. I really built a site for people to just get to know us. That's what my site does. We essentially are a full service Amazon agency, so everything from logistics to international expansion strategy, proactive strategies, product optimization, helping people get unsuspended when their accounts are suspended, brand protection. We run the gambit. If you're needing help on Amazon, we're not for people that don't have a brand story, you don't have a brand put together anymore.

Andrew:

We're really looking for brands that have a story they want to tell, and we want to help them tell that story. There's just not enough money in the world to have me just keep giving my energy to brands that don't exist yet. I'm having to draw a line there, but I still love doing that, doing some of that on my own, but if you're a brand that has a product that's ready to be on Amazon or be in the e-commerce space, even if you're not and you just want to chat, happy to get on a call with people interested in the Amazon space and just talk about what that roadmap looks like for your brand.

Andrew:

We work a lot with manufacturers that have never been in e-commerce before and helping them get into the Amazon space, the e-commerce space. We also help brands that have been digital first from the beginning, so kind of run the gambit.

Brett:

Love it, man. Really good stuff. I will link to everything in the show notes, marknology.com, also YouTube channel and Instagram. Yes, check out Startup Hustle. Look for the episode with me. It was a ton of fun. You're a great podcast host obviously, and that I think partially why you're a great podcast guest as well, because you've been on the other side, which is super fun and so I'll link to everything. Check out Andrew Morgans with that, man. Thanks again, dude. This has been a ton of fun.

Andrew:

Thanks, Brett. I'll see you next time.

Brett:

Awesome. Sounds good. As always, thank you for tuning in. We'd love to hear from you. We'd love to hear feedback, what you'd like hear more of, what are some topic ideas, what's going on in your world? We'd love to connect with you either on our Facebook page or through the website at omgcommerce.com. As always until next time, thank you for listening. Oh man, that's a warp. Thanks for doing that dude.

Andrew:

Thank you.


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