The Amazon Language
As excited as I am about Google’s language translation technology, unfortunately it will not translate any language into Amazonian. Fortunately for all of us, there is no need to learn a different language. By remembering just a few key points, you will be able to master the Amazonian language very quickly. Having been an Amazon employee, it was very apparent that my success or failure was hinged onto my communication and fortunately I thrived.
Often when you are communicating with Amazon, whether verbally or in writing, there are typically two common reasons. One is just a simple, or maybe not so simple question while the other, which more often is the case, is because Amazon did something like deactivate an ASIN, possibly removed product ratings or something else that has impacted your business. Either way, when you speak Amazonian, you will have a much better chance of achieving the desired outcome. It is also important to remember that Amazon is a very data driven company, so stick to the facts and back up your points with data.
Two Lessons For You
If your reason for communicating with Amazon is the latter of the two, take a few minutes to prepare before you get into Amazon’s system to file a ticket or have them call you. The first thing I have learned when filing a trouble ticket, writing a business proposal or even a simple email is to “take out all of the emotion”, especially any frustration that you might have. The second lesson is to have the Amazon Leadership Principles guide every decision you make.In this case, there are two of them that are key to learning Amazonian. First and foremost is Customer Obsession and specifically, “Leaders start with the customer and work backwards”. Following that, the second is Insist on High Standards.
When obsessing about a customer, you are ultimately considering the customer experience and how you can make it better. Amazon’s thinking is not “how can we sell this item or any other item to a customer”. It is “how can we make the customer experience so good and gain their trust that they want to come back again and again?”
Insisting on high standards should be self-evident and needs to start at the top. If the top level’s standards are only at 80% by the time the “plan” makes its way to group or person who will execute the plan, those standards are probably at 60% because those people have the attitude of “it’s good enough”. If the top levels have standards of 120% by the time they reach execution, they should at least be at 100%. If you are insistent, then they will still be at 120%.
So… what does all this have to do with speaking Amazonian? Again, there are two things to remember. You are playing in Amazon’s sandbox. No matter if something is right or wrong or if something is good or bad, it’s their rules. They have the biggest hammer. Secondly, all you should care about is your company’s bottom line and how you can make more sales, more profit, and grow the business. Now is the time to accept the rules and swallow your pride.
As an example, let’s say Amazon deactivates one of your ASINs because you did not adhere to their requirements for the main image, which essentially says that it needs to be an image of the product only on a white background. It can’t typically be an “in use” or lifestyle image nor can it have any wording on it commonly called an infographic. Here are two examples of letters I have seen written.I will let you decide which one is written in Amazonian.
My ASIN B001234ABC was deactivated because of an image problem, but we chose this image because it really shows how the product works, why it’s better than all the competition and the sales will be much higher. There really is not a better way to show this product other than using this image first, mostly because a customer just seeing the product won’t get it nor will they buy it. Can you please reactivate the ASIN with the main image we uploaded?”
ASIN B001234ABC was deactivated because the image shows the product in use rather than just showing the product on white background, which we understand it not the normal Amazon requirement. In this product category, often there is confusion about products. We did an extensive consumer study using “product only” images and “in-use” images. Not only did we find consumers liked the in-use image more, but more importantly, it led to virtually no product confusion making the purchasing experience that much better. There are products on the market, including some of our own that look similar, but have different functionality and having an “in-use” image first drove the return rate down considerably. The second image is of the product only and the resolution is higher than your requirements so consumers can easily magnify it to see important details.”
I am not saying that using the letter written in Amazonian will guarantee the outcome you want, but put yourself in the seat of the person reading the trouble ticket. If they are “Customer Obsessed”, thinking of the customer experience and having high standards, you have a much better chance receiving the desired outcome.
Let’s look at another example of an ASIN being deactivated. However, this time it’s because of a quality issue and a consumer has accused you of selling a used product when it is listed as new. This is a good example of where it is easy to be frustrated and because you know the product is new, you also know it was packaged in such a way that it could not have been damaged in shipping. You are just confused on how this could happen. I have had clients who immediately assume that it’s a competitor trying to mess with their Seller Rating, which could be the case, however your first response to Amazon will often dictate the outcome, even before you propose a full solution.
Amazon’s ninth Leadership Principle, which I believe should be the second, is Bias For Action. Anytime a mission-critical issue arises and Amazon is the one to notify you, be sure to acknowledge it as soon as possible, even if you don’t have a full solution. Any good Seller is in their Seller Central account multiple times a day and should be aware of this kind of situation. Using the example above this would be my first response to Amazon, or how I would speak Amazonian.
ASIN B009876ZYX was deactivated within the last few hours due to a condition issue and although we know we only ship new goods, package them well and have the highest standards, we take this situation very seriously. As such we are immediately launching a full investigation and will return to you a Plan of Action (POA) in the next ## days (or hours if it is 48 or less).”
Those two sentences alone address six Leadership Principles: Customer Obsession, Ownership, Insist on High Standards, Bias for Action, Dive Deep and Deliver Results. Just make sure you are realistic in what you promise and deliver it in the time frame you set.
The Next Step
The next step will be writing the POA, which I won’t do in this blog, but it is an artform to be able to take responsibility for something without saying you did something wrong. However, this is significant only if you truly did not. If you find that you do have some kind of issue, such as using inadequate packaging material, then admit to the mistake and detail out how you have fixed the issue.
Finally, as I have already stated but want to reiterate, this is Amazon’s playground and they make the rules. Even if you don’t agree with them and can even prove them wrong, it’s important to treat Amazon as if they are still right. The Amazon employee you are working with to solve your issue may be able to bend them a bit, but he or she can’t change them. Speaking Amazonian may give them the backup they need (and can document) to rule in your favor.
If you have questions about selling on Amazon, optimizing your listings and advertising campaigns to peak performance, please contact Prime Guidance for a free account consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author | Robert Baron, Senior Consultant
Earn More Product Reviews with an Automated Email Campaign
When shopping online, most of us have run into a situation where we are stuck deciding between two or more options. The prices and product descriptions are similar. So what serves as the tiebreaker?
The answer, especially on Amazon, is almost always product reviews. Given the choice between two or more similar items, a buyer will almost always choose the product that has more favorable reviews. If the number of stars on the two items is also similar, the item with more reviews is likely to get the edge as that larger number represents a larger sample size of satisfied customers.
Once you appreciate the value of product reviews on Amazon and how important they can be to your brand’s success, making review acquisition a priority becomes an obvious decision. With that said, business owners are extremely busy and have so many things to work on that spending a lot of time on reaching out to customers for feedback can seem unappealing. This is where automation comes into play.
Automating the Product Review Request Process
One of the most proven and effective methods of receiving a review on a product is to email the customer with a feedback request. As you will see in this article, an effective email campaign can use anywhere from 2-4 emails to build a rapport with your customer while also politely requesting a product review.
Without automation, this would be an extremely time-consuming process. Even with pre-built email templates saved on your computer, looking up customer orders and sending emails manually after every order would be a lot of work. This process would become even more troublesome when you were scheduling follow-up emails and trying to keep track of when each one is supposed to go out.
Fortunately, FeedbackWhiz eliminates the headaches that would come with trying to run an email campaign manually by automating the entire process. Sellers can choose from templates that will be sent out at scheduled intervals after a customer has placed their order. These templates are fully customizable and are built with smart tags that automatically populate for each unique order.
For example, “Hi [[Customer_First_Name]], we hope you enjoy your [[Item_Title]]” will show up as “Hi Stacy, we hope you enjoy your Bose Headphones” to one customer and “Hi Greg, we hope you enjoy your Apple iPhone” to another. Feedback Whiz’s software allows its users to have these types of emails automatically produced and sent out on a predetermined schedule, taking all of that work off of your plate.
Starting with a Simple Order Follow Up
The first email you send out to the customer after their purchase should be designed to build a positive relationship with them. This can be achieved by letting them know you are there for them if they have any customer service needs and by offering something of value within the email.
For example, if the item is complicated to use in any way, you could offer some tips that might be beneficial. If humor is applicable to the product or brand, you could add a funny GIF or some “outside the box ways to use our product”. Of course, a simple email like this one could also be effective when scheduled to send after the item has shipped.
Hello [[Customer First Name]],
We just wanted to let you know that your [[Item Title]] is on its way! You can keep up with its progress by tracking your shipment with this link: [[Link Shipment Tracking]].
Here at [[Company Name]], we strive to make sure that all of our customers are happy with their new products. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns about your order. [[Contact Seller Link]]
This email establishes that they can come to you if anything goes wrong with their product and gives them the chance to check in on the status of their delivery on the spot without needing to pull up their order confirmation.
Looking for a Call to Action with the Next Email(s)
Before sending out the second email asking for a product review, you want to give the customer the chance to use and enjoy their product. For a simple product like a cell phone case, the customer probably knows pretty quickly if they like the fit and feel of their new case. For a new supplement, it would probably be best to wait 2-3 weeks before the buyer can notice the changes. Because you can set up a different template for each individual product at FeedbackWhiz, you can decide what time frame makes sense on each project.
Whenever you decide is best to send out this email, it should politely ask the customer to leave a review on your product. Keep in mind that Amazon’s buyer-seller messaging guidelines strictly prohibit sellers from explicitly asking for positive feedback, offering something in exchange for positive feedback or even using an if/then statement. For example, it is now against Amazon’s policy to say “IF you are having a bad experience, contact us. If you are having a good experience, THEN leave a review” as this pushes them towards positive reviews.
With these guidelines in mind, here’s an example of what the second email in this campaign might look like:
Hello [[Customer First Name]],
This is [[Seller Name]] with [[Company Name]] here. We saw that your product was delivered about a week ago and wanted to follow up to see how you were enjoying it so far!
Your feedback helps Amazon buyers like you in their purchasing decisions. It also helps sellers like us to make sure that our customers are satisfied. Would you be willing to leave a product review on [[Item Title]]? It would be greatly appreciated! [[Item Review Link]]
If you have any questions about your product or any issues we can help with, please let us know at [[Contact Seller Link]]. Thanks again for your purchase!
FeedbackWhiz lets its users know when a customer has left a product review. If the buyer still hasn’t left a review on their purchase after receiving this email, it may be worth sending a third one. This should be structured in a similar way to the second one, once again asking the customer to help out the Amazon community with a review and letting them know you are there for their customer service needs.
Tweak Your Campaign Until It’s Just Right
In addition to being able to see when a customer has left a review, Feedback Whiz offers another helpful tool for market research with it’s A/B Testing feature. Users can set up two (or more) different titles on their email campaigns and then receive analytics on which title received the most opens.
Finding the right title to make sure that your emails are being opened as often as possible is important, as is turning those opens into successful conversions. With so many styles and images and colors to choose from, the process of putting a successful template together can feel a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, FeedbackWhiz has plenty of ready-to-go templates that will require little to no updating to be effective.
Of course, each brand and product and customer base is unique. Experimentation with your email templates will help you find the right recipe to maximizing the number of customers that you receive product reviews from, which will, in turn, lead to a nice boost in sales.