Talk Marketing

Getting Started with Amazon Author Central and Launching Your Book With Daniel Fernandez

In this episode of Talk Marketing Made Easy, John McDougall talks with Daniel Fernandez of AMZ Clever. They chat about the ins and outs of selling books on Amazon, and speculate about the future of this platform.

John McDougall: Welcome. This is John McDougall with Talk Marketing Made Easy, and I’m here today with Daniel Fernandez of AMZ Clever. Welcome, Daniel.

Daniel Fernandez: Hey, John. Excited to be here.

John: Yeah, fantastic. Tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got into this world of Amazon consulting services and the like.

Daniel: Absolutely. So it’s a little bit over eight years now, and funny enough, the first time I heard about Amazon was through a podcast. Farman sent me a podcast episode just like this one, and that is when the Amazon selling space was just starting to take off about eight years ago. I listened to it, I got involved, I launched a brand, I launched my agency, and the rest is history. The brand had its ups and downs. The agency continued to grow and now I’ve been doing this for a while.

John: You work with authors and the like? Is it mostly authors or what are the types of people you work with?

Daniel: Yes. So in terms of the brands, the clients, I think by now we’ve done everything imaginable. We’ve worked with product companies, product businesses, some that were already big. We’ve worked with startups. When it comes to authors, we’ve worked with nonfiction authors, fiction authors because at this point, we’re very good at the mechanics of Amazon. So we vet the product that we work with, the brand that we work with, and when we find something that works, it’s just a matter of taking action.

Challenges of Publishing Books on Amazon

John: I’ll tell you, and for anyone listening, how painful Amazon can be. I’ve written three books, but I’m by no means an Amazon expert. I rely on you for that. It’s a really niche thing and it is crazy. Google and Facebook are just such big companies. I think Amazon’s just so successful and so big.

I was shocked when I first put my first book up on Amazon like 2012-ish, I don’t think it was that complicated, but when I wrote a book for a law firm a few years back and I tried to put it on Amazon, I could not get them verified. I was like … We gave credit card statements and passports, and it’s a legitimate law firm that’s been around for 30 years, and I’m like, “If Amazon won’t approve them to just be a fricking author to have a book, what is wrong with this system?” So anyway, man, times have changed.

Daniel: Amazon, a couple things. One is it’s a love and hate relationship with them. They’re victims of their own success. They have grown so big that a lot of authors, famous brands, they fall through the cracks of their system. Also, they make the shopper experience very user-friendly, but the backend not so much. They put you in a position of figure it out.

John: I couldn’t figure it out. I did some searches and I found someone that was a thousand bucks for … This was three years ago, right around COVID or right before COVID. So I found someone like, “Oh, thank God. Whoa.” It’s a thousand bucks and they’ll walk me through it. I got on the phone with them, I’m like, “Absolutely. I’ll just pay it for my client,” because I was getting good money for SEO.

It’s just still my client. I’m like, “I’ll pay it because it’s embarrassing. I’m going to get their book on Amazon for them. I didn’t know it would be impossible.” So this person was nice enough to just say, “If you want, just go to Ingram Spark as one option and get it on.” So I did a little sidestep, but, oh, man, I think it’s so complicated. If you don’t have Amazon consultants, I don’t think you’ll make it on your own anymore. They’re too big. The support was impossible.

Daniel: Amazon, that’s an entire podcast episode on its own. We have full-time team members that are focused just on dealing with Amazon seller support because, again, as victims of their own success, they grew so big that their support has different tiers. First tier doesn’t work for Amazon. It’s outsourced. The second tier, same thing. Then you cannot speak to third tier unless you-

John: The average person doesn’t know they’re talking to the lowest person when they first call in and they’re not getting even the right answer, a straight answer.

Daniel: John, at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these people don’t even know they work for Amazon.

Seller Central Vs. Author Central

John: So you opened my mind that the way that I was doing it before through Amazon Seller Central, I had no idea until you told me like, “Oh, that’s more like for products and the old way,” because things have evolved. Now, there’s Author Central and KDP. So why don’t we start there? What is Author Central and how does that fit into things?

Daniel: Absolutely. So John, if I can speak openly because of you not being in the Amazon world, you were doing what a reseller of books would do, which is it’s the same thing that somebody buying used books at liquidation sales and retail stores. They would buy those books, open a Seller Central account and then ship them, physically ship them to Amazon for Amazon to fulfill those sales when they sell them, but as an author, the system is so much more sophisticated than that. We see print on demand. You don’t have to touch inventory, which is when we spoke, I showed you and I think that you’re very close to-

John: Oh, thank God.

Daniel: You’re very close to selling it that way. So Seller Central is amazing. If you’re selling used books, fantastic. If you created a-

John: If want to make a living doing that kind of thing or products or something, but not as an individual author.

Daniel: Correct. Also, if you created a supplement or a gadget, physical products, fantastic because you send all your stock to the Amazon warehouse and you don’t have to fulfill your product when somebody buys it. Amazon does it. Now, if you are an author, fiction, nonfiction, what you want to look at is one is what’s called Author Central, Amazon Author Central.

This is a place where maybe your book got published by XYZ publisher and they already listed it on Amazon, whether it is print on demand or not, they did that, but you are the author. So to claim that that book is yours as the author, you do that through Author Central. It’s literally a different website,

John: That’s where I was going wrong. I wasn’t even in the right website, but Amazon support didn’t tell me that.

Advertising With Amazon Author Central

Daniel: Correct. Correct. The other thing is by doing that, you can then run Amazon PPC ads, so Amazon pay-per-click advertising for your book on Amazon because maybe people find your book by typing your name, John and keyword, keyword. That’s awesome. You may not need to run ads for that, but how about the people searching for how to grow a business, how to do SEO or all these keywords that are huge on Amazon? You will run ads.

So that is what you would do with Author Central. Now, if you want to self-publish your book, you also have what’s called the Kindle Direct Publishing, so, where you can self-publish your book, launch a print on demand, launch a Kindle version, and there is a few more options there. Then you can also run the ads and whatnot.

John: I was confused because when we first did it in 2012, I could swear we ran some ads, Amazon ads, and then when I tried to do it with my book, Content Marketing and SEO for Law Firms, which, again, mistakenly I ship boxes to Amazon, and my second book, I did it the old way through Seller Central, but when I called support and I’m like, “I want to run ads,” and I think I can even see the history that we had run some ads through Seller Central, but they were like, “Oh, you can’t do that for a book. No, that’s not here.”

So they sort of pointed me to that, that there’s a different platform for that, but the way you explained it made sense immediately. The way tech support explained it, I was just confused. They didn’t really tell me that whole ecosystem. They’re just like, “Oh, you can’t do that here,” I’m like, “But it’s Amazon.” I’m like, “My book’s on Amazon. Why can’t I just run an ad to the book?”

So their support people will just … You could spend years going around the loop unless you talk to someone like you that’s like, “No, Author Central is where you do that. KDP, you can launch your print on demand book. That’s the way to do it. You want to go that direction.” So yeah, again, if you’re an author, you go in that direction. If you want to sell all kinds of stuff or piles of used books from yard sales or be an affiliate marketer or have huge piles of things, use Seller Central. Is that the general ecosystem?

Customer Support Challenges With Big Companies

Daniel: Yes. Seller Central is when it’s physical products. They’re not print-on-demand, whether it is books or Nike shoes or protein bars or clothing, whatever is physical. To mention something about seller support, a lot of times, this is speculation, but it seems like the KPI, not to be confused with KDP, okay?

Now, we use acronyms, but the KPI for Amazon seller support, it seems to be how fast they can close that case, that support ticket. Unfortunately, they are incentivized to tell you whatever, tell you, “Oh, it cannot be done,” to close that ticket quickly, and that’s when agencies like mine that know how things work that sometimes we have to tell support they’re wrong, they need to escalate to this department, and they say like, “Okay. Magic word. Hold on a moment.”

John: You’re like, “Okay. Now, we’re getting somewhere.”

Daniel: “Okay. You get through.”

John: It really is just a case, like you said, a victim of their own success. Facebook started as a little fun personal thing, really, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, my God. It’s so advanced. We’re running ads and huge business going through it, businesses on it.” I remember when Facebook first started, it was like when we started making business pages, people were like, “What? It has to be attached to a company, I mean, a person? Let’s just make up a fake person called our company and then run …” That was a confusing thing because Facebook didn’t start as a business tool with ads to run. So when they started-

Daniel: I remember first name of the company, last name LLC or Inc or-

John: Yeah, and now, that’s just totally taboo. You don’t make fake personas and things like that, but who knew back then? Even Facebook didn’t know because it was new, but now, they’re so big, the support for all this stuff is next to impossible. Another example of that I think is Google. when we’re running Google ads for people and my client will get an email from Google like, “Oh, we want to help you for free,” and then they come in and basically tell them to spend lots of money on keywords that are irrelevant or let AI run everything, we’re just like, “Oh, no. Please, Google support, don’t ruin it.”

We’ve frequently shown that what Google’s telling them is actually wrong in a lot of cases. It’s because … Think about how big Amazon and Google are. There’s just no possible way to have great support people like you that know what in mass, hundreds of thousands of support people.

Daniel: The worst is when accounts get suspended by mistake, and then you’re dealing with an algorithm.

How to Sell on Amazon

John: Maddening. Now, that’s where agencies, I think, are critical. People might not realize, but yeah, if your Amazon account goes down, you need to talk to Daniel, not just support because it could take you forever. So what are some key steps to first getting started? Say you’re an author, you get a book, you want to run ads on Amazon. What’s step one with running ads?

Daniel: 100%. So I’m going to answer that. My answer is also going to apply to any type of Amazon selling. In other words, I’m going to share-

John: Okay, whether it’s books or products or whatever.

1.     Make Sure There Is Demand for Your Niche

Daniel: I’m going to share that the three things that are needed to succeed on Amazon. So the number one is your niche needs to already have demand on Amazon. Amazon is not good for creating demand. Your stuff, John, that is good for creating demand because you’re educating the shopper, the audience, and you can teach them about the problem they don’t know they have, but Amazon is a little bit more transactional.

Amazon, if you’re selling a garlic press and there is traffic on Amazon for people shopping for garlic presses, Amazon is fantastic for that. If maybe the listener has a sales agency and they wrote a couple books about sales, how to grow a sales team in a company, and people are already searching for that on Amazon, then Amazon is fantastic, but maybe if somebody wrote something about how to, I don’t know, the new type of NFT, something that nobody knows yet, Amazon is not good for education. Probably go to YouTube first or go to social media first.

So the number one thing is there needs to be existing demand on Amazon. One thing that we do with every brand is find every single competitor we possibly can on Amazon and to see if they’re there. If the answer to this is no, Amazon is not the right platform for you. If it’s yes, then we move to the next one.

2.     Make Sure Your Price Is Competitive

The second step is, “Am I competitive? Is my book or my product competitive to Amazon?” because maybe we have a fantastic sales book, there is demand on Amazon, but maybe we are three times the price than everybody else. Price matters a lot on Amazon, so we need to be competitive. Now, with books, it gets a little bit more subjective because some people say, “Well, my content is better.” Yes, I don’t disagree with that, but to get somebody to read your content, your book, you first have to get them to buy it. The cover, the first few pages, that can do a little bit for you, but ultimately, person transacting is what’s going to get them to consume it.

With products, same thing. If we were selling a garlic press, we need to be right around the market price. Lower is better. If we have killer features, we could be slightly above, but if we’re twice the price, and we see this sometimes with premium brands or drop shippers that they are too far from the norm, and if that’s the case, they better be spending a lot on branding, people are searching for their brand name to be able to succeed. So that’s the second thing, “Am I competitive?”

3.     Track Your Sales and Marketing Performance

The third, and you’re going to love this one, John, is performance marketing. None of these works unless you have a performance marketing mindset and performance marketing team that is tracking everything, tracking PPC sales versus organic sales and Amazon keyword rankings that are tracking when you do a launch, basically how the budget gets allocated to launch or product. You’re tracking also market share in the market. If we figure out that every month 10,000 copies of sales books are sold on Amazon and you launch yours and then you do a hundred in the first, I don’t know, month, you have 1% market share. Six months later, we hope we have, I don’t know, 10% market share. So a performance marketing mindset, a team that has the tools to be able to track things correctly is the third ingredient.

Types of Ads for Amazon Book Sales

John: Awesome. That’s great. What are some essential components of an effective book ad? When you get into the nuts and bolts of it, is it like Google Ads or what type of components go into it?

Daniel: Yes. This is why Amazon folks should talk a lot more with Google folks and vice versa to learn from each other because there’s Google things that work very well that definitely in the Amazon side we can implement. With Amazon, with books specifically, you have three types of ads.

You have sponsored product ads. These are going to be … I’m sorry if I’m using some jargon here, but those are going to be bottom-of-the-funnel type of ads. If we have the marketing funnel where at the bottom is almost like on the checkout line, these are your ads that are going to appear in the search results. Somebody types sales books, you see the products that are ranking and then you can buy one sponsored rank for your book via an ad. That’s going to be one of them.

You then have what’s called sponsored brands. This one’s going to be banner ads that appear on the very top of the page, and here you can add some copy. You can add a headline, you can add a custom image. If you have more books, you have to do at least three books. If you have more, you can put more books there on the landing page.

Then lastly, we have one called lock screen ads, specifically for Kindle. People that buy a Kindle, they come buy the ad-free version or the regular version. The regular version, every time you go start reading any book you own, you get an ad showing on your Kindle. That is a lock screen ad, and you also can put a quote from your book. So there’s a little bit of copywriting involved.

John: You run those for your customers.

Daniel: Yes, yes. We create marketing.

Most Effective Ads

John: All of them. Is it one of them is the best or is it like it’s in all different situations and you use a mix mixture?

Daniel: You want to run them all. All will generate you sales. Then it gets a little bit into the strategy, how we allocate the ad budget. Most of the ad budget we’re going to allocate on the first one, the sponsored products, because that’s going to be the lowest, the bottom of the funnel type of ad that’s going to drive the most sales.

John: Then the other ones, so you’re creating banner ads almost like Google retargeting ads or display network ads.

Daniel: Yes, and that’s to throw more traffic at the top of the funnel that later becomes your bottom of funnel traffic.

John: So similar with Google ads, sometimes you want retargeting, sometimes you just want some branding and keep in front of people. Okay. Sounds like they’ve come up with some good options, and that’s all runnable through Author Central.

Daniel: Yes. Technically, Author Central connects you to the advertising platform from Amazon that it redirects you and that’s where we do all this work.

Using Amazon’s Customer Data for Targeted Ads

John: Then what about targeted audiences like when you’re running Facebook ads, you can say, “Oh, for my school, we do SEO and podcasting or SEO and HubSpot type of tools,” layering audiences, is it somewhat similar in Amazon?

Daniel: Yes. So that is going to be available, and it’s going to make sense for the 1% of authors out there. Everything that I shared… first-time author or you got a few books self-published or through a publisher, you should do these three ads that I mentioned.

Now, let’s talk about the 1%. There’s another app platform called Amazon DSP, and this is where advertisers can create audiences from Amazon’s own first party data. We can target people by age, by location, interest, shopping habits. It’s just like creating an audience on Facebook, but instead of being Facebook’s data, this is Amazon’s data. A saying I learned recently, let’s see if you like it, John, is Facebook knows what you like, Amazon knows what you buy.

John: Yeah, that’s a good statement.

Daniel: When building your targeting audience and you’re selling something, probably the best result is going to be from an audience of buying habits. Now, the reason I mentioned this is for the 1% of authors there is because to run campaigns here, there are minimums. Amazon is not going to … We have to submit a campaign proposal to Amazon. There’s limited traffic that they allow-

John: Yeah, so that’s just way out there if you’re at the upper echelon.

Daniel: Yes, but if you do-

John: More often than-

Daniel: And you’re already an established author, this is the next step, this is how you get-

John: That’s a premium step.

Daniel: To the next level. Correct.

John: Those sponsored ads, those are based on mostly keywords or on categories. How do you buy the placement?

Targeting Keywords and Products With Author Central Ads

Daniel: Yes. So I’m just going to be careful to not mix the two. Let me go back to the KDP, the Author Central ads.

John: Yeah, the first three ads styles that you were talking about.

Daniel: Yes. In there, we’re targeting keywords and also, we’re targeting products. When you are already on a product page or a product listing where you can add to cart, where you can buy it, we can put ads all throughout that listing so we can attack a competitor.

John: Yeah, like you were saying, I can find someone that has an SEO book, a different SEO book, and then you can show up when people are checking that out.

Daniel: Yes. Those are the two types of targeting. We can also target by the category, but when you do that, what Amazon is really doing is putting keyword ads and product ads to where they see that you’re relevant depending on the category. So it’s really just to … Now, on the Amazon DSB side, Amazon is placing ads everywhere, on Amazon and even off Amazon. Amazon is buying inventory on websites, so they can even show Amazon ads on blogs, on newspapers, websites, et cetera.

How Much Should Writers Budget for Ads?

John: Next thing I was thinking of was both a little bit on in terms of budget, of how do you think about budget, but also in terms of non-fiction and fiction. Now, I’m an author of a few books on SEO and marketing, but now I have a novel that I wrote. So talk a little bit about your clients.

Do some of them, new non-fiction or fiction authors, do they spend 500 a month, 1,000 a month, 10,000 a month with AdWords? Some of our small businesses, they might spend 1,000 or 2,000 a month, but we still got to get paid to manage it, so we have a minimum.

You can’t do all of this crazy stuff for nothing, but hopefully, we can then get people up to 10,000, 20,000, 100,000. We have a client running a million dollars a month in YouTube ads, for example, and things like that. What’s the entry level for either a nonfiction or a fiction author?

Daniel: Yeah, great question. A good marketer would answer that question with a question saying, “What’s your budget?” or, “Test it. Test it,” but I’m not going to go there. What I’m going to say is not all ad spend is created equal, especially when we talk about the marketing funnel, the bottom of the funnel is what’s going to make you the most sales.

If you’re Robert Kiyosaki, you have a lot of books, a lot of people that know your name, so your bottom of the funnel is huge, but if you’re a first time author, you wrote a book about, I don’t know, how to build tiny homes, tiny houses, your bottom of the funnel is probably you and 10 people, the 10 people that you told about your book.

So then even if you want to spend $1,000 a month there, you won’t because there’s no people searching you yet. So then that budget is going to go to the middle of the funnel, and the middle of the funnel is probably going to be, I don’t know, DIY home crafty people, but that audience, not all of them are going to be interested in your content. It’s probably going to be a small piece, but you can spend the budget. The budget will go like this, but is it really invested in the best way possible? Maybe to some extent.

Then you have the top of the funnel, which is just books in general or broad category. You could spend millions of dollars there, but it may not be the right audience. So when it comes to determining budget, it’s important to know how the funnel works. An ideal ,if you’re just starting out, throw a couple hundred dollars a month. Grow your bottom funnel with a little bit of middle funnel.

John: So new authors can test a small budget, a few hundred, 500, 1,000 a month and play with it.

Daniel: Absolutely. Absolutely.

John: It’s possible.

Daniel: Obviously, for an agency like ours, like yours, you need to have already a little bit of momentum and then we can-

John: In order to hire someone to manage it at scale, you got to have a minimum, but newbies, just DIY, just playing around with it, you can’t. It’s a new thing for the world in a way. Bookstores didn’t exist like that before. Now, you had to go through a publisher. It was a very locked world. Now, you can get started like that. You can try it out, and when you want to scale it, we go to you.

When Setting Budgets, Consider if the Book Is the Product or a Lead Generator

Daniel: That’s the first part of my answer. The second part of my answer is, are you trying … Basically, the question, if the person is trying to make money from the book alone or if there is … I’m going to use the word funnel again, but what I mean, is there a domino of offers, if there is a bigger offer on the back of the book that you just sold to that person.

For example, you mentioned a lawyer wrote a book on XYZ area of the law. Most likely, people reading that book are going to learn about this law firm, and a percentage of them are going to reach out, and a percentage of are going to hire them for something small, and a percentage are going to hire for something big. So then this law firm can figure out, “Okay. Well, if I sell a hundred books a month and maybe I spend more than the revenue from those hundred books, but I know that if I sell a hundred books, I’m going to get one high-paying client to my law firm worth a hundred thousand dollars.” That-

John: So who cares if you lose money on the book? It’s a loss leader.

Daniel: Correct. Basically, it’s marketing 101, knowing the whole journey.

John: That’s common in your world. So if you have a nonfiction offer like say SEO services and you run to sell my book and I’m knowledgeable enough to know I’m not Duct Tape Marketing, John Jantsch, who I’ve met in podcasts, but he’s awesome, a great guy, but he’s got a huge audience compared to me or Gary Vaynerchuk or something. They’re way ahead of me.

So I get that that I’m not at that level. So if I come to you, I’m like, and I don’t make money running ads to my book, I don’t care if I get a $10,000 a month SEO client, “Whoa,” now it’s $120,000 and I lost thousands of dollars a month on my books, but hundreds of people bought my book, more people know about me, and that one guy hired me that. So that’s a successful ROI on Amazon ads, but you got to think outside the box like that.

Marketing Challenges for New Fiction Writers

Daniel: Yes. So a company that has that customer journey, that marketing funnel in place or the one that is building that, you absolutely need to run Amazon ads if you’re not. It will speed up the amount of people buying your book, whether you are famous or not, as long as you’re in a niche that has some decent demands.

If you’re let’s say a fiction author, it’s a little bit different. Fiction authors, they need to make money from the actual revenue of the books. If you have just one book, you can run some ads and you’re going to be happy about people buying it, but it’s not going to make you money. You’re going to lose money in advertising unless you have-

John: You’ll start building an audience, and you’ll start building a list and some followers, but you got to be aware it’s not that common to just go, “Here’s my first novel,” and, “Whoa, I run Amazon ads and I make five times as much as I spend.” Not going to happen here.

Daniel:  I just came back from an event, marketing event near Dallas, and one of the speakers was John Gordon. He has 14 books on leadership, and sports leadership and whatnot. Some of them are fiction, some of them are nonfiction, but this is a case where if you want to make money from the revenues of your book, that works because you sell one and this reader is likely to buy another one of your books and another one of your books. So your LTV, your LTV is big.

A little bit harder when you have the first book and the second book. So you need to be aware of the business model you’re going after. If that’s going to get you speaking gigs, then that makes sense, but if you just wrote it for the love of the art and you want to spend a couple hundred dollars just to get some readers and you don’t expect to make money from that, as long as you know that that’s how it works, then more power to you.

Using Groups of Products/Services to Build Customer Lifetime Value

John: That can work, but if you want more ROI, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, you got to think in clusters or some connected elements or if it’s novels, if I have a series and I launched a few and then I have over time a dozen or two dozen or if it’s not only SEO books and SEO services, but I have a course, low ticket, high ticket. The more different ways you can get money from groups of people over time, the more likely those ads are going to actually be profitable. Otherwise, you could be disappointed if you’re just one to one, “I need this ad to sell this book to double my money,” or whatever.

Daniel: I’ll tell you that’s not the case with products. If you’re selling … I see guitars behind you. If you’re selling guitar accessories and products and that’s your brand, Amazon PPC is different. You can expect ROI from that or ranking from that. It’s this concept I shared just now is very specific to books, making sure that there is a funnel or a next step bigger ticket in place. I’ll share one more thing.

About nine years ago, I was learning more and more about Facebook ads and I didn’t even buy it. There was this free Kindle book on Amazon about Facebook marketing and I claimed it, and the whole book had a website like, “If you want to learn more, go to my website.”

They mentioned it many times. Eventually, I went to that website and I saw that this guy was doing a Facebook marketing conference in San Diego. So I went to that conference. It was cheap to go. Well, at the conference, he sold a tickets to a mastermind, a year long mastermind group, which I did twice, two years in a row. I ended up paying $50,000 and I was fantastic. It changed my business for amazing result, but I got to that point thanks to a free book that he was [inaudible]

John: He lost money very smartly. He gave away a book. He put effort into that book and advertising it, and all of that to reap huge rewards on the backside of it, and that’s what I think you’re getting at for people is don’t go into it with this just simple one-to-one equation thinking the really smart marketers have this whole mapped out plan because otherwise just immediate return on ads is tougher.

Daniel: One of my favorite examples is McDonald’s, that if you go to McDonald’s and you just buy a burger, McDonald’s just about breaks even under marketing, but if you buy the burger with fries and a Coke, for them that’s pure margin after their marketing costs. So actually, we could say they make money with the fries, the Coke and the ice cream if you go for that.

John: Yup, my son does. That’s fascinating. That’s really solid advice, I think. Number one, Amazon is confusing. You got to know how to do it, and even if you get in there, you get your book in there and you start running ads, you could get your ass handed to you, basically, if you’re just thinking the wrong way. You got to look at it at a larger ecosystem.

Daniel: I’ll put it this way. You came across a wall when you were trying to get your book promoted and launched on Amazon, and that was just on the free stuff.

John: Right. Oh, my God.

Daniel: Imagine if that happened when money is involved in advertising, then by the hour, you could be in trouble.

Analytics With Amazon Ads

John: Oh, yeah, and what about analytics in Amazon? Is there Google Analytics style, AdWord style, Facebook analytics style stuff?

Daniel: Yeah, excellent question. They are getting better, but we absolutely have to supplement with external instruments, software to make sense of the data. What is available inside Amazon alone is not far from-

John: So you have extra tools to make sense of the data. I’ve been using Hyros in my Facebook ads, and I forget if maybe a few grand a year or something as a tacked on extra analytics like attribution tracking, and it just shows that Facebook’s wrong in a lot of cases. Either this ad got more or less result than you thought, and when you are off, when Facebook gives you the wrong information, you push the wrong buttons and it gets off even more. So is it like that a little bit or is it like you need tools to-

Daniel: Right now, that and also there are things that you just cannot read from Amazon. You have to basically do it from the front end and have basically a data scraping system. We partner with a company that empowers that to be able to do that, but Amazon, if you just go with what is available in Author Central, KDP, basically, it’s like going to battle and then you forgot your guns, you forgot your boots and your pants.

John: That’s a tough one. You go to draw, but your pants are down. I’ll tell you, Hyros was a real eye opener for me, man. That tool is crazy. Alex Becker, the guy that invented Hyros. You plug that in and all of a sudden you’re like, “Holy crap.” Everyone has this vision that Google and Facebook and Amazon, these type of companies, they’re just, “Oh, they know everything and they’re so right.” They’re so big and they got issues.

They’re amazing, but they also have issues. They can be wrong and their data can be wrong. So if people want to scale, whether it’s selling products or authors of nonfiction or fiction, those things that you’re talking about … Hey, if you want to just try it, run some ads. Like you said, you can do it and it’s worth trying, but if you want to scale it-

The Importance of Performance Marketing

Daniel: That’s why the third ingredient for Amazon is performance marketing. You want the team that is doing your marketing to be obsessed with numbers and why does this work the way it is. If something went really well, we celebrate, but why did it happen? You need to always understand what you’re talking about just now I’m predicting, and this is the first podcast I shared it, but I’m predicting that there is going to be attribution wars and lawsuits and all of that because let me give you something, there’s a lot of ads that they attribute you if your ad was the last click that the customer made.

There is other platforms that attribute the sale if the ad was the first click that the person took. Two days ago they clicked, but then today they clicked another ad from another platform but it’s still yours and they bought. The thing is both are right, but both are also overlapping. Amazon has a little bit of that. We can make sense of that to some extent. So it is only somebody that has that mindset of performance marketing I think can do it.

John: I think that would be awesome content for your site, Amazon attribution wars. Maybe I’m too much of a marketing geek, but it’s big business. If numbers are wrong and there’s huge amounts of dollars being attributed the wrong way and there’s payouts going around, that would be good to have, whether it’s monthly or a quarterly column on that.

Selling Products That Complement Your Books

Daniel: Absolutely. Also, let me share another quick story. Authors, we were talking about Author Central and KDP, I want to talk about, without giving the name away, this guy, author, influencer, podcaster, he launched a workbook, a journal, the Five Minute Journal that a lot of people know. You can sell that in Seller Central. It’s not a book that you’re reading, it’s more like a tool that you use and that we would consider it more of a product and that is a money maker.

I was also talking to another guy, this guy, he’s not a magician, he’s something called a mentalist. I forget the names of these guys that do shows in Vegas, but writing a book, but then you can sell your book on Amazon and then you can also sell magic tricks on Amazon like kits you source.

So talking to authors, people shouldn’t limit them to just books on Amazon. If you’re doing something that is related to physical items in real life, you can actually sell those on Amazon and it’s easier for people writing about diet, people writing about healthy living. The easiest way is to launch supplements, and you could have people that buy your book, then you can promote your supplements, people that buy your supplements, then you can promote your book. As a marketer, you’re adding more offers, more offers, more offers to make it so that you have so many offers that your LTV is ridiculous.

Are There Other Platforms to Sell Books?

John: What do you think about other platforms? Amazon is pretty much ridiculously dominant, certainly in the book world, but do you see any change of that in the future or are there other platforms you work with as well?

Daniel: Yes. So we specialize on Amazon and, it’s up and coming, it’s growing. Still has a lot to catch up on. Amazon right now or as of recently, about 34%, 35% of the US e-commerce market share.

John: Is it really? That’s interesting. Makes sense.

Daniel   Walmart is around 6%.

John: You’re kidding. wow.

Daniel: The thing is Walmart maybe four years, three, four years ago was less than 1%.

John: Really?

Daniel: So the rate of growth, it’s been very fast. Walmart is crazy. See, they’ve copied Amazon’s everything. Amazon is Seller Central that, Walmart is Seller Center that

John: Well, yeah, they just swiped the file.

Daniel: They’re almost like not even trying, right?

John: Yeah, right.

Daniel: So I will take a look at Walmart once your Amazon is scaled up and doing some feature numbers.

John: If you were scaling and trying to maximize every last bit like we do with Bing, even though years ago we always had. If we ran Google ads, we’d run Bing ads, but after a while, we’re just like, “This is not worth it,” but now Bing is coming back. If you’re running out of headroom, you can go there. So that’s interesting. So it’s just that dominant.

I got to hand it to Bezos. I don’t always necessarily agree with him, but damn, he made it easy for a lot of things, just buying stuff. I still get frustrated just going to some website to buy on a shopping cart. It’s just so many extra steps compared to on my phone, I got the app, I’m always logged in, I just go swipe buy. It’s crazy.

Amazon’s Convenience Boosts Its Conversion Rates

Daniel: What you said just now is very important for the listener because a lot of people say, “Well,” especially the ones that are more advanced, they say, “Well, I have my book on my website or I sell my product on my website. Why would I do Amazon?”

The answer is that conversion rate on Amazon in the least is going to be five times that of in your website. There’s a lot of people that go to your website and leave because they want to buy it on Amazon and they search you on Amazon and if you’re not there, a good portion of them will go to the competition because Amazon is very good at at least selling something to the visitor.

John: It’s just so damn easy. Even when I’ve said, “Well, I got to stop giving all my money through Amazon, buy so much there and support other small sites,” it’s like, “Oh, man, I got to buy something from a website?” It’s like you get so used to Amazon so damn easy. That was a total category shift. That’s why he’s just so rich. He just shifted the whole thinking around stupid shopping carts in the ’90s, early 2000s.

I took a master certification in conversion rate optimization with Brian Eisenberg about 2011 or so, and he said he laughs because people try and copy the CRO, the conversion rate optimization of Amazon, but he’s like, “You got to be careful doing that because they’re not always optimizing for the obvious thing. Sometimes they detune wanting you to buy from them. Sometimes they want you to buy from their partner. So the way that their button is set up to add to cart and buy…”

At least when he was telling me this, he was like, “It isn’t necessarily to get you to buy. It might be to turn you away so that you buy from the partner sites so that Amazon doesn’t have to stock it, so that you just click and you go to …” I don’t know. It’s so crazy. You got to be careful following them to a tee, I think, but if there’s any company that’s shown how to do conversion optimization and clean checkouts and having things that are just there that suggest things for you to buy, it’s crazy.

Daniel: I would say now Amazon in the last few years, they’ve moved to a position where they want to stock everything and if he’s not-

John: They’re more on that now because I think when Brian was telling me that, they were experimenting with, “Do we make more stocking or do we make more through partners?” So maybe that was a short-lived experiment because you see Amazon buildings all over the place now.

Daniel: There was a point … They started with books. They started adding categories. By now, it’s almost everything stored in the warehouse, most of those products, whether it is sold by the seller, by the brand or by Amazon themselves.

John: I’ve been shocked recently. I forget if it was on the way to the airport here in the Boston area or something. I was like, “Whoa, look at that Amazon store.” All of a sudden they just pop up like weeds in the garden. It’s like, “Holy crap.”

Daniel: There’s, to get on the humor side, like a dystopian future where everybody works for Amazon to be able to afford buying things from Amazon.

John: Did I see it on Netflix? There’s sci-fi movie that it’s … I don’t know if it’s explicitly Amazon, but it’s like the whole thesis is that the Amazon type of company got so big that it runs the world and they’re battling, and the drone, they’re trying to shoot down the drones and stuff.

Daniel: There is sounds like a Black Mirror type of scenario.

The Future of Selling With Amazon

John: I think it’s a full Amazon sci-fi and Google, essentially, they have flying cars and they’re influencing elections. Anyway, we won’t take it all political, but, man, I think it’s a good place to be. We’re working on the Google side, you’re working on the Amazon side, but not without its craziness with political stuff, but I think they’re overall good companies.

They certainly have changed the world from pre 1995-ish where the internet just didn’t have any … You just didn’t have this capability. So it’s an exciting time. Anything on the horizon that you’re seeing with Amazon or for authors or for just selling products, what’s an enclosing? Any future stuff that you’re excited about or seeing or even scary stuff you’re seeing?

Daniel: I would say probably the most practical is Amazon has so much data on all of us and this is … I’ll go back to what I said earlier. Facebook knows what we like, Amazon knows what we buy, and that ultimately is what it comes down to. So we should expect even more advertising products coming from Amazon, and I’m talking even, and this is just my own brainstorming, but buying inserts that they put inside the Amazon boxes that they ship even if they didn’t buy a product.

You bought green powder, they put a insert for somebody that’s sponsored whatever they’re selling. They’re going to be able to do very unique, let’s call it laser-targeted marketing because they know so much about their consumers. So I think that’s coming.

I think they’re going to be able to, through Kindle, through their Fire TV, they’re going to be able to give you an ad there, and then when you go to your computer, magically that ad is going to be there too, and then they’re going to convert.

John: Because you’re also logged in there. I’m logged in on my iPhone, I’m buying stuff from my desktop on Amazon. So if I’m going back and forth, you’re scaring me almost like, “Oh, my God, I’ve bought so much stuff from Amazon.” Just really the money because my wife just goes nuts because it’s like, “Another …” If I had a dollar for every time she says, “Another Amazon box?” but I’m like, “I work from home office. I’m not out like I used to be. Why bother, too?”

You spend so much time, wasted time going … You go to this store, you go to Walmart, you go to Home Depot or whatever, and it’s like, “Oh, my God, they don’t have what I’m looking for.” You go to Amazon, it’s like gardening, organic gardening supplies, “Oh, exactly what I want,” high review count and it’ll be there tomorrow.

Daniel: As long as you’re getting-

John: Why would you bother?

Daniel: As long as you’re getting your daily walking and steps, then it’s all good.

John: Yup. So it’s a changed world, but you’re really a master of the Amazon ecosystem, so really appreciate you sharing today. How can people find your site and what you’re up to and how to hire you?

Check Out

Daniel: So couple of things. One is my email. I like to just put it out there. I try to get back to people, whether it’s just to connect or talk business, My website is I’m on social media, I’m on LinkedIn, but I wanted to throw something of value to your audience, maybe for a lucky winner, and that is I want to give away a 20-minute ask me anything call on Zoom.

No sales conversation, just value. Ask me anything, really. When the 20-minute is gone, we can just end the call. How to win? Basically, the first person to email me with the subject line … John, I’ll let you come up with the subject line that you want, but the first person to email me, it’s easy because I can see the timestamp. My email once again is, will win that and happy to give to your audience. So what subject line it would be?

John: Yeah. So Talk Marketing Clever.

Daniel: Talk Marketing Clever. Perfect.

John: All right. Good. Well, this has been John McDougall with Talk Marketing Made Easy with Daniel Fernandez of AMZ Clever. This has been awesome, Daniel. Thank you so much. I definitely want to keep in touch on all this stuff.

Daniel: My pleasure. It’s been fun.

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