Ep. #1020 - Amazon PPC Strategies That Work
In this episode of Startup Hustle, good friends Andrew Morgans and Mina Elias, CEO of Trivium, reminisce over their entrepreneurial journeys and their take on Amazon PPC. It might amaze you to learn that the worst things in life can lead you to the best things. Listen to some startling insights into the inner workings of Amazon ad spending and learn fundamental strategies to benefit online sellers.
Covered In This Episode
How do you stand out in one of the largest e-commerce platforms in the world? Amazon has grown into the biggest selling platform globally. And with a wide scope of competition, how do you get your brand seen and recognized? This is where Amazon PPC advertising comes in. PPC campaigns are some of the most effective ways to earn traffic and improve a product’s organic ranking in the long run.
However, PPC advertising is a complex strategy that requires a lot of algorithm knowledge. This is why companies like TRIVIUM are making it their mission to help Amazon sellers improve their PPC strategy.
Amazon gurus Andrew Morgans and Mina Elias share valuable insights about the platform and how to leverage it for your business. Mina Elias is a multiple seven-figure seller in the supplement industry, an Amazon PPC expert, and founder of the PPC University and Trivium Group. He combines his passion for supplements, his background in chemical engineering, and his expertise in PPC to crush the competition on Amazon.
Listen to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Growing up in Dubai and coming to America. (3:56)
- How do you figure out what you want to do? (8:03)
- When did the supplement business come into play? (14:24)
- My reason for starting Marknology was the worst part of my day. (20:51)
- How did you figure out Amazon? (24:20)
- One of the most important things to getting your startup off the ground is to lower your expenses. (29:04)
- What’s the equation on Amazon? (33:02)
- You have to be advertising to grow organically. (39:18)
- The strategies that don’t work are ones that are measurable. (44:02)
The equation on Amazon is, for me, pretty simple: it’s traffic and conversions. Half of the equation is traffic. So bringing people into your listing, and then obviously trying to bring those people as cheap as possible.Mina Elias
The first piece of solving that ad puzzle is tracking. What are the things that you need to be tracking? Sessions are the important one, the number of unique Amazon accounts coming into your listing. How much does it cost you to drive that traffic and then your profit?Mina Elias
To win on Amazon, you have to be advertising to grow organically, meaning people just find your store. You have to be advertising. People aren’t gonna find you in the middle of the field.Andrew Morgans
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 00:00
Hey, what’s up Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology and today’s host of Startup Hustle, covering all things ecommerce, Amazon, and today Amazon PPC strategies. We’re going to be talking about the ones that work and the ones that don’t work. We have a friend and a colleague here today as our guest.
Andrew Morgans 00:20
But before I introduce him a shout out to our sponsor, fullscale.io. Today’s episode is sponsored by Full Scale. Hiring software developers is difficult, Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has a platform to help you manage that team. Visit fullscale.io to learn more. Mina, founder of Trivium. Welcome to the show.
Mina Elias 00:40
Yo yo yo, what’s up, Hustlers?
Andrew Morgans 00:42
Hey. This is the first time that Startup Hustle family has gotten a chance to meet and hear from Mina. But me and Mina have been connected for several years in the Amazon space. We just collabed a booth together at the Sell + Scale Summit by Helium 10 in Vegas, had a lot of fun doing that if anyone’s been following my content. You know, Mina and his team were with us there as well. We’re on the stage sharing the same stage all the time. So excited to be getting a chance to interview you today here on Startup Hustle podcast.
Mina Elias 01:16
Dude, thank you. I’m very excited. I still remember the first day we met, man. It was very random, at Prosper, in that limo. And you were telling me your story. I was like, damn, dude, what a story. That was so cool, man. So, I mean, and to think that was like, a year and a half ago, I feel like I’ve known you like forever.
Andrew Morgans 01:34
Yeah, I know. It’s because of the opportunities to make memories and connect. And we talk a lot online a lot through social media, you know, and we get together and events but like always bouncing around. And this is how you build a brand, you know. And it’s something that you’re not only building a company with Trivium. But building an influencer based brand around Mina as well, which I really resonate with and have been working on for several years myself. So always love chatting it up. These shows at Startup Hustle I love– before we get into just like, let’s talk PPC and Mina talks–he’s Egyptian–he talks a million miles a minute. So I gotta slow him down. But before I like cut him loose on just like, you know, PPC and he blows your mind around some stuff that’s working there. I want to talk into aminos. Like, you know, some of your background like I know, you start as an engineer.You’ve built a supplement brand, the supplement brand turned into the Trivium. You know, and everything like that. But for people that don’t know, did you start out in an entrepreneurial family? Did you go to school to be an entrepreneur? Did you think you’re going to be a business owner? You know, where does your journey with entrepreneurship begin?
Mina Elias 02:45
Very good question, man. There’s no one in my family that’s an entrepreneur, I think they’re probably the opposite. You know, maybe my dad has a little bit of entrepreneurship in him, but nothing that like actually materialized. And, you know, I just don’t know how I became an entrepreneur. But I know one thing is, I was born not to be controlled, like you cannot control me. And I knew that for a very long time. And obviously going into like an engineering nine to five. I was, you know, I did it. I did it. And I was the best, like, you know, I–
Andrew Morgans 03:16
So you were in? You grew up in Dubai, correct?
Mina Elias 03:19
Yes, sir. I grew up in Dubai. You know, high school, huge troublemaker, but I had straight A’s. You know, got like, something like, you know, 1500 out of 1600 on their SATs, did my SCT Twos took the AP tests. Like I was very, very, very intelligent in school. But I was like, the biggest troublemaker as well. So…
Andrew Morgans 03:40
You’re bored. You’re bored, I think, you know, and it’s like, Why do I have to do the same thing as everyone else if I’m better. Like, that’s how I felt like, you know, it’s like, if I can just read this textbook and take the test why you’re gonna make me sit here for eight hours? If you’re gonna just take me a test out of the textbook, like that’s kind of how I felt in school. And so it resulted in me being somewhat of a troublemaker. There was a couple of teachers that I wasn’t a troublemaker to. And that’s because they had actually done the real things like a history teacher that actually traveled the world, and then was telling stories about it. And I was like, Okay, I’ll listen to him. Most of the teachers were just reading from the textbook, and I was like, I can read the textbook in two seconds. And take this test, like, I want to go the restroom, you know? So just resonating a little bit there, like, you know, and that can that’s common to so many people. Okay, so you get great scores on the SATs. Is that what got you out of Dubai?
Mina Elias 04:30
Yeah. So in Dubai men. Very little known fact, they are a little bit like on the racist side, right? Where, it’s not like the racism you see here in America, but more like if you are an American citizen, or you’re a Canadian citizen, you’re gonna get a much better salary, and a lot more stability than if you’re, you know, an Egyptian citizen. And so, and the other thing was, you can never become a UAE citizen. So you don’t feel really stable and they make it very, very clear that like, you’re on my territory, and we can kick you out whenever you want. Whenever we want, we can kick you out. So like, you know–
Andrew Morgans 05:08
You’re born in Egypt. Were you born in Egypt and then moved to Dubai young?
Mina Elias 05:12
Yeah, two years old, I moved to Dubai. So pretty much I grew up there. That’s all I knew. We’ll go back to Egypt on vacations. But as a result of that, I’m like, okay, the plan is go to America or Canada, you know, get a bachelor’s, master’s, you know, become very well educated, get a citizenship there, and then come back to Dubai and make boatloads of money. And, you know, I was supposed to go to Canada. That didn’t work out because they rejected my student visa. I ended up going to America, Connecticut, you know, because out of desperation, and that’s where, you know, I kind of studied and bachelors, masters, worked up the corporate ladder,
Andrew Morgans 05:50
White America, and similar path, you know, I grew up I was born in Montreal, raised in Africa, Cameroon, Botswana, Moscow, Congo, came back to the US at 16. Very similar in regards to like, where’s home? Where do I want to be? Like, you know, just looking and watching and seeing how do people make money? How do people live? Like, what’s the best way to do it? And then coming and being like, Okay, I’m gonna learn how to be American. At that time for me, I didn’t really understand you’re like, Okay, so. And I went into computer science, which is, you know, a Bachelors of Science. And you went into engineering. So chemical engineering. And that was not just something that you’re just like, because money was the main driver, or because you’re like, I’m smart. This is a hard degree. I know, it makes a lot of money.
Mina Elias 06:45
That’s exactly it, bro. It was like, I’m smart, I could do whatever. I knew I didn’t want to be a doctor. I’m like, what’s gonna make me the most amount of money? It was very, like, you know, and then I would ask my dad, and he’d be like, do what you love. And I’m like, how does a 17 year old or a 16 year old know what they love? How do I know if I love chemical engineering, or mechanical engineering or whatever else? So the advice that I got was not great. And I don’t think that it’s on my parents, I think that, you know, if you go into any average household, and you ask you like, Hey, what should your son study in Israel? Whatever they want? I’m like, did you ever stop to consider that they don’t know what they want? Or it’s impossible for them to figure it out? Without like, Hey, let me take you, you know, to a couple of like engineers and shadow their day, and a couple of marketers shadow their day. And then maybe you get a better idea of what you want to do. But, you know, I kind of asked, and people are like, oh, like, petroleum engineering, chemical engineering, so much money. Obviously, you know, you get paid, you know, in direct proportion to how much value not based on like the degree. So if you’re like a monkey, and with a chemical engineering degree, you’re not going to get paid a lot of money.
Andrew Morgans 07:57
Yeah. So it’s not just guaranteed based on the degree. You know, I grew up in a family where money was always a struggle. We didn’t care about money as much. But it was always a problem in the family, you know, like, the amount of it, the lack of it. And so, you know, coming back to the US, I was in school for computer science, but I was chasing music. So I was trying to do what I loved. But building a backup plan to be like, I knew, if I got out of school with a computer science degree and networking and security, I would get a job, like, guaranteed to get a job and probably be making more than like, most of the parents I knew, and most of the dads I knew. And so for me, that was like, safety and security in a way and there weren’t a ton of like computer science degrees then, either. There were just like a couple and it was like pick one, you know, it’s either programming or networking and security or you know it. And there was no like, Go shadow someone there was no like, I mean, honestly, I looked at the guys doing IT at that time. And they were like, usually, like, scrawny or overweight. They were like, the branding of it was not good, right? Like, T shirts tucked in that are too big. There’s no style in it. Like nowadays, it’s like, you can be cool as heck can be a programmer, you know, or whatever. But like, nothing about it was attractive to me. Like, I just wanted, you know, I wanted to have a cool lifestyle and be cool and like, so I had this brain to do it. But I was like, I just, I don’t know if this is what I love, you know, like having, like, coexist with these people. Even then I don’t, they don’t talk about music or fashion or girls or anything. It was like, nerd nerd nerd nerd. Just couldn’t relate. I couldn’t find my place. So I’m just sharing a little bit of color because I think it’s relatable. It’s like you know, you don’t know these things until you get in it, but you just have these vision of like, why I want to be able to support my family, so I’m going to get this job. And you know, okay, so so you get the job in Connecticut, or you go to school in Connecticut, bachelor’s, a masters?
Mina Elias 09:53
Yeah, bachelor’s in chemical engineering Master’s in industrial engineering. I get the job Medtronic. I’m more working there, you know, and you realize you’re kind of like a hamster in like this very big cage, and you’re running on a hamster wheel. And I’m doing all these little things. And I’m a small cog in the wheel, nothing that I do really matters. There’s so much red tape. And so I ended up moving from there to another company and another company and it’s, you know, it’s kind of more of the same. It’s like you’re going to here in Connecticut, all in Connecticut. I was too weak, I would say at the time, and comfortable with where I was and didn’t have kind of like the balls to just say, you know, I’m gonna pick up and leave. I was like, man, everyone in the gym, in all of the gyms knows me. You know, I know all of these different people from different places. I have a hookup for everything. It’s would be very uncomfortable for me to leave. But now I’m like, dude, I if I’m comfortable somewhere, I gotta get myself uncomfortable. Like I thrive in discomfort because that’s when I know I’m growing. And if the second that I get comfortable, that’s when like my spidey senses tingling. Like, dude, this is dangerous. Like you’re getting comfortable. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. I mean, you’re gonna get hurt.
Andrew Morgans 11:09
Okay, so you’re on your third company in a hamster wheel. I know you’re in the fifth fitness. Like, where does MMA come into the picture?
Mina Elias 11:19
Yeah, so 2013, I’m in college, and my friend hits me up. And he’s like, Hey, man, I just joined an MMA gym, and it was killer. And all my life I wanted to do like kickboxing. And, you know, my parents never let me they’re like, Oh, look at what Muhammad Ali happened to him. And he’s on a wheelchair now and all this stuff. And so they never let me do any competitive, you know, sports, like any contact sports like that. And so, as soon as he said that, I’m like, dude, I want to do to like I’m jealous. And so I ended up looking for an MMA gym around my house. And there was a Hensel Gracie gym, right there. One mile from where I was living. So I went there. I joined the class. It was a wrestling class, and then the class they’re like, How’d you like it? I’m like, I want to sign up right now. They’re like, how long? I’m like, what? Like, what is it like a year contract, give me a year contract. And I signed up for a year. And after that I never looked back. It was one of the best decisions, if not the best decision that I’ve ever made. Because it taught me so much, like mindset stuff, right? Like full accountability. Like no excuses, hard work. 1% better every day, like all of these, like amazing things that I now apply to life and business. I got from MMA, and some people like talk about it, and they say it. But like when you live it in like a different area of your life. It’s so much more easily transferable than if you’re just like, talk about and say, yeah, like 1% better every day. I’m like, but I know what 1% better every day looks like I know what it’s like to show up to the gym, miserable, tired, and then push through and still get beat up and still get your face smashed in. Like I felt that. And so when I bring it to real life, I’m like, I know what the feeling should feel like and I can transfer it over versus just kind of it being like, kind of the I mean, it was just it was a lot easier for me to in reality bring it over from tangible. Yeah, from MMA straight to like business or my life. And so it was an amazing decision for me, 2013, and I still train. So, you know, this morning, I was at jujitsu, you know, and I do it, you know, four or five times a week, sometimes three times a week. I haven’t competed for a while. I had like a surgery on my lung and shit. But, you know, I fought many times I competed in jujitsu many times and just a huge, huge fan of the sport.
Andrew Morgans 13:44
And I’d been a big fan I was into the sport at the same time, a little bit before 2013 Like maybe 11 before it even kind of the UFC got bigger. And before they started having the gyms it was like very much like meetups and clubs, and I just loved everything about it. The respect, I just love the respect in the sport and like the training and I like you know, I’m like tall and lanky, so I was like everyone wanted to box with me like, I never fought myself but I was in a gym that had a lot of people fighting and they wanted to spar with me and I love that like they’re like, I’m trying to get rounds with you, Drew and I was just like yeah, let’s go like I’m just giving you this all guy give me the long guy. Yeah, cuz they just the short guys that were wrestlers like wanted to get that practice in, you know, and they’d be a lot bigger than me back then. But it was just it was fun knowing that you were getting to compete but without like, really hurting each other. Like, you know, I wasn’t in the ring. So it was just it really was fun for me. I’m a computer science guy getting to like you know, spar and stuff, and I can see, you know, an engineer that’s really fit, getting in the ring. That would have been a cool story, you know? So I know that’s a big part of your life. I wanted to bring that up because I think it leads to like, the brand that you built, you know in regards to like fitness and supplements and things like that. So 2013 MMA portion starts with your life. And then like, you know, your, I don’t know where you were in regards like your third company, but when does the supplement stuff come into the play?
Mina Elias 15:08
So 2013 I started MMA, 2014 I graduated with my bachelor’s, I worked. And then 2018, I graduated with my masters. Now, around that time, I’m in my last company that I ever worked for, I’m miserable. I’m waking up at 430 in the morning, going to the gym, working out, commuting, 45 minutes, working for nine hours commuting back, going straight to MMA training for three hours, going to bed. felt like my life was you know, pretty much being, you know, stolen from me, like I just it was just flying by with no meaning at all. And, you know, a lot of negative things happened over there, like my last job. So one of them being like, I would show up at 710. And the boss would be like, Hey, I’m going to take those 10 minutes out of your personal time off next time. And I’m like, dude, like, I am out here hustling for you, like making money. You know, I went from like zero to managing millions and millions in dollars in a project. And it’s like, oh, 10 minutes, like, I’m like, okay, so what if I showed up early and left late and then didn’t do shit during the day. But anyways, as the second thing was, I was driving home from work one day when it was snowing, backroads, 10 miles an hour, my car starts sliding, it crashes. Minor crash, obviously going that slow. But I take it home and I’m like, Hey, like, I need some time in the morning to get my car fixed at the mechanic and then I’ll be at work. And this is like with a broken bumper and everything just like getting the tire back in place. And she’s like, okay, cool. Like, you’re on your own time tomorrow, we’re going to take it out of your personal time. And I’m like, bro, what is this, like slavery? Like, so sick and fed up of that. And I went on vacation to Egypt. And while I was there, I was having conversation with my dad. Basically, he noticed that I was like browsing through a lot of supplements. And he knows I’m a fanatic of supplements. And then he asked me the question, like, why don’t you create your own supplement brand? And, you know, I was like, dude, it’s too expensive, like is way too expensive? It’s like, how much does it cost? Like, what are the costs? And that was the question that sparked like, okay, like, you know, I mean, yeah, what is the cost? Like, let’s look at the raw ingredients. If I bought it on Amazon, in bulk, if I mixed it at home, if I got packages, if I got stickers, if I hired a designer, if I incorporated my LLC, you know, and obviously, like asked a bunch of people questions. And it was like, you know, what, I can make this for five and sell it for 25 on Amazon, like, this is a thing. And at the time, I was like, Dude, you know, what do I have to lose at this point? Like, I already hate my life, I can’t hate it anymore. Like, you know, maybe if you like, put me in jail or something, okay, then I could hate my life more. But, you know, and it kind of sucks to say that because, you know, thank God, I was so blessed to be living in an amazing place and have food and was able to support my family a little bit. But I mean, I was not living like I really I wasn’t. And so I said, let’s, let’s do it. And so September 14th, I had the conversation with my dad. September 23, the ingredients showed up on my door when I was back in America. I had already formulated a supplement and I was going to create a supplement, an electrolyte supplement, because I was an MMA fighter. I was sweating a ton at the gym, three hours of sweat. And I wasn’t you know, taking back the electrolytes. I was on keto. I needed more electrolytes. And so I started dry scooping chicken broth to get like that amount of sodium in like 1000s, you know, one, 2000 milligrams of sodium and, and I was like, Dude, there’s got to be a better way. So I made that. Yeah, I made it because everything on the market was super low sodium. And by the way, sodium is a massive performance enhancing ingredient. So if you want to test adding one to 2000 milligrams of sodium a day, if you’re already drinking, like a decent amount of water, and like see how much better you can perform. And so I started taking it, I noticed an improvement. I didn’t want to be biased. So I gave it to my friends, didn’t tell them it was my company. They started taking it, they noticed that improvement and I’m like, okay, like maybe I have something and so that’s how MMA was born. So October 10 was when I officially incorporated when I confirmed with my friends that this is a product that actually works and they liked it. And so September 23 is when when I arrived in America, mix this stuff up in my kitchen, October 10. I incorporated. November 2, it was my first like soft launch where I showed up to an MMA event and I had like 40 bags of the product. And I sold 25. And they asked me where can I buy this product and I was an idiot because I was an engineer and not a business owner or E commerce person, whatever. And I said, you know, I didn’t want to say I don’t know. So I said, it’s gonna be on Amazon soon. And that was the lie that got me into Amazon.
Andrew Morgans 20:11
Okay, I love that story, number one. Number two, my reasons for starting technology was like, you know, showing up to work. I had a 45 minute commute each way. It was the worst part of my day each day, because it was like, wasted, I wasn’t building a business. I wasn’t like listening to podcasts or like, fueling my brain constantly. I wasn’t making the most of those times, but I hated the drive. I could get a ticket on the way, just, you know, a bunch of different things that happened. You’re trying to get it to work on time. I worked all the time. night hours, sometimes like holidays, weekends, I was making the company millions of dollars on Amazon ecommerce at the time. And I was getting written up for being five minutes late or 10 minutes late or something. Knowing I make it up all the time.
Mina Elias 20:56
Dude, we’re the same person.
Andrew Morgans 20:57
Yeah. Because like, that literally was like a thing for me. And then the other one was they took away like, I basically had one work from home day before, like, it was a common thing, like on Wednesdays. And I was like, my life kind of sucked. I was going through a divorce. So I was putting all my time until like E commerce and Amazon in the gym. Actually, I was going like, I would just come home, go to the gym, cook dinner, go to bed, do it again. And then the Wednesday was like, a day where I got to work from home and just not be around certain coworkers and like, just get alone time. And it was like a really big deal for me. And they took it away. Because someone in customer service didn’t think it was fair that salaried employees got to do this or something I don’t remember. But it’s these little things like that, that commute. I was like, How do I get an hour and a half back that I hate every day to I don’t hate it. And then, you know, why am I being written up for the small things, it’s like, it made me want to, like, steal time somewhere else, because they were like punishing me for five minutes. Like, you know, it made me and I don’t want to do that. So super cool that you share that part. And I think that if you’re a high achiever, these things can just like eat it your soul, like, you know, you’re just like–
Mina Elias 22:06
Exactly how to get rid of a high achiever is like those things like written up for time, not incentivized for performance, like, you know, the nickel and diming of all of these things. And it’s like, dude, like our, I think our personality type. If you had brought me to a company, and you’re like, dude, like, we’re unleashing you like, this is your division, like, do whatever it takes. And you’ll get it like, yeah, you get a cut. I would like, just do it, I would kill it, I would make so much revenue for that company. I would like you know, do whatever it takes. Resourceful. Talk to everyone, like I would build, you know, a business within their business. But you find someone like that, and then you cage them. And you’re like, oh, like, we need you on a computer. We need you in an office, we need you, you know, on your chair. And you’re like, Okay, perfect. This is the exact–
Andrew Morgans 22:56
Because everyone else will get upset. Like, that’s what it always was like, Hey, I know you’re killing it, but everyone else is upset. And I’m like, Well, I’m the one crushing it and they’re the ones not and I’m doing outperforming three or four people, why you care about five minutes? You know, I’m getting my work done in three hours in an eight hour shift, and then I’m doing more. It just, it’s absolutely crazy. Okay, so you know, the PPC company was launched and you figure it out, we have to speed up a little bit because I want to get to some Amazon but really, this is a good shit. So you know, you launch a company, you’re like you tell people is going to be on Amazon. So then you had to go back it up. And that’s where you just started being like, Okay, I’m gonna figure out that I need UPCs. I’m gonna figure out keyword research. And I’m gonna like, did you take a course? Or like, how did you really figure out Amazon?
Mina Elias 23:41
Nah, there was no courses or anything back then I think actually, the only one that was there was Amazing Selling Machine, but I had figured everything out by making mistakes in the frame of 21 days. So in 21 days, I’ve made a tremendous amount of mistakes. enough to take me from not knowing anything about Amazon, learn consuming every single YouTube video article, podcast, not maybe not even podcast, but like YouTube video and article out there to getting the product live on Amazon. Forging my certificate of analysis and invoice and all of this bullshit that Amazon asks for. That doesn’t really matter. And I got on Amazon and then I found the Amazing Selling Machine course, which I then pirated, watched. You know, it showed me all of the mistakes that I had already made. So I was like, it would have been nice to take this course before. And then from there, dude, it was just obsession. It was kind of like, Hey, do you want to leave this miserable life that you have?
Andrew Morgans 24:40
This is your way out.
Mina Elias 24:41
This is your way out. And so all I did was eat sleep, breathe Amazon for six months. And, you know, the biggest inflection point I think was–or the first biggest one was when I went to a conference. There was like basically CPC Strategy or I’m also now known as [unintelligible]. They had this like conference in New York City. And I went there and I asked, like every single question under the sun, you could ask to every single person. And I basically, I spent $200 on an early bird ticket, and I got like $16,000 worth of like consultations. And so I took all of that knowledge back, I implemented it. And then on April 30, I got fired. They let me go, they said, listen, like, I mean, they didn’t even give a reason. But I they’re probably like, this guy doesn’t even give a fuck anymore. And so I got fired. And I drove that day, I had a meeting at AWS in New York City, they had this like little meetup. Casper was there. But the best thing is they had like, people from Seattle, from Amazon, like the Amazon ads, like PPC. And so I went there. And I’m like, hey, I want to ask you a question. Can I tell you about my Amazon PPC strategy and tell me if it’s a good one or not? And so I just I’m, like, auto campaign, broad phrase, exact data, and then her jaw dropped. And she’s like, honestly, I think like, you know, more than I do. And I’m like, man, like, I’m on my own, like, like, there is no one out there coming to save me. And so that was the combination of being fired, driving home, being like, okay, like, this is it man? Like, I mean, what happens, what’s the worst that’s gonna happen? Right? If I, if I pursue this, I fail after six months, I don’t make any money, I can’t pay my bills. Fine, I’ll get another job, exactly the same as this one that sucks, that I hate. But like, you know, who cares? I’ll just, it’ll be the same. So what do I have to lose? Nothing. But I went all in. And it was after that conversation, when I realized no one was coming to save me, and there’s no silver bullets out there, and I just, you know, I doubled down. So I packed up all my shit, I put it in a car, I left my apartment and I went to Egypt for four months stayed with my grandma. Spending 500 bucks a month on bills, like total bills, and saving every dollar that came in from the business. So that was, you know, $4,000 in profit was coming in. And by the end of those four months, I was making about $10,000 a month in profit. I reinvested everything that I had into PPC and into reviews, and the the product started selling more and that’s eventually, you know, I moved to LA after that. And that’s kind of like where the business really started becoming, you know, a business and things took off.
Andrew Morgans 27:24
I love that story so much. I even had my own time where Amazon contacted me about my store, Landlocked, my apparel company, like we’re coming to Kansas, see, when we meet with you have a private meeting, this is in the early days. I was like, Yes, I’m gonna, like had a whole list of questions. I was just like, gonna blast them. And I get there. And she’s like, um, she’s like, I just like, you know, show you how to upload words on your page. Yeah, she was just like, the SEO that we call it now. But it was like, I just like, you know, help you get content up on your page, not like, show you how to do a strategy, nothing like that. I was just like, so disappointed. Because at that point, I had never talked to anyone about Amazon, really, I was like, doing it myself. And I was like, I’m gonna actually get to talk to Amazon, they’re gonna have so many answers for me, and I’m just gonna, like, this is gonna be amazing. Somehow, they found out about my brand. And it was just like this, like, no, it’s actually on you to learn all this stuff. And, you know, figure it out. Because there’s no one out there that’s coming to save you. You know, and then also, like, you left a great point for any, like young entrepreneurs that are maybe not already successful founders tuning into the show. One of the most important things, I think, to getting your startup off the ground. So many people spend so much time and energy into getting other people to support them, like fund my business, like I can’t do this without this. I can’t do this without this. I’m a bootstrap guy. I mean, as a bootstrap guy, you know, you don’t have to have other people say yes to your ideas, like and one of the major things I think, to make it successful is to lower your expenses as much as possible, so that you can just continue to put more money back in the business. If you hadn’t been in Egypt with $500 a month living expenses, and you’re paying like, you know, three grand or four grand or whatever it costs to live as an American and Connecticut? I don’t know. But it just–
Mina Elias 29:09
I don think it would have happened. I don’t think I would have been able to take off and honestly like, yeah, maybe I can do that because I have a house in Egypt but like anyone who’s listening to this podcast can go do that in Thailand. You know, go live out Mexico–
Andrew Morgans 29:22
Or a lot of you know, a lot of ecommerce people are in Latin America, because it’s just an easier job. But you very much can, you very much can, it’s part of the reason I’ve stayed in Kansas City. It’s like, it’s not Egypt, but it’s a lot lower than New York or LA, you know, and so, as far as just like in my goals, were a lot you know, further past mine, my you know, my family and things like that and it was like what is feasible? You know, I rented. I was in a third bedroom with two twin sisters they had they had the other rooms I moved into their house, it was a small bedroom, like they had five animals. And you know, like there was nowhere to really study or put out my computer work and I sat in my bedroom and I just, you know, grinded. That was a step back. But those were like, you know, those were moves I made to get where I am. And I just wanted to point that out, like, you know, that kind of eating a little bit of dirt, like as Gary Vee would say, or whatever is like, you know, that’s what it is, is eating dirt to get ahead?
Andrew Morgans 30:17
A huge thing. So let’s talk about advertising for like the last 15 minutes. So we’ve reached like, I mean, like, Why does someone have like, you know, I used to have to explain to people why I was an Amazon expert. And I’ve even started calling myself less of an Amazon expert, and more of just an industry leader, because I’m not an expert at much. But I am like, you know, I am pushing the industry in regards to Amazon and E commerce and how it’s all working together and want to be want to be that, so let’s speak it out. You know, and it’s like, well, how do you come? Well, it’s because I’ve got 11 years of doing this, you know, it’s got 1000s of hours of doing this. It’s because I built my own brand. It’s because I used to be a chemical engineer, you know, like a 1500 score SATs at the age of 17. Like, let me take the test. Now. Let me take the test now. You know, like, that’s how I feel. And it’s like, you know, and then I applied that to something else that created freedom in my life. And so, you know, Trivium is a PPC agency, we know that, you know, PPC is a big part of a brand being successful or not on Amazon. Let’s just jump into it.
Andrew Morgans 31:21
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Andrew Morgans 31:48
But Mina, okay, so we’re talking about we’re talking about Amazon PPC strategies that work. And you know, you laid your strategy out to an Amazon rep who said Mina, I think you know, more than me, and this is even, you know, when you were just getting started to any of our listeners out there, maybe they have an Amazon store, they don’t have an Amazon store, because this is a podcast by founders for founders. What are some things that are working in MMA, Amazon advertising, and even go so far as to explain like, why a brand needs ads on Amazon?
Mina Elias 32:22
Yeah, so let’s dive into it. Right, the equation on Amazon is, for me, pretty simple, it’s traffic and conversions. Half of the of the equation is traffic. So bringing people into your listing, and then obviously trying to bring those people as cheap as possible. If you bring them in for free, that’s amazing. You know, but that would probably require like, hours, man hours, right? So there’s still some sort of cost at some level. So there’s traffic, there’s conversions. Now, first thing is, obviously, make sure that your conversion rate is decent, because for those people that are coming into your listing, a certain percentage, percentage of them are gonna buy and convert. And so if that percentage is low, you whatever you do with your ads, nothing’s gonna fix it. So now let’s talk about traffic. Traffic is, you know, half the equation, half of it is organic, and the other half is paid. Now, organic really can’t control that much. We used to be able to do some some things to manipulate the ranking like search find by where you basically have people like, look for a keyword, find your product, buy it, but let’s talk about kosher things. So, you know, organically optimize your SEO, that’s all you can do. Now paid is where you can make the money, right, where you can actually pay money to show your product in front of people, people will click on it, they’ll come in, they’ll convert, now, certain percentage of them will convert. So the first piece of like solving that ads puzzle is tracking. And so what are the things that you need to be tracking? If you’re not if you’re still unsure of like your click through rate or whatever, you shouldn’t be? Sorry, you shouldn’t be tracking, PPC spend PPC, sales, total sales sessions, sessions is the important one, right? Which is the number of unique Amazon accounts coming into your listing, you know, your clicks, impressions, click through rate, conversion rate, cost per click cost per session. So how much does it cost you to drive that traffic, and then your profit. And by doing that, you now understand, you’re going to take actions and you’re going to pull certain levers and you’re going to measure what’s happening. And so there’s two modes to operate on Amazon. The first one is to be, you know, scaling. So you’re basically launching new campaigns or increasing the bids on your existing campaigns or increasing budgets or whatever, spending more money tracking that you’re spending that more money looking at your sessions, having a proportional growth in that session, making sure that your click through rate is decent because what what launching campaigns and increasing bids and all that stuff is going to do is is going to get you more impressions more people are going to see you but that doesn’t necessarily translate into people wanting to click on you so If you have a problem there, where, okay, you went from 50,000 people seeing you to 200,000 people seeing you, but you only got 5% more clicks, then you know that you have a problem there that more people are seeing you, but they’re just not interested in clicking. And that’s a whole separate conversation where maybe you can use like, Picpoo for ProductPinion or one of those tools to, you know, take a screenshot of your user in the search results and say, Hey, like, which one would you choose? And why? And like, tell me, you know, why wouldn’t you choose mine. And so let’s say assuming you have a good click through rate, you are now noticing your spend is going up, your sessions should be going up, because that is how effective your ads are, if you’re spending more money, it means you’re getting more unique visitors into the listing. And if you’re doing this well enough with with the ads, your organic rank is also going up, which means that you’re getting more organic sessions as well. And so we’re measuring total combined sessions because PPC does have an influence on organic. And now as that increases, you’re looking at your conversion rate, making sure that that conversion rate doesn’t dip too much. If it does dip a lot, that either means that, you know you’re not built for scale. So at $20 a day in ad spend, you’re doing fine at $150 a day in ad spend. Now that a lot of people are seeing you, they’re actually not interested, maybe you just found a small pocket initially. But now like when you expose it to, you know, to the competition, you’re losing. But if the conversion rate just dropped slightly, it’s understandable, because as you scale you are, the way to scale is by testing a bunch of new different keywords, seeing which ones convert profitably. And you know, there’s definitely going to be ones that don’t convert profitably. So double down on the ones that do convert profitably and eventually eliminate the ones that don’t. So that’s where the drop in conversion rate will happen is, as you scale, you spend more money, but some of it is spent on bad traffic that, you know, drops the conversion rate. But then, after spending, let’s say a few weeks in that scaling mode, where you’re spending more money, getting more sessions, you know, eventually getting more sales, because of the conversion rates not dipping too much, you now have increased your number, your amount of traffic, but some of that traffic is costing you money and not converting profitably.
Mina Elias 37:16
So you move into an optimization phase, where you’re now tracking your spending, and you’re cutting down keywords that are spending a lot of money and not generating sales, keywords that are you know, maybe yes, they are generating sales, but their return on ad spend is pretty bad. You know, or maybe you’ve increased your bid by placement to show up higher for certain placements like top of search, and it used to be working and now you’re getting a lot more window shoppers, and it’s not working. So you can cut that back down. And so basically eliminating as much spend as you can, while maintaining all of your sales, if possible, by just getting rid of the bad traffic, and then watching your spend go down, sessions go down slightly, conversion rate go up, and then your your total profits go up. Because now you you know, you’ve eliminated that delta in ad spend. And so that’s pretty much you know, kind of like a summary of advertising on Amazon, it’s having a very clear dashboard, understanding the actions understanding that it goes from creating campaigns, getting impressions, people seeing you, those impressions turn into clicks, people clicking on you, a certain percentage of those clicks is actually unique visitors tracking that. Then from there, you know, looking at your click through rate conversion rate, making sure those numbers are healthy, and then either scaling, getting more people into the listing, converting more. And then, you know, sorting through that bad traffic, optimizing, running profitably increasing your profits. And that’s–
Andrew Morgans 38:38
That’s great. And that wasn’t the engineers explanation. But he’s the best, he’s the best in the business at what we do. You know, for me, I am always trying to break it down to people that are a one-on-one level. And what it really is, is like, look, to win on Amazon, you have to be advertising to grow organically, meaning people just find your store, you have to be advertising people aren’t gonna find you in the middle of the field, you have to put up a billboard that says I’m one mile off the exit to the right and come find me, you know, that’s what advertising does is it’s very much tied into that. It not only brings you no traffic, but it brings data. And so whenever he says clean up, or get rid of the bad traffic or things like that, he’s saying there’s going to be all types of data that we’re getting, you know, you do a setup, and then you go into growth mode. growth mode means let’s go out there and just like, Let’s do email, let’s do text messages. Let’s do billboards. Let’s do radio ads. Let’s do Sirius FM, let’s do all the different types of ad types, but on Amazon, and let’s see which ones are working, which ones aren’t. And then let’s do that for several weeks, several months, when you can be optimizing as you go. And then let’s go into a mode of okay, let’s clean this up. And, you know, the Sirius FM commercials didn’t work that well. The billboards didn’t work that well. The text messages worked great. The Snapchat ads worked great. And you’re essentially like going through your ad product line your carousel and saying these ones work these one installed, let’s tighten it up. Whenever I type in blue raspberry pre workout, and I show them the blue raspberry pre workouts working amazing, okay, let’s keep that one, whenever I just say pre workout, people are too, you know, it’s too broad, and they’re bouncing around, and it’s costing me too much. Okay, let’s not do that yet. And, you know, the strategies are endless. And that’s why, you know, PPC and advertising can be talked about forever, because it’s a whole bunch of if this, then this statements, you know, multiplied by a bunch of different factors, from content, to seasonality to stock to reviews, the price point to competition to a whole bunch of outside factors as much as there are inside factors. But this is essentially what’s happening either when you hire a firm or you’re, you’re optimizing your Amazon while you go into growth mode, and then you lean up, and then you go into growth mode, and you lean up just like any other business model, really, when it comes to scaling. And I think the same thing happens on the ad side, I just had a conversation right before this, Mina, a little bit off topic. But we just took over for a brand, it’s a new brand we’re launching, they’ve done very well in Canada, very well in the EU, their dot com is more struggling than their other channels, even though they’re big, and Walmart and all these places. And they’re like, you know, we have had a automated PPC software, running our ads, when we tried to switch last time, it went really bad. We’re not growing on Amazon, we’re not being successful on Amazon. But you know, we’re profitable. And my ad manager just came in my office and actually went to the lunch room, and he was laying on the floor. And I was like what’s going on? And he’s like, I just got into the account. And he’s like, there’s 4600 active campaigns. Guess how many ASINs there are?
Mina Elias 41:47
Mina Elias 41:48
Oh, my god, dude. We’ve been encountering this so much, dude, like, it’s been three in the last month where we take over a software. This is what happens, they cancel their subscription, they shut off the software. We go in, we create some ads, we increase bids, we do sometimes increase budgets. And next thing, you know, we wake up the next day, we look at the history and it says 6900 changes made yesterday. And I’m like, Well, I know it’s not my team, because that’s like not humanly possible by them. So why is a software that you’ve disconnected, that you’ve shut off, still making changes in the background? Now, I don’t know if this is malicious, but, you know, even if it’s not, if you are, as a software provider, not, you know, aware that your software is making changes that is hurting, you know, your old clients, even after they’ve stopped the service. This is still malicious. I mean, it’s kind of like, hey, it’s not my fault that I killed this person, because I left, you know, my stove on and I lit a match by accident, you know what I mean? Like, it’s not an excuse. And so–
Andrew Morgans 41:48
Andrew Morgans 42:56
It’s crazy. And they make it so complicated that, you know, a human can’t touch it. And so it becomes like, I can’t do that, there’s no way I could do that or understand my business. There’s also no way you could understand what data works for you with 4600 campaigns, there’s physically no way. In a given week, you know, any of my team members could open up every single one of those campaigns and ad groups and like, you know, adjust them. So, you know, becomes essentially a nightmare. But those are the strategies I say that don’t work, and you need to stay away from it. Better to be dealing with something you don’t understand and dig into it and start to understand it than just turning on automation. You know, don’t let a robot run your PPC. But this is a real life example of that. I mean, like, you know, so he was pulling his hair out and I’m like, you know, what, there’s a day since we’ll take care of this, you know, we’re gonna be able to handle this. But like, you know, the strategies that are working are ones that are measurable, are ones that you understand what’s going on, that you have like you’re trying a bunch of different product types. I say product types, not in the product we’re selling, but the media product that we’re buying. Is it a video ad? Is it a product targeting as a sponsored product as sponsored brand ad? Is it a DSP as sponsored display. These are products you got to test you got to try different things, you got to see what’s workin. Try the picture with the female, try the picture with the male, try the picture with the baby, try to picture the blue sky, try the picture with the, you know, the sunset. Like, you know, you’re trying different things within ads and off ads to make things work.
Andrew Morgans 44:25
Going into like, you know, just because we’re running up on time, I know we could talk about PPC forever, Mina. I think we gave them a good overview of how it works but like considering Amazon PPC strategies that do work and let’s say you’re just trying to give someone a basic, like this is the framework that you should think about when you set it up. We talked about why you need to go into growth mode and then lean mode. Let’s leave any of our listeners with like a basic strategy that if they were to go back to their team and say guys, what’s our Amazon strategy? It should line up with something like this. What do you got for me?
Mina Elias 44:54
Perfect. So, let’s do this pretty nice and simple, right? Your auto campaigns should be broken up into four: close match, loose match, complements, substitutes. You should have your main keywords, you know, in campaigns, broad phrase and exact separate campaigns, some other keywords, broad phrase exact and separate campaigns, find some product targets, you know, and target them, you know, campaign structure should look like one campaign, one ad group only. Because I’ve seen with multiple ad groups that budget splits unevenly, you can’t really control it. So when one campaign one ad group five keywords Max, anything beyond that I’m seeing that like, you know, they’re not getting budget, right, like the keywords like 20, and 30. And 40, just didn’t get any, any impressions, any budget or anything like that. So, have that campaign structure, minimum of $100 daily budget on the campaign. You’re not going to spend all of that money if you control it by having a lower bid. So you can start with a lower bid and work your way up. And basically lay that initial foundation of, you know, auto broad phrase, exact product targeting, and then your goal in the growth phase is to go into the search term report every, you know, week or so, identify keywords that in auto phrase that had a good return on ad spend. So they spent, you know, significantly less than than the amount of revenue that they generated, extract those keywords, do not touch them in where they are right now. But just add them in new campaigns. So create brand new campaigns with those keywords in and give them more budget allow Amazon to spend more money on them. And we don’t know they might work, they might not work. But you’re you’re testing and so everything that you will have been testing right now, if it worked great, maybe increase the bid slightly. If it didn’t work, lower the bids, so you’re not spending as much money on it. And maybe as you go lower in the search, people who click on you have a higher, you know, buyer intent, and then they end up converting or you just end up not spending money on it. And so that’s in the growth phase. And when you move into the optimization phase, everything that you have, right now, you’re gonna go into the search term report, identify any of the keywords that were not profitable. So they spent a certain amount of money, let’s say $10 in ad spend with no sales have a very high–have a very low return on adspend. So let’s say anything sub 2x or 1.5x, return on adspend, you’re going to take those keywords and add them as negative. So Amazon stopped spending on them and, you know, started utilizing the budget for other keywords that potentially might be more profitable. You know, if you have increased the bids on certain keywords and it didn’t work out, you can lower the bids. Or if you have certain keywords right now that are, you know, spending money or high ACOS or, you know, low return on adspend, you can lower those bids, and that will clean everything up. And so you’re in this cycle of identifying new unprofitable search terms, extracting them launching them in their own campaigns, when you’re growing. And then when you’re being profitable. Eliminating anything that has high spending, no sales or very low return on adspend.
Andrew Morgans 47:56
I love it. That’s brilliant. You guys got like, honestly an amazing Amazon strategy in about two minutes. Mina, it’s been a pleasure, I’m going to have you back on the show. This is just round one. We’re gonna keep it going. I’m gonna put in the show notes where people can contact you, find you, you know, on Trivium or on LinkedIn or on social media. He’s everywhere so you guys can look in the show notes to find him. Thank you so much for your time.
Andrew Morgans 48:20
Shout out again to our sponsor fullscale.io. Do you need to hire software engineers? Testers? Leaders? Let Full Scale help, visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and let the platform match you up with fully vetted, high experienced team of software engineers, testers and leaders. At Full Scale they specialize in building long term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit Full Scale.io. Mina, thank you so much. Startup Hustle, listeners, thank you so much. We’ll see you next time.
Mina Elias 48:44