There has been a lot of confusion surrounding the fabled Amazon sales rank over the years.
In short, it's a relative indicator of how well (or poorly) a product is selling within its niche category (i.e. clothes, books, electronics, etc).
But how can you use this to boost your own sales?
It's easy. By monitoring the sales ranks of items that are competing directly with your own products, it's possible to see which ones are selling better, and when and, if you're pretty smart, it's also possible to work out why.
Here's a quick list of some advantages you can derive from monitoring Amazon sales:
- Find new opportunities: If you have one finger on the pulse (i.e. real-time information on how sales patterns are changing in your niche) it's a lot easier to find new gaps in the market before your competitors do.
- Discover new promotional strategies: If you know, up to the hour, whether any of your competitor's products are experiencing a spike in sales you can act quickly to find out what marketing and promotions they used to drive those sales and use them yourself.
- Spy on competitors' sales: Who wouldn't want to have a great idea of exactly how just how many products your competitors are selling at any given time?
- Source better products: Finding the perfect products to stock in your own inventory is easier said than done. By tracking items you'd potentially like to stock it's possible to get a much better idea of how they're performing before investing in them.
- Social media marketing: If you have hard evidence that your products are selling well, why not share that data on Twitter and Facebook? Nothing boosts sales like evidence that everyone else is buying.
OK, so that's a fairly decent bunch of reasons as to why the Amazon sales rank has the potential to help blast your sales up a notch or two. Here's how you go about doing it.
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1. Track Related Products
There are quite a few Amazon tracking tools around, but most of them fetch the sales rank once a day when in fact, it is updated hourly. Using a tool that fetches sales rank data on the hour every hour can offer fine-grained insight into how products are competing within their niche. For the purposes of our example in this article, we used RankTracer Enterprise, which offers everything we need to demonstrate how Amazon sales ranks can be an incredibly powerful tool for boosting online sales.
Depending on how many products you want to track, monthly prices for this service start at about $5 so it shouldn't break the bank. They also offer a bunch of free tools to help buyers and sellers out like their Amazon best sellers page that searches through the Amazon best sellers list and returns all the best deals on those items. Really useful if you need to get a feel for what offers and deals are available on the most popular products.
I thought that, since it is election time, I would track the sales of the presidential candidates' books. After all, no good run at the presidency would be complete without a few money spinning enterprises padding the bank accounts, right?
Here's a graph showing the sales ranks (with sales estimates) of each of the candidates:
As you can see, Donald Trump's book "Crippled America" has an average sales rank of 1,538 (for the period shown on the graph) with a sales estimate of 1,537 copies sold. This dwarfs the sales of Hillary Clinton's "Hard Choices" that tallied up a touch more than 620 sales, and Bernie Sanders' "Outsider in the White House", which mustered around 240 sales.
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If I had asked you which presidential candidate is selling the most books, before showing you this graph, what would you have answered? Regardless of how you would have answered, the point here is that now you know. In the same way, tracking other groups of related products can tell you a huge amount about them. But we're only just beginning to scratch the surface of how powerful this strategy can really be.
2. Use Sales Alerts
The previous graph showed us how the three books have been competing against each other over the last few months, and this data might be useful for product sourcing, for example. But it doesn't really help us keep our fingers on the pulse of what's happening, after all, it's a look back into the past, not the present.
To start using real-time sales data we need to set a sales alert that notifies us when a product starts selling more (or less) than usual. On RankTracer, this can be done by setting the Sales Rank Alert Boundaries, like this:
As you can see, I set the lower sales rank boundary at 2500 and the upper one at 10,000. This means that if this book, which is averaging a sales rank of just over 3,000, experiences a spike in sales (that ultimately ends up driving its sales rank below 2,500 remember that a lower sales rank, i.e. closer to one, indicates higher sales) I will be notified immediately.
As soon as I receive a notification, I can then go to RankTracer and use the tools they make available to quickly research what, if anything, lead to those sales. For example, the book may have been reviewed on a popular blog or media site, or received a glowing review from an important influencer.
By quickly tracking what happened you can:
- Learn what worked for a close competitor that may potentially work for you
- Find new influencers who may also write/talk about your product
- Discover new blogs/sites that are prepared to mention/review products in your niche
In essence, you are able to piggy-back on the marketing and promotional work of your competitors and focus your own efforts on campaigns and relationships that are likely to produce great returns. Now that's something that really is powerful.
3. Refine and Improve
Once you have spent some time using tracking and analyzing the sales performance of tracked products in your niche, and using this information to boost your own marketing and sales, it's time to start showing the world you're winning.
Look again at the screenshot in the previous section. You'll notice that many of the statistics shown on the product's sales overview come with a few social sharing buttons. These allow you to quickly share a range of interesting stats. For example, if you had a spike in sales you might want to share your current sales rank or your sales estimate for the previous 24 hours.
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Remember too that you could also share a comparison graph showing how your product is outselling rivals pretty powerful for building trust and authority around your network.
Not only that but tracking products in your niche industry also gives you interesting stats and data to talk about on your blog. Compelling and engaging content is plentiful when you know exactly who is selling what, when and why. It doesn't have to be about direct competitors either - it could be for an industry analysis piece or a general niche overview paper.
Hopefully, you'll agree that there is more to the Amazon sales rank than meets the eye. In fact, I would say that you are limited only by your own imagination when it comes to how to use and apply Amazon sales data.
I've used Amazon sales tracking to help clients work out which designs to launch their new products with. How have you used sales data? Share your own tips and advice in the comments.