Ongoing Maintenance Serious Sellers Podcast

Episode 12 – Introducing Follow-Up: The Story Behind Our New Email Automation Tool with CTO Bojan Gajic

Announcing Follow-Up, Amazon email automation. This is the tool that everyone said would make Helium 10 a truly All-In-One Software, and we’re proud to bring it to life in such a fast amount of time.

On this episode with Helium 10 CTO Bojan Gajic, we tell the story behind the making of Follow-Up. We also talked about what drives innovation at Helium 10, the importance of your data security with email, making Amazon email automation affordable, and when Helium 10 members will get access to Follow-Up.

Bojan also (humbly) touched on his extensive experience with email in his past lives and the difference between developing “sexy” and functional tools. It sounds a lot to us like he plans to “bring sexy back” to email automation (Justin Timberlake reference).

In this episode you hear things like:

  • 00:51 – What is Follow-Up?
  • 01:20 – Building your brand with Follow-Up
  • 02:36 – Follow-Up pun (developer humor!)
  • 03:20 – Why is Helium 10 launching this tool now?
  • 05:00 – Tell us about data security / Your data and it’s security
  • 06:20 – Why should sellers consider data security?
  • 08:17 – Developing “sexy” tools vs. functional tools and Bojan’s extensive experience with email
  • 09:38 – Making email more exciting
  • 10:20 – What drives innovation at Helium 10?
  • 13:45 – Follow-Up features, bells and whistles
  • 18:00 – When do Helium 10 Members get access?
  • 20:45 – Making Amazon email automation affordable
  • 20:20 – Congratulations to the Helium 10 development team and our incredible user base

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Transcript

Bradley Sutton: On this episode, we interview Bojan the CTO of Helium 10 who’s going to give us the skinny on a brand new tool that Helium 10 is about to launch.

Bradley Sutton: Welcome to another episode of the Serious Sellers Podcast by Helium 10. My name is Bradley Sutton and today is a special episode. We’ve got Bojan the CTO of Helium 10 with our Tech Talk with Bojan series. And actually today we are announcing a brand new tool that Helium 10 is launching. So it’s really exciting here. It’s called a Follow Up. Now Bojan, are you as excited as I am for this? I’m pumped.

Bojan Gajic: Hey Bradley, Yeah, I’m probably more excited than you are, but I will be excited in two days when the, uh, release the tool.

Bradley Sutton: Now, some people might not understand what we mean by Follow Up. Some of you guys probably right away knew, okay, yeah, I know what kind of tool this is, but for the ones who have no idea what Follow Up is, what is Follow Up designed to do, Bojan?

Bojan Gajic: For Amazon sellers, the goal is to provide the best possible service and, uh, for your customers and for Amazon customers at the same time. Amazon does that to an extent, but Amazon does it at a fairly generic level. And it’s focused on Amazon brands. You as a seller, probably hear about building your own brand and a one way to do that is to establish a direct relationship with the buyer. Thankfully, Amazon as a platform allows you to communicate with buyers and one way do that is by essentially sending an email. In general, that’s the service that you want to take advantage of to start building that awareness and building your brand. Imagine you’re a buyer, you purchase an item and it might be a glue gun. It arrives, and you will look at it and there are some instructions in the box and that’s about it. So, uh, a lot of times, while you as a seller might be fully aware of how the product functions, the buyer might have some items to clarify, uh, some additional questions. So one way to address that is being proactive. So for example, you would, uh, when the item is delivered, or when the item ships, you would want to send a kind of brief overview of functions that your item provides and a short guide of how to use it, how to get additional help if needed. Then a few days after the item is delivered, you might want to follow up with the buyer and make sure that everything arrived in order. And again, provide another outlet in case they have a question or they want to communicate back with you. So, uh, as an Amazon buyer, most people have an understanding that they are buying products from Amazon and they’re not really aware of individual sellers, private label sellers, and selling through Amazon as a platform. By establishing that communication channel, you’re making yourself a presence and known to the buyer.

Bradley Sutton: Now this is not something new. Buyer/seller messages have been around forever. Buyers have been communicating with sellers and vice versa. So why now though? Why did we choose now to launch a tool that integrates with the system?

Bojan Gajic: You are aware and I’m sure, uh, most of our customers are aware that we’re a very customer-centric platform. So our features and our toolset is driven by needs, our customers and needs by Amazon sellers are perspective potential customers. Uh, we have multiple communication channels that views to solicit feedback from attending trade shows and hosting social events to having an email address for feedback and Facebook groups. One thing that keeps coming back now–our goal, in general, is to be essentially a Swiss knife for Amazon sellers. One request that kept showing up in all those channels is the request for email service and there are multiple reasons for that. Uh, you know, service. Yes. It’s email communication services. An established platform with established needs and there are tools out there that still help you with that. So obviously, if you’re a Helium 10 customer, you would probably prefer Helium 10 to provide that kind of service. On one hand, you need that service to be provided and cost-efficient manner. Presumably, Helium 10 will do it at a more affordable rate. And then what’s also important, and that might be more important than the cost is the safety of your data. So by providing access to your data to a third-party platform, essentially opening up, uh, you know, like opening up your Kimono. You’re opening up your internal operation to the platform.

Bradley Sutton: I don’t think I’ve ever heard that phrase before, but I don’t think I’m going to forget that. Opening up your Kimono, I like that.

Bojan Gajic: All right. That’s actually an Amazon term, one of the leadership principles. But, uh, going back, let’s keep the Kimono part.

Bradley Sutton: Okay.

Bojan Gajic: Yeah. You’re exposing your performance, the third party platform. And you want to make sure, wow for a man. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Our customers are, oh, whereof all of those security measures and if you have in place and all the processes and concerns our–well the steps, or at least some of the steps that they’re undertaking to make sure that data is a protected and disclosed all in a way that’s compliant with Amazon’s terms of service, if anything else.

Bradley Sutton: And that’s not an easy endeavor, you know, the data points are secure and that this is going to be reliable service. I mean this is not something that you guys just decided last week to do and flip the switch and now it’s ready. How long did it take to really make sure that we’re coming with something that is safe and secure for people to use?

Bojan Gajic: Well actually, the team that works for Helium 10 that has been building the platform is a team of experienced engineers and also the supporting activities around that engineering team are mature. So we’re not chasing quick dollars. So that safety and security was primary concern from the beginning. So every aspect of the operation from engineering to marketing to business functions. We are mindful of all the safety of that data that our customers share with us. So essentially it’s taken as long as it took to develop the platforms. So it seems the beginning, we are taking steps to ensure the safety of the data that is shared with us. We can do things quickly, or we can do things safely. So we do things as quick as we can, but it has to be done safely.

Bradley Sutton: Yeah, and usually in the past, we have focused on what we call the “sexy” kind of tools. Here, we are talking about taking off the Kimono again I guess. But anyways, you know, the cool, unique ways to do keywords or how to, you know, display estimated search volume and smart complete from Magnet. Like all of these are really kind of shiny and kind of cool and very useful. But from a, correct me if I’m wrong, but from like a developer standpoint, you know, kind of like, you know, just making a tool that does email, you know, it might seem like not as sexy of a tool. Is that, would that be a correct assessment of how you guys view sometimes the things?

Bojan Gajic: Correct. And, personally, I have a few years of experience with email as a platform; mail transportation and all the computing words around that. And uh, a few of our engineers have similar kinds of experiences. So that’s kind of worked against the tools itself. We didn’t find it very exciting to work with that kind of technology again, especially for the mature technology. So just the sending emails and processing responses are not particularly exciting. What is exciting is doing it in a way that’s helping our customers. And Amazon, in particular, is kind of a peculiar platform for email. It’s not very interactive, so you don’t really know what’s happening on the backend. And, I see that not every tool, uh, in the marketplace right now is paying much attention to that little pack. What started as a fairly pedestrian tool became a pretty exciting tool for the team and for me personally. So we have the chance to kind of grow the platform from the ground up. That’s was exciting. We built it sort of semi-detached from the existing Helium 10 platform. We also had the chance to build with animations and then create some fancy charts and the interfaces, so that was nice. And we had the chance to provide feedback to business layers and also to the user community. So we’re trying to address the needs of our users by using and applying technology, so that’s exciting.

Bradley Sutton: Yeah, and also just as I’ve always said on the AMAs and the podcast, it’s really–for as long as I can remember, the tools that we end up launching, it’s kind of based on what is being requested by our users because, you know, we’re not making things that Bradley wants to have or that Bojan thinks are the most important. But basically, we take a look at all the suggestions and the comments, you know, and social media and the emails that are sent to Helium 10 about what they would like to see. And correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t this one of probably the number one things that people have been requesting for the past few months of the tools that we haven’t released yet?

Bojan Gajic: Yes, so we have a pretty like long term perspective and the roadmap, it goes for a couple of years. So, we have several obvious tools. As a seller, you’re doing certain things and if you’re doing something, we’re probably looking at it. You’re talking to and, or we’re talking to somebody who is in a similar position, so whatever your needs might be, it’s somewhere on our roadmap. But every few months they will be assessed and be prioritized and we will make an aggressive push to get more feedback. We pushed out Profits about six months ago. We went out and we asked more questions like, “Hey guys, between this and this, what do you like more?” Or like anything you wish, kind of like pie in the sky. Let me know what you’d like to add. Or what are the biggest problems that you’re facing in your journey as Amazon seller that Helium 10 is not addressing? All those questions help us parse out this service and this tool as the next choice for Elite. There are more things in the pipeline. Uh, this is the one that will be rolling out over the next several weeks. So I’m excited about this one. I was excited when one a few months ago and I hope to be excited again before the end of the year.

Bradley Sutton: Yes. All right. Well yeah, you guys are doing excellent at exciting us as Amazon sellers or even just here at the company. Even the little things like last week I didn’t even know that there was the new graph coming out on the Keyword Tracker. It’s so cool how you can zoom in. You guys always have the coolest ideas about how to bring the tools to us. So speaking of this tool though, you know, I don’t want to do a, you know, step by step breakdown of how to use the tool and everything cause I actually have never even seen it. But let’s just talk a little bit about, real quick, about a couple of the features. So like for example, like one thing that I would assume would be one of the first things that Amazon sellers might use this for is we’re allowed to send at most one email, you know, requesting a review. So I would assume that this tool Follow Up could absolutely could be able to be used for that. Correct?

Bojan Gajic: That’s correct. Amazon Terms of service are fluid, so they might be changing and they’re open to be interpreted in different ways, but right now that seems to be the consensus that Amazon allows sellers to send one email soliciting reviews. Beyond that, you can send additional emails providing technical support or additional support. The tool, in general, will allow sellers to specify certain triggers: the item was shipped, the item was delivered, or refund requests that unfortunately have to be made. So based on certain triggers and certain sets of filters, matching marketplace or ASIN or product title or the whole range of attributes that are associated with the product. You set your filters–you set your trigger, you set your filters, and then you set your sequence. So let’s say three days after the item has shipped, send the email number one where you’re announcing or informing the customer that the item was shipped then that informing them about the basic use patterns for the product. And then on days after delivery, you want to send another email where you’re thanking the customer, hoping that the customer is having a pleasant experience with the product and asking for feedback or review. Uh, we have built into our platform, we have the feature that will prevent any emails from going out for customers who ask for refunds unless you explicitly set that as a trigger. So we will not–the platform well not send an email to customers who might have some misunderstanding or misconception about the product. It’ll allow you to address that directly by sending an email to that customer.

Bradley Sutton: Oh that’s right. That’s very helpful. Those were some features I wasn’t aware of. So you’re saying that you can even do it down to the ASIN level, like certain sequence for a certain ASIN?

Bojan Gajic: Yes. So you can do it, but if you really want, you could break it down even further from the ASIN level. You can do it by SKU for example. So if you’re selling [through] Fulfilled by Amazon or you are fulfilling it yourself, you can have different email sequences there. So you can make it really good granular or you can–if you feel that there’s no need to be that granular, you can create a generic email sequence and go from there. We are providing some automation templates. If you’re not really sure what kind of email sequence. Uh, and what kind of email cadence would work in your case? There’ll be some templates for automation. We’re actually bringing in some, uh, major experts and implementors in this space to help with that. So that’s will be something differentiates us from other platforms are also including some email templates. So that cadence is set for you unless you want to change it, but those two will have email templates that are proven to be working for certain experienced sellers. We’re trying to address the technology side but also the business side of things. I’m pretty excited.

Bradley Sutton: Yeah, that’s very exciting too, and what I like about this is that this can go to anybody who sells on Amazon. Now there are, of course, you know, there are people who opt out of getting emails, but still, there is no opt-in that somebody has to do to take advantage of this as far as the buyer goes. Like basically if a buyer by something in your Amazon, if they only bought it from the Amazon, it’s not like, oh, this is just a start of some kind of funnel. Right? I mean it’s not like somebody has to go to a landing page or, or hit an ad in Facebook. This basically applies to anybody who has bought anything from us on Amazon. We can send them a message using Follow Up, right?

Bojan Gajic: Correct. So there is no additional action that the buyer has to execute before that email is sent. Just by the virtue of buying something from you through Amazon, they open themselves for that communication channel. Yeah, that’s pretty nice.

Bradley Sutton: All right, so we’re not going to be rolling this out to everybody right off the bat. I believe the first group is going to be our Helium 10 Elite users. So some of you guys might know what that is, but if you want to be one of the first ones, you are a Helium 10 Elite user–that countdown is going to begin soon. You’ll be getting emails on how you can get access, but if you’re not an Elite user, you want to find out a little bit about it. Or you just want to be able to get some really amazing tips and tricks about Amazon from two of the main guys in the field who have been dropping knowledge for the longest time is Kevin King and Manny Coats. They did a webinar about the Elite program that even if you’re not interested in signing up with Elite, they give some incredible ninja tactics that you guys can use that is going to help you and your business. So at the very least, watch that webinar. You can see that helium10.com/replay. And at the end of that webinar, if you actually do decide to sign up for the Elite, you will have early access to this tool. And then after the Elite users, they’re going to have the first access. But after that, how’s the rollout going to work, Bojan?

Bojan Gajic: The plan is for our Elite members, or our customers who are on our Elite plan to warm up the platform, but also allow our Elite customers to provide early feedback to shape future and further development. After that, in essentially weekly cadence–that’s the plan for now and that’s when the schedule will be the releasing to Diamond, the Platinum, then the members on the free plan. One thing that you and I didn’t touch upon Bradley here is the cost.

Bradley Sutton: Yeah, I was about to ask about that. I mean, does everybody have to be worried now? Is their subscription price going up?

Bojan Gajic: Uh, no. So we’re trying to provide as much as we can within the existing plans. So every plan starting from free all the way up to Elite, you’ll have a certain monthly email quota allocated and based on our assessments, more than 60% of all our user base will have their needs met with that quota that’s allocated to the plan. So if you’re on free plan, you will have a certain quota allocated to you every month. If you’re on Platinum, that quota will obviously the higher, the Diamond and Elite. So it’s kind of steps up scale. Every time plan comes with a certain quota. And in a lot of cases, that quota will be sufficient to send emails and communicate well with all of your customers. Uh, we actually decided to make a step further and one thing that you’ll be noticing and that seems to be happening. With this kind of service, the cost goes up in November and December in particular when the holidays season kicks in and we have a lot of users who are using this kind of service that are hitting the limits and then there is a set of the choice. So paying multiple who gets a higher limit or simply do not send any emails for that period. So we also decided for our members who are using Follow Up or six months to have a soft limit essentially. So if you are using Platinum, Diamond, or Elite membership for six months and using Follow Up during that time, we will give you one month double the quota. So when December comes around, you’ll be set and won’t have to pay anything extra. If you are so successful that you were exceeding the quota, we have the pre-tiered boost plan. 5,000 emails all the way to unlimited. So we have a mechanism that’s will address your needs. If the quota is not sufficient, I’m pretty confident that most of our users we will have their basic needs met with a very interesting plan.

Bradley Sutton: Wow. That’s amazing. Every time we do that, I think that that just blows my mind. Like when we launched Profits, no additional charge. Now we’re launching this. I mean these are things that tools, you know, charge $20 to $100 for and we’re just building it into the plan. So that’s great. Uh, again, congratulations to your team, Bojan. I know they’ve been working on this for quite a while and again, it shows the rest of you guys. I’m telling you, it’s kind of like that original movie. I’m kind of aging myself, but Field of Dreams: “If you build it, they will come.” Well, it’s the opposite with us. I’d say, “Hey guys, if you ask for it, we will build it.” All right. So keep giving us your suggestions on what kind of tools. I mean, I know we pretty much almost have everything out there, but if there’s something that you think that Helium 10 does not have, and it’s something that we have the ability and it’s feasible to make, we’re going to go ahead and consider it and Bojan’s team will come out with an A+ product for you. So Bojan, thank you for your time again, and we’ll talk to you on the next episode of the Tech Talk with Bojan.


Have more technical questions about Follow-Up you would like to ask Bojan? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

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