BookMachine Works is the marketing agency arm of BookMachine. We are regularly asked by publishers how to get the best results from Amazon Advertising. Kaz Harrison, digital sales specialist, shares 5 tips for getting the best results.
Amazon Advertising Console, or AMS as it has affectionately become known thanks to its previous moniker Amazon Marketing Services, is a powerful tool in the digital marketing mix, especially given its high conversion rates. No surprise when it is targeting readers on a platform where they are most likely already browsing for books. Whilst Amazon may have been on the slow side to improve the user interface and reporting functions over the years, the competition on the platform has surged.
So how do you beat competitors to ensure your ads are served first? And how do you troubleshoot if problems arise? Perhaps you have laboured over an Amazon ad campaign only to check back each day and then week to feel the rising disappointment that it has delivered a grand total of 5 clicks and you’ve spent less than 50p? Or maybe you’re getting the clicks but your ACoS (advertising cost of sale) is alarmingly high?
Here are 5 tips for anyone who has just started running Amazon Ads*:
- Go back to basics
There is no point sending traffic to a book page that isn’t the absolute best version it can be, at all times. So before even opening Amazon Advertising, check out the book or books on Amazon and update the metadata (if you are new to publishing and interested in reading more about why metadata is vital for discoverability and sales conversions, you’ll find a great article about optimising book discoverability by clicking on this link.) Look at the product page and ask: which reviews display first? Is there A+ content and if not, could the book benefit from it? Given that a large majority of shoppers will be on a mobile or tablet, view the page on a mobile device. Does the copy and page information make you want to immediately hit Buy Now? How does the author’s page support all of this and does it aid in helping build reader trust in him or her? By enhancing book pages with images, additional information and content, it should create more opportunity for better placements and more clicks once the ads launch.
- It’s a marathon, not a sprint
Publication dates are milestones in a book’s life for which so many of our publishing efforts are devoted to. But the Amazon Ads platform does not care for this. The campaigns that get the most bang for their buck are often long term intelligence building exercises, labours of love, if you will.
As a customer focused company, Amazon is unlikely to serve an ad its algorithm thinks is irrelevant based on a shopper’s habits, so for any new listing, it may take the Amazon system a bit of time to build up the relevancy matching between new product search terms and associated products (another reason to get those books up for pre-order ASAP).
Creating a killer keyword or product targeting list can also take time. There are programmes that help (a quick Google search will bring up a comprehensive list, although many of them are based on amazon.com) and this can save hours using Amazon’s autocomplete as well as offer up some new suggestions, but I am yet to find a programme that will manually edit each campaign for best performance (if only!).
- Use Amazon’s intelligence
Kickstart campaigns with Amazon’s auto-targeting. Generally I’ve found the ROI on auto-targeting lower than on manual campaigns, but given Amazon knows more about our own shopping habits than we do, the auto-targeting campaigns are a great tool for identifying strong keywords and products and discovering more about shopper behaviour. One or two weeks should give sufficient data to see which keywords or products are working in driving sales conversions. Find this information in the ‘Search terms report’ under the column ‘Customer Search Term’. This intelligence can be used in manual campaigns: add the customer search terms that are driving high sales conversion and ensuring they have strong bids.
Sponsored search campaigns now have a product targeting option, as well as keyword, so you can import any ASINs from the automated campaign (these are also found under the ‘Customer Search Term’ column). A useful tip is to edit the ASINs in Excel to make sure any letters are in upper case before uploading.
At the beginning of the year Amazon also added dynamic bidding. As well as having two dynamic options and a fixed option, you can also increase your bid by placement up to 900% so your ads have a much higher chance of showing on product pages, for example, or First page Top of Search. The placements report will guide on which placements are performing best.
- Nurture campaigns
Check in on them. Feed them new keywords or products (you can add up to 1000), adjust the bids on top performers, remove any search terms or products that are high traffic but have zero or very low sales conversion using negative keywords. Work those Advertising reports.
- Data is king
Some campaigns might not work from day 1. If the campaign isn’t getting impressions, can you afford to increase your bid caps? Do you need to add more keywords or products? If the ACoS is too high, are your keywords or targeted products misleading or does your book’s product page need a refresh?
If campaign isn’t making a profit after several revisions, ultimately there will come a point when you will have to switch it off. But in the words of Elizabeth Day learn How To Fail, perhaps the insights will lead to valuable metadata changes or the data gathered can be used to succeed in future campaigns.
* The Advertising Console currently offers 3 types of campaigns in the UK: Sponsored Search, Sponsored Brands (formally known as Headline Search) and Product Display Ads. For simplification all of these suggestions apply to improving Sponsored Search campaigns. Some of it may not apply to Sponsored Brands and Product Display Ads.
Kaz Harrison a member of BookMachine Works. She is a digital sales specialist with over 13 years’ experience in publishing, managing online sales channels for print and digital books, and creating and managing consumer marketing campaigns. She started her career at HarperCollins, then moved onto newly launched Head of Zeus as Marketing & Digital Sales Director before deciding to go freelance and work across the trade. At Head of Zeus she had sole responsibly for the ebook accounts and grew their sales at an impressive rate year on year, helping launch the careers of many bestselling authors, including Nadine Dorries and Amanda Prowse. Since then she has been helping publishers large and small with everything from metadata audits to delivering campaigns that have achieved Sunday Times and ebook top 10 bestsellers.