Over the last several years Amazon PPC has gone from “nice to do” to “important”, all the way to where it sits today: a critical profit center that should be understood and used to the fullest.
In 2020, in order to rise above the competition, you, as an Amazon seller, need to be on top of your Amazon PPC game.
To that end, we offer here a handful of the most important tips to building, running and winning with effective Sponsored Ads campaigns.
Where To Start?
Before we dive in, a clarification of terms. PPC is Pay Per Click, which is the same as Sponsored Ads for purposes of this article. We use them interchangeably.
Most new Amazon sellers start their PPC adventure with Amazon’s automated campaigns. In these campaigns Amazon selects and uses keywords it deems appropriate for your product. Bidding is done within the constraints you set.
While this may not sound like the best way to take control of your Sponsored Ads, it does have value. An automated campaign:
- Makes it easy to at least get an Ads campaign going,
- Provides a hands-on opportunity to see Ads in action and make adjustments, and
- Yields critical insight that can be used when building manual campaigns.
This last is perhaps the most valuable aspect of an automated campaign: keyword research. By letting Amazon, through an automated campaign, pick and use known keywords for products like yours, you then have a chance to pick from that list, isolate the winners and pitch the losers — thus building your own, manual campaigns using only the highest-performing search terms.
When you run an auto campaign, do it with a minimum budget to prevent wasting money. Check results frequently to find the terms being used in searches for your product, then use the best of those terms in your manual campaigns.
Also; add the losing keywords as negative keywords. Doing that means your product won’t come up for those losing search terms — thus ensuring you never waste PPC money on them.
See below for more on negative keywords.
PPC And Your Listing
A word on the relationship between your listing and the search terms (keywords) you bid on in your campaigns. Your listing should contain your target keywords. Your ads are much more likely to show up in searches when Amazon sees the keywords are actually used in the product listing.
Ensure the keywords you’re bidding on, which are the keywords you want to rank for, are used in the elements of your listing. Title. Description. Bullet points. Bidding on keywords that aren’t part of your listing, trying to rank for them, is not the most effective approach.
Create and organize your PPC campaigns by product, then ensure those product listings use the keywords that are in your campaigns.
Match Types: Broad, Phrase and Exact
When creating campaigns there are three basic “match types”. The type you specify determines how Amazon views the search terms when matching your PPC bids to user searches.
Broad is the widest, and allows words to come before, in the middle or at the end of your keywords. For example, say your keyword is “software tool”, and you’ve chosen to make it Broad. Amazon would show results for “management software tool”, “software tools for computer”, “software managing tool”, etc.
Phrase narrows the results. Words can be added in front or on the end, but the phrase cannot be split. For example, in the case of “software tool” set to Phrase match, searches like “easy software tool”, “software tool finder” and the like would yield results.
Exact allows plurals or slight misspellings, but will not allow additional words. It’s the tightest option. In our “software tool” example “software tool”, exact, and things like “software tools” would yield a result, but no variation outside that.
Keep these in mind when creating your campaigns, and make tactical use of each in order to hone your results — and guide searchers to your listing.
Bidding is all about strategy. Each of your products have different profit margins. Products with higher profit margins may support more aggressive bidding. Set higher bids to get new campaigns going.
The idea is to drive higher search rankings, so that you’re product comes up organically in searches. In other words, your product is ranking high enough for major keywords that it comes up in user searches naturally, without the benefit of PPC. This is the Holy Grail, and once you’re getting organic results to your liking, you can lower your bids.
Advertising Cost of Sales is a key metric. Known as ACoS, this is how Amazon measures the effectiveness of your ads. It’s expressed as a percentage.
Calculate what you need for a break-even ACoS. That would be the ACoS percentage at which cost and expense zero out. This is the line above which you lose money, below which you make money.
Knowing that break-even line, you can then set targets for your campaigns based on how aggressive you want to be. Are you willing to lose money in order to give your rankings a big boost? Set your bids above the line. Go big. Do you want to run a profitable campaign? Something sustainable that either maintains or generates slow growth? Set your bids below the line.
Decide what your goal is and craft your campaigns around that. Certain software, like ManageByStats, lets you set target ACoS and will automatically adjust bids to achieve it.
Saving Your PPC Spend: Negative Keywords
When it comes to maximizing your PPC spend, negative keywords can be as important as your target keywords. By telling Amazon which keywords you don’t want your product to come up for in search results, you save money on impressions and clicks that would otherwise be likely to give very poor results.
For example, say you sell a manual can opener, and you don’t want results for “electric can opener”. You can set negative keywords, using the same rules of target keyword match types, and make sure no one finds you using “electric can opener”.
Taking time to set negative keywords is an important step in crafting any campaign.
Don’t Ignore The Longer Keywords
Called long-tail keywords, these are usually three or more words together that create a much more targeted result. The great thing about long-tail keywords is that, not only do they still get search volume (albeit less than more popular, major keywords), there also might not be as much competition.
This means more opportunity for you.
As they tend to be more specific, when you do show up in searches for them it’s that much more likely to be the exact thing the user is looking for. Meaning they’re more likely to buy, meaning your conversion percentage can be quite high. You then become an authority on that long-tail search term, Amazon sends you more of that traffic and …
The spiral of success spins upward.
Research and find the best long-tail keywords for your product, then fit them into your campaigns with all the rest.
Long-tail keywords represent opportunities to dominate.
What’s The Competition Doing?
There are several ways to find out what the competition is up to, from looking at competitor listings to derive what keywords they’re using, to general searches, but the easiest method of competitor keyword discovery is with a software tool designed specifically for that purpose.
Tools like the Keyword Scout offered by ManageByStats can help.
Armed with a list of keywords your competitors are using, and succeeding with, you can further refine your own listing and campaigns, and work to take the lead in those buyer searches.
In It To Win It
Selling on Amazon is perhaps one of the most dynamic online business worlds you could choose to enter. From changes made by Amazon itself to changes in the markets, the evolution of customer needs and demands and everything else that challenges entrepreneurs each and every day of existence on Amazon … nothing sits still.
PPC campaigns are no different. Rankings, buyer searches, competition — you’ve got to work with your campaigns to stay ahead.
Optimize. Delete. Add.
Fortunately the above tips are solid and should remain relevant for some time to come. Details may change, but the fundamentals won’t.
ManageByStats has tools to help offload many of these tasks, giving you a chance to issue instructions and manage from altitude.
Win the PPC game in 2020, and watch your Amazon business soar.