Since I’ve been working more and more with Amazon Advertising for a wide spectrum of authors, I’m thinking that will most likely be the subject of Book 2. Which means that I’ll dedicate several of the upcoming weekly Reedsy marketing newsletters to that topic, as that’s how I like to organize my thoughts.
Today, I want to start with one of the most controversial topics around Amazon Sponsored Product ads: testing target keywords and products.
See, there are two schools of thought when it comes to finding keywords or products (ASINs) to add to your Amazon Ads campaigns. I call them the “bazooka” and the “sniper” strategies.
Note: If you know nothing about Amazon Ads, you’ll first want to read the sections dedicated to the platform in my first book. Otherwise, the below might sound like incomprehensible jargon to you.
The “bazooka” strategy
This was the main strategy recommended by the experts in the early days of Amazon Ads, and it basically consists of testing as many keywords as possible, as fast as possible.
To achieve that, you need to create huge campaigns with hundreds (or even thousands) of keywords. Then you’d use relatively high bids to get those campaigns to serve on all those keywords and rapidly gather impressions/clicks.
Once a keyword has gathered enough impressions/clicks, you could then either:
- Dismiss it because of poor click-through rate, or poor conversion rate from click to purchase;
- Adjust the bid if you think it could be a good one, but with a lower cost per click; or
- Keep the keyword and move it to a “successful keywords” campaign.
So on and so forth until you’ve “filtered” your huge keyword list down to the successful ones.
The result is that you spend quite a bit of money in a short amount of time, as Amazon places your ads on hundreds of different searches and product pages. Of course, not all of these will be relevant to your book, but that’s the whole point of this method: hitting a wide array of targets in the hopes of getting to the few that are relevant — hence my bazooka comparison.
Yes, you’ll waste money on clicks that have little chances of converting. But in my experience, it’s not always easy to know beforehand which keywords will make for successful targets — and this strategy is still the best one to find a maximum number of good keywords in a short amount of time.
The “sniper” strategy
As Amazon Ads have become more expensive and more authors (with smaller budgets) have gotten into the game in recent years, this second “sniper” strategy has also become increasingly popular.
It’s basically the opposite of the “bazooka” strategy: instead of hitting as many remotely relevant keywords as possible, you start with small campaigns focusing on a few hyper-relevant keywords/products (e.g. also boughts with similar covers/themes) with reasonable bids — sniper-targeting, if you will.
The upsides of this second strategy are clear:
- You don’t waste money on targets that are unlikely to work;
- You only show your ads on searches/product pages where you think readers are most likely to click and buy;
- Because of this, your account’s click-through-rate will likely be high and encourage Amazon to prioritize your ads.
The downside, however, is that it’s likely that your campaigns will get very little impressions and clicks. Why? Because highly-targeted keywords/products tend to get few searches/views, so it might take several weeks until you start seeing results and getting the kind of data you need to make decisions on those targets.
The other downside is that you’ll miss on good keywords/products that you don’t know or that you think are not relevant enough. As I mentioned above, it’s pretty hard to know in advance exactly what will work — some very broad comps might sometimes convert much better than close ones.
The best of both worlds
So what’s the best strategy? Well, it very much depends on your budget and your goals.
- If you just released your book and are looking to get as many sales as possible in the first 30 days, you might want to go broad with the bazooka strategy to make sure Amazon delivers your ads (and to find those money-making targets quickly).
- If you’re conscious of budget, then you’ll definitely want to start small with hyper-relevant targets that won’t blow through your budget.
Of course, it will also depend on your book, where it fits in the market, and your knowledge of the market:
- If your book straddles genre or has broad commercial appeal — or if you don’t know any super similar books out there — then you’ll have to go broad to find the targets (if any) that will bring in the kind of readers interested in your book.
- If you write in a well-defined niche in which you know all the top names, then it’ll be easy (and it’d make sense) to go for the sniper approach.
In most cases, though, you’ll want to do a combination of both. You could have a campaign with a big budget plus all the hyper-relevant targets that you’re positive will work well, and then a broader campaign (with a lower budget cap, or lower bids) targeting broad comps or search terms.
For example, I like having both a campaign targeting also-boughts (targeted), and another one targeting the Top 100 and Hot New Releases in my main categories (broader). I also like to regularly update the second campaign with the latest Hot New Releases to piggy-back on any big launches in the niche — and because newly released books will generally have less Sponsored Ads competition than established ones.
And on that note, that’s it for this first installment on Amazon ads! I’ll see you next week for the second installment.
Happy writing, and happy marketing,
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