Hey everyone, I'm Travis Jamison
, the original founder of AMZ Tracker. Although I have since passed the torch of AMZ Tracker on to its new owners, I am now investing and partnering with companies selling on Amazon via Smash.vc
and growing them as Smash Digital
, and know just how much of an impact properly utilizing Amazon's Sponsored Products (PPC) can have on a brand.
In fact, one of the first things that our partners do when sitting down with a new Amazon business is look how we can improve PPC campaigns. This is the quickest way to boost up revenue in 9/10 cases. I urge you to take advantage of this yourself to see if it can work for your brand.
So without further delay, I give you...
The Impatient Entrepreneur’s Guide to Setting Up Amazon PPC
Admin Update For 2018: There is now a badass Amazon PPC Management Software that has now been released. We recommend checking it out to simplify, optimize and improve your Amazon PPC campaign management. They also have a much better guide than is offered here.
Amazon is obviously an amazing platform for moving massive amounts of product.
But let’s level with each other here: if you just slap a bunch of SKUs into a seller account and wait for the Bezos Fairy to bring you internet dollars, you’re gonna have a bad time.
That’s why you’re here, though - to learn more about how Amazon Sponsored Products can fast track you to getting more sales. In my opinion, Amazon PPC is a goldmine right now. The ROI can be absolutely incredible for certain products (but certainly not all). I think you’re absolutely crazy if you’re not at least trying out the ads on your products.
Look at the ROI on a couple of my own products.
Now for me, normal organic Amazon rankings are just so much more lucrative compared to the PPC (much more volume comes from organic
), but PPC still ends up basically being free money. Just waiting to be taken if you find a successful campaign.
So in this post, I’m going to walk you through the nuts and bolts of how to launch your first Amazon Sponsored Products campaign in just minutes.
Before we go any further though, I want to tell you that I’m not the super-incredible-talented (and handsome) Amazon PPC expert here. My specialty lies in organic Amazon SEO rankings as you all very well know. What I’m showing you here just happens to be what works well for me. So please throw in your own tips and experiences to improve this thread.
To get us started, here is the lovely little video Amazon prepared to show off it’s ad platform:Source
Let’s get started:
Step 1. Preparing Your Listing
The first thing you need to do here is get your actual product listing in shape. You don’t want to be sending a bunch of paid traffic to a crappy looking page. Make your page look awesome! Do all of the things you should be doing anyway.
You should invest in high quality images, you should include really great product descriptions, you should aim to actually sell your visitors with your text (aka copywriting). And last but not least, I always recommend getting some reviews
The reason for the reviews is that Amazon users are much more hesitant to buy a product if it doesn’t have any established reviews first. The Amazon ecosystem has become so dependent on these “trust factors” that your conversion rate will greatly decrease without them. I always make sure to have at least 10-15 good reviews on a product before I turn on the PPC, as conversion rate is very important here.
Last but not least, make sure and put all of your main keywords that you will be targeting somewhere on your listing. Title, bullet points, product description, etc. If you’re following our Amazon SEO Guide to optimize for AMZ Tracker, then you should probably have most of it taken care of already. This will up the relevancy of the page.
2. Choosing the Right Kind of Ads
This can be confusing. You can choose between two different kinds of advertising within Amazon: one that sends visitors to your website
(called “Amazon Product Ads”), and one that sends them to your product within Amazon (called “Amazon Sponsored Products”). You would think they could come up with some more unique names to stop confusion huh? le sigh.
In this post, we’re only going over “Sponsored Product Ads”. These are the ones sending the traffic to your listings on Amazon, and frankly the only ones that I have a foggy clue about. (*update* Amazon has now discontinued the other kind of ads, so the only kind still relevant is the one we are talking about here.
Anyway… these highlight your product in Amazon’s internal search results for keywords your products might not be ranking for, so if you’re selling a surfboard rack, you’ll pay to appear on the search results for keywords like surfboard racks, surfboard rack for suvs, etc. If you already are ranking organically for these terms, you now get twice the exposure.
Eventually, you’ll be able to rank your organically using AMZ Tracker, but Amazon Sponsored Products offer a great boost getting off the ground when your product is new, help you test the interest in new SKUs, and can actually help boost your organic rankings - we'll talk more about that in a bit. Not to mention, not using Amazon PPC is just leaving money on the table.
3. Creating Your First Campaign
To set up your first campaign, go to the advertising tab in Seller Central, then click on the Campaign Manager option in the drop-down menu.
Then hit the big Create Campaign button to get started.
The main choices for you here are to name your campaign and set a daily budget. Be specific with your names - if you're serious about optimizing your campaign or have a wide range of products, you're going to end up with a lot of different campaigns sooner than later, and deciding on a naming convention from the start will save you a lot of time and confusion later.
For daily budget, I always just put in $50. Do what you want here of course. I’ve found it almost impossible to spend that much when starting out, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Your conversions on products often start low, then pick up over time. When that happens, Amazon will naturally start to lower your CPC because you’re selling a quality product (you are selling quality products, right?) so there’s very little downside to setting it insanely high in the beginning IMO.
4. Select a targeting type
In general, I always go with “Manual Targeting” and I suggest the same for you if you even semi-understand this keyword stuff.
Automatic Targeting can be really bad at generating profitable ads for many, but it can be a cool way to find new keywords by letting Amazon “pick a whole bunch” of keywords for you. Many of them will overlap with data you’ve already pulled from AMZ tracker, but on occasion you can find some real gems for $50-100 bucks, and find some keywords that you never even thought to target.
A lot of people use ads just for that one purpose - finding out what keywords they should be targeting. That generally doesn’t apply as much to people using AMZ Tracker, but it can still be a great way to rapidly test which keywords are going to convert the best for you. Naturally, we’d suggest investing in ads and then ranking organically for the keywords that bring you the most sales per dollar when you’re starting out to build up your cash flow, then chase less profitable second-tier keywords once you already have a profitable campaign.
For your ongoing ads, though, you have to make sure you stick with Manual targeting - the automatic targeting will just blow your budget on crappy keywords if you leave it active. If you want to use it to discover new keywords, fine, but it's generally a losing bet in the long run.
So… go ahead and click “continue to the next step” and we’ll get your first ad up and running.
5. Your First Ad
On the next page, we’re actually going to build the ad that Amazon is going to show for your product.
Start by naming your Ad Group. PPC nerds are always very particular about the naming of campaigns, so pick some sort of very descriptive naming system and stick with it. You want it to be scalable.
Next up is deciding on your default bid - like Facebook and Adwords, Amazon’s pay-per-click ads are set up as an auction for ad space, so the default bid is the maximum you’re willing to pay each time someone clicks on your ad. Initially, I recommend setting this number as high as $5 dollars per click. Don't worry - Amazon's never going to actually charge you that much in my experience thus far.
At this stage of the game, you're trying to collect as much data about the advertising market in your vertical as possible, and if your default bid is too low, your ads will only get shown sporadically and it'll be difficult to trust the data you've collected. Starting with a bold default CPC will help you so you want to make sure to outbid the competition at first.
Next up, is choosing the keywords you want to advertise for. Amazon’s going to show you a whole list of suggested keywords - don’t just blindly trust these, those are there to make Amazon money, not you. Make sure they perfectly fit your product offer or ignore them.
Then, click on the “Provide Your Own Keywords” link, plug in the keywords that you’ve picked out in your keyword research, then hit the button that says “Add these keywords.”
To find these keywords I personally use a combination of the built in AMZ Tracker keyword tool feature, Merchant Words, and the free versions TermExplorer.com and KeywordTool.io (both are specifically for Google, but they still help you find ideas
After you drop your keywords into the box scroll up to give the campaign a quick review, making sure you’ve got the right budget, that there’s no end date on the date range, and that the text in your ads looks right, then save the settings and Amazon will take you to the dashboard for your new campaign.
Bear in mind: this campaign is officially running, which means Amazon’s going to be hitting your credit card soon. If there’s any reason why you’re not ready to run the ads or deliver the products yet, make sure to pause the campaign fast.
6. Patience = Profit
Now for a bit of a reality check:
Very few campaigns are going to be instantly profitable in their first few days, or even their first month.
But because Amazon PPC seems to influence organic rankings, lowers the cost per click over time, and because conversion rates tend to increase over time, you can’t give a campaign the thumbs-down on their platform as quickly as you might on Adwords or Facebook.
While some campaigns might be instant big winners, many more start out as losers, then pick up after the first few weeks to make month two or three pleasantly profitable.
We haven’t found a reliable metric yet that can predict which campaigns will take off, but the point is this: Amazon Sponsored Products
So don’t rush to turn off a campaign before you’ve given it ample time to prove whether it’s going to be a winner for you or not.
7. Organic Ranking Bonus!
Now, as I mentioned before, there's some evidence to suggest your products will actually rank better organically while you’re running ads - it seems like the increase in visitors and sales can bump your organic rankings in Amazon search up a few spots, which is worth a lot more than what the ads will cost you. Test after test from myself as well as others seems to show this being true.
It’s a double bonus with the PPC.
Hope this helps! Post your Amazon PPC tips and thoughts below!
P.S. Thanks to Brent who manages PPC clients at Pathfinder
for help with some questions in putting this together.