Best Practices for Your Amazon PPC Strategy
The Amazon Marketplace has more than 8.5 million sellers worldwide, with more than half-a-million new ones joining this year alone. It’s no surprise, then, that Amazon PPC ads have gotten more and more competitive with each passing year.
More competition drives PPC bids higher, which eats into margins for Amazon sellers. This means it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re doing everything you can to maximize the effectiveness of your Amazon PPC ads, trimming costs and capitalizing on opportunities to increase conversions wherever possible.
These six Amazon PPC best practices will help you do that.
Prioritize Strong Organic Sales
Amazon SEO, organic sales and PPC sales are three elements that feed into one another to create a thriving Amazon Marketplace business.
Practicing SEO helps your products get discovered by the right shoppers, which yields organic sales. More organic sales lead to more positive reviews, which bump your products higher in search results. Supplementing these efforts with PPC ads further increases your reach, which breeds sales, which lead to reviews–which, in turn, help maintain your strong position. It’s a cycle.
Success in any one of these three areas positively influences the others. So, if you want strong PPC results, you should focus first on strong organic sales and building a solid foundation of positive reviews.
Use a Mix of Manual and Automated Campaigns
Amazon offers two options for managing your PPC campaigns: manual and automated targeting.
Automated campaigns are very hands-off; you assign a daily budget, set the maximum you want to spend per click, add any relevant negative keywords and Amazon’s algorithm does the rest. You’ll have less control over the nuances of your campaign, like the audience targeting, but it’s a fast and easy way to get started.
In manual campaigns, you’re fully responsible for adding keywords, assigning budgets for each of them, selecting match types and optimizing your campaigns over time. It’s much more labor intensive and there’s a learning curve involved, but it gives you greater control over your targeting and prevents wasted spending on ineffective or irrelevant search terms.
For best results, we recommend a strategic mix of both automated and manual campaigns. This will allow you to get the best of both worlds. No two brands are alike; some will have better results with automated campaigns, while others do better managing them manually. Trying both allows you to assess which campaigns perform best for your particular brand and adjust your portfolio based on what’s most profitable.
Focus on Your Most Important Keywords
When you set up your Amazon product listings, you’ll be prompted to input search terms that correlate with each item. This field previously had five lines and allowed for up to 5,000 bytes worth of search terms. However, in 2018 Amazon scaled back the allowance to just 250 bytes or less (in most cases, one character = one byte, although some special characters require two or three bytes).
The problem with this is that many retailers with long-established listings never learned of the change, so they never updated this field in their product listings. And get this–if a product exceeds the new search term limit, Amazon doesn’t index them for any search terms. That’s a big problem!
To capitalize on keyword-based indexing, make sure you’re limiting your search terms field to 250 bytes or less–that’s about 40 to 60 words. As you can see, that’s not a ton of space, meaning you’ll need to prioritize your most relevant keywords only and eliminate everything else.
Set Negative Keywords
Negative keywords and phrases prevent your ad from being shown in results for those particular queries. Why would you want to do this? In short, to avoid spending valuable budget on irrelevant search terms.
For example, let’s say you sell porcelain dishware. You’d want to appear in search results for people searching things like ‘plates’ and ‘dinner plates,’ but definitely not for people who are searching ‘paper plates.’ Without setting negative keywords, though, you run the risk of this happening.When those paper plate shoppers click on your ad, they’ll quickly realize it’s not what they wanted and click away, but you’ll still be charged for that click.
Setting thoughtful negative keywords helps limit clicks on your ads to shoppers who are truly looking for what you’re selling. If you’re experiencing a problem with low click-through rates or low conversion rates on your ads, it could be a sign your negative keywords need some attention.
Amazon PPC ads require you to group your products. You can do this in any number of ways–by brand, by type, by color, and pretty much any other variable–but how you group your products matters when it comes to the keywords you’re targeting.
If you sell apparel, for example, and you group all the swimwear together, then you can’t use terms like ‘men’s swimsuit’ or ‘women’s swimsuit’ as keywords because the group contains both. That would mean for any given searcher, half of the products shown would be irrelevant. However, if you grouped all women’s apparel together, then using gender-specific search terms would be appropriate.
This will require some thought to get right, but it’s worth investing the time if you want to cut down another area of potential wasted ad spend and keep your margins as high as possible.
Don’t Try to Game the System
There are endless threads on seller forums discussing various ‘hacks’ you can use to get ahead when selling on Amazon. In almost all cases, these are a bad idea and will do more harm than good.
For example, some sellers attempt to pay people to pose as shoppers and leave positive reviews for their products, but Amazon has a very good system for sniffing out these review gamers and booting them from the platform. The same goes for using your keywords to target your competitors’ brand names–for example, if you sell Nike shoes but you target the keyword Adidas. In the best case scenario, your ads could be disabled, and in the worst case, you could get sued for copyright infringement.
Your best bet for a long and successful relationship with Amazon PPC ads is to play by the rules, carefully monitoring and optimizing your campaigns over time to prioritize the moneymakers and maximize profits.
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