In Part 1 of this blog series – How to Use Amazon Advertising to Sell More Books – we explored how Amazon is moving in the direction of pay-to-play advertising for authors in publishers. Now let’s move on to Part 2:
How to Use Amazon Pay-Per-Click Ads
Amazon’s Sponsored Product Ads, which allow you to set up pay-per-click campaigns, have been producing great results for many authors. Following is how to set them up.
Get Started with Amazon Pay-Per-Click Ads
- Login to KDP. Start by going to your Kindle publisher account and logging in: http://kdp.amazon.com.
- Click on “Promote and Advertise” next to your book title.
- Choose from one of three options: For pay-per-click ads, click on “Create an Ad Campaign.”
Note: “Run a Price Promotion” and “Earn Royalties from the KDP Select Global Fund” are both options under the KDP Select program, which is covered at the end of this post.
- Choose your ad type. You’ll see two options:
- Sponsored Products – Ads generated based on targeted keywords you choose. Ads display in search results and “Sponsored Products” area on competing book pages. Ads can run continuously or based on a date range you set. Keyword-level reporting available so you can track performance.
- Product Display Ads – Amazon Product Display Ads are generated based on book genre, related books, and even other products that you identify. Ads display on related product detail pages and Kindle e-reader screensavers and home screens. Ads run based on a date range you set. Campaign-level reporting available. We’ll cover these shortly…
How to Create Sponsored Product Ads
(Pay-Per-Click, Keyword-Based Targeted Marketing)
- Choose your ad type. From the ad page, click on “Sponsored Products.”
- Give your campaign a name. Or, if you like, or keep the default name with the current date.
- Set a daily budget. You can indicate as little as $1 per day, and once your budget is reached with clicks, Amazon will disable your ads for that day.
For best results, I recommend setting a budget of at least $5 or $10 per day. Remember, if your ads convert well, you should earn that back in book sales many times over. You can also turn your ads off any time if they aren’t performing. AND, you are only charged your daily maximum if your ads generate enough clicks. For most of these campaigns, authors don’t always exhaust their maximum daily budget.
- Set a duration for your campaign. You can choose a date range or let your ads run continuously. Remember, you can login and cancel, pause or adjust ads whenever you like. For best results, I suggest running ads for at least a full month. You want to give your ads some time to perform so that you can fairly analyze if they’re producing good results.
- Select a targeting type. Amazon will do automatic targeting for you, which means it will select keywords to cross-promote your book with. Or, you can indicate your own keywords with “Manual” targeting.
Manual targeting allows you to be in charge of the keywords, and since you know your book better than anyone, manual targeting is highly recommended. Amazon’s automation machine will likely miss many potential keywords for your book. For example, if you’ve authored a memoir about being a single mom and battling breast cancer, there are a lot of potential keywords in there that Amazon probably wouldn’t recognize. For best results, try manual targeting and set your own keywords.
- Set a budget for clicks. You can leave the default bid value as-is (usually around $.25) or set it lower if you like. Setting it lower means that your book may not display against competing titles if there is a lot of competition.
Remember, you’re paying Amazon for clicks so if your book’s sales page converts browsers into buyers, then paying a higher bid makes sense because that $.15 or $.25 you spend could (and hopefully will) result in a Return on Investment of several dollars per click based on book sales.
Also, be aware that just because your default bid is $.25, it doesn’t mean that’s what you’ll pay for clicks. Depending on how much competition is in your space, your bids could be much less—such as $.10 to $.15 per click. The default bid tells Amazon the highest amount you’re willing to pay for a click.
- Add keywords for your campaign. Amazon will display a list of selected keywords that you can add to your campaign if you like. These keywords will likely be broad and you don’t have to select them all. Just choose the ones that fit best.
- Add your own keywords. After adding Amazon’s suggested keywords, look for the link at the top that says “Add your own keywords.” Here you can list your own keywords—and keyword phrases are recommended over single words.
How to locate keywords:
- What readers search for: Think about what your readers might type in to search for a book like yours. Using the previous example, you might use keywords like “single mom memoir,” “cancer memoir,” “breast cancer memoir,” and “how to live with breast cancer.”
- Book and chapter topics: If your book is prescriptive nonfiction, consider various topics and chapters covered in your book and add those as keywords, too. For example, if your book is about holistic health solutions, your keywords might be based on your chapters and include: gluten-free living, how to meditate, how to be happy, how to lose weight, etc.
- Identify the competition. Most importantly, list titles of competing books and names of authors who write in your genre. This will help your book appear in search results for those books and authors.
Pro Tip: Open up a separate browser tab and search Amazon for some of your top keyword combinations. Identify the top competing authors and book titles and then use those for keywords.
Important: Don’t skimp on keyword combinations. The more keywords you input, the better chance your ads will get displayed. Aim for a minimum of 50 keyword phrases, though 100 or more is optimal. This is definitely the area where you should spend the most time in order to generate the best results. One of my ads has over 400 keywords!
Also, beware of keyword combinations that really don’t relate to your book. You wouldn’t market a science book to children’s book readers, for example, unless there was some sort of science connection. Poorly targeted keywords can hurt your conversion rates and cost you more in clicks. Try to stick with keywords, book titles, and authors whose books are similar to yours.
Pro Tip: Each time you type in a dozen or so keywords, click on “Add.” If any of your keywords are not allowed by Amazon, you will get a warning message and will need to remove them before it will allow you to successfully add the rest of the keywords on the screen. It will also warn you if you’ve already added a keyword. This also prevents you from losing all your work if you spend a bunch of time typing in keywords and then accidentally close your browser!
- Customize your ad. Write a short headline that features potential benefits to the reader. Example: “The must-read guide for moms who want to build healthy habits to live a longer, happier life!”
- Preview and submit your ad. Once satisfied, submit your ad for review. Note that Amazon must approve your keywords and your overall ad, and they have the right to remove keywords from your list (for no apparent reason). This shouldn’t be a big concern, especially if you’ve identified plenty of related and appropriate keywords.
It typically takes a day or two for your ad to be approved, and then a couple more days for your ad to start showing up in search results.
Monitoring Ad Conversions
To know how your ads are performing, you can monitor the ad dashboard and also drill down to see keyword performance.
You can view ad performance results here through the Amazon Marketing Services dashboard: https://ams.amazon.com/.
This is also where you can start new ad campaigns once you have your first campaign completed.
Here’s an example of results from a brief ad I ran:
- In the above example, I set a daily budget of $5.
- The ad was displayed 63,456 times (Impressions) and received 173 clicks.
- The average cost per click was $.16, for a total spend of $28.33 for the life of the ad.
- Total book sales generated: $163.85.
- If I subtract the cost of the ad ($28.33), my net profit = $135.52. Not too shabby!
Note that though my budget was $5 per day, because I only paid when the ad was clicked, the total dollars spent was far less than my daily budget. So, even if you set a daily budget, chances are that you may not end up spending that much. And if you do, ideally your ads convert to enough book sales to make that spend worthwhile. And if so, then consider increasing your budget!
You can run several concurrent ads with Amazon Marketing Services and monitor which ones perform best. You might do this with different ad headlines, separate types of keywords, or different budgets.
Ads that don’t perform as well can still have some benefits. Here is an example from my own ad testing:
This ad isn’t converting well compared to my other ads, but look at the number of impressions it’s generating (almost 200k views). That’s a lot of eyeballs on my book and my author name. And though the keywords in this ad may not be converting well, and I had to spend almost $18 to generate $36 dollars in sales, I am still coming out ahead AND getting more views of my book.
You never know where those impressions may lead. Perhaps it will help with name recognition. Or, if shoppers see my book more than once over a period of time, it might convince them to buy down the road. Since I’m not losing anything on this ad, I plan to keep it running.
If you have an under-performing ad, you can study the keywords and make adjustments. Perhaps you need to ad more keywords and remove those that aren’t working. You can make adjustments to your ads at any time.
Ad Results by Keyword
When you click on your ad, you can drill down into results based on keywords. Here are some results for an ad for my book, The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan:
I sorted the above results based on the number of clicks the ad has generated. The far-right column shows “ACoS,” which stands for Average Cost of Sale. The lower the percentage here, the better that keyword set is converting.
These results are interesting since the keyword phrase that’s performing best, “marketing plan,” is rather broad and not the one that I would expect to produce the best return on investment.
When it comes to marketing, you never know what will perform best, which is why it’s so important to spend time testing different strategies and use lots of keywords in your ads.
This 4-part blog series includes the following:
THIS POST: Part 2 – How to Use Amazon Pay-Per-Click Campaigns (POPULAR TOPIC)
NEXT POST: Part 3 – How to Use Amazon Display Ads
Download a printable copy (24 pages!) of this 4-part report:
Access the Amazon Report here.