Optimize Amazon Ads for Better Sales

How to Optimize and Troubleshoot Amazon Ads

Are your book sales stagnant despite running Amazon Ads? It’s time for a change.

Today, I’ll dissect a poorly performing ad and show you how a few actionable steps can turn this ad into a sales powerhouse.

This past week, I received an email from an author of children’s books who had run her Amazon Ad for a few weeks. She was frustrated because she only had six sales.

Many times when I troubleshoot ads like this, I find that there is a silver lining. And honestly, six sales in a few weeks is slow, but it isn’t that bad. When I took a look at the statistics, I found that she had gotten those six sales off of only 34 clicks, and she’d only spent $13 on her ads.

$13 spent for six orders means she almost certainly is turning a profit. Maybe even a healthy profit. The only case where she wouldn’t be turning a profit was if her commission on each sale was less than about $2.25. What was holding that ad back?

The first thing I do when I’m troubleshooting ads like these is I take a look at the number of keywords and the quality of action taking place on those keywords. The first statistic I go to is CTR, or click through rate. Click through rate refers to clicks divided by impressions. In her case, she had about 200 keywords, but her click through rate was only about 0.10%. In other words, she was getting a click for every 1000 impressions.

That is a borderline number. It is very close to the line between acceptable and unacceptable in Amazon’s eyes. The Amazon algorithm is constantly taking a look at these CTRs. For an advertisement which has a very low CTR, Amazon will stop serving impressions to that advertisement.

Another issue was the advertisement didn’t have a enough keywords pulling in impressions and doing so at a quality CTR. I like to see at least two clicks for every 1000 impressions, or a 0.20. CTR.

Let’s decide how we should troubleshoot this advertisement.

Step one, let’s get our CTR into shape. My suggestion to go through your advertisement and take a look at the lifetime statistics for each keyword. When you find keywords which have received 1000 or more impressions, but still haven’t received a click, pause those keywords, because they are bringing your CTR down. This is a classic case of addition by subtraction. By turning off the low performing keywords, you are raising the overall CTR for your advertisements.

Step two. Go through your lifetime statistics and check for keywords which have received clicks and 1000 or more impressions, but their CTR is less than 0.10%. When you find these keywords, if they haven’t received an order yet, pause these keywords. They’re harming your ad because they are bringing your CTR down and they obviously haven’t benefited you in any way by providing a sale.

Step three. In this case, we had a very young advertisement, so we weren’t likely to find keywords which had a huge amount of clicks without sales. My rule of thumb is once you reach 30 clicks with no sale, it’s time to reconsider whether that keyword is worth your while. Especially if you’re paying a high cost per click or CPC on that keyword.

Once you get north of 40 clicks and you’re not getting any sales, turn off that keyword. All you’re doing is spending money without sales.

If the click-to-order ratio is 40 or more, it’s time to pause the keyword. In your case, you may consider anything above 20. This is a personal choice. 20 clicks is the line in the sand for me. Ensure you’re not spending money on keywords which are not performing.

And now the fun part.

Return to the lifetime statistics for our advertisement. Take a look at the keywords which are performing well. And there are easy ways to do this. You could sort your keyword by CTR-descending so we are focusing on the highest CTR keywords. Those are great performers, especially if they have a sale behind them.

Also examine any keywords which are making sales without spending a lot of money. When we identify those best-performing keywords, brainstorm similar keywords. This strategy can easily double or triple your keywords in a very short period of time.

Another way that you can quickly add keywords is by operating differently than you had when you were first creating that keyword list.

For instance, in the case of this children’s author, she had a lot of keywords like children’s books, books for kids, etc. She didn’t include any author names. My suggestion to her was to find authors who write books for a similar age group and write in her style. Use those authors as keywords.

If you are like me and you like to use author keywords, head in the other direction and you do what she did. You start creating keywords like books for children, kid books, and whatnot. This is a great way to just expand the possibilities of your thinking and easily increase your keyword counts.

We could simply take 50 or 100 keywords and turn them into 200 or 400 over the course of a weekend. Not all of these keywords will perform up to your expectations. In fact, the vast majority probably won’t despite our best intentions. Despite our research, we often find the majority of those keywords don’t perform up to our expectations.

However, you’ll find some winners in every batch of new keywords.

If you focus on finding three or four useful, performing keywords every week, think of what you’ll have two or three months from now. After eight to 12 weeks, you will have created an advertisement which is selling far more books than your current advertisement is.

Rinse and repeat.

Go through each batch of new keywords, find which ones are performing, find which ones aren’t performing, turn off the ones which are bringing your CTR down or are getting a lot of clicks but no sales. Then identify new keywords which are performing well and then brainstorm more keywords.

Don’t try to do this all in one day or in one weekend. Slow and steady wins the race.

Focus on slowly building this ad. You will have a high performing ad in short order.

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