8 tips for effective book promotion using Amazon Advertising

Hi there, passing web traveller,

Welcome to the eye candy that is Sean Yeager Adventures – exceptional books for 8 to 12 years+.  Treat a youngster in your life to a fresh, new book series.

Here are some tips for using Amazon Advertising for book promotion. These are based on hands-on experience of the tool.

First, a brief glossary of terms.

  • Advert – a picture and text to promote your chosen product (book)
  • Custom text = an option to write your own copy for your advert.
  • Impressions = views of your Amazon advert by passing browsers or in a long list of product pages (i.e. potentially unread search results)
  • Campaign = your single advert and its settings, run with a budget for a timeline and with an on/off switch
  • Clicks = selection of your advert by a browser, a possible buyer, who is directed to your product page
  • Order = sale noticed by Amazon and linked to your advertising.
  • Placement = where the advert appears on Amazon search results
  • Targeting = where you manage keywords and bids after setting up your advert/campaign
  • Reporting = graphic measures per campaign or all campaigns for a selected timeline
  • Bidding = how much you are willing pay for a possible click when a keyword leads to an advert being clicked and a read of your product page
  • Manual bidding = you choose the bid cost (click cost) for each of your keywords.
  • Keyword = a search term or collection of search terms, much like on Google etc. Specifically, what the Amazon customer keyed in to search for a product
  • Negative keyword = a search term (or part of one) for which your advert will not appear.
  • Budget = how much you are willing to spend per day – from $1 minimum per advert per day
  • CTR = click through rate – percentage of impressions leading to clicks. Higher is better.
  • CPC = cost per click – averaged across the number of clicks per campaign and for a time period. Lower is better.
  • ACOS = average cost of sales – averaged from number of sales and the cost of clicks for the same period of time
  • Territory = Amazon Advertising is territory specific ie. US .com, UK .co.uk

1) To generate the most impressions: use broad keywords based on a title or author or stem of a keyword; use manual bidding within the recommended ranges; and refresh your adverts and bids at least weekly.

To promote your title go for stem keywords and keep them broad. The more keywords you include (up to 1000) the better to build an understanding of what works for your campaign. Think laterally about your book genre, competing titles, authors, series, collections, franchises, and variations of descriptive terms.  For example: ‘mystery book, Agatha Christie, Agatha Christie series. mystery series, crime novels, crime series, crime book series’ etc. It can be surprising what keyword combinations pick up the best traffic. Recent best sellers and generic descriptive terms seem to attract good volumes of impressions. Of course, the more relevant these terms are to your book,  the better. There’s little point promoting a non-crime book to people searching for crime novels. However, if you go too specific you are unlikely to attract enough impressions for your advert.

2) Pay attention to the recommended bid levels – they matter, they change, and they can be  expensive. You need to keep tweaking your keyword bids, daily if possible, to keep your impressions volumes up. High impression volumes mean a greater chance of clicks.

Bid levels seem to vary from about 39c to $1+ for most keywords based on authors and book titles. The highest I’ve seen was a recommended bid at $37!  What is strange is the lack of keywords with a recommended bid range 20c to 30c. However, if you set your bids lower than the recommended bids, you will still pick up a small volume of impressions. Bear this in mind. You need to target 1000+ impressions per day, per Campaign. And the best way to achieve this is – a wide range of relevant keywords, and going with recommended bids on manual bidding.

To update your bids in volume, select Campaign, Targeting, click the box next to ‘Active’ and either Adjust Bid to your selected bid. Bear in mind Pages are per 50 keywords, so you’ll need to navigate through your pages to update all your kyword bids.

Note: you still need to check that you have no ‘rogue’ recommended bids suggested e.g. at the crazy levels of $5 to $37 per click if you use ‘Apply Suggested Bid’  Your daily budget limit will be applied and kept within, but you will still spend that $1+  I would avoid those rogue keywords completely.

3) How to attract clicks – use a lot of keyword combinations to find the best impression counts and hone in on your audience. Also, try varying your approach to the custom copy you write for your adverts. What leads to a click through is not always predictable. A good image and compelling text will help.

Review your keywords by the volume of impressions over say three days – this is your audience. Now you could consider revising your bid prices for only the top performing keywords and switching off the rest (on / off control on the left tab of the Target screen) this will save you time and give you focus. OR you could run a wide range of keywords and pick up a trickle of impressions from the ‘long tail’ of lower performing keywords.

Your strategy is key here – it’s your money. Try a few approaches and see what works for your campaigns. It tends to be the higher bids that pick up the largest volumes of impressions and hence stand a great chance of clicks.

4) How to sell books?  Write compelling custom advert text, choose relevant and performing keywords, and be prepared to bid and spend highish click bids (80c to $1)

I’ve found that only with bids up to 80c or $1 and pitching them for ‘Top of Search’ using Placement (+10 to 30%) was there any meaningful action in terms of sales. The Custom Advert Text option is a must. Placement of the Ads seems to be key to gaining sales – top of search for browsers interested in your genre are important, BUT watch out for the cost of advertising. Your costs are likely to be at a click through rate of about 6% and a conversion rate of about 10% (at best), which adds up at a bid cost of 80c or higher.  (10 * 80c = $8 per sale). This is expensive and therefore not great value for money.

5) How can I get value for money? And how do I know when there were real clicks?

The only proof is when you make a sale. Beyond that, you are completely trusting Amazon Advertising and their reporting. You can slice and dice the reporting information by campaigns and timelines. There are also tools which claim to discover keywords that are more cost effective – based on books that sell. However, your impression counts for a broad range of keywords will show you directly how your adverts are performing on Amazon itself. Amazon uses bid demand, relevance and advert performance in its rules. This means you have to experiment and refine your campaign settings regularly. What worked last week might not work this week. Can we check the clicks are real? Unfortunately, no.

You could try to find evidence of your ad appearing as an impression on your own Amazon session. Good luck with that one. I’ve yet to see any of my own live ads. And don’t click it if you do see your own advert – it will cost you.

Bottom line – manage your budget and spend with care, experiment and review click and order results.

6) Keep your adverts fresh – and use Copy Campaign on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

After a time, a Campaign will fall below 6% click through rate and it will go stale. You’ll see this because there will be very few impressions on a daily basis. The way around this is to copy that campaign (right hand control on the campaign targetting grid) and create a clone of the original. It’s also an opportunity to try – fresh copy, perhaps a new image, new keywords and a different bid strategy. Also vary the Placement options. The new campaign will have to be approved, but it is worth the effort to kick-off a fresh start.

7) To maximise sales, regardless of cost

I’m not saying this is a great long-term idea, but for a period of time you could try:

  • Going broad and numerous with keywords – up to 1000
  • Use negative keywords to eliminate DVDs, toys, t-shirts etc. Anything irrelevant to your aims
  • BId high in the quoted keyword ranges – higher than the recommended range
  • Bid Upwards and put in a 30% percentage for Top of Search etc. on Placement – this is expensive so beware
  • Manage your bids daily, based on changes to Amazon’s pricing of bids and your impression counts
  • Target the highest impressions count and highest click through CTR – go after the maximum number of eyes to ensure clicks
  • Set your budget per campaign to not run out of funds – but within your budget of $x per day
  • Hone your custom copy and experiment with calls to action in the custom ad copy
  • Remember to refine your product page as well – buyers need to be impressed there too
  • Focus on what you see working and vary that on the next cycle of Campaigns.
  • Be prepared to spend $5 per day,

This approach will cost you $’s, but it will generate some sales. Whether it is economic, you’ll need to assess based on your campaign’s performance and total sales. In other words, it’s your rodeo, so it’s your call based on your ‘success’ measures.

Warning : I found this approach did not break even.

8) Amazon Advertising is a ‘black box‘ , so beware –  it really is a case that the ‘house wins’ so be cautious and start bidding at a cheap level until you learn the ropes. The click / order results are not always predictable. It is not a given that the bid levels are reliable when quoted to you. I cite the lack of Amazon recommended bids in the range 10c to 30c as evidence of this. The minimum bid level is 6c. Some recommended bid levels are crazy e.g. $37.

Consider this situation. Why would a campaign generate clicks priced at 22c with the following settings?

  • Impressions of about 1k per day
  • All bid levels set to 36c Manual
  • Placement set to Bid down
  • No Placement bid up percentages

In this case, Amazon Advertisings rules seem to have led to a favourable cost of click. A cheaper than expected advert and cheaper than expected clicks. Except, there are never any sales. Strange, huh?  Both for Amazon and for the source of the reported clicks.

The reason I mention this is as a cautionary note. We don’t know what Amazon Advertising is actually doing under the hood. The lack of recommended bids 10c to 30c 38c is a symptom of this. For less popular keywords, all you will see is ‘No information available’. There are also times where you will bid relatively high and receive no impressions for a popular keyword.

Therefore, as the advertiser – you need to be aware and manage your advertising spend with care when using Amazon Advertising.

Best of luck

D.M. Jarrett