Amazon is the behemoth of online retail. No matter what your ecommerce marketing plan is – you will have to consider Amazon at some point.
For online storeowners, Amazon is both a competitor and a partner. Through the Marketplace / FBA / Seller programs, Amazon allows nearly anyone to use their website & brand as an ecommerce platform.
But the nearly anyone cannot be ignored. That means that both you and your direct competitor are fighting on rented land. Amazon is happy to give you an edge – for a price – and that comes in the form of Sponsored Products.
Sponsored Products allow you to buy space at the top of Amazon search results & category listings. You only pay when someone clicks your ad.
Amazon Sponsored Product ads are similar in concept to every other PPC platform, but are very different in practice due to the fact that they live 100% on Amazon’s platform.
Since they are proprietary to Amazon’s platform & limited to Amazon sellers – Amazon Sponsored Product ads are a bit of a black box.
I’ve never run an Amazon PPC campaign, but I do read *a lot* of posts as part of my newsletter research. To help you get started in a successful direction, here are the key concepts, resources and tools for Amazon Sponsored Product campaigns on the Internet.
Amazon Sponsored Product Concepts
Even if you already know, let’s address some of the basics…
The Amazon Flywheel
A flywheel is a device that is incredibly difficult to get started, but once it’s moving, it can sustain its own momentum.
Think of Amazon like a flywheel. Reviews, sales, rank and visits are all incredibly hard to get, but once you have some momentum, they create a feedback loop that creates (and accelerates) momentum.
In other words, sales lead to both more reviews and higher rankings. More reviews & high rankings lead to more visits and more sales.
This effect means that you have to model your ad spending differently than you would with a Google or Facebook ad.
If an Amazon ad click leads to a sale and a review – it’s worth more than simply that single sale.
On Amazon, there’s a real possibility of spending your way to wealth – which can be a good and bad thing. It allows you to generate more return than expected, but also incentives you to sink too much money chasing a bad bet.
Either way – you have to have a carefully mapped strategy with specific targets and a willingness to be agile.
Seller Rank, Categorization, Velocity
Amazon has a byzantine category structure with specific jargon. If you can learn exactly how to use Seller Rank, Product Categorization and Velocity to help Amazon help you – you’ll be far ahead of the competition.
Seller Rank – The basic idea here is that Amazon does not simply reward Top Sellers. They want to reward up and comers as well. They want to find the next Top Seller, and move that product up quickly.
Categorization – Seller Rank applies to every category on Amazon. And Amazon will use child category success to affect Seller Rank in a parent category. This rewards sellers who can find an otherwise boring child category with potential.
Velocity – How much product are you moving in a specific time period? Are you moving product at a faster rate now than you were earlier? If so, Amazon wants to give you more visibility.
All three of these factors create a feedback loop with one another that affects your Flywheel. Sponsored Products allow you to pay to give any of these factors an extra push.
If you want to succeed on any platform, you have to understand the incentives of the system.
Google wants to show quality pages that answer a query on the first try. Facebook wants high clickthroughs.
Amazon wants to sell more stuff.
If your product sells better than another one – Amazon’s algorithms will do all it can to push your product. If you work with the algorithm, you’ll win.
Sponsored Product Ads Settings
Amazon Sponsored Product ads are not as complicated as an AdWords campaign or even a Facebook ad. Amazon wants you to basically give them money and let them handle the campaign.
But you do have some control over settings & structure. Amazon also provides a lot of data (though it is delayed). You’ll want to use all the settings possible to make sure your business gets the better deal.
Even if you end up cancelling your campaign, capture keyword data. Capture conversion data. Test variations.
Optimizing your product…that is the ad
A critical part of a typical PPC campaign is optimizing your landing page and your ad. On Amazon – you control neither.
- Your “ad” is your product name.
- Your “landing page” is your product listing.
This fact means that you need to take care of every possible detail that you have control over.
Your product title should be descriptive, but not spammy and your product description has to be thorough but concise.
And every single detail that you can provide must be provided (e.g., full resolution images).
Expanding Keyword Scope & Bids
Amazon will run an “auto” campaign for you. It’s great for getting keywords that you know that you don’t know.
But it’s not supposed to be the end all. Remember that everything on Amazon is a feedback loop.
Take keyword data from Amazon and feed it into your non-Amazon PPC / SEO campaigns. Take your non-Amazon PPC / SEO keyword data and feed it into a manual Amazon campaign.
You can follow the same concept with bids. Price in reviews & conversion rate projections to properly model Amazon bids.
Amazon PPC Resources
Compared to Facebook & Google Adwords, there is very little written about Amazon ads. Most of the folks doing well have no incentive to talk.
And anyone talking has likely never done particularly well (or they are selling something).
I’ve never run an Amazon campaign, and do not claim to be an expert. But I do know what’s good, useful information and what is not. If you are looking to learn everything that you can about Amazon PPC – here’s your reading list.
Everything below is free & useful to spend time on.
Amazon Seller Central’s Guide
And Amazon is no different. It’s dry, boring and has a terrible user interface. But you’ll find facts on how everything works at Amazon Seller Central’s guide to Sponsored Products. Read it here.
Step-By-Step Introduction to Amazon Product Ads
This post from PPC Hero by Kirk Williams. It’s by far the most thorough walk-through on the Internet right now. Read it here.
Amazon PPC: 7 Secrets for Maximizing Return
This post from SellBrite is one of the few posts that will give you concrete tips to improve your Amazon campaign. Read it here.
5 Ways to Get 5-Star Amazon Customer Reviews
Reviews are a critical part of any Amazon campaign. This post from WordStream shows how they approach getting reviews. Read it here.
How to get an eBook to #1 on Amazon
One of the most thorough case studies that I’ve found. It focuses on the Kindle eBook market, but the strategy & tactics apply to any product on Amazon. Read it here.
How Sponsored Products Can Increase Amazon Organic Rank
Excellent post explaining the “flywheel” effect on Amazon, and how a paid / organic campaign are really one and the same. Read it here.
How to Rank Well in Amazon
Very thorough post on ranking organically on Amazon. Even though it’s not specifically about Amazon PPC – the principles, strategies and tactics are the same, because of the flywheel effect with paid / organic. Read it here.
Art of PPC Podcast – Amazon PPC Episodes
Setting Up Amazon Pay Per Click Campaigns
Very tactical post with plenty of screenshots. Read it here.
Amazon PPC Optimization: A Step by Step Guide to Find Converting Keywords
Another detailed tactical post with a lot of screenshots. Read it here.
Amazon PPC Tools
Right now, the software tool market for Amazon sellers is still maturing. But there are certainly enough tools out there so that you don’t have to research & run your campaign blindly. Most of these are free, but some are premium.
Search Term Report
Like any website data, you’ll need to make the most use of data that only you own. Amazon provides a lot of data from your campaign. In fact, I’d argue that data collection is an incredible side-benefit to running a Sponsored Product campaign.
You can find the Search Term Report (and others) in your Seller Account.
Ever noticed how Amazon auto-suggests searches when you start typing?
Like Google Suggest – those keywords are based on real data coming from real customers.
You should gather those suggestions, but not manually. Instead, a tool like KeywordTool.io will scrape it automatically.
Does the same as KeywordTool.io but will also pull from eBay and other retail sites.
Paid product that pulls all sorts of useful rank tracking & other data.
Free Chrome extension that pulls at a lot AMZ Tracker’s & Amazon’s free data into a useful extension. Great for on the fly research.
A boring, bare-bones website that breaks out ALL of Amazon’s product nodes. Great resource for non-developers.
Premium Amazon keyword research with search volumes and competitiveness ratings. Probably worth the money.
Pay as you go rank tracker and Amazon research tool.
A full-suite, fully built-out Amazon research tool, available both as Chrome extension and as a web app.
If you are an online storeowner, do not underestimate Amazon’s power as both a partner and as a competitor.
If you are on the fence, it doesn’t take much to establish a seller account and a funded ad campaign to test the platform.