Tuesday, June 27, 2017

How to use Amazon Ads to increase your book sales

I love Amazon ads.

I’ve been running them for a little over three months now. The one thing I can tell you is they work. More importantly, Amazon Ads work the way all book promo sites should—you pay for results.

To date, I’ve spent $394 on Amazon Ads. Amazon says those ads resulted in $1714 in sales.

Not bad!

If you figure I made a 70 percent profit on each sale. That’s a gross profit of $1200. Deduct the cost of the Amazon ads, and I made $806. Try to make that profit from a KDP free run or a Kindle Countdown Deal. 

You can’t.

One of the terms you’re going to hear when you talk about Amazon Ads is your ACOS—short for Amazon Cost of Sales. To find the ACOS, you divide your sales ($1714) by the ad cost ($394). That number is your ACOS.

So, in this case, my Amazon Cost of Sales was 23 percent. Or, to put it in simpler terms, for every quarter I spend, I make a dollar.

It’s like playing the slots. Only you’re a guaranteed winner. I like those odds.

In theory, if I want to be a 5-figure author, I would need to run $2,500 in ads every month. That would give me $10,500 in sales with a $7,619 gross profit.

It sounds good, doesn’t it?

The thing is, it’s hard to get Amazon to spend your money. I can tell it to spend $25 a day, and it spends $1.25.


Mark Dawson is an expert on Amazon ads, and he says the same thing. To get the spend thru he wants and needs, Mark, runs over 200 ads at a time. 200 ads are not going to happen.

I run ten ads, and to me, it’s a lot of work.

If you haven’t tried Amazon Ads yet, here’s how to get started.

Go to your seller bookshelf. Select promote and advertise. On the next page, choose Create an ad campaign. Or, if you prefer to go directly to the Amazon ads interface, click on the Reports tab in KDP. On the next page, select Ad Campaigns.

The page that pops up next is your campaign dashboard. 

To promote your book, select New Campaign. If you're asked to sign in, enter your Amazon id and password.

Two boxes pop up. One is for Sponsored Products. The other is for Product Display Ads. 

Sponsored Product Ads display below the Customers Who Bought This Also Bought section in product listings. You can target them with keywords you select, or you can let Amazon auto-target prospects.

Product Display ads appear on product detail pages. They also display on the Kindle screensaver and home screen. You can target books by genre or products related to your book.

Most authors don't use Product Display ads. They have a minimum $100 buy-in, and the reporting isn't as straightforward.

Product Display ads give you two ways to target your audience. You can choose by product or interest. If you choose by product, Amazon shows "your ad on Amazon.com to customers interested in selected and similar products." If you choose by interest, your ad shows on "Kindle E-readers and Amazon.com to customers interested in selected categories."

In the next section, you target the products and books relevant to your title. It's best to choose as many similar books as possible. This ensures your book gets shown to the maximum number of interested readers. 

You can also target by interest or category rather than choosing individual titles or authors. It's easy, but in many cases, a one size fits all approach is not as effective. If you choose "Biography," it targets all biographies, not just the ones related to your book. Because of that, you may end up paying for unrelated clicks. 

My best advice is to try Product Display Ads, but don't bet the farm on them. Concentrate most of your budget on Sponsored Product Ads.

To set up a sponsored Products ad, tap on the box. Next, you select a book to advertise. You can choose it by title or by ASIN. Tap on select by the title you want to promote. 

After this, pick a campaign name, budget, and duration. I go with the campaign name Amazon suggests. Whatever you do, include a title, date, and a few words about what you are targeting. Next, set your daily budget. Five or ten dollars should be fine, but you can go as low as one dollar. The truth is, it's next to impossible to spend over two dollars a day. 

Once you set your budget, set the ad duration. You can select a "date range," or "continuously." Do yourself a favor, and select continuously. My bestselling promotion was set for a limited period because I was unsure what to expect. When it ended, I copied the promotion and ran it again. 

Unfortunately, I couldn't replicate the results.

After you set the duration, select a “Targeting Type." The choices are automatic and manual. 

Automatic "targets your ads to all relevant customer searches based on your product information." Manual targeting is "based on the keywords you choose."

After you make your choice, select a cost-per-click bid. Amazon suggests 25 cents. You can choose any amount, even as low as a penny. Go with the quarter to start. In most cases, you're going to spend much less. Amazon runs silent auctions for each term. The higher your bid, the better your ad placement. You want to be on the first page or two of sponsored ads, but don't go spend crazy. If you overspend, it's going to make it tough to make a profit.

If you choose Automatic Targeting, the next step is to create your ad. Amazon gives you 150 characters. Shorter is better. 

Here are three of my ads.
  • Does it seem like your cell phone is taking over your life? Here's why.
  •  Life was cheap in the old west. A marshal's star served as an invitation to drunken fools, gunfighter wannabes, and men seeking a reputation.
  • Think you know history? This book will force you to rethink everything you know about American history.

As you can see, there's not much room to tell your story. Throw out a teaser. If it doesn't work after a few weeks, try another one. 

Now, we’re are going to set up a sponsored ad.

  • Tap on the Sponsored Products box.
  • Select the book you want to advertise.
  • Name your campaign.
  • Set a daily ad budget. $2.00 to $5.00 should do it. It will be a while before you can get Amazon to spend that much. Select a duration.
  • Do yourself a favor and choose run campaign continuously. You can always shut it down later if you choose.
  • Select a targeting type. You have two choices—automatic or manual. Choose manual.
  • The next step lets you select your bid per keyword. Amazon suggests 25¢. Go with that. Whenever I bid a quarter, I usually end up spending 5¢ to 15¢. Sometimes I get the bid for a penny.
  • After you set your bid per click, it’s time to choose your keywords. Amazon makes suggestions based on your book. Select the ones you want to keep and discard the rest. You can have up to a thousand keywords. I would recommend at least 200 to run a successful campaign.

Choosing your keywords isn’t rocket science, but it does take a lot of hard-work. Pull up the categories your book is listed in and start copying and pasting the titles and authors into a spreadsheet.

Some experts suggest skipping best-selling authors or titles. I’m not so sure about that. Some best-selling books or authors are duds for keywords, but you won’t know for sure until you give them a try. Give your ad a week or two to do its magic. Check which keywords are performing, and which aren’t. Delete or pause the keywords that show a poor ROI.

Targeting keywords is really that simple.

Target as many competing books and authors as you can. Sprinkle in a good portion of search terms related to your title. Stir, or monitor often. That’s all it takes.

> After you add your keywords, it’s time to write your ad copy. Keep it simple. You only have 150 characters to work with, so don’t try to write a novel.

  • Tease your readers.
  • Ask a provocative question.
  • Challenge potential readers.
  • Use the words “you” and “yours.”
  • Make it all about them.

As you write your ad, Amazon shows you what it will look like. Give it a once over to make sure you don’t have any typos, then click submit.

In 24 – 48 hours your ad will go live.

That’s really all there is to it.

Monitor your campaigns weekly. Pause or delete the keywords that aren’t working. If you find a keyword making great sales at a 5% or 10% ACOS, consider doubling down and raising your bid.

If a keyword performs extremely well, make it one of your seven keywords in the KDP dashboard. If it works for Amazon ads, it should boost your organic sales as well.

While you’re at it, recheck your book description. Sprinkle in your bestselling keywords from your Amazon ads campaign. 

Update: 09/18/2017. Just pulled the latest numbers. $2175 in sales. $615 spent, for an ACOS of 28.27 percent. 

My spend is up a little over $221, and my sales are up $471. I'm still making money but my ad spend increased dramatically. I need to monitor my ads and react quickly going into the new quarter. ...........................................................................................................................................

Excerpt from my new book, Writeable: Self-Publishing Simplified.


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