Pulling back the myths, the clouds and the shrouds of the Amazon Seller’s greatest weapon: Amazon Sponsored Products.
If you’re selling on Amazon, you probably have some experience with Amazon’s Advertising solution. Whether that experience was good or bad is a different story!
At Hawkeye Digital, we have extensive experience running Amazon Advertisements for all types of companies – from Inc 500 Corporations, to small, family owned e-commerce stores.
The basic premise of Sponsored Products is the same for everyone, no matter the monthly spend: keyword research, negative keywords and bid adjustments.
Keyword research on Amazon can be done in a few different ways. One of the more popular are various keyword research tools such as Junglescout and Sonar. These tools let you type in a keyword, and then give you recommendations based on different metrics.
The more sophisticated research tools also let you put in a competitor ASIN and show you what keywords they are indexed for as well as what their rank is.
Another popular way of doing keyword research for PPC is using Amazon’s Automatic campaigns to “mine” profitable keyword combinations, or using Broad Manual Campaigns with your most popular, broad match keywords as the targeting option.
Why is keyword research important?
Amazon is a Search Engine. This means that it uses keywords as the basis of pretty much everything to do with search. A “keyword” is anything the searcher types into the search bar. What decides which listing shows up has a lot (but not everything) to do with how relevant the search term is to your listing title and description.
This is why it’s important to know the search volume of your main keywords. You can see why having your listing contain high-search volume keywords would be a good idea; The more monthly searches you are relevant for, the more searches you’ll show up for.
If you have close competitors, a nice tool is the Reverse ASIN. This tool turns any ASIN into a list of keywords that ASIN is indexed for. There are quite a few examples of these tools, with varying degrees of precision and complexity.
The best of these tools also give total search volume, ASIN ranking position and search volume for the different match types (Broad, Phrase and Exact).
Broad Match Keyword Mining
Creating a Broad Match campaign containing your main keywords is often a good idea. The benefit of this campaign is threefold:
- You get a general idea of the Cost Per Click (CPC) you can expect for your keywords
- You get sales and build your seller rating/reviews.
- Because it’s a broad match campaign, you appear for searches that are tangentially relevant to your product. This is a great source of long tail and alternative keywords that you can then pull out and create new campaigns around using Exact/Phrase match for even greater control.
When you have a good overall keyword landscape figured out, you can begin running more in-depth campaigns.
What Are the Different Types of Sponsored Product Campaigns?
Sponsored Product – Regular
These include automatic and manual campaigns.
Automatic Campaigns only allow you to specify the products and the bids, with Amazon’s own algorithm choosing the relevant keywords based on your listings.
Manual Campaigns are more flexible. You choose the keywords, the keyword match type (Broad, Phrase and Exact) as well as the bid amount for each keyword.
Sponsored Product – Competitor Targeting
Competitor targeting campaigns do not take keywords as an input, instead working on competitor ASINs. You have the ability to upload an ASIN list or target specific categories, and even filter for competitors with lower reviews/prices.
The ability to target products that cost more or have worse reviews can be incredibly powerful. It’s especially strong in niches that cost more than $500 (such as furniture).
Items costing more will inevitably have people shopping around and looking at different examples. Targeting competitors in niches like this can prove very profitable.
It is also worth noting that Automatic campaigns automatically include ASIN targeting for similar products.
Choose “Sponsored Products” and hit the “Continue” button.
Set your Campaign name, your budget and your targeting type. We will use “Manual Targeting” for this tutorial.
Next you will be able to choose your bid dynamics. Feel free to experiment with these options in different campaigns, but for now we will use “Dynamic bids – down only” and no placement adjustments. This is the default setting when you create a campaign.
Create your first ad group. In this ad group, you can add similar product variations, or depending on the type of account structure you want, you can have ad groups with just one product.
Choose the products you want to include in your Campaign/Ad Group. You can always ad more later, so do not be too worried at this moment. You can also use the “Enter List” option to enter a list of ASINs or upload a file containing the products you wish to include.
Now comes the fun stuff. Targeting.
For this campaign, we will use Keyword Targeting.
Choose your keywords, either through Amazon’s suggestions or your own keyword research. We very much suggest that you do your own research and create a keyword list based on that.
The nice thing about Sonar is that they have Reverse ASIN capability as well, so you can enter your competitors’ ASIN for new keyword ideas.
Choose the keyword match type you would like to use. We suggest sticking with one match type per campaign. In this case, because it’s the first campaign we’re running, we’ll use broad match to get the most amount of data.
Once you finish your keyword selection, it’s time to create a negative keyword list. If your product has some obvious overlap with other products, you should definitely include those in the negative keyword list.
If you’re selling bicycle suspensions: negative keywords would include motorcycle, car, as well as every car make and model, and every motorcycle make and model. This prevents your product from showing for searches like “2009 Toyota corolla suspension.
Unless you have existing data, don’t worry too much about having an extensive negative keyword list. You will constantly be updating it with data that you gather from your campaigns.
When you’re done, you can hit Launch Campaign if you’re ready to launch, or Save as Draft if you still want to make changes down the line.
And that’s it! Your first campaign is published. For the first few days, we suggest you pay close attention to the amount you’re spending so you can see if there are any glaring keywords that should be added to the negatives that are costing you a lot of money.
To find out what searches are costing you the most, click on “Advertising Reports” and download the Search Term Report. When you open the Excel file, you will see something like this:
Under the “Customer Search Term” column, you can see what search term triggered your ad to appear. To decide which search terms should be negative, look at the Clicks vs Sales vs Spend columns. If you have a large number of clicks with no sales, it’s generally a good idea to add it as a negative keyword.
The question you always need to ask yourself is “Does this keyword make sense to keep?” Very often, the answer will be yes! If it’s a keyword that describes your product, then adding it as a negative is counterproductive, even if it hasn’t gotten sales.
We tend to focus only on the keywords that have gotten over 10 clicks and not gotten a sale, and then analyze their relevance/total cost.
If you’re selling a $100+ product, and you’ve only spend $10 on 30 clicks, it doesn’t make much sense to remove that keyword if it’s even a little relevant to your product.
On the other hand, if you’re selling a $15 product, and you’ve spent $10 on 30 clicks, then maybe that keyword isn’t one that will convert at a reasonable ACoS and might be worth adding to the Negative Keyword List.
Use your judgement on the keyword. If it is a “logical” keyword for your product, try to figure out why it isn’t converting.
It is also worth noting that Amazon’s Search Term Report is segmented in 7 day intervals, which means that just because a keyword didn’t get sales in one 7 day interval, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t profitable in another.
So how do we figure out if a keyword hasn’t gotten any sales? The answer is Excel’s VLOOKUP function. You need to compare keywords that have never gotten sales, to those that have gotten some sales.
Look for a new blog post where we go over how to setup, understand and use VLOOKUP to its fullest extent!