When it comes to any form of paid search, optimization really is the watchword of the prudent advertiser. In fact, we’re firmly of the opinion that advertisers can be split into two camps;
- The first camp is made up of advertisers that are quick out of the starting blocks. They’re so keen to be up and running that they throw all of their resources at their ad campaign, trying as many formats as possible, quickly launching new campaigns and overall taking a ‘more is more’ approach to their advertising.
- The second camp is made up of advertisers that are more cautious and methodical. Rather than trying everything at once, spending as much as possible, running as many ads as possible and making spur of the moment decisions, this camp is driven by data. A trial and error approach which makes one change, monitors the impact and then adapts course as needed. This group uses reports and measurement and then turns that insight in to decision making.
Of these two groups, the second is the one likely to enjoy more success and sustain that success over a period of time. So, which camp do you fall into? If you’re guilty of having a foot in camp number one, you aren’t alone but, you might not be seeing the results you really expect. If that’s the case, now is the time to commit to fully optimizing your Amazon ads spend.
Why is optimization Important?
There are a few reasons why optimization is important but perhaps the most vital of those for your business is that it’s the only way to ensure you’re not wasting huge chunks of cash.
Optimizing means you’re extracting every last cent of value from your Amazon ads investment, which means that you’re in turn driving your business to its optimal performance levels.
There’s another reason too – unless you are optimizing your ads activity, chances are you’re leaving the playing field wide open for your competitors. That means not getting in front of the right audiences, not building brand awareness and not putting yourself in pole position to make sales from your spend.
As Amazon continues to grow its ads business – the latest figures suggest that ad spend has soared over the last 12 months – more and more brands are eager to find every last inch of advantage that they can. If you aren’t optimizing your spend, you’re guaranteed to get left behind.
As Forbes contributor Chris Mole says, “Amazon’s ads business is growing faster than any other division, and this rapid growth is even beginning to put Amazon in competition with Google and Facebook. With more brands turning to Amazon ad spend to boost sales, marketing teams must ensure they are getting the most bang for their buck.
“To stay competitive, brands should align their advertising plans with overall sales strategy. This means prioritizing an agile advertising strategy and looking ahead to future trends rather than simply relying on what has traditionally worked in the past.”
So, how do you go about really optimizing your Amazon ad spend?
You Adopt a Mix and Match Mentality
1. Deploying different ad types
Amazon is constantly expanding its ad inventory, launching new formats and broadening scope. A truly optimized campaign will recognize the value of those different formats and create a blend of ad types which help to fulfill different aspects of the wider objective. Audio ads for example could be used to create brand awareness. Sponsored Products could be employed to drive traffic to a particular listing while adding Display Ads into the mix can extend reach.
Each ad type has been devised to fulfill a certain function and will have a different purpose and benefit. An optimized approach uses a mixture of available ad types to tap into the complete range of benefits and value on offer. Creating your ideal blend, which allows you to harness a range of outcomes in line with your objectives, means your ad activity is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
If your campaign includes Sponsored Products ads, it’s very possible that you direct clicks towards your best selling products. After all, wouldn’t it make sense to draw more traffic towards your high converting products? While this is certainly true, there’s also an opportunity to make this ad type work even harder for you. Products which perform best will typically benefit from much higher marketplace listings, meaning they’ll naturally be highly visible. Setting up Sponsored Products ads for newer or less visible products, that won’t benefit from top organic placements, can be hugely beneficial especially when you want to generate interest in new additions and give your own brand product lines a boost.
3. Maintaining a range of keyword match types
When setting up your ad campaigns, you have a choice of different keyword match types:
- Broad match: Ads will show when associated terms are used
- Phrase match: Ads will show when a search specifies your exact keyword, a close variation of that keyword or, your keyword plus other words
- Exact match: ads will show only when that exact keyword is used
It’s a common misconception that to optimize ad spend, all keywords must be set to exact match. While that will filter out every other search, you’re missing out on the visibility boost that broad and phrase match can offer. What’s more, as broad match and phrase match are less strict, having a range of keyword match types gives you a little wiggle room to allow for different consumer search habits. Those who often use voice search for example, may naturally take a more conversational approach when inputting a search query using a keyboard. That’s traffic you would miss out on if your keywords were entirely restricted to exact match only.
You Invest In Content
66% of modern consumer journeys now begin on Amazon. That makes your Amazon listing content just as important as your website content. Including appropriate keywords in your content, at optimal locations, is the first step towards optimization (which can help with Google visibility and go some way to attracting those shoppers who don’t begin their journey on the marketplace).
However, investing in your Amazon content requires more effort than performing keyword research and dropping those phrases into your product information. You also need to offer your shoppers engaging, useful information which helps them to transition through the sales funnel. That means creating detailed product descriptions with content that a shopper genuinely wants and needs to see; such as dimensions, material composition, details on any applicable modes or other product compatibility.
Images and videos are also important content formats. A 360-degree view of a product is incredibly helpful for online consumers who can’t see, touch and view a physical product from any angle as they would in a bricks and mortar store.
If you’re finding content creation a struggle, competitor research is an invaluable aid. Study the listings of top ranking products in your niche. Make note of their use of keywords, the structure of information and how it’s presented. Use this to optimize your own content and increase your chances of conversion following an ad click.
You Have A Strategy For Key Dates
Not all days are created equal. Through the year there will be moments when your ad impressions and clicks show peaks and troughs. Knowing when the peaks will hit allows you to better manage your budget and ensures you aren’t lacking in visibility when Amazon traffic is at its highest. Examples of these key dates include Prime Day (which typically takes place in July – coronavirus disruption saw it being delayed until October in 2020 so keep an eye out for official announcements), Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving as well as in the period immediately following Christmas Day.
You Adopt a Robust Bid Strategy
If you focus only on the cost of your bids, chances are you don’t yet have a robust bid strategy in place. Rather than honing in on dollars and cents to the exclusion of all else, it can be more beneficial to instead prioritize a strategy that generates quick and sustained growth.
Most accounts will need a mix of high and medium to low bids to operate at optimal levels. Higher bids equal more visibility and therefore, will tend to generate more clicks. On the flip side, they push up your Advertising Cost of Sale (ACoS). Bid a lesser amount and your ACoS will remain lower, but you’re unlikely to make as many sales due to a lack of visibility. Finding a happy medium with a bid strategy that incorporates both high and low bids can bring you closer to optimizing your Amazon spend.
The good news is that Dynamic Bidding and Bid Adjustment features can help here by automating bid amounts and revising up or down according to likelihood of conversion.
You Take a Consistent Approach To Optimization
There is no such thing as an optimized campaign. Amazon’s ad ecosystem is in a state of constant evolution. New products are continually added. Search volumes and trends change. New players enter the competition. As such, optimizing your spend must be approached as an ongoing endeavor with data studied, reports carefully analyzed and data-led changes made, measured and then adjusted as needed.