by Madelle Morgan
Authors can target potential buyers by enticing them to subscribe to their mailing lists in return for free stories and other benefits, or an author can reach out to them by placing ads.
In Part I, I described subscription services. An author pays to have her book included in one of several daily newsletters that is emailed to thousands of subscribers who love to read.
In this post, I focus on pay-per-click marketing on Amazon.com. Authors have been paying for ads on Facebook.com for a while, and now Amazon.com ads are taking off.
To be eligible to have an ad on Amazon.com, your ebook must be published by Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). This gives indie authors a rare marketing advantage over traditional publishers.
Robert Kroese provides a good "How-to" primer on Amazon ads in his January 3, 2017 post on Jane Friedman's blog.
To complement Robert's post, and to help me understand pay-per-click marketing, I decided to research the fundamental terms associated with Amazon's pay-per-click marketing and share them with other authors who may be interested in trying this type of ad.
Product Display Ads—these are located in the right column of an Amazon.com product detail page, or on a Kindle. Robert Kroese says "Product Display campaigns have a minimum budget of $100, are more difficult to set up, and have less granular reporting than Sponsored Product ads. Because of these drawbacks, I don't believe Product Display ads are worthwhile for most self-published authors."
Well, I'll take Robert's advice and focus on...
Sponsored Product Ads—they receive "priority placement in search results and on detail pages. These ads are targeted by keyword, helping you capture readers' attention when they may be looking for other books," according to Amazon Marketing Services.
Sponsored product ads are displayed:
a) on one of the pages of keyword search results, or
b) at the bottom of the product detail page in a row of book covers under the title Sponsored Products Related To This Item. The row of sponsored book ads is below the row entitled Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought.
However, if your sponsored ad has lots of competition on that product detail page (other authors have bid higher for that keyword), then finding your book cover may require potential buyers to click on the right arrow and scroll. And scroll.
Automatic Targeting—Amazon suggests keywords. Check them out, even if you plan to use...
Manual Targeting—You choose keywords. This is where effort and strategy come in. Successful campaigns require an iterative approach over weeks and months to develop a customized keyword list that maximizes clicks.
Keyword—this can be a short phrase, a book title, name of an author who writes similar books, a topic that is linked to your story (e.g., craft, hobby, gardening, cookbooks), etc. Amazon allows hundreds of keywords per ad campaign.
Keyword Bid—You decide on a maximum bid for each keyword. A bid is the most you are willing to pay for a click on your ad. The higher your bid for a popular keyword (e.g., "billionaire romance"), the more likely your ad will be displayed on page 1 of keyword search results. In effect you are bidding to "win" an auction for preferred ad locations, and therefore visibility.
Amazon conveniently suggests a keyword estimated bid to "win" page 1 visibility, but you'll have to test it. There's no guarantee that the estimated bid will in fact put your ad on page 1 of keyword search results.
Impression—your ad is displayed for an undefined period of time (the time that the searcher stays on that page?) If your keyword bid is higher than those of competing bids for that keyword, then your ad is displayed more often, and is located closer to, or on page 1. However, you only pay when a potential buyer clicks on the ad. Which brings us to...
Click—a potential buyer clicks on your ad which takes him/her to your product detail page. This is not a click on the Amazon "Buy now" button.
Pay-Per-Click—this a the type of ad. You pay the bid amount to Amazon each time a potential buyer clicks on the ad, until you have spent the...
Budget—the total amount you are willing to pay for a series of clicks over the defined duration of your ad campaign.
Data—Amazon reports on the number of impressions and clicks for each keyword. A click does not guarantee a sale. Your book sales are tracked in your KDP dashboard.
Managing your Amazon.com Ad Campaign
To generate visibility and hopefully sales, you have to be proactive during the ad campaign by analyzing click and impression data, and by adjusting your keywords and bids.
If you manually target by simply plugging in a few dozen keywords and then leave the campaign to run until the budget is spent, you will likely be disappointed by results. Pay-per-click ads require active involvement to:
- delete keywords that get many clicks but no sales (poor conversion rate);
- delete keywords that get no clicks;
- add new keywords to test; and
- increase bids on keywords that have many impressions but no clicks. The ad may be hidden deep in search results or sponsored ads. Is your keyword bid higher than the Amazon-estimated page 1 bid?
Finally, if your book has a wonderful cover, optimized product description, dozens of four and five star reviews, but few sales after your ad has run for several weeks, don't despair. Shaping a successful keyword and bid list for each ad campaign requires time, experimentation, monitoring and adjustments, as well as deep pockets. Amazon algorithms reward sales activity. It takes time to build momentum.
Heads up: when and if thousands of authors jump on board and start placing ads, competition will push up estimated page 1 bids. Amazon ads may not be an affordable marketing strategy for long.
My bargain book - Last Chance in 2017Buy Links: MadelleMorgan.com
Madelle Morgan is the author of Caught on Camera, a New Adult romantic comedy available for 99 cents/ 99P through January, 2017.
Madelle tweets and posts about Hollywood, filmmaking, the settings for her stories, and, of course, writing and publishing.