Making PPC work better for you

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Are you wasting money on ads that are not profitable? Pay Per Click advertising (PPC) is a great way to improve your sales. But it can be tricky to get the best performance, and even worse, it’s remarkably easy to waste your money.

Amazon does give you the benefit of its huge data banks and processing power, and lets you set up automatic campaigns. You can tell Amazon how much budget you have every day, or every week, and it will choose the right keywords for you. But it’s not infallible. If you only use automatic campaigns, you’re not going to optimize your ads. So you need to mix in some manual campaigns.

Fortunately you can find all the information you need to improve your ads in Seller Central. First of all, find the keywords that just aren’t working for you, and remove them. If people are arriving on your page but then not buying the product, there’s no point paying to get them to look at it.

Look for search terms that include your keywords but are intended for a different product; for instance, if you sell wine glasses, you’ll want to exclude “eye glasses”, so that anyone looking for those won’t be targeted by your ads. This way, you only get the clicks you want, that is, the clicks most likely to convert.

Secondly, when you see keywords that are working well, delivering plenty of business, put more money into advertising on those keywords. Always check that your ads are delivering, and keep cutting out the poorly performing campaigns and reinforcing those that work well for you.

Everyone researches their keywords, but not everybody puts the same amount of effort into that research. You need to find good long tail keywords, because they will cost you less and be more specifically targeted to your product. It’s a good idea to start with your product name in the middle of a page of paper, and then put down keywords around it as you think of them. For instance:

•      your root keyword: exercise book

•      synonyms: note book, school exercise book, composition book

•      generic category keywords: school essentials, back to school, classroom supplies

•      more specific keywords: lined exercise book, A4 exercise book…

•      negative keywords: how can you exclude people looking for books of exercises (Pilates, musical tuition, yoga)?

Then you can use Google Keyword Planner, as well as Amazon, to look for more keywords. Keep an eye out for the searches people are using to find your product; there may be some good ideas for both keywords, and negative keywords, in what you see!

Niche keywords are always the best. First of all, they will be cheaper. The big brands tend to bid on the short keywords, because they can afford it. That pushes the price of simple top-level keywords up further. But secondly, if you use more specific keywords, you’re attracting people who really want your particular product. If you use a bigger fishing net, you’ll be attracting a number of fish that you have to throw back into the water, that is, attracting buyers whose clicks you’ll have to pay for, but who aren’t really interested. So more specific keywords are likely to have a higher conversion rate, too.

Finally, you can improve your PPC experience by making sure you’ve thought through your objectives for each campaign. Are you trying to launch a product, or to increase sales of an existing product? Are you trying to improve your organic ranking, moving up the best seller ranks? Are you selling off old stock – in which case, if it’s been discounted, you might want to add keywords such as ‘discounted’, ‘sale’, ‘cheap’.

Finally, don’t forget that PPC is always changing. Keywords that worked really well last year might stop working so well. Keep on top of your ads by regularly reviewing your campaigns, spending more on the ones that deliver, and cutting the ones that don’t. Over time, your returns will be much higher than if you just run the automatic campaigns that Amazon suggests.

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