I’ve been playing around with Amazon Ads since my first book, The Demon Always Wins, released a little over a year ago. Here’s what I’ve figured out/read about/had someone teach me so far. These ideas may not work for you, but maybe some will.
1) How many keywords do I need?
More keywords mean more opportunities.
You can have up to 1000 keywords, but they need to be keywords that will generate clicks and those clicks need to convert to sales or KU reads. So don’t go for glitzy keywords that really don’t relate to your book. You need strong, relevant keywords.
2) How do I generate a list of strong, relevant keywords?
The best way to generate a strong keyword list is to purchase a subscription to something like KDP Rocket, which provides suggested keywords based on data the proprietors have scraped from Amazon’s sales data. As well as suggesting keywords, it will tell you how often a specific search term gets entered.
If you don’t feel like you can afford that, you can generate a strong keyword list by making a short list of authors whose books are like yours in genre and tone and voice and have similar covers. Then go to Amazon.com and enter the author’s name in the search box. This will bring back a list of sponsored products. Go through the list of sponsored products and review the covers, blurbs and Look Inside! for authors who aren’t already on your list. If their book(s) seem like a good fit, add them to your list.
I don’t use titles as keywords, just authors, but you have 1000 keywords to play with, so do whatever you think best.
2) How much should I bid for a keyword?
Before we get into that—when you initially set up your ad, Amazon will let you enter a default bid for all the keywords in that ad set. By default, Amazon sets the default to a quarter. Set this default to the amount you expect to use most often, because otherwise you’ll have to reset the bid for each keyword individually. If you have 1000 keywords, or even several hundred keywords, that’s a recipe for carpal tunnel.
The easiest way to enter keywords is to key them into a spreadsheet and then copy or load the spreadsheet into the keyword page. If you do this, all of them will start out with your default bid.
When you enter a keyword manually, Amazon will provide a suggested bid. I don’t recommend using this amount. This number is designed to maximize your likelihood of winning the bid and to maximize Amazon’s profits. It’s really easy to bid so much that even if you do sell a book, your royalty won’t be enough to make it profitable.
Instead, I generally bid $.05 or $.10 on each keyword. I call this the “crumbs from the table” approach. Ginger over at the Hidden Gems blog explained the logic behind this. The big hitters, the authors with large budgets, will bid high amounts and will win all the bids early in the day. But as the day progresses, even their large budgets will be exhausted. That means that as the evening comes on, your piddly little bids will have very little competition and your budget will still be fresh as a daisy.
This means you can win some bids without having to spend your kids’ inheritance.
3) How much should I set as my daily budget for a campaign?
Here’s where I do something that I personally find scary as heck, so if you don’t want to try it, I don’t blame you. I set my daily campaign budget to $500.
“Wow!” you may be thinking. “That’s a lot of nickels and dimes.” Here’s the thing: When I set a small, safe budget, I didn’t get many impressions—less than 10 a day. But when I set my daily budget to $500, I started averaging around 500 impressions per day.
It appears that your daily budget is one of the factors that the Amazon algorithm looks at when choosing a bid winner.
I make it a point to check my AMS account several times a day because I’m still pretty paranoid that something will happen and I’ll suddenly be on the hook for $500 in advertising for a single day, but so far it hasn’t worked out that way.
Over the past seven days, I’ve spent $7.34 for 3334 impressions and 15 clicks. I’m doing a little better than breaking even on reads and sales vs. money spent and I’m keeping my books and my name in front of potential readers while I slave away on the third book.
The harsh reality is, you can’t really do well on the money front until you have several books–I’ve heard seven mentioned as the magic number–available. Then you use the first book as a loss leader and make it up on the later books.
How about you? Any hot tips for using Amazon (or FB or IG) ads more productively?