Amazon ads are a powerful marketing tool for authors right next to your book description. But these days, more than ever, ads are extremely competitive. You need to approach them the right way to get your book in front of the right people.
In this article, you’ll learn:
What metrics you should keep an eye on
Why you should look at other book covers
When to change your ads, and when to leave them alone
1. Get Your Math Right
In some ways, Amazon ads are more science than art.
The first part of the science behind advertising is making sure your numbers are right. If you don’t get your advertising metrics right, you’ll be selling books but making less profit. ROI is king, after all.
Granted, there may be times when you’re happy to lose a little on book sales–this is a common strategy used by nonfiction authors who are selling a follow-up product to the book like a course or software product. Some new authors will also be happy to run at a loss initially while they build an email list. However, for most authors, their core income is from book sales so they need to make sure they have a positive Return On Investment (ROI).
Before we start, it’s important to know that running profitable advertising campaigns is a lot easier when promoting the first book in a series. Putting advertising dollars behind standalone books is trickier.
The reason is, if you’re promoting a book from a series, you’ll end up with something called a read-through (or buy-through) rate. Your read-through rate is the number of people who go on to buy further books in your series after reading the first.
Calculating that readthrough rate and working out how much you can spend on ads is a gamechanger. Mal Cooper, author of Help, My Facebook Ads Suck!, wrote an awesome guide for doing exactly that. You can check it out here.
Having multiple books and a decent read-through rate is important to creating profitable ads.
Let’s say you’re advertising your first book, which is a stand-alone book with no intention of having a series. If you’re selling that book for $1.99, you are quite limited in what you can spend on ads to earn a profit.
However, if that book has a sequel with a good conversion rate, then every sale you make is earning you a little more. The more books you write, the more you earn. Basically, you’re advertising one book only and earning profit from the rest of the series without spending an extra cent.
Now, I’m not saying you should only advertise if you have a six-book series, but you do have to carefully crunch numbers and make sure your math is right and you know what your goals are before you start advertising.
2. Get The Right Cover
The best part about Amazon advertising is how easy it is to find out what’s working in your genre.
The most important part of your Amazon ad is your book cover. It’ll be the first thing that gets the attention of your potential reader and will play a large role in the likelihood of that person clicking through to your book’s sales page.
Think about it this way, if you’re using a Sponsored Product ad (more about those later), your book will appear either at the bottom of search or on another book’s sales page, so you’ll need a cover that quickly tells your ideal reader that your book is something they’d be interested in. Having a cover that fits what’s popular in your genre will make sure the right people click your ad, drastically improving click-through and increasing conversions.
When I check out the other covers in my genre, I like to get my laptop and zoom out on the bestseller list in my genre to get a general idea of what color combinations or color schemes are popular. For example, here is a list of sales and marketing books that are selling well.
Once you’ve got a general idea of what color combos work, look at the top books and see if there’s a common theme. For example, if you’re writing Military Sci-Fi, all of the top-performing books have a massive spaceship on the front. These trends will help you create a cover that improves the success of your ads.
3. Choose the Right Ad Type
When you’re in your KDP account bookshelf, every book will have a big button next to it that says ‘Promote and Advertise’. From there, you’ll be given a range of different options to run a price-promotion, join KDP select or run an advertising campaign. Considering we’re looking at ads, click the ‘Create an ad campaign’ button.
When you click that, you’ll get two options–Sponsored Products and Lockscreen Ads.
The ad type you choose will be very important. Here are how the two are different:
- Sponsored Product: These ads show up in Amazon’s search results. They’ll also appear on the product pages of books you target. The ads can be seen on desktop browsers, mobile browsers, and in the Amazon app (iOS or Android) if you use that instead.
- Lockscreen Ads: These ads are a little different. They’re based on the Amazon user’s interest. Every time a user goes to unlock their Kindle E-reader or Fire, they’ll be shown an advertisement.
Lockscreen ads are harder to optimize because you can’t use keywords. You get to choose a few categories to target, but it’s by no means keyword targeted.
Sponsored Product ads appear on more devices, can be optimized properly, and allow you to target with keywords. So, if you’re a beginner, you should probably give the Lockscreen ads a pass and head straight to Sponsored Product advertisements.
4. Use Your Own Keywords
When you start creating your Sponsored Product ad, you’ll be offered a targeting option at the top of the page. You can select ‘automatic’ targeting (where Amazon puts your ad where the algorithm believes your book belongs), or you can do it yourself with manual targeting.
Using manual targeting, and choosing your own keywords, will help you control who sees your ads — allowing you to get your book in front of the right readers. Finding keywords for advertising can be done manually using the Amazon auto-suggest box, or you can use Publisher Rocket, which has a function solely for AMS keywords.
In my free course on Amazon advertising, I go through manual ways to find the best keywords for your book. Whatever you do with your own advertising keywords, keep in mind that it’s better to have plenty of keywords than not enough. I’d suggest you use a list of a minimum of 200 keywords for your advertising.
5. Leave Your Ads up for Long Enough to Get Data, Then Adjust
One super-common mistake many authors make with Amazon ads is to act too soon. While Amazon does a lot of great things, reporting isn’t one of them. It can take a few days to see any results on your dashboard. From there, it’ll take a few more days to get enough data to make judgments. You should leave your ads up for at least a month before looking at the data and making any changes to see what works.
A lot of authors will dip their toe into the water and test, and then will believe it’s too cold and recoil. But those who stick it out will get accustomed to the conditions. The same goes for advertising. The authors who put a lot more into their ads will get used to the market and will start seeing trends they can take advantage of.
For Amazon ads, you need to take initial steps to get your ad out there for testing, then make changes and test again. You might have done a lot of things right but missed the mark in other areas. Maybe it’s the text you’re using, maybe it’s the way you were phrasing things, maybe it’s the cover. Either way, one change could have a huge effect on your overall results. If you just make that one tweak, it can turn a mildly profitable ad into a very profitable ad.
Your Amazon advertising strategy can catapult your author-business to the next level. If you’re starting out, the basics in this article should help you ensure you’re spending your advertising dollars wisely.
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