Today I’m thrilled to have Edward Ruffin on the show. Edward is in charge of sponsored products ads over at Sellers Labs and he was one of the speakers at this past years Sellers Summit.
During the event, I really got to know Edward well and I discovered that the man is truly a sponsored products ads fanatic and he lives and breathes it 24/7.
So today, I brought Edward on the show to talk about the latest and greatest with Amazon ads. Enjoy the show!
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Intro: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host, Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have Edward Ruffin on the show. Now Edward is in charge of sponsored product ads over at Seller Labs, and he was actually one of the speakers at this past year’s Sellers Summit. And one of the things that I do for speakers on the last day of the event is I hold a special mastermind session for the speakers.
And during that mastermind, I really got to know Ed really well. And I discovered that the man is truly a sponsored product ads fanatic, and he actually lives and breathes it 24/7 and I’m not even exaggerating here. Anyway Today I brought Edward on the show to talk about the latest and the greatest with Amazon and ads. And with that, welcome to show Ed, how you doing today man?
Ed: Doing great. I really want to thank you for having me on Steve, and I can definitely speak back to that, I do live and breathe sponsored product ads. And I am a huge nerd when it comes to advertising on Amazon. And a lot of people can try to knock me for that, but I’ll take it with pride. I definitely do wake up and think about ads. And I do it all day every day, and I really enjoyed talking about it at your conference as well. And I just want to — I want to say I’m glad to be here and I’m excited to talk about some things today.
Steve: And you also stay up to the wee hours of the night thinking about sponsored product ads too from what I remember?
Ed: I definitely do, I stay up quite late. I’m always like reaching out to clients and responding to the client emails. And it can be pretty intimidating sometimes to some of my employees, but I tell them like, hey, you don’t have to be like me, I just promise, like I’m just get really excited about these things. And I want to get people set up correctly and I want them to succeed in the sponsored product ads. I think it actually; it really makes other people want to do the same thing like within office hours if they need to, like do not really extend yourself too much, by all means.
Steve: So, I’ve had people already on the show talk about sponsored product ads. So, what I was hoping to do today is let’s like skip, just like skip the basic stuff and go straight for the intermediate and advanced tactics. And I know that when you were at the event, so Seller Labs had a booth at the event, instead of like a traditional booth what Edward did was he signed up one on ones with Amazon sellers and he went through their accounts and he told them ways that they could improve their Amazon sponsored product ads. And so, I thought I’d start by asking you, you looked at a whole bunch of people’s accounts during those three days and what were some of the common mistakes that you saw and common improvements that could have been made for most Amazon sellers?
Ed: Yeah. So, I saw quite a different array of different people’s accounts. I think I met with over well over 20 people; I have like these 20 minutes to dance with them. And it just gave me time to look at their ads and see what they were currently doing, and it really just gave me a chance to peek inside their account and see like what could be done better. I will say some of them, they were like beautiful, and I think they were just as much of a nerd about PPC as I was. So there were a couple of them actually at the conference that I was just like, listen, like you’re doing everything great. And this is awesome. Keep at this, here’s my card. Let’s meet up and geek out together later on about this.
Steve: So you found a new friend.
Ed: Exactly, I found some new friends that were just as nerdy as I was. But there were some things that I did see kind of across the board. And this isn’t really limited to just like the people that I met at your conference, this is kind of some things as I see all the time. But in particular at the conference, one of the biggest things I saw was people were running these campaigns and they had them running for quite some time and they had all this data, but then they just didn’t know what to do with it.
And really, when I say data it’s like they’ve been running the campaigns for quite some time, they have a lot of keywords, which also leads to a lot of user search terms inside of their campaigns. And they were just like, I don’t know what to do, because I had these thousands of search terms, a lot of them are not relevant to my product, and I just don’t know what to do to really get the most out of these campaigns. And I kind of looked at him and I was like, that really is a great question because you gain all this data with your sponsored product ads, you have these beautiful campaigns running but then it starts to build up and then you start losing money because you’re not diving into your campaigns.
So, one thing I saw pretty much across the board was just a lot of people weren’t diving into their campaigns to look at the search terms and they weren’t setting these crazy search terms as negatives or anything. And what I really mean by that is, they just kind of had it running and they were hoping for the best, they weren’t doing any of the cleanup process that’s really required to maximize your profits on your sponsored product ads.
Steve: I can actually relate to that because it’s a process, right? It’s something that you have to do consistently. And so, you have to get in there and then you have to set these as negatives. And it’s a tedious process, because the keywords are constantly appearing, the negatives are constantly appearing. So, I was just curious, do you have like a process for that?
Ed: Yes. I mean, really like whenever my team or I were first starting to manage someone’s account, and we were doing the ads for them, when we create some new campaigns, we let them run for like a week or sometimes a little longer than a week just so they can get enough data. And we usually do a first like cleanup process about that time and that’s just where we go through their search terms, and we look at the ones that have nothing to do with their product. This does seem like a really daunting task, but it’s not honestly because really if you’re selling let’s just say an apple slicer and I know everybody wants to sell an apple slicer, it’s the hottest product in the market right now.
But let’s just say that you’re selling an apple slicer and you have a campaign running and you’re going to start getting these odd search terms. And that’s just because Amazon is trying to drive traffic to your product and they’re trying to find out exactly what type of traffic converts for your sponsored product ads. But you’re going to get these search terms that have nothing to do with their product, you may start seeing terms for mouse or keyboard, or let’s just say garlic press or Gatorade or something of that nature. So, it’s really easy to just go through and you can pull up your full search term report if you want to, or you can go in at a campaign level inside our tool at night and actually see like the search terms for a particular campaign or a keyword.
And we start cleaning those up by setting those odd phrases as negatives. And this is just really just going through and just seeing things that catch your eye. After about a week or so they may not have enough data to throw up any red flags, but just the term itself can be a huge red flag. And we just go through; we set them as either negative exact or negative phrase keywords. That’s also something else a lot of people weren’t doing was using both exact and phrase negatives. And we just cleaned it up. We do that initially, just like after the first week or so, and then we continually go back in there and check it every so often to see also if there’s just terms that are not converting.
So it’s not just the ones that had nothing to do with your product but also if you think that you are getting a lot of traffic for red apple slicer, and it turns out you don’t, then you may want to set that certain search term as a negative possibly because it’s just leading to a lot of clicks and no conversions by chance.
Steve: So how do when it’s an ad problem versus a listing problem?
Ed: That is a wonderful question, it really is. I think the biggest thing is when it comes to it being an ad problem, that’s just where you’re kind of going after unprofitable keywords and ones that aren’t relevant for your product. And that’s kind of just like overextending yourself and trying to say, well you know what maybe someone that searches apple peeler will also want to get an apple slicer at the same time. So it’s just like having these types of hunches, but not having any data to back it up. And then after a while, you may see, okay, wait a minute, when people search for apple peeler, they want to buy an apple peeler. And you just have to kind of go in there and negate that or like pull the keywords themselves.
So like, that’s more like the AdSense like the ad side of that where you’re just setting things up kind of for failure without knowing it because you’re trying to overextend yourself. When it does come to more of a listing issue, that’s when you’re noticing that you’re constantly showing up for terms that had nothing to do with your product. And that really goes back to Amazon doesn’t have someone who is working 24 hours a day who’s going through every listing and saying, okay, cool, this is an apple slicer. Okay, cool this is a garlic press. Oh, cool look, this is a monster truck for kids. It’s an RC car. Nobody is doing that at Amazon.
So, Amazon looks at your listing and pulls in like the keywords and everything that you have inside of it to really decipher what your product is. And that’s where it gets problematic because if you’re noticing that you’re showing up for all these searches for these random keywords, that means Amazon is trying to drive traffic to these keywords because they think that that’s what your product is and that’s where it’s a listing problem, because that shows that you just didn’t pull out your listing correctly and you weren’t successful in telling Amazon exactly what your product is, and a lot of people can lose a lot of money that way.
Steve: So what are some other things that you saw that could be improved on some of these accounts? Like you mentioned, a lot of these people that you talked to at the Sellers Summit already knew what they were doing. So what are some things that you spotted that could be improved upon?
Ed: Yeah, I mean, like a lot of them they had done some really great keyword research. They had done the research, they have done all these keywords that they saw that had a lot of traffic going to their products and really were relevant keywords for their product and they had these beautiful campaigns running, but they weren’t competitive enough. This is something where it’s just really about getting your feet wet and trying to capitalize on the traffic that Amazon is pushing towards you. You have to be competitive.
I’ve really seen a lot of people that have done the research, they have these awesome keywords, they see the potential for traffic, but then they’re bidding like the bare minimum on these keywords. And they’re like, I’m just knocking at the traffic that I want and I’m just not getting the conversions that I really need for this product. And the thing is you have to be competitive when you’re doing sponsored product ads. I mean, there’s no if there, there’s no buts or anything about that, you have to be competitive because you want to capitalize on that traffic and you want to show up for those keywords, because you know that you’re going to do well for them, why would you not want to show up for them?
And so really, I saw people that were bidding very, very low on the suggested bid range or they were just like, not really adjusting the bids as they need to. And same thing goes for the budget. They were just kind of keeping the budget at a flat rate. And if they were maxing out their budget all day, every day, they were still not increasing it. And that’s something else that you…
Steve: How do you know what to bid, how do you know what a high bid is? Do you just take the higher end of the recommended range?
Ed: Yeah, so normally I do that honestly, a lot of times I just see the suggested bid range is really just like what Amazon notices the bids being throughout the day normally. It is just like an estimate. So I never take it 100%, I take it with a grain of salt, of course, just like everything else. But I usually do go towards the higher end of the bid, if not even more than the bid range that they provide. And this is really just a good tactic because you can get more data in a shorter amount of time. And that means you don’t have to wait a month before you optimize your campaigns.
You can wait like a week or two instead because you’re going to have a lot of data that’s coming through, because you were competitive, because you did show up for these keywords, because you did get these clicks. Then you can finally say okay, cool, I got this data really fast. Now I can bring down the bid on the keywords that got clicks, but didn’t convert as much, or I can actually pull some of the keywords that got clicks and didn’t convert at all. So, I do go towards the higher end of that suggested bid range, and then I adjust it as needed. I’m usually not the type of guy who pauses keywords I’ll be honest with you, unless there’s no conversion.
So, by starting off with a higher end of the mid range, I can just slowly scale it downwards over time if it’s not converting as well as I wanted to. And that helps me maintain my ACOS as well because it helps me control how much I’m actually spending. And this is a much easier approach as opposed to starting off at the bottom end of that range and then slowly going upwards, because that’s going to take two or three months to really get where you need to be if you’re being really cautious. So I saw people that just weren’t being as competitive as I wanted them to.
Of course, this does go back to whatever your budget is, you should work towards that. I don’t want to ever tell somebody to spend $30,000 on ads if they don’t need to, but it’s just willing to kind of play the game a little bit more and be able to work [inaudible 00:14:41] to get that data that you need.
Steve: Sure, I mean this is common with Google AdWords too. You always bid high and you never end up paying what you bid when you bid really high anyways. And you just want to get data as quickly as possible.
Ed: Exactly. Yeah, I mean, it’s really just like that you’re just telling Amazon okay, I’m willing to spend up to this amount. But I mean, you could be spending like 50 cents less, or like there’s probably certain times throughout the day where other people aren’t running ads, or they’ve already met their daily budget and those bids drop, like at certain points of the day, depending on the market that you’re in, or like type of category. You may see that like at 6pm, you just you don’t have that much going into your ad, but you’re still getting great conversions. Maybe that’s just because everybody else in that category, their ads went out of budget or people just aren’t running ads at that time.
Steve: So when you make adjustments, like how often do you wait, how long do you wait before you look at the data again to make another determination?
Ed: So honestly, I do it every two or three days. And that’s just because of the clients that I’m working with. They are high volume and since they are high volume accounts, they do a lot more data that comes in, in a shorter amount of time. But normally I do tell people to look at their accounts two times a week or something like that, maybe a little less sometimes if you just have like a very steady stream where you’re kind of more on maintenance mode with your campaigns. You can just look at it maybe once a week and that’s just because you don’t want to overcrowd your data.
You definitely don’t want to smother it, you don’t want to look at it every day because you’re going to be like well, oh dang, this keyword got 12 clicks today and no conversions and you may see it as a negative or pause it and the next day you get 10 conversions for it. So, I usually look at it every few days. So I’ll look at the account and adjust it as I need to. Another tip for that as well is I usually look at like the past two weeks or the past month of data whenever I’m looking at the data. That way it gives me more of a range of the kind of like second scene and it helps me get a better average amounts so I’m not just looking at like one day or two days worth of data. And it allows me to not make such crazy judgmental calls on some of these keywords that I won’t mess myself up in the time I have coming forward.
Steve: So for people that are impatient, is there like a certain impression count or clicks, like some sort of guideline that you use before you take any action?
Ed: Yes I mean, so impressions I really just use to make sure that I’m getting seen. I really kind of look at impressions last honestly, just because it didn’t cost me anything. It doesn’t cost anything to be seen. So, I usually just use impressions as a last like notify of how this keyword is doing. I do primarily look at clicks. Normally, my rule of thumb is I wait so something has at least 10 clicks before I make that judgment call. And what that really means is, I wait until it has 10 clicks to say, okay, should I lower the bid some, should I increase the bid, or should I just go and pause those keywords?
So if I have something that has like 10 clicks and no conversions, I’m like, all right, now this is not working out. I may have wasted like 20, $30 on this keyword and it’s just not converting well. At that point if I’ve gotten 10 clicks, and it’s been like a few weeks or so, or something of that nature, I will potentially think about pausing that keyword just because it hasn’t converted for me. And the way it’s trending, I don’t want to keep on spending money on this keyword going forward because I’ll potentially be spending more money that’s not going to convert for me.
But on the other side, like if I have something that has 10 clicks, and it has like six conversions or seven conversions I’m like, heck yeah, this is doing great. It’s converting well, it’s providing the traffic and the conversions that I want, I may up the bid some to remain competitive on that keyword going forward. And then the third case, of course is like where you have something that has 10 clicks, and maybe one or two conversions. That’s one of the cases where I may just lower the bid because it’s still showing that that keyword is profitable. It is giving me the conversions. That’s awesome, but it’s just not at a really good rate. I want to lower the bid so I’m not spending as much on those conversions that happen every now and then.
And that allows me to maintain my ACOS and make sure I’m not just throwing money at a keyword that’s converting once every blue moon, but I’m still showing up for it just not as often as I was before.
Steve: So, as you’re running other people’s campaigns do you tend to be really aggressive in terms of ACOS, and just try to break even on your ads or even lose money and just let the organic takeover, or do you tend to take more of a stance of being profitable for your sponsored product ads?
Ed: So honestly, the end game is to be as profitable as possible. But it really does depend on exactly what the client wants. That also depends on the category as well. So usually whenever I go into this, I’m completely straight up with the client. I’m like, hey listen, we need to know what you want to do with your account going forward. Do you want to be aggressive? Do you want to spend a little more money and actually lose some money but build up your brand like just like what you’re saying Steve and actually get that organic ranking running and moving upwards? Then there’s also the way of just breaking even and then being profitable.
So the first thing that we do is we kind of determine their breakeven ACOS on their campaigns so we can kind of know exactly what their account overall ACOS is and their target is and we try to at least break even to begin with. But of course, we try to maintain breakeven at first because there is kind of like a swell upwards of spend at the first segment of running ads, and then we taper back down to be more and more profitable. But it really does depend on the category as well because people that are in things such as the supplement marketplace…
Steve: Yeah sure.
Ed: They are like 100% ACOS. That’s fine because they’re looking for that return sale, they’re playing with the big guns, up on the big guns and they’re really trying to get as much traffic as possible to build up brand reputation. But I always do want to be profitable, so I always keep that ACOS goal in mind that I try to always undercut it, and I try to just like trim it down as much as possible so it can get something more of a maintenance mode where I’m just trying to optimize it every now and then.
Steve: Okay, so what are some of the more advanced tactics that you aren’t seeing people use that they should be using?
Ed: Yeah, so I mean, one of my favorite is using both auto targeting and manual targeting campaigns. I know that sounds like well hey, everybody does that, everybody knows what those are. They run those all the time. Yeah, they do but it’s knowing why you’re doing it. That really helps you understand what the benefits of both are. Of course, everybody knows that manual targeting campaigns, you’re telling Amazon which you want to show up for, you get that top of page placement if you’re really aggressive and you’re trying to get that higher bid, so that gives you a unique placement.
But people don’t know about auto targeting campaigns as much. People usually will just run auto targeting campaigns just to get the ball rolling, then they pause them, or they archive them completely. And I’m like, no, what are you doing? Keep those running. And the main reason I tell people to keep auto targeting campaigns running is because you get unique placement with auto targeting campaigns. There’s placement that you get with auto targeting campaigns that you cannot get with manual targeting campaigns.
And that’s huge because some of the placements are like whenever you’re looking at a listing, and assess sponsored product items related to this one, those are auto targeting campaigns right there. That’s Amazon advertising other people’s products on your listing and it’s kind of giving you that extra traffic. Also, whenever you add something to your cart on Amazon, there’s ads there as well. Those are also auto targeting campaigns. And whenever you actually buy a product, like you’ve actually spent money on a product and you’ve already given Amazon money, they’re like, oh cool, thank you for buying this product, here’s some more ads. Those are also mainly auto targeting campaigns.
So you want to have both of those running like all the time is what I say. I say have them running all the time so you can get all the placements possible. You can show up in the normal search, you can have that top of paid search, be on competitors’ listings, the ad to cart, and the actual thank you page as well. Those actually convert really, really well. So, I tell people all the time, you have to run these all the time and you have to kind of be somewhat aggressive with it.
And you really do want to open that up to build out your strategy because especially if you’re building out a brand, you want to have that brand recognition, you want people to see your product more and more. You don’t want to have just your product showing up on page seven of the search results. You want to see it on page one up top, you want to have a headline search ad as well and also show up on competitor listings. And when people are adding other items to your cart, you want to show up there too. You want to build up that brand recognition so people see and they’re like, wait a minute, like this has shown up a lot and it does look pretty nice. They have a nice listing. I actually know what the product is. I may consider buying that because I’ve seen it so much. So, a lot of people just miss auto targeting campaigns.
Steve: So you bid on the auto campaigns as aggressively as you would on the manual ones is what I’m hearing.
Ed: So you can. Honestly auto targeting campaigns are a heck of a lot cheaper than manual targeting campaigns. And that’s just because the placement is different and it’s more reliant on Amazon actually driving that traffic. So when I say be aggressive, I’m not saying like bid $20 on a click or on a targeting campaign, but go up to like $1 or $2 depending on the category and you’ll see the trend over time to what the actual cost per click is. And that will allow you to kind of gauge exactly what you’re spending on average for a click for the auto targeting campaign. Then you can kind of taper down or taper back up if you need to, depending on what that range is that you’re seeing for those clicks that you’re actually getting. So, it is nice to be more aggressive though in general for sure.
Steve: So you mentioned auto targeting, the ads show up in the headlines? I didn’t know that.
Ed: Yeah, I’m sorry. It’s just like — it’s just using the auto targeting and manual targeting and headline search ads.
Steve: Oh, got it got it. Okay actually let’s talk about this for a little bit, the headline search ads. So what is your strategy for those?
Ed: Well, first of all, they are my favorite ad of all time.
Steve: Really, okay.
Ed: Because I get to spread my wings and be creative and make it look beautiful for everybody and everybody loves the ads. But in all honesty, I really do just love headline search ads. I really enjoy first of all there at the top there on the sidebar now, they have some other placements as well now which is awesome. They’re not just that top of the page headline search ad that you see or are so used to. But with headline search ads they’re so nice, because you get to be more creative. You get to create a headline that’s catchy and gets people’s attention while also using an image that you want to use.
And what I really mean by that is whenever you’re building out a headline search ad, you get to choose the image to the left of the app. You’ll have an image and then you’ll have the three items that you’re advertising. The image over to the left, you can actually choose the lifestyle image of someone actually like using your product or just like a really awesome picture of your product that has some Photoshop skills behind it, or like has it outside or has somebody using it or something of that nature. You can even have like your logo in it. So that actually leads to better conversion because people see that and they’re like, wow, this is a different image.
It’s not just like your normal stock photo of a product that has a white background is just really, okay, this is a product, but you actually see someone using it. And whenever a headline search ad is actually viewed on a mobile platform, that may be the only picture that’s actually showed to somebody. So that can be like your one chance to actually pull someone in and look at your product. So with headline search ads, they’re so important when it comes to building out a brand because you can express your brand more than you do in just like a normal sponsored product ad, because you can have a headline that says like use this to help out with this or a great gift for dad if it’s Father’s Day or something of that nature.
So you can try these different types of headlines as long as I think they’re then like having 50 characters very, very short. But you can express your brand more to kind of show like more what your brand is about and what is pushing while also having an incredible image that you may not have in any of your other ads. And those are awesome, I love them.
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How does your strategy differ for headline search ads versus the regular ads?
Ed: So, with headline search ads, there is always a chance that they will not convert as much. When it comes to someone that has a brand for instance, a headline search ad may mainly just be targeting their brand name and some of their primary products they are trying to advertise. When it comes to something like a normal sponsored product ad campaign, I may be thinking about like just the type of keywords that will convert. With a headline search ad, it’s more building up that brand awareness.
And I go into it knowing it may not convert at the same type of rate that a sponsored product ad does just because I am advertising more products at a time, and it is kind of going out to a somewhat possibly wider audience. So, every time I do this for a new client I do say hey, just giving you a heads up, it may not convert at the same rate that you are used to with your sponsored product ad, but this is going to help you build that brand and help you show up for these other searches.
And you can also use headline search ads more to target competitor brands. That’s something that you can’t do as much with sponsored product ads. Like if I’m selling an apple slicer and my brand name is Edwards best apple slicer ever because that’s a really good brand name by the way, nobody can take that from me. And let’s just say that Joe over here has Joe’s best Apple slicer. If I’m doing a sponsored product ad campaign, and I have a manual targeting campaign running, and I’m targeting his brand specifically, I’m not going to convert as well possibly just because I’m just going to have the normal ads that show up. It’s just one image.
But if I’m using a headline search ad, and I’m targeting my competitor brand names and other competitors that are in the space or like products, and I’m targeting to show up for the searches with a headline search ad, I’m providing more value to the potential customer that’s coming through on Amazon. And they’ll see that and they’ll see this is like another option to the product; they’re going to see the awesome lifestyle image. They’re going to see the headline, they’ll learn more about the product right there. And then also they’re going to see three different images of possibly other products that I’m offering as well.
So they can be used more for a competitive strategy. There’s actually a lot of clients that I’m working with right now. There’s this one product on Amazon, this one brand that I swear targets every brand on Amazon. It is crazy. And of course, I can’t speak about it, but they’re just they’re very competitive. But it’s actually it’s really astounding on how wide their competitiveness is because they’re using these headline search ads to show up like that.
Steve: So you keep mentioning the word brand with headline search ads, so does that imply that you’re willing to break even or take a loss on these for the sake of branding or is the strategy basically still the same in terms of profitability for these ads? I mean, obviously you want to be profitable, but is the strategy different or is the purpose different?
Ed: So, I would say the purpose can be more focused on brand because like of course you have to have Brand Registry 2.0 to actually have headlines search ads. So Amazon is doing this more in the fact of building out these brands. And my stance just my personal stance on headline search ads is more of like breaking even to some profit, but I usually use these to really just kind of target outside of the normal ads that I’m really running. So, I usually go into the space like with a mindset of knowing okay, this won’t be as profitable as the normal sponsored product ads normally, just because I’m trying new things like trying to target competitors, and trying to really go out to these other types of products that are on Amazon.
But I mean, like really that being said, if I have a headline search and I’m only targeting my brand name, I’m going to have an ACOS of like 2 or 3%. And I’m going to have awesome profitability because people are searching for my brand and they had this beautiful ad come up, they’re going to click on it, it’s going to convert more than likely. So it really does depend like how competitive you’re being. If you are just using a headline search ad just kind of the same way that you would for a sponsored product ad like just targeting like apple slicer or apple peeler or whatever like that, you can still kind of see the same type of return if you’re being kind of really I guess cognizant of what your current bids are and where your range is.
You definitely don’t have to go negative when it comes to headline search ads, but really like my team and I we use this to really branch us out and to not steal traffic because that’s such a bad word to use steal, but to really try to enhance our brand by reaching out to other potential clients that are – sorry, potential customers that are used to other brands on Amazon.
Ed: So I do kind of, I say that this can be a little less profit usually or it may just be more of a break even just because I want to build up that brand and kind of show people what the brand is capable of.
Steve: So, if you’re targeting other brands, does that imply that the copy that you use is a little bit different as well, like do you compare yourself to the brand, or do you use reviews like that?
Ed: So really know no. Amazon is picky when it comes to the headlines that you use honestly, like the headlines can’t do any claims that you can’t back up. You can’t say like world’s best or the one and only, or proven the cure of cancer or anything like that. You can’t do anything of that nature in the headline or it will be really denied. So like I usually just use the headlines to just say like just a little something about the product, like stay sharp and [inaudible 00:32:57] or something like that, or I don’t even know if you can do guarantees like money back guarantee. I don’t think you can even do that. But I do something like that.
So right off the bat, someone already sees some type of added value to the product that I’m presenting. And they really learn right off the bat exactly what my brand and my product is about. But one of the cool things about headline search ads is like all the ones that I’ve ever gotten created and then they were denied and shut down by Amazon with an iron fist, I was able to actually open up a case with Amazon and talk to them about it and they told me exactly why it was denied and what I need to do to fix it, and then I can normally actually resubmit it and it’ll get approved.
So, usually it’s like a lot of times I tell people to go into it having like five or six different headlines setup and of course split test them, if they all get approved, have them all running simultaneously, or try them like on and off to see what headline converts the best. But that headline is like one of the first ways to kind of throw out the hook for somebody potentially coming to your brand and coming to buy your product.
Steve: Okay, okay, what else you got Edward?
Ed: So, one of my all time favorite tips man is the product placement reports, and what this actually is, this is — it’s not really a hidden report but it’s one a lot of people don’t know about. It’s actually report that shows you which ad is getting the top of page placement and if they’re converting. And what this is really used for I’ll kind of back up a little bit is a lot of people are asking me about bid plus and they’re like hey, is bid plus worth it? Should I turn on bid plus? Should I let Amazon just take my money? Should I tell Amazon I’m willing to spend more? Amazon already gets all my money, man Amazon takes a lot of my money, that’s coming out here honestly. So my answer…
Steve: Actually if you want to back up and explain bid plus first.
Ed: Yeah. So bid plus is really something that you can turn on at a campaign level. And what it does is it says okay Amazon, I’m willing to allow you to raise my bid up to 50% so I can get that top of page or middle of the page placement on page one for your campaigns that you have running. And the kind of the theory behind this is if your ad is at the top of the page, or actually like kind of like middle of the page sometimes to those are the two that convert really well, then you’ll get better conversion rates because it’s showing up first, it’s kind of blending in with the other top of the page products, the ones that are ranking organically and you’re just telling Amazon, you know what, I’m willing to spend more because I feel like my product will convert if I’m getting that top of page placement.
And so, one way to do this is just say, heck yeah, let’s turn this on all the campaigns, and see what happens. But that’s not my way of doing it because I’m very analytical. I want to see some numbers behind it. So there is a report that you can find in your ad reports. It’s a sponsored product ad placement report. And what this does is it shows you the campaigns that are running in a certain time period that you have chosen, and it says okay, this one was at the top of the page, or this one was other. It says other page, it doesn’t say like bottom of the page or page seven. I would love it if they did that but it just says top of page or other placement.
And what this allows you to do is it allows you to see if campaigns that have that top of the page placement if they’re converting better, if they’re actually providing the return that you want. And this is really awesome because then you can say okay cool, on average campaign X, Y and Z really do convert better whenever they are at the top of the page. And if that’s the case, I will turn on bid plus for those campaigns. And this is just kind of giving me more, I guess it’s backing up my idea more, it’s telling me okay, there actually are numbers to back this up.
I can see that this actually is going to work out, and I will turn on bid plus because that will tell Amazon okay, I’m willing to spend more on these campaigns because if it is at the top of page placement, it will lead to better conversions. And of course you’re happy about it because you’re getting those conversions. The customers are happy because they actually do enjoy your product but especially Amazon is happy. One thing that I see a lot of people get upset about is Amazon spends all this money; they try to drive conversions yadi yada. Amazon is doing that for the customer.
So I want — you will understand that you’re willing to spend more because you’re willing to actually get your product to a potential customer on Amazon. And if you can back that up with data and see okay cool, I’m at top of the page, and it converts well, I’m willing to spend that extra money to get that top of page placement. And of course it really is a great way to do that to get you kind of a wider range of people looking at your product.
Steve: So, what has been your experience with bid plus because you deal with so many clients, in general what has been your experience versus just increasing the bid altogether?
Ed: So really, it’s just, it gives you more control I guess, and it doesn’t make its way out to do things a lot more manually. Of course you can go in there, and you can look at your campaigns, you can see if you have like a swell up and conversions that you want to increase your bid, but really bid plus is nice because it’ll kind of somewhat guarantee that you’ll get that top of page placement if possible, or the middle of the page placement. And I keep on saying top of page or middle of the page because Amazon actually does give you kind of both of those placements for bid plus because it is where the highest conversions happen across the board.
But it just makes it more automatic. You don’t have to constantly be monitoring things like that. Of course, you can still go back and look at this ad placement report, and see if you’re still getting conversions at that top of page placement. But it really is just an easier way to do this without having to manually adjust bids or like…
Steve: Got it.
Ed: It’s on a keyword level, or do it like at a campaign level and then just be like, well, I just wasted all this money. So this allows you to really get more of like a peace of mind knowing that it actually will potentially lead to more conversions for you.
Steve: Okay, so I mean your basic strategy is look at the product placement report, find out the ones that are converting well when they’re at the top and then just turn on bid plus for those?
Ed: Right yeah. And I’d say especially for like whenever you do have like a holiday coming up, or if you have a very seasonal item. If you are really like focusing on like just three months of the year, even just one month of the year to make up all your sales, you may want to do this for your advertising just because you want to capitalize on that traffic, especially in Q4 or like if there is just like some sale that you’re running for a day, you may want to pop bump that up to the top of the page, that can kind of give you more visibility as well.
So, yeah, bid plus, I used to actually not be a fan of it, because I was one of those guys. I was like, Amazon wants my money. Amazon wants to spend all my money, but then I was like, wait a minute, if I can actually justify this with metrics from a report then heck yeah, I’ll go ahead, and do that. That makes 100% sense to me.
Steve: I mean you were just talking about the holidays and that’s actually a good segue. Do you do anything different as like prime shopping seasons start?
Ed: Yeah, I mean, so prime shopping is amazing. I mean, the holidays are getting bigger and bigger on Amazon even like they have things like Prime Day I know, then just Q4 is especially huge. I turn up the aggressiveness leading into like those time periods especially for when it comes to Q4 I’ll probably be starting that in August I’ll be honest with you.
Steve: Interesting okay.
Ed: The real reason why I say that is because we want to have as much organic data before Q4 hits, before q4 takes off so we can know what the traffic was like beforehand. And so, a lot of the different tactics that I use is I will kind of blow out the budgets so we have more room to get more traffic in a day. Also be more competitive with the bids, I will increase the bids, but it’s just like a one day event or something like that. I will possibly double the bids, and then also double to triple the budgets possibly. And that’s just because it makes sure that my ads won’t run out of budget because if they run out budget then next thing I know, I’m not being advertised and I cry and I can’t sleep at night.
So, I opened it up and I make sure I have that room to spend more. I do have to kind of change the mind frame and have to explain this to the clients is like, hey, we’ll be spending more, but you will see higher conversions because people are willing to spend, they are in the mood to spend, and I will just double or triple the budget and same thing with the bids too. This is also a good time to use that product placement report to see if I want to turn on bid plus for some of the campaigns as well, because if they’re converting well normally, I definitely want to have bid plus on when it comes to the holidays too.
Steve: So the reason you start so early in August, is that because you’re trying to increase the sales velocity leading into the holiday season as well?
Ed: Yes, so definitely just like showing the increase can help with their algorithm and help you with your ranking organically too. And it is harder to do things like launch your product around the time of the holidays because you’re still trying to index for certain keywords and you’re still trying to find out what Amazon thinks your product is. That’s why I say people, telling everybody now optimize your listings, optimize your listings before there’s millions and billions and trillions of people on Amazon looking at products, because if you’re still showing up for the search for a bicycle and you’re selling an Xbox, then something is wrong and you’re going to lose a lot of traffic.
So, that’s why we start so early, because we can see what the normal traffic trends are. We make sure we’re showing up for the right types of terms in our auto targeting campaigns. And we also really want to make sure that our manual targeting campaigns are targeting the correct keywords that are normally converting. And then as we roll into Q4, like in the holidays or any type of events, then we can just kind of blow that out because we have the data to back it up. We’ve seen it work organically before and also just with our normal sponsored product ads, and then we go into it with more confidence because we’ve already done the research, already targeted the keywords that we want to target. We’re already looking to get better results right off the bat because we’ve already done the hard work beforehand.
Steve: Okay. I know it at the Sellers Summit; you mentioned some of the more advanced tactics like day partying and that sort of thing. At what point do you start doing that last I guess 2 to 3% of optimizations?
Ed: Yeah. So I mean, day partying honestly, that’s something that I would do, I would prepare for that especially before you hit something like Q4 or any type of holiday because day partying if anyone that doesn’t understand that, that really is something where you’re running your campaigns at a certain time of day. It’s not just having them run all day so their budget runs out; it’s allowing them to run at only the best time of day for you. Before we actually put this into our tool, this was a very, very manual process.
You had to actually manually go into Seller Central and pause the campaign at a certain time of day and then go back in and re-enable it and it was easy, and I had some people that did that, and I was like you guys awesome. You’re very, very meticulous and I love it. But you have got to get some sleep man, because you’re waking up to turn on and turn off your ad. So we’ve built this into Ignite, the tool that we offer, and it allows you to just set the time of day where your ads are going to run. And this means it will actually enable the ad at that time of day and then will end the ad at the time of day that you specify, because we see that everybody’s budget resets at 12 midnight on Pacific Standard Time. And most people’s budget runs out by 9am PST.
And that just goes to show that people are not really doing the research. They’re not seeing what time of day their campaigns are converting the best and they’re wasting their budgets. So, what I usually suggest is, this sounds like a lot of work, but I promise it’s not. You create multiple campaigns, let’s just say you create 24 campaigns and they’re all running for one hour of the day. And this allows you to really see exactly what time of day your products are getting the most traffic but also converting the most. So you can create the exact same campaign 24 times or even just 12 times, have it 12 times being two hour segments. And this will allow you to see what time of day is best for that product.
And instead of Ignite, we actually do have a copy campaign button so you don’t actually do this yourself. You can just have one created and copy it and you can actually choose the day, the time of day that you actually want it to run. And after a week or two, or more like two weeks, you will have some usable data that shows you okay, at five or 6pm PST, I get the most conversions. So, I may want to make sure I’m really focusing on my traffic, on my campaigns towards the latter part of the day, because that’s where I see most of my conversions. Most of the traffic actually coming through is doing well for me, and I may not want to run it in the morning.
And this also helps out if you have like a very, very odd product that only sells at night. Like if you sell coffee, honestly, this can be something as well. You may see people buy coffee more in the morning, or they may buy it at night because they realize, oh crap, I don’t have any coffee for tomorrow morning. This is terrible. How am I going to get through work? So you can actually see that trend and that’s one thing I really like too is like you can actually see trends in a way that Amazon doesn’t really provide you a way to see that yet.
Steve: So, have you found that the bids are cheaper at night then since everyone else has blown their budget by then?
Ed: Yeah, honestly, I’ve definitely seen that. Normally I do see that bids do go down from like — we see like most conversions from what we’ve seen happen around three and like towards the evening like six or seven or so because people are actually off work and they’re coming home and they’re eating and then they’re going on Amazon and buying stuff. So, we usually do see that normally people will just leave their budgets wide open and they their campaigns running and people do start running out of budget early in the day, and then as time goes on, since there’s less people bidding on those keywords that you’re going after those bids drop tremendously.
That’s also a good reason to always have an auto targeting campaign running because you can pick up on that traffic where people just aren’t bidding anymore, and you can get some really cheap clicks for like 20 to 15 cents and then you get a sale and you’re like, heck yeah, my ACOS is 1%. This is wonderful. So like I really do see like towards the end of the day that people do tend to have cheaper cost per clicks on average, and that really is just one of the times that you want to capitalize on for sure.
Steve: Okay. Hey, Edward, I wanted to give you guys a chance or give you a chance to talk about Ignite, and then your versions that are coming out because we’ve already been chatting for 40 minutes. So, I just want to say for the listeners out there, I’m using Ignite right now to manage my campaigns and I’m kind of excited with some of these new features. Ed, you want to elaborate?
Ed: Yes. So everybody, Ignite has been revamped. It is currently out, it’s wonderful. In the previous version of Ignite, it’s awesome because it helped you analyze your campaigns. You could do things such as day parting, then it could also get suggestions based on a target ACOS that you have, and this kind of is just like having a mini me or something inside your account saying hey, you should do this or hey, you should lower your bid here. And what we’ve really done, we’ve really taken that and we’ve enhanced it. The biggest update I think first of all is just the UI.
It looks beautiful now, it’s a lot easier to navigate and find out exactly what’s going on inside of your account. The suggestions are easier to see, they’re easier to understand exactly what’s going on with the suggestion and why Ignite is telling you that. And also there’s more bulk uploads and more bulk changes. So you can do things on a greater scale a lot easier. We had a lot of requests for this where people were having to go through and do things on a keyword by keyword basis. And we’ve actually opened it up so it’s a lot easier to do for more keywords at a time. And really, it’s just like I said before, it’s beautiful. It is a good looking tool. And I can say that for sure.
And then on top of that, we actually rolled something else out. It’s called Ignite Plus. And Ignite Plus is actually aimed for agencies or people that are managing multiple different sponsored product ad accounts simultaneously at the same time. And this is really awesome because you can actually add all the accounts with no problem, but then you can actually set up sub accounts. So then that way if you’re an agency and you only want Johnny to see let’s say Nesquik’s account, I don’t know why Nesquik is on my mind, but let’s just say you only want John to be able to log into that one account, you can now do that.
That way you don’t have to have all your employees going into all the accounts and possibly messing with something else that someone else has done, it allows you to grant access on that level. And also, one of my favorite things is monthly spend notifications. You can actually go into your account and set up monthly spend notification, because even like on my end, a lot of clients want to stay within a certain budget on a monthly basis. And I can know when you’re getting to a certain percentage close to that monthly budget.
So, lots of great updates have come out. I am a huge fan of the tool. It’s even better than it was before. And I definitely want everybody to check that out, and really just tell us what you think. And definitely reach out to us and tell us if there is anything else that you want or anything that you have as feedback on the tool. We definitely love to hear it.
Steve: Yeah, I know that if you’re running ads on Amazon, you pretty much need a tool. Now Ignite just happens to be the one I use and there’s other ones out there, but the interface for Amazon is just kind of clunky, and you really need something to help you run your ads. It just makes life so much easier.
Ed: It does.
Steve: Anyway Ed, I just wanted to thank you for coming on the show. As always, you deliver lots of value and I really appreciate you speaking at the summit this past year.
Ed: Well, I definitely appreciate you. Like I said, I really enjoyed that conference. I would love to come back whenever I can. I definitely love nodding out with someone about PPC, but people please do not hit me up like at 12am to just talk about PPC because I’ll do it, so you can always hold me to that. But thank you very much Steve for having me on, and I really look forward to speaking with you soon again about PPC as it advances as time goes on. So thank you again.
Steve: Yeah, it sounds good Ed. Take care, man.
Ed: All right. Do the same.
Steve: Hope you enjoyed that episode. Once again there are a lot of people out there that teach Amazon sponsored product ads, but Ed is the one guy I know who actually personally gets his own hands dirty on a bunch of different campaigns. For more information about this episode, go to mywifequitherjob.com/episode221.
And once again I want to thank Privy for sponsoring this episode. Privy is the email capture provider that I personally use to turn visitors into email subscribers. They offer email capture, exit intent, and site targeting tools to make it super simple as well. And I like Privy because it’s so powerful, and you can basically trigger custom pop ups for any parameter that is closely tied to your e-commerce store. If you want to give it a try it is free, so head on over to Privy.com/Steve, once again that’s P-R-I-V-Y.com/Steve.
I also want to thank Klaviyo which is my email marketing platform of choice for e-commerce merchants. And next month Klaviyo is holding a two day conference for over 400 e-commerce marketers and store owners with an awesome lineup of speakers. They’ve got experts coming in from Shopify, BigCommerce, Google, Octane.AI, Recharge and top e-commerce agencies plus panels with successful Klaviyo customers and a keynote address by Ezra Firestone. You can find out more about this conference at K-L-A-V-I-Y-O.com/Boston.
Now if you’re interested in starting your own e-commerce store, head on over to mywifequitherjob.com and sign up for my free six-day mini course. Just type in your email and I’ll send you the course right away. Thanks for listening. Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit Her Job Podcast where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.