Tips for Q4 Holiday Sale Success
The retail giant Amazon has become more and more ingrained in our holiday celebrations each year and 2019 looks no different. Amazon sellers are inundated with tips, tricks and tools to help them capitalize on increased shopper spending and boost their end-of-year profits.
During the fourth quarter there are two areas we recommend your aim your focus: PPC advertising and inventory. The holiday season is the most competitive and can be the most lucrative time of year for businesses. In order to stand out during this highly saturated time period, sellers need to do more than rely on Amazon’s organic search results.
Important Dates for FBA Shipping
Making sure you have inventory in the FBA program by these dates will help to ensure that you are set up for holiday sales. Here is a list of cut-off dates to have your inventory at fulfillment centers:
Inventory Due for Black Friday/Cyber Monday: November 6, 2019
Inventory Due for Peak Gift-Giving Time: December 3, 2019
General PPC Recommendations and Guidelines
If you are new to Amazon PPC advertising or are a familiar seller who could use a refresher, there are several things to keep in mind when it comes to PPC – not only throughout the holiday season but all year long.
1. Ad Costs v. Profit Margins
One of the biggest decisions sellers make when running PPC ads is how much ad spend they are willing to invest. Many sellers use Amazon’s ACoS, or Advertising Cost of Sale, metric to compare ad costs to profit margins and choose an approach that aligns with a level of risk they are comfortable with. Using this metric, sellers usually take one of three approaches to PPC:
- Keep advertising costs at or below the profit margin made by directly attributed sales – this is the safest approach and ensures that all ad dollars spent are matched by profits made
- Keep advertising costs at or below the profit margin made on all sales on the account – while your ad costs may exceed your margins on directly attributed sales you can still benefit from this approach as ad performance can help you rank better organically
- Advertising costs exceed the profit margin made on all sales on the account – this is the most risky approach and is seen by many as a loss-leader, but it still has the potential to put you in a strong organic position in the long run
It’s important to note that during higher volume time periods people think the cost to run an ad increases but we saw that to be a false state during Prime Day 2019. During Prime Day the CPC lowered and the conversion rate stayed the same.
2. Before You Begin PPC
Amazon PPC ads may direct shoppers to your listing, but if the content they land on does not drive conversions then your business will not benefit. That is why it is important to ensure your listing is fully optimized before you start driving PPC ad traffic to it. This includes making sure the keywords you are targeting are being indexed by your listing. If you are unsure what the best content approach is, we recommend conducting an A/B test to see what works best.
3. Keyword Strategy
We always recommend an automatic keyword strategy for our clients. While a manual approach forces sellers to handpick each and every keyword they want their PPC ads to target, an automatic approach has Amazon spot new trends and identify new keywords for you.
When you are first starting out with PPC, we recommend you begin with broad match keywords. This broadens your reach by allowing your ad to appear not only when your exact keyword is searched, but when your keyword appears in any order, including close variations and when the keyword is part of a longer customer search term. From here, you can use the Search Term Report from your broad match keywords to pinpoint and target more strategic exact customer searches and longtail keywords. You can also use ASIN’s found in these Search Term Reports to identify additional keyword opportunities by researching competitor listings.
4. Monitor. Adjust. Repeat.
As time goes on, it is important that you continue to monitor and adjust your bids based on keyword performance. This means putting more money behind successful keywords and cutting down on those that are not performing as well. Please note, Amazon’s suggested bids are not always accurate, so try to keep an eye on your own keyword metrics. Assess each keyword’s conversion rate compared to the overall conversion rate for the item. Successful keywords will have a higher conversion rate compared to the overall metric. Also, consider the keyword CPC and ACoS to see if you are remaining profitable.
Don’t fall behind this holiday season. Enter your email and we’ll email you a complimentary copy of our handy Holiday Amazon Seller Checklist.
Gearing Up for the Holiday Rush - Amazon Q4
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s talk about our PPC recommendations specific to the holiday season.
1. Get a Head Start
If you do not have a PPC campaign up and running already, we highly encourage you to start one now. This will give you time to optimize your listings and run through all the recommendations we mentioned above before the holidays hit. Additionally, Amazon also seems to favor campaigns which have been running for a longer period of time.
2. Increase Your Spending
As we have already mentioned, shopper activity increases dramatically during the holidays. If you want to keep up with the large increase in customer searches, we recommend that you increase your ad budget during these high volume selling times. If you do not increase your budget, you may run out of ad funds in the morning or early afternoon and not see any ad placements later in the day.
For Prime Day 2019, ad spend increase by 33% and total revenue increased by 540%.
3. Enable Bid+
Bid+ is an Amazon Sponsored Products feature that, when turned on for that campaign, increases the maximum bid for your keywords by up to 50% – if they are eligible for top search results (aka on page 1). This is an easy way to temporarily increase your spending and get better ad placements without having to restructure your bids or campaigns. Note: Bid+ is currently only available for manually targeted campaigns.
4. Run Holiday Specific Campaigns
Creating additional campaigns that hone in on holiday-related keywords, as well as those related to your item, can be a great way to drive timely traffic to your listings. These include phrases like Christmas Gift, Holiday gift ideas, gifts for mom, etc. You may also want to consider incorporating some of these keywords into your product listings.
Because these campaigns will run for a shorter period of time, be a bit more picky about which keywords you keep, which ones you increase your bids on, and which ones you decide to lower or drop completely. We also recommend conducting more frequent check-ins once traffic starts ramping up.
Advanced PPC Techniques
The above recommendations are rather simple strategies that most sellers can easily implement throughout the holiday season. If you are a more experienced seller looking for additional ways to improve your ad performance, consider the following techniques:
- Turn campaigns on and off at different times of the day to capture your ideal audience. This can be time-consuming to manage, but there is software available to help automate the process.
- Run some A/B tests on your ads to see what configurations yield the best results.
- Make sure your main image is attractive and easily shows what the product is to help encourage clicks.
- Ensure the most important information is at the beginning of your listing title, as some ad placements cut off titles.
- If you are not on FBA or doing Seller Fulfilled Prime, you may want to start. Not having your items Prime eligible can put you at a severe disadvantage to the competition.
- Make sure you are priced competitively compared to other items in your category.
- Surprisingly, sometimes a higher price can increase sales since this suggests a higher quality product.
Other Promotional Tools
In addition to PPC ads, Amazon offers several other marketing tools to help you beat out the competition and increase your holiday sales.
1. Lightning Deals
Black Friday and Cyber Monday Lightning Deals are quickly approaching. In fact, seller submissions were due by October 4th. Keep in mind that just because you submit a deal does not mean it will be displayed. Deals with the best price, quantity and inventory are awarded the best time and position on the Amazon Deals page. Interested in December Lightning Deals? Check back for more information once those dates are released.
Promotions are an excellent way to offer multi-unit or tiered discounts on your products. They are also great to use in combination with external advertising or promotional campaigns by offering discount codes.
Coupons are great for driving shoppers to your page because they are very visible from search results. Do note, though, that there are additional seller costs involved per coupon clipped and used.
Think Outside of the Box
These are just a few of the countless ways you can promote your Amazon products throughout the holiday season. Get creative with your PPC ads and test out a variety of placements. Or think outside of paid advertising and offer more “giftable” versions of your products using gift boxes, baskets, etc. Whatever you choose do, make sure you are stepping up your game to best capture your share of shoppers’ holiday spending.