I’ve been running Amazon PPC campaigns for over 5 years, and at Brand Builder University we’ve onboarded over 500 students into our Amazon PPC course.
On that journey, I’ve made, seen, fixed, and warned against a lot of common mistakes I see sellers making.
So, in this article, I’ve compiled the most common Amazon PPC mistakes so you can avoid them like the plague.
Do so and you’ll be well on your way to PPC success! Here they are:
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1. Not optimizing your listing
Your product listing is your digital storefront.
If it’s not compelling, PPC won’t save it.
An unoptimized listing – with poor images, vague descriptions, or lackluster titles – will struggle to convert clicks into sales.
Before investing in ads, ensure your listing is persuasive and carefully crafted with:
- Keyword-rich but easy-to-read title, bullets, and description to maximize your impressions for relevant keywords
- An eye-catching main image that stops shoppers scrolling and boosts your click-through-rate
- Engaging images and A+ Content that use colors, graphics, and text (large enough to read on mobile) to help boost conversion rates
2. Waiting for reviews before launching PPC
Reviews are crucial, but waiting for them before launching PPC robs you of sales velocity right when you need it most: at launch.
I recently launched a brand new product with zero reviews and quickly got to 20 sales per day and won the ‘#1 New Release’ badge.
By following the steps outlined in point one, then pricing aggressively and getting PPC turned on right out of the gate.
If you’re worried about burning through cash, start with a smaller budget and scale up as reviews come in.
But get that traffic to your listing ASAP!
3. Not using keyword research tools
Years ago, YouTube videos would suggest you launch an automatic campaign, and then study your Search Term Report for converting keywords.
These days, there is a much better — and quicker — way.
Rather than waiting the 2-4 weeks you might have to in order to get meaningful keyword data, you can pull together a laser-focused keyword list in 30 minutes or less by spying on your competitors.
That’s all thanks to Amazon keyword research tools like Cerebro by Helium 10.
With Cerebro, you can enter up to 10 competitors’ products and see every keyword they are ranking for in search results.
You can even filter by the number of competitors ranking for the keywords to give you an ultra-relevant list you can use to launch manual campaigns from day one.
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4. Using auto campaigns for a product launch
Relying on automatic campaigns for your keyword research isn’t the only mistake you can make with this campaign type.
Another common mistake we see is using automatic campaigns for a product launch.
Given the broad reach of automatic campaigns, this can send the wrong kind of relevancy signals to Amazon at a time when relevancy is so key.
You need to make sure the Amazon algorithm understands precisely what your product is and where it should be ranked in search results.
To ensure this, I highly recommend launching with focused manual campaigns to begin with and adding a broader campaign structure that includes automatic campaigns several weeks after launching.
5. Ignoring Amazon PPC campaign structure
A healthy campaign structure helps you stay organized, optimize efficiently, and scale your marketing effectively.
However, too many sellers dive into creating a range of campaigns without giving their structure much thought at all.
A well-thought-out campaign structure includes campaigns with specific purposes:
- Research: Automatic campaigns with a low default bid that continually mines for new long-tail keywords
- Testing: Broad match manual campaigns that take the keywords found in the research stage and test whether they can convert at an acceptable cost.
- Scaling: Exact match campaigns that take the keywords proven in the testing stage and pour as much budget into them as possible.
6. Thinking Amazon PPC is set & forget
Like a plant, PPC campaigns need regular nurturing.
Trends shift, and competition varies.
Regularly reviewing and adjusting your Amazon PPC campaigns after launching them ensures they remain effective and profitable.
Unfortunately, selling on Amazon isn’t as passive as some might have you believe and simply hitting launch is not good enough if you want to become a top seller.
7. Using one-size-fits-all optimization criteria
On the topic of optimization, applying a blanket rule across your entire account will mean you’re leaving a lot of profit on the table (or, more accurately, on Jeff’s table).
Every product and market segment is unique and using the same bidding strategy or optimization tactics across different products or categories can be inefficient.
Instead, take the time to customize your approach for each product.
For example, let’s say you have Product A which has a conversion rate of 20%, and Product B converts at 10%.
You can’t add negative keywords as quickly for Product B as you need to give its keywords more time (or clicks) to be tested.
8. Making changes too quickly
While regular adjustments are essential, making them too hastily can skew results.
You need to allow enough time after launch and between changes to gather meaningful data, ensuring you’re making informed decisions.
For example, if you see a keyword is spending money and hasn’t generated any sales, you may look to add it as a negative keyword.
But, if you give it enough spend to be fully tested you might remove a high-potential keyword too early.
The larger your budget (and spend), the quicker you can make adjustments to your campaigns. It’s not actually about time per se and is more about a meaningful set of data. The more you spend, the quicker you’ll gather data that gives actionable insight.
9. Neglecting long-tail keywords
It’s easy to get attracted to broad, high-volume keywords.
However, long-tail keywords often have lower competition and better conversion rates.
They cater to specific audiences, enhancing the relevance of your product.
This all means that long-tail keywords are often much more profitable than short-tail, high-volume keywords.
The challenge, of course, is that long-tail keywords are lower volume by nature.
So the key is to build a campaign structure that allows you to continually funnel converting, profitable long-tail keywords up to dedicated campaigns.
10. Ignoring the paid/organic link
Amazon PPC is not a siloed marketing channel that sits isolated from your other Amazon efforts.
In fact, it is a major driver of organic ranking.
As such, you can’t just look at ACOS (Advertising Cost of Sales) as the sole measure of Amazon PPC success and instead need to track TACOS (Total Advertising Cost of Sales) too.
By tracking TACOS you can monitor the impact your paid ads are having on your organic performance and continue to acquire customers where your competitors may back off.
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11. Turning PPC off
Even if you’re ranking organically, turning PPC off is usually a mistake.
I know, “Imagine the margins if we weren’t paying the Amazon ad tax”.
Unfortunately, Amazon is a pay-to-play platform, and turning ads off gives competitors a chance to steal your ad spot and can negatively impact your organic ranking.
Keeping PPC on, even at a reduced budget, helps maintain your brand’s dominance and visibility.
Resist the urge to turn ads off!
How to avoid Amazon PPC mistakes
In conclusion, navigating Amazon’s PPC landscape can be tricky, but being aware of these common missteps can guide you toward more successful campaigns.
Remember to regularly evaluate and refine your strategies, staying adaptive and customer-centric in your approach.
If you think it would help, check out our Amazon PPC course which you can access as a self-study option, or via our BBU Pro membership that also includes weekly coaching and a community of other eCommerce operators.
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