Amazon Ads: Who You Gonna Call?
Nine questions and answers about hiring professionals to help with Amazon ads
Image from Amazon Prime
If Amazon ads seem too complicated and overwhelming, you should consider hiring a professional book promoter. Asking specialists to help is like calling in the team in the classic 1984 movie Ghostbusters.
This Q&A article features Mark James, a professional book promoter specializing in Amazon ads, discussing what professional book promoters can do to help sell books on Amazon.
1. Why should authors consider hiring a professional to promote their books on Amazon?
An experienced service provider can take the pain out of selling books on Amazon with the right approach and the right optimization strategies. This makes the foray into Amazon ads less risky and allows more time to write more books.
Many authors are understandably daunted by the prospect of learning about Amazon CPC campaigns (cost per click), conversion rates (how many clicks & impressions to get a sale), ACOS (average cost of sale), ABSR (Amazon best seller rank), etc. So if you don't have the time or the inclination to use Amazon ads then definitely seek help from a professional who understands your goals.
Independent and hybrid published authors can do very well on Amazon. If you are looking for pure ROI, the tactics become obvious as the data reveals itself from the campaigns over time. It takes data, time, and consistent monitoring and optimization to manage the campaigns for the best results.
2. What exactly does an Amazon book promoter do for authors, especially indie authors?
I can't speak for all book promoters, as I am focused on how to manipulate the algorithms that handle Amazon data. I am focused solely on Amazon CPC advertising for the following reasons:
· If you want to sell effectively on Amazon, CPC campaigns can often deliver very significant returns when they are set up correctly with capped ad spend and hands-on monitoring.
· Amazon has 300 million customers, and with over 150 million using Prime it is an audience no author can afford to ignore.
· However it's a highly complex sales and advertising platform with a set of sophisticated tools and interfaces that are not only designed to help authors sell, it's also a machine for Amazon to make money.
3. Do professional Amazon book promoters offer a la carte services or only a package of services?
Most professionals will offer a range of capabilities from intro level to full service. Just make sure you understand each part of the offering as it relates to your books. Being able to do it fast or at scale does not make it necessarily the best solution for you. Is there a handover process when their service ends? Can you terminate and on what grounds?
Choose what's right for your book and the investment of time and money you have and the level of help you need. This should allow you to choose the service that fits your needs and time best, either full service (hands-off approach) that may cost you a little more or you just want to see monthly reports. Or maybe a combination of both including perhaps shared dashboard time, with more involvement in what is happening behind the scenes.
4. What specific services should authors look for in hiring a professional to help with Amazon sales?
The services and service provider you choose should match your goals for your work. The services you seek should include the tactics to deliver what you want. Make sure your chosen specialist understands this and what else you are doing to support increased sales. My tips for this are:
· Only use a professional who is offering short, mid, and long-term services, so they are not a flash in the pan.
· You do not want to have a quick setup-only service and then be left alone with the intricacies of Amazon's ads dashboards, juggling support chatbots, an occasional real person, and KDP Policies. You then have to spend time understanding how Amazon CPC advertising actually works, how to manage the campaigns over time, and find out what to do next.
· Look at the service provider’s other customers and recommendations by other clients on LinkedIn, Facebook, and the web. We all should have positive reviews.
· When you do choose one, make sure the frequency of communication is set up how you need it and that you have the level of control and involvement you want.
· Get it in writing! Agree in emails or better still with a statement of work and a non-disclosure agreement on what services you are getting, for how long, at what cost, the monthly ad spend budget, cancellation terms, etc., and for protection of IP and data. Having something in writing is always good advice and be wary of anyone not wanting or not willing to do so.
5. What’s the price range for a package of services from a professional book promoter?
Again, it's about how much you want to invest and what you expect as your return. Have a budget in mind before you contact a professional.
Prices for such professional services can go from a few dollars an hour for a very basic outsourced campaign setup to a fully-fledged, 6 months in the planning, big-budget promotion with Amazon sales just forming a part of the overall plan. But I could almost guarantee Amazon is part of the plan.
6. How can authors find professional book promoters who offer these services?
Anywhere there is a search function online and on LinkedIn, fiver, people per hour, and any of the other many platforms now offering outsourced services such as these at a myriad of different prices and options.
IMHO, word of mouth is still the best recommendation anyone can give, so ask around, check writers groups and forums and speak to the other authors you know.
7. How can authors see examples of successful promotions by these promoters they find?
The best method to see a successful promotion is to ask to speak to another client of the service provider. All should be able to do this if they have happy customers selling books on Amazon and elsewhere.
It can often be difficult to see what the average end customer sees on Amazon due to cookies and various other tracking mechanisms Amazon and others deploy. If you do some basic research (with an incognito or private browser -- do not accept cookies!) to try and find out how effective a given book title campaign is working.
Amazon and many others will point you to the mighty ABSR, the Amazon Book Sales Rank. I'm not going into the vagaries of ABSR, it changes too fast and in strange ways to be “reliable data.” But some who wish to have “Bestseller” status can use specific campaign tactics to try and ensure they achieve the ABSR of #1 (at least in a niche category).
For everybody else, it's about the bottom line, the revenue, and the ROI. Your provider should show you how to work this out or do it for you.
8. How long does it take the professional to develop a promotion for an author?
This can vary greatly and most book launches should have several months of planning to maximize the online opportunities including subscriber lists, pre-reads, ARCs, Facebook ads, etc.
Amazon CPC advertising really only starts as you approach launch day on Amazon. Before that, it's only research until the products are available to promote and have been approved by Amazon and you can attach them to campaign drafts.
If a title is already available on Amazon and not selling, new campaigns can be correctly set up and running within 2-3 days, depending on the size of the project, and fully operational within 2 weeks.
Collecting data takes time, and when collated and analyzed correctly can give great insights to improve profitability and reach. If the data is there, it is then possible to scale the campaigns and see even greater returns.
9. How can the author monitor the effectiveness of the promotion?
The data. Amazon isn't perfect when it comes to its data presentation or reporting as one look at the ads dashboards can show you. However, what it does give you is LOTS of data and it is quality data and that’s what allows Amazon and its sellers to maximize ROI.
The best place for authors to see overall revenue impact and sales over time is the KDP beta reports. To get your true ROI and conversion rates this does still need correlating with your ad spend, which is not shown in the same interface. But is a good enough report for most non-technical authors.
Note: Mark James is one of my connections on LinkedIn, where you can learn more about him. You can also visit his company website or contact him directly to learn more about how he uses Amazon ads to help authors sell books on Amazon.
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