The Basics Of Amazon PPC Optimization – With Elizabeth Greene

Elizabeth Greene is the co-founder of Junglr Agency – an Amazon PPC optimization agency, which she co-founded with her husband. In this interview, we uncover the basics of Amazon PPC advertising – and talk about why Amazon PPC is not a panacea.

Listen to the podcast verison of this interview below:

Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Sellerscale Show. I have with me today, Elizabeth, she’s the co-founder with her husband of Jungler – is aa Amazon PPC optimization agency.

Elizabeth. Hi.

Hi. Happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.

Absolutely. Did I describe you correctly? Is there anything you want to add to your intro.

Yeah. I think it’s pretty succinct. A co-founder of Jungler, I’m the chief PPC strategist, the one who really digs into all of the little optimization and kind of geeks out on the technical side. So amazing.

When did you guys create the company and when was that?

Uh, we have kind of been in the Amazon space for a while. I’m just digging around, dabbled in private label, retail arbitrage, but really noticed a need for people who, don’t quite understand how to run their ads, or there’s a lot of people who may understand the ads, but Amazon is constantly rolling out updates.

They’re giving us way more things to optimize, which is great, but it also means you’re constantly having to learn and update your strategy. We noticed a real need in the market for someone to handle that for brands and private label sellers. So we really dug in and started an agency and then helping clients ever since.

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Okay. Yeah, I mean, I think it’s great that you guys are focusing on your thing. You’re basically allowing sellers to focus on their thing because there’s so many things that go into building an Amazon business.

You have the finance, you have the cash cycle, you have inventory at PPC, even have social media on off Amazon marketing. And when you have people that you, professionals like yourself, which you can surround yourself with, it really helps. I mean, PPC advertising, it can get a little technical. And especially for nontechnical sellers, it can be really hard. But it isn’t exactly rocket science. I mean, you can learn it yourself. Right? And yet there seems to be a lot of sellers who really mismanaged their ads. They don’t understand what they’re doing, and they end up just wasting a lot of money. So why do you think PPC is challenging?

Like, well, why do you think that is. I think people get so lost in the details and a lot of, especially the small sellers, they get really, really emotional. Because like you said, at the end of the day, it’s not really rocket science. Amazon PPC is keyword-based.

Technically you have the subsection of PPC and targeting, but at the very basic, you are placing your product on a specific showing, so on a listing page, search pages, et cetera. And that’s like, there’s really the basics. So there, I mean, there are nuances in how you’re going to show up in the bids, but at the end of the day, that’s what it is.

You’re showing yourself to buyers and. So at the base level, it’s really important where you’re showing up. And I find that especially a lot of small sellers, when they’re starting to get into it, they might do some keyword research and think like, Oh, if I could be at the top of this particular page, I’m going to make all this money.

And then when you run those ads, you realize that actually doesn’t really work for your product. And so I find a lot of sellers just keep trying to push and push. If I could just be there and I’d insist them to ask these questions, where do I actually fit in the market? What actually makes sense for my product? Where do I convert? Where am I getting a better ROI on my advertising? And just really taking.

I know it’s really thrown around by the PPC community, like optimize data, look at your data, look at the numbers, and sometimes that people think like, how do I actually do that? Give me the formula.

It’s really just looking at where am I. Spending my money that’s actually making me money or getting me results. Is it actually the advertising that’s pushing me up the page? Because to be perfectly honest, that’s not always going to happen. And I think a lot of sellers look at advertising as a magic bullet.

And to be frank, it’s not really. There are some products that just the cost per click is way too high. It’s not really moving. The conversions aren’t there. You might need some other tweaks. So like I said before, advertising is just getting yourself in front of buyers, and then it’s the product. You’re listing your copy, your images that makes your product actually convert, and get those sales.

So while advertising is great for getting eyes on your product, it’s not always going to be a hundred percent work across the board on every keyword, you have to step back and say what actually makes sense for the product and where can I get my top-line ROI.

Great. I think that sums it up perfectly. Are there any brands or companies that use little or no advertising at all? I mean, you mentioned that there are certain products for, for which this doesn’t work, what’s the percentage of businesses that don’t use any? Just like an approximate estimate.

To be frank, I’m not honestly sure, when you first launch a product, if you’re looking private label, unless like some people cheat it and just put their price just so low. You know, that they kind of move up just right. Cause you’re the best offer sometimes. But then you got to get that initial visibility. So if you’re on-page, you know, a thousand and you have the best price, no one’s going to see that. So you might need that initial push.

There are some very large brands now. If you’re a large brand, you can generally afford the advertising. You want to keep yourself above the competition. But there are some large brands with so much traction off of Amazon and people are so programmed to go on Amazon to shop and find things that oftentimes you can just kind of garner that and you may not have to push so hard on average advertising, but private label sellers, nine times out of 10 you really need to get some initial push with the advertising, where oftentimes you find it very trickily you might not see the ROI when you have very, very slim margins.

If you’re talking slim margins, especially a slim margin at a very low price point, say you only have like a 5% margin, but your price point is like a hundred dollars. Well, 5% of a hundred is a lot more than 5% of say, $10. Right. Kind of where that comes into play. And I think understanding these metrics and what goes into selling your product is essential. Because I mean, apart from the fees and storage fees and the fulfillment fees and the inventory expense, you have different marketing metrics, which you have to keep track of.

And yeah, that’s one thing that we like to sort of scale help with, I mean, keep track of your unit economics and just understanding. It goes into your product so that you don’t end up losing money.

But speaking of metrics, what are the metrics that you have to keep track of, and what are the benchmarks for them?

Okay. So, a lot of people focus on cost. A cost is very important. It gives you an idea, especially if you have a tool like yours, you understand your profit margins, you can calculate your breakeven costs. It’s pretty easy. it’s the number of profits per product divided by your sale price. So that just gives you your percentage that, at the very least, if you keep your other costs there, you’re not losing money.

You’re not making money on your ads. Now, you could be making over money in general. Some people get way too hung up on a cost. So, another thing we like to track is, often confirm a cost is a relation, actual cost of sale. One thing we also look at is total advertising. Cost of sales. So that is sometimes people call it tacos, but, that is your total.

So if costs are the amount of money you spent on your advertising divided across how many sales you made through advertising. Total cost is the amount you spend on your ads divided across your total sales. And that will give you a much better result. So, advertising on Amazon does influence organic rank as well.

So if you keep pushing your advertising, and you might say, my ad cost is a little high. My total cost is better if your ranking is climbing, your total cost overall should actually be improving on. That’s one thing to look at. We also like to look at our cost per clicks. It gives us an idea of just the market.

You kind of gauge it. We also calculate a lot of numbers internally. It might be a bit too much to calculate, but just for the average seller, I would definitely look at a total cost for sure. I’ll see a ratio of add orders to your organic orders. Now, a lot of these numbers. You won’t get inside of campaign managers.

You do need to kind of aggregate the data from your advertising as well as business reports. Or if you’re using a tool like yours, I’m sure you do order numbers and all that stuff. So you then, if you have access really easily to all your order numbers, then you can also pull that from your advertising and calculate that very easily.

So if you look at total orders and then you subtract add orders, that will actually give you the number of organic orders you have, and then you can look at those as a percentage and say, is my organic orders rising or lowering? And then that can give you an idea of what you’re doing is really pushing organic rank and making a difference.

Absolutely. Thanks for that. I mean, uh, yes, one of the most popular features. And so our scale actually, it’s sort of easy, it’s in a dashboard and the main dashboard is, understanding, uh, the split between organic and PPC sales. And it’s really important to keep track of that. And I like that you mentioned, uh, that advertising can be used as an investment.

In your organic rank and the more your organic rank improves, the better your cost is and the better your sales are, the more percentage of your organic sales is. And I wonder if that’s a strategy that new sellers who are starting their first campaign should be, should sellers strive to breakeven or should they view their advertising investment as an investment in the organic rank?

Definitely, I would see it as an investment, especially in the beginning. If you’re first launching, you don’t have any visibility on the platform, then you want to, you know, you oftentimes you come into the gate swinging. But then once that’s run. I’d say maybe at least a couple of weeks. And the other thing, I guess going back to your first question on problems that beginner sellers may make is the fact that a campaign manager data is not on a hundred percent up-to-date.

So, I mean real-time is what I mean. So there is at least, I think they say 12 hours now it’s kind of a 24-hour delay. But even your numbers say two days out there a good idea to track, but you don’t want to take a minute to minute decisions because you’re not making decisions. That they could have the numbers a little bit off.

And especially when you have much lower sales, one or two sales can be a big difference in a cost and a whole bunch of other numbers. So you want to make sure that you’re not making an, and that goes back to the emotional decisions. You don’t want to. Go in and then it cause for yesterday completely spiked.

Okay, but don’t, you know, let’s, let’s aggregate it. Let’s look at a longer time frame. 14 days is a really good timeframe. When you’re making decisions in the beginning, you’re not really going to have that. So if you have like, say, 50 clicks and no sales. Yeah. Okay. You might want to turn that down, but don’t go in and say two clicks, no sales.

All my goodness. I spent, you know, $10. It’s the end of the world. Just breathe. Let it let it marinade. Because you can also have an order delay. They may not report it for seven days. There’s actually a seven-day sales window looking back. So keep that in mind. Breathe. Make data, different decisions. And I forgot what the actual question was.

No, it’s fine. And I like that you mentioned that decision timeframe. Actually, we had one of the founders of another PPC agency, Danny Carlson, of Kenji ROI come on the show. And he talked about, uh, one of the common mistakes that sellers make is, uh, over-optimizing. They tweak their PPC too much and they want to see instant results of their decisions.

So they tweak something and they want to see something in two hours. Right? Uh, and he gave advice to new sellers, just like, leave it for. For a month or like make weekly decisions. Just give it time, give it time to breathe, as you said but speaking of mistakes, what are other most common mistakes that you see sellers make either in their PBC or building their Amazon brand? And, uh, what are the ways to avoid them from your experience?

Yeah. So I guess a couple of things going back to definitely making, not making data-driven decisions. And then another thing is getting emotional about where you think you should be seeing movement where you think you should show up.

Run your advertising, be really smart about it. We have great access to keyword tools now, even on Amazon. Competitor product titles are a great way to scavenge because typically if they’ve been running for a while, they know the top keywords. So if you can find a product that’s exactly like yours, you can scrape those titles and aggregate them, find some good keywords there.

Definitely getting emotional. And then, like I said before, track what’s working. So to your last question about when should you view Amazon PPC as an investment? Yes. In the beginning, you’re going to need to get that momentum through and you might, you’re going to have to pay for that however you can.

Okay. So a month is a good timeframe. It depends on how competitive your product niches. If you’ve got some big guys and you’re really slammed against the wall, it’s going to take a lot longer time for you to bump that ranking up. Because the people above you have such high momentum and you’re going to have to match that.

But in a much lower, a lower competition space, it’s kind of like going to be a bit easier to rise yourself up that ladder. So just taking a look at your specific product, your specific niche, and then say in a course of a couple of weeks. So if it’s really low competition, should maybe two or three weeks higher competition, maybe give it a month or two.

Sometimes we’ve had to take even up to three months, but we get people on page one in a very, very high competition nation. We’re getting profitable with our ads now. So you kind of understand what you’re getting into. But then tracking. So those organic numbers, is your organic orders getting better or worse than your ads?

Also, we have good ranking tools or just manually going in whenever you check something manually on Amazon, make sure you’re using M and E Cognito window. So any past searches are not screwing your data, but you can actually go and see. Search and look where your listing is showing up. Okay? Am I improving my rank? Is it not moving? If you’re throwing a bunch of money at a specific keyword in a relatively average niche for two months and you’re not seeing any movement. That might be something to reconsider on. That doesn’t mean you can’t, you know, you absolutely have to drop it. Maybe go find some long-tail variations of that keyword, but just, okay, where am I actually fitting? Where am I moving the navel? Excuse me, where am I moving the needle? And then once you figure out where you’re actually making movement, you go hard. You double down on that and you should see a much better return on your advertising.

You mentioned earlier that for certain sellers who are not, for some reason investing in PPC, either because their margins are slim or because their product category doesn’t appreciate BBC you mentioned that they use successful use of Amazon marketing. And because customers are mainly. Used to the Amazon buying experience. It really works. Could you talk a little bit about Amazon marketing? I know that that’s not your core specialty, but still what types of Amazon marketing and social media marketing inserts email marketing campaigns can sellers use if they’re not using PPC or maybe in addition to PPC.

Yeah, so we don’t particularly handle any of that stuff internally. We do have sellers who are, we kind of work in tandem with them. They give us a list. Okay, we’re going after these. All right, we understand that, you know, let’s either push them with Amazon PPC, would that, you know. We have worked with those.

I hear a lot of good things about search, find, buy. There’s a lot of people have good success with that. I don’t personally know a lot of the ins and outs, but there are some good people and some really good information out there on even some step-by-steps on how to work that. Email marketing is great. If you can generate the keyword list. I mean, that’s a whole another realm of expertise, trying to get that list and the copy to do it. And where do you send the traffic and all kinds of stuff? But that’s a good thing. If you have a list, definitely use it. And then also influencer marketing is a good one, but that’s a whole another one.

Again, you know, picking the influencer who’s right for my product is this actually going to work. Vetting them, you know, a whole, that’s a whole thing too. But. Yeah. I actually have been speaking to a lot of agency founders about influencer marketing, and most of them say that influencer marketing for Amazon is like this black hole, like nobody really knows what works there and everybody’s just like making their best guess. And for some people that works. For other people. It’s a devastating experience where you send the product, the influencer, realize that he didn’t get it, and then you said another product, and then nothing comes out of it. But I mean, this happens Senate, it’s hard. Did you see anybody have success with April?

I don’t think we had any particular sellers who work directly with influencers. I, I’m aware of a couple of sellers just talk with them who have used it successfully, but I think they went through someone who will actually be very good at vetting themselves. So they kind of had that. And I can’t even imagine trying to vet somebody and you know, and then the other hard thing is, so you had a bump in sales, but. You know, it’s kind of hard to correlate those things. That’s the benefit of running Amazon ads is we can say a hundred percent these ads worked. This is the keyword they worked on. Our rank isn’t, you know, we can a hundred percent get that data from the Amazon advertising, other off-platform stuff. It gets a bit trickier. You can do it, especially if you’re running really targeted things like a search, find, buy on a specific keyword, but it does, it gets a little tricky to correlate those sometimes.

I mean, Amazon is essentially a product search engine nowadays, right? And we have Google as the main search engine, and I wonder whether the same rules apply to PPC on Amazon as see do on Google, or is it a completely different environment where someone who is very good at, at advertising on Google AdSense, I should like go through a completely different learning curve and Amazon.

Yeah. So there are a bit of a correlations between the two as far as, you know, you have the campaigns, the ad group, some of the structure, you know, that you might be used to in Google advertising does kind of translate. However, I’ve seen a bit of disconnect because they’re such different platforms.

And then also you can be very familiar with the three different match types. Because Google, I mean, they also have the exact phrase, broad keywords. But the way those keywords perform and the little nuances in the platform and how the ads actually run is quite different. So for instance, a lot of people who come from the Google world. Google world teach search term isolation as well as migration of keywords. Meaning exact is like the Holy grill. It’s the one you want. You’re striving. Everything should eventually be an exact, and that’s the way it runs. We’ve seen a lot of times if you launch stuff in only exact, it can be a bit tricky to get movement.

Each keyword performs differently at each different match type. So we’re definitely in the test all match types crowd. And then also the nuances with when you launch a particular campaign, it can take a bit time to do some traction. They also have something internally that has been confirmed through reps.

It’s not. Why knowledge is there is something called like a campaign score internally. So depending on how your ads have performed previously, that particular campaign, ad group, even keyword at that specific placement, we’ll kind of have a good history behind it. And Amazon will be better with pushing it.

Because oftentimes we’ve seen. So you had a broad match keyword. You find a search term that’s going well through the broad match. Do you think, okay, great. Launch it in exact match, let’s go. And the exact match, just terrible. And you’re still getting it in the broad and you’re like, okay. Logically, it doesn’t make sense cause you’re at the exact same placement with my exact match.

This should work. And for some reason it just doesn’t. So there are quite a few differences in how the actual nuances and the platform performs. So if you’re coming straight from Google and you think you can translate everything, you should be still a bit ahead of the curve because you kind of gets the whole mindset.

But. If you try and run your Amazon ads exactly the way you’re used to in Google, it’s not always going to translate the best. So, yeah, I mean, Amazon is an environment off itself. You still have to educate yourself on all these things. Uh, but I mean, at some point. You do it yourself, but at some point, you just understand that you want to delegate it.

You want to automate it to a professional light. Q. A. At what point do you think sellers should do that? Uh, is that a function of, uh, size, company size, revenue, product streams? Uh, do you have any thoughts on that?

At some point, I guess if you’re at a large scale, some point, it doesn’t even really get manageable. And we manage with bulk files. That’s a whole another learning curve in itself. And we have strategies and things that help us manage things that have really large scale. You just can’t do manually if you have a single product, if you have a low budget. You can manage it yourself. And I do think it’s a good idea to learn some of the things yourself.

So when you go on to a higher-end management agency, because to be honest, there are new ones popping up every day. You go on the Facebook groups and you ask about management, you’re going to get spammed by 20 different people saying, I’ll manage your ads. And if you don’t understand anything about advertising, it’s going to be really hard for you to ask the questions and vet the person.

We personally do an audit, we’ll send to people and. We’ll explain, okay, this is what makes sense. This is where the holes are. You can honestly take that and if you know anything about advertising, you know, you could probably get something out of that, but if you know nothing about it going into it, it’s going to be really hard to vet someone.

And then even if you do not at some point because they’re constantly rolling out updates for the platform. There are so little things we have placements. Now we have different bidding types. You have different bidding strategies and all the little pieces put together. You know, there is kind of a best practice for every little thing.

If you’re totally focused on your business and scaling, you might not want to have to devote, you know, your entire day to learning about Amazon advertising, which is what we do. And that’s why, you know, we have clients because we can sit there all day and that’s all I do every day is. Learn about Amazon and advertising it.

That’s the new, what’s this new button? Let’s test it. Where does this work best? But I can get a lot for sellers if you only have a single product you can run. Good advertising and it’s not going to take you, it doesn’t have to take your entire day for weeks. You can ease into it. You can listen to podcasts like this.

Get an idea of kind of how to get into advertising and you’ll be fine, especially if you have a lower budget, because it does come into play with, uh, how you’re running your advertising. If you have a very low budget, you don’t want to put, you know, thousands and thousands of keywords because you just don’t have the budget for it.

So if you only have like $20 a day, yeah. Manage it yourself. It’s not going to have a, to be honest, it’s not going to have an ROI for you to have someone else manage it. Once you start to scale, yet it actually, it frees up your time to, you know, scale your business, additional products, look at the list, you know, a whole nother side of it.

And then you can just know that that part is taken care of and you’d only have to worry about it.

I think somebody successful said that, hire the best people and leave them alone. Right? So from what you’re saying, I mean, you have to learn yourself, uh, when you’re launching your first product, just do it yourself to understand.

But when it gets too tricky, outsource it to someone like you. Uh, where do people find you and your business?

Probably the best place to find me is the website. So if you go to jungler.com if you’re interested in our services, we have a form at the bottom, fill it out. It takes you right to a booking page. I’m actually, the one who does do is all the calls. So if you’re interested, you would like us to audit your products. That’s the best way to get ahold of us.

I have one last question for you and then we’re going to wrap up. It gets, there’s a lot of info here that people can wrap their head around. So it’s our traditional question. It’s from Peter TEALS book zero to one. What truth do very few people agree with you on.

I don’t know. There’s a couple people who agree with me, so I don’t think it’s a lot of people, but, I don’t believe that you always have to run advertising and that everything should always be a hundred percent all the time.

There’s a lot of people in the industry, especially with this recent crisis going on, and there’s a lot of people just turning down their advertising because of. It stopped working. You know, we need to just stop it. Let’s dial back. You know, let’s get profitable, and there’s a lot of people saying, why would you ever stop?

Just keep pushing all the time. We need to get to the top, always top spot, always. And don’t always believe, I think there’s much more that goes into that decision than just, it’s not a yes or no question. It’s what makes sense for my product. What makes sense for my business. And what makes sense for the market I’m in.

And then sometimes, to be perfectly honest, that doesn’t always mean advertising. And I know that kind of sounds counterintuitive because that’s what I do, but if it doesn’t make sense for you and your business, then it just doesn’t make sense. So. I mean, thanks for that honesty.

I mean, that’s great.

Definitely, you need to have perspective and you definitely have to have self-awareness both in business and personal life, and just understanding what works for you and what doesn’t.

Elizabeth, thank you very much. This was great. And I think there’s a lot of valuable info that new and existing sellers can, uh, receive and hopefully soon.

Yeah. Thank you so much. It’s been fun.

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