Proven Amazon Course

130 OEA Podcast - How Amazon PPC Pay Per Click Advertising Can Boost Your Sales with Justin Croxton

Whats up Empire!

Joshua Woodward Here,

As you may be seeing we are stuck on the subject of Amazon adds. I know there is a huge need for this within the amazon community and we want to get to the bottom of it.

I have a habit now of hopping on Udemy to see if someone has created a course about the subject I am stuck on.
In this case I was hopelessly lost with Amazon PPC. When searching Udemy the pickings where slim but the one course that came up most recommended was Justin Croxtons "Amazon PPC Product Ads: Grow Your Private Label FBA Products."

I knew the value Justin brings in the PPC world wouldn't just be helpful to myself but would also be massively helpful to you Empire. So I tracked him down and asked him to be on.

I love how easily Justin is able to break down these massive subjects and give you bite sized chunks. I know I so appreciated his knowledge and I hope you do as well.

if you want to get Justin's course he has discounted it 20% for us at, http://theonlineempireacademy.com/zoncommerce

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If you want to know more about us and all we have going at The Online Empire Academy go to, http://theonlineempireacademy.com/

Until next time,

Have a fantastic day!

--- Transcripts Below This Point---

Joshua:
What's up online Empire Academy? I'm Joshua Woodward, your podcast host. Today we have on Justin Croxton and he is in charge of Zon Commerce and, really he's, why I wanted to have him on today, was because he's the master of Amazon PPC. He's created a course on you to me. I have so much respect for this content because I am so lost when it comes to Amazon PPC.

First o, Justin, how are you doing, man?

Justin:
I'm doing great, man. Thank you for having me on. I really do appreciate it.

Joshua:
Absolutely. I'm excited. It's obviously a challenging subject for the majority of the world. For those of us who are ...

Justin:
I totally get it. Totally get it.

Joshua:
Dude, it's one of those subjects that's like, I still have not wrapped my brain around it and I've tried.

Justin:
To your point, there's just so much content around it. You're dealing with keywords. You're trying to look at competitive research. You're trying to figure out the right keywords. There's the platform. It's building the campaigns. It's a lot of stuff. Hopefully I can provide some insights, just at least the strategy side that came help folks along with their PPC campaigns through Amazon Search.

Joshua:
Absolutely. Let's start off, well first, share with the community a little bit about your story.

Justin:
Sure. A little bit about my story. Let's see here. I don't know if I should go back to undergrad. But, graduated Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia. Worked in commercial real estate for six years. Did a little digital marketing on some of the buildings that I represented. I'm here in the Atlanta market. Made the transition to, I always wanted to go back to business school so I went to Stern Business school in New York, to the full time program. While I went to Stern, I started my own digital marketing agency so I could treat it as a summer internship, picked up a few clients. A few really fun clients, which is cool. Once I graduated, I continued in that whole world of digital marketing. Everything from search engine optimization, Pay Per Click advertising, but more so on the Google side of things.

I really didn't get over to the Amazon side until about early 2015 where I learned this whole world of private label selling and retail arbitrage. My background is more so on the private label type selling on Amazon. Create your own brand and selling those products with your own label on that brand, if that makes us wrong, those products rather.

For me, I've really been in the Amazon space for a little under, I guess it's going on a little over a year now. Let's just say, we've done relatively well. We've sold our products all around the world in that short period of time. We've sold in Canada, Spain, Italy, France, Japan, U.K., Germany, certainly, our main base being here in the United States. There's a, it's been quite the whirlwind. There's been some challenges, but quite a bit of success. I think my, where I like to hang my hat is really on the search engine optimization side of things, as well as the Pay-Per-Click advertising side of things.

I'd say the PPC side, mainly because I have so much experience with Google Adwords and I'll leverage a lot those insights, pulling that perspective into the Amazon PPC side of the business. That's my story. It's been quite the ride. I'm looking forward to sharing anything else I can with you guys.

Joshua:
Absolutely. I mean, we'll have to talk another time about just getting into the global Amazon game. I think it's a whole other subject. Let's dive into it. Will you breakdown what Amazon PPC is?

Justin:
Sure. Amazon PPC, otherwise known as Amazon sponsored ads, is essentially the ads that show up either at the top on the right hand side or at the very bottom, or, sometimes in the middle, of a keyword search that you did on Amazon. Let's say, for example, that you're an advertiser and you know there are certain keywords that you want to show up for. You're new to this business, but you don't have all the reviews. You've only been in the business for like, let's say a couple weeks. Maybe you have gotten a few reviews and you want to start advertising your product. Amazon PPC allows you to do that, literally on day one.

Essentially, it's an auction-based system where you have a bunch of advertisers that are bidding for certain keywords on their auction network. Let's say if I'm selling bamboo cutting boards, that's sort of my main keyword. Then, bamboo cutting boards would be the term that I would essentially be bidding on. Those bids can go anywhere from .10 all the way up to 3, 4, $5.00. Depending on the competitiveness of that particular keyword. You can have a gazillion keywords. You can have five keywords. It really all depends. That's ultimately, the Amazon sponsored ads platform. Very powerful. If you're selling on Amazon, it's an absolute must in order to be successful or have the level of success that you desire on Amazon's platform.

Joshua:
For the people who are just super-new to this and don't even understand the basics of what a Pay-Per-Click System is, will you explain that?

Justin:
Sure. A Pay-Per-Click System is when someone, let's say, you and I, I just had a son, April 13th, his name is Ellis. For Ellis, we're looking for diapers. If I go to Amazon's website, I type in newborn diapers, I'll see a bunch of different listings that will show up. At the very top, I might see Pampers. They may be advertising, or maybe someone else has advertising. When I click on that "sponsored ad", that's called a Pay-Per-Click. The only time an advertiser pays for their advertising is when someone clicks on their ad. That's the only time that happens. That's sort of the rudimentary foundation of what a Pay-Per-Click is. It's no different than Adwords paid search, where you see some of those ads at the very top or at the very bottom of Google. You see the word "ad" next to it and you click on that ad, that is a Pay-Per-Click. That Pay-Per-Click, or the cost for each click, essentially, can range, well, here at least in the Amazon world can range anywhere from .10 all the way up to five bucks, probably even more, depending on the vertical, depending on the market. I hope that explains what a Pay-Per-Click really is, versus, what it ultimately entails.

Joshua:
That's great. We are the, in the sense, we're going to take it from the advertiser because we want to get on Amazon and want to get on Amazon Pay-Per-Clicks. Just for the audience, just start thinking like, okay, every time somebody clicks, that means I pay. We're just going to get in that mindset. Why should someone, why should our audience start using Amazon Pay-Per-Click?

Justin:
I think the first and foremost is that it gives you the ability to control the keywords that you want to drive traffic through. Let's go back to the bamboo cutting board example. The only way that I'm going to get traffic immediately, there's some other things that we can discuss from a traffic-building standpoint, but if we're talking specifically on Amazon's platform. If I want to gain traffic immediately, Amazon PPC is the one place that you can accomplish that. With Amazon search engine optimization, that can take time. You're trying to optimize your listing. You're trying to rank for certain keywords organically. Obviously, that's the holy grail. That's what everyone wants to be at some point. The Amazon PPC drives traffic immediately to your site on day one. For any reason, that is the one reason that you would ultimately want to do Amazon Pay-Per-Click advertising.

Secondly, this is something that some people may or may not know about, but there's also sort of a dual effect, a dual impact, that Amazon Pay-Per-Click advertising has, which is, being able to also rank organically for those keywords that you have some intuition that's probably the right keywords that you should be ranking for. Going back to the same example, bamboo cutting boards, that's my product. That's ultimately what I want to advertise on. I may have some terms. Some of my terms might be, wooden cutting boards, bamboo cutting boards, best bamboo cutting boards. Probably some other ones that I'm not thinking of. Ultimately, those are the main terms.

Every time I get a sale on one of those terms, it has an impact to my overall ability to rank for that keyword organically. That's huge, right? It's one thing to give away a bunch of product. That's another way that you can rank high, which is sort of a separate conversation. The truly organic way to do it is to just get natural sales through Amazon PPC. If you're getting sales through Amazon Pay-Per-Click advertising, you're getting quite a bit of it. You're putting yourself in a position to rank higher for those keywords that's contextually relevant and ultimately those keywords that you believe, okay, these things are definitely converting for me, it just naturally makes sense for me to advertise, or either to increase my budget or to spend more for those individual keywords.

Ultimately, the last thing in this is something that's a little more nuanced. For me, I'm a really big believer in being able to track and measure as much as you possibly can. I believe that Amazon makes it very easy for us to do that. They have this system that's called, or this metric, that's called Average Cost of Sale. Let's say for example, my product sells for $20.00 and I sold a product, or I had costs associated with the keyword on that, amounted to $5.00. That 5 divided by 20, is essentially 25%. That would be my average cost of sale. Even just knowing that metric in and of itself, gives you the ability to track and measure the success and the failures of some of those keywords so you can pivot accordingly. Turn off certain keywords. Make certain keywords what we call a negative term, where you can add that to a list where your essentially not showing up for that keyword moving forward. Just for those three reasons alone, Amazon Pay-Per-Click advertising is an absolute must for any business that is selling a product on Amazon.

Joshua:
That's actually a perfect transition. My next question to you was, does this work for only a private label seller, or can this branch out into more different avenues?

Justin:
That's a good question. To be honest with you, when it comes to the retail arbitrage side of it, I think that's what you're sort of getting at. You have those big box brands, some big brands that are out there. Fortune 500 companies, big e-commerce sellers that have been doing a lot of business online. You have that bucket. You have the retail arbitrage game where, well, not game, but the business rather, where you're purchasing a product at a steep discount. You're getting those products in-house. You're uploading those through merchant fulfillment and you're trying to sell those. They have a private label side of it where you have your own brand, but your placing your own brand on private label products. I believe, definitely private label in the brand side, can absolutely do Amazon Pay-Per-Click advertising. I also believe that you can still do that through retail arbitrage. I'm just not 100% sure because I haven't done it myself. I can't see there being a reason why you wouldn't be able to.

Ultimately Amazon, I'm not saying they're looking to take your money. They are looking to make money and help you make money too. If it's something that's fair to the system, it's fair to all the sellers. I think that's something that's available to merchant fulfilled Amazon sellers as well. I believe it is. I believe it is.

Joshua:
Basically, it sounds like I wouldn't really want to send traffic to Hasbro if it's not my own product. It's just kind of my [crosstalk 00:13:37]. I don't want to, if I get a killer price on a new superhero toy, I don't want to give them my service. I don't want to pay for those. It sounds like Pay-Per-Click is more targeted towards people who maybe are doing wholesale directly with a company, dropshipping directly with a company and/or are private labeling for their own business.

Justin:
I do believe that's correct, Josh. On the retail arbitrage, I'm just not 100% sure and I don't want to put any false information out there because I know there's this conversation around the buy box. If you go into that whole bit, what does that really look like. I can tell you with absolute certainty, that for private label, all day long, if you have your own brand all day long, I do believe to a certain extent, through the retail arbitrage side of the business, you do have that ability as well.

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Joshua:
That's good to know.

Justin:
Here's my philosophy for everyone that's out there, if you don't know it, just go and test it and find out. It's really that straightforward.

Joshua:
I like it. Hey man, that sounds good.

Justin:
Take a product that you bought that you have in the house you want to sell on Amazon, maybe it's an Iphone 5.0. Put it on, see if you can do Amazon PPC. If you can, boom. Retail arbitrage all day long.

Joshua:
That's good.

Joshua:
What about the cost. That's been a concern of our viewers who I've been talking to, is, I'm afraid it's going to end up sinking my ROI in the end.

Justin:
I totally get that. I've had campaigns in the past, at least when I first started, when my ACOS, average cost of sale, was 100%, 150%. Here's a good barometer, it's what I like to look it as. I like to look at it as anywhere, my ideal ACOS is 25-50%. Some people say, "No. No. No. No. No. I need to achieve 10% or 20%." Sometimes, that's just not realistic. The other side of it is, we're not looking to break even, but don't forget that your ability to rank organically for your products or for those terms, is directly correlated with your Amazon PPC. There may be certain instances where I have an ACOS that's, I don't know, let's say it's 100%. Sometimes, I'm still willing to pay that because I know that's still impacting my ability to rank for that keyword within Amazon.

I totally understand the heartburn that some people may experience when they think about, "Oh man, this is going to cost me a lot of money." As long as you're staying below, in my judgement, you're staying below that 100%, really the ideal target is about that 25-40%, 50% range. I think you're in a good place. Particularly, if you say for "bamboo cutting boards" you're getting your 2, 3, 4, 5 sales a day off of that term naturally and organically, it's totally worth it because it's only going to boost up your organic rankings over time. You have that cost associated with the Amazon PPC, but then you also have the huge benefit of the free traffic and the free clicks and the impressions you're getting through the organic side of Amazon's platform.

Joshua:
This may be a super basic question, but, I still get the reviews from sponsored ads, correct?

Justin:
Absolutely, without question. Without question. Of course, if you have some sort of an auto-responder set up and those same folks are leaving reviews organically, obviously it's under the verified purchase tab. Absolutely, that's also going to show up within your Amazon sponsored ads in addition to your organic listing as well.

Joshua:
That's good man.

Justin:
Both side of the coin, without question.

Joshua:
The more and more I hear about this, the more and more I talk with people, I don't know why, especially if you've taken the time to develop your own business and develop your own brand, why you wouldn't take the time to start ranking it on Amazon. I just kind of want to take a quick segue. What would it take to get those same products ranking on Google through Amazon, if that makes sense?

Justin:
Makes perfect sense. I'll tell you, it's not easy. There are a lot of folks out there who have been incredibly successful being able to rank their Amazon products on Google. Let me just take it just a step back. I think some people probably don't even understand what it actually takes to rank a product on Google and have an Amazon link. Two things, first is, the Amazon link has to be searchable. It has to be indexed. If it's not indexed, then it can't be, you can't rank. Number two, Amazon typically, well not Amazon but Google will only have anywhere from one to two Amazon links per keyword that's essentially ranked on their system. Don't forget you're also dealing with some of the high level categories that Google has already determined Amazon's category listing for this listing is most relevant so we're going to rank that. Right?

Here's the biggest thing in Google, search engine optimization in Google is clearly slightly different from Amazon. The biggest thing is what we call keyword relevancy and [inaudible 00:19:31]. Keyword relevancy in terms of, let's say, bamboo cutting boards is my product. I have that in my title. I have it peppered throughout my bullets and my description. I have a lot of good textual stuff that really speaks to what the product is. That's how Google determines, okay, this product or this page is relevant to the searcher's query. That's part of the step. That's maybe 20=30% of the process. The other part of the process, Joshua, is what we call, is what I call links. Links that are pointing back to your Amazon listing page. The one that's indexable. Not the other ones because you can get a whole lot of different links through Amazon for your one product listing. The one that gets indexed is the one that matters. Your ability to drive links to those, to that product listing, is ultimately what's going to give you the ability to rank on Google for that product for those individual keywords.

Honestly, Google is nothing more than, I like to call them sort of a voting pool if you will. Your ability to get more votes, from both relevant and highly authoritative websites is ultimately what's going to tell Google, "Hey, this person's gotten a lot of votes in these different areas. Maybe they should rank higher on this page for this particular keyword." If you look at it from that perspective, and your ability to market your product through other channels whether you're doing a press release, or if you are being mentioned in a blog, you're doing a product giveaway and you're giving out that indexable link. Those are the things that over time, can hopefully get that link ranked within Google for your primary term. It's not easy. It does take time. I've seen folks that have been able to do it. It's very, very doable.

Joshua:
That's so interesting. I'm thinking about there's a few people I've seen on YouTube who will test people's Amazon products. I'm like, "Oh wow, that's a great idea," because that person gets free products. Now I'm realizing, that's for SEO, that's for search engine optimization. That's to all, link back to their Amazon. That's a genius idea.

Justin:
Yes. It's a duel effect. In the SEO world, I like to look at it as, if an SEO company is doing a great job for you, they're doing two things. One, they're getting you more organic traffic and they're also getting you more referral traffic. They're getting referral traffic from legitimate sites, legitimate web pages. Whether it's someone's YouTube page, whether it's someone's blog, whether it's a press release. Whatever it is, you're getting legitimate traffic through that and the link that's pointing back to that indexable link from Amazon. It's all encompassing.

Joshua:
Gosh, man. There's so much. I know we can probably spend an entire hour just on that.

Joshua:
Dude, it's so cool. Let's get into some of the dos and don'ts. What are the dos and donts of getting started with specifically Amazon PPC?

Justin:
It's a couple things. I would say the biggest, well, if we're talking about getting into the business of doing the sponsored ads, I kind of like to look at it as somewhat of a process more than the things that I like to look at. The first thing that I like to do is do competitive research. By that I mean, taking for example, again, bamboo cutting boards. I'll do the actually search myself on bamboo cutting boards. I'll do the search and I'll see who are the true top competitors. I'm not talking about the bigger brands that are, those folks are doing like $100-200 million a year. I'm talking about maybe some of those private label sellers. Maybe some of those folks are doing some retail arbitrage. There's a great tool that's out there called Jungle Scout that helps discern which ones are big brands from private label from merchant fulfillment. I like to look at the private label and FBA stuff more than anything else. I try to pick the top two, top three brands. I look at their listing. I look at their title. For me that helps gives me a sense of, "All right, these are some of their true terms." Maybe there were some I didn't think about. These are some of the ones that just further confirms my assumptions that these are the terms that I ultimately want to rank for.

I can't stress enough how critical that competitive research is. It really gives you a sense of where your competitors are and how you can perform, do a little better than what they're doing. That's the first thing. The second thing is, there are certain tools that I use. One is called Google Keyword Planner. Because I'm a Pay-Per-Click advertising guy on the Google side, I use it daily for clients that I work with. It's free to anyone that's out there. The only thing you have to do is get an Adwords account set up. Those folks, through Adwords, they're going to ask you for your billing information. Don't worry about it. Just add it. You don't have to advertise anything on Google's platform. Just enter that information. Your billing information. Then, you have access to this tool. I can't stress enough how incredible this tool truly is. I can literally take that same keyword. Let's say, bamboo cutting boards, and Google through it's contextual search, will find all of the other relevant terms that's specifically centered around bamboo cutting boards. There might be a ton of terms I'm not even aware of.

Here's the other great thing about it. Not only will it find terms that you're not even aware of, it will also share with you the search volume of those terms. That's huge because it's not as if those search volumes are exactly the same search volumes on Amazon. However, it is very similar in that regard. If I'm looking at bamboo cutting boards versus wooden cutting boards and I'm trying to figure out what should my title really be? I notice that out of all the terms that I was thinking about, bamboo cutting boards actually gets way more traffic than best top wooden cutting boards, just as an example, then I'm going to go with wooden cutting boards. You can essentially extrapolate out those, the demand or the searches for those keywords over to Amazon. With a certain level of certainty that these keywords are probably the better ones to go after versus some of these other ones that really are driving as much traffic. Google Keyword Planner, highly recommend that to everyone that's out there, again, Adwords account, billing information. You don't have to pay anything. It's free of charge. Google has a really, really great set up tools that's available to everyone.

I'm trying to think what else. There are some other standard practices that, let me just say this. There's a lot of videos out there that can just train you on how to build a campaign probably [inaudible 00:26:59] talk about that here. I do have some other individual points that I can talk about if you want me to get into some of those other details as well, Joshua. From a, in terms of competitive research, that's a big one. Google Keyword Planner is a huge one, as well. There are also some nuances in the platform, Joshua, that I can also speak to that I think will be absolutely critical to the success of anyone that's running a sponsored ads program on Amazon. They have made a lot of changes. I can speak to that a little bit as well.

Joshua:
Before we hit that, I'd love to know if there's any don'ts. Like, don't do this.

Justin:
Absolutely. I would say my one don't is, let's say I have the word bamboo cutting board versus bamboo cutting boards. Go with one of those. Don't go with both of them. My think is because Amazon automatically considers both of them the same term. Recently, based on my own testing and some of the work that I've done, there's been some cannibalization that's been going on on Amazon where you can have two terms that are cannibalizing the traffic. It can make it more challenging for you to get the right traffic that you want for those particular keywords that you're going after. That's the first thing.

The second thing is, Amazon also has what's called first page bid estimate. It's not a perfect system. Some people will try to bid right at that first page bid estimate. I think you need to go at least 50% higher than that first page bid estimate. I bid at the first page bid estimate for a lot of keywords that I ultimately want to rank for. No traffic. I'm like, what the heck is going on? I know what some of you are going to say. Well, if I increase it by 50%, 200%, isn't that going to kill my ACOS? Yes. It is possible. However, the only way you will know that is by testing. Don't forget that, not [inaudible 00:29:09] the ACOS, but those keywords that you are spending money on is going to have an impact on your organic rankings. It's something that you have to monitor. The one thing that I don't want people to fall in and say, "You know, I was at the first page bid estimate of $1.00, I'm bidding $1.00. I'm not getting any traffic." You're going to have to increase that bid. You're going to have to increase it to $1.50, $2.00, $2.50. See what happens. See if the traffic's coming in. See if you're getting sales. Then, you can adjust accordingly from that standpoint.

The last thing that I tell folks to do is, before you launch, this is sort of a do and a don't. I'm going to couch it this way. Don't have a crappy listing on Amazon and you're trying to do sponsored ads. That's going to hurt your average cost of sale. If you think about it this way, it's all about conversion rates. If I have a good listing, good copy, good images, that's only going to have a positive impact on my ACOS. You don't want to start at a low bar. You don't want to start at a place where my images are not great. Particularly in comparison to my competitors. Or, I'll have the right keywords speaking to the searchers intent. I'll have the right benefits within the bullets. My description doesn't have any html, it's all crap. All of that's just going to impact your, it's only going to impact your sponsored ad program where you're not going to have the best ACOS possible. Don't come into this game with a terrible ACOS. The same conversation holds true with reviews.

I typically tell people, don't get started with Amazon sponsored ads unless you have at least ten reviews. Just have recent reviews. If you think about it, I'm sure, Joshua, you probably look at different restaurants, different places on Yelp versus other spots. You're typically looking at the places that have reviews. Have a five star rating, right? Folks that have at least four or five, boom, you're going to probably do business with them. You're probably going to go to that establishment, spend some money and grab a meal there. The same concept holds true. It's essentially what has been the foundation to Amazon's success among many other things. Have some of those reviews set up initially so you're not wasting so much money on sponsored ads where you don't have at least five, ten, fifteen, twenty reviews getting started.

Those are sort of my dos and don'ts. We'll just leave it at that. I have a lot of stuff that I can talk about. I believe in the power of threes and sometimes fours. We'll just leave it at that.

Joshua:
I love it. For those of you, we're running right up on time. I want to just be respectful of your time and make sure our audience gets the most content as possible. You guys, Justin's actually created a course all about PPC and it's a you to me course. You can go to the onlineempireacademy.com forward slash zoncommerce. Again, the onlineempireacademy.com forward slash zoncommerce. That's where you'll get his course. I'm not sure the pricing of it. I think you said it was like $20.00?

Justin:
I think it's 20 bucks, was $25.00. We give a 20% discount to all the listeners there. So, 20 bucks and literally, the course goes through soup to nuts advance level stuff, basic level stuff and also, how to build a campaign. Also, how to use some of the different tools. Whether it's Google Keyword Planner. Another tool that I use called Keyword Inspector, talk about how to use that tool. Just everything that you need so you can get started and know how to utilize sponsored ads successfully for your business.

Joshua:
That's fantastic, man. Again, guys, go check that out. 20 bucks to figure this whole thing out. You can't beat that. Thank you so much for coming on. I so appreciated the content.

Justin:
This was a blast, Joshua. Thanks for taking the time and reaching out to me. This has been a lot of fun. I really look forward to keeping in contact with you as well.

Joshua:
Absolutely. Hopefully we can have you on again.

Justin:
Absolutely. Thanks so much.

Joshua:
Until next time, Empire. Have a fantastic day.

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