Saturday, April 15, 2017

My Amazon Ad Experiment, Part Deux by Alison Henderson

If you read my post last month, you'll recall I shared the results of an experiment in which I ran a Facebook ad and an Amazon sponsored product ad during the last week of February and compared the results. As far as I could tell, all my sales came from the FB ad. Although it cost me very little, my Amazon numbers were dismal: 2,772 impressions, 10 clicks, and 0 sales. I decided I must be doing something wrong, so I decided to try again during the last week of March.

The important difference was adding more keywords. The first time, I used every category and combination of words I thought anyone might use to find books like Unwritten Rules and Boiling Point, my female bodyguard books. I also threw in the names of a couple of very well-known writers whose books are somewhat similar. I only ended up with about twenty keywords, even though every article I'd read said to aim for two hundred, and Amazon allows up to one thousand! I simply couldn't think of any more.

In the interim, I'd read another article with sound advice on how to find appropriate keywords. The author recommended checking your own books' pages, as well as those of similar books, and diving deep into the "Customers who bought this product also bought" listings. When I did this, I found a significant number of authors I'd never heard of who write some combination of romance, mystery, and suspense that includes humor. l added their names to my keyword list. I then dug even deeper, checking the "Customers who bought" lists for those authors, looking for more authors and books that might attract similar readers. You can do this almost indefinitely, but I stopped after I had doubled the number of my keywords.

Here are the results for the first week, so you can compare the numbers with my original experiment:

Boiling Point:
109,975 impressions;  54 clicks @ $.16 = $8.49 cost; 4 sales @ $2.74 profit = $10.96 
Plus 2,371 KENP pages read @ $.005 per page = $11.86
Net Profit = $14.33

Unwritten Rules:
125,161 impressions;  57 clicks @ $.17 = $9.69 cost; 5 sales @ $2.74 profit = $13.60
Plus 1 sale of Small Town Christmas Tales, which I have to attribute to increased visibility @ $2.06 profit
Plus 4,254 KENP pages read = $21.27
Net Profit = $40.80

Total Profit for the week: $52.66

I was pretty darned thrilled with that, so I decided to keep the ads going. However, the impressions and clicks slowed considerably and sales dropped from 4 a day to 0 on March 31st, as if I'd discontinued the ads. I waited a full week with very little activity, except for a large number of KENP pages read (presumably by KU subscribers who had picked the books up the previous week.) 

On April 7th, I decided to try adding a few more keywords. The impressions, clicks, and sales picked up again. 

Here are the totals for the first three weeks:
Boiling Point:
129,558 impressions; 72 clicks @ $.16 = $11.26 cost; 6 sales @ $2.74 profit = $16.44
Plus 5,309 KENP pages read = $26.55
Net Profit = $31.73

Unwritten Rules:
129,683 impressions; 86 clicks @ $.19 = $16.34 cost; 10 sales @ $2.74 profit = $27.40
Plus 1 sale of Small Town Christmas Tales @ $2.06 profit
Plus 7,803 KENP pages read = $39.02
Net Profit = $52.30

From all this, I have drawn the following conclusions:
1. Keywords make all the difference.
2. Amazon metrics show me which keywords are producing the most clicks and the most sales so I can adjust accordingly. 
3. I will probably have to make constant additions and adjustments to keep sales coming.
4. Amazon ads are much more effective for an unknown author like me if the books are part of the Kindle Unlimited program. Readers are more likely to take a chance if they don't feel like they're paying for the book--even if they are.
5. Unwritten Rules sells better than Boiling Point. This may be because it's the first book in the series, or it may be due to a more attractive cover or blurb. I'll have to give this some thought. One of the benefits of being an indie is being able to tinker with any aspect of the book whenever I decide to.

So. there you have it. Whew!


Jannine Gallant said...

Really interesting. I just checked, and your books are at full price. Have you thought about putting one of them on sale to see what the outcome would be? It definitely seems to be working, even if it is time consuming to keep adding key words. Thanks for sharing! As for the covers, The first and third books have more visually stimulating backgrounds. I wonder if Boiling Point would attract more attention if you went with an eye-cathing background behind the legs. Maybe the old mansion where the story takes place would be a good choice...sort of mysterious.

Brenda Whiteside said...

Love this info Alison. Are you able to get all this data because the books are self-published or is it a benefit of running the ad? I've done a couple of Amazon giveaways but not had that kind of data available from that.

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, when I did my first ad experiment in February, I put both books on sale at $.99, so I couldn't put them on sale again. I was reasonably pleased with the outcome of the current experiment, especially since the books were at full price. Interestingly, I had started working on the cover for Boiling Point with the idea of using the mansion in the background, but none of the images I found looked good with the legs. I might try looking for a more distant view of a mansion and see how that works. The main issue was the seated position of the figure. It's worth a shot.

Alison Henderson said...

Brenda, the actual daily sales figures are available because the books are self-published in the KDP and KU programs, but I think the ad information (impressions, clicks, resulting sales) is available to every advertiser. The problem I see with that is they only report sales that come directly from a buyer clicking on an ad and making a purchase at that time. They don't take into account any sales of additional books or KENP pages read, and that's where most of my $ seems to come from. If I consider only the sales they report as directly connected, I've still made a profit, but much slimmer.

Phyllis E said...

Thanks, Alison, for laying this out (and for being a guinea pig).

I'm sharing this with a number of my virtual indie author friends.

Jannine Gallant said...

What about something like this: I couldn't resist doing a little searching, and it would look like your woman was sitting on the brick drive once you added her.

Alison Henderson said...

Phyllis, I hope your friends find the info useful!

Alison Henderson said...

Jannine, that mansion looks EXACTLY like the one in the book! I've sent you a mock-up using that image to your email. I'm not sure exactly how I feel about it, but I'd love to hear what you think.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Oh my, the tinkering involved in this biz. Boggles the mind! My orange tree is festooned with blossoms right now, drawing a slew of bees. We authors are trying to draw bees/readers too. Keywords make our books smell good, but how do we get the bees/readers to alight/click? Such a big challenge...thanks for your take on it, Alison.

Alison Henderson said...

Rolynn, I keep fiddling. (And my orange tree is festooned with blossoms, too!)

Diane Burton said...

Your information is great, Alison. I'm amazed at what you can learn. Good to know. Although I like the mansion picture Jannine sent, I can't see your heroine lying on the driveway. I don't seem to have the imagination. LOL

Leah St. James said...

Alison, thanks so much for this great detail! You've given me much to think about! Will you be trying more FB ads in the future, or do you think Amazon is the best way to go? Thanks again!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Good information. It is a huge, whew, though keeping track of all that. Go you for making a profit. I'll have to try your strategies with the indie I have out. Thanks for sharing. Gotta go check out Jannine's mansion suggestion.

Alison Henderson said...

Diane, there's even more information available, but I didn't have space to go into it. Amazon's metrics show me exactly how many impressions, clicks, and sales each keyword has produced. I haven't yet figured out how to use that information to do a better job refining my choices--so far it looks pretty random. I agree about Jannine's mansion photo--it's perfect--but I tried it out with the figure in front, and the end result was a little odd. How disappointing.

Alison Henderson said...

Leah, I plan to do FB ads in the future, but they work best if you have something specific to advertise: a sale, a giveaway, etc. I can run the Amazon ads indefinitely and probably will for a while.

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, Amazon provides a lot of data. The challenge is figuring out how to use it to your advantage.

Alicia Dean said...

Wow, impressive that you were able to gather all this data. It's amazing what a difference the key words made. SO, you just added the NAMES of the authors who were in the Customer also bought list? (I mean, in addition to the key words you'd already used). This is definitely worth experimenting with. Is it complicated to run an Amzaon ad? I've never done a FB ad either, but I think it's time I checked into both. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with us!

Alison Henderson said...

Alicia, Amazon ads are even easier than FB. They prompt you through the whole process, and all you really have to do is come up with a short (they have a character limit) blurb and keywords. Using author names seems to work pretty well. I've had the most clicks and buys off "Janet Evanovich." I started out with a $.25 per click bid, but I don't think I've had any go that high. Most seem to average around $.17 to $.20.

Alicia Dean said...

Ah, okay. Excellent. I'm not sure I understand the bids for the clicks, but I'm sure I'll figure that out. Thanks again!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Wow. all very interesting and helpful, Alison. I may try a facebook ad. Especially with my new series coming out soon. Thanks!!!

Alison Henderson said...

Vonnie, I've only done boosted posts on FB. I think if you do an actual ad, you can more closely define your target audience. I need to try that one of these days. If you do one for your new series, be sure to let us know how it works.

Andrea Downing said...

Gracious Alison. so now we have to be mathematicians, linguists and actuaries as well as writers. This is good info--I'll be passing this on to the gals in my forthcoming anthology.

Alison Henderson said...

Andi, I hope it helps!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Just checked out the house. Yeah, I would definitely use that. You could do so much with that cover, Alison.

Alison Henderson said...

Margo, I ADORE the house. It looks exactly like the one in my book. The problem is finding a way to use the figure with it that works. Since the "legs and gun" female figure is the unifying element in the series covers, I need to include it.

Barbara Edwards said...

Thanks for sharing. I'm saving the info for my next release.