Previously, we covered the difference between Google and Amazon keywords, as well as which ad placements can be keyword targeted (Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands). In this post, we’ll go deeper into how to choose the right keywords when setting up a campaign for the first time.

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Why such an emphasis on keywords?

One of the primary actions that shoppers take when first landing on Amazon.com, is searching for a product. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that your products are showing up on search results pages via search advertising, where brands bid on keywords. Product targeting is also available for Sponsored Products campaigns, but we’ll get into that in another post. Subscribe now so you don’t miss out!

To make a strategic decision about keywords, you first need to gather context:

  • Align on brand and channel goals
  • Assess the landscape among which your brand and products exist
  • Segment your keywords by category, type, or use your own objective driven segmentation
  • Identify the ASINs to support with Amazon search ad campaigns and prioritize them by segment

Heads or tails?

Similar to SEO, Amazon search advertising has head keywords and long-tail keywords. However, on Amazon, the difference in search volume is often even more pronounced than on search engines.

When shoppers look for a product on Amazon, they tend to enter a general category term such as a product attribute that describes what they’re looking for, and then use filters in the left navigation panel to narrow down which product(s) to purchase.

This means that head keywords such as “shampoo,” “pens,” or “laundry detergent,” tend to be heavily used, where “floral shampoo” is going to be searched much less often. That said, running campaigns on tail keywords is still critical to make sure that you’re not missing out on conversions and handing them over to your competitors for free but the key here is following the 80/20 rule and focusing your efforts where they matter most – in the head.

So how do you target in a way that makes sense both for your brand’s share of voice and bottom line?

Auto vs. manual campaigns

Using manual and auto campaigns strategically helps you maximize reach while also making efficient use of your time.

A good foundation to start with is this: Use manual campaigns to manage and optimize your head keywords and then create auto-campaigns to pick up the tail.

  • Manual campaigns give you more control. We suggest creating single ASIN and single keyword exact targeted campaigns, for each of your biggest keywords. This will provide you the clearest insight of how you are performing on the keywords that matter most, and provide fine control over the bulk of your Sponsored Ads spend and sales. And using exact targeting means you don’t need to use negative keywords, which lets you avoid having your CPCs needlessly inflated by the broad targeting on Amazon.
  • Auto-campaigns will make sure you’re not missing out on traffic from your lesser-searched or lesser-relevant tail keywords. They also help pick up a significant volume of cheap click inventory in Sponsored Products shovelers (the ribbons of Sponsored Products that you see on Product Display and Thank You Pages, etc). We recommend scheduling auto campaigns for every replenishable ASIN you want to sell, keeping the bids low so they provide efficient reach.

Pro tip: Coming soon is a post all about optimizing your keywords. If you haven’t already, subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss it!

Campaign strategies

We recommend setting up separate Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands (formerly Headline Search Ads) campaigns for non-branded, branded, and competitive conquesting keyword campaigns.

  • For non-branded terms: Manually take the top 20 terms that are important for your brand and create a different campaign for each ASIN (for Sponsored Products campaigns) or group of ASINs (for Sponsored Brands ads).
  • For branded terms: Include branded keywords if customers tend to search for your product’s name. It’s important to note that not every brand will have a heavy volume of branded traffic since some brands have not yet developed true brand intent. This is another reason why it’s vital to understand the basics of your brand’s position in the marketplace before running Sponsored Ads campaigns.
  • For conquesting competitor terms: Competitor terms can often be expensive and convert at relatively low rate, but it is still important to include them in your keyword strategy. That’s because even if your brand bids on the keywords and does not win, it still applies upward pressure on your competition forcing their bids higher. This leaves them with less budget to compete on those valuable non-branded terms.

Pro tip: Subscribe to our blog for upcoming posts on strategies for Sponsored Brands campaigns.

Amazon search results page Share of Voice

Competition is fierce on Amazon, and that goes for keyword bidding as well. Make sure you are tracking who else is advertising on your high priority keywords and how you stack-up. The more you can be attentive to your keywords’ performance, what your Sponsored Ad investments looks like in Amazon SERP and how your competition compares, the better you’ll be able to adjust your strategy and profitably drive share on the Amazon.

Pro tip: Need help tracking your share of voice on Amazon’s search results pages? Request a demo and see how Downstream can automate this otherwise manual and subjective process.

By now it should be clear just how important keywords are in putting your ads in front of potential customers. Choosing the right ones may seem easy, but make sure you put in the time up front to pinpoint your brand’s main opportunities, challenges, and position within the marketplace to increase your RoAS.

Next, you’ll need to optimize, test, and optimize some more. Lucky for you, we’re diving deep into keyword strategies in an upcoming post. Subscribe now so you don’t miss it!

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