Amazon Advertising – How authors can make sense of a Sales Report

If you don’t know by now, Amazon advertising is the most powerful ecommerce engine available to consumers and retailers alike. 

In a typical month, Amazon can get up to 3 billion visits. Even though not every 3 billion visitors are looking for books, stop and think about how absolutely staggering that number is.

At Made for Success, we are focused on helping our authors catch the Amazon wave when they publish their books. For that reason, we’ve created our Amazon Optimized Book Publishing program which is designed to set up authors for the maximum sales return on Amazon as well as growing the influential status of their book long-term.

But as we’ve gone through this process, we’ve been learning along the way with our authors. One thing that we’ve learned is how to make sense of the attribution of our Amazon advertising sales reports.

A Story on Sales Reports

This actually all started a couple of weeks ago with an exchange that I had with one of our authors. 

I had just wrapped up a long and fearsome tennis match with a friend and we were both enjoying some delicious french pressed coffee. What better way to unwind than getting all wound up on caffeine?!

While we sipped, my phone began vibrating off the hook (or out of my pocket, as it were). It was a flurry of text messages from one of our new first-time authors. She is an accomplished attorney and highly gifted writer! 

The nature of her communication was to make sense of her weekly report from Made for Success, which contains a section that summarizes her Amazon advertising performance.

“What exactly do I take away from this report?”

“Why are the clicks higher than my book’s sales units?”

“What should I be focusing my attention on?

What great questions! This exchange became the genesis for a quick course in Amazon ad attribution for us both.

Amazon Ad Attribution for Authors

I challenge you to find better alliteration than that heading above! But in all seriousness, our author was drilling in on the importance of Amazon ad attribution.

Attribution, in a nutshell, is how we measure specific ad performance and align it with how many books were sold as a result of an ad.

Our Amazon ad sales reports will break down a few key metrics; I’ll show you those here:

Where does your attention go first when you look at the Amazon Advertising chart at the top of the page? These are the key areas we summarize:

  • Impressions (how many people have seen your ad)
  • Clicks (how many clicks did we get on the ad total)
  • Click-through rate or CTR (ratio of clicks to impression)
  • Made for Success’ benchmark average, which is .28%
  • Orders (number of orders placed, directly from these clicks)
  • Average orders/click % (ratio of clicks to orders)

With this in mind, here are a few common FAQ’s that I think should help understand how the Amazon Advertising weekly reports measure success more effectively.

Why so many impressions and so few clicks?

The short answer is that an impression is far from a sale. It’s also why you should be wary of any agency promising you X amount of “views” (which are basically impressions).

Impressions are destined to always be larger in quantity than clicks. Even a .5% clickthrough rate is considered remarkable, especially in an eCommerce platform like Amazon.

Which brings me to the next FAQ…

Why aren’t all the people who click on my ad buying my book?

Let’s talk about click-through rate (CTR). Plain and simple, we are targeting people who are at different stages of the sales process or may be different personas entirely.

Beyond our ad targeting, these are dozens of factors that can affect a book’s click-through-rate such as:

  • Compelling title
  • Enticing cover art 
  • Interesting subject matter
  • Price
  • Competition

The most optimized campaign in the world can’t sell a product that people glaze over when they see.

It’s normal to have a CTR that’s below 1%. Which is a great segway into the next FAQ…

What is a normal CTR and a normal conversion rate

Click Through Rate: Every campaign and every niche are going to be different. But a healthy CTR is anything between .3% and .5%. 

Conversion Rate: A healthy conversion rate (which is basically our orders to clicks ratio) is anything 2% and over.

The name of the game is to purchase massive ad impressions and optimize ad buys on a weekly basis. We work to get the best yield we can on each ad placement.

How do I increase my Conversion Rate

These are the most tried and true ways to increase your conversion rate: 

  • Better targeting of keywords
  • Target better competitive books that are similar to yours
  • A better book description and cover 
  • Outbid your competitors for ad space

Of course, we believe in a measured approach and don’t believe you need to completely outspend your competitors to see solid results.

Amazon Ads versus Facebook

This question probably merits its own post, but I’ll put it in simple terms here.

You cannot target similar authors and books on Facebook… but you can on Amazon.

Facebook doesn’t have nearly the same level of available targeting criteria for authors that Amazon does. Amazon, at its core, is a bookseller.

You can input competitive books, which allows you to drill down like crazy into a specific audience for a book, author, or genre.

Getting the Most Out of Amazon Ads

The Made for Success weekly sales summaries are meant to give you a snapshot of ad performance, but know that we are always working to optimize our authors’ ad campaigns and increase that performance week over week.

The best ad campaigns are the ones that get iteratively better over time, and it’s entirely expected that we will have a little bit of an upfront “learning” phase for the campaign as we make refinements and cull our targeting criteria.
If you ever have questions about what your sales report is telling you, we’re here to help. You can click here to get in touch with us.