How to Optimize Headline Search Ads on Amazon

You’ve taken the first steps to start growing your business on Amazon, but you know there’s room to improve: not just selling through Amazon, but advertising and becoming a real player on the platform. It’s a good idea—proper use of Amazon Marketing Services is an incredibly effective way of driving sales through the site. Amazon Headline Search Ads are one of the advertising campaign types offered through AMS that showcase your brand and products at the top of search results pages. Those that take the time to optimize Headline Search Ads see more sales and higher returns on their investments.

Optimize Headline Search Ads

Headline Search Ads use to only be available to first-party vendors, but in 2017, Amazon opened it up to 3P sellers through Seller Central. This means there is more competition for keywords and the need to optimize your campaigns is even more important. Here are 5 tips for optimizing your Amazon Headline Search Ad campaigns:

#1: Keywords

The effectiveness of Headline Search Ads stems from their placement above search results for a keyword or set of keywords. Of course, for your ad to show up, you have to target the keywords being searched. How do you maximize these searches?

First, don’t limit yourself. Use at least 25 keywords, and up to 50 if there are enough relevant keywords that fit your budget strategy. Expand the list as you figure out more relevant ones. Then, while making this keyword list, remember that it’s easy to forget the more subtle ways keywords can target your ads and get more hits.

Types of Keywords to Use:

  • Branded product keywords. These keywords target your specific brand name, product name(s), and common variations on their spellings. Targeting your own brand name ensures competitors aren’t using the Headline Search Ad area to advertise to your loyal customers. It also gives you the opportunity to provide a more immersive brand experience.
  • Competitor branded keywords. Use your direct competitors’ brand and product names as keywords. This gives you exposure to shoppers that might not know your brand. You also give shoppers the opportunity to consider your products during their purchasing decision.
  • Complementary product keywords. Target products that are not the same as what you sell, but are often sold alongside your product. For example, companies that make hand wraps for boxers would want to use several varieties of boxing gloves as keywords.
  • Sponsored Product Campaign keywords. Your Sponsored Product Automatic Targeting Campaigns will generate keywords that most commonly lead customers to your products. Determine what keywords are the more profitable for your Sponsored Products and use them for targeting Headline Search Ads.
  • Out of category keywords. If you can find other products that don’t fit in the category of what you sell, but are related enough that buyers may be interested in your product if they saw it, then use those keywords to your advantage. These keywords may have fewer clicks, but your competitors might not use them at all, giving you an advantage. This tactic is good for new product types that people aren’t searching for, but would be interested in if they’re searching for another related product.

Amazon will also suggest keywords as you type them in. Take advantage of this feature to use keywords you may not have considered. However, don’t just take them as they come—each suggested keyword has an indicator of how much traffic it gets. Since AMS ad products use auction-based pricing, the more heavily-searched keywords will cost more for your ad to show up. Balance the cost of the higher traffic keywords versus the impressions and decide what makes sense for your company.

#2: Use Audience-Directed Language and Actionable Phrases

This is a relatively simple idea, but a very effective tip to optimize Headline Search Ads. Instead of an ad that tells customers what your product is, use wording that you would say to them face-to-face.

For example, imagine seeing the ad “We Have The Longest Lasting Fluorescent Light Bulbs” somewhere in the physical world. It sounds like something you’d only see on a sign in a store window, right? On the other hand, if the message is, “Our Fluorescent Bulbs Last Ten Times Longer,” that’s something a salesman would tell a customer face-to-face. It’s even better if your message uses “you” in it—”You’ll Save $100 Per Year With Fluorescent Bulbs” speaks directly to the customer and their probable desire to save money.

Finally, use actionable phrases as often as possible. These are phrases designed to improve click-throughs by giving people a reason to visit your landing page. Some good actionable phrases for HSAs are “Explore”, “Get X% Off”, and almost anything that includes the word “Free”.

#3: Make Campaigns Relevant To Your Product

There are a plethora of examples of items which have very little in common in the real world, but could very easily wind up on each other’s search results: paper towels, dish towels, and bath towels, or ski gloves and work gloves. You want to make sure that your ad campaign targets people looking for your specific offerings.

The main way to do this is to be specific in your ads. If you sell skiing equipment and have an ad for gloves, make sure it says you’re selling ‘ski gloves’. However, using your brand name is just as important, and sometimes obviates the need to be ultra-specific. North Face, for example, can put their name on an ad (“North Face Gloves”) and know that people will connect their gloves with cold-weather activities. And if you’re still building brand recognition, do both: ‘Get Your Newbie Brand Ski Gloves On Sale’ shows exactly what you’re selling and connects your company with that product type in customers’ minds.

#4: Never Stop Running Campaigns

A great deal of old advertising knowledge has been washed away in the online world, but at least one thing remains true: the consistency of your advertising is paramount. Unless you have very solid data to indicate you should only run HSA campaigns at certain times of the year (or, say, you’re a Valentine’s Day-specific company), keep them going year round to increase your visibility. People who see your name on ads in August and September will remember that when it comes time to do Christmas shopping, and there’s always a reason (Prime Day, anyone?) to have ads on the site.

And while you’re running year round…

#5: Never Stop Testing & Always Optimize Headline Search Ads

Play with your advertisements. Once you have baseline metrics for different points in the year, make changes to the ads to see what gets more attention. Alter the ad headline and image, the ASINs in the ad, or what customers see on your landing pages. Do, at minimum, A/B testing—run multiple campaigns simultaneously, changing one variable at a time and letting it run for 2-4 weeks to see if there are any substantive changes in your data. Treat that time frame as a minimum; if, for example, you’ve started seeing better click-through rates in the last two days, you can run the test longer to see if it continues or if it was just a data blip. You can’t run a test forever, but more data is always good.

Using these tips, you can optimize Headline Search Ads and get the most out of each advertising dollar you spend on Amazon.

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