Become a Writer Today

What Is the Future for Amazon Ads and Can It Help You Sell More Copies of Your Book? With Alex Strathdee

November 11, 2021 Bryan Collins Season 2
Become a Writer Today
What Is the Future for Amazon Ads and Can It Help You Sell More Copies of Your Book? With Alex Strathdee
Show Notes Transcript

Alex Strathdee is the founder of Advanced Amazon Ads as well as a best-selling Amazon author. 

I've used Amazon ads since 2016 to sell non-fiction books. Back when I started using Amazon ads, it was straightforward to get them working. Over the years, Amazon ads have become far more competitive. It's impossible to get the same return for the same budget, and the platform has changed. 

I wanted to talk to somebody who could talk me through what type of Amazon ad campaigns are working and how to use them to sell more copies of my back catalog. 

Alex also talks about the platform's future, and if you want to sell more copies of your book, Amazon ads work particularly well for non-fiction.

In this episode, we discuss:

  • The number one thing that Amazon Ad novices should do
  • Amazon Ads don't have to be expensive. Start with the basics
  • How to track your spend and sales
  • What kind of budget gets good results
  • Are Amazon Ads more profitable for fiction or non-fiction?

Resources:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/becomeawritertoday)

Alex: If you’re really into numbers and you’re really tracking things and you’re a fiction author who knows what their lifetime value of a reader is or you’re a non-fiction author and you know what the lifetime value of your customer is because you’re also driving people to a backend course or a coaching program or even public speaking, if you know those numbers, then that’s what you should be making decisions based on.

Introduction. Welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast with Bryan Collins. Here, you’ll find practical advice and interviews for all kinds of writers.

Bryan: How can Amazon ads help you sell more copies of your book and what does the future of the platform look like? Hi, there. My name is Bryan Collins and welcome to the Become a Writer Today podcast.

My guest this week is Alex Strathdee. He’s the founder of Advanced Amazon Ads and he’s also a best-selling Amazon author. Now, I’ve used Amazon ads since 2016 or 2017 to sell my non-fiction books. Back when I started using Amazon ads, it was really easy to get them working. Basically, I spent about an hour or two each week setting up new campaigns, turning off old ones, and researching keywords for my ads, and because so few big publishers were on the platform, I was able to sell copies of books like The Power of Creativity and my series of writing books on a budget of $5 or $10 a day per ad set. 

Over the years, Amazon ads has gotten a lot more competitive. It’s not possible to get the same return on books for the same budget and, in fact, when I logged into the platform recently, I was surprised by how much it had changed. So I wanted to talk to somebody who could talk me through what type of Amazon ad campaigns are working and how I could use them to sell more copies of my back catalogue and also how I can use Amazon ads to sell copies of my parenting memoir which I’m in the final stages of editing.

In this week’s interview, Alex also talks about the future of the platform and that was one of my key takeaways from this week’s interview. Yes, ads are important. If you want to sell more copies of your book, you can use Amazon ads, they work particularly well for nonfiction; you can use Facebook ads, which work for fiction and nonfiction; and you can also use BookBub ads as well. I haven’t used much of those type of ads before but Amazon ads I’ve had good success with. However, if you want to earn more money from your writing, from your books, and from all of your activities online, then think about the lifetime value of a reader, fan, or follower. 

In other words, if somebody buys one of your books, that’s great, you’ll get a couple of dollars, but what if they go on to buy three or four books in your series? Then that reader is worth a lot more to you than somebody who’s bought one book. The same applies if you’re writing nonfiction, so if you publish a nonfiction book, have a strong call to action at the start of the book that directs your readers to a landing page on your website or your blog and then you can give something away for free so they opt in to join your e-mail list and then perhaps they’ll buy one of your courses, which could retail for several hundred dollars, they could take a coaching program out with you, or they could buy another digital product that you’ve created.

Now, here’s what I did. So, I wrote a three-part series about creativity, the book is called The Power of Creativity, and I sold copies of that book using Amazon ads but I also gave away the first book in this series for free and, to this day, it still gets several hundred downloads each week from across the world. Some of those readers go on to buy book two and book three in the series or they buy the entire compilation.

Others click on the call to action at the front of that book to join my e-mail list. I also have a free book of writing prompts which I give away on Amazon, it’s called Yes, You Can Write, and people who buy or download Yes, You Can Write see a call to action to visit my website and to opt in to my e-mail list and then I’ll offer them book two in the series and book three and, again, they may go on to buy these books or they might not or they may go on to buy a digital course that I’ve created or some other product or service. 

So, if you want to earn more money from writing books, consider what you can give away for free so you can encourage some readers to join your e-mail list, because then you own the relationship with them. Think of it this way, when somebody is on Amazon, your book is in competition with all of the other books that Amazon is displaying and even if Amazon e-mails out a “We think you should buy this book” e-mail, there’s still lots of other books in that e-mail that could potentially claim your readers’ attention over your work. On the other hand, with your e-mail list, you can communicate directly with your readers about what you’re writing and what you’re doing and you can even sell directly to your readers over your e-mail list as well, potentially earning even more money.

Now, the tool I use for my e-mail list is ConvertKit and ConvertKit enables you to also build landing pages. If you also want a dedicated landing page builder, another tool worth checking out is Leadpages and I’ve used that for some of the lead magnets on my site but, basically, it all comes down to having a strategy for self-publishing. In other words, don’t think just about writing one book, think about where the book fits in an overarching series or where the book sits in your ecosystem of digital products and digital services, because, chances are, if you’re gonna do this full time and if you want to earn a good living from it, you’re going to create something else, you’re going to write something else, and you’re going to release something else out into the world, so how can you let your readers, fans, and followers know about it?

If you’ve got questions, please reach out to me on Twitter, it’s @bryanjcollins. If you enjoy the show or this week’s interview with Alex, please consider becoming a Patreon supporter. For just a couple of dollars a month, I’ll give you discounts on my writing courses, software, and books. Or you can consider leaving a short review on iTunes or simply sharing the show on Overcast, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you’re listening, because more reviews and more ratings would help more people find the Become a Writer Today podcast.

Now, let’s go over to this week’s interview with Alex.

Alex: Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Bryan.

Bryan: I was excited to talk to you. I’ve ran Amazon ads for, God, five years now. I mastered the way the platform works, stopped using Amazon ads and I logged in a few weeks ago to find it was all changed. So, I’m a beginner again so I’m gonna ask for your help and pick your brain, but before we get into any of that, could you maybe give listeners a flavor for who you are and how you set up your company?

Alex: Yeah, great question, and, yeah, your story is not unlike most. It’s — yeah, you tried it at one point, then you logged back in, sometimes it seems like even just a week later now and Amazon has changed everything. But I started off, actually, as an author. I like to say never trust someone who doesn’t walk with a limp and so I’m that author who walked with a limp.
 
We ran ads and we learned how not to do them, to begin with, and, through trial and error, started to get some ads that worked really well and then a few authors took note of that and, just through word of mouth over the past two years, we took on more and more books until we’ve now worked on over 200 books and overseeing $300,000 in ad spend. So, it’s been quite the journey and it’s been awesome because it’s all just been through word of mouth and I have such a passion for working with authors and so it’s been a real nice journey.

Bryan: That’s an impressive budget that you spent on Amazon. When I started using Amazon ads, one of the big challenges was getting Amazon to spend my budget every day so I had between $10 and $100 per ad and, I mean, they would rarely spend all that. Is that still the case?

Alex: There’s a lot of myths out there, yeah, and that’s — one of them is that you can just put in a $100 budget for your campaign per day and people expect that that’s gonna do better than if you put a $20 budget and that’s just not the case. So, yes, it’s — hopefully, we can debunk some of the myths along the way here but it is definitely one of those things where there’s no tricks to it. It’s just a matter of consistency, time, effort and month-over-month consistency is really the main thing and that’s how you get Amazon to spend your money. You don’t do it just by throwing money at Amazon ads because it just won’t work. That’s just not a strategy that’s ever going to work.

Bryan: I logged into my Amazon dashboard last week, archived all my old ads because they haven’t been running for quite some time, and I set up some new ads, auto display, is that the correct approach, or would you have another strategy for listeners?

Alex: The number one thing for the novice or someone who’s just getting started with their ads is, yeah, just set up some auto — you’re talking auto-sponsored campaigns?

Bryan: Yep.

Alex: Yep, just get those setup and don’t, you know, you don’t even have to use custom text, standard text is fine, especially if you’re a non-fiction author, your book title should do a good job at getting across that message anyway and you can spend way more time on your targeting than the blurbs. Fiction authors, obviously, it’s a little different. You’re gonna want maybe some custom text in there because it’s a little harder to, for readers, to see your title and kind of get a grasp for it but, yeah, that’s the number one thing, Bryan, is just get in there and set up your auto campaigns.

Bryan: You mentioned targeting. The way targeting works had changed as well so what I did is I went through old ads and picked out some keywords that had worked well and I tried to figure out an approach to targeting based on that. Is that the way to do it or do you have another strategy?

Alex: Yeah, how is that going so far? Have you been able to get some impressions, some clicks from those same keywords, or what have you found with those same keywords?

Bryan: Oh, I only set up the ads last Friday so I got an e-mail from Amazon yesterday saying I needed to increase my budget so I’m gonna log in this evening and see what it says.

Alex: It must be getting some clicks then if that’s the case, ’cause Amazon wouldn’t send that unless you were getting some spend so that’s good to hear. The bids that worked about, you know, a year ago or even two years ago are no longer going to work today and so there’s a couple different strategies you can employ. 

A bunch of different strategies out there are from various Amazon advertising experts who have been doing this for a long time, there’s many different strategies, and we can go into different things but, yeah, I mean the core to start off with is look at what’s worked in the past and build off of that. I mean, that is your number one guiding light is to look at the keywords that have converted for you and use those to build out your new campaigns.

Bryan: If somebody’s listening to this, they’re thinking, “I’ve never used Amazon ads before, this all sounds very expensive,” what would you say?

Alex: I would say start with the basics. There’s no need to spend a — I mean, Bryan, I know you have some amazing resources out there for authors, you know, whether it’s courses, different things, and there’s some other people that have some great courses. I would recommend — I’m sure you’re familiar, Bryan, with Dave Chesson. He has a great intro Amazon ads course and, although that’s not going to put you above the 99 percent, it is going to get you started and so that is my favorite free resource that I tell authors to go look at just to get an understanding of, “Okay, I click here to do this, I click here to do this.” 

It’s not gonna teach you strategy, it’s more so just a how-to guide to click things but, I mean, Bryan, going back to what you did first, it’s that auto campaign, that’s the easiest thing, it’s the low-hanging fruit, it is the nice slice of chocolate cake at the end of the day that you get to enjoy and there’s not too much work that has to go into that chocolate cake like that is a campaign that you should definitely get going first and I would recommend to the first-time advertiser who gets in there.

Bryan: What about some of the other campaign options? I experimented with Lockscreen Ads in the past. I found them quite hard to track in terms of sales and reporting so I stopped using them but I was listening to a podcast interview from somebody who’s using Lockscreen Ads and he recommended them. Do they now work? Are they viable?

Alex: Yeah. I’m curious as to who it was unless you wanna call it out, but who it was that recommended them?

Bryan: It was an author called David Kadavy. He’s been on the podcast before. He’s recently published a book called The Zettelkasten Method and he uses Amazon ads quite a lot to promote his non-fiction books so it was interesting to me because I write non-fiction rather than fiction so I was interested to see how he was getting on with Lockscreen Ads, but he said that they helped him sell quite a few copies.

Alex: Wow, that’s interesting. Yes, I mean, I guess I’ll give a two-prong answer to that. The first thing is, and as I recommend, try everything. What works for one author is going to work entirely different for another author. 

Now, with Lockscreen Ads, here is why I personally don’t recommend people run them is because, one, Amazon is still going to charge you for a click even if a Kindle is offline so when you’re running Lockscreen Ads, you’re, you know, appearing on someone’s Kindle page when it’s just sort of sitting around and when that Kindle isn’t connected to Wi-Fi and someone clicks on that ad, Amazon still tracks that click but they won’t actually — it won’t be taking anyone to your book and so it’s kind of a faulty system there and it’s just gonna rack up spend without actually converting anyone to your product page. 

The second reason why I don’t like Lockscreen Ads is it totally takes away from the advantage of Amazon advertising. So, lock screen advertising is pattern interruption. That’s the same thing with Facebook ads where you are not on Facebook to buy something, you’re on Facebook to look at pictures of your grandkids or you’re there to interact in your favorite dog lovers local group, right? 

We all have those Facebook groups we love but that is pattern interruption advertising. On Amazon, the wonderful thing about Amazon advertising is it’s not pattern interruption. People are on Amazon to buy stuff. They’re not on there for other purposes. And when you use Lockscreen Ads, you’re actually reverting back to pattern interruption advertising where people are actually now, you know, in the middle of reading their book or they’re picking up their Kindle, they’re not hopping on that Kindle to buy something, they’re on there to read something and so that is why I personally recommend staying away from Lockscreen Ads but, at the end of the day, you never know what’s gonna work for your book and there are cases out there where Lockscreen Ads have done really well for some people so that’s just my two cents on the topic.

Bryan: When I was using ads in the past, the reporting was quite difficult to understand. It would take several days for the ACoS score to update so what I ended up doing is use a spreadsheet to track the sales manually versus my ad spend and work out a conversion rate. Is ACoS score and some of those other metrics on the dashboard still slow to update based on ads?

Alex: There’s — so, yes, they’re absolutely still slow. You can’t expect a reliable reporting within the past 7 to 14 days. You just can’t. I’ve even seen past 30 days Amazon make adjustments so, yes, they’re still slow. 

There’s two camps out there and depends on how much of a rabbit hole you wanna go down here, Bryan, but there’s two camps out there who some say that the AMS dashboard is completely reliable and then there’s some that say that it is not reliable at all and, regardless of which camp you’re in, yes, still do not make any decisions on your ads within the past 14 days if you’re looking at the data of your AMS account.

Bryan: And when I am ready to make a decision based on the ad performance, should I still be checking my actual sales on the sales dashboard rather than what’s on the ad dashboard?

Alex: Yeah, on your KDP dashboard? Is that what you’re —

Bryan: Yeah.

Alex: Yes. Here’s what I would recommend is, so, again, going back to the two camps here and this is sort of the one that I fall under. So, if your ads are doing well enough in Amazon, you have a high enough conversion rate where Amazon sees, “Yes, this is a book that when people see it, they wanna buy it,” Amazon will actually start to promote that in their newsletters. You know, we all receive e-mails from Amazon saying, “Hey, buy this,” and Amazon also has other advertising distribution networks so when Amazon starts to see that your product has a high conversion rate, they’ll start to organically push that product themselves and so that is why I know there’s many authors out there who, on their KDP side of things, they’re like, “Wow, I’m getting so many sales but I’m not seeing these sales on my AMS dashboard,” so then they equate that that AMS dashboard is actually faulty when, instead, it’s just a matter of Amazon is actually just pushing it organically and, yeah, those sales aren’t coming from the ads but because you have such a great conversion rate and Amazon thinks you have a great product, it’s gonna push your book. 

So, it’s a sort of an interesting conundrum there. Some people equate it to, “No, those sales are definitely coming from the ads themselves,” and so they equate the AMS dashboard to being inconsistent so it just depends on which camp you fall into, but when it comes to — if you’re going to make adjustments on your ads, you have to have some sort of reference point and so I like to look at the AMS dashboard as the, “Okay, should I keep this ad going or should I not keep this ad going?” because, at the end of the day, that’s the only data points you have regarding whether or not an ad has the metrics that you’re looking for.

Bryan: Okay, makes sense. So, if I’m ready to run Amazon ads, can I succeed with a couple of hundred dollars a month or if I have more money, can I spend more money? What’s the typical budget that your authors or clients are typically working with?

Alex: Great question. We usually recommend a $200 budget to start off with and that’s just gonna cover the test to run on getting ASIN campaigns up and going, category campaigns up and going, performance keyword campaigns up and going, and research campaigns up and going and so that $200 budget is just basically something you always wanna have all of your campaigns in a portfolio with a monthly budget because that is your one way to really say Amazon will have to spend if you hit this level. So, first of all, always make sure it’s in a portfolio and has that budget cap. 

And then from then on, it just depends. I mean, you know, we have authors who spend $2,000 a month on Amazon ads but, wow, their sales are $6,000, $7,000 so it makes a difference. They can afford to increase the spend because the sales are there to support it. So that’s how we do it. We like to do it incrementally and anyone out there who’s doing it themselves, I would recommend start with a $200 budget, make sure you have that portfolio cap on there, and then once Amazon starts to spend that money, look at the return you’re getting, you know, maybe your return, if you’re really into the numbers and you’re really tracking things and you’re a fiction author who knows what their lifetime value of a reader is or you’re a non-fiction author and you know what the lifetime value of your customer is because you’re also driving people to a backend course or a coaching program or even public speaking, if you know those numbers, then that’s what you should be making decisions based on. 

So, really, it just comes down to, you know, set a budget and then once you hit that budget, reassess, “Am I hitting the metrics I’m looking to?” and then you can decide whether or not you wanna increase that budget or if you wanna actually look for ways to cut spend within your campaigns, which there usually is always some keywords that are racking up the most amount of spend that you can cut. So, that’s what I’d recommend there.

Bryan: Makes sense. Are Amazon ads more successful for fiction authors or non-fiction authors or does it matter?

Alex: Yeah, great question. So, from what I’ve seen, in terms of the success being money that can possibly be made from Amazon advertising, non-fiction authors have an advantage because if you have a non-fiction author who sells a $10,000 backend coaching program from their book, their advertising cost is marginal compared to the lifetime value of their customer.
 
Well, let’s say it takes 10 readers to get one lead into their funnel and let’s say that their value per lead is around $250, you can equate that to every reader is worth $25 to them as opposed to, you know, let’s say you have a fiction author who has a read-through rate of — who has a seven-series book, they’re going to have a lot less money that can be made off of that, the value per reader could potentially be a lot lower than the non-fiction author. 

So, basically, it comes down to if you are a fiction author, make sure you have a series and I’m sure, Bryan, you preach this as well is the fiction author who writes one book, two books is not going to make money off their books. They need to have a series in there. But, overall, I think the nonfiction author has more to gain but if you are a fiction author, you can still win, you just need to make sure you have three plus books in your series.

Bryan: Okay, makes sense. When I was running Amazon ads previously, I spent a lot of time on reporting using a spreadsheet. It got to the point where I said that this isn’t why I wanted to write books so I reduced my spend on Amazon ads and accepted the drop in book sales. Is that something you help clients with to understand what value they’re getting from an advertising campaign?

Alex: Yeah, so that is where we live, that’s why we exist is authors didn’t start writing to become PPC specialists, and PPC, I mean pay per click, right? Like, Bryan, you enjoy writing, you don’t enjoy becoming a data scientist looking at this stuff all day long and that’s where I came in is I noticed that there was this gap where there wasn’t really any service out there that actually provided a service that went beyond just setting up a few campaigns and then, yeah, marginally making tweaks. 

No one was actually providing a service that actually went into the nitty-gritty of the data behind it and so that’s where, you know, we’ve been fortunate to build out a team who actually has time to do this month over month, to actually go in and make sure that you know your numbers and we actually have the target metrics that we need to be hitting and it’s all based on data, as opposed to gut feeling, which, unfortunately, is how a lot of authors run their campaigns. 

I mean, there’s some accounts that I’ve gotten into where I’ve seen spend upwards of $5,000 with absolutely no sales to back it up and it kills me because Jeff Bezos does not need any more of your money so like always a fan of doing things by the data and we have a lot of free resources on our website too, our blog, where we point out, we write about how to track your read-through rate, how to get your lifetime value of customer and then bring that all the way down to what is the value of a reader and so you actually know, okay, well, if I’m spending $1 per click, you know, that gives me a 50 percent margin or whatever have you. 

So, we wanna make sure that you understand your numbers and those were our favorite authors, the ones who were able to walk through and say, “Okay, here’s the actual value of your entire series,” as opposed to, “Here’s the — oh, wow, you’re losing money on this one book when, yeah, but if you look at the read-through rate, you know, book one through book seven, you’re actually doing quite well,” so, yeah, we like to make sure that our customers understand the value behind the campaigns and also that allows them to win. The person who knows their numbers is always going to be able to outbid the author who’s just trying to make money on one book alone, because once you understand the value of that click or the value of that reader, it allows you to actually be able to more strategically target what you need to be targeting.

Bryan: Speaking of targeting, do you have a preference for Kindle versus paperback versus audio?

Alex: Yeah, so audio, you know, you’re still not able to specifically advertise for the audio on the AMS platform but when it comes to — a big shift happened last year where Amazon said, “If you target the Kindle and only the Kindle, when someone clicks on your ad for the Kindle and buys a paperback, we’re not going to tell you that that paperback came from that ad,” and what that did is it made it a lot more difficult to be specific for the Kindle or the paperback.
 
Personally, I like to target both the Kindle and the paperback in every single ad just for tracking purposes. There are some people out there who do say that, yes, targeting the Kindle or targeting the paperback, they’re two different markets which, yes, I do agree with that to some extent but, at the end of the day, to me, it’s more important to get all of the tracking that comes along with running your campaign for either copy, because there’s a lot of times that someone will click on your paperback ad and buy the Kindle or someone will click on your Kindle ad and buy the paperback. 

To me, it’s more important to be able to see which campaigns are the performing campaigns or which targets are actually performing because if someone bought the paperback off one of those ads but you didn’t see that paperback and you shut off that keyword, you just shot yourself in the foot. So, that’s why I like to include both of those targeting. You know, I wish Amazon didn’t do that and I wish, you know, they just showed sales no matter what the product was that you selected but, unfortunately, we have to work with these overlords that sit above us called Jeff Bezos and all these data centers that make these decisions for us and we just kinda have to do what we can.

Bryan: Speaking of doing what you can, I understand you have proprietary software that helps with running your campaigns.

Alex: Yeah. In my previous life, I was a software engineer. So, I graduated and went to work for a tech company and it was wonderful but I was like, “Well, if I’m willing to work as hard for someone else, why not work as hard for myself?” so I had a little — and you understand this as a fellow entrepreneur as well, Bryan, and all of you readers out there, you know, that is not just — you begin not just to think of yourself as an author but as an author-preneur, really, and so one of the things that I did early on which allowed us to actually be able to take on more clients was scaling through technology. 

So, I built out a, using Python, I didn’t know Python at the time but I actually — and this is, I guess, a little more personal but I quit my job to go travel the world. I had free flights on my mom’s — she worked for American Airlines and so I was gonna go travel the world and that was my goal. 

This is why I quit my job, I was like, “There must be more to the world,” and then this little thing called COVID happened, Bryan, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it so traveling didn’t work out and the president at the time made a statement of, “Well, we’re closing the borders,” and I was one of those people in Europe at the time, getting a last-minute flight back to the US and it was actually on that flight back to the US that I wrote the code for the program. So, I love flying, I’ve always found it to be like one of the most focus-oriented time because there’s so few distractions, but, yeah, something good came out of a bad thing there, I guess, almost not being allowed back in the US and so, luckily, I was able to write the program. Took me about 11 hours and I was using something called Python.

Bryan: Was this before you started the business or afterwards?

Alex: This was early on. So, we took on — we had about — we’re working with around 10 authors at the time and I just thought, well, wouldn’t this be easier if I had a — I saw that there was an opportunity, knowing a couple of different things that you can do with different programming languages and different programs, I basically just saw the opportunity, I was like, well, hang on, this is a task that I could totally automate using Python and so, and I had a little background but, basically, just went heavy into learning exactly how to do that and it’s like one of my favorite things, I geek out of it. 

I geek about it sometimes. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Brian Meeks but he’s a good friend of mine and we’ll literally just sit on video calls sometimes and I’ll just show him my program run. It’s like — it’s magic. My laptop and mouse basically move around the screen without me clicking anything and it basically sets up all of my campaigns for me, which is fun. But, anyway, enough about me geeking out about technology.

Bryan: Oh, that’s impressive, because it can be quite time-consuming when you’re trying to do ads at scale. At one point, I had over 100 ads running but keeping track and setting them all up, it took an hour or two every other day to stay on top of them. So, where do you think Amazon ads are going? What’s the future of ads? 

Alex: Have you read anything by Russell Brunson, by chance?

Bryan: I’ve read some of his books about creating funnels and also creating digital products, but has he a new book related to books?

Alex: So, he has a book related to PPC platforms and he doesn’t talk about Amazon, per se. This is specifically in Traffic Secrets. It’s honestly been a game changer for my business and also just how I think about marketing, I can’t recommend that book enough, but within Traffic Secrets, he talks about how Facebook ads and Google ads have just gotten so expensive over the past few years and, earlier on, it was so easy, he talks about how he made potato cannons and he made a CD and sold a CD on Google about how to make potato cannons and it was so easy for him to make money in those early days and, Bryan, when you were advertising a few years ago, I’m sure you saw this on Amazon, it probably wasn’t as hard as it is today to get a return on those ads and it’s because, earlier on, the clicks were cheap. With all of these platforms, they started off where there is not as much competition, sort of a blue ocean, things are good. 

Now, Amazon is still maturing. I think we’ve hit sort of — if we were to equate it to human ages, I think we’ve hit those teen years, we’re no longer in those kid days where, you know, everything’s green and everything’s nice and beautiful and, you know, opportunities are endless. You know, we’ve hit those teen years where life is starting to hit a little hard now and you start to learn a little more about life and that’s where we are with Amazon PPC where, you know, the same way that Google got really expensive and Russell Brunson could no longer make money off his potato cannons because the cost per click had gotten so high and same thing with Facebook, the cost per click I’m sure for a lot of those out there who are Facebook advertisers, costs have only gotten more expensive. 

Amazon is that next platform to really mature in terms of the people who will continue to be able to make money on the Amazon advertising or people who really understand the value per customer. If you’re a fiction author, that’s value per reader, and if you’re a non-fiction author, then that’s the lifetime value of customer. 

And, as it’s matured, people have caught on so they understand the value of these things, of these readers, and so they’re always going to beat out everyone else in how much they’re able to bid for a click. And, over time, that only drives up clicks, the cost per click, and so that is where we are today is it’s still maturing, there’s still opportunity, I still have a lot of authors who do make money off of one book, but, over the next year or two, I think we’ll see a shift where authors — I’m in authors forums for hours per day and I see people constantly complaining about cost per click. 

They’re like, “Oh, you know, so and so’s course is out right now so everyone’s doing Amazon ads and that’s what’s making everything so expensive.” That’s not gonna go away and that’s where the reader who can continue to really make sure their book has great call to actions to backend, you know, items that allow the reader to go deeper with the content, those are the authors who are going to be able to continue to profitably advertise on Amazon.

Bryan: Okay, makes sense. So, do you believe a lot of the book publishers are now using Amazon ads as well? When I started, they weren’t really.

Alex: I think they’re getting wise to it. You would still be amazed and we have a lot of book publishers who actually white label our service, but traditional publishers, some of the modern publishers, they get it. They live in this new modern world, we work with a lot of really smart publishers, but the traditional guys are still very focused on very traditional marketing methods and maybe there is also some, you know, they’re like, “Oh, we should try this Amazon ads thing,” and because they’ve got deep pockets, they can just kinda throw $2, $3 clicks at things and not actually have an effective way to track or even be monitoring those ads so they might not be doing it efficiently and then, after a long time, they might just say, “Oh, well, we give up, this isn’t that effective,” so I don’t know that traditional publishers are necessarily really crowding out things too much at the moment but there are a lot of modern ones who I do think understand the value and they even push with their authors, they’re like, “Hey, you’re not going to make money on the book,” they build out the backend funnels. 

I mean, there’s someone who is a good friend of ours who helps authors, I don’t know if you know Kary Oberbrunner, he basically sets up on the backend of a book like 18 streams of income for authors to make so that way, the value of a reader is a whole lot more than just the reading of that book because people are always looking for opportunities to go deeper, deeper with content, you know, whether it’s, “Oh, I’ve read this book, I love your book, now I wanna be able to go deeper with you in this next path.” So, if you’re able to set those up, you don’t have to worry about the traditional publishers. Focus on what you can control, which is really making sure that you have a great value of lifetime or, you know, you know your value of the customer.

Bryan: My understanding that the best way to do that is to have a call to action at the start of the book that directs readers to a landing page where you offer, could be another book or an interview or some bonus related to what they’ve just read. Is that the strategy that you find is still working?

Alex: Yes, and I am actually releasing a book in early August. For anyone who’s a listener of Bryan’s show here, you’ll get this book for free. At the end, I can link out, like give you a website you can visit to get that book for free, but, basically, in that book, one of the main things that we talk about, so Pat Flynn launched a book, I believe it was 2016, it was Will It Fly? and in that book, he offered a complementary course at the beginning of that book that goes along with the book and it is so much value that people couldn’t help but go on and obviously become a lead and say, “Yes, here’s my e-mail address, can I get access to your course?” and so I think that you have to, you know, we’re getting to the point where you need to make sure your call to actions are so much value. 

I mean, this is Pat Flynn walking you through the book. I mean, what better opportunity to go through a book than to have the author complementary course going along with it. I mean, it’s almost like even if you’re a fiction author and you have a romance novel, it’s almost, you know, we love these behind-the-scenes documentaries on Netflix, right? 

It’s like what if you’re even able to give a reader that same commentary as they go through the book or, you know, non-fiction author helping them walk through some of the more complex concepts in a different medium. Some people need visuals, some people need audio to really understand and grasp things so I would recommend, my favorite call to action is actually a free complementary course at the beginning of a book and that’s how Pat Flynn ended up — as soon as he — he then offered a paid version of the course to that same audience and, on that day, I think he made six figures just from that alone because he had so many people sign up for that free course that complemented the book.

Bryan: It’s a good idea. So, Alex, where can people learn more about your services or work with you?

Alex: Yeah, you can find us at www.advancedamazonads.com, and, like I said, anyone who is a listener to Bryan’s show here, if you go to www.advancedamazonads.com/gifts, I believe, let me just verify that real quick, then you’ll actually get a free copy of our new book that’s coming out and along with, you’ll get a coupon — yep, it’s advancedamazonads.com/gifts. You’ll also get a coupon for our Amazon ads course and then, on top of that, you’ll also get on our subscriber list where we’re consistently sending out anything that we see that you need to be aware of in the space. We have free resources on our website, blogs, all that jazz so, you get the deal but, yeah. Bryan, also, I mean, you have incredible resources for your authors as well so as long as they’re getting it from one of us, they’re in good shape

Bryan: Thanks, Alex

Alex: Thank you for having me.

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