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When it comes to Amazon advertising, each keyword needs to have a specific strategy and purpose attached to it. If a keyword doesn’t, a seller can end up blindly bidding, wasting spend, and not reaching their sales goal. Magnify each dollar spent on advertising by centering search terms around either discovery or performance goals. 

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Discovery Campaigns

Discovery campaigns focus on finding new keywords to scale and expand a brand in order to attract new potential customers. With this type of campaign, a seller should bid on a variety of search terms, from top-of-the-funnel keyword phrases to specific bottom-of-the-funnel keywords. Then, a seller should consistently measure the impressions, clicks, and conversions of those keywords to determine if they’re performing well. As certain keywords excel, they should be transferred over to a performance campaign. 

Many sellers mistakenly assume discovery campaigns should drive sales. As a result, they may allocate too much of their budget toward discovery campaigns and expect them to have a good ROAS. However, discovery campaigns shouldn’t have the most efficient returns because their sole purpose isn’t to increase sales. Their purpose is to increase brand awareness and find new keywords to bid on and scale.  

Performance Campaigns

Conversely, the purpose of performance campaigns is to scale a keyword’s performance so that it can bring in more sales and increase conversion. Performance campaigns should be filled with exact match search terms that have had a history of successful sales velocities. 

When setting a performance keyword, first review its sales history. If a keyword has had at least 3 orders within 14 days, then it could be a good candidate for a performance keyword. This metric helps prevent wasteful spend on trying to scale one-off purchases from keywords. For example, if a customer bought several water bottles as a favor at a uniquely themed birthday party and used the search term “water bottle party favor,” that order typically isn’t repeatable because it’s a unique circumstance. Thus, the keyword isn’t scalable.

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Setting Up a Successful Campaign to Meet Advertising Goals

Once the goal is set for an individual keyword, it should be placed in a campaign with other keywords that share the same goal and ad type (whether they’re sponsored brand or sponsored product). It also helps to separate branded and non-branded keywords. Essentially, a seller’s naming convention for their campaign should include these elements: AD TYPE – STRATEGY (brand or non-brand) – GOAL (performance/discovery). 

Having a strong organized campaign helps a seller keep track of data. When the campaign has too many variables, the data becomes hard to read and it’s difficult to determine which keywords to scale. For example, if a performance campaign is filled with broad-match keywords, exact-match keywords, branded keywords, and non-branded keywords, the seller won’t be able to target their spend on keywords that can scale since the data is so diverse.

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When to Use Each Campaign 

Campaigns are designed to match the customer journey. Discovery campaigns align with the awareness stage of the customer journey while performance campaigns represent the conversion stage. 

For example, a shopper finds a new brand after typing in a discovery-based keyword. Even though their interest in the brand may be piqued, most customers don’t buy from a new brand right away. Rather, they tend to conduct research on the brand by typing in bottom-of-the-funnel search terms. The lower in the funnel a customer goes, the more likely they will use brand- and performance-based keywords. After a few searches, the customer generally loops back to the product and purchases it since they’ve gained more confidence in it. 

Helpful Tip: Newer, young brands don’t see many returns on branded traffic or performance keywords since customers aren’t aware of them yet. Because of this, young brands should focus more on discovery campaigns to find keywords that will convert into performance search terms. We recommend that a young brand allocate 70% of its budget to discovery and the other 30% to performance. As the brand and their advertising mature, gradually shift the discovery budget over to performance campaigns to maximize sales velocity. If performance campaigns eventually take up all of the budget after the shift, that is a signal to review and increase the budget to achieve continued growth.

 Setting Amazon Advertising Goals to Achieve Success

Knowing the purpose of each campaign and its respective keywords can lead a seller to greater sales. Whether it’s discovery- or performance-based, a seller can earn the greatest ROI as long as they keep a campaign’s objective in mind when analyzing data. 

However, even then, keywords aren’t something a seller can “set and forget.” Keywords are reactive to traffic. A performance-based keyword that’s been driving sales for 3 months may suddenly start to come up short. Vice versa, discovery-based keywords may start to yield performance-based results after 3 months. To truly ensure advertising success, a seller needs to practice consistent daily oversight and weekly review. Doing so can help a seller achieve maximum discoverability and maximum sales performance across their campaigns. 

Improve your Amazon Advertising goals and strategy with a FREE Amazon Advertising Audit from Buy Box Experts. We’ll personally show you how to maximize both discovery- and performance-based keywords to bring you more sales and conversion.

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Vice President of Advertising at Buy Box Experts

Brian Harding has a deep passion for helping businesses achieve dynamic results through creative innovation, scalable advertising programs, and growth-minded strategies. His passion has led him to build million-dollar e-commerce businesses from the ground up and cut multi-million dollar deals with Walmart, Costco, and other mass retailers.

Brian's success is built upon his core competency of understanding all facets of the customer journey, including both the e-commerce and brick & mortar sides of retail. This understanding has helped him manage millions in ad spend on and off Amazon. He has consistently driven high ROAS results for a variety of brands and industries, including medical products, home environment, and outdoor cooking.

Brian joined Buy Box Experts in 2019 where he continues to be an integral part of building the advertising team and developing effective Amazon advertising strategies.