Outsourcing Amazon PPC Management – Four Red Flags To Avoid

Things To Consider While Outsourcing Amazon PPC Management

As an Amazon seller, there are so many competing priorities to take care of that eat up all your time: working with suppliers, managing inventory levels, responding to customer messages, updating listings, reviewing the competition, and keeping track of financials and new product development (just to name a few…). Add Amazon Advertising management on top of it, and this can be a tough list for anyone to keep track of. Hiring an expert and outsourcing your Amazon PPC management can be a great way to instantly get some of that time back to invest in the rest of your business.

While all of the new features that Amazon Advertising has released allow much more control of your ads, it’s also become more complex and time-consuming to manage. Also, if you’re not utilizing these new features, you can be sure that your competitors will be. Bringing in a PPC expert can be a great step forward to your business but how do you find the right support?

In this first part of the two-part series, we’ll break down some key questions you should ask when interviewing potential PPC expert for your campaigns and the major red flags which you need to look out for.

Red Flag #1: Over Promising on Results

The first red flag to look out for is probably the most common that we’ve seen. Amazon advertising can provide a great boost for your business but if the results they say they can achieve seem too good to be true, they probably are.

While your advertising manager will have a good amount of control over your ads, there are several things that they can’t control. The market sets the pricing for how much you have to pay per click for a certain keyword and your product listing helps convert those who click on the ad into sales. These major metrics cannot be directly controlled with your ads which have impacts on overall performance.

Another thing to keep in mind is that for well-controlled campaigns, your target ACOS and ad sales are negatively correlated which we’ve gone into more detail here. This means that if you increase your ACOS target, you can bid more for keywords which means you’ll get more clicks and increase your ad sales. Decrease your ACOS target and bids have to be cut back which will decrease your ads sales overall.

Your advertising manager can have a major impact on your ad performance but if they are promising huge ad sales gains while also promising major reductions in ACOS, this should raise further questions on how they plan to achieve it. If your current monthly ad sales are $10k per month at a 50% ACOS, an ad manager who promises to quadruple ad sales to $40k while also cutting your ACOS in half should raise a number of red flags.

Unless your ads are not being utilized at all or are horribly managed from the start, achieving these results is going to be difficult, to say the least, and no professional ad manager would promise these results.

Can results like I listed above be achieved? Absolutely. We’ve had a number of cases where we’ve greatly exceeded the cases above but to cherry-pick some of our most amazing cases and promise that for every new client would be reckless and dishonest.

In summary, if your ad manager promises huge ad sales gains along with huge reductions in ACOS, they should be able to point out major deficiencies with your current advertising strategy. If they can’t do this and just give typical responses on general strategy, they either don’t know what they are talking about or they aren’t being upfront with you. Either option should immediately disqualify them from managing a major part of your business.

Red Flag #2: They Promise Results or Recommend Changes Without Reviewing Your Account

The next red flag to look out for when outsourcing your Amazon PPC management is when they promise results or recommend changes to your campaigns without ever actually reviewing your account or campaigns.

A common initial question we get from sellers usually goes like this:

“My ads are currently doing $10k a month in ads sales at an ACOS of 50%. How much can you improve ad sales/decrease ACOS?”

This is impossible to answer without more information.

The campaigns could be completely optimized using every trick in the books or could be in horrible shape.  The products could be seasonal and on a typical downslope is overall sales. They could have just received a number of negative reviews lately which killed conversion or they could have just launched an awesome new product which will skyrocket sales.

The point is that without this bigger picture of the business, it’s impossible to give a good estimation on what’s possible for your advertising metrics going forward. If someone provides you expected results without any review, the numbers are meaningless.

Also, if they recommend changes to your strategy or campaigns without reviewing your current campaigns, I’d really question it. How do they know that your campaigns aren’t already fully optimized and the key reason for the poor ad metrics is due to low listing conversion rates instead of your ad strategy?

If someone provides you expected results or recommended changes without ever requesting to see the data or account, they are just guessing and trying to sell you which should be a major red flag. In the least, discount any information that they recommend until they have a chance to actually review the account.

Red Flag #3: They Can’t Easily Explain Basic PPC Terms or Concepts

This is an easy one to use to test the technical ability and knowledge of your PPC manager during the interview. Pick a couple of terms from our glossary and ask them to explain the concept.

A knowledgable PPC expert should be able to easily explain these concepts or metrics back to you. If they are a calculated figure like conversion rate or ACOS, they should be able to quickly tell you how these are calculated.

If they struggle explaining these basic concepts during the interview, it should be a major red flag that you will want to find better support for your campaigns.

Red Flag #4: They Make All Moves Manually in Seller/Vendor Central

This one may be a bit controversial so I’ll add in this qualification: If you are just starting out or only have a couple of products in your seller account, there is nothing wrong with making all moves manually in Seller or Vendor Central.

That being said, when you’re looking for a good advertising manager, if they aren’t using any tools to make changes in the system, this should be a big red flag.

Back in the good old days, we could just kick off some auto campaigns which would perform great without any optimization. Amazon didn’t have many features that we could implement and the basics did pretty well.

Unfortunately, those good old days are gone. The platform has become very competitive due to the numerous benefits of Amazon ads requiring more advanced techniques. Also, Amazon has launched a number of new features which is great to give us more control but also adds to the complexity of your campaign management. Be assured that if you aren’t using the advanced features of ads, your competitors are.

Putting it all together, your ad manager should at least be very experienced using bulk files which allows them to make multiple changes at once. Especially if you’re paying hourly for your support, someone who makes all these moves manually are being very inefficient compared to using bulk files.

The ideal scenario for you is if your ad manager uses third party tools or have developed their own software to make these bulk moves. With the increased complexity and competition, these tools can provide bidding automation, automated keyword funnels, etc. If you want to make sure you’re getting the most from your ad manager, they should have the expertise along with sophisticated tools to optimize your campaigns.

Overall, if you ask your PPC management team what tools they use to manage your campaigns and they reply back that they do it all manually in Seller Central, it should be a major red flag. If they aren’t at least very familiar and comfortable with using bulk files, I’d move on in the job search.

In Summary:

Move on if you experience any of the key red flags stated above while looking to outsource Amazon PPC management. In short, you should look for an ad manager with the following qualities to help manage your campaigns effectively:

  1. Someone who thoroughly analyses your account, current campaigns, budget, margin, sales target, and business goals before recommending any suggestions for improvement.
  2. Someone well-versed with the Amazon PPC terms or concepts, and able to set up and optimize different types of campaigns.
  3. One who is proficient with PPC tools and are at least experienced in handling bulk files.
  4. And finally, transparency and integrity – since your account manager can make it or break it for you.

If you are on the lookout for an agency like that with a proven track record of success, we at Ad Advance are your best fit.

Outsource your PPC management to us – We do it all and we do it well!