How to Optimize Paid Search and Amazon PPC Campaigns for Seasonal Success by Ihor Dubovetskyi July 22, 2020

So you are into selling a seasonal product?

That’s great news!

Working with seasonal demand on Amazon.com is an art form of its own. There are far fewer sellers who know what to do with it, than those who would like to. I would like to share my experience with you guys so that you could try out some new things and become more intimate with the product seasonality when you face one.

What constitutes a seasonal product? Actually, there are two kinds of different seasonal products:

  • The occasion-based seasonal products (like pumpkin stuff for Halloween)
  • The Summer/winter seasonal products (like diving fins or knit scarves, respectively)

Now, let’s get to the meat of managing seasonal PPC.

The Amazon Keywords

A lot of seasonal products are just variations of normal products. This is especially true for occasion products (Christmas, Mother’s Day, Halloween, etc.).

So the effective keywords are just around the corner: to get the bulk of them, you don’t need to make full-fledged keyword research close to the High Season. Any time will do. Better yet, if you already exploit this difference and sell both perennial (year-long) and seasonal variations of a product, you could just grab all those good search terms from the Search Term Report of a perennial product’s PPC. Just make sure they’re in your seasonal PPC Campaign!

You may also want to go half a step further, and create variations of these keywords with the name of that seasonal occasion (like “bat costume” producing the “Halloween bat costume” phrase match).

Adding extra keywords to existing seasonal product’s PPC to target “kids,” “beloved,” “valentine gift,” “x-mas,” “for mother” etc. is a splendid and easy to implement approach that will grab you extra sales when it’s time.

The Amazon Bidding Process

Here’s the catch: Amazon’s algorithm does not like seasonal products. More precisely, it is geared towards promoting products with long-term stable sales, as opposed to those that sell a lot in a short period of time.

This has an interesting implication on all seasonal product marketing.

And these implications are different for winter/summer products (ones that sell high for 3-4 months in a row) and for those that generate occasion spike sales (like Mother’s Day or Christmas gifts).

Occasional seasonal product bid strategy

The above quirk with the algorithm impacts not just your product ads – but the ads of ALL fellow Amazon Sellers who deal with seasonality.

So… why not exploit this effect and get a bit ahead of those who don’t?

Firstly – the thing I tend to suggest to all my clients: keep on selling occasion seasonal version of the product all year long.

You may be surprised to sell Halloween-related products in May, but this does happen. And this is really good, as such sales will creep up your seasonal ASIN’s BSR. And a good BSR will keep your ASIN higher than those competing products for whom advertising and selling stops until the actual high season.

Nice low bids with reasonable AСoS can bring extra sales trickling in, while you replenish your FBA stocks little by little, to keep the fire burning. Why do this? When the high demand wave kicks in, you will find both your organic and Sponsored ads higher up the search result due to your sustaining higher BSR in prior periods like this!

Secondly – a word on selling seasonal and non-seasonal variations of the same product.

There’s actually nothing wrong with advertising both at the same time. However, if your perennial version sells well all year and has a significantly higher BSR, this can cause some issues.

If this is your case, you may want to run a little experiment during the 4-5 weeks before the expected high-season begins.

Do this: start upping PPC bids on seasonal variation and lowering bids on the perennial variation at the same time. Your goal is to make sure that your Sponsored Product Ads for the seasonal product starts displaying above the perennial product for all high-quality search terms (ones that they both share).

This way, you can be sure that you’re not cannibalizing your own seasonal sales. And that your hefty inventory (that you’ve stocked before the high season) will sell off smoothly.

Third, by the end of your seasonal occasion (e.g., around the 20th-24th of December in the case of a Christmas product), you may want to try to do what most Sellers forget: grab the attention of last-minute buyers — increasing your PPC bids for top-performing keywords even more than you normally do for high-season.

Get an even higher search results position for your Sponsored ads to make sure that every late-buyer sees you as soon as possible when he/she hastily scrolls the Amazon.com for that last-minute buy!

Summer/ Winter Seasonal Product Bid Strategy

As with the occasional seasonal products, you will need to start your PPC Sponsored ads in advance to anticipate the increase in demand. To do this effectively, I suggest you begin raising your PPC bids 3-4 weeks before the expected demand surge — even if this means you will be selling at a loss at first (i.e., with too high an ACoS).

Selling at a loss for this short time is still the best way to make sure that you enter the high season with flying colors. Teach Amazon’s algorithm that your product is here to stay. Pump that BSR to the max with these extra PPC sales, so that you could meet that wave on the surf, and not in water.

Speaking of Quick-Fixing the Bids

Human PPC managers are often really busy people. And sometimes (unfortunately) there’s just simply not enough time to manage a swift season-switch by incrementally increasing/decreasing all the bids (especially for lots of low-volume keywords). If this is your case – you may want to explore the Profit Whales Optimisation service. This is a fully automated PPC management tool that incrementally changes your Sponsored keyword bids to keep to your target ACoS.

But not just that: it can also pause ineffective keywords and even negatives of new effective ones to your running PPC campaigns. This is a real time-saver for many busy Sellers out there, who just don’t have time to get their heads around everything that needs attention with Amazon.

Bulk Bid Switch

If your product remains roughly the same year after year, and your effective keywords are the same all this time – you can do a little lazy trick. Once you are well into your high season (and are satisfied with how your PPC is performing) – make a Bulk Backup File. Just make sure you include all the keywords in it.

And save it somewhere.

When the next high season will be upon you (like in a year’s time) – just bulk upload the file into Seller Central – and enjoy all the bids prepared and ready to meet the new level of demand. This trick is perfectly applicable when switching to low season too.

For one of my clients (seller of scuba diving equipment), this worked even twice every year: they had both a summer high season and a short winter high season (with a spike around Christmas). A real-time saver!

So that’s it. I hope the above takeaways will help you to better navigate the Amazon jungle and get more lean and effective sales out of every season.

And as always – good hunting, fellow Amazonians!

Ihor Dubovetskyi Co-founder, Profit Whales
Ihor Dubovetskyi is the co-founder of Profit Whales, the accelerator for Brands selling on Amazon based on advanced decision-making technologies using Big Data&Data Science. Ihor is obsessed with scaling brands beyond their expectations and building tools that will help Brands on Amazon to scale faster more efficiently. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.
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