PPC Entourage Talks Pay Per Click and How to Get Eyes on Your Listings


Another Friday Feedback has come and gone.

On October 19th, 2018 our own Andrew Maff sat down with Mike Zagare, CEO of PPC Entourage, to talk about what PPC Entourage does and how it can help you automate your Amazon PPC.


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Mike  Zagare: So, I am your regular, every day Amazon seller. I started in 2015. I consider myself a recovering physical therapist, because I was doing that for so many years, and I absolutely woke up every day with dread, hating, just not enjoying my life pretty much.

So I wanted a way out, and Amazon was a way, and in 2015, I had a cat and I'd developed a bunch of products around my cat, and it was very simple and easy to do. But in 2016, we figured that working with sponsored products was the best way to get our products in front of as many eyeballs as possible. So we just really started to dive into sponsored products. And that became kind of an obsession for many, many, many months, and I realized: well, this is great. I've got my freedom from the physical therapy job, but doing this is a huge pain in the ass.

It was Excel spreadsheets at the time, I was totally unorganized, hundreds of different campaigns. We were doing really well. Back then in 2016 it wasn't as competitive as it is right now. It's definitely getting more competitive. But we wanted a way to simplify it, and that's where PPC Entourage was born.

So basically PPC Entourage allows you to do everything that we took hours and hours to do. You can now do it in ten, fifteen minutes a week. That's full optimization, autopilot mode. We have awesome ways to build campaigns, find new search terms, and we have a new search tool for people who are using sponsored brands called Spotlight, which allows you to create up to 27 different headline search ads at once, so that you can start to see which ones are going to work for you and then find the best keywords, find the best headlines, all different tools to help you maximize your exposure on Amazon and get the most for your ad spend.

Andrew Maff:  Beautiful. So I've noticed recently that the prime display ads are slowly getting opened up in seller central. Do you think you guys will start going down that track soon?

Mike  Zagare:  Absolutely, yeah. So anything related to advertising whatsoever we will go down that track, yeah. Yeah. We've had some pretty good luck. With product display ads I've had access to that for a couple of years now, and also we've headlined search ads on Vendor Central, and it requires a little bit more strategy, which I think is a good thing because people can be a little bit lazy. I know myself, too, at times I just want to get stuff done, there's so many things to get done. So I think that's an advantage for sellers to really dive into strategy, so we like to provide strategies for sellers for sponsored products, for headline search ad and for product display ads, so that they can make really good decisions and choices when they are setting these things up.

Andrew Maff:  Yeah, I've been using them for a while on I guess what was called AMS, and as soon as they released them on Seller Central I was not happy. I hate those things. They're so difficult, because if you want to be on a certain competitor page or you want to go after a certain accessory it's just constant testing all time. And then you gotta fluctuate the bids and everything and it's just trying to figure out what [inaudible 00:03:07] you actually want to be on. It's such a pain to me. I definitely prefer the sponsored products and the sponsored brands now. [crosstalk 00:03:16]

Mike  Zagare:  There's a lot of testing, and you gotta be very patient with it and there's so many other things to think about. But I know that if you find a good golden nugget with that, you can really make it there [crosstalk 00:03:27] because there's less competition.

Andrew Maff:  It seems like a higher risk, higher reward to me. I've seen people lose hard but I've seen people make some great money on product display ad.

The whole automated Amazon PPC thing, that is becoming an incredibly hot place to be in software. You all seemed to pop up at the same time. So what separates you from all the other ones out there, which we won't mention?

Mike  Zagare:  We've been around for a while. I think we were the second in the game way back in the day, so we've been around for a long time and we've had a while to build the structure out. What sets us apart from everyone else is that we have the strategies. Basically our software is built around the blueprint. In the blueprint, there's five different ways to optimize, and in the software you'll see all different five tabs so you can easily go in and say: okay, which way do I want to optimize today? Is it keyword optimization, is it search term optimization, is it negative word finder where you find the individual words?

You could do a negative phrase. It's listed out in the blueprint and you follow that. It takes seconds to do it if you follow the software because you know exactly the strategy, and the software will support that.

So that is the biggest thing, plus I really think our autopilot is bad-ass. We have an autopilot mode. Basically, it's for manual and automatic campaigns and we have seasonality. We have day parting, we have advanced keyword features, so you can get as granular as you want. We had a bunch of advance sellers come up to us and say, "Hey guys, there's a bunch of features here that we really need because this is what we do. We know what we're doing, we know our numbers, we know our metrics, but you don't have these particular things."

And that was like looking at fifteen days' worth of data instead of ninety days' worth of data. Because we were going based on ninety days. Now we have these more advanced features. Whether you're a rookie and you're just starting out, you can follow some of the stuff that we have like a bootcamp, follow some of the basic stuff. Or if you really know what you're doing, you can get in there and go really, really granular and set up your campaigns for success based on proven metrics that you know work.

So that is my more than thirty-second pitch on why we are better than the competition, but I'm sure they're great, too. I actually tend not to look at the competition. That's my own strategy because I'm a seller myself and Entourage was born on frustrations that I've had as a seller. So I do every single thing and we have a team now. We go in and say, "How can this be better? How can we make this run smoother? How can we make this faster? How can we make sellers spend less on ad spend and get more exposure to their product?"

And we feel like just by doing it and implementing our software, we have that edge. We're just like everybody else in that sense.

Andrew Maff:  Nice. So, how deep do the analytics actually go? Obviously, I'm sure we can get the standard stuff that Amazon gives you, but what other kind of analytics can a seller pull from the back end of your software?

Mike  Zagare:  Sure. So we have advanced analytics. We have something called a branding report, which shows you how much it costs per one thousand impressions on PPC. We have sales by days of the week. So let's say that you notice that you're doing really, really crappy on Tuesday or Thursday then you may want to start doing some of the autopilot, like the dayparting that we have. And we're testing it out right now. We're noticing that certain days of the week are better than others, some days of the week that aren't good, or maybe our average cost per click is a little bit higher, we'll turn on the dayparting feature, which means it's going to start a little bit later. We actually tell the system when to put on that ad.

You can start to make better decisions based on knowing how it's performing days of the week. We have our relevancy score so you can see how your relevancy is doing over a period of time, which is super-important to Amazon's algorithm. Basically looking at the click-through rate percentage.

We have a bunch of things that are slipping my mind right now. It's in the second tab, Advanced reporting. And then you can dive really deep into each individual campaign, because obviously you want to go granular into each individual campaign and dig a little bit deeper.

All of these things, like the standard cost per click, standard metrics, all that kind of stuff but over a long period of time. And then we're introducing a bunch of other metrics as well like how many clicks it takes to get a sale. If you know that, then you can know certain other things and you can make better decisions. So all of that stuff is constantly being unraveled and released over a period of time.

Andrew Maff:  Nice. Does your software tend to lean toward a certain type of seller, like private label, or re-seller or anything like that? Or do you guys seems to be pretty agnostic for the most part?

Mike  Zagare:  We tend to lean towards private label sellers. Most of our clients are private label sellers, but anybody can use it who uses Amazon-sponsored products.

Andrew Maff:  Okay. So why the private-label sellers? Is it primarily like having that extra margin to play with?

Mike  Zagare:  Yeah, it's people who tend to use sponsored products the most, and I feel private=label sellers use that a lot, so that's who we go after, that's who we target. There's a little bit more margin to play with. People are different in their approach. Our margins are about forty percent so we try to stay around thirty-five percent. Some people tend to go a little bit higher, some people tend to go a little bit lower, but that's typically why.

Andrew Maff:  So in the never-ending argument, do you suggest to basically break even on PPC and benefit organic, or do you suggest to try to remain profitable on PPC? I know that every business is different, but what is usually your approach?

Mike  Zagare:  My approach is to break even on PPC. Now if you asked my business partner, he'd be like, "No, we need to make at least a little bit of profit." For us, it's a little bit of profit to break even. If it starts to get more than that, then it starts to impact our cash flow, which is never a good thing because we're super-aggressive on PPC. We spend thousands and thousands of dollars a month on PPC.

We also have products that we would definitely even go a little bit higher on our ACOS. We would even dip into fifty percent because we know that people are going to come in and buy that product every single month, it's on Subscribe and Save.

That's your cat. I have that exact same cat, I think. [crosstalk 00:09:56]Your cat's behind you, isn't he? [crosstalk 00:10:02] Oh, it's a dog, never mind. Sorry about that.

We at least try to break even. We do see a correlation between going really aggressive on PPC and getting the organic visibility and the organic rank. However, for us, since we spend so much, if we start to get above that forty percent, it's really, really just not good. It's a game of constantly finding what's working, what's not working, updating your bids, doing negatives on things that are getting too expensive. The average cost per clicks are going up, so in time certain things that worked in the past like back in the day for our main product we used to spend about 50-60 cents per click. Now it's like $2.40, so it's now like a 50% egg toss.  [crosstalk 00:10:45]

Andrew Maff:  Google prices. [inaudible 00:00:12]

Mike  Zagare:  Yeah. We could scale it all day but we would lose money in basically every single sale. So that position we're in is we're losing money on every single sale whereas it used to be profitable years ago. How aggressive do you want to be? Do you want to allocate a certain amount of budget towards that?

I just got a phone call. Sorry about that, guys.

So do you want to allocate a certain budget towards that and I'm willing to lose a little bit of amount of money on this percentage of my ad spend? Okay, that's not a big deal. Or, do you want to go all in just for organic ranking? That can become very expensive. If you have deep pockets, that's a good idea. But it is becoming more expensive on certain keywords. That's why it's super-important, we always felt, to dive into the search term report. To really dive deep into the search term report, to find some of the hidden gems. Find some of the ones that have four, five, six sales at a profitable ACOS, but a much lower cost per click and then bid on those and uncap those. Basically uncap your budgets, uncap your bids, basically tell Amazon you are interested in this right now, any time of day, doesn't matter.

That's been part of our strategy. We call that the ACOS scraping technique. Basically we're scraping search terms based on the ACOS.

Andrew Maff:  Okay. I'm definitely Team Mike on that decision. [inaudible 00:12:32] and I agree to aim for a break, even on PPC. With the break even on PPC I know that there's obviously differences for different sellers. There are different categories for business, everyone's different. So sometimes that's not always the right answer, that's just kind of my standard.

Does your software have the ability to target a specific ACOS for a specific product or a specific category?

Mike  Zagare:  Hey, I'm back. Yes. Can you see me?

Andrew Maff:  I can.

Mike  Zagare:  Okay. Yes, what you said about targeting a specific [inaudible 00:12:45] ACOS [crosstalk 00:12:45]

Andrew Maff:  Can you target a specific ACOS to a specific product or a specific category?

Mike  Zagare:  Basically it's by campaign.

Andrew Maff:  Okay.

Mike  Zagare:  So I assume you would have the campaigns broken down by products unless they're very similar and they're in the same campaign. They way we have it is you enter in your costs of goods and our software can tell you overall how much you're making on your PPC.

But then on an individual campaign level, let's say it's a research campaign and you want to break even in your research campaign, but you have what we call the PE campaign, which is a like a profitable campaign. You want to make money on that campaign. You can set the target ACOS to let's say 40 on the research, which would be break-even, or 31-32% on the profitable campaign.

Our system and software is going to go through those five different ways to optimize, and it's going to say: based on your target ACOS, here's what we recommend doing. These search terms, they suck. These keywords, you need to lower the bid prices. These negative words, individual words, you've never had a sale that's profitable based on information you're giving us. You want to be at a 40 ACOS, you have to consider doing a negative phrase.

On individual campaign level, we have what's called a target ACOS that will dictate what the software will tell you and then you can make changes [inaudible 00:14:22] or you can set up autopilot and it will make the changes for you based on the amount of time that we look back. We can look back 90 days, 60 days, 45 days, 30, 15. The whole range.

Andrew Maff:  Mike, really appreciate you doing this with me. I don't want to take up any more of your Friday. I'll let you go and enjoy your day. Thank you so much for chatting with me. I'll let you give us some closing words, let everyone know where they can find more information about PPC Entourage.

Mike  Zagare:  Absolutely, guys. And thanks for sticking with me here. This is like a closeup for me, Facebook Live. Here we go. You can find me on ppcentourage.com, also we have a Facebook group, PPC Entourage VIP Community, and also email me at mike@ppcentourage.com.

We have a blueprint that's really awesome for sponsored branding ads that is really, really getting a lot of attention. A lot of people are loving that, and it's like a step-by-step blueprint on how to set up three different types of sponsored branding ads, so come and find me, I'll get it to you. It's very thorough, and we'd love to hear about your success.

Andrew, thank you so much for having me on. Happy Friday, everybody and thank you so much for this amazing first Instagram Live experience. Appreciate it very much.

Andrew Maff:  Thanks, Mike, appreciate it. Enjoy your Friday. Have a good one.

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