Amazon Book Promotion and the Perils of Also-Boughts

by | Feb 19, 2020 | Amazon Updates & Marketing Tips, Book Marketing Basics

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Amazon book promotion is already tough enough without having to wrestle your book page into submission, too. With Amazon book pages getting increasingly more cluttered it’s harder to find your book amongst the clutter of ads, side bar stuff, and anything else Amazon is trying to push.

Most of you who read this blog regularly probably know what an Amazon book promotion pet peeve this is for me, in fact I’m kind of a fanatic about keeping that book page clean and user-friendly. This “look” includes your also-boughts – that ribbon of books sandwiched somewhere between your book description, sponsored posts, and whatever else Amazon is trying to push to your reader.

Also-bought lists are populated by user preferences. So, let’s say a reader who normally buys romantic suspense lands on your book, reads through the description, maybe reads a few reviews, but then realizes this isn’t the book for them.

It happens, right? Sure, not every reader who lands on your Amazon book page buys your book (oh, don’t we wish they would).

But let’s say the person in question normally only buys books on car mechanics, or poetry, or something completely different from what you’ve written. Guess what happens?

It changes your also-boughts. Because though the name implies “bought” it’s not always the case that the reader has to actually buy your book.

Sometimes this algorithm is based on landing on your page and not necessarily buying. I’ve tested this with my own books, inviting folks who don’t normally buy books on book marketing to just land on the page without making a purchase.

Guess what happened? My also-boughts changed.

It happens a lot, authors publish a book and (very excited) shoot out a note to all their friends to buy a copy and kick off their Amazon book promotion. Some will, and some won’t, but it’s likely they’ll all visit the book page (even just out of curiosity).

Now if all of your friends buy books in your genre, you’re fine, but if Aunt Bethany normally buys books on quilting and you’ve just published your new sci-fi thriller guess what? Quilting books will start to populate in your also-bought section.

So why does this matter? Well, when it comes to Amazon book promotion everything matters.

E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G matters. So, don’t ignore your also-boughts. Let’s have a look at some reasons both organic and visual, why this all matters when you want to sell more books.

Messes with Your Algorithm

It’s hard to prove the Amazon algorithm, meaning since it’s this invisible force at work behind-the-scenes, it’s increasingly more challenging to figure out what tips it in your favor, and what does not. What I know from books I’ve tested is that having a messed up list of also-boughts does impact your visibility on Amazon.

I mean it makes sense right? Because there isn’t an actual person shelving the also-boughts on your page, it’s a machine – and machine learning can be tricky.

It learns what you show them and if what you show them is quilting books belong with sci-fi, that’s how you’ll start showing up and that’s where Amazon will think your book belongs. See the problem?

This could impact anything you’re doing with your Amazon book promotion, from marketing your book with Amazon ads, to discounted eBook promotions – everything. In a minute, I’ll cover what to do and how to fix this if it’s happening to you.

May Misrank Your Book(s)

Not that dissimilar from messing with your algorithm, the also-boughts can also misrank your books. You know when you look at the book details of your book and see it showing up in some odd category.

Here’s a screenshot of one of my books, when I was testing this theory (using the method I described earlier) check out where my book marketing book is showing up:

Financial reporting? Well, ok. I do write books about selling more books but let’s face it, this is a stretch and also (with all due respect to all you financial whiz kids out there) financial statements sounds like a *yawn* am I right?


Interrupts the User Experience

When I teach classes on website SEO, ranking, and how to capture more people to your website (and keep them there) one thing I talk about is the user experience. You want to keep everything on your website in line with user expectations.

So, if you’re selling books on car mechanics, don’t pop up a picture of your new puppy, because that’s not why people landed on your website. The same is true for your Amazon book promotion.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m a fanatic about a good user experience and part of that is your also-boughts. Interrupting the user experience by showing them books on quilting on your sci-fi book page could lose them – because it takes less than a second to do so.

It’s maybe not a big thing to you, but in the world of web design and user experience, it’s huge. Your Amazon book page is an extension of your website and as I mentioned before – everything matters.

Preventing an Also-Bought Mix-Up

This part is easy and not easy. First off, the first days your book is live on Amazon are the most critical.

Because Amazon is still “learning” about your book, you have no history with Amazon for that particular title – so machine learning is really trying to dig in and understand your title. As hard as it may seem, I encourage you to not invite all your family and friends to your book page, at least not right away.

Wait till the also-boughts have started populating (this could take a few weeks). I know it’s hard. You just birthed a book, you want to share it with the world. I get it. But trust me, it’s a lot harder to clean this up later.

Alternatively, if your family and friends are a bit internet savvy, you could invite them to view your book from an incognito page, which won’t pull in any potential buyer preferences, but they won’t be able to buy your book that way. A better option would be to invite them to your website where you can sell your book *and* autograph it to them.

Yes, you’ll have to mail books – but you’ll also get to personalize them. People (especially friends and family) will love this bit of personalization and if you’re near a holiday (and even if you’re not) offer a BOGO – if someone buys your book off of your website, offer to send an eBook to a friend of their choosing.

Resolving Messed Up Also-Boughts

If it’s already too late for you, if you’re reading this and saying: Yep, I have a bunch of quilting books on my sci-fi book page – what can I do now? Well, two things: wait and promote the heck out of your book to the right market.

In some cases, it can take 90 days for also-boughts to fix themselves, running Amazon ads may help – because if your keywords are spot on you’re pulling in the exact right reader to your book, which could help speed up the process a bit more. A messed up list of also-boughts isn’t forever, it will eventually right itself, though it takes time.

When it comes to Amazon book promotion, keeping an eye on that ever-important book page is a critical part to your success. Whether it’s the also-boughts, your book description, or the million other fun things you can do with that page – remember: it all matters.

Good luck!

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