Archive | Marketing 101 for authors

The Great Google Book Ad Experiment (Part 2)

(aka Can a Google Ad Sell Books)
Week 3

Google Ads

I decided to wait three weeks until I had some useful (?) data. If you remember from my last post the intention was to target people searching for Alternate History (or similar) using the Google search engine. The seven findings so far:

7 findings

  1. Despite specifically excluding search terms including bookshop or books, and only placing the ads before people search for Alternate History (or similar), Google decided to ignore my instructions because it needs to generate clicks not sales (see point 2). Specifically the phrase ‘books’ triggered the ad in 11,938 cases (nearly 1/3 of all impressions), and generated 15 clicks (out of a total of 108).
  2. Google tunes its placement algorithms based on the number of clicks, not sales. I concede that Google can’t actually identify sales (that’s my job) but its hardly a fair trial of my proposed strategy if Google does its own thing.
  3. Most of the ads placements were actually on Google partnered sites (97%), rather than in direct response to a search, once again preventing me from properly testing the effectiveness of my proposed strategy (see point 7(a) below).
  4. Despite only 3% of ads appeared on Google Search 13% of clicks came from ad placement on Google Search, indicating that such placements were 430% more effective than appearances on partnered sites.
  5. In addition, despite only 3% of ads appearing on Google Search they made up 43% of the cost.
  6. Advertising on a Friday is twice as expensive as it is on a Saturday, and three times what it is on a Sunday. That is $1.20 per click on a Friday, compared to $0.61 on a Saturday, and $0.47 on Sundays. OK – this one was an easy fix, I stopped advertising on Fridays and shifted that budget to the weekend, which should increase the number of click throughs by 50%.
  7. The Google Ads App has way more information than what’s available on the desktop – which is very weird. Information available only via the App includes:
    1. Where the App was viewed:
      1. Google Search – 3%
      1. Google Partner Sites – 97%
    1. What the App was viewed on:
      1. Smartphones – 39%
      1. Tablets – 47%
      1. Computers – 14%
    1. The Ad was clicked on:
      1. Google search – 13%
      1. Google partner sites – 87%

Next steps

  1. I have cancelled Friday’s advertising and transferred its budget to the weekend
  2. I have a phone conference scheduled in a couple of days with my Google Ads Campaign Specialist to discuss
  3. I see what happens over the next three weeks
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The Great Google Book Ad Experiment

(aka Can a Google Ad Sell Books)

Week 1

Cover of Nightfall by Andrew J Harvey

I have previously blogged about the failure of online advertising to sell books. My most recent blog on this was in September 2015  and entitled: “Does online advertising work for books?” This blog was based on an IBPA survey, and our own experience in 2014 with a series of blog-ads that cost us $330. For this we got 86,000 views, which gave us slightly over 43 click-throughs, and which in turn resulted in two sales. Given other examples quoted by the IBPA it was clear that online advertising doesn’t work for books.

About two weeks ago, however, I received a phonecall from an individual working for Google to inform me that because I had registered Hague Publishing as a business on business.google.com  they would be providing technical and artistic assistance to me for three months to develop and tune a Google advertisement.

That generated a conversation that went for 1.5 hours as John and I tried to work out what products Hague Publishing produced (Science Fiction and Fantasy books), and what type of advertisement might actually result in us selling more books (probably none). However, during that conversation it occurred to me that online advertising of non-Fiction books such as self-help and DIY might result in some sales if the search terms were narrowly focussed on those areas the books were about. And then flowing on from that perhaps people searching for ‘alternate history’, which is a pretty niche genre, might be interested in an alternate history book. And so I agreed to advertise my most first book “Nightfall”, published by Zmok Books.

The first thing was to come up with the search terms that would be used. This is set by a combination of the ‘business’ and the services/products being sold. This was the first problem as describing the business as a ‘publisher’ gave terms that focussed on ‘printing’, not ‘books’. Changing the business to ‘bookseller’ created more useful categories, although even here terms such as ‘new books for 2016’ isn’t going to get your ad in front of the right people. Luckily Google lets you turn search terms ‘off’ which resulted in me turning off all 221. It was more useful however when I listed the services/products as ‘alternate history’. This gave me 20, very specific search terms.  

As the advertisement links direct to the paperback listed on the Hague Publishing site, and postage overseas is a real killer I set the advertisement to initially only be offered in Australia. A further restriction is that the advertisement will only run Friday-Sunday, hopefully putting itself before people who are in the mood to whip out their credit cards. In an effort to increase conversion rates, however, I also updated the listing to include links to eBook distributors, including Kobo, Google, Apple, and Amazon.

So will this advertisement actually appear before anyone, and if it does – will it result in any sales? I’ll keep you informed.

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Does online advertising work for books?

Cover of IBPA's The Independent showing computer keyboard

For a recent article in IBPA's The Independent, Linda Carlson put the question of which advertising works to independent publishers and got some interesting, and insightful answers.

Linda's questions focussed on:

  • Print Media Coverage
  • Paid Reviews
  • Giveaways and Deep Discounts
  • Public Relations, and
  • Online Ads

The consensus from those responding were were singularly unenthusiastic about online ads. An example being Devorah Fox's comments, president of Mike Byrnes & Associates in Port Aransas, TX, who reported:

“When we hit 100 likes on our Facebook author page we received $50 in free Facebook advertising. We used it to advertise our book The Lost King with an ad that—per Facebook—could be seen by 22 million people and a Sponsored Story that targeted 940 users. There wasn’t a single click-through, and we can’t attribute a single sale to it.”

The full report is available at: IBPA online - Marketing whatever you have to market - promotion opportunities and issues - part 2

Back in November 2013 I wrote about a recent poll  conducted for USAToday and Bookish, a website designed to help people find and buy books, which asked readers what factors created interest in a particular book for them. The poll got the following responses:

  • 57% - their own opinion of the writer's previous work;
  • 43% - opinions of a relative and friend (ie "word of mouth");
  • 17% - professional reviewers and other writers;
  • 16% - the book cover; and
  • 10% - internet opinions by non-professionals (10%).

In short, people are interested in a book based on previous knowledge of the author's work, word of mouth, or professional reviewers. Advertising simply doesn't get a look in. And if you don't believe that then you need to consider the click-through rates we get on our own adverts:

  • Click Through Rate = 0.05%, i.e. for every 2000 views of an advertisement, we expect to get 1 person clicking the advertisement to visit our site; and
  • Click Rate = 2%, i.e. for every 50 people visiting our site we expect to get 1 sale.

Back in May 2014, for a series of blog-ad designed to be viewed 86,000 times we were paying $330. That probably gave us 43 click-throughs, and some where between one and two sales. It simply doesn't make financial sense. For more information you can read my previous post on this (Marketing for authors: what to expect from click-through and conversion rates).

So does online advertising work for eBooks work? In a word - no.


If, however, given this information you still want to undertake some social marketing then you may want to check out the article in the same edition of The Independent:
IBPA online - A practical guide to social media advertising part 1

For more information about the USAToday poll, and another poll conducted by ebookfairies you can read my previous posts concerning them at:

 

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Marketing for authors: what to expect from click-through and conversion rates

CTR tag cloudBeing presently involved in an advertising campaign for our latest release Lights Over Emerald Creek by Shelley Davidow, I thought I'd check to see how our advertising compares to industry averages for click-through rates (CTR) and conversion rates (CR). Surprisingly, given the poor return we're getting, it turns out we're actually achieving average rates in both categories.

Specifically:

  • CTR = 0.05%, i.e. for every 2000 views of an advertisement, we expect to get 1 person clicking the advertisement to visit our site; and
  • CR = 2%, i.e. for every 50 people visiting our site we expect to get 1 sale.

And no, the financials don't necessarily add up. For a series of advertisements designed to be viewed 86,000 times we're paying $330. That will probably give us 43 click-throughs, and possibly between one and two sales (at $5 each). At the moment we are still working to improve future CTR by focussing our ads in those blogs which give us the best return (the ads are presently being tested across 8 blogs, all with either a focus on YA Fiction, or SF&F). However, we are also using alternatives which have the potential of either increasing the CTR, or reducing the cost, for those with limited budgets.

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Marketing 101 for authors: Designing a landing page for a book

Graphic of a landing pageOver the last two years I've been constantly working to improve the landing pages we use to try and convert interest in one of our books into a purchase. The latest iteration of the design is now fully responsive, allowing people to read a sample of the first four chapters of 'Lights Over Emerald Creek on their smartphone. That said, I'm not actually sure why someone would want to read a book on their smartphone, but they can. More importantly,  with the addition of the QR code to our book-business cards I thought it important that when someone did scan the code they were provided with a page they could actually read (see Marketing 101 for authors: business cards for books).

But first, back to basics, what is a 'landing page'?

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Marketing 101 for authors: business cards for books

Image of Front and Back of business cardIn this post I discuss what I have found to be the most effective marketing tool for ebooks - the business card. 

In a November 2013 blog I discussed a poll conducted by USA TODAY which found that a majority of those surveyed (57%) cited their own opinion of the writer's previous work as the major factor in creating interest in a particular book for them. Opinions of a relative and friend ("word of mouth") came in second at 43%. Lower on the list were professional reviewers and other writers (each 17%), the book cover (16%) and Internet opinions by non-professionals (10%).

From this, it would appear that the most effective way of selling a book is for the reader to actually meet the author, allowing them to form a positive view of the author and their work. It is for this reason that authors attend conventions, and it also why authors (or their publishers) take big stacks of paperbacks to conventions that the author is attending, for sale. That's all very well for authors with a traditional book, but how do you achieve the same for eBook, because by the time the reader has gone home and is sitting at their computer, ready to purchase the book, they may have forgotten the name of the book, or even the author.

Hague Publishing tackles this problem by producing business cards for each book it publishes.  Continue Reading →

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