These digital platforms are highly complex; they will take you days to understand and months to master. It is beyond the scope of this book to show you how to do it. However, there are certain digital advertising principles that are particularly germane to authors:
Set A High Price Point
Your novel will be deader than Elvis if you advertise it at the going rate of $2.99. The advertising expense will eat up the margins and torch your wallet. This presents a Gordian Knot of a problem: How are you going to sell a book between $7.99 and $9.99 in a market flooded with $2.99 commodities? It can be done (especially in nonfiction) but boy, you better have an exceptional book with lots of blue-chip testimonials and third-party reviews. A series bundle is your best bet.
Have a System That Can Identify Sales That Came From Ads
Attributing book sales to advertising is tricky business. Amazon isn’t going to tap you on the shoulder and say, “Look! You got a sale from your Facebook ad!” Let’s say you average between 0 and 5 daily sales before advertising begins. One day you get 4 sales while ads run. How do you attribute any or all those sales to advertising when they fall within pre-advertising averages? You can’t. Not without a spreadsheet that subtracts pre-advertising sales averages during the advertising window.
That’s hard to set up if you haven’t done it before. If only there was a spreadsheet template you could customize to your own needs, saving you hours of hair-pulling work. Paws in the air! You’ve got access to my Ad Results Tracking Template –it takes into account ad attribution, tracks budget, cost per click, conversions, ROI and more. All you have to do is customize it with your own numbers. Put it there (high five) and click it here. Facebook: http://bit.ly/2vShplj. AMS: http://bit.ly/2v7jLtT.
Test Advertising-Friendly Books
Don’t pick the book that needs the most help. Pick the book most likely to succeed because it has a catchier title, a better cover and lends itself to ad copy.
Stick To Books With Multiple Formats
Most people don’t read ebooks so having a paperback (and/or audio) significantly increases the chance of a sale.
Start Slow, End Fast
It is ridiculously easy to burn up your budget unless you install safeguards. I am embarrassed to say that I once spent $400 on an ad campaign without meaning to. I set the budget at $30/day, set it to run continuously and then completely forgot about it! Worse, I ended up selling a paltry few books–lost my shirt. Don’t let me happen to you. Put some guardrails around your campaigns by scheduling one week at a time with a low daily budget (start at $10).
Set A Maximum You’re Willing To Lose
I vote $300. At $10 a day it’ll give you 30 days of advertising–long enough to get statistically reliable results, account for the daily vagaries of performance and give you time to change ads, keywords and other strategies when they inevitably go sideways.
Switch Strategies Quickly If Your ROI is DOA
Assuming you’re getting $.20 – $.40 per click at $10 a day for three days you’ll generate 75-150 clicks–plenty of data to pull the plug if you’re not reasonably close to your ROI goals. STOP ADVERTISING after a $30 spend or you’re going to end up working as a line cook at the Waffle House.
Pause the campaign while you come up with a different strategy–new ads, keywords, targets, etc. Then spend another $30 on the new strategy. Did you meet your ROI goal? Keep going. Didn’t? STOP. Pause the ads and come up with a new strategy. Do this until you use up your $300 budget. If you found a strategy that worked keep going. If you didn’t, cash in your chips.
Monitor Every Day
Input your results into my worksheet every day. Don’t pay too much attention to vanity metrics like cost per click or even the conversion rate. They’re valuable, don’t get me wrong, but they’re tools to get you to the one metric that matters: ROI. Again, look at it after every $30 expenditure and either keep going if you meet it or change strategy if you don’t.
Set A Minimum Goal of -10% ROI
Wait, what!? A negative ROI? Yes, because there are ancillary benefits to advertising–getting reviews, visibility (if you get enough sales to crack the top 20 in your subcategory) and sales rank. If I spend $100 to make $90 I’ve lost $10. But the way I look at it, it’s not a complete loss–not if that $10 got me reviews, improved my sales rank and visibility and hopefully, sales of other books (if people click on links at the end of my book).
Now, how long can you sustain that? Up to you–how much money ya got? But make sure you actually ARE getting reviews and worthwhile visibility if you continue.
It may sound stupid to set a negative ROI goal but the truth is that it’s going to take you a long time to get advertising to work (if you can do it at all, ya white rhino wannabe). You have to know in advance that you’re going to lose money upfront. If you don’t ask yourself how much you’re willing to lose the market will answer for you.
Start With Ridiculously Low Bids & Work Your Way Up
All ad platforms have a suggested bid range. Start with half or less of the lowest end of the range. For example, if Facebook says the bid range is $.30-$.75 per click then bid $.15 and see how it does. Wait about 3 or 4 days. If it doesn’t run or it’s not running enough, increase it by 5-cent increments. Yes, that’s a painfully slow way to do it but you know what’s more painful? Burning through hard-earned cash because you didn’t have the patience to wait. Advertising is like a financial STD–unless you practice safe spending your money will be gone-orreah.