Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Facebook Ads

Last week I got a coupon offering $50 worth of advertising on Facebook for only $7.95.  I was really busy, but I wanted to give it a try.

So I quickly made up an ad, targeted it, and set it to run until I used up $50 worth of credit.

Here's how it went:

Although they recommend that you link your ad to your Facebook page, I linked it to my sale page, since I really haven't got much of a presence on Facebook. 

So in a few minutes I made up an ad:

You'll notice the picture's tiny, and the headline and description have very few words. I actually used every character allowed in the title and description, so that gives you some idea how cryptic you have to be.  I later figured out that the experienced advertisers use the rectangular space where the picture goes more efficiently than I did.  But this is what I went with for my little experiment.

Next, targeting. One of the big advantages of advertising on Facebook (and this also applies to Goodreads ads) is how narrowly you can target your ad.

Say you're a hairdresser with a hip, young clientele, based in Portland, Oregon. You can have your ad only appear to women in your zip code, who are between the ages of 16 and 30, and who are interested in fashion. You can go that narrow in your targeting.

I looked at targeting to women in the US, UK, and Australia (since those are the countries where I've had sales), and then looked for women interested in romance novels.  Nope, that was too broad. That group was millions of people.  So I started typing in names of famous authors who write stories in some way similar to mine: Debbie Macomber, Sherryl Woods, Susan Mallery, JoAnn Ross, Kristin Hannah, Susan Wiggs. That narrowed it way down, to 160,760 people who could potentially be interested in my sweet, small-town romance.

(Interestingly, I couldn't find a keyword for Barbara Freethy, who is one of the most successful romance authors, has sold millions of Kindle books, and who writes romantic suspense a lot like I do.  Maybe she doesn't have a fan page set up on Facebook?  I didn't have time to look into it, but it was interesting that I couldn't find her quickly like I did the others.)

So, I've got $50 worth of credit. I've got an ad. I've got a target audience. I said go!

What happened?

In one day (one day, mind you): 9874 people saw the ad an average of 5 times each, for a total number of "impressions" (page views, basically) of 51,096.  Of those 9874 people, .139% clicked on the ad, for a total of 71 clicks.  I spent $49.97 to get those 71 clicks. (I really spent under $8, like I said, but it was $50 worth of advertising.) So if I paid full price, I would have spent about 70¢ for each time someone clicked through the ad to get to my sale page.

I looked up what a normal Click Through Rate is for Facebook ads, and found that my ad results were at the top of the range ("optimal"), so I think the ad was surprisingly effective.

But was it worth it?  That's the part that's hard to tell.  Theoretically, if you earn over $2 per book (like I do), you would need to make 25 additional sales to justify spending $50.  That's the break-even point.

My sales go up and down daily, and they did go up that day, but not by much (certainly not 71 sales more, and I don't think even 25 sales).  But, my book was only available on the Kindle, so a lot of people who like romance novels, and liked the ad enough to click on it, might have said, Oh. It's on the Kindle and I don't have a Kindle. Never mind.  I think that's a common problem, since many people don't realize that if you're surfing the web, you probably already have all the technology you need to read a Kindle book.

One thing I did see was in the next few days I was getting a lot more people who bought this book also bought the following links that connected me to NYT bestselling authors. Not sure if that was related or not.

Would I have had a more dramatic "conversion rate" (meaning people who not only clicked on the ad but actually took the next step to buy the book) if I'd linked to a paperback version of the book instead?  I don't know.

Next month I'll release The Honeymoon Cottage in paperback.  Perhaps I'll try another ad at that time and see if I get a different result.

In the meantime, here's the link to a blog talking about all the various coupons for advertising on Facebook (WARNING: you must read all the fine print and follow the instructions exactly and make sure you qualify for a coupon before you buy it--the one I got was only for new advertisers and gave absolutely no refunds.).

My questions for you:
As a reader, have you ever clicked on an ad for a book?
If you're published, do you ever do paid advertising?

Happy writing, all.



Paty Jager said...

Barb, I find this information interesting, and no I've never clicked on anything in the facebook ads.

Deborah Wright said...

Fascinating post, Barb! I'm obviously not at the point where advertising is even in my vocabulary. :-) However, I can answer from the point of view of the targeted audience. In general, I don't click on ads of any kind. I won't say never, because I have (sometimes mistakenly) on very rare occasions, clicked on an ad.

That said, what I will do is open a new browser page and go directly to a site/book/etc. that I've seen in an ad -- and sometimes that visit will take place days later. See, I keep a list of "things to check out when I have time" next to the computer, and that's where I put stuff like the name of a book/author I noticed in an ad.

I have no idea if that's just an odd quirk of mine, or if other people do the same thing. I'm just really leery of direct clicking on ads.

Genene Valleau, writing as Genie Gabriel said...

Gah! You mean some of those ads are legit? LOL!

Have to admit the "train wreck" ones intrigue me--like headlines in the supermarket tabloids. Particularly intrigued by "shrink belly fat with this one old weird trick." If I can sit at my computer and eat bonbons and have abs like Jillian Michael, I wanna know how.

Seriously, I didn't know you could get so specific when placing those ads. And I so much appreciate you passing along your experiences in marketing. If you can get your book cover in front of almost 10,000 more people, that seems to be worth an investment of $7-8.

For the most part, I ignore ads unless I'm looking for something specific. On Facebook, I'm checking for messages from friends. (Yes, I'm actually using Facebook a bit more. :) On Google, if I'm looking for furniture and furniture ads pop up, I might go look.

Agreed it can be a gamble to directly click on a link. However, if I jotted it down to check later, I'd have a huge list and never go check any of them out.

Very interesting, Barb! And, again, I so much appreciate you sharing your experiences. Always ideas to consider!

Meggan McQuaid said...

Great post, Barb! Ditto to what Genene said in her last line.

To answer your questions, 1)yes I have clicked on book links, and actually get kind of excited when I see that FB has decided I would like an author that I haven't heard of before... Saves me some work; 2)I'm not published yet but based on your experience I think this might be a great tool in the self-promo arsenal.

I have one additional idea. If you linked the add to your website, where you offered the links to purchase the book in many different formats--kindle, nook, smashwords, PDF, "For PC Reading"--that could make a difference. You could track the clicks from your website then, too, perhaps giving yourself a better idea of how successful the add was.

This author's website gave me this idea. Whoever is in charge of her website does a great job of making it easy to find and buy her books.

Thanks again for sharing!