Episode 38 : Paid Online Advertising
In my last show I talked about my efforts to revive the flagging sales of my Magpies and Magic book and over the last week I’ve been looking at ways to do this. I’ve just kicked off a few different campaigns and hope that at least one of them shows some promise so I can scale it up to really revive the book in preparation for the launch of Magpies and Magic 2.
I’ve not been entirely focussed as I have been playing around with a brand new marketing option that has become available: Snapchat custom geo-filters. While the jury is still out on whether they are that useful to authors it did get me thinking about the fact that many people just aren’t aware of the terrific possibilities available in online marketing for targetting.
Types of Paid Online Advertising Available
In this show I am going to discuss the paid methods of online marketing and when you should consider using each for your own book marketing. Much depends on what your book is about and your imagination in exploiting the targetting options available appropriately. But I don’t believe that all authors should use the same techniques, so much depends on you and your book.
The original form of online advertising most people think of is Google Adwords. When you talk to most people about this they just talk about the most traditional use case of using them to promote keywords in the Google Search. When you search for words on Google you will often see results with ‘Ad’ next to them at the top of the search results: these are what you pay with Search Advertising. However there are many other (and in my opinion) bettter ways you can use Google Adwords. Especially as costs of Adwords have risen steeply in the last few years.
As well as supporting search keywords you can also choose to promote what are called ‘Display Ads’. These initially seem really unpromising as they are those ads you see on websites that many people block. But they give you a very specific way to target that isn’t easily available elsewhere: you can target a particular list of websites. As long as those websites have Google Adwords ads (and the person running the site allows the product you are advertising to appear on their site) then you can target them and have your ads appear on those sites.
on’t forget YouTube and Gmail…
Another often unknown feature of Adwords is that you can also do advertising on YouTube on it as well. This is similar to the situation with websites; there is search advertising and display advertising. Again in my opinion, the real strength is the fact that you can target a short video to play in front of any YouTube video that accepts advertising. You can list the YouTube videos that you want your advert to appear in front of, again this can be tremendously useful.
Something I haven’t used yet is the ability to advertise in Gmail. You can now have ads appear in people’s Gmail e-mail boxes like if they were an e-mail.
Facebook advertising is the darling of online advertising, largely because it is so powerful in terms of what you can target. You can target by demographic information (age and sex), what pages a person likes on Facebook and also on geographical area. These adverts appear in the Facebook newsfeed so are generally not blocked unlike Google ads.
An option that Facebook pioneered but now Google also supports are called ‘Custom Audiences’. These are groups of people who have either visited particular web pages on your website or you can upload a list of e-mail addresses and it will match those with Facebook accounts to them which you can then send adverts to. You can then combine these with the other criteria. The possibilities of what you can do with this are endless. However you do need over 100 people in a list to create a custom audience. They also support generating a larger ‘lookalike’ audience of people with similar interests to your uploaded list.
The great problem with Facebook is that lots of people are bidding up prices for advertising in a similar fashion to with Google Adwords which makes it harder to directly make a profit from direct sales advertising. The favoured consensus of people like Mark Dawson who have had success with advertising for books is to use them to get e-mail signups by giving away free books and then using adverts to lookalike audiences based on these sign-ups and selling via e-mail later when a new book is released.
Only in the U.S it is possible to use Promoted Pins, Pinterest’s advertising feature. These are basically pins in Pinterest shown to many more people. I am not sure the targetting options are that great but if the nature of your book suits the visual nature of Pinterest then this may be the way to go if you are in the U.S.
Many authors won’t think of using LinkedIn for online advertising as it has a reputation of being expensive. However I’ve advertised this podcast on LinkedIn and found it hasn’t been that expensive as long as you keep the audience extremely small. The unique things you can target on LinkedIn are job titles, companies and skills. If you have a non-fiction book based on a particular skill that people would put on LinkedIn then this would be a perfect platform to use. So ‘Advanced Double-Entry Book Keeping’ would be a perfect candidate for LinkedIn advertising, while ‘Raunchy Steamy Romance 4’ wouldn’t be.
Goodreads also allows advertising through its self-service mechanism. Here you can target by people who like particular authors on Goodreads and by genre. I’ve used this and found it to be O.K but not spectacular for results.
If you are KDP Select then you have the ability to use Amazon adverts. When I tried these out I didn’t find them to be particularly effective, though I know that they are working on improving this. You can however target by a list of Amazon products, which might be useful if your book is about a subject that is closely related to a particular other product. For example if you have a book about learning chess then showing your book on chess board product pages might work.
Pick your niche audience and then target them
None of these paid online advertising options can be considered the right option for all authors. A lot depends on the subject matter of your book and the style and what it is like. Hopefully I’ve revealed a few targetting options that you weren’t aware of and might be useful.