I’m super stoked about this post. I’ve known Steven since I’ve started blogging, and I consider him a friend above all. I also consider him one of my top marketing mentors, so when he offered to create a post, I jumped at the chance. His book, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento, is out now, and I’ve already ordered my paperback version and added it to my impossible to whittle down TBR list on Goodreads. So, if you’re like me, and you feel like marketing is a tough nut to crack, please see below.
When I tell people I used to use PPC marketing as part of my job, they give me funny looks. When I tell them that I am now using PPC marketing to promote my first novel, they’re downright flummoxed.
But Pay-Per-Click Marketing is really quite simple: you pay a particular service to feed your webpages, articles, or blogs to other content-driven websites, where they can be seen by a wider, more diverse audience. You then only pay the service provider when a user clicks on your headlines and visits your website.
In this post, I’ll provide a basic overview of how to create and manage a PPC campaign through Taboola.
Creating a Taboola Campaign
There are many PPC services, but I chose to use Taboola, because of the two PPC services I used at my former job – Taboola and Outbrain – I found that Taboola has a better user interface and can be done more cheaply than Outbrain.
Setting up a new campaign is fairly straightforward.
- In your Taboola dashboard, click Campaign Management on the left menu, and click New Campaign.
- Name your campaign. I use a simple convention: RSPC – Publish Announcement – Smartphone, so I can differentiate the website, content, and platform for the campaign right away.
- Select your timeframe. The shortest campaigns should be 10-14 days, but I think 4-6 weeks is optimal.
- Select your targeting locations. Taboola lets you get into regions, cities, and even zip codes, but for most campaigns, you’ll want to stick with one country, like the US.
- Choose your platform: desktop, smartphone, or tablet. Some people like to include Tablet and Smartphone together, since these are both “mobile,” but I prefer to use each platform separately.
- Then, set your Cost Per Click bid and spending limit. You may have to start with a higher click rate, like $0.45-$0.50 per click, but Taboola lets you adjust this throughout the campaign. Your spending limit puts a monetary cap on your campaign, so you can plan the length and limit of your campaign based on your budget.
There are other settings you can use, but those are the primary ones you will want to consider.
Next, you’ll want to create your content by adding URLs for the webpage you want to promote. I highly recommend using only one URL per campaign. If you have multiple URLs to promote, set each one up in a distinct campaign. However, for each URL campaign, write 3-6 unique headlines. This will help you capture the widest audience for your content.
For my content, I chose to promote my blog post announcing the pre-order period for my novel: https://redstringpapercuts.com/2018/06/19/the-warden-of-everfeld-memento-is-being-published/
I used the above four headlines across three campaigns for Tablet, Desktop, and Smartphone, targeting the U.S. – basically casting a wide net just to gauge initial interest in my novel.
For the image, I asked my cover illustrator to provide me with a high-quality image of my full cover without any of the text – Taboola does not like text in images. I then tried to diversify my headlines between a few key themes:
- Giving a quick tagline about the main characters
- Announcing the publication date for a new novel
- Presenting the reader with a question to make them curious
- Enticing readers interested in world-building or fantasy universes
One or two of these headlines will certainly perform better over the others, but finding out which ones will tell me a lot about my target audience.
Here is how my campaigns did on the first day:
Impressions tell me how many people saw my headline, while Clicks tell me how many of those Impressions actually clicked on my content. CTR, or Click-Through-Rate, is simply a ratio of clicks to impressions. Average CPC tells me about how much I’m spending per click on each campaign, and Spent gives the total dollar amount spent.
Now, a few notes on my actual results:
- I received the fewest clicks (15) on my Desktop campaign, but spent the highest amount to get them ($7.50, tied with total Spent for Smartphone).
- The CTR for Desktop is also a bit low – 0.03% (An average CTR is 0.03%-0.05%)
- By contrast, my Smartphone campaigns received the most clicks (32), with the highest CTR (0.12%), and a high Spend ($7.50).
- The Tablet campaign performed well, and still way better than Desktop.
Conclusion: I should consider re-allocating my budget away from the Desktop campaign, and toward the Smartphone and Tablet campaigns. These results are only from the first day, so I’ll wait another day or two before adjusting to see how things shake out over a longer period. A single day is really only a snapshot of my campaigns’ potential.
Next, I’ll want to see how my individual headlines are performing against each other. I already know that Smartphone and Tablet are doing well, so I’ll look at all of my headlines together to see which of the four stand out across all three campaigns.
The above screen only shows eight of my 12 total headlines, but that’s okay. The other four have received 0 clicks so far. And, Taboola’s content algorithm promotes headlines that perform well, so these already have a head-start over the rest.
Now for some quick notes on my headline performance:
- “What do honor and memory mean…” This is performing well across all platforms: 34 total clicks for an average CTR of 0.05%. The Desktop version may sink with its poor CTR of 0.02%, but this headline is a winner overall.
- “Explore the Unique World…” is showing some potential, but it has a lot of catching up to do.
- The other two headlines appear to be scrapping it out for second place.
Conclusion: I can already see that my top-performing headline is successful at drawing in readers, so I can consider using this one again for a later campaign.
The overall order and performance of these headlines will certainly change over the course of these campaigns, but I’m betting one of the current top three maintains its current dominance.
That’s all for now! I’ll keep an eye on each campaign’s performance over the next 10-14 days and decide then if I want to extend them. Visit Red String PaperCuts in a couple weeks for an update on how my PPC campaigns performed.