Marketing Journal: I Like Sales, But I Can’t Overspend

Marketing Journal: I Like Sales, But I Can’t Overspend

Gretings all,

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on the marketing efforts, and this turned out to be as good an opportunity as any.

I started out continuing the plan I had been working on. Spending $174.47, I had four sales and 1,646 pages read directly tied to the clicks I had.

I say directly tied because I had more than four sales.

The month of December had a was a bright spot for me. I had ten sales, which held true from my last run in November. Continuing in the direction I was going always led to an increase in sales. The problem was that my ACOS (the Average Cost of Sales) was still just too high. Sure, I got orders. Sure, I got reviews. But spending $147 to earn less than $60 isn’t good business. I didn’t want to panic though. I wanted to wait one more more month to see what would happen.

I also wanted to try something new. You see, I read this post (somewhere on Kindlpreneur bout marketing to a German audience. It basically said there is indeed a market for fiction books written in English, so I figured, why not?

So I walked through the process (it was fairly simple) and uploaded a few of my pre-made folders I had already set up. Since starting, I’ve spent about $40, but I did sell a paperback!

Then the numbers for January came in.

I did have another ten sales, and that’s great (sales are always good) but more than $200!? Something had to change. I did a little more research, and came to a conclusion:

No one in their right mind should bid $.45 for a click. I don’t claim to have been in my right mind, so I don’t feel too ashamed. I really started digging into my numbers and the research.

First: Most of my purchases came with great ACOS, the problem was they were buried in keywords that weren’t resulting in (obvious) sales. There were a few keywords where the ACOS was too much, but I was paying out the ear for sales that weren’t making up the difference.

So I started going to my reports and looking out for any clicks that cost more than $.25 cents. This is a good spot to start. Ideally (according to my research), you should expect any keyword to take between 10-20 clicks before you get a sale. So my goal is to work with keywords that are effective at bids between $.15-$.25 while eliminating those above.

How’d it work out? Well, the good news is I’ve brought my cost for February back down to $126.97 (as I type this). That did have an effect on my sales.

As I type this, I only have four sales for February. I’ll admit, for that stretch you see from Feb. 11 – Feb. 23, I felt awful. I kept having to tell myself that it’s just bad business to spend more than $200 for only about $28 in sales. I still lose about $170. I can’t do that, and I don’t want new authors to have that issue. Yes, more impressions leads to more sales. Yes, more clicks leads to more sales. this month proved that even though I don’t see the sales on the Amazon Advertising page, those sales are related in some way.

So the next step in this evolution is to optimize my campaigns as I mentioned above. I’m still going to use keywords to generate more keywords. I’m still going to work on what I call the King Keyword list, a document composed strictly of keywords that resulted in sales and/or pages read.

I will continue to eliminate all campaign bids greater than $.25. I’m also pausing any keywords or campaigns that have proven to be ineffective. For instance “Batman” as a keyword got me more than 60 clicks, but those 60 clicks didn’t net me a single, observable sale.

What I learned in doing that was that I do have keywords that are performing well (a Click Through Rate higher than 1% and ACOS below 70%). I just have a lot of keywords that aren’t working for me, and I have to manage and refine those keywords. Any new campaigns I set will be based on the range from $.15-$.25. I’m letting the Germany Add Campaigns work for a while. Most of the research I’ve seen says it take about three months for a campaign to gain traction. I’ve also started some of AMS’s Product Sponsoring campaigns. Those will also run for three months while I observe the data. Then I’ll start working to optimize those campaigns.

The hope is to evolve on this platform until I earn money from marketing rather than just spend money for the sake of making sales.

I hope this is helping some of you out there to take note of what to watch out for as you prepare to release your books.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Such An Awesome 2019! (convention)

Such An Awesome 2019! (convention)

Greetings all,

AwesomeConSo we got some rest, and boy did we need it. AwesomeCon 2019 was such a wonderful, huge event. As usual, I wanted to take a moment and give you some insight as to how things went.

Last year ended on a high note. We had always planned to slow way down this year to get life figured out and write some more books. The wonderful thing is I honestly thought, “Well that was just an amazing success, but no way do I do that sort of stuff again.”

Well, I didn’t.  In terms of books sold, I did even better. I sold fifty one books! I don’t remember the count from Baltimore Comic Con, but I remember it being in the forties.

The first thing I need to do is praise God for such an amazing blessing! Through four years of work, I’m seeing progress in this business venture, and all things come through him.

The next thing I need to do is thank all of you! If you stopped by and picked up one (or a few) copies of my work, you’ve helped my dream come true. I hope you enjoy the stories. I hope reading them makes you that much more excited for the things I’m working on next.

This wasn’t just a fun day for me though. Steve D’Adamo was right there with me, and he sold copies of his book, The Warden of Everfeld: Memento. He even posted a blog about his side of things.

So I won’t go over information he covered because I frankly want you to read his blog. But I do have some additional insights.

  1. How I measure “success.”

D5nXJwSWAAAHwLwI ran into another author who was a bit upset that sales weren’t there. Now, some authors measure success in terms of profit. I’m not one of those. Even with multiple books, I still don’t have enough products to expect to actually profit. I “made” $289. That’s fantastic. It’s certainly way more than I normally make. It paid for my table ($273.35 for badges and table), but I spent $456.66 ordering books, so I actually lost $441.01. That might lead to a lot of sad faces and discouraged hopeful authors. First, AwesomeCon is a huge event with pretty expensive artist alley tables.  I don’t go to AwesomeCon to make money. I got to AwesomeCon to have fun and meet people. I got to meet new readers who I hope will become loyal readers. My two of my three most loyal readers were all people I met at AwesomeCon. So yeah, I lost money up front, but those people buy my books I later release, even if they wait to do so at the next AwesomeCon.

So I told the author I mentioned above, “I already know I’m going to lose money here. I don’t count success by dollars made. I count it by books sold.” Fifty one is a new record. So I see this event as a huge success.

How could I have done better? Well, I’m still not used to having so many books.  I ordered twenty copies of each of my longer works (Caught and The Journals of Bob Drifter), and I ordered thirty copies each of my shorter works (Repressed & Sojourn in Captivity (paperback) and The Power of Words).  I only sold more than half of one of those. So I just ordered too many books.  If I’d only ordered half of those numbers, I still would have lost $213 (or so), but that’s expected at an event where I still have a very limited number of things for people to buy. This is something I’m going to try to adjust. At Shore Leave, I intend to sell prints as well. It’s a low-up-front cost item that will help me diversify what people can come to my table to purchase. I’ll also be able to bundle them and increase deals for potential customers.

Now, Shore Leave is much less expensive to attend. I clearly don’t need to order more books. I took that money I earned from AwesomeCon to pay for my table. If I sell all of those books, I’ll make back that table. Mathematically, I will still have lost $100-something, but I’ll have that many more books out there for people to read, (hopefully) enjoy, (hopefully) review, and (hopefully) recommend to a friend.  

2.  Try new things:

caught-front-cover
This cover gets a lot of looks, so I’m going to try and sell prints of it.

As I mentioned above, I’m always looking to try new things. My biggest mission is to provide low-cost (both to me and the potential customer) products to purchase. Bookmarks did not work. They make great hand outs, but people just don’t want to pay for those. So I looked around and realized that there are a lot of artists in artist alley (go figure). So the new plan is to commission art based on my books to sell prints of at conventions. I don’t expect to do as well as people who sell cool pictures of trademarked characters, but I’m not touching that. But if someone looks at a really awesome picture of Caden or Elele, they may want to buy it. They may want to know about the character. This may work; it may not work at all. The point is you have to diversify your options. Not everyone reads. Most people who go to conventions buy art from someone. Why not art based on my books? Plus, it gets Carlos and Collin some attention. Also, I’m sharing profits with them so I don’t pay up front. It’s a risk on their end, but it’s an investment of time for the potential to profit money.

3.  Sharing is great!

D5Ht92lX4AI4_7MI’ve shared a table before, but I didn’t know how to do it. I’d read both of Andrew’s books (I shared a table with him a few times), but he’d only read one of mine. Also, we thought of our one table as two tables rather than thinking of the table as ours. This might have been something I did wrong. I’m not saying we didn’t try to help each other out, but we were still pitching our stuff more individually.  Steve knew all my pitches for all my books. He understood my work, and he knew how I was marketing. We talked before hand. We also pitched what was right for the reader. If someone said they liked traditional fantasy, I put Steve’s book in his hand. Steve must have sold at least three of my books. I might have sold as many of his. We amplified one another. Now, Andrew is wonderful, and he worked hard for each other. I just lacked the understanding of how sharing a table really works. This is something I really want to continue to try. It brings the up-front costs down for each of us, and it really works when you’re selling the books people want.  In fact, during AwesomeCon, I actually told a reader I probably don’t have a books she likes (she’s a fan of Terry Pratchett). I directed her straight to Andrew’s work. I told her, you’ll love him.

So those are a few insights. Ultimately, I couldn’t be happier. It took Julie and I a week to recover. We were so exhausted, but we had so much fun.

If you were one of the people I met at the event, thank you so much for giving our work a try. We truly hope you enjoy the books.

Thanks for reading,

Matt

Marketing Journal: Goodreads Campaign

Marketing Journal: Goodreads Campaign

I’ve made no bones about the fact that marketing is something I don’t understand.  Oh, I have as much economics training as the next Associates Degree holder, but to be honest, I only know enough to know I don’t know what I’m doing.

My idea is to create a marketing journal.  I’ll track what I try and how it works.  Then I realized others might be interested in seeing what I’m doing.  Maybe they know how to do it better and will help a guy out, or maybe they’re like I am, and this will help them at least be as successful as I’ve been.

This is my first entry under this Marketing Journal tag, and I don’t know how often or regularly I’ll post these.  Most marketing campaigns have some sort of cost associated with it, and money just isn’t a thing I have.

I noticed Goodreads has started an add campaign system a while ago, so I thought I’d give it a try.

How it works:  Well, if I can figure it out, it’s pretty easy.  You start by clicking here.  It’s the summary and description of how it works in general.

target-418917_960_720Like I said, advertising usually costs money.  For this campaign, I set a limit of $50.  For anyone smarter than me:  is it completely unreasonable to think the money you invest in campaigning should at least result in the same amount earned in sales?  What’s the ration of profits earned against advertising dollars?  For me, I would consider this a gain if I simply get 50 people to add my book to their TBR lists.  I’d be ecstatic if I sold 50 copies of my book.  But I need to be told if that’s just a pipe dream.

I have a daily cap set at $5 a day.  That cap is based on my Cost Per Click.  I established my Cost Per Click originally at $0.5.  So when I started, if 10 people clicked my link, I wouldn’t get any more clicks, but I wouldn’t lose any more money from my budget.  I’m not sure how big a deal that is to be honest.  My whole campaign is built to end when the $50 I invested runs out, so weather that runs out in a day or a month, I’m not concerned either way.

september-stats
This is my actual chart that tracks views for the month of September.  All the following images are from my dashboard showing my progress.

Now we come to the part I think might be of interest to those like me.  I set up my add to target women who like a group of genres.  I was very broad, basically clicking any genre my book comes anywhere near to fitting in.  The first day I had 70 views.  The second day I had 73 views.  I didn’t have anyone click my link.  I’ve mentioned before that interaction matters to me.  So I changed it up.  I shifted so the campaign only targeted men.

I’m a man.  I wrote a book I liked.  I wrote a book my best friend and brother in law might like.  But when I looked at Goodreads and Amazon, I realized that the BULK of my sales and 5-Star Reviews were, in fact, from women.  That’s why I chose women first. Watch this:  When I shifted from women to men, my views plummeted from 73 to 22.  I can say I wrote this book for whoever I want, but the fact is, women are more interested in my book than men. I shifted the campaign back to women the next day and ended with 100 views.  After four days, I had 165 views, but no clicks.  Time to switch it up.

Goodreads also has a feature that allows you to target people who rated a group of Authors.  So if I select authors I think my book is like, anyone who gave all of those authors 3 or more stars will see my add.   This is awesome.  I chose Dean Koontz, Christopher Golden, Mike Molina, James Patterson and Dan Wells.

I had 23 views.

My theory is that the list of authors I gave is very broad.  Only two come any where near each other, and even that is a stretch.  So if only a small percentage of people read that combination, it reduces my reach.  Now, this would have been fine if those 23 views also mean 23 clicks, but it didn’t.  In the interest of science, I switched it from women who liked those authors to men.  Again, I dropped to 16.  Still no clicks.

So I changed my approach.  I switched my audience to women again.  Then I went back to genres.  This time, I reduced the number of genres to those I felt BEST represented Bob.  I chose Ebooks, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, and Thriller.

october-viewsIn one day, I received 3,562 views.  I  also received 3 clicks.  Two people added me to their TBR lists.  The next day I received 3,362 views and one click.  I was very happy with the views and the clicks were improving.

The help section in Goodreads recommends if you want to increase your click through percentage (CTR) (percent of people who click your link from those who view your add) to change the add summary.  At this point, my add was an image of the cover with the following:  “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural.  A story about life from the perspective of those who watch over the dying.”  In an effort to increase that CTR, I changed it to, “Dead Like Me meets Supernatural.  A substitute teacher must collect the souls of the dying.  How does one live, when his real job is death?”

october-clicks-1Whenever you change your ad, it takes a few days for Goodreads to approve your ad.  So my ad shut down for a few days until it was approved.  When it came back up, I received 2,720 views, but no clicks.  I’m going to let this campaign run for a few more days with these settings.  If I don’t get back above 3,000 views, or I don’t get any clicks, I’ll go back to the original add and see if those numbers climb back up.

That’s where I’m at right now.  I’ve had 10,040 views and 4 clicks for a CTR of .04%.  (Goodreads says the results span from .05-.5, so if I can get to .25, I’ll call that a solid first time average).

current-add-lookI hope this helps those trying to figure out ways to reach viewers.  Of all the campaigns I’ve tried outside of conventions, this is one I feel best about because I already know I’m getting my add in front of interested readers.  That’s priceless to me.  Facebook and Twitter adds can be refined to interests, but people are finicky.  I would not call someone who likes Harry Potter  a fan of Fantasy.  The reading of one book doesn’t make you a fan of genre.  I’ve read two romance novels.  I hate romance.  I actually liked one of those books.  I read it because I wanted to learn from the structure and style.   Any genre is the same really in that regard.  BUT, to be able to target readers who like those genres or the authors those book match is awesome!  I’ll keep you all posted in how this goes.

Until then, thanks for reading,

Matt