Authors and book marketers can use the BookBub Ads platform to accomplish a wide range of marketing goals. One common strategy is to run ads to increase sales and awareness of new releases. Author Jeana E. Mann ran a series of ad campaigns in October 2019 after the launch of The Rebel Queen, the second book in a duet. She sold over 10,000 copies of these books while her ads were running, and had a positive return on investment!
BookBub Ads are a key part of Jeana’s marketing plan each time she releases a new book.
“I budget BookBub Ads into every new release plan. BookBub members are dedicated readers. They come to BookBub solely for the purpose of finding new books, and that’s important to me as an advertiser. Their attention isn’t divided between socializing and shopping for non-book related items.”
Here’s how she used BookBub Ads to promote this release:
Jeana published the first book in The Rebel Queen Duet in September 2019. She priced it at $0.99 to maintain momentum and continue to attract new readers until the release of book 2 a month later. When launching book 2, she had two goals:
- Drive sales
- Increase exposure
“Since I’m a relatively unknown author, I wanted to reach as many potential readers as possible without spending a ton of money. I focused on promoting The Rebel Queen during release week to drive sales for that book, then switched the focus to the complete duet once the initial rush of release week began to wane. A lot of readers aren’t interested in purchasing a series until it’s complete, so I wanted to capture those readers and let them know this duet was available to binge read at once.”
Jeana used Book Brush and Canva to design the images for her ad campaigns. If the cover of the book she’s promoting isn’t too busy, she’ll often use it as the background of the image. Otherwise, she looks for photos that match the emotion, tone, and setting of the book. For these campaigns, she used both strategies.
“To create successful designs, I study the ads at the bottom of each BookBub newsletter and the ads on the website. Also, the tips in the BookBub Partners Blog are a great source of information on trends and what works best. But testing is the most important element to finding a successful image design. I might run ads with a dozen or more different designs before I find one that resonates with readers. Once I’ve found something that works, I’ll focus all my attention on that ad.”
BookBub Ads lets you reach custom audiences of readers. Jeana targeted readers across all of BookBub’s available regions and retailers, and some of her highest click-through rates came from non-US regions. She then narrowed her audience down to the most relevant readers.
In her previous ads, Jeana found that targeting by author interest was more successful at driving high click-through rates (CTRs) than targeting by category interest, so she set up each ad to target a different author’s fan base. When you target by author interest, your audience includes any readers who follow that author or have interacted with the author’s books in BookBub’s emails or website.
“One of my best targets is myself, but I also target authors who write books similar to mine. The ‘Also Boughts’ on the Amazon product page are a great resource. I also keep an eye on bestseller lists and BookBub newsletters to see who has a good following. If an author in my genre is running a BookBub Featured Deal, I’ll target my ad to that specific author’s fans to ride on their coattails. I keep a list of potential targets, but what works for one ad might not work for another, so I am constantly rotating names in and out of that list.”
Schedule & Budget
Jeana set up continuous ad campaigns for this launch, with a budget of $10 per day for ads promoting The Rebel Queen and $20 per day for ads promoting the complete duet. With a continuous campaign, advertisers set a daily budget, and the ad serves until it spends up to that amount each day until it’s paused. Jeana prefers continuous campaigns because they let her easily keep tabs on how a campaign performs over time.
“If an ad is performing well, I let it run until the CTR drops below my target of 6%. At that time, I’ll either end the campaign and switch to advertising a different book or I’ll change the image design. My daily budget is a minimum of $10 per day. If an ad is getting a great CTR, I’ll increase the spend to $25 per day until it begins to decline, but $10 per day seems to be the sweet spot for my audience. Anything more than that can exhaust the audience pretty quickly.”
Setting a bid for a campaign determines how competitive it will be in the auction and how much an advertiser pays to reach readers. Jeana’s primary goal for these campaigns was to drive sales without spending too much, so she chose cost-per-click (CPC) bidding, which gave her greater control over how much each click cost.
“Before I set up an ad, I determine if my goal is creating reader awareness (winning impressions) or gaining sales (driving clicks). For this particular release, my piggy bank was pretty empty so my main goal was to make money.”
To confirm that her bid is the right amount, Jeana follows the authors she’s targeting and checks to see whether her ads appear in her own BookBub emails or on BookBub.com. If she knows she falls in her ad’s target audience but doesn’t immediately see her ads serving, she’ll increase her bid to ensure the ads are as competitive as possible.
“Sometimes, on a high-performing ad, I’ll put in a ridiculously high amount for the bid just so I can push that ad in front of any other ads running at the same time. It’s a sad but true fact that you have to spend money to make money. A greater investment often leads to greater returns, and I’m not afraid to take calculated risks on a high-performing ad.”
Jeana achieved her goals of increasing sales and exposure for this release. In addition to the 10,000 sales for the two advertised books during this window, she also saw a boost in sales for a trilogy of related books, which further increased the ROI of her campaigns.
“I saw a huge return in sales, many times more than my investment and I can directly attribute that to BookBub Ads. It’s the reason I continue to use this platform as a driving force behind all of my marketing strategies.”
In total, all of Jeana’s campaigns for The Rebel Queen served over 73,000 impressions during the two-and-a-half months post-release. Her top-performing ad drove over 1,400 clicks at a 6.5% CTR, and remained ROI-positive while it was running:
“On this particular campaign, I didn’t worry about eCPC as long as the CTR remained high. I checked my advertising numbers daily and looked for a CTR of 6% or higher. The BookBub Dashboard is a great way to see at a glance if an ad is performing well. I find the graphs on the ad details pages particularly useful for quick analysis. To measure ROI, I keep a spreadsheet of daily ad spend, number of downloads, and royalties earned. I check these numbers daily and adjust my ad spend accordingly.”
Jeana’s number one piece of advice for other advertisers? Always test your campaigns and be ruthless in making changes!
“The most important thing to running a successful ad is testing. Lots and lots of testing. If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to scrap it and try new images, designs, or targets. The second most important thing is to pay attention, check performance daily, and turn off underperforming ads before they drain your budget.”