Running online advertising campaigns can be challenging! Between finding the right target audience, optimizing your ad designs, and perfecting your budgeting, bidding, and pacing strategies, there are a ton of decisions to make and many different elements to tweak and test. However, BookBub Ads allows for some of the most targeted and efficient marketing available to advertisers promoting books, so it’s worth the time and effort to figure out how to make them work.
A big part of successful advertising is learning from your mistakes. Each ad that doesn’t hit the mark is a learning opportunity that can help you figure out how to create more engaging, better-targeted, or more cost-effective campaigns in the future. To help you optimize your own ad campaigns, we want to share some of the most common mistakes we see on the BookBub Ads platform, and how to fix them!
1. Forgetting to set goals
You can use BookBub Ads to achieve nearly any book marketing goal, but many advertisers don’t create campaigns with any particular goal in mind. This is a mistake because setting a goal will inform your decisions about each campaign element, and an ad created without that guiding logic is unlikely to accomplish much of anything.
The fix: Make sure you know what you’re trying to accomplish with each campaign before you get started. For example, if you want to maximize exposure and reach as many readers as possible in a short time period, such as for a new release or limited-time discount, you would want to use a higher CPM bid and target larger audiences. But if you wanted to drive steady sales over a longer time period, you might choose CPC bidding with a small daily budget and a narrower audience.
- Discover 9 different marketing goals you can accomplish with BookBub Ads.
- Read case studies on how other advertisers have promoted the first book in a series, a new release, a box set, and free books.
2. Treating all ad platforms the same
Many authors assume that what works on one advertising platform will work on another. But each one offers very different features and benefits to meet different goals. For example, you might use:
- Facebook ads for text-heavy or video ads, boosting engagement among your Facebook followers, or growing newsletter subscribers
- Amazon ads for targeting at the comp book level, capturing search traffic, or reaching Kindle Unlimited readers
- BookBub Ads for reaching readers who purchase from Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google, or Kobo in addition to Amazon; English-speaking international markets; or readers of authors who aren’t available as targets on other platforms
The fix: If you’re new to advertising, be careful of generic advertising advice intended to apply to all platforms. Even if you’re an experienced advertiser, treat each platform as though you’re starting from scratch. Try different platforms, evaluate each one by your comfort level and through the lens of your advertising goals, and be prepared for results to differ.
For example, BookBub Ads is designed specifically to reach readers who are actively looking for books. Many authors expect to see higher costs per click than on other platforms for the trade-off of higher click-to-sale conversions and ROI, as BookBub readers are more likely to actually purchase a book. Another common mistake we see is expecting the target audiences you use on other platforms to work on BookBub Ads, even though audience sizes and makeup vary dramatically across platforms. Always test your ads to question your assumptions and confirm what will work best on each platform (see mistake #5 for more information on testing your campaigns!).
- Learn how one author adjusts her strategy for BookBub Ads vs. Amazon ads and Facebook ads
- Explore BookBub Ads’ unique auction model, targeting options, and reporting capabilities
- Check out David Gaughran’s rules for advertising books on different platforms
3. Targeting too broadly
One of the biggest mistakes we see advertisers make is using really wide targeting — either by targeting book category alone or targeting only the most popular authors in their genre — and expecting to see sales. We get it: It can be really tempting to reach a massive audience of readers! And this strategy can make a lot of sense if your goal is to increase exposure instead of increasing sales. But if you specifically want to drive a lot of clicks and sales, it’s a mistake.
The fix: The most effective way to run ads with a positive ROI is to use granular targeting to reach only the readers who are most likely to purchase your book. Targeting by author interest is much more effective than category interest for reaching a narrow audience of relevant readers. This lets you reach any reader who follows an author or has clicked on one of their books in a BookBub email or on our website.
Choosing the right author targets is critical. Try to be selective about authors who write similar books instead of simply choosing the most popular authors in your genre. Many advertisers start by trying out the authors who appear in their “also boughts” on retailers, or identifying authors in their genre with similar plots and cover branding.
You have far more author targeting options on BookBub than on platforms like Facebook, but remember that the targets that work well for you on one advertising platform may not be as successful on another. Keep an eye out for authors running Featured Deals on similar books to use as ad targets, and check your targets’ audience sizes in the ad form to confirm they have a large enough following on BookBub. And don’t forget to test every target to make sure they’re a good fit.
- Read about successful advertisers’ strategies for choosing author targets and our top tips for improving your author targeting.
- Learn how to decide how many authors to target.
- See 9 clever ways to combine our targeting options to reach relevant readers.
- Check you’re not making one of these common mistakes in your targeting.
4. Using unappealing ad images
Your 300×250 pixel ad image is all that readers see in their emails or on our website, and it does all the work of convincing them to click. A blurry, cluttered, or confusing ad is unlikely to entice readers to give your book a chance.
The fix: There are lots of design tools out there to help you create professional-looking ad images, no matter your level of graphic design experience! One of the most important things your image should accomplish is conveying the genre, tone, and mood of your book to potential readers. Your ad should also include a short and snappy blurb crafted to capture readers’ attention, spark curiosity, and offer them a clear incentive to click and learn more.
Here are some elements you could include that are proven to drive clicks from BookBub readers:
- A deal price. BookBub readers love a good deal, especially as a tool to discover new authors! Ads promoting books at lower prices tend to have higher click-through rates (CTRs).
- Tropes that appeal to your ideal fan base. Readers often know exactly what they like and what they’re looking for, so tell them what they can expect from your book! Mentioning genre-specific tropes in our Featured Deals blurbs often drives more clicks, and many ad images with high CTRs highlight tropes.
- Quotes from publications, reviews, or other authors. In our Featured Deals copy, including quotes from recognizable authors and publications drives a 23% average increase in clicks. And BookBub readers trust recommendations from authors they love, so using author blurbs in your ads can be an excellent way to hook new readers.
- Comparisons to movies, TV shows, or other books. Comparing your books to other content your target audience knows and loves can be a fantastic way to drive clicks. However, make sure your comparisons are accurate and you aren’t misleading your audience about what you’re promoting.
Remember that the goal of your ad is primarily to hook readers’ interest, not to tell them everything about your book! Once they click, you have your entire book page and description to convince them to purchase, so don’t overload your ad with too much information.
- Learn more about common mistakes to avoid in your ad designs.
- Check out some of the most successful ad campaigns from 2022.
- See more examples of clickable ad designs.
5. Starting with too high of a budget
One of the most painful mistakes we’ve seen is when an advertiser sets a budget of a couple hundred dollars and burns through it in a few hours without getting a single click. Because we have millions of readers opening our emails each day, our ads can serve very quickly! And if you’ve invested your entire marketing budget into a single ad, that can mean spending a lot of money before you have a chance to optimize the ad.
The fix: Always start your campaigns with low budgets, and only increase them once you’re certain the ad is performing well. Try setting up a continuous campaign with a $5 or $10 daily budget, or a campaign with a set start and end date with a $10 or $20 total budget. After one day, you can assess your results to see if you want to increase your budget or change something about the campaign.
6. Neglecting to run test campaigns
We’ve seen many advertisers set up a single ad campaign, let it run, and then call it quits if they were unhappy with the results. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll hit the perfect combination of audience targeting, ad image, and bid on the first try. In order to optimize all of your campaign elements, you have to run tests to determine what works best for your books.
The fix: Testing and iterating is essential to running successful ad campaigns. We recommend starting with two to four low-budget ad campaigns — again, $10 to $20 each can be enough to see results! — to compare one campaign element at a time. Then, repeat the process, making small adjustments in each round, until you hit the results you’re looking for. Some things you might consider testing include:
- Targeting different authors’ fans to compare results between audiences
- Using different text in your ad image, including blurbs from authors, quotes from reader reviews, excerpts from your book description, or other copy
- Including the book cover in the ad image
- Including the book’s price in the ad image
- Fonts, colors, and image layouts
Pro tip: If you add multiple author targets to a single campaign, we’ll break down the results for each author on your Ad Details page. This makes it easier to compare author targets without having to set up one campaign for each target!
- Find step-by-step instructions for running your own test campaigns with BookBub Ads.
- See how one author used BookBub Ads to test different cover designs.
- Discover another author’s rigorous process for testing BookBub Ads author targets.
7. Bidding too low
Your bid determines two things: how competitive your ad is relative to other ads targeting the same readers, and how much it will cost you to win impressions or clicks. If you want to run an ROI-positive campaign, it’s important to set a bid low enough to keep your costs down, but bidding too low can prevent your ad from reaching readers at all.
The fix: If your ad stops winning impressions, try increasing your bid. We recommend a range of winning bids directly in the bidding section of the ad form, so that should give you a sense of what’s currently competitive:
Pro tip: For CPC campaigns that aren’t winning impressions, you should copy your ad and restart a new version of it with a higher bid rather than simply increasing your bid — our auction takes click-through-rate into account for CPC ads, so a low CTR will make it even harder for your ad to win impressions.
- Use our free bid calculator to estimate an ROI-positive bid for your campaign.
- Read our top tips on improving the ROI of your campaign.
- Get tips from successful advertisers on how to use CPC bidding.
- Read other tips for troubleshooting common campaign issues.
8. Forgetting about other regions and retailers
BookBub Ads offers the unparalleled ability to target readers in particular regions who use specific retailers to purchase their ebooks. For example, you can reach only Kobo readers in Canada, or Apple Books readers in Australia. However, many of the ads we see are only targeted to Amazon US readers. Since this segment of readers is targeted so frequently, it’s a more competitive audience to reach, which means getting your ad in front of them can be more expensive.
The fix: If you distribute your books to multiple retailers, make sure you include all of them in your ad campaigns! And if your books are exclusive to Amazon, don’t forget to include Amazon readers in non-US regions. We split up ad reporting by retailer and by region, which makes it easy to include multiple audience segments in a single campaign and track the results for each.
For greater control over how much you spend in each region or on each retailer, you can also copy a campaign to create different versions. For example, you can create one campaign for all UK retailers and another for all Canadian retailers, or one campaign targeting Amazon readers and another targeting Apple readers. Some advertisers even customize their images for different regions or retailers:
- Read about the different ways to target readers with BookBub Ads.
- See examples of successful ads targeting readers in multiple regions and retailers.
9. Excluding follow-on sales when measuring results
If you’re advertising a low-priced ebook and only accounting for that one book’s sales when measuring your campaign’s ROI, the margins can sometimes look slim! But a BookBub reader who reaches the end of the discounted book is highly likely to buy more from you — 84% of BookBub readers decide to purchase books because they’re by an author they already like, and 74% purchase books because they’re in a series they like. So selling one book via an ad campaign may result in multiple follow-on book sales from that one reader.
The fix: Use our free ad bidding calculator or develop your own system to calculate the expected read-through to your other books from the book you’re promoting in your ad campaigns. Once you know how much total revenue you can expect from each reader who clicks on your ads, you can adjust your bids and budgets accordingly to make sure your ads are profitable. Use this guide to understand how to interpret your results.
Pro tip: Take advantage of the back matter of your ebooks to encourage readers who have finished a book to purchase another one! This could help drive even more follow-on sales, increasing your ad’s effectiveness.
- Find tips on using your back matter to drive readers to your next book.
- See examples of how authors promote sequels in their back matter.
- Learn how one author used BookBub Ads to drive follow-on sales.
10. Not asking for help!
Many authors don’t realize that there is a friendly and knowledgeable support team at BookBub who can help them out with their ad campaigns (or anything else!).
The fix: If you email our partners team at firstname.lastname@example.org, one of our reps will be happy to offer advice and guidance, answer any questions you have about setting up BookBub Ads, or even take a look at your campaigns and provide feedback. We want to help you run effective ads, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!
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This post was originally published on September 17th, 2018 and has been updated with the latest tips and best practices.