We already know that running price promotions is an effective book marketing tactic. But before you drop the price of any of your ebooks, you should have a specific goal in mind. Without a clear goal, it will be impossible to measure whether your promotion was a success. And the best strategy for your discount will depend on what you’re hoping to achieve. Is your aim to increase revenue for a backlist book, or would you rather hit a bestseller list? Are you hoping to get more series readers, or trying to promote a new release?
In this post, we’ll uncover four of the most common marketing goals authors and publishers aim to achieve through price promotions, and outline how you can accomplish each of these goals yourself. The data presented here is from our partners who have amplified their price promotions by running a BookBub Featured Deal.
1. Hit a bestseller list
Discounting an ebook can help drive it to bestseller status. Authors who run BookBub Featured Deals often hit the New York Times, USA Today, or Amazon bestseller list during their price promotions. In fact, 26 BookBub books hit the New York Times bestseller list in the past month alone!
This is possible because discounting can lead to high volumes of unit sales with the right supportive marketing. On average, BookBub users bought 5,200 copies of each of last month’s NYT bestsellers across all retailers. Keep in mind that fiction will likely need more sales than nonfiction to hit a list. Books that hit the NYT ebook fiction list last month sold an average of 8,000 copies during their BookBub promotions, while the ebook nonfiction titles sold an average of 3,500 to our members.
When you’re trying to hit a bestseller list:
- Discount your most popular book. BookBub’s NYT bestselling books had an average of 171 Amazon reviews before their price promotions. Additionally, we see a 15 percent increase in sales when a book we feature has at least 150 Amazon or Goodreads reviews going into the promotion. It may seem counterintuitive to discount a book that’s performing well, but your aim is to drive unit sales if you’re trying to become a bestseller, and popular books sell more.
- Maximize promotion during a specific week. Focus all your marketing efforts in a single week to drive as many unit sales as possible in the lead-up to that week’s list.
- Choose the lowest price possible. Sales are over 75 percent higher at $0.99 than $2.99. Since your aim is to drive unit sales for this goal, you need to price low.
2. Market a series
Dropping the price of one book in a series is an excellent way to drive sales for other books in a series. In fact, 94 percent of BookBub authors who discounted a book in a series sold more of other books in the series during the promotion. This works so well because once readers are hooked, they’ll be eager to find out what happens next in the series, and they’re often willing to pay full price for the subsequent books.
When you’re trying to increase series sales:
- Discount the first book in the series. There’s a 5x higher increase in sales of other books in the series when the first book is discounted vs. any other book in the series.
- Make the first book free. Free books featured with BookBub yield 10x more downloads than $0.99 books. Since your aim is to hook as many new readers as possible, these additional eyeballs are important. Also, the later books in the series will sell 8x more copies when the first book is free vs. $0.99 or higher.
- Discount for more than three days. Authors see a 4x higher increase in sales of other books in the series if the price promotion lasts longer than three days.
- Cross-promote series books in your back matter. Authors see a 3x higher increase in sales of other books in the series if links are included in the back matter of the discounted book. Make sure your readers know where to go next!
3. Launch a new release
If you’re promoting a new release, running a price promotion for one of your backlist books can help drive sales for your new book. Eighty-nine percent of BookBub partners who used a price promotion to market a new release sold more of their new book after the promotion.
Why did they do so well? Bargain readers often try new authors. In fact, 95 percent of BookBub members have purchased a book from an author unknown to them because of an ebook price promotion. But 77 percent of them also buy full-priced books, so getting them hooked on your books and author brand means they’ll be more likely to buy your new books at full price.
When it’s time to promote a new release:
- Discount backlist for fiction. Sixty-three percent of BookBub readers have purchased other books by an author they discovered through a price promotion. Find new fans with a backlist discount and they’ll go on to buy your other books, too.
- Price low. Choose the first book in a series or the most popular standalone book at the lowest price possible to maximize exposure.
- Discount when the new book is live. Authors see a 22x increase in sales of their other books on the day of their BookBub Featured Deal. Make sure to capture these follow-up sales by having the new book available during the discount. (If your aim is to hit a bestseller list when the new book comes out, you may want to drive pre-orders instead by discounting before launch).
- Promote in backlist back matter. Optimize the back matter of your discounted book for this specific goal by linking to your new release.
4. Drive sales and revenue
While it seems counterintuitive that dropping your book’s price can increase revenue, it’s true; the volume of sales generated during the discount can make up for the lower price point as long as you’re doing the right additional marketing. BookBub partners report an average 196x increase in earnings during their price promotions, with an average discount of 74 percent.
When you want to drive revenue:
- If your author has more than one book, try free. Seventy-five percent of BookBub’s authors saw increased sales of their other books after a free promotion. Often this additional revenue more than covers the cost of lost sales on the free book.
- If your author has one book, price high. Books featured by BookBub at $2.99 yield 142 percent higher revenue during their discounts than books priced at $0.99.
- Discount a big book. To see this kind of revenue increase at $2.99, you’ll need to discount bestselling authors or books with big existing platforms. Cookbooks and box sets also work well at higher prices. You may not see a significant revenue gain with a lesser known author or book featured at $2.99.
- Discount for five days or fewer. Authors see a 4x higher increase in post-promotion revenue if the book was discounted for five days or fewer. When you revert your book to full price while it’s still high on retailer bestseller lists, you can maximize full-price sales and thereby drive more revenue.
The results we’ve covered here will only be achievable if you promote your price promotion. Simply dropping the price of your book across retailers won’t generate the increase in sales volume you need to make the price drop successful. So remember to submit your book for a BookBub Featured Deal so you can amplify the results of your next price promotion.
And no matter the goal you set out to achieve with your price promotion, always measure your results to ensure your promotion had the desired impact or to determine how to adjust your strategy next time around.
What goal do you hope to achieve with your next price promotion? Let us know in the comments below!
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