Running continuous BookBub Ads campaigns allows you to steadily reach new audiences of book buyers — and you can do so with a low daily budget! Advertiser Marc Jooste manages campaigns for author Baileigh Higgins’s prehistoric postapocalyptic thriller collection Primordial Earth, available in Kindle Unlimited, and for the past several months has been running continuous campaigns designed to drive steady reader engagement and grow series sales at only $10 a day. Even while focusing on a niche audience, he’s managed to find new readers each day at a low cost per click. Read on to learn how carefully researching and monitoring author targets is a key component of his success!
Marc didn’t have a particular event (like a price promotion or release) to design his campaigns around; instead, his goal was to spend a predictable daily budget to drive regular engagement from new readers. He measures engagement by monitoring campaign-specific stats like click-through rate, but also retailer-level metrics such as conversion rate and revenue.
Ultimately, Marc is looking to grow his monthly advertising budget over time based on strong returns from his active campaigns. This allows him to reinvest profits into more marketing campaigns designed to continuously increase book sales and revenue.
Campaign strategy and execution
Targeting and image
To narrow down a BookBub Ad’s audience by readers’ interests, you can choose from two options: category targeting and author targeting. Category targeting allows advertisers to reach a broad audience of readers who have indicated an interest in that genre, while author targeting narrows in on readers who have expressed interest in specific authors on BookBub.
Marc opted for author targeting to reach a more relevant (and likely to engage) audience. He already had experience running Amazon ads, so he didn’t start from scratch when selecting targets on BookBub. Some of these targets worked well, but others didn’t translate to the same success that they did in Amazon ads.
Note: BookBub Ads audiences are determined entirely by reader engagement with those authors on BookBub, so it’s very common for targets to not perform equally across different ad platforms. We always recommend testing your targets like Marc did before investing in a big campaign!
To find new authors, Marc monitored the also-bought authors on Baileigh’s books and searched similar genres for potential targets. He says, “A good portion of my time on BookBub Ads is spent looking for new author targets, and in the case of this specific collection, Primordial Earth, it can be tricky to find good targets sometimes.” In his testing, Marc has found some of the highest rates of engagement come from comparable authors with smaller audiences — generally 10k–12k readers on BookBub. Targets with smaller audiences can also be great options when you’re targeting multiple authors. Additionally, Marc used region targeting to test his author targets’ audiences across different countries.
Marc found that he needs to refresh his ad’s audience more frequently when he targets smaller audiences, whether by using authors with fewer readers on BookBub or narrowing his targeting to only the UK or Canada. As with most things in marketing, it’s a balance: Marc says even though larger authors’ audiences generally don’t drive quite as much engagement, the trade-off of having a larger reach is often valuable, so there are times when he will accept a lower click-through rate in favor of generating more impressions. Ultimately, he decided to focus his campaigns exclusively on a US audience, since relevant authors’ readerships in non-US regions were significantly smaller and would therefore need to be swapped out much more often.
To appeal to the audiences of comparable authors and engage the right readers, Marc’s images always included a snappy line and background image that hinted at the dinosaur-ridden, postapocalyptic setting.
From my experience, I’ve seen that an actual image of the book isn’t necessary to drive decent engagement as long as the rest of the ad image is good quality and conveys a clear message about what the product is about.
Budget and bid
Because his goal was regular engagement, Marc opted for a continuous campaign, which uses a daily budget and runs until an advertiser manually ends it (rather than a campaign with fixed start and end dates, which uses a campaign-level budget). Using a regular daily budget was also helpful for Marc in assessing ad performance: “This [consistency] gives us a good idea of how much traffic is being generated every day through our various advertising campaigns.”
When running test campaigns, Marc used very low daily budgets — typically between $1–3 per day — to gather information about how effectively his campaigns were engaging readers. For longer-running campaigns that doubled down on successful tests, he increased the budget to $10 per day, so he had a predictable ad spend flowing out each day.
Marc chose to use CPC bidding for his campaigns. CPC campaigns bid per click, which means they can be a good option for controlling costs, since you’re only paying for actual engagement from interested readers. To select his bid amount, Marc referenced BookBub’s suggested bid range in the ad setup form and erred on the lower side, aiming to keep his cost per click below $0.37. That said, he noted that there are cases where he’s willing to pay a bit more to ensure his campaign remains competitive in the auction.
For our most important products I am willing to be a little more aggressive with bidding to ensure the ad is always running, as the goal is constant reader engagement.
Assessing tests and iterating
Testing new campaign elements wasn’t just a means for Marc to find a winning campaign setup; the iteration is part of the process of continuously bringing in new readers!
When assessing campaign results in the BookBub Partner Dashboard, he would review each campaign based on the goals he had for that particular ad, such as cost, reach, or engagement. To do so, he’d assess his effective cost per click (as a reminder, your eCPC may be lower than, but never higher than, the bid you set!) and the click-through rate, where he usually looked for at least 1.5% — though as he noted, higher is always better.
Even now that he’s found an effective campaign setup, Marc is still actively monitoring and adjusting his ads. With millions of readers and thousands of ads all targeting audiences based on custom combinations of author, category, retailer, and region preferences at any one time, the ad marketplace is always changing. Marc checks in on his dashboard three to four times per week to review ad performance and make adjustments if he finds that any of his key metrics are slipping. He regularly swaps in new author targets and tweaks his bid amount to ensure the ad continues to reach new readers and generate steady clicks.
Results and takeaways
Marc’s longest-running campaign has now been live for over four months, and according to his early tracking, was earning a conversion rate of over 11%! Here are the results of this campaign:
For advertisers looking to employ a similar strategy, Marc emphasized the importance of being ready for rapid testing: “Next time I will prepare more ads with varying artwork, targeting, and taglines before we start advertising to speed up the testing process.” Having new ad creative ready to swap in when he notices the metrics beginning to dip means he’s able to learn quickly and avoid long periods of lower performance in his campaigns!
He also encourages anyone new to BookBub Ads to try using author targeting and start with comparable authors who have smaller audiences on BookBub. Then, consider the tradeoff of engagement for reach: While you might find smaller audiences drive more engagement, there are certain scenarios where targeting larger audiences can be a smart choice — for example, if you’re looking for wide exposure or limiting your audience to smaller regions or retailers.
Finally, remember that researching and testing new targets takes time! Marc noted that because Baileigh’s books are more niche, finding new authors to target took time and patience, but was well worth it: In addition to consistent engagement with the Primordial Earth series, Marc and Baileigh also saw similar engagement trends on the follow-up series, Primordial World!
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