BookBub Ads is a great tool for helping you achieve a variety of book marketing goals, but it can be tricky to master. You may find yourself falling into common pitfalls like targeting readers who don’t engage with your ad or spending a lot on a campaign without seeing the returns that you want. The best way to avoid these mistakes and ensure that your campaigns will meet your goals? Test your ads!
Why should I test my ads?
- To find a receptive audience. Reaching the right readers with your campaigns is crucial — in order to drive more sales, you need to reach readers who are likely to be interested in (and willing to buy!) your book.
- To optimize your creative image. Testing your creative can help you figure out what design will attract the most clicks from the audience you’re reaching.
- To maximize the use of your advertising dollars. Running test ads with low budgets and figuring out what works lets you invest the majority of your budget in campaigns that you’re confident will deliver the results you’re looking for.
- To develop a strategy that works for this platform. BookBub’s subscriber base is unique compared to other advertising platforms — and each author’s audience on BookBub may differ as well — so even advertisers who are experienced on other platforms should run tests on BookBub.
- To determine the most effective way to achieve your goals.Different goals call for different campaign set-ups. Learning how your campaign variables affect your results can help you create more successful ads.
Testing your ads may seem a bit daunting at first, especially if you’re new to BookBub Ads. However, setting up an ad is a straightforward process, and testing is as simple as creating multiple campaigns to run simultaneously! In this post, we’ll walk you through the best practices of testing and show you how to apply them to your campaigns to improve your results.
How to run tests
You can use a process called A/B testing (also known as split testing) on BookBub Ads. The basic steps are simple:
- Set up one campaign (the “A” version).
- Create a second campaign (the “B” version) identical to the first, then change just one element — that element is the variable you are testing.
- Run your campaigns.
- Compare the results.
- Repeat as needed until you’re satisfied with the results.
This process can be used to test any one of your campaign variables, including image, targeting, retailers, and more. Multiple rounds of testing can help you improve your campaign results; by testing each element of your ad in isolation, you’ll be able to learn what contributes to your ads’ success. You can then build off of those insights by continuing to tweak and test one part of your campaign at a time, improving your results as you go.
We’ll go into detail about how to run tests on different parts of your ad, but here are some best practices to keep in mind no matter what you’re testing:
- Set low budgets. $10-20 is usually enough to glean dependable results! You’ll be able to scale up to bigger campaigns with larger budgets later, once you’re confident you’ve found a winning strategy. Just make sure that your test budget will allow your ad to serve enough impressions for your results to be statistically significant.
- Use CPM bidding. Our auction takes the click-through rate of CPC ads into account when serving impressions — meaning a CPC ad that doesn’t generate a strong CTR right away will be shown to readers less frequently, which can skew the data you’re seeing from your tests. Using CPM bidding will ensure that your tests serve impressions consistently, delivering cleaner test results.
- Bid high. Bid on the high end of the average range shown in the ad setup form, and set your test campaigns to use your budget as quickly as possible. This will help you win impressions — and therefore see results from your tests — fast.
- Only test one variable at a time. This lets you know exactly which element of your ad is driving the levels of engagement that you’re seeing on each test. For example, you may want to try out both different blurbs and different audiences. However, if you ran two campaigns whose blurbs and targeting were both different from each other, you wouldn’t be able to tell which variable drove the increased engagement in your winning test.
Testing your image
You only have one second to hook a reader and get them to click when they see your ad, so designing an image that will engage your audience is crucial to your campaign’s success. With BookBub Ads, you have two options for creating your image:
- Use our built-in creative builder. The creative builder is a great option if you’re new to ads or are unsure about how to design your own image, but it’s more limited — all you’ll be able to edit is the text of your ad copy and your call-to-action button. If you’re using the creative builder, you can learn more about testing out the blurb that you use for your ads in the next section!
- Design and upload your own image. There are lots of free tools, including Book Brush and Canva, that make it easy to create ad images.
If you’re creating your own image from scratch, there are a couple of different directions that you can take when you test, like trying completely different images or just swapping out smaller details. Some elements in your image that you may want to consider testing include:
- Call-to-action text
- Call-to-action format (button, banner, etc.)
- Font and size of text
- Background and foreground images
- Color scheme
- 3D vs 2D cover
- The copy (we’ll cover this in the next section!)
To start, create a couple of different images that you want to try. Set up your first test ad (the “A” version) with the targeting, bid, budget, and pacing that you intend to use for all of your tests. To easily set up your “B” version, you can copy the “A” version. On the “Manage Ads” page, click Select Action next to the “A” test ad and click Copy Ad from the dropdown:
This will create a new ad with all the same setup details as the original. Then, you can upload your alternate image into the new campaign. Don’t forget to change the name of your ad, too! Each test should have a descriptive name that allows you to quickly distinguish them from each other in your dashboard.
You can repeat this “copy and edit” process as many times as you need — as long as you only change the image in each version, you can run as many different test versions at once as you want! When you’re done, you should have multiple test ads that are alike in every way but the image.
If this is your first round of testing, you may want to start by testing the biggest differences first (such as using two completely different images) — you’ll have a chance to do more fine-tuned testing later. This will ensure that you’re focusing on your most successful image rather than spending time on the details of an image that, on the whole, isn’t as effective for your campaign. For example, you might run a first round with two images that have significant differences, like the two below:
After determining which of these two is more successful, you could then move on to testing smaller changes in the winning image — such as font, background and button colors, and button copy or placement.
Since you’re using identical targeting and bids for each of your image test campaigns, you can attribute the different levels of engagement that you see on each of these ads to the only element that varies between them: the image. Your CTR (click-through rate) is a good indication of how appealing your ad is to your audience, as it captures what percentage of them were driven to click!
Now you can use the highest-performing ad images in further rounds of testing!
Testing your ad copy
Whether you use BookBub’s creative builder or design your own image, you only have a limited amount of space available for your ad copy — so you need to make those words count! Depending on the content that you’re advertising and the readers that you’re targeting, certain elements might work better for your campaign than others. Some things you may want to consider testing in your copy include:
- Bestseller status
- Quote from a publication or author
- Intriguing hook that shares your novel’s conflict (fiction)
- Pose a question your book answers or a problem it solves (nonfiction)
- Popular trope from your genre
- Review count or star ratings
- Comparison to a similar author or book
Like with your image, if you’re in the early rounds of testing, start with the biggest differences between copy first — leave more granular, word-level changes for later tests. You can use the same copy and edit process here to edit your ads: start with your “A” version, setting up the targeting, bid, and budget you plan to use for all of your tests; then copy that version into as many tests as you want with new blurbs:
Once you have your tests set up, you should have multiple campaigns identical in every way except for the copy in the images. Narrowing in on this one difference ensures that you can credit any variation in CTR to the different copy. The higher the CTR is for a given ad, the more that copy was able to engage your audience.
Testing your targeting
Targeting can have a huge impact on the engagement you see on your campaign — reaching the readers who will be most excited about your book is an important factor in driving clicks.
However, capturing the right audience can be a challenge for new and experienced advertisers alike. You may find that a seemingly obvious target choice just doesn’t generate the engagement that you expected, while a surprising author is getting you lots of clicks. Partners who have run successful ads on other auction-based platforms may discover that the targets they’ve relied on for those platforms don’t deliver the same results on BookBub. This is why testing your targeting is key to making the most out of your campaigns.
There are plenty of ways you can target readers on BookBub Ads. Some ideas include:
- Your existing fans on BookBub
- Readers who are fans of similar authors
- Fans of authors with whom you’ve run newsletter swaps or other promotions
- Fans of bestselling authors in your genre
- Readers who are subscribed to your book’s genre on BookBub
- Readers in the different countries that BookBub supports
- Readers who have indicated preferences for certain retailers
- Any combination of the above
You’ll follow the same process in testing your targeting that you did in testing your blurbs. Use identical bids, budgets, pacing, and in this case, images, for each version you test. Since you’re specifically testing your audience, you want to ensure that readers in every campaign you run are seeing the same content — that way, you can attribute whatever variance you see in CTR to the targeting you’re using in each test, rather than ad design. For the most fine-tuned test results, we recommend testing one individual author target at a time, but you’re welcome to test combinations of authors and categories against each other, too. Once your ads are set up, let them run!
To compare your targeting tests, look again at the different click-through rates that each campaign generates.
Another metric to keep an eye on here is your eCPC (effective cost per click), which is how much you’re paying for each click on your ad. A lower eCPC means that your budget is being spent more effectively — you’re getting more clicks with the same amount of money. Checking your eCPC is important because some targets will cost more than others if many other advertisers are also targeting their fans — a target who delivers a high CTR may not be worth it if their eCPC is high, too! Authors who deliver high CTRs and low eCPCs for your ads are great targets: they generate engagement for cheap!
You can continue to run tests refining your targeting using the same methods until you reach a level of engagement and costs you’re happy with.
Next steps & scaling up
You can test the different elements of your ad in whatever order makes the most sense for your campaign. In fact, you may want to bounce between the elements that you’re testing to ensure that you’re optimizing your campaign for receptive audiences. For example: test some variations on ad copy; drop the winning blurb into a few different image styles; use the winning copy-image combination to test your targeting. Then, once you’ve found a strong audience, go back and tweak your copy again to see if any changes help make your ad more engaging to that audience. Going back and forth between variables helps you continue to improve all aspects of your campaign.
After a couple of rounds of testing one element, you still might not see the results that you want — and that’s okay! If you test images for a couple of rounds and just aren’t getting your CTR as high as you’d hoped, you might consider skipping ahead to testing your targeting to see if there’s another author that you haven’t found yet whose audience is more interested in your book.
Once you’ve honed in on an image and audience that delivers CTRs and eCPCs you’re happy with, you can start scaling up to larger campaigns that help you achieve your marketing goals. Ramp up your overall budget if you’re pushing a large campaign to promote a new release, set up a long-running campaign with a fixed daily budget if you’re advertising a permafree book, or stack other promotional activities alongside your ads to hit a bestseller list.
No matter how you choose to run your rounds of testing, be sure to monitor your campaigns carefully, use your best performers as you move forward, and always keep your goals in mind so that you’re developing campaigns that will deliver the results you’re looking for!
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