BookBub Ads is a self-serve advertising platform that lets you easily reach the active book buyers on BookBub and Chirp. With complete control over your image, targeting, budget, and timeline, you can create a campaign tailored to your specific goals when marketing any book.
Determining your goals in advance will help you set up more effective campaigns. Advertisers’ goals often fall into two camps:
- Revenue: Achieve a positive return-on-investment (ROI) by driving enough book sales to cover the costs of your advertising.
- Exposure/Branding: Boost a book’s visibility by winning as many ad impressions as possible.
While every campaign is unique and your specific goals might land somewhere in the middle, we wanted to provide some tips for advertisers specifically looking to increase the ROI of their BookBub Ads campaigns.
Tip #1: Use author targeting (and choose wisely!)
If your ad’s click-through rate (CTR) is low and you’re not getting a high ROI, you may be targeting too broad an audience. Try refining your audience by using author targeting. We’ve seen ample evidence that ads targeting readers by author interest generate more clicks and purchases than ads targeting by category interest alone.
Author targeting lets you reach readers who have expressed interest in specific authors by engaging with their books on BookBub or Chirp. This includes readers who have followed an author or clicked on a deal for an author’s book.
When choosing author targets, avoid simply selecting the most well-known authors in your genre. Instead, invest time in identifying a list of similar authors to target. Look through the authors who appear in your “Also boughts” on retailers, ask your readers which other authors they enjoy whose books remind them of yours, and search for books in your genre with similar tropes, plots, and cover branding.
You can read more tips on selecting your author targets from other successful advertisers here. But ultimately, the only way to confirm which authors will make the best targets for your books is to test them.
Tip #2: Optimize your creative
If your ad isn’t getting enough clicks, it could mean the design isn’t engaging enough. Here are some best practices that have been effective for advertisers:
- Make the text easy to read. The text should contrast against the background and be large enough to read.
- Make the book’s genre obvious. Between the images and text, readers should be able to immediately tell what kind of book your ad is promoting.
- Include a book cover image. Use the full cover image or isolate eye-catching elements to use in your ad image.
- Use a short quote from another author. Including a quote or blurb from a recognizable author can entice new readers to try your books.
- Highlight popular tropes. Readers know exactly what kinds of books they like, so be sure to mention tropes or themes that will catch their attention.
- Include a call-to-action. Give viewers a final nudge by including a call-to-action button (e.g. “Read Now”) and use contrasting colors to make it stand out.
Here are a few examples of effective ad images across different genres:
Note that ad creative preferences can be highly subjective, and best practices and trending tropes can differ by genre. As with your targeting, testing your ad designs is the only surefire way to determine what works best for a particular book and its unique audience.
You can learn about different design tools for creating promotional images here.
Tip #3: Try CPC bidding to keep costs down
If your cost per click (CPC) is too high, you might want to consider changing your bidding strategy.
With CPM bidding, you choose how much you’re willing to pay per 1,000 unique impressions (one unique impression = the first time an ad loads on a particular email or website page opened by a specific user).
With CPC bidding, you choose how much you’re willing to pay for each click on your ad. CPC bidding is a lower risk to advertisers than CPM bidding because instead of paying for impressions that might turn into clicks, you only pay for actual clicks.
Because it offers greater control over how much each ad click costs, CPC can be preferable to advertisers seeking a positive ROI. Keep in mind that CPC bidding can make it harder to reach as wide an audience — but if you’re prioritizing a high ROI over a high volume of impressions, this may be a worthwhile trade-off. For more details on how to set up your bidding, read our BookBub Ads bidding strategy guide.
Tip #4: Link to the book’s retailer product pages
If your ad’s click-through URL currently links to a page on your own website, try swapping it for a retailer URL. Reducing the number of clicks required to buy the book can help increase the number of readers who make a purchase.
Linking readers to their preferred retailer is easy — simply select the book (or Chirp audiobook) you’re promoting when creating a new ad. BookBub will automatically add any retailer links we have on file to the click-through link section of the form.
You can also manually edit your links or add additional ones.
For any custom links, you can specify which segments of our member base you’d like to target.
Tip #5: Emphasize low price points to maximize conversions
If you’re running an ad for a low-priced book, emphasizing the low price in your ad image can increase the number of readers who click. The lower the price, the more engagement you can expect — for example, our Featured Deals for $0.99 books drive 75% more sales than $2.99 deals. And the BookBub Ads campaigns with the highest CTRs (sometimes in the double digits!) almost always include “Free” somewhere in the image.
In addition to driving more clicks, ads for lower-priced books also convert at higher rates. Campaigns promoting Chirp audiobooks priced at $4.99 or under consistently drive more sales than ads for higher-priced books on Chirp.
Our readers are also more likely to take a chance on an author they haven’t heard of before at lower prices. 95% of BookBub members have purchased a book by a previously unknown author because of a discount. Even better, 63% of those readers have gone on to buy other books by the authors they discovered. So running ad campaigns for lower-priced books — and making the low price clear in your ad image — can help you capture new readers who are likely to become loyal fans, leading to more full-priced sales in the future.
Tip #6: Promote books in a series
If you’re trying to promote a book that comes later in a series and you’re not getting the engagement you want, consider promoting the first-in-series book to get readers hooked. You may even want to consider making the first book free — BookBub partners running Featured Deals who promoted the first book for free saw 8x higher sales on later books in their series than partners who promoted the first book for $0.99.
Unsure if promoting a free book is driving a positive ROI? When you calculate the revenue from your ad campaign, make sure to include the revenue from series sell-through — that is, the revenue from readers who clicked on your ad, bought book 1, then purchased other books in the series. Learn how to estimate sell-through and use it to calculate your ads’ ROI here.
If you’re running BookBub Ads for later books in a series, target your own fans to reengage readers who may have already discovered the first book. Author Rachel Morgan ran ads to different audiences promoting both first-in-series and later-in-series books:
Tip #7: Promote box sets
If you’ve only promoted single titles so far, running ad campaigns for a box set can be a fantastic way to boost revenue. Similar to discounting a single title, offering readers multiple books at a reduced price can increase the likelihood that they’ll click and purchase.
Box sets can drive a higher sales volume at higher prices than individual books, which means you can generate more revenue per sale and afford to pay a higher CPC. And if you’re willing to discount a box set even further, it can lead to a big increase in sales. For Featured Deals, the average purchase rate for box sets is 29% higher than single books discounted to the same price.
Tip #8: Run A/B tests to find the best images and targets
Testing your ads is an essential part of improving your campaigns and getting good results. Setting up A/B tests (a test where you compare two different versions) is easy — run two (or more!) different ads simultaneously, and the ad with the highest CTR or lowest eCPC is the winner. We recommend running several test campaigns with low budgets ($10-20) and then increasing the budgets of the winning variations once you’re happy with the results.
For your ad creative, you could try testing completely different images or comparing individual elements one at a time, like the ad copy, images, fonts, layout, or colors. For this test, an advertiser tested our creative builder layout against a custom designed ad with similar copy.
When you’re testing out different author targets, remember to use the same image for the cleanest comparisons. It’s important to isolate just one element at a time to test so you can tell which ones matter most. Find step-by-step instructions for setting up your own BookBub Ads tests here.
If you have any questions about how to achieve a high ROI with BookBub Ads, let us know in the comments below! If you have specific questions about your own campaigns, you can always contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
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This article was originally published on February 28, 2018 and has been updated with the latest screenshots and best practices.