BookBub Ads can be an incredible tool for driving sales, reaching new readers, and running cost-effective ad campaigns. But because there are so many variables to adjust for each campaign, it can be hard to know what to change to find a winning combination and get the results you’re looking for. To take out some of the guesswork, we’ve rounded up a few of the most common concerns we hear from advertisers about their campaigns and shared suggestions for how to address them.
The first step to any ad campaign is knowing what you want to accomplish — setting goals gives you a framework to assess your ads and decide when to tweak them. For example, if your primary goal is to maximize the number of readers who see your ad, you would use very different strategies than an advertiser who doesn’t care as much about exposure but wants to maximize their profits.
Keep in mind that not every tip here will work for every ad, and some may not be relevant for your campaigns depending on your goals. However, we hope this will give you helpful context to understand your ads and improve your campaigns!
If your ad isn’t winning enough impressions…
BookBub Ads appear in dedicated spaces at the bottom of our emails to BookBub and Chirp subscribers and on BookBub.com. Each instance of an ad being served to a reader is called an impression. Here’s how it works: At the moment each reader opens an email or a page on our website, our auction determines which ad to show that particular reader. The auction identifies every ad targeting that reader’s subscription preferences and interests, and the ad with the highest bid wins that impression. So one impression = one chance for a reader to see your ad.
If your ad isn’t winning impressions, and therefore not reaching as many readers as you want, you can either increase your bid to make it more competitive in our auction or change your targeting to reach a less competitive audience.
1. Increase your bid
Each advertiser sets a bid for their ad, which is the maximum rate they want to pay to reach readers in their target audience. The bid determines how competitive an ad is in our auction, so the simplest way to make your ads more likely to win impressions is to increase your bid. There are two ways to bid on BookBub Ads campaigns: cost per thousand impressions (CPM) or cost per click (CPC). For an in-depth explanation of these different bidding strategies, check out our ads bidding guide.
CPM bidding is straightforward — raising your bid makes your ad more competitive. Troubleshooting low-serving CPC ads is a bit more complicated because our auction takes the click-through rate (CTR) of CPC ads into account when calculating which ad is the most competitive. To win more impressions with a CPC ad, you can either increase your bid or tweak other campaign elements, like your targeting or ad image, to increase your CTR. Skip ahead to the next section to learn more about increasing clicks on your ad!
2. Change your target audience
If you don’t want to increase your bid, another way to win more impressions and get your ad shown to more readers is to change your target audience. Some audiences are in higher demand than others, so to keep your costs low, you can seek out less competitive segments of the marketplace.
With BookBub Ads, you can target readers in several ways — by category subscriptions, author interests, retailer preferences (Amazon, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and Kobo), and regions (US, UK, Canada, and Australia). Most advertisers tend to include Amazon US in their targeting, so targeting readers on other retailers or regions can increase your ad’s chances of winning impressions.
Targeting fans of relevant similar authors also allows you to reach a narrow audience that other advertisers may not be targeting. When you target fans of an author on BookBub, your audience will include that authors’ BookBub followers as well as any other BookBub members who have clicked on that author’s profile or books, including past Featured Deals. If your goal is to identify under-targeted audiences, you may want to avoid the biggest names in your genre, as these authors’ fans are likely to be targeted by lots of other advertisers. To get ideas for other authors to include, check out your “also boughts” on retailers or keep an eye out for similar books being featured in your genre on BookBub. For additional tips, you can learn how some successful advertisers choose which authors’ fans to target.
If your ad isn’t getting clicks…
Many advertisers want to maximize the number of clicks on their ads. Readers clicking on your ad is one of the strongest signals that your message is resonating with your audience, and a click is one step closer to a book sale! To increase clicks, focus on optimizing your ad image and audience targeting.
1. Test different image designs
When you run a BookBub Ads campaign, your 300×250-pixel ad image is all readers will see, so you need to make sure it will grab their attention! There’s a lot of room to be creative, but here are some elements we often see in ads with high click-through rates:
- A deal price. BookBub readers love a good deal, especially as a tool to discover new authors! In fact, 85% of our readers report that they have purchased a book by an author they hadn’t heard of before because of a discount. If you’re promoting a discounted book with BookBub Ads, including the deal price in your image could encourage more readers to click.
- 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 to find in your book! We’ve found that mentioning genre-specific tropes in our Featured Deal blurbs can drive more clicks, and many successful advertisers highlight tropes in their ad images. Check out some tropes BookBub readers love across genres.
- Quotes from publications, reviews, or other authors. BookBub readers trust recommendations from authors they love, so using quotes from other authors in your ads can be an excellent way to hook new readers. In our Featured Deal blurbs, including quotes from recognizable authors and publications drives a 23% average increase in clicks.
- 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 about what you’re promoting.
- Simple and clean designs. Avoid adding too many elements to a single image — readers may not take the time to decipher a cluttered design. All the copy on your ad image should be clear and easy to read.
- Cover images. Your cover can be a powerful marketing tool! Many advertisers include a full book cover in their ad, or use images from the cover in the ad’s background. If you’re having trouble driving sales from your ads, compare your cover to the covers of your comp authors — will your cover appeal to their audiences, or do you need to consider a redesign?
- Calls to action. Include a short phrase like “Read now” or “Learn more” that prompts readers to take an action. Many advertisers put these call-to-action phrases on high-contrast “buttons” as a visual aid to encourage readers to click.
How will you know which of these elements will work best for your ads and your books? By running tests! Set up one ad, then copy it and change just the image — that’s the element you’re testing. Run these two ads with low budgets ($5-10 should be enough!) and then compare the results to see which one drove more clicks. Then repeat with different images or other campaign elements until you’re happy with the ad results! Learn more about how to test different BookBub Ads designs.
2. Test different targeting
You ad image is only half of the equation — you also have to make sure you’re showing it to the right readers. While it can be tempting to target an entire category of BookBub subscribers with your BookBub Ads campaigns, targeting by author interest is a much more effective way to reach the most relevant, engaged readers who are likely to not only click on your ad, but actually purchase your book.
We interviewed 10 advertisers who consistently run ads with high click-through rates to learn how they choose which authors to target on BookBub Ads. Read their tips and strategies here!
If your ad is too expensive…
BookBub Ads is an auction-based platform, which means you’re competing with other advertisers to get your ads in front of readers. You can set your own overall budget, so you’ll never spend more than you want on your ads, but the actual cost of clicks and impressions will change depending on the other ads in the auction at any given time. If you have a limited marketing budget but you want to maximize the number of readers your ad reaches, there are a few steps you can take to lower your costs and spend your ad budget more efficiently.
1. Lower your bid
Your bid determines the rate you pay for ad impressions or clicks, so lowering your bid will keep your costs down. However, it can also make your ad less competitive in our auction, so you may need to tweak other elements of your campaign, like your targeting or campaign length, in order to win enough impressions at a lower bid to spend your entire budget.
2. Change your targeting
Try targeting different combinations of authors, categories, regions, and retailers to find more affordable readers. This can require some maintenance, as the cost to reach different audiences will change over time as other ads start and end, so make sure you keep an eye on your ad results!
3. Try CPC bidding
Bidding on clicks instead of impressions ensures that you’re only paying for the highest-value readers who see your ad — the ones who actually click on it! Note that our auction takes the CTR of CPC ads into account, so you may have to spend some time optimizing your image and targeting to ensure your ad is getting enough clicks to remain competitive and continue being shown to readers. Read these tips from successful CPC advertisers on how to make the most of this bidding strategy.
If your ad isn’t ROI-positive…
Keeping the cost of your ad down doesn’t necessarily mean it will be ROI-positive. In order to make money on your ads, you have to make sure the readers who click on your ad are actually purchasing your book. Here are some tips to increase the ROI of your ad campaigns!
1. Track conversions and revenue per acquisition
In order to figure out how much you can spend on your ads while still making a profit, you have to start by calculating how much revenue they generate. The conversion rate of your ad tells you how many readers who clicked the ad went on to purchase the book, and the revenue per acquisition is the amount of expected revenue from each purchase minus the cost per click. You can find step-by-step instructions and an easy-to-use template for estimating ad conversion rates and expected revenue here.
To maximize your ad’s conversion rate and expected revenue, be thoughtful about which books you choose to promote. Some books are more likely to convert and generate revenue than others:
- Discounted books have high conversion rates, and the lower the price, the greater the purchase rate — ads for $0.99 books have 31% higher average CTRs than ads for books priced $1.99+.
- Box sets have higher purchase rates than single books of the same cost, which means you’re more likely to generate box set sales at higher prices.
- First-in-series books tend to have higher revenue per acquired reader because readers who pick up book one often purchase the next books in the series at full price.
2. Test images and targeting to increase clicks and conversion rates
Once you’ve calculated your conversion rate, you can run tests on your ad images and targeting strategy to increase the number of readers who purchase your book after clicking on your ad.
If you’re using CPM bidding, increasing your CTR will also lower the cost of your ad: more clicks for the same cost per thousand impressions = cheaper clicks! This means you’ll have a higher revenue per acquisition and more wiggle room with the amount you can bid to make a profit.
3. Optimize retailer product pages
If testing and tweaking your ads doesn’t increase their conversion rates, you may need to turn your attention to your landing page. We recommend linking directly to retailer product pages in order to minimize the amount of clicks it takes for a reader to purchase your book. You should also take the time to optimize your book description so readers are compelled to click the purchase button once they reach your retailer page!
Do you have any other tips that helped you improve your ad results? Share them in the comments!
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This post was last updated on April 20, 2023 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.