Posted in books, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Paid Advertising

Paid advertising doesn’t have to be expensive. Many authors start with very small budgets and increase as they become more adept at using their marketing dollars.

First, let’s learn some of the lingo and basic concepts…

Social Media Advertising can be done on a small or large budget. It is effective for reaching a targeted audience. There is a learning curve (steeper on some platforms than others), but there are a lot of resources available to help authors learn how to maximize the budget and effectiveness.

Influencer Marketing involves an industry expert or celebrity recommending your book or other product to their followers in exchang for a fee.

Banner Ads are the clickable graphics at the top of many websites. They are one of the most effective ways to advertise because they often grab the visitors attention right away. These can be more expensive than other types of ads, but they tend to be worth the money on bigger book-related sites.

Affiliate marketing involves becoming an affiliate with a retailer or organization and hosting referral links on your website or in social media posts. You get paid per click, but you do have to tell visitors/followers that it is an affiliate link.

Ad Retargeting is basically a reminder for customers to check out a product. even after they leave your page or a page you’re advertising on. It is most effective for high traffic websites, but work well with banner ads as well.

A Call-to-Action (CTA) tells customers what you want them to do (buy, sign up, join, etc.). It’s important to have a strong CTA in ads so the customer isn’t left wondering what the next step is.

Return On Investment (ROI) is the ratio of net profit and cost of investment. You want to evaluate ads you run while they are running and after they are completed to see if they were worth the investment. An ROI of 1-2% on Facebook is considered good.

Cost-Per Click (CPC)/Pay-Per-Click (PPC) breaks down you ad spend to see what each interaction is costing you. Ads are usually about twice as effective at getting clicks as organic posts. An average CPC/PPC is $0.25-0.30 average on Facebook in U.S.

Click-Through-Rate (CTR) is the percentage of customers who click through to the next step. Having a clear CTA improves CTR. A CTR of 2-5% on Facebook is considered good.

Now lets look at what advertising option work well for authors

Amazon: Ads on Amazon are set up through your KDP dashboard. You can target similar books or authors. Amazon ads are very effective for most authors, but there is a steep a learning curve. Sign up for an Amazon Ads class to learn how to best utilize this platform.

Facebook: Paid ads have a wider range than boosted ads, which mainly targets followers. In order to serve paid ads, you need to set up your Business Center account with Facebook and be approved.

Pinterest: Advertising on Pinterest allows you to promote pins, create campaigns, and aadvertise stories. Pinterest is effective for advertising because pinners are ready to buy and its user base in constantly growing.

Instagram: Instragram ads can be setup up directly on the app or through a connected Facebook Business Center. You can promote images, videos, stories, and collections. Instagram has high interaction, which makes it an effective advertising option. It can be pricier than other platforms for high engagement industries.

Twitter: The type of ad that tends to work best for authors are objective-based campaigns. These enable you to promote tweets, accounts, trends, or moments. Some readers have very good results advertising on Twitter and others don’t. Consider the strenth of your platform on Twitter before advertising.

Goodreads: This is a reader/book lover focused platform. It can be an effective advertising option, but mainly for those who have cultivated a strong presense there. There are two advertising options on Goodreads: Giveaways of Kindle or print books, which cost $119, and digital ads, which must be set up through a rep. There is no self-serve option. Advertising on Goodreads tends to be quite pricey and less effective than other platforms.

Posted in marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Creating a Marketing Plan

Marketing plans can be general or detailed, but you NEED a plan in order to effectively market your book.

Marketing Plan Basics

Word of Mouth is still the best way to sell any product. It requires high quality product.

A website is single source for all buy links and information.

Social Media provides the opportunity to post regularly and build a community of interested readers. It also provides an avenue of free advertising, such as in Facebook groups, posting on author pages, and setting up Pinterest boards.

It is also important to utilize newsletter swaps, blogging, and adding your books to book sites like My Book Cave and Goodreads.

Paid advertising is an integral part of marketing. Popular options for authors include social media ads on Facebook and Pinterest, Amazon ads, newsletters spots, print ads, sponsorships, and takeovers/parties.

Marketing Plan Components

The first components to consider are your available Time, Money and Effort. How much of each one can you contribute toward marketing each day? Be realistic about this or your plan will end up falling apart.

Next, determine your Audience, Avenues, Goals and Competition. Knowing who to market to and how to reach them are key to being effective. Have realistic goals and know what is already working for others through marketing research, following other authors, and developing unique tactics.

Big Picture Planning

Look at both paid and free advertising options. Plan out daily, weekly, and monthly tasks that fit into your schedule.

Submit your book deals to newsletters for features well in advance of any planned promotional pushes. Paid spots will get better visibility, but free spots can be useful as well.

Be consistent with interaction on social media. Share updates, sales, promos, questions, giveaways, and limited personal details such as hobbies or books you are reading. Start a Street Team, a reader group who shares your posts, reviews, and builds a community.

Posted in books, creative writing, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing

Marketing Primer: Getting Started with Social Media

With so many options, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Get involved, but don’t over do it.

The Point of Social Media Marketing

It’s not just about selling, it’s about building a community of loyal readers. Social media can connect you with readers all over the world. Building a community of like-minded readers will keep them engaged and interested for longer.

Social media allows you to go to where buyers already “live” instead of trying to make them all come to you. Find out which platforms your “ideal” readers use regularly and start interacting. Don’t spend precious time on platforms that aren’t a good fit for the type of community you’re trying to build.

Social media provides opportunities for interaction and relationship development. It’s more than just serving ads to users. Take the time to interact, comment, answer questions, share engaging content, and invest in the long term.

It also allows you to show personality and express yourself to readers. In the digital age, readers want to hear from authors. They want to learn about their lives and writing and find the intersections. It adds more layers to their reading experience and provides community.

Choosing Social Media

How do you decide which social media platforms to use? Define your ideal reader and examine which platforms they are most likely to be using. It’s also important to consider your own skill and preferences as well. If you dislike using a platform, you’re unlikely to interact on it consistently.

Facebook Pages (NOT profiles): Facebook is the most used platform. It provides opportunities for building long term communities and relationships. It is easy to start and carry on conversations as well. The Facebook audience is mainly adults in the 18-49 age group, with slightly more female users.

Twitter: Ongoing conversation is an important aspect of Twitter. It’s interface is geared toward “in the moment” types of conversations. It’s also a good platform for news and updates. Twitter is popular with both men and women in the 18-49 age group, and nearly half of users are on the platform at least once per day.

Instagram: Instagram is mainly a visual platform geared toward creatives. It offers author/creator/business accounts which give different statistics and options to users. Because it is owned by Facebook, it’s easy to link accounts and simplify posting and messaging. Instagram has an easy conversation style. It’s main user groups skew toward a younger audience, with 18-29 year olds being the largest age group.

YouTube: This is also a visually-driven platform. It provides opportunity to express style and personality. In general, video gets the most interaction on social media. Authors can make use of this platform with book trailers, readings, Q&As, etc. YouTube is popular with pretty much everyone.

Pinterest: Another visual platform, it is also informational and filled with users ready to make purchases. Pins are shareable between users and the board format easy to use. Users can easily follow specific interests and save pins to their own boards. The platform is very buyer-centered and has high conversion rates. The user profile is mainly female and popular in the 18-64 age group.

Setting Up Author Profiles

Author profiles on book-related sites are similar to social media, but require less ongoing interaction. They do allow you to connect with more readers and may open up promotional opportunities as well.

Amazon Author Central: This not only allows you to set up your public profile on Amazon, it also gives you access to sales reports and the ability to manage your books. Create your account, claim all of your books and update or fix any necessary information, track sales of paperbacks, fill out your profile details, connect social media accounts, look into the ability to utilize paid ads. You can also get followers on your Amazon profile.

Goodreads: Creating or claiming your author account allows you to manage your public profile and start collecting friends and followers. Be sure to add your books to your profile, connect a blog (if you have one) and connect your social media accounts so interested readers can easily follow you. You will also have the ability to host giveaways, though they are a bit pricey at $119.

BookBub: Create or claim your author account and start collecting followers. BookBub offers paid ads and features, as well as newsletter spots. Newsletter spots are very effective, but also more expensive than many other newsletter promotions.

My Book Cave: Create an account and set up your author profile. Add all of your books as reader magnets in order to see stats and give each book a content rating. MBC offers features and promotional opportunities and listing-building magnet promotions. Magnets are a good way to build your email list and collaborate with other authors.

LinkedIn: Create your account and set up a professional profile. Be sure to list your work and education experience, then list all of your books as publications. You can also list any writing or literary awards you have received. This is a great place to make professional contacts in writing and publishing. You can also publish blog-style articles directly on LinkedIn.

Another reason to set up these profiles is that Amazon, Goodreads, BookBub, and MBC will often send out new release alerts to your readers/followers for free!

Setting Up Accounts and Profiles

Fully set up all accounts with an author pic, bio, social media links, books links, contact info, and “verify” where available. Use the same profile picture on all accounts for consistency and recognizability.

Customize where possible to stand out from others. This is different on each platform, but make sure to add custom cover photos, customize background images, choose unique colors when possible, and get rid of any tabs or features that don’t apply to you and your writing. On Facebook you can customize tabs, choose what your call to action asks and leads to (buy now, sign up, contact, etc.), and you can add one landing page to your profile (book link or website).

Update images often. Always use professional looking graphics, and only use images you own the copyright to. If you update a profile photo, be sure to update it on all platforms.

Pin posts/tweets to top of the page and update them often. This is a great place to highlight announcements, new releases, questions you want readers to answer, or giveaways you’re hosting.

Next week we’ll talk about how to make use of your social media accounts!

Posted in book reviews, books, cover design, editing, giveaway, marketing, publishing, self publishing, social media, writing, writing advice, writing tips

Indie Author Basics: Marketing

Whether an author hires out marketing duties or takes them on personally, it’s important to understand the basics.

Word of Mouth

Achieving good word of mouth requires having a professional, high quality product.

Word of mouth is still the best way to sell anything because the recommendation is coming from someone the person likes and trusts.

To get good word or mouth for your books, you need a professional, high quality product. Make sure your editing is clean and the book cover does not look homemade.

You should also actively encourage readers to share your book and talk about it publicly. This can be accomplished through street teams, contests that require sharing a post or writing a review, or putting a reminder the back matter of the book.

Social Media

Post on your social media platforms regularly to keep people engaged. Utilize a mix of informational, funny, promotional, or talking point types of posts.

Utilize social media ads to sell directly to interested readers who already like/follow you. You can also target lookalike audiences of similar authors and unique to reach new customers.

Free/Paid advertising

Free advertising options including posting to book-related Facebook groups (there are tons of these), newsletter swaps, blogging, creating Pinterest boards for your books or characters, and adding books to book sites like My Book Cave and Goodreads.

Paid advertising options include social media ads (pretty much all platforms are willing to take your money in the form of ads hosting), Amazon ads, book-related paid newsletters like FreeBooksy or BookBub, print ads in literary magazines or your local newspaper or circular, sponsorships, and paid online takeovers and parties.

DON’T pay for reviews, ever! It’s against retailers’ terms of service and you can be penalized. Paying a fee to have your book listed in a review catalogue is okay because you are not paying for individual reviews, just the listing.

Networking/Collaborating

Collaborate with other authors to expand your reach.
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

Get involved with group promos and events with other authors. You can usually find out about these by joining online authors groups like Alessandra Torre Inkers. These types of collaborations expands your reach and allows you to share fans with and of other authors.

Copywriting

Learn to write engaging ad copy and book cover copy in order to catch the interest of readers. Blurb writing is challenging, and can be hired out if you don’t feel comfortable writing in short form.

Test different ads through A/B testing and determine what type of wording and what styles work best with your audience. Update your ads often because tastes change frequently. Study blurbs for books in your genre to learn more about the style and conventions readers will look for.

Use professional graphics (Pixabay, Canva, Deposit Photos) in all promotional material. DO NOT pull images from a Google search, because the may be copyrighted and you could end up with legal action and fines. There are plenty of free options out there, like Pixabay, if you’re on a tight budget. The same rules apply to music if you post videos.

Planning

Plan according to the amount of time you can realistically put toward marketing.

Determine how much time you REALISTICALLY have each week to put toward marketing, and build your marketing plan around that. Set daily, weekly, monthly tasks AND stick to them. Good things to include are social media posts, submitting books to newsletters, reviewing and updating ads, and engaging with readers.

Plan major campaigns (new releases, holidays, etc.) at least a month in advance, more if possible. Holidays need advanced planning more than almost anything else because newsletter slots will fill up quickly and ad costs may be higher than usual. Bloggers are also much busier and so are readers.

Ideas for major campaigns include hosting virtual parties, running giveaways, participating in takeovers or having other authors takeover your pages (especially popular on Instagram lately), running sales on your books, or hosting a live or online event to celebrate new releases or writing milestones.

Host an online or in-person event to celebrate new releases or writing milestones.
Posted in marketing, social media

Getting Started with Twitter Marketing: Part 3

Ads on Twitter

Ad Types

Amerikaanse dollar Americk dolar AmerikanskThere are several different types of paid ads you can utilize on Twitter. Each one serves a specific purpose and should be chosen with a particular goal in mind.

  • Follow Ads: used to gain more followers. These ads show up in the “Who to Follow” suggestions. These are typically the most expensive type of ad, averaging $3 per follower added.
  • Awareness Ads: used to build brand awareness and get your content in front of more users. You will pay for every 1000 impressions rather than new followers. These tend to be more effective than Engagement ads.
  • Engagement Ads: used to get more likes, tweets, and retweets. You will pay for each action taken by a user. These can be helpful for getting a particular tweet noticed.
  • Clicks/Conversion Ads: used to get clicks on links that lead to conversations (email signup, purchase, etc.). You will pay for clicks, not impressions with these ads. These ads are optimized for clicks and have a specific/set bid.

Ad Campaign Tips

  • Target interests and keywords for the most effective results
  • DON’T use photos, links, or hashtags in Follow campaigns
  • DO use photos and links in Engagement campaigns – helps increase clicks
  • Trust the suggested bid from Twitter – they have detailed analytics the suggestions are based off
  • Follow ads should NOT be sales pitchy, but should instead describe your brand and tell people why they should follow

Twitter Analytics

Creating a Marketing PlanTwitter has in-depth analytics that can help you determine whether or not your everyday tweets and ad campaigns are effective. Studying the analytics can help you perfect what type of content works best for your followers and what types of ads will be most effective for your brand.

Using Analytics Effectively

Use Twitter Analytics to determine what content is performing the best and meeting your brand’s needs

  • Retweets show that followers value the content enough to share it
  • Likes show that they appreciate the content
  • Clicks show they are actively interested in the content and want to learn more

You can also use analytics to learn more about your followers and what they are interested in by reviewing the “Audience” section. This will tell you more about your organic audience.

  • Use demographic info of your organic followers to fine tune what types of new followers to target
  • Use information on your audience’s current interests to plan your content – check back often and adjust to any changes
  • Check out the Top Ten Interests of your followers and incorporate keywords and hashtags into your tweets

Marketing on Twitter starts with strong content curation and understanding your audience and their interests. Once you have a firm grasp on that, moving to paid advertising can help you improve brand awareness, grow your following, and increase engagement with customers.

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Posted in marketing, social media

Getting Started with Twitter Marketing: Part 2

Engaging on Twitter and Growing Your Following

Tweet BirdAs with other social media platforms, engaging with followers is key to growing your following and producing effective marketing campaigns. Hashtags and trending topics are a great starting point to engage with followers and potential followers, but you can’t stop there.

Twitter Chats

Twitter chats are organized via a specific hashtag. They are typically planned for a specific time, with a specific topic, and can be followed and joined by using the chat hashtag in a tweet. This is a great way to connect with followers and new users because it opens a dialogue and shows who and what your brand is about.

Ongoing Engagement

  • Follow conversations important to your brand or industry and join in regularly
  • Track “mentions” and comment or thank the person who engaged or shared your brand/name
  • Reply to retweets with a thank you or to continue the discussion
  • Follow industry authorities to learn from their examples and keep up on industry news
  • Comment often on tweets relevant to your brand or industry
  • Answer questions via mentions or tags in a timely manner – many users engage on Twitter to have questions answers or for customer service inquiries
  • Avoid Auto DMs as most Twitter users don’t like receiving them and often ignore them. Instead take the time to reach out to new followers with a quick thanks or welcome.

When to Engage

bb5f5-clock2balarm2bclockTwitter appears to be a nonstop, all-day conversation, but there are peak times to engage and tweet. Time plays an important role, and different times are better for different types of results. Results may be slightly different depending on your target audience, location, and industry, but in general many Twitter users tend to engage in the evening and late night/early morning.

  • Friday is the best day to post (9-10 a.m. specifically)
  • Everyday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. is a good time to post
  • Sunday morning has the least engagement
  • Most clicks are seen in the 2-4 a.m. time frame (except Mondays)
  • After 5 p.m. are when the most retweets happen

Engagement is one of the most important factors in building a community and dedicated followers. Take the time to make followers feel like they are a part of the community.

Posted in marketing, social media

Getting Started with Twitter Marketing: Part 1

Curating Strong Content

Specific Content

DeathtoStock_CreativeSpace3 11.45.06 AMBefore promoting a tweet on Twitter, it’s important to have strong content that will be effective to promote. Every social media platform is different and specific types of content work well on each platform. For Twitter, great content should:

  • Be informative and useful
  • Comment on trending news
  • Be related to highly searched keywords
  • Retweet other user’s useful content
  • Lead or begin a discussion on trending topics

Pinned Tweets

DeathtoStock_Desk5On Twitter, you have the opportunity to highlight your content with a pinned tweet. It’s important to choose a pinned tweet that shows followers who your company is, what your brand is about, and what is going on in your company’s world. Pinned tweets are great for:

  • Upcoming events
  • Announcements
  • Summarizing your company’s brand or mission
  • A tweet with a strong call to action that will further your goals (i.e. email signup, purchases)

Images and Video

Film ReelEnhancing your content with images and video is very effective on Twitter. Tweets with images or video are, on average, retweeted 150% more often than tweets that are text or links. Another benefit or images and videos are that they take up more space in the feed and grab the viewers attention.

  • Ideal image/video size for Twitter is 1024×512 pixels

Hashtags and Trends

Hashtags are a great way to increase the visibility of your content on Twitter. Hashtags operate as search keywords for users trying to find specific topics. Twitter tracks trending hashtags. These are important to pay attention to and incorporate into your tweets when they are relevant. Using trending hashtags will help your content get noticed more.

Trends are important topics being discussed on Twitter. Trends are also tracked on an ongoing basis. When trending topics are relevant to your brand or mission, join the conversation and lead a discussion.

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