I recently ran an ad campaign, because over the holidays my sales slumped. Why were my sales slumping? Well, initial excitement over my second book had tapered off, and people were all wrapped up in holiday stuff. It’s fairly common. If I was smart, I would have set up a sale and ad campaign to run right after Christmas, to catch the eye of all those people getting e-readers for presents! But alas, I was caught up in holiday stuff as well, and didn’t take the opportunity. So I promised myself I would run a campaign for the next holiday, which was Valentine’s Day.
This was dubbed the Valentine’s Heartwarming Sale*, and it recently ran over the weekend of Valentine’s Day, which was very convenient. I ran the promotion for three days in all, and I decided to try out a new ad delivery service, Google Adwords. I’ve run ads on Facebook before, but I’ve avoided Google in the past because I feel like with light novels the covers really help with letting the reader know what they’re purchasing. Google ads are… just words, like it says on the tin. But because there was also a promotion, I figured the sale aspect would generate a few clicks on its own. So I ran one ad on Facebook, and another on Google, just to see how they stacked up.
I have to say, I was totally blown away by the results! Here are my experiences with both sets of ads.
*=Because I like cheeziness, and I found this really cute stock photo of a heart-shaped mug of cocoa in snow that I really liked. Seriously.
I have run an ad campaign on Facebook before, so this was nothing new to me. Or so I thought. My ad ran overnight, but then was pulled for having “Too much text on it”. Turns out, the text on the images of my book covers on the ad counted towards their 20% limit.
So I stripped all the text off–except for the name of the sale–and resubmitted it. What irked me the most is that I lost out on four to six hours of ad time on the first morning because Facebook never notified me that the ad was pulled. If I had never checked my stats to see how it did overnight, I would have never noticed it wasn’t running!
Their interface is intuitive, though there were a few bugs with the targeting and demographics areas that I managed to work around. Other than the approval mess, it was a smooth process.
- Ads connect to your series page, author page, or directly to your website
- Can use an image
- Ads can also appear on Instagram
- Can set a detailed target audience
- Can set daily price limits or total campaign limits
- Can set custom time period
- Can choose to pay per click, per impression, or per unique view
- You can choose where your ad shows up [mobile devices, the side bar, apps, etc.]
- Easy to read reports
- Does not notify you if your ad is not approved/removed
- Will run your ad despite it being in review status, and make you pay for clicks/views in that time period even if they do not approve it
- Buggy Interface [Image upload and audience targeting, specifically.]
- Ads appear to be served in a set rotation with other ads which keeps the impressions low
- Cannot have different ads to cycle through in the same campaign
- Help center/FAQ is difficult to navigate and did not answer many of the questions I had
I’ll admit, their stark interface had me worried, but it really is a full-featured program. There are many options, one of which is the ability to pause a campaign, which I really liked. I was also impressed that there was phone support available–even if I didn’t need it. [Compared to Facebook’s help center, which was… bad.] And when I poked around the advanced reports, a step-by-step tutorial walked me through building a custom report. [Which gave me a ton of data. Seriously, loads!]
It holds your hand quite a bit, which was comforting to a newbie like me. The hardest part was staying within their character limits! People who do that Twitter thing will feel right at home; for me it took an hour to figure out how to say what I needed to with so few words. Now that the ad has been running for over 7 days, the tools that help fine tune your ads are offering suggestions, and everything they recommend is working. Today–with no sale running–I received 25% more clicks than I did during the peak day of my sale! I went in with no expectations since I’m technically a little fish to Google–but I came away pleasantly surprised.
Note: Today I noticed they had options for image ads and YouTube video ads available now, which is pretty cool! I don’t know if I unlocked those somehow, or if they were available from the beginning. I may experiment with an image ad and see how it performs versus the text-only ad.
- Ads can connect to any web address
- Can set daily price limits
- Can set custom time period
- You only pay for click through, not for views
- You can define a custom bid per click setting
- Ads can show up on any partner network–YouTube, Gmail, Blogger, etc.
- Can create multiple ads within a set that will cycle randomly, or only appear for certain keywords
- Can set ads to only run during certain times
- Has instant tools to help you optimize and tweak your campaign to get the most value
- Has step-by-step tutorials for any non-intuitive feature
- Many ad blockers have them whitelisted because they are unobtrusive
- Give coupon code for $100 worth of free ads for new accounts that spend at least $25 in their first month
- Free Monday – Friday, 9 AM to 8 PM EST phone support
- Tons of data available through advanced reports
- Image and video ads available
- Text ads are limited to a title, and only 2 lines of 36 characters each
- Relies on search keywords to define audience
- Ads can fail to be served if they have a low relevancy rating on any of your keywords
- Ads can fail to be served if your bid per click is lower than competing ads
- Initial reports are straightforward, but detailed reports need to be manually compiled
- The position of your ad is based off relevancy rating and the amount of your bid per click settings
- Ads are unobtrusive, and are sometimes ignored
Total Impressions: ~7,500
Click Throughs: ~20
Total Cost: $15.72
Best Day: Saturday
Best Hours: 12 PM – 6 PM
Peak Hour: 2 PM
Results: Google Adwords
Total Impressions: ~12,500
Click Throughs: ~40
Total Cost: $1.23
Best Day: Saturday
Best Hours: 6 PM – 10 PM
Peak Hour: 10 PM
Overall my sales tripled from the combined ad campaign! For a self-published author writing in a niche medium, that is amazing for less than twenty dollars total!
Though sales have dropped with the end of the promotion, they haven’t leveled off. Why not? Because the Google ad was so cheap, I decided to keep running it! It seems to be pulling me an extra couple of sales/lends per day, and it’s only costing me pennies a day to maintain, so why would I not? I know a 0.32% rate looks dismal, but I’d happily pay $2 for it as opposed to $16 for 0.06% less. That’s just smart shopping. As far as Facebook goes, I’ll stick to boosting posts for $5 if the mood strikes me, or when volume #3 releases.
Maybe someday I’ll get brave and try Twitter ads, but I really don’t care for Twitter. Plus whenever I clicked “Get Started” to explore pricing it just took me back to the analytics page in a constant loop. Not particularly inspiring.
Later, I found an independent site that listed Twitter’s rates as $0.50 – $2.00 per ad click. No thanks, Twitter.