My job is selling technology. Actually I'm more of a translator. I sell technology to other businesses and that's where things get weird. There is a bewildering array of tech out there and unfortunately many companies think technology sells itself and the value that the technology delivers should be obvious. Wrong. That's where I come in. I said I was a translator. My job is to translate techno babble into value that customers understand. This blog share my adventures with high tech sales. Selling high tech is fun so come join me on my sales journey!

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Effectiveness of advertising to sell books

Following on from my earlier post on selling my book, Romancing The Sale, here are my experiences of using on-line advertising to promote awareness and ultimately sell copies of my book.

This was an experiment and I enjoy measuring the results of experiments so here are my findings.

Well it look like advertising is a waste of money and completely ineffective - at least when it comes to selling books. If you you are an author, I wouldn't recommend advertising as a vehicle to promote your book!

I set up a Google AdWords advertising campaign to display adverts to potential prospects for my book based on carefully selected keywords.

I had a selection of different adverts to measure which adverts achieved the best response rate.

My adverts were displayed a grand total of 58,000 times and I had 97 people click on the adverts. Just a 0.16% click through rate at a cost of £28 (approx £0.29 per click). My best advert has a 1.25% click through rate which is very high.

As my book is on Kindle I wanted to measure the conversion rate. The sales process by using advertising is:

Advert is display -> Attracted to the advert -> Clicks on the link -> Views Amazon page -> Decides to buy -> Add to cart -> Pays for shopping cart -> Purchase complete

Amazon doesn’t provide statistics on how many people have viewed your product page. The only stats are for purchase complete. I had heard that Amazon have an 80% shopping cart abandon rate and they are one of the better performers in the industry. Well my experience seems to back that up.

In order to measure the stage from my advert being clicked and eventually being purchased, I set-up and Amazon Affiliate account.  This enables me to see a little more detail once my prospect clicks on the advertising link.

So my 97 click throughs translated into zero sales on my book but interestingly it did sell other stuff which I will cover shortly. I'm currently selling an average of 1 copy of the book per day so these sales are clearly not coming from advertising but other activities such as social media and word of mouth. I have a big campaign sheduled for the end of November so I will be able to compare other marketing vehicles and their effect on sales.

I had originally assumed a 1 in 4 conversion rate to purchase. Let's assume my 97 clicks through is actually 100 click throughs.  I assumed of this 100 that 25 would decide to buy the book. Deciding to buy and actually buying are two very different things. Amazon's 80% shopping cart abandon rate means only 20% of people that decide to buy actually buy (good old Pareto yet again).

Based on my numbers, it would mean that I should have had 5 sales but I had zero.  Interestingly with an Affiliate account you can see what people did buy and I had 4 consequential sales - someone bought a nice sofa and the other 3 bought books (not mine). One person bought a how to book on murder which is a little different to my Romancing customers.

Although it is interesting that I created consequential sales it doesn't achieve my primary goal of selling my book.

So what would it take to sell one book through advertising?

I think my original 1 in 4 conversion rate should be 1 in 5 (20% again) since this would match the 4 resulting sales. However the additional sales step is important. There is a decision to buy something and there is a decision to buy my book.  I think Pareto kicks in again and only 20% of those that decide to buy decide to buy my book - the rest decide to buy something else like a new sofa.

So to sell one copy

1 @20% = 5 people who actually buy something
5 @20% = 25 people who  decide to buy something
25 @20% = 125 people who are looking to buy something
125@0.16% = 78,000 adverts need to be displayed

So I need 125 people to click on links in order to achieve 1 sale. Assume 30p per click, this means spending £37.50 to achieve one sale! I need to increase the price of my book to make this viable!

I'm now abandoning my AdWords campaign since it is clearly not effective.

I am now experimenting with the LinkedIn advertising to see if that it more effective. It wasn’t very effective in the past on other campaigns I've run.   I'll share the results in the near future.  So why LinkedIn.  Google doesn't have user profiling - the adverts are displayed based on keyword triggers. LinkedIn has excellent user profiling so my adverts can be displayed to my target audience.  In this case I am restricting it to show to people in the UK and North America that have the word sales in their job title and have specified a skill of either complex sales, professional sales or relationship based selling. 

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