A recent Alliance of Independent Authors article took a look at paid marketing options for writers. Marketing is important because as indies, we have to make our books visible in order to be seen and (hopefully) bought. Not surprisingly, and given how fast things move in this game, there are many different types of paid marketing options out there. Some of which revolve around the power of social media.
Facebook ads for example.
The aforementioned Alli article stated that Facebook ads were the current ‘hot favourite’ amongst writers. But how many of us are using these ads to their fullest potential? In particular, I’m thinking about audience targeting and setting things up in such a way that your ad is likely to be seen by someone who will realistically consider buying your book.
Don’t get me wrong – there are a lot of smart indie authors out there. Smarter and more advanced in the game than I am. The insights in this post might be nothing new for these authors who’re plenty experienced in the marketing side of things. If you’re one of these and you’re getting the most of out of Facebook ads, then good on you. The truth is that some people are simply better at this kind of thing than others. Personally I’m okay. Not great. Not terrible. Just okay. But willing to learn.
When I released FAB in December 2015, the Facebook ads came soon afterwards. I initially tried to set it up myself withouth any help but I was doing all the wrong things and making stupid tactical errors. Specifically, I was targeting way too big an audience when I should have been closing a net over a smaller group with specific interests and combination of interests.
Thankfully my brother Robert – who has worked in digital marketing for ten years – was willing to share his expertise with me. It was both an eye-opening and humbling experience and it made me realise that I have a lot to learn when it comes to marketing books. Anyway, I thought some of his insights into Facebook ads might be helpful to others. So if you’re new to Facebook ads or you just want to revise your strategies, read on.
Here are Robert’s top ten Facebook Advertising tips…
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Ten Facebook Advertising Tips for Writers and Authors
Chances are, you’ve probably heard quite a bit about Facebook Advertising and how successful it can be for independent authors…
…or maybe you’ve already tried it and had a bad experience?
Worry no more.
This post will cover what I consider to be 10 of the most important Facebook Advertising tips to help you get up and running with a successful ad campaign in no time at all.
By the end of this post you’ll:
- Know exactly how to use Facebook’s ‘Audience Insights’ to find the perfect targets for your next ad campaign (No more guesswork).
- How to set up a Facebook Ad the right way without blowing your budget
- Understand what numbers you must know so you can tell if your campaign has been a success (and how you can scale it up the right way)
Ok, but why should Indie Authors, or any Author for that matter consider promoting their books or written work via Facebook?
Well, this one is simple…
The answer is ‘Attention’.
Think about it…
Where do the large majority of your target audience hangout?
Even if you’re not a Facebook fan or user…
Facebook is by far the best way to reach your fans, and at scale. And for us marketers, it’s the greatest data company of all time by a million miles.
Facebook is quite literally sitting on huge amounts of data that you can use to target your ideal audience with laser precision.
Want to promote a children’s book to parents with 2 kids under the age of 3, that live within 5 miles of London, and like peanut butter? It’s easy on Facebook!
(Weird example I know but you get my point!)
It really is that powerful a tool for marketing your book offering.
Put simply, you can reach the audience who is most interested in what you have to offer without wasting anyone’s time.
And this is what can help you sell more books!
But who am I to talk about this subject matter?
Well, as Mark already said, I’ve worked in the ‘Digital’ space since 2005 when I set up my first e-commerce website and paid advertising campaigns on Google AdWords to help me sell high end shaving products across the globe.
I was fortunate enough in 2007 to get nominated as a ‘UK Entrepreneur of The Year’ finalist and have since went on to expand my skills to cover all aspects of Digital and Social Media Marketing.
Recently I got nominated on the Inc 5000 list which was amazing!
Currently I work as ‘Head of Digital’ for a large finance leasing firm in Scotland, in addition to working freelance on Digital and Social projects for clients across the world.
So, I’d like to think I have some useful knowledge to pass onto you in the world of Digital and especially Facebook Advertising.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy the article below and take some useful information away with you to help you with your next Facebook Advertising campaign.
Enjoy and good luck!
FB Ads Tip #1: Research – Know Your Target Audience
It all starts with research…and Facebook’s ‘Audience Insights’ tool…
Yes, it might not sound exciting for some of you who want to just get stuck in, but without this phase being done correctly the rest of what I’m about to show you won’t matter.
However, once you do start looking at Facebook Audience Insights, after a few minutes you’ll realise how powerful a tool this really is for helping to promote your book in the most optimal way.
And at the same time I think you’ll find it quite interesting as well as eye opening!
So what is Audience Insights and where is it?
First of all, you’ll find audience insights as a ‘Tool’ inside your Ads Manager. Once you click on it, you will see this:
Click ‘Everyone on Facebook’ and we are good to go.
But what does it do?
Well, this is where FB holds all of its key marketing data for us marketers.
For example, it can tell us how many people like certain interests on FB, by what age group, by country/city etc…
If I wanted to target someone who likes Peanut Butter I can find them in here…it’s that powerful.
It also tells us what Facebook Pages are likely to be relevant to your audience based on pages they currently like.
That’s one of the key aspects of Audience Insights.
Here’s an example that will help make sense of it all…
Say I select the United States as the location I want to target, and I leave all the other options such as ‘Age’ alone just for now….
I now go down to the ‘Interests’ section which is the main one we will be using here.
Using my brother’s book ‘FAB’ as an example, I enter ‘John Lennon’ as my main interest. And then I select the ‘Page Likes’ tab next to ‘Demographics’ on the main section of the page.
Scroll down the page a little and you’ll now see a list of ‘relevant’ pages:
Take a note of these pages, as these are some of the key ‘interests’ we may want to target later on when it comes to setting up your ads.
You can also look at the ‘Demographics’ tab to get a feel for the age group of your target audience on Facebook.
In this example, the typical age group of people who are interested in John Lennon.
All of this data helps to ensure your targeting is the best it can be when it comes to the creation of your Facebook advertising campaign.
It will save you so much guesswork and money.
Play about with Audience Insights. Add in more interests.
Play about with Age Groups.
All the data you need to run a successful Facebook campaign is in here.
Once you have a note of all your key findings, we are almost ready to start creating your ads.
FB Ads Tip #2: Target Audience Segments in the 500,000 – 1,00,000 range
This tip follows on nicely from the first one.
After playing about with the Audience Insights, you want to try and find individual or bundled audience interests to target that number in the region of 500,000 – 1,000,000 people.
The closer you can get to an audience size of 500,000 the better.
This is very important as you want to be able to target and realistically ‘reach’ as many people as possible within that audience segment.
This allows for much better ad performance and data reporting.
Data reporting is key and I’ll come onto that later…
But, if you find an audience segment that is working well, you can confidently scale up and spend more money on that segment. At the same time, you can cut the losers fast.
For example, if you simply bundled the USA, UK, and Australia audiences into one large segment, you will never know to an accurate degree which country performed best.
Also, you’d have no idea what age groups responded better to your ads within what country.
This is just a basic example of why you want to ‘niche’ down with your targeting.
Smaller is best.
I’ll show you in tip #4 exactly how we can take your key target interests and aim for that magic 500,000 audience number.
I’ll also show you how to quickly create different audience segments within your campaign for optimal ad creation.
FB Ads Tip #3: Choosing The Right Campaign Objective
This one is pretty straightforward.
What is the objective for your campaign?
Is it book awareness, leads, or sales?
Once you’re clear on that, you can move on.
To get started with your ad creation – unless you’re an experienced Facebook Advertiser – you will probably be using the standard ‘Ads Manager/Create Ads’ which can usually be found here:
Click on ‘Create Ad’s and we are ready to go.
Now, whilst I can’t read your minds…
I’m pretty sure you’re reading this because you want to send more people to the page where you’re selling your book.
Now that might be Amazon, or it might be your own website.
That being the case, you should choose from either of the following two campaign objectives:
1. Send People to Your Website
2. Increase Conversions On Your Website
Now, I’m going to gamble and go with the Amazon assumption here and choose ‘Send People to Your Website’ as my overall campaign objective.
(Ignore the ‘website’ part – it does not mean it has to be your website. It’s just a piece of terminology.)
But why are we not looking to ‘Increase conversions on your website’?
Well, unless you have your own website, and you’re able to track conversions properly using Facebook tracking pixels (that’s another blog post entirely) you should not really be selecting that option.
Now that we have chosen ‘Send People to Your Website’ as our Campaign Objective, you now need to enter the page URL where you’ll be sending people to AFTER they click on your ad.
Once you’ve done that, click next and let’s move on to ‘Audience Targeting’.
FB Ads Tip #4: How To Set Up Your Ad Sets for Maximum Reach
This is where the Audience Insights research we talked about in Tip #1 comes into play.
I am going to use one of the actual segments we implemented with Mark’s ‘FAB’ promotion as an example.
Here are two screenshot images of the audience targeting we set up for the recent ‘FAB’ promotion:
As you can see our final targeting options were as follows:
- Location: UK only
- Age: 18-65
- Gender: All
- Detailed Targeting: John Lennon AND Novels AND Amazon Kindle AND Fiction Books.
- The interests we are targeting above were not just made up. These came from careful ‘Audience Insights’ research as outlined in Tip #1.
And once we had combined these interests together we had an audience size of 480,000.
It’s worth noting the ‘AND’s here with the detailed targeting.
You could lump each of these interest segments together without the ‘AND’s’ but that would give you a much bigger audience size because it would mean they just had to like one of the interests you selected in isolation.
I have the ad set created so that the audience we are targeting must like ALL of the interests.
This is how we can get to a point where we are really targeting a specific audience segment…
…and that’s how you’ll be successful when it comes to promoting your ads.
Now, we could easily have used Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and several others as part of our key target interests based on our Audience Insights research.
And maybe for the next promotion we will. That way we can dig into the data to see what interests perform best.
FB Ads Tip #5: Budgeting and Ad Placements
The next step inside your Ad Sets is to choose your budget and ad placements.
Simply enter your chosen Daily Budget, and select a Start and End date for your campaign.
If you can get your target audience size to around the 500,000 mark, I would start with a budget in the region of £5 – £10 a day per Ad Set so you can get some feedback on your ads without blowing all of your budget in one go.
This next point is important so take note…
IF your Ad Set is performing well and you want to add more money to the budget, DO NOT just triple or quadruple your budget in one go.
This can really screw up Facebook’s algorithm, and your performance could suffer accordingly.
I’ve seen it so many times, and I have a lot of people in my network who have seen it as well.
It’s a real problem and a mistake people make all the time.
To get round it, scale your budget by around 50% every few days. So if £5 works, then go up to £7.50…measure performance…and if all is ok, scale up to £11.25 and so on.
Keep an eye on your performance data (coming to that later) to make sure the numbers remain consistent. Once you hit a point where your metrics start to suffer, scale back down and leave it at the daily budget amount that last worked best.
You’ll now have found your optimal daily budget based on your audience segment size.
As for Placement…
…I would stick to ‘Mobile News Feed’ and ‘Desktop News Feed’ only.
You could experiment with ‘Desktop Right Column’ if you wish, but you’re more likely to see poorer performance data as your ad images will be smaller, and the copy they can see promoting your book is much more limited.
That’s you done with Ad Sets.
FB Ads Tip #6: Writing The Perfect Ad Copy
Unfortunately, this blog post won’t be going into all the nuances of creating compelling Ad Copy for your Facebook campaign. That again is another blog post in itself.
The fact that a lot of you reading this post are writers will mean this comes quite easily to you though.
However, here’s a few tips or guidelines to follow.
One to consider is the PACE formula.
This is used quite a lot when it comes to creating effective ads, but to be honest, it needs to be tweaked a little for book authors as you will see below.
But I’ll show you it anyway for reference:
Pain – Identify a pain or in your case an opportunity or clear benefit to be gained from reading your book
Attention – Grab attention with a powerful image.
Command – ‘Click here To Learn More’. A clear call to action.
Expectation – You’ll get/Curiosity/Book summary. What they should expect next.
You can also tweak the copy used in your ad to be very specific to the audience we are targeting.
If we are targeting people who we know ‘like’ John Lennon, we can reference that.
If we know they like ‘The Rolling Stones’ we can reference that.
Here’s one of the Ads we created for Mark’s campaign:
As you can see, we have used some (not all) of what I talked about above in the PACE formula.
We decided to come up with some ‘curiosity’ based text as that works really well on Facebook, or anywhere for that matter.
“What if John Lennon had lived?”
That’s pretty strong text for creating curiosity as it grabs the Facebook users attention as they are scrolling down their news feed.
We are targeting John Lennon fans after all.
A question is always a good one to use in ads as no one can ignore a question!
Next, we quickly led with “Find out what happens…” as that attempts to satisfy their curiosity as well as leading them into the plot of the story a little.
After that we have an ‘ok’ image next.
Mark will tell you himself, we rushed this part a little as we didn’t have time to get a better image made. So we used the only one we had available in the right dimensions suitable for Facebook.
As I said, it’s ok. It could be a lot stronger, the text could be much easier to read, and the book itself could be more prominent.
One key thing you need to be aware of when it comes to images…
Facebook has a ‘20% Text Rule’.
This means your image ‘space’ can only be taken up by 20% text.
The other 80% must be imagery, and imagery only.
If you don’t meet this rule, your ad will be stopped.
To test your final image meets the guidlines go here http://www.social-contests.com/check-image/
Next we have our ‘Headline’. This is what Facebook calls this section.
As our campaign objective was to generate sales with this ad, and we had a promotion running, we led with a price offer headline.
Note it was in the currency of the audience segment we were targeting.
We also added in some scarcity as the offer was only running until Christmas day. This helps create a sense of urgency within the ad.
Next in the ‘News Feed Link Description’ we added in some additional benefits as to why they should buy this book right now i.e. ‘A last minute Christmas gift idea for Beatles fans’…
Lastly, we choose a suitable ‘Call To Action’ button.
For most of you it may be ‘Shop Now’ or ‘Learn More’ depending on what your objective is.
So, if you look at the flow of the ad from the top to the bottom.
We first of all try and grab their attention with strong attention grabbing text and imagery. The copy then helps to entice them in a little more.
We then put an offer with some scarcity in front of them, and then finish it up with some compelling benefits as to why they might enjoy the book.
That’s it for your ad creation.
FB Ads Tip #7: The Power Editor
This is a powerful one if you start to feel confident and more comfortable with the Facebook Advertising platform.
I said earlier that most of you will create your ads using Facebook’s Ads Manager.
Well, there is another way to create Ads and it is using Facebook’s Power Editor.
If you click on ‘Manage Adverts’ you’ll be taken to a page like this:
Click on Power Editor and you will end up at a page like this:
But why should I use the Power Editor I hear you ask?
Facebooks standard ‘Ads Manager’ tool is good and works perfectly fine. But it does have some limitations – some very frustrating ones.
But Power Editor solves them.
Power Editor is Ads Manager on steroids!
It has so many additional options that will help make your ads look better, the setup process much quicker and easier and so much more.
I love the Power Editor.
Word of caution though.
It can be very awkward at first, and it does have a steep learning curve associated with it if you only use it from time to time. So please play about with it before jumping in head first.
However, if you are interested in learning more about the Power Editor and what it has to offer…
I would maybe run a search on YouTube first and watch a few training videos.
There you’ll learn all you need to know in terms of the benefits of using Power Editor over the standard Ads Manager.
A couple of big Power Editor advantages for me are:
1. Text limits do not exist in Power Editor. When you create ads in the standard Ads Manager, you are limited to the number of characters you can use within each section. Power Editor let’s you type as much as you want, giving you more freedom to express your thoughts.
2. You can duplicate whole campaigns, ad sets or ads with just one click. So if we want to create a new Ad Set, and the only difference is we want to target the USA instead of the UK, we just duplicate the original, go into the settings, change the country and that’s us done. Big time saver.
There’s so many benefits I could just go on, but if you’re really interested, go watch some videos, or Google ‘Benefits of Facebook Power Editor’ and read a few articles.
You’ll soon love it as much as me!
FB Ads Tip #8: Split Testing Is Essential on Facebook
Split Testing on Facebook is fairly straightforward. Don’t get worried by the terminology.
Just for clarity…
Split Testing in its simplest of terms is the process where you create one Ad (let’s call it Ad A), then duplicate it (let’s call that Ad B), but maybe change the image in Ad B for something different to what is used in Ad A.
So the only thing that is different between Ad A and B is the image. Or maybe everything is the same apart from your initial text copy.
Once you have created Ad A and B, Facebook should now show both variants of your Ad equally to your target audience. From there you can then check your reports to see which ad is performing better.
Cut the loser and go with the winner. Then try and beat your winner by changing something else.
Rinse and repeat this process.
Split Testing is so important for your success going forward…
Even though you create Ad A with the best of intentions – using your favourite image, your best copy, a killer headline and so on – what you think might resonate with your audience may not be the best option.
For your whole campaign to go from losing money to making money, may only require a different image – and you will only ever know by split testing different ad variables.
That’s the great thing about digital advertising – you get instant feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
And you can test so many different things for not a lot of money.
And small percentage uplifts in performance can make a huge difference, especially when you go up in scale and start increasing your advertising budgets.
So my advice is simple.
Once you’ve created your first campaign, duplicate the Ad, and change something you think might be worth testing.
FB Ads Tip #9: Data Reporting – What to look out for…
Ok, so your campaigns have been running for a short period of time now and we have some data to look at…
So, what now?
Well, we’re now into the optimisation and scaling stage.
Me being a data geek, I love this stage – however I know it can be daunting for many of you, so I will try and keep this simple for now.
It’s important to note however, that for those of you sending traffic from your Facebook campaigns direct to Amazon, it’s impossible to track performance accurately.
Amazon does not give you the feedback and metrics required to tell you if that book sale you just made came as a result of your Facebook Campaign.
Bit of an issue really, but one we cannot get round for the time being I’m afraid.
You will however be able to report on a number of other key performance metrics.
Here’s what to do…
Go to ‘Manage Adverts’ and you should see ‘Reporting’ as an option in the navigation area. This may differ depending if you are using Ads Manager or Power Editor. It’s easy to find, so don’t worry about it.
This is how you get your ad performance data.
To get some meaningful data, I would go to the columns option, and select ‘Performance and Clicks’ for now.
Here you’ll find…
- The ‘Reach’ your ad had i.e. the number of people your ad was shown to…
- Impressions i.e. how many times the ad entered someone’s screen for the first time. Remember someone could see your ad several times…
- How many clicks your ad received…
- What the CTR% (Click Through Rate) was for each of your different ads. Remember, we should be split testing different Ads, so we can find out here which is performing better.
- CPC – What your Cost Per Click was. This is one to watch, as you’ll soon find out that the different interests and demographics you target will have different CPC’s.
For example, in Mark’s recent campaign, we targeted the same interests to a USA audience vs UK Audience.
Our CPC for the USA audience was £0.74, whereas the UK audience was £0.54. That’s a 27% cost saving!
And 27% cost savings when you start to scale campaigns can save you hundreds and thousands of pounds/dollars.
Tracking your Ad Performance inside Facebook is very important.
You need to know what’s working and what’s not and adjust accordingly. Don’t get scared here.
Just look at the data outlined above. Maybe put it in a spreadsheet so you can look at it on a daily basis.
Whatever works best for you. But make sure you know your key metrics.
And this leads nicely onto Tip #10.
FB Ads Tip #10: Conversion Rates – Know your funnel numbers
Whilst this is my final ‘tip’, it could easily have been my first one.
You need to know your numbers and why you’re running Facebook Ads – is it to make money, sell more books so you can get more reviews, is it to build brand awareness, is it to build an email list etc…
The reason I say this, is because it can be very hard to actually make money on Facebook Ads if you are selling a 99p or 99c eBook.
I’ll demonstrate this to you right now by way of a typical sales and marketing funnel…
Here’s an example using some basic numbers…
Let’s say you can get a CPC (Cost Per Click) of £0.40 from your best performing ad, and you get 100 clicks from your ad over to Amazon. That would cost you £40.
So far so good.
Now, if you’re selling an eBook for £2.99, you would need to sell 13 books just to break even. (That’s not allowing for Amazon’s cut, but you get my point. In reality it will be more than 13 books.)
That’s a conversion rate of 13%! (13 sales divided by 100 visits).
13% is quite hard to achieve. I know as I’ve done it a lot!
It’s also hard to track performance as I mentioned before – Amazon doesn’t give you the data to track the source of each sale!
And if you’re selling an eBook for just £0.99, that conversion rate jumps up to over 40% in order to break even!
You MUST know your numbers.
Only you can decide if the cost of advertising is worth it – again this will be subject to your campaign objectives in the short and long run.
I know many successful book sellers who take a longer term approach, and lose money initially, but they make more book sales and money in the long run by marketing correctly.
Here’s one very quick strategy I know can work very well…
You could promote an offer on Facebook – maybe a free chapter of your book plus another bonus.
The ad then takes them direct to a nice landing page on your website. They enter their name and email and they are then sent the free chapter.
You now have their email – so why not follow up with them using email marketing (all automated) with an offer to buy your book, with maybe a coupon/discount code?
This process is all trackable, and maybe more profitable in the long run.
Clearly you would continue to sell your book on Amazon for organic traffic.
It’s just something for you to think about. There are lots of ways to skin a cat.
Be creative with the funnel process.
Bonus Tip #1: Watch for time zones in your account…
When I jumped into Mark’s Facebook Ad account in December and set up his ads for him, all was looking good.
Our ads were going to go live at 8am UK time.
I’ve set up thousands of Facebook Ads – so nothing to worry about eh!
The next day I checked Mark’s account around 10am to make sure all was ok and to my surprise nothing was running. Very strange. My ads were still inactive it said.
Cutting to the chase, after an hour or so of pulling out what hair I have left, I realised that Mark had left his account settings set to US Pacific Time – so even though I thought the ads were going live at 8am GMT, they would not be going live for another 8 hours due to the time difference!
Moral of the story – double check your account settings!
Bonus Tip #2: Remarketing!
It’s likely that most of you reading this are writers…
So, just like any good novel series, here’s one final twist 🙂
Remarketing in digital advertising is king right now when it comes to increasing conversions.
It can significantly help convert the 90% of visitors who don’t buy from you the first time round…
So how do we set this up on Facebook…
Well…this is how you do it…
“I can’t believe it,” Robert said.
You couldn’t make this up.
Robert’s battery died and he couldn’t type those all important words needed to make the remarketing process a success…
Looks like I’ll need to leave that for the next post in this marketing series 😉
(If I do get enough comments below on the points I’ve discussed here I’ll come back and finish this off for you – deal?)
So what next?
Well, if you do have any questions about the above article or Facebook Ads in general, please post a comment below and I’ll get back to you.
Or, you can get in touch with me on Twitter. My username is @blackamex1.
I’m also on Snapchat (big social platform for the next 2 – 3 years so watch this space). My username on there is ‘digitalmarketc’.
And if you want to keep up to date with all things happening in Digital and Social right now, you can always enter your email on my website (currently being updated but you can enter your email at the top ok) over at www.DigitalMarketingEtc.com