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How to Increase the ROI of Your BookBub Ads (+ a BookBub Fast Pass)

Please welcome Diana Urban to Writer Unboxed today!

Diana is the Industry Marketing Manager at BookBub, and was previously the Head of Conversion Marketing at HubSpot. She’s an expert in inbound marketing, content marketing, and lead generation.

Diana also recently found the perfect agent for her YA thrillers, Jim McCarthy.

We’re thrilled to have her with us today to explore something she can speak to with much authority, maximizing the ROI of BookBub ads. She has also generously provided a link for WU readers to ‘fast track’ ad applications to BookBub. (Read on to learn more.)

You can learn more about Diana on her website, and by following her on Twitter at @DianaUrban.

How to Increase the Return on Investment of Your BookBub Ads

Many authors are familiar with BookBub’s Featured Deals, the editorially-selected price promotions included in each daily email. BookBub Ads also appear in these emails, but there are several important differences between the two promotional tools. Most notably, you can run BookBub Ads for any book at any time — full-priced books, new releases, novellas, etc. — without needing to go through any editorial review process. The platform is totally self-serve, allowing you to determine your own budget and timeline.

BookBub Ads also offers more nuanced targeting options, allowing you to target readers interested in certain authors, categories, regions, and retailers. In fact, some authors have found BookBub Ads to be one of the most effective ways to reach readers in specific regional/retailer markets (e.g. Kobo Canada).

Advertisers running BookBub Ads campaigns have a variety of marketing goals. These goals often fall into two camps:

  1. Revenue: Achieve a positive return-on-investment (ROI) by driving clicks and conversions.
  2. Branding: Increase a book’s exposure by gaining impressions.

It’s important to determine your goal before running a campaign so you can set it up based on what you’re trying to achieve. When running a branding campaign to generate impressions, you might want to accept a negative ROI for the sake of reaping the long-term benefits of exposure. However, when running a revenue-driving campaign to generate clicks and conversions, you’ll be focused on generating a positive ROI so you’re making more than you’re investing.

While every campaign is unique and your specific goals might land somewhere in the middle, we wanted to provide some tips for advertisers specifically looking to boost the ROI of their BookBub Ads campaigns.

Still don’t have access to BookBub Ads? Fill out this form, and we’ll fast-track your invitation! Please make sure you already have a BookBub Partners Dashboard account — if not, you can sign up for one here.

And if you’re ready to create a new ad campaign, you can set one up here!

1. Use CPC bidding instead of CPM bidding

When advertisers run BookBub ads, they can choose between two different bidding strategies: cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-thousand-impressions (CPM). With both bidding options, you’re bidding against other advertisers on the platform who are trying to reach the same readers that you’ve targeted with your ad.

With CPM bidding, you choose what you’re willing to pay per 1,000 impressions, where one impression is one opened email. You will win impressions for the audience you’re targeting if you are the highest bidder for that audience.

With CPC bidding, you choose the amount you’d be willing to pay for each click you receive on your ad. CPC bidding is a lower risk to advertisers than CPM bidding because instead of paying for impressions that might turn into clicks, you only pay for actual clicks. For that reason, CPC can be preferable to advertisers seeking a positive return-on-investment.

CPC is also advantageous to advertisers who run effective ads. The higher your click-through rate (CTR), the easier it is to consistently win impressions because the platform will more regularly show ads that readers are actively clicking on.

So if you’re currently running CPM ads and aren’t yielding as high an ROI as you’d like, consider testing CPC bidding instead. Keep in mind that CPC bidding can make it harder to reach as wide an audience — but if you’re prioritizing a positive ROI over a high volume of impressions, this may be a worthwhile tradeoff.

For more details on how this all works, check out the Guide to the BookBub Ads Auction Model.

2. Link directly to the book’s retailer product pages

If you’re currently using a page on your own website as the click-through URL, we recommend testing ads that link directly to a book’s retailer product page instead. This way, you can link readers directly to their preferred retailer, reducing the number of clicks required to purchase the book, which could have a positive impact on the ad’s ROI.

Linking readers to their preferred retailer is super easy! Just be sure to select the book you’re promoting when creating a new ad:

BookBub will automatically pull in the book’s retailer links. Your ad will automatically target readers in the relevant regions and link them to their preferred retailer in order to maximize the ad’s conversions to sale. You can edit or add additional retailer links if necessary.

3. Refine your targeting

If your ad’s CTR is low and you’re not getting a high ROI, you may be targeting too broad an audience. Consider refining your targeting by using author targeting. This will allow you to reach readers who have expressed interest in specific authors, and will likely help you reach a smaller, more relevant audience. Include yourself (or the author of the book you’re promoting) and other authors who have written books similar to the one you’re promoting.

Also note that by using both category and author targeting, you’ll only reach readers who are interested in at least one of the selected book categories and one of the selected authors. This can help narrow your target audience even further.

As you adjust your targeting, keep an eye on the audience dial at the bottom of the page, which will update to indicate your estimated maximum daily reach based on your targeting.

4. Optimize your creative

If you’re not getting enough clicks, it could mean that your ad design isn’t engaging enough. Here are some best practices that have been effective for advertisers:

  • Include a book cover image. Testing has shown that ads featuring an image of the book’s cover get more clicks than ads without a cover.
  • Make the text easy to read. Your text should be actionable and large enough to read.
  • Use a short quote or blurb. Ads including a quote or blurb from a big-name author or publication have above-average click-through rates.
  • Include a call-to-action button. Give viewers a final nudge by including a call-to-action button they can click. Use contrasting colors to make the button stand out in the design.

Here are just a few examples:

Like everything else in publishing, ad creative can be highly subjective, and best practices and trending tropes can differ by genre. Testing your ad designs can help determine what works best for a particular book and its unique audience.

5. Run A/B tests

Running an A/B test is a great way to figure out which targeting and/or creative can get you as high a CTR as possible. Essentially, you’ll run two different ads simultaneously and compare the CTR for each. The variation with the highest CTR is the winner.

To run an A/B test on BookBub Ads, create two ads with identical settings except for one element. Once you create your first ad, save it as a draft, then duplicate it by clicking the copy icon. This will let you carry over all your settings from the first ad:

For example, if you’re testing different designs, you could test whether including a blurb in the creative drives more clicks than a short synopsis, or whether including the price point in the ad generates more clicks than leaving the price out. Or if you’re testing different targeting options, use the same creative in each ad, but target readers interested in a different author.

See step-by-step instructions for A/B testing creative using BookBub Ads here.

A/B testing is a great way to find what combination of targeting and creative works best for you without burning through your marketing budget. We recommend running several test campaigns with low budgets ($10-20), determining the winners, and then increasing the budgets of the winning variations.

If you have questions about the BookBub Ads platform, feel free to ask Diana your questions in the comments below. If you ever have questions about your own Ads campaigns, email partners@bookbub.com to get advice from a BookBub account representative any time. 

And as a reminder, if you still don’t have access to BookBub Ads, you can fill out this form, and we’ll fast-track your invitation!

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About Mary Ellen Bellusci

Mary Ellen Bellusci is a longtime resident of Baltimore, Maryland... A foodie, traveler, writer, and pursuer of happiness.