Today we look at specific display ad strategies that produced great results for two indie authors. Awareness or display ads are often misunderstood by indies because they aren’t aimed at selling directly and don’t have a great ROI. But they can be highly effective. Use display ads to build interest, anticipation, or awareness for your product prior to your Direct Response ad.
Indie writers are looking for one buyer for every three thousand readers — a needle in a haystack. That means you need to maximize the effect of your direct response campaign with display ads, also known as awareness ads, which you probably think of as web-ads.
Awareness ads are designed to make the viewer aware of your product with the expectation that the consumer will think of you first when he/she has a need. An example of this are Geiko’s gecko ads on TV. For best results, you should saturate a media platform with display ads then follow up with a direct response ad. For authors, indie or otherwise, that means hitting as many reader sites as you can afford before you run a direct response ad.
Here are three sites that come up every time I pose the question among writers:
Kindle Books and Tips (KBT) – This site is one of the rare sites to produce in-the-black ads, you’re likely to sell enough books to cover the cost of the ad.
Ereader News Today (ENT) – This site has a unique, and to my mind, fair way of charging: they take a percentage of your revenue only from books they sold.
Kindle Boards (KB) – One of the oldest sites in indie land, there are mixed reviews about advertising here. IMHO, it’s best to participate in the site’s unique culture before buying an ad and adjust your pitch accordingly.
For a more comprehensive list of sites, click on this great post by Digital Pubbing’s Sabrina Ricci.
Strategies for maximizing display ads are crucial to your success. Here are two authors who’ve had huge success recently utilizing display ads in conjunction with BookBub direct response ads. Keep in mind, both these authors ran free-book promotions in niche markets which have strong followings and respond well to promotions (and Mr. Houston has a dog on both his book covers, an age-old sales tactic*).
YMMV, but if you follow their example of using display ads for awareness followed by a direct response ad, you will have better results than running either type alone.
Richard Houston – 76,000 downloads of his free book after a BookBub ad on 18-May led to $6,000 in sales of his other book at the regular price supported by “every free (display) ad I could find”. He waited three weeks, enough time for the freebie-takers to read the first book, and then ran an ENT ad supported by a KDP Select Countdown for both books on Amazon. This strategy produced the results shown below (freebies removed for readability, click to enlarge):
Joanne Phillips – 64,000 downloads in the more competitive “families” niche after her free promo on Bookbub. Joanne also posted 17 display ads, some free and some paid, in the two days leading up to the direct response ad. Her other book, regularly priced, saw dramatic sales increase at the time and continued at a higher level after the initial drop:
My heartfelt thanks to both Ms. Phillips and Mr. Houston for sharing their data and experiences with us. Because of their phenomenal successes, I’ve decided to work on a blog called “Advertising Strategies” in the near future. But, because there will be actual work (research) involved, I’m not sure when we’ll see it. Stay tuned.
* In the ‘50s Time Magazine discovered that dog covers sold better than anything else. Chocolate ran second, bikini-clad women something like 7th or 8th. I’d forgotten this fact until I saw Mr. Houston’s books. Being an expert at thieving good ideas, I’ve not only stooped to putting a seven-year-old picture of my puppy on this post, I’ve also started redesigning my upcoming novella cover (yes, the story will feature a puppy in a small but significant role).