Sunday 30 December 2012

Can You Advertise eBooks with Adwords?

If there is one key difference between a "traditionally" published book and one "self-published" as an eBook, it is in the promotion of that work.  With traditional publishing, the author can expect that the promotion of their work will be handled for them, to a greater or lesser degree depending on the "worth" of the work.  Perhaps more importantly, with a physical paper book if the publisher can get it into real-world book stores there is a chance of it being seen and bought on a whim - without any intent to buy on the part of the customer before it was seen on the shelves.  Although eBooks are flying off the virtual shelves, you need only to have been with me in my nearest Waterstones on Saturday to see just how popular real world bookstores still are.

While it may seem that you can browse for eBooks on Amazon, the truth is you can't - at least not in the same way you can a bookstore.  Amazon "publish" every eBook that's approved for publication and that's an awful lot.  At the time of writing, the Kindle Store reports just short of 1.7 million Kindle books or, for a more manageable figure, there are almost 42,000 science-fiction works.  To put that in perspective I guess my local Waterstones has about 1,500 and that's probably being generous.  You might think you can use filters to search for "good" books but even that's not reliable.  Although you can search by rating, you can't specify how many ratings a book has to have so a search for "4 stars" or above will include works with only one reviewer, in many cases probably a friend or relative.

So, in short, if you have an eBook and you want to promote it, you're going to have to advertise.

"If I waited for perfection I would never write a word"

Margaret Atwood

We get many enquiries on the Adwords Support Community asking questions about promoting eBooks and it's important to take the right approach.  Many of the people who contact us are finding it difficult to get results - certainly profitable results - so you need to consider carefully how you approach the task.

Firstly you should become accustomed to the idea that advertising your book will be a loss-leader.  It is highly unlikely you will see a short-term positive Return on Investment (ROI).  Self-published eBooks are often quite inexpensive (especially when you consider the actual return from Amazon on a sale) and even with a half-decent conversion rate it's more than likely you will not see a profit from Adwords.  I'm not saying it's impossible, but it's very unlikely so you need to understand and accept that.  What you're doing with this advertising is trying to start the "snowball".  At first you'll have few sales and you'll have to bear the cost of advertising but the idea is that this outlay gets the ball rolling so that in the future - providing the work is good and popular of course! - the income repays the original spend.

Next you'll need to think about where you advertise.  Many authors seem to spend money on the Search network and I have to say I think this is a bad place to start.  It's hard to imagine any keywords (for a fiction work) that would produce usable results.  Even when considering a non-fiction work on a specific subject, Search may not be that useful without some keen work on establishing very tightly focused keywords.  More importantly I think books need to be sold by their covers and this means Display Ads.  Using an effective Image Ad on managed placements is far more likely to produce interested clicks.  You can think of it as being like a promotion within a bookstore, something to catch the eye of someone browsing.

Note though, that it must be an effective image ad.  Self-publishing does not mean you have to do it all yourself.  If you're not a graphic designer and/or advertising professional, pay someone to make these Ads for you.  Displaying a poorly made, amateur Display Ad is not going to be good for your campaign, it sends entirely the wrong impression.  Image Ads don't have to be complex - you don't have to compete with Hollywood - but they need to look good and be enticing.

Don't forget the mobile market.  Almost all eBooks will be read on mobile devices and while it used to be the Kindle, with very limited Internet capability, increasingly now people are using fully-featured tablets to read their books.  Targeting mobile devices can allow you to include strong calls-to-action enticing the reader to download the book Now! and start reading.

Should you direct them to Amazon or your own website?  I'd always recommend sending visitors to your own website initially, providing (lots of!) links to the Amazon page to complete the purchase.  Your own site can promote the work still further - more images, more interesting (but short and punchy) description.  You may even have a video trailer.  Don't forget that Amazon have several ways to provide in-site links to products, make sure you choose a good selection and make use of customisation options to blend them well with your site design.

Again, as with the creatives themselves, don't try and build the website yourself if you're not a professional.  Pay someone to do it for you, it'll be the best option in the long run.

If you do have a video trailer, consider Adwords for Video to place that trailer in front of the millions of YouTube viewers.  Again, please don't even think of trying to make your own video.  I've seen some and frankly I'd rather not think about any of them again.

Finally, don't sit back and relax, ever.  It's true that once you get that snowball rolling there (hopefully) will be an element of inertia that'll see your sales increase over time.  But this should also mean you'll be getting some disposable returns from those sales.  Not much probably, but enough to plough back into more promotion, better Ad creatives, another video, etc.  Don't give that snowball one push and watch it creep down the hill, keep pushing it, faster and faster until you can pay someone else to push it for you!

Friday 7 December 2012

Importing Google Analytics Data

To be honest, I'm feeling a little lazy today, so I'm just going to let Google do all the work for me.

How an Adwords expert uses Google Analytics data

Which of course is also a massive and shameless plug...


Sunday 2 December 2012

No Marks for Marks (or Spencer)...

OK, maybe this is drifting away from Adwords a little but only slightly; it's still about using your website sensibly to attract your customers. I need a new evening suit - y'know the whole James Bond look - and need new trousers and a new bow tie - a self-tie bow, not a nasty clip-on. Unfortunately I don't have Mr Bond's monetary backing so I'm on a budget and anyone from the UK will know that one of the best places to buy this sort of thing and still get some quality is Marks and Spencers. M&S are a very well established chain store who sell higher quality food and clothing and I've bought from them many times before. So, I go online and find the M&S site, no problem. Within a few minutes I've established that they do indeed sell self-tie bows and a selection of formal wear. I don't want to order online (I'm a fussy budget buyer) so I need to know where the nearest store is and head for the "Store Finder" link.

This is what their Store Finder page looks like (well, it's the important part).  On the left is the normal "Enter the postcode or town" section while on the right is another search option where you can enter the store name or part of it.  OK, I thought, that's a little odd since most of the stores are named after the town they're in but I'll go with it.  So, I type in my town "masham" and this is what I get:

Hmm, no results found, that's a little odd.  I know I live in the North and it's quite a long way from a city but there must be some Marks' up here, I know there are, I've seen them.  So I try "Northallerton" a fairly large town nearby that I know has a Marks' food store.  Yes, there it is in the result, but it's the only result. So I try York, yep, 4 results and a Google Map plotting where they are - but only in York.  Harrogate - 1 result and again a map to show it, but only the one in Harrogate.  

Here I pause for a while because I can't quite believe what I'm seeing.  Unless I'm seriously mistaken, you have to know where the store is in order to search for it.  Every single store search I've ever used in the past has worked on the basis of finding stores nearest to the chosen search parameter then worked out from that point to show 5 or 10 of the closest.  No, not here.  Marks and Spencers - probably one of the largest chains in the UK, has a Store Finder that is only useful if you already know which towns and cities have a Marks and Spencer and which ones are the closest to you.  It's just as absurd with the postcode search.  If you put in HG1 (central Harrogate), it'll show the Harrogate store (wow!).  If you put in HG4 (the first part of my postcode and - I'm sure you can guess - still a Harrogate postcode - you get the old "No Results Found" message.

Who in the design team thinks this is the right way to run a store locator?  Who built this and thought to themselves, "There, that'll help customers find us.".

It's truly astonishing to think that a store of this magnitude can appear to actively make it hard for customers to find their stores.

So, no marks for Marks.  Don't make the same mistake.

Monday 19 November 2012

Adwords and Analytics - a marriage made in... Google!

You all know that to run an Adwords campaign for a website you really must be running Google Analytics, right? If you're not doing this already, go away now, right now and install Analytics to your website. Trying to run a successful Adwords campaign without Analytics is like trying to tie your shoelaces with one hand tied behind your back.

OK, now all the people not using Analytics have left, we can carry on. So, we all know Analytics is an essential part of a good Adwords campaign, but it's kind of a pain that it's separate from Adwords. You have to open up two tabs and switch around all the time and it's not that easy to compare data one to another. Well, now it's just got a lot easier.

It's now possible to import three key Analytics metrics directly into your Adwords account interface and view down to the keyword level: Bounce Rate, Avg. Visit Duration and Pages/Visit.

That keyword you thought should do really well: It's got a 100% bounce rate. That one you thought would bring people in to look around your site: just 1.2 Pages/Visit average.

Of course, as with all data on Adwords, you've got to use it sensibly, not jump to wild conclusions and think, but for me it's one of the best innovations in recent times and you should all be using it - now!

As usual, I'm not going to try and better Google's own help files, just link to them. So here it is: See Google Analytics data within your AdWords account. Go, do it now...

Wednesday 3 October 2012

Check Your Sitelinks...

Google are entering a period of house-keeping and it seems to have resulted in a general 'tightening-up' on rules and regulations for Adwords users. We're promised a whole raft of enforcement directives over the next few months but the most recent that's come to light is in the realm of Sitelinks.

If you're not using Sitelinks - and you should - they're small additional links that can appear with your ad when it is shown either at the top or bottom of Google search results. You can read Google's description of Sitelinks and how to get them going here.

So what's the news? The policy for Sitelinks is that each link must point to its own landing page and that landing page must contain 'unique content'. So if you have a Sitelink for TVs, the landing page shows TVs, if you have one for Blu-ray players, the landing page is filled with Blu-ray players, etc. Apparently, some bad people have had some or all of their Sitelinks pointing to the same landing page or pages with the same content and Google wants to stamp this out.

Apparently (as usual) enforcement will begin with new or recently changed links so you've got a short while to get your house in order. It doesn't sound as though Google are going to completely suspend your account if your links aren't up to scratch; they'll merely refuse to use/show them but it's worth making the effort as they're really very useful things...

Monday 17 September 2012

I'm ecstatic to announce that once again I'll be attending the Adwords Top Contributor Summit at Google's HQ in Mountain View, California. There's more info here.

I'm particularly pleased as I'm on the way up and out of a long illness and when the summit was first announced it looked pretty certain I wouldn't be able to attend. Today I've just received confirmation of my flights so it's all systems go.

I'll try to blog about the summit (and my travels) as they happen so stay tuned!

Thursday 16 February 2012

The New Adwords Community Goes Live!

It's finally here - after months of discussion, testing, arguing and no small amount of work on the part of the Google team and some TCs other than my lazy self, the new Google Adwords Community forum has launched! Visit it here!

We're all really excited about this new platform as we believe it's going to be much more than just a "discussion board". We now have our own "Wiki" and many more useful features for providing feedback and learning.

It's early days yet (it only launched yesterday 15th Feb) but we're all sure it's going to be a huge improvement. Jump in and start peppering us with questions!