Advertising your book on Facebook involves a lot more than posting an ad and making links to your website or book-selling site available. Like any advertising venue, there are ways to maximize the ad’s attraction for people who have a high potential of buying your book. Facebook advertising is a marketing campaign and should be treated as such. This means managing the advertising spend with a deep understanding of how to get clicks and conversions on ad sets, having reasonable expectations of returns on the advertising money spent, developing interesting ads that motivate people to take action which in this case is purchasing your book, and leveraging ad elements to grow an audience. This may all sound obvious, but it is not as simple as it sounds.
uses machine learning to optimize ad results. The ad system learns the more often your ad appears. The learning phase is the first period during which the ad delivery system is learning how to best deliver your ad set on Facebook. It is trying out different audiences and placements. To get out of the learning phase, your ad set needs to reach approximately 50 optimization events in a 7-day period. An optimization event is the number of times your ads achieved the desired outcomes. One step of your Facebook strategy is striving to get out of the learning stage as quickly as possible because it means the ad program has learned enough to take your ads to the next level.
An important element driving your marketing strategy is the ad set level. The ad campaign for your book will be made up of multiple ad sets, and ad sets have multiple ads. An ad set may have 3-7 ads in it, and an ad campaign can have 3-5 ad sets. Ad sets are groups of ads that have the same settings as far as how the ads will appear on Facebook plus when and where they will run.
When you decide to advertise on Facebook, you indicate the spend limits for an ad set. The problem is that you can spend a lot of money on Facebook ads and not get the desired results which are, of course, to get conversions or a sale on the spot or clicks that take the potential buyer to the location where the book can be purchased, like your website or Amazon.
One of the challenges of selling a book written by an unknown author is that people are unlikely to purchase the book on impulse. Without a brand reputation, as well-known authors have, people are not going to buy the book without reading reviews or comments on social media. It becomes a discretionary purchase. Authors like Stephen King and J. K. Rowling have name recognition and social support, and readers know in advance they will probably like the book. The purchase becomes, “I have to read the new book!” A new or unknown author does not have that kind of support, making it unlikely you will make a profit on book conversions due to advertising costs.
Unfortunately, many new booksellers have unreasonable expectations about the net profit they can make on Facebook conversions. The per-click cost for Facebook ads can be as low as 50-cents or as high as $2.00. Many factors influence the cost per click. Your expectations for making a profit should be based on how many clicks it will take to produce a conversion. For example, the book price is $15, but it takes an average of 30 clicks at $1.00 each per conversion or sale. You have lost $15. Realistically, an unknown author is likely to need more than 30 clicks.
That makes it sound like no one should try to advertise their book on Facebook. Not true! I just need to set expectations here.
Early on the real point of Facebook advertising is to build brand awareness and social support, similar to the big-name authors, and then convince ad viewers to take action. As you build a customer base, your conversion rate will improve. Better conversion rate, less cost per sale. So how do you launch and get to profit as fast as possible? We’ll dive into that in the next sections. For now I would say that the most important parts to improving your conversion rate and ultimately making Facebook ads profitable are the quality of creative, proper testing, and the website conversion rate. It takes time, so keep your expectations reasonable to avoid getting discouraged. It is one thing to spend money on advertising and know you may not make a profit for a while versus spending money on advertising and expecting to make a 50 percent profit.
Like any advertising campaign, online or elsewhere in the physical world, you need to adhere to some principles known to engage people and keep their interest.
Videos – At the top of your ad, you will write a couple of sentences called primary text. Write it as an advertiser because the whole point is to entice readers to click on the ad. You can use a short passage from the book, a thrilling description, a great review quote, or whatever you think will work best…as an advertiser and not an author. Your ad may also have a headline that is located underneath the video or image. It consists of a bold text line or two and can state whatever you want – a review quote, a sales price, and date, comparison to another book, etc.
Videos and images are very important, but the ad copy can tell you much more about user behavior and what is driving action. You’ll want to think of 10 reasons people buy and test them. For example, let’s say that you’ve written a book about sales and closing deals. You’ll want to test things like “make more money” vs “Improve close rate” vs “more free time” vs “new sales ideas” vs “popular sales book everyone is reading”, etc. You get the idea.
Run a Clicks To Website campaign to test all these headlines against each other and use the same creative as your control. If the CTR and Add-To-Cart rates are best with “new sales ideas” then you’ll want to create new images and videos based around that. Then run a Conversion for Purchase campaign and improve your chances of success because you are spending money in an optimized fashion.
Ad copy – At the top of your ad, you will write a couple of sentences called primary text. Write it as an advertiser because the whole point is to entice readers to click on the ad. You can use a short passage from the book, a thrilling description, a great review quote, or whatever you think will work best…as an advertiser and not an author. Your ad may also have a headline that is located underneath the video or image. It consists of a bold text line or two and can state whatever you want – a review quote, a sales price, and date, comparison to another book, etc.
Positioning – Positioning refers to addressing the question someone will have when they see the Facebook ad. “Why should I buy and read this book?” Advertising is really all about demonstrating your product or service can meet a need. No book appeals to everyone, so you need to decide the audience you want to reach. Who will the book appeal to and why? If you wrote a fantasy book and some people have compared it to A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin, you want to position your book in front of fantasy fans and leverage the reviews.
Targeting – Once you have it clear in your mind the people most likely to be interested in your book, you can choose how you target them with your Facebook ads. Some authors may have an email list of potential people, and that is a good place to start. Many authors who self-published do not have a large audience.
If you do not have a large audience already, you can target by interest. Interest targeting means creating an ad with the terms and information likely to attract the readers who would be most interested in your book. For example, you wrote a self-help book on job hunting and resume writing and a science fiction book. Clearly, you would not advertise the same way for both books. For advertising purposes, you will break up the interests into different ad sets so you can use the right terms for each.
Facebook does not inform advertisers as to who is converting on interest audiences. The implication is that having multiple interest groups in your ad sets will not inform you as to which interest audience is buying your book. Build an audience of approximately 3,000 people and then create a new ad set with interest targeting.
Though Facebook will automatically show your ads to viewers most likely to have an interest in your ad based on “likes” and Facebook activity, there are three other audience selection tools. One is the core audience which is defined by criteria like interests. Other parameters include age, location, and demographics. The second is custom audiences consisting of the people who have engaged with your book ad on Facebook and/or business website. The third category Facebook calls “lookalike audiences.” These are new people whose interests are similar to the interests of your current customers.
It takes an average of 15 touches for you people to convert on your book. That means you’ll need to follow them around the internet promoting it. You can’t do that with the same content. People need to see something different on day 1 and day 10 when they’ve seen 4 of your book ads already. There must be variety. You’ll need to make a few best practice ad types for Meta ads.
Unboxing - Without a doubt this is the most cost effective way to make an ad. Have a friend hold the camera directly over the package as you take the book out of the box. Sounds silly, but these are very effective in keeping attention. The issue here is that you’re unable to pass a lot of value very quickly as viewers move on once they’ve seen the book. BUT, they’ve seen the book and that is an important part of the process.
Here is an example of a wristwatch company Original Grain which always included textbook unboxing videos.
Founder Video - This is most necessary for an author. You’ve poured your heart and soul into this book and people need to know why and how you wrote it! These videos can be long and short, but you’ll want to make them and make them high quality. It is perhaps the best way to create fascination. Viewers need to walk away from your ad saying to themselves two things: “Who is this person” and “that’s interesting, tell me more”. If you’re unsure what to discuss in the video I would read Sticky Branding and Fascinate to get some inspiration.
Here is an example of a coffee replacement company Mud Water that does a lot of founder videos.
Testimonial - Reader testimonials are very impactful. These testimonial videos are typically sent in by readers and filmed with an iphone. They are normally a little shaky and low quality. But that is great! Remember we need to be in front of people 15 times before they convert and there must be a good variety of high and low quality assets. So far we’ve got a founder video which is high quality, an unboxing video, and professional product shots. The balance between these assets keeps potential book buyers interested.
Here is an example of a gym apparel brand Ten Thousand that mashes up testimonial videos all the time.
Product Shots - These can be obtained locally or from far away. Many photographers offer product shots as a basic offering. You should expect to pay $40 per photo. Get 10 and make sure they are a mix of white background and lifestyle. Meaning if it's a children's book, the background should be playful and maybe have Legos in it. If it’s a business book, the background should be in an office or coffee shop environment. Or if you’re business book is promoting that idea that you’ll make more money after reading it, then you need to have money in the photos. You get the idea.
Here is a link to Quest Nutrition's ads that include product shots which are very well done.
Your strategy for a Facebook ad campaign must include a variety of elements so the ad is successful. It may not be as easy to sell a book by a self-published author as it is to sell a book of an author with a recognized brand, but you have to start somewhere. Facebook ads are a good place to promote and sell your book with some planning. Too many authors jump into posting ads and are disappointed when unable to sell books. Everyone has heard of the success stories, but success comes through the development of a good strategy.