Do you measure the results of your marketing efforts?
How can you find out if that interview with a popular podcast yielded book sales? If you buy advertising, how do you know if it was worth the expense?
Measuring and tracking your book marketing efforts requires a small investment of time on the front end of your campaigns or events. While indie authors have a few more tools at their disposal, traditional authors can use many of the following tools and principles.
Why do I need to measure my marketing?
If you don’t measure, you’re probably wasting a lot of time, energy, and money on things that are not working.
When you measure, you can prune away the things that don’t work and focus on what does. You’ll sell more books without spending more time and money.
When I was the marketing director at Fahrenheit Marketing, we had a client spending $100,000 annually for advertising in 12 magazines. We decided to find out which magazines were performing best for them.
We modified their current ads by assigning a unique 1-800 number to each different magazine. Readers who viewed the ad and wanted to purchase would call the number specific to that publication.
We discovered that 100% of the company’s sales were coming from one magazine. The other 11 magazines only received calls from people selling ad space in different magazines in their industry. We cut the ads from those 11 magazines and thereby cut their advertising expenses by 80% without seeing any decrease in sales.
While you might not be buying magazine ads for your book, collecting data about what works for you and your book will inform each marketing decision. Knowing the facts also protects you from marketing superstitions.
Measuring marketing separates the hobbyist from the expert. The hobbyist follows superstitions and rumors. The expert measures and tracks to find out if rumors are true.
Don’t waste time measuring vanity metrics.
What is a vanity metric?
A vanity metric makes you feel good and impresses other people, but they’re not useful for making marketing decisions. Many authors make the mistake of paying too much attention to vanity metrics like the following.
Tens of thousands of followers do not translate to book sales. Only a small percentage of your followers will see your link, fewer will click, and even fewer will purchase.
Facebook Page Likes
Page likes have almost no value when it comes to selling books. Facebook deprioritizes links that lead people away from Facebook, so only a small percentage of your followers see your post. If you have 1,000 fans on Facebook, only 4% (40 people) will see the post, and only 1% will buy (0.4 people.) To sell a single book through a Facebook page with the current algorithm, you need 2,500 fans.
Amazon Author Rank
Author ranking is a vanity metric unless you measure it over time. When you track your rank from month to month and connect it with specific marketing efforts, such as media appearances or a guest post on a high traffic blog, it becomes a more useful metric. But your author ranking on a single day at a specific moment is not meaningful information by itself.
Amazon Book Sales Rank
Your book’s ranking on a single day might be worth a screenshot, but it is not useful in marketing data. Tracking your book’s sales rank over time, however, can help you evaluate your ranking in relation to specific marketing efforts, such as running a BookBub ad.
Email List Size
This might be surprising considering how we advocate for building an email list. But the number of email addresses is only valuable if you measure Open Rate and Click-Through Rate. If you email 10,000 people, but no one opens the email, you might as well be speaking to an empty room.
Pageviews on Irrelevant Pages
Pageviews on a blog post about your dog might give you warm feelings about your pup’s publicity, but it’s not useful for selling books.
Measure These True Metrics
Pageviews on Relevant Pages
Tracking pageviews on landing pages, such as a MyBookTable book page, is valuable. The more people who view your sales landing page, the more books you will sell.
Email Open Rate
You, and your potential publisher, will want to know how many of your 10,000 email subscribers open your emails. If only ten people open your emails, you will not sell many books, even with as many as 10,000 subscribers.
Email Click Through Rate
It’s important to track the number of people who clicked your link in the email they opened. Most good email services track Open Rate and Click-Through Rate.
ROI (Return on Investment)
If you spend time and money on advertising, you want to know your return. If your time is worth $25 per hour and you spent four hours plus $100 on your marketing, you really spent $200 because your time is valuable. If you profit $200 from that endeavor, you broke even.
Indie authors can easily track how many books sell from day to day. You can see how your marketing efforts impact your sales. Traditional publishers have historically hidden this data from authors, but this is changing. If you’re traditionally published, ask your publisher if they have an author portal where you can view your sales data.
Social Media Click Through Rate
If you share a link to Twitter or Facebook, you can and should measure how many people clicked the link (read on to find out how).
What is the best way to measure true metrics?
Tracking URLs are the best way to measure your online and offline marketing efforts.
What is a tracking URL?
A tracking URL is a website link with special characters and identifiers that track information about where and how a person clicked (or typed) your link.
If you are a guest on a podcast, you can provide the host with a tracking URL to include in their show notes. After the show goes live, you will be able know how many podcast listeners from that podcast clicked your link. When you guest on the next podcast, you will provide a different tracking URL.
You can create special links for special campaigns. As you track this data, you will learn which podcasts have the most engaged listeners and where your message resonates best.
Create your own tracking URLs with these tools.
When you become an Amazon Affiliate, you can create up to 100 tracking URLs.
If you buy magazine ads, you’ll create a unique link for each magazine. Amazon will tell you how many people clicked that tracking URL, as well as the number of purchases made through that specific link. Amazon Affiliate tracking links are the gold standard because they provide sales data as well as your affiliate commission on those sales.
Bit.ly is a great tool if you’re in a state or territory where Amazon affiliate links are prohibited.
Bit.ly also works well when you want to track something other than book sales on social media. For example, if you’re sharing a link to your lead magnet landing page on social media, Bit.ly will tell you how many people clicked on that link in the Facebook post about your lead magnet.
Bit.ly takes a long URL and shortens it. The links become even more useful for authors when you add a “+” to the end of the link. When you add the +, it becomes a tracking link that tells how many times that URL was clicked as well as when and where.
You can add the + to your links and other people’s links with Bit.ly or any URL shortening service that uses Bit.ly as a vendor, such as Kickstarter. If you add a + to a Kickstarter link, you’ll receive the same valuable data.
If you don’t want to use Bit.ly, you can use the WordPress Redirection plugin (only on WordPress.org). It allows you to set up a link like, “myauthorname.com/readermagnet” that redirects to somewhere else.
For example, ThomasUmstattd.com/facebook, a link I created with the WordPress Redirection plugin, takes you to my Facebook page. I can see exactly how many people go to that URL to get to my Facebook page.
You can use it to redirect people to internal links on your own website too. You can say, “Go to mywebsite.com/printable to download the printable map or tip-sheet.” That link redirects them to the page with the printable, and you’ll see how many readers went to the page. It’s powerful and easy to use.
Dashboards that Help You Measure Your Marketing
Bit.ly offers a free dashboard that’s great for measuring your marketing efforts. You can use these tracking links on social media. Although Facebook does deprioritize posts that include Bit.ly links, it is still potentially useful to have that information.
KDP Dashboard (Indie authors only)
Your KDP dashboard reports sales by date and format. You’ll see how many people have borrowed your book on Kindle Unlimited. When you observe a spike in sales or borrows, you can note how your marketing efforts, such as a guest blog post being published or a podcast being aired, corresponds to your daily sales.
Book Report (Indie authors only)
Book Report is a user-friendly version of the KDP dashboard. It uses Amazon’s data and presents the information in a more visually pleasing way. Their reports are easy to understand, updated by the minute, and beautifully presented. It’s free for authors who earn less than $1,000 per month on KDP and just $19 for those earning more.
Google Analytics (For indie and traditional authors.)
Google Analytics provides free information about who is visiting your website from where and how much time they’re spending on your site. It can be especially useful if you have landing pages on your website. You’ll get insight on how many people are visiting, clicking links on your website landing pages. With the data from Google Analytics, nonfiction authors can evaluate visitor interest in the topics and issues they write about.
Email Service Providers
MailChimp (Affiliate Link) and ConvertKit (Affiliate Link) Give you great analytics on email campaign performance. Check your email service provider’s knowledge base or help desk for tutorials and evaluating this data.
Facebook has an analytics portal that reports demographic information on your Facebook Page (not profile) fans. Go to your Facebook Page, click “Insights,” and click on “People” to find out the age, gender, language, and location data on your fans.
Publisher’s Author Portal
If you’re traditionally published, your publisher’s author portal will be your most useful dashboard. Ask your publisher if they have an author portal where you can view your sales data.
Healing Every Day: A 90-Day Devotional Journey (Affiliate Link) by Mary DeMuth
From beloved author, storyteller, and prayer warrior Mary DeMuth, comes a heartfelt devotional combining stories, Scripture, and prayers to reveal God’s heart for broken and healing people.
Crafted by Thomas & Jim, The 5 Year Plan is a step-by-step guide for the first five years of your writing career. Learn what to do in each quarter of the year to avoid the mistakes that hijack success for most authors and set yourself up for success. Learn more at NovelMarketing.com/courses.