Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In Episode 191, we talked about How to Track Your Marketing Efforts

One Novel Marketing Podcast listener called to ask what to do with the data she collected from tracking those marketing efforts. Shauna asked:

What do I do with statistics from my website, social media, and book sales?

Why is it important to collect data?

An old saying goes, “What gets measured gets managed.” 

One reason authors work so hard posting to social media is because of the feedback they receive. When you know you received 50 likes or comments, it feels like measurement. But it only counts as measurement if you track the data and use it to make better marketing decisions.

Measurement is what separates masters from bozos. Masters know what they’re doing, and they know why. Bozos, as Steve Jobs called them, don’t know what they don’t know. They advise people without having sufficient information themselves. 

If an author on Facebook says that posting on social media will help build your platform, you need to ask for data. Simple likes and comments do not make a platform, but bozos don’t know that yet. 

Many marketing gurus have a specific set of techniques that they stick to long after those techniques stop working. 

The Novel Marketing approach to book marketing is not static or dependent upon one technique. We constantly measure so that we’ll know what works now. 

The guiding principles of the Novel Marketing approach are as follows:

  • Each author is different, and each marketing approach must be tailored to an author’s specific strengths and weaknesses.
  • Experimentation is the key to finding what works for you. Just because something works (or doesn’t) for others doesn’t mean it will (or won’t) work for you.

Step 1: Start Collecting Data

You can’t use data you don’t have. If you’re not collecting data, check out our post on  How to Measure Your Marketing.  

You must collect data before you need it. You can’t retroactively install Google Analytics. The sooner you start, the more data you’ll have to work with. Collect data even if you’re not sure how you’ll use it.

If you don’t have data, you can’t use it to make better decisions. 

Step 2: Write Questions You Want Your Data to Answer

Computers are great at answering questions, but they are terrible at asking questions. You can’t program a computer to be curious. Asking questions requires a human approach.

Write out some questions you can ask of your data.

Sample questions might include:

  • Were sales up or down last month?
  • How much do my promotions on Facebook boost book sales?
  • Do my ads on Facebook pay for themselves?
  • How much do my promotions on Twitter boost book sales?
  • Does my website traffic correlate with book sales? 
  • Are my followers mostly men or women? What ages?
  • What blog topics get the most attention?
  • What is my sell-through rate?
  • Did my BookBub ad pay for itself?
  • Are my Amazon ads making money?
  • Did that blog tour help sell any books?
  • What is the lifetime value of a new reader? How many books do they go on to buy?
  • How much of my revenue comes from ebook sales? 
  • How many additional books did my podcast interviews help sell? Remember to measure from when the podcast airs, not when it was recorded.

Even if you don’t know how to answer the question, ask the questions before staring at the data.

Step 3: Keep a Marketing Journal

Analytics measures effects. Data tells you what happened, but it doesn’t necessarily tell you what caused something to happen. 

Keeping a marketing journal won’t make any sense unless you know how to connect the effects with causes. 

Your marketing data will not remind you that you went on a podcast tour in September. It will only show you a spike in sales during September. But when you record your activity in a marketing journal, you’ll see an entry that reminds you about the podcast tour you did in September, and you can reasonably link the cause to the effect.

The first step is to start journaling your marketing activities.

Consider recording journal entries like the following:

  • Started Facebook Advertising on DATE
  • Added money to Facebook ad budget on DATE
  • Tweaked Facebook ad with a new headline on DATE
  • Podcast interview aired on DATE

Every two weeks, I have a mastermind call where we update the group on our goals and progress. I’ve been keeping a written log of my updates for the last couple of years, and that log serves as a journal of my marketing efforts.  

If you are using an editorial calendar, you already have a journal. You can look back and see what you did to promote your book on a certain date. 

Step 4: Create a Dashboard

Creating a dashboard is an optional step. You can get answers from your data without a dashboard. However, a dashboard sometimes makes the data easier to read. 

There are many dashboard tools, but they are typically expensive, up to $1000 per month. For authors, I recommend the following inexpensive or free dashboard tools: BookReport is great for authors who have multiple books published. It allows you to split out the data on a per-book basis. To a lesser extent, KDP’s dashboard allows you to split the data according to title or format. and connect your data from Google Analytics, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Quick Books. 

Step 5: Set Benchmarks 

Your benchmarks will help you know what “normal” is for you and your data. Benchmarks are the starting point by which you can measure your progress. 

  • What are typical sales?
  • What is my typical traffic?
  • What is my typical engagement? 

Step 6: Run Experiments

After you’ve established some benchmarks, you can begin to try a new marketing technique to see if it makes a difference. Your goal is to beat your benchmarks. 

If you normally sell $100 in ebooks each month, you want to find out if your newly implemented marketing technique boosts books sales or not. 

If you give a guest interview on a podcast, look at your data after the interview airs and see if your ebook sales numbers beat your normal $100-per-month sales number. 

Experiments can also include stopping activities you’ve been doing. 

  • How much do sales drop when I stop buying Amazon/Facebook ads?
  • How much do sales drop if I take a break from Facebook for a month to write my next book?

You may discover that your absence from social media has no impact on your sales. If so, you can confidently take time off without adversely affecting your sales numbers.

Maybe social media is working to sell books. If you take a month off, you may discover your vacation negatively impacted your sales. You won’t know either way unless you measure and experiment.

Step 7: Evaluate the Experiments

After your experiment is over, study the data and see how your experiment impacted your sales. 

You can also run retroactive experiments. You can look at your calendar or emails and piece together a marketing journal from last month’s activity. Compare your data and make your evaluations retroactively.

Remember, there is a seasonal aspect to sales. 

You may notice that your sales are up in November, but you don’t have anything in your marketing journal that accounts for the spike. November is seasonally a huge month for shopping, and seasonality has a big impact in certain genres.

Comparing this November’s data with last November’s data for a seasonal Christmas novella will be more instructive than comparing November to October.

As you learn to track, measure, and evaluate your sales and marketing data, you will learn which efforts work best for you. You’ll discover what comes most naturally to you and which activities bring the largest ROI. 

Tracking your marketing data takes time and organization, but it also provides data that allows you to make good decisions about your marketing strategies.


How to Get Booked as a Podcast Guest

Podcast guesting gives you:

  • a high-credibility way to reach new audiences
  • the influence of a podcast without the work of starting your own
  • access to influencers you couldn’t reach any other way

You don’t need to hire a PR firm for $3000 to schedule your podcast interviews. You just need to know how to pitch podcasts yourself. Once you start nailing interviews, podcasters will start reaching out to you to invite you to their shows.

This course will teach you how to become a sought-after podcast guest who has access to thought leaders and readers alike.

This course is for you if you are ready to get your book the attention it deserves.

For the month of October 2019, Patrons can save 80% on this course. After that, they can save 50%. 

Featured Patron

Benjamin Ellefson author of The Land without Color

Living in tropical Costa Rica, Benjamin loves writing whimsical adventures for children of all ages. Having published three award-winning, independent, middle-grade novels, he focuses his writing on modern fairy tales that are fun for kids and thought-provoking for adults.      

You can become a Novel Marketing Patron here.

Listener Help Line

Do you have a question you would like us to answer on the show? Call our listener helpline! 512-827-8377. You can also send us a high-quality recording on

Related Episodes

Liked it? Take a second to support Thomas Umstattd Jr. on Patreon!
Become a patron at Patreon!

Want more help?

Get a weekly email with tips on building a platform, selling more books, and changing the world with writing worth talking about. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!