Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
Authors today must run their own promotions, including raffles and giveaways. In December, chick-lit author Gale Martin ran a giveaway. Here’s a Q&A Case Study of her marketing program.
Beth Bacon: Please describe your holiday promotion, what exactly what was your offer and to whom?
Gale Martin: Three Booktrope “chick lit” authors—Meredith Schorr, Laura Kilmartin and I—offered a Books & Bubbles Binge gift basket to a US-based winner. It contained four signed copies of our novels, some high-end bubble bath, two foam bath packets, a bath scrubbie, and a $10 Amazon gift card for a total value of $95.
We used a Rafflecopter widget because it’s the easiest way to organize a multi-day giveaway promotion—it handles multiple authors/books promotions well. The free version offers lots of great features. It makes winner selection a snap, too. The Rafflecopter contest widget can be embedded onto multiple sites with all entries going to the same giveaway.
Meredith and Laura said they had trouble embedding Rafflecopter, so they just included a link from their blogs to the contest. I have a Squarespace website, and Rafflecopter works without a hitch on it. I don’t think Rafflecopter works well or easily for people accessing your site from a mobile device. However, I recently learned that the Rafflecopter Facebook app is mobile friendly. Next time, I intend to try it, since I don’t want to disadvantage all those mobile users trying to participate in a giveaway.
BB: What was the purpose of your promotion?
GM: We wanted to increase our visibility, including growing followers on major social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, our blogs, and Goodreads author pages). We wanted to push out the Booktrope brand and our affiliation with our publishing platform (collectively and individually) by giving participants the option to follow Booktrope social media accounts, too, to win points. We wanted to cultivate some new fans who might then be more familiar with our work and ultimately purchase our books. The stronger the Booktrope brand, the better all of us fare, too
BB: Why did you do this in cooperation with other authors? Why did you choose those books?
GM: It is much easier to enhance your reach in cyberspace through collaboration, especially for indie authors. For instance, if we promote the giveaway on all three Twitter accounts rather than going it alone, collectively we have 7,563 Twitter followers which tops all of our individual followers. For indie authors, there’s strength in numbers (and in more than just giveaways).
We chose these novels because chick lit may be considered an indulgence, like taking a nice hot bubble bath. These books aren’t meant to change your life or change the world. They offer a literary escape. What do women need to cope with the stress of the holidays? They need more “Calgon, take me away” moments. Also, chick lit has a defined following of readers and easy to tap into by using #chicklit, etc.
BB: Please describe the milestones of the promotion.
GM: We launched the promotion by announcing it on our blogs on the first day of the promotion while also each crafting a post on the theme of “What I Do To Unwind.” We all sent the information to our own network contacts. For instance, I crafted Tweets and sent them to the book bloggers who featured my work in the past. We did a mid-promotion social media push and an end of promotion last day push on social media.
BB: What graphics did you post? Where did you run them?
GM: We all featured the Books & Bubbles Binge artwork on our blogs and on the contest landing page on our blog. Additionally, I made it my Twitter and Facebook fan page banners. I did posts featuring the art on a Goodreads blog post and a Booklikes blog post. I also did a couple promoted posts from my Facebook fan page. However, because of Facebook rules about your photo not being more than 25% text, I had to create a new image with a lot less text.
BB: What skills do you need to create this promo? Did you need to hire people or “borrow” their expertise?
GM: You need a little design ability to create a graphic for an integrated campaign. I’ve been in Marketing (my profession) for about 17 years and when I started out, I did some design, though I have to emphasize that I’m not a graphic designer. I dabble a little. You also need to know a little HTML or be comfortable with embedding code on your website. I have functional skills with HTML, so anybody can really do this. Rafflecopter is easy and intuitive. As long as you have someone on the project with some design and some rudimentary coding skills, you don’t need to outsource. This isn’t my first Rafflecopter giveaway. I learn with each one I set up. I’d love to have a chance to offer the widget on multiple blogs and may do so for an upcoming book launch. That would be the most effective way to do a multi-author giveaway. In order for an online promotion to work, it goes without saying that everyone involved needs a social media presence.
BB: How much did you spend on creating this promo?
GM: We each kicked in $15 besides contributing signed copies of our novels for prizes and shipping. Shortly after Facebook’s IPO was a big fizzle last spring, they figured out how to do mobile-ready advertising. Once they did that, they stock value increased rapidly. I hadn’t advertised on Facebook since last spring, so I wanted to explore the new universe of promoted posts and Facebook ads. So I spent an extra $18 to ramp up my learning curve re: promoted posts in a news feed. As a result our promotion got an additional 10,000 impressions beyond what I posted to my FB followers and 33 more post engagements (clicks).
BB: What were the results of the promotion in terms of books sold or increased awareness?
GM: Since we were primarily going for awareness, we were pleased with the results. At least 592 unique visitors went to the landing page according to my site stats and we had 653 entries in the contest. Not everyone who visited the page entered the contest but that is not unusual. With Rafflecopter you can acquire multiple giveaway points–the more points you acquire increases your chance of winning.
Whoever hosts the giveaway (me, in this case) gets the added benefit of increased web traffic. I roughly doubled visits to my site during the promotion from 1,400 unique weekly visits per week to 2,400 unique visitors.
During the 10-day campaign, each author obtained roughly 12 more Goodreads fans,13 Facebook Fans, and at least 10 Twitter followers while Booktrope has added 13 Facebook fans and 12 Twitter followers, according to entry stats. Readers-Writers Connect who also helped promote the giveaway also added 5 Twitter followers.
To put this in perspective, it took me 5 years on Goodreads to gain 100 fans. I added to that number by more than 10% inside ten days, fairly easily, too, via this promotion.
BB: Would you do this promo again, if so what would you change?
GM: I’d definitely try the Facebook app of Rafflecopter. I think if we could have added three or four more authors, we’d would done even better—exponentially better.
BB: How does this fit in with your overall book marketing strategy?
GM: I plan to offer sequels to my other books, Don Juan in Hankey, PA and Grace Unexpected and also have a new novel launching, Who Killed ‘Tom Jones’, so I am trying to cultivate new followers and retain new followers as well as increase visibility.
BB: Any other advice to indie authors?
GM: I know indie authors are ruggedly individualistic, prepared to buck convention and go it alone. But I think you’re headed in the wrong direction if you are pursuing a me-against-the-world strategy. Collaborate, especially if you are represented by the same small press. Reach out to others who write what you do. Network regardless. Go out of your way to be a great literary citizen—I greatly admire Meredith Schorr for her connectedness in the chick lit community which she has worked hard to obtain and been very intentional about cultivating by reviewing and promoting other writers in her genre.
I would fare better if I could wholeheartedly embrace that I am a chick lit author. But I am launching a murder mystery, Who Killed ‘Tom Jones’, on January 21, have a serious mystery ready to shop, a YA halfway done, and two other books in progress. So, indie authors who can really hone in and marry their genre and target audiences will fare better than those who don’t.
BB: Thank you!