Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
The chatter about Facebook ads in book marketing circles these days is all about building massive email lists and selling books. And although I am in that corner, I also believe that there are many entry-level advertising opportunities for authors with smaller platforms and budgets to grow their fanbases and email lists without breaking the bank.
Smaller budgets return slower growth, but ads do definitely speed up the process. For authors who are looking to get started in Facebook ads with small budgets, advertising to their own Facebook fans brings both value and return in certain circumstances.
First, let’s look at a couple definitions.
There are two types of basic audiences when it comes to running any kind of ad: a cold audience and a warm audience. A cold audience is made up of people who don’t know you. They may be qualified book buyers in your genre, but you are not on their radars. When you want to reach these people, you need to run targeted ads that use custom audiences, lookalike audiences, or interest targeting in hopes that you get as close to grabbing their attention as possible.
Traditionally, marketers know that cold ads cost more, have a lower conversion rate, and can produce weaker leads. They often involve some kind of lead magnet or incentive—give something away to get something. You can amass more leads in less time with cold ads, but converting them to regular customers often takes more work, especially if you only have one or two books published.
A warm audience is made up of people who already know and have taken an action such as buying or downloading a book, visiting your website, subscribing to a mailing list, liking a Facebook page, or following you on Twitter. Traditionally, marketers know that warm leads are easier to convert to any kind of follow-up action. Also, warm audience ads often cost less to convert. Facebook expert Amy Porterfield has calculated that advertising to her current fans is 50 percent cheaper than ads to cold audiences.
To that end, she advertises to both audiences. There’s an old marketing adage that says it is easier and cheaper to keep a customer than it is to acquire a new one.
Why Advertise to a Warm Audience?
Authors are at different stages of platform building. Some haven’t published their first book yet, some have a couple out there, others have multiple series and have landed on many bestseller lists. But the majority of indie authors are stuck in the wasteland of not selling enough books to make any bestseller list anywhere and need to rely on their personal platform and gumption to get their books discovered.
In the early stages many authors cannot afford to give a book away to get an email address, but they need to be building an email list just the same. Building that list can feel like pushing a boulder uphill, but there are methods that can quicken the process, like contests, promotions, locating sign-up forms in multiple locations, and warm audience ads.
Facebook Engagement Rates
The average engagement rate on a Facebook business page is one to two percent, according to research sites like Social Bakers. Another interesting fact about engagement rates: sites with less than 10,000 fans usually have the highest engagement rates with a decline as the page likes climb.
Most authors in my online classes have engagement rates much higher than the average mentioned above. Some have baseline rates as high as seven percent or more. We have discovered that authors who use an 80-20 formula (80 percent of posts give value and build community to 20 percent selling) have higher engagement rates than those who use social media strictly for “buy my book” type messages.
Even at seven percent, an author with 1,000 fans has a baseline engagement rate that only allows 70 of those fans to see any given post initially. Facebook delivers your posts initially to people it deems more likely to take an action: like, comment, click or share. That “likeliness” is based on who has taken those actions in the past. This same type of popularity algorithm is now in play on Instagram and Twitter. Paid ads to your page fans (warm audience) in the form of boosted posts, used strategically, can help get critical messages out to a larger number of your fans and keep you top of mind.
When to Use Boosted Posts
There are a lot of differing opinions about using boosted posts, and I want to dispel the idea up front that you should use boosted posts willy-nilly on a whim. The best use of your money will be to use boosted posts strategically, sparingly, and only to your own fans—not their friends who may not even read books, and not to a targeted interest audience. You can hit those audiences more accurately in a regular ad.
The first step when deciding to run any kind of ad to a warm audience is to pinpoint a goal and an objective. Here are some examples:
• Promote a book just recently moved to Kindle Unlimited.
• Advertise a promotion exclusively for your Facebook fans.
• Promote a Facebook party or other event to launch a new book.
• Announce a contest or promotion for giveaways.
• Capture email addresses of fans through a giveaway incentive. Most authors do not have a majority of their Facebook fans’ email addresses.
• Extend an invitation to join an advanced review team or special Facebook fan group.
You get the idea. It has to be a special event in which you are driving people to an action that drives sales, sign-ups or exclusive fan rewards. It’s not the post you put up with a picture of your cat looking at your computer screen with their paw on the keyboard. The boost must have a strategic marketing goal.
Things to Remember About Boosted Posts
1. Boosted posts need to employ advertising best practices, just like every other ad. The copy should have a good hook, a benefit and a call to action. The image should be attractive and congruent with the ad’s message .
2. You cannot edit boosted posts, so make sure you have meticulously examined every detail before you hit the “boost” button. You can stop the ad at any time, but you cannot edit it after you submit.
3. You cannot split test a boosted post, per se. But you should keep track of each ad’s reach through Insights to determine which kind of boosted posts work best. Throw off what doesn’t work and keep what resonates. Don’t be afraid to stop the ad if it isn’t returning well.
4. You cannot reach 100 percent of your fanbase with boosted ads. I’ve only been able to buy up to around 70 percent, and that can get pricey. Experiment with different price points and see what works the best. I usually start at $5 and see what the reach is.
5. Use boosted posts strategically. I boost posts about eight times a year. And they are events that are on my promotional calendar. Don’t be lulled into overspending or boosting something you think might sell a bunch of books. Even five bucks is a waste if you don’t have a goal in mind.
6. Don’t boost a sales message unless it is attached to a promotion or special event. Facebook ads for everyday sales not attached to a promotion of some kind do not return very well in my experience.
Boosted posts and ads to a warm audience can be an inexpensive way to get started in mastering the art of Facebook ads and building your email list in the early stages of your author career. Just remember that any kind of ad or promotion you run online needs to be attached to a specific goal and objective.
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