Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Is your marketing effective?

How effective are marketing campaigns? This is a question I grapple with daily as I try to decide what groups, sites, social media platforms, etc. to use to get the word out about my romantic suspense and cozy mystery books I write.

When I mentioned to a friend that I was evaluating my chapbook marketing campaign I use for my hardcover mysteries, she asked if I'd share the results. I decided to also post the information here at Mudpies as well. I hope it helps you in some small way to get a handle on your marketing strategies.

This summer I have 2 books releasing, Hot Water, a romantic suspense coming out on all platforms this Friday, July 12, and Dime If I Know, book 3 of my Cleopatra Jones mystery series, which releases Sept 12, 2013. This brings my totals to 5 romantic suspense titles and 5 mystery titles.

Until recently, my books contracted to Five Star were only available in hardcover and large print and the primary target market has always been libraries, though I thank every reader who buys hardcover books. God Bless You All. Anyway, to market these books to libraries, I decided to create chapbooks and send them to libraries in hopes they'd buy a copy or two or three.

My current campaign for Dime If I Know is the 4th chapbook mailing I've done for a hardcover mystery release. The chapbook consists of about the first ten pages of the book, great/name reviews of this or other books I've written, and a bio page.



I built this mailing list over time, beginning with my first mystery, In For a Penny. I started with libraries in cities that hosted PGA or LPGA golf events, since the scene of the crime was a golf course. As time went on, I added to the list, expanding to one or two big city libraries in each state. Then I won a National Readers Choice award with House of Lies, so I thought “Aha, Oklahoma must be my target demographic” so I added a bunch of OK libraries, along with my home state, Ga, and my neighboring state, FL, which has a boatload of libraries and readers. I also checked in World Cat to see what libraries were buying other Five Star books, and added them to my list. Then I expanded again, including libraries in cities with a certain population size. I ended up with 348 libraries in my mailing list.

One would think that would be a straightforward comparison, but the list of the 353 libraries that report owning at least one copy of Death, Island Style (the last mystery I promoted with a chapbook) doesn’t quite match my send list. Here’s why. Many libraries band together to form library systems. I may have sent material to library A in library system 12, but the title is listed as being held in library B or as in the system. See what I mean? To top this off, not all libraries report their holdings to World Cat, and my publisher actively markets to libraries as well.  Also, some libraries that I don’t market to and that didn’t show up as title holders after the On The Nickel campaign picked up Death, Island Style – was that because I got good ratings from 3 of the 4 top book review sites?

Or was it because I stepped up my social media presence in the last year or two? I blogged weekly during that time, posted on Facebook and Twitter, and joined countless reader/writer sites. I also became more active in another national writer's group Sisters In Crime, a group of like-minded mystery/suspense writers.

I have these confounding issues in rating the effectiveness of my advertising: my cross-promotion efforts, my publisher’s marketing efforts, the power of big reviews, libraries who don’t report their holdings to World Cat, and library collectives.Oh, and one more thing, the list I'm using of the 353 books contains libraries that hold either the hardcover version or the large print version. Some libraries have both formats, others, only one format.

The nearest I can tell, there is about a 35-60% purchase rate from my chapbook mailings. The lower number comes from the straight match ups of libraries I mailed that own the book. The upper number comes from a best guess estimate. I don’t have time to look up all those library systems to find out if any of the 5 to 50 libraries in their collectives holds this title - and I believe that due to my targeted marketing strategy, there are a lot more match ups than are immediately apparent.

Now with results in hand what do I do with them? How do I measure if I got my money's worth?
I looked online and boy, there are a lot of rules of thumbs about ads. Many sites say that people have to see your marketing 3 times before it is effective. Others tout the magic number as 7 times.

Interestingly, Thomas Smith, a nineteenth century London businessman (1885) says it is the 20th time for someone to purchase your item. One blogger listed Smith's predictions of what happens at each of those 20 times, which I found fascinating. Here's the link if you'd like to see for yourself: http://www.abiederman.com/marketing/advertising-frequency-how-many-times-is-it-effective.html

If you'd like to share your thoughts on my results or your marketing analyses, I'd love to hear them.
And get ready for my blog tour of Hot Water which starts Friday, July 12, at Just One More Chapter blog and at USA Today's HEA blog. Lots of excitement headed your way!!!

Thanks for visiting! Maggie Toussaint

and if you haven't checked out my yoga blogpost of July 1 at Whole Life Yoga, here's the link for that guest post:  http://www.wholelifeyoga.com/blog/yoga-and-the-maggie/  

and I also did a spot of light cooking which showed up at Romance Cooks and Terry's Place: http://terryodell.com/terrysplace/?p=3114

26 comments:

  1. Best wishes, Maggie. I'm ready to dump a lot of things I've tried and just write. :)
    -R.T. Wolfe

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  2. Hey RT,

    Marketing isn't an easy nut to crack. I've tried a few facebook ads for other things, and I'm never sure how to evaluate them either.

    Wishing you the best with your writing and marketing!

    Maggie

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  3. Hi, Maggie,

    I would say that your marketing strategies are very good! I'm trying to improve on my own. The big question isn't how to reach other writers, it's how to reach the reading public and acquisitions librarians. Not so easy to answer. I am trying to improve my presence on social media as well. I now have my first romantic short story collection which has been published on Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DTV0750/ref=rdr_kindle_ext_tmb
    How will I reach readers? Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads will all be of some use--I hope! Good luck to all of us.


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  4. Hey Jacquie,

    Since we share the same mystery publisher, we are in the same boat. I want to continue to grow sales, so marketing always is on my mind with my releases. I hope to reach a critical mass at some point and there will be a pile of people writing me about when my books are releasing. Ah, the stuff of our dreams!

    Maggie

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  5. Hi Maggie,

    Great post and ideas! Thank you for sharing. As a new author, I'm struggling with the best way to promote my book. I'm also a new INDIE-author, so I feel like I need to prove myself to readers even more. I'm lucky, because I do have money set aside for advertising and understand its importance but spending the money in the right places is the tricky part. The first thing I did was a blog tour to generate reviews and that helped a lot. I'm still short on reviews but up to 15 now, which is okay. I just received a review on Goodreads from a reader who was surprised they enjoyed my book since it had so little reviews, and they only read books that have a lot of reviews. If this reader nearly passed on my book, then I can only imagine the many who did because I had hardly any reviews. I think many readers are giving a lot of weight to that.

    As a budget-cautious marketer, I have enjoyed doing a Goodreads giveaway of my book. You need to have a physical copy and can run the offer for several months for as many copies as you like. The cost to you is the book and shipping. Goodreads promotes the giveaway. I've gone from 5 people having added my book their virtual "bookshelves" to 124 people (and counting) adding my book to their "to-read" list. At the end of July when it is over, I'll find out how many sales this will translate to, but it has gotten me in front of readers who would never have found me otherwise. One of the "20 touches" for a reasonable price. ;)

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    Replies
    1. Hi J.T.,

      New author or savvy pro, the question about marketing effectiveness is always present. The Goodreads giveaway is a good marketing tool. I ran a Goodreads giveaway on this title already to get folks thinking about it. I hope to do another one soon.

      Discoverability is my new buzz word this year. I need to put myself in the path of more readers.

      Wishing you success on your Indie journey.

      Maggie

      Delete
  6. I loved your chapbook ideas, Maggie. I had some fliers printed and mailed, but I think an echapbook would do a better job, especially for those like me who are on a budget.

    Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Brenda,

      My chapbooks are little paper booklets, but an e-chapbook is a great idea. Very budget friendly!

      Wishing you many sales, Maggie

      Delete
  7. Timely post. I'm just finishing up a month-long blog tour for book 2 in my middle-grade fantasy series. I have no idea if it resulted in more sales, but I have gotten a few people who said they picked up the series because they saw it on tour.

    What's the saying? Only 15% of marketing tactics work - but no one knows which 15%?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mary,

      Those blog tours are both fun and grueling, aren't they? I've done a few of those, and I must say I prefer blogging to in-person meets. (Once an introvert, always an introvert!)

      What I keep hearing from writer friends - do the marketing that appeals to you and be consistent in your approach to it. I treat my writing like a job. I should also approach marketing in the same way. If you take that mindset, you are less likely to "call out sick" from a day of marketing.

      Thanks for dropping by and commenting! Maggie

      Delete
  8. Sometimes doing nothing works (although writing a book is hardly "nothing!") but when my newest e-book was released, apparently Amazon's algorithms find it and send it as "you bought book A by this author, book B is out now" or, "you liked these books, you might like this one" or "suggested for you" type stuff... because I have no other explanation of why my entire Blackthorne, Inc. series jumped way up in sales at Amazon otherwise. So, by all means, keep writing books. The more you have, the more people will find (or be directed) to them.

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    Replies
    1. It's amazing to me how promotional efforts can vary so widely. I'm in awe of your recent sales success at Amazon. I need to write faster. Much faster!

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  9. Hi Maggie, like Terry Odell I owe my sales to Amazon's promotions and KDP Select program. Other than posting on Facebook and Twitter I don't promote much.

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    Replies
    1. You are another marketing maven that I emulate, Mona. I'm thrilled for your success.

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  10. Hi Maggie, I've bookmarked this post and carefully read all the comments. I agree with those of you who have advised sticking with what feels most comfortable. It's impossible to do it ALL, so there's no point stressing myself out over what I should and should not do.

    What feels comfortable for me? Bookmarks. Blog tour. Print ads in select publications. Trailer. Twitter.

    BTW...My debut novel, Between Land and Sea will be released by Soul Mate Publishing at the end of September.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joanne,

      Congratulations on having your first novel come out. I hope your marketing efforts reap the rewards you expect. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

      Delete
  11. I don't do snail mail postings anymore. In the old days, I sent out postcards to booksellers, librarians, and fans. Now all my mail is sent via email with an open rate of about 27%. I think I do pretty well in the library market but I've been publishing mysteries for ten years now. Most of my efforts are online at this point. Recently I surveyed readers on my FB author page if they'd rather have a hardcover edition, trade pb or ebook available right away and the majority said ebook.

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    Replies
    1. Nancy,

      I feel like a dinosaur with my snail mail marketing! I need to go to online to be more cost effective, that's for sure.

      Do you have a separate e-mailing list for library mailings?

      Delete
  12. Oh, at in-person events, I hand out a tri-fold brochure that lists all my mystery titles and has an excerpt for the newest title. Also, don't forget Library Thing online. You can do giveaways there too.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks form mentioning Library Thing. That's something I've heard of, may have joined (?), and lost track of. I'm making a note of it right now.

      And I love the brochure idea. That's a product which would update easily and have a minimal budget impact.

      Delete
  13. Thank you for that thoughtful, detailed post, Maggie. Since we share the same publisher, I was very interested in your comparisons of libraries. Marketing isn't easy, but you have given some good ideas about how to be effective.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Susan,

      I never know when I start out, what will be effective, but I'm always willing to try something new marketing-wise - at least once. After that, I evaluate the time and effort versus the payout, which isn't always an easy thing to do.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Delete
  14. Thanks, Maggie, for the great marketing ideas. I often wondered how those advertisements down the sides of posting got there. I'd never heard of Library Thing and will check that out as well.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Carole,

      I'm glad if anything I said is of use to you. Sometimes I feel like marketing is stalking elusive prey: If I could just find the right watering hole, I'd be sitting pretty...

      Delete
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