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:

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:  

and I also did a spot of light cooking which showed up at Romance Cooks and Terry's Place: