As I am sure you are aware, Google AdWords is quite the behemoth when it comes to advertising these days. Pay-per-click advertising is being used by shoe stores, plumbers and psychologists all over the world. Business owners sign up, customize an ad, and target it to customers based on very specific criteria. In twenty-five characters or less, you construct a sales pitch and link it to your website or include a phone number. Viola, you'll be racking in the cashola. Or so you hope.
With Google's monster reach and seemingly endless stores of data, you can see how powerful this might be. But, could it work for books? How do you par down a 90k novel into a twenty-five character blurb? Do people who click on Google Ads then go on to buy books? I had thought no, but then I read an article discussing a man who makes a living helping people use Google AdWords to sell novels. (I link to him only to illustrate that he exists. I did not work with him, nor am I endorsing his services in any way.) So, I thought I'd do my own little experiment to see if I was missing the bright glittery Google boat.
Step One: I read up on Google AdWords. Here are some websites that I found helpful: Newbies Guide, The Savy Book Marketer. I had some prior knowledge from when I'd used this service for another business, but I felt very confused about many aspects of AdWords. Let me be clear, this system is not for the technologically challenged. There are all kinds of tools and buttons that made me feel like I was back in my college level statistics again. Right off the bat I was inundated and overwhelmed. Since I have minimal time for marketing, I did not spend countless hour researching. This may be my biggest downfall when dealing with Google AdWords and may also explain why there are people paying others to help them create ads.
Step Two: I wrote my ad. I did some research on keywords and use their handy-dandy keyword planner. This is a cool tool that lets you know which keywords are searched most often. So instead of "novel" you might choose "fiction" in your ad. This is helpful and I wish I'd had more time to play around with the keywords. That being said I wrote my ad. Here it is.
- Fast-paced Dystopia Novel
- 121 five star reviews. Only $2.99
- "Absolutely devoured this book!"
Then I gave it a $25 budget and sent my little ad baby into the world.
The Results: In seven days my $25 budget had been spent. Each click cost me between $0.39 and $2.89. Now, remember I only make $2 if I sell a book. If an ad costs me more than I get in sales revenue, that is a problem. In hindsight, I think I need to make my budget less than 3 dollars a day. You live and you learn, I guess, but this isn't play money I'm messing with. This is my hard earned cash (and, people, boot season is fast upon us and Mama needs a new pair of shoes). All joking aside, my ad seemed to work and was clicked on. My sales saw no boost that week. I actually sold about six books less that week than any other week that month. My budget limited my exposure, but again, I am not able to spend endless amounts of cash on a strategy that hasn't really proven will pay the bills. If I spent more time and energy learning the ins and outs of Google, I might make more money. Then again I might not make any. If someone clicks, Google takes my cash regardless if I make a sale or not.
The Conclusion: I am really not convinced Google AdWords can sell books. If you have A LOT of time to research this very complicated tool, it MIGHT be worth something. Then again, you'll never really know how much it sells because all you know is they clicked on the ad. There's nothing to tell you if they bought your book.
So, what about you? Any luck with Google AdWords? Sound off below.