A $2900 Book Launch Case Study
Book launching... a bit like Marmite / Bovril / Vegemite (depending on where you are in the world)... some authors love them, other authors can't wait until they're over!
Like most things in business though, whichever side of the fence you are on, there are just things that need to be done, no matter how you feel about them. But... as a self-published author, you are in full control over your book launches. How much money you spend, how much time you dedicate, the goals you want to hit, etc.
In this guide, I'm going to walk you through a recent book launch that I combined with a Kindle Countdown Deal (from now on, I'll refer to a Kindle Countdown Deal as a KCD). This book launch and KCD is for my wife's series of fiction novels, The Ancestors Saga.
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- Series Name: The Ancestors Saga
- Books in Series: Book 1: The Forbidden | Book 2: Daughter of Ninmah | Companion Novel to Daughter of Ninmah: Captive | Book 3: Enemy Tribe
- Genre: Fantasy Romance
- Retailer: Amazon (Exclusive/KDP Select)
- Pricing: Books 1, 2 plus Companion Novel (already published) priced at $0.99 for 7 days. New Book in series (Book 3) priced at $2.99 for the next 7 days; price will then increase to $3.99
- Dates: Friday 30th April - Thursday 6th May 2021
- Traffic: Facebook Ads, BookBub Ads, Amazon Ads, Email List, Promo Sites, Magazines
- Target Countries: USA and UK (Kindle Countdown Deals are currently only available in these 2 countries). We are also running Retargeting Ads on Facebook for Book 3 (the new book in the series) to USA, UK, AU and CA, as we already have readers in those countries who have read the previous books in the series.
- Budget: £2,000 + ($2,800+)
Below you can see the book covers (in order) for the current books in The Ancestors Saga. Captive, is the Companion Novel to Book 2, Daughter of Ninmah. The new book in the series that we're launching is Book 3, Enemy Tribe.
- Objective 1: Push Book 1 into Top 1000 on Amazon USA & UK
- Objective 2: Push Books 2 and 3 into Top 5000 on Amazon USA & UK
- Objective 3: Discover whether Amazon Ads can be beneficial in a time-sensitive promo/launch
- Objective 4: Refine BookBub Ads to find targets that deliver strong CTR’s that can be used for future promos
- Objective 5: Generate a long tail of KU Page Reads after launch and pin Book 1 in Top 10,000 for as long as possible
- Objective 6: Sell at least 2000 books over the course of the 7 day launch / Kindle Countdown Deal window
Use a KCD for Books 1, 2 and the Companion Novel and a discounted price on the new release. Run a lot of traffic to Book 1 in the series as well as the Amazon Series Page to boost visibility.
Over the course of the 7 day launch/KCD window, gradually build up advertising spend to exit the launch/KCD with all books at the highest possible rank; goal is push Book 1 in the series into the Top 1000 of the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk stores.
We setup the Pre-Order for Enemy Tribe (Book 3) to start 7 days before the official launch date. The reason we did this is because the Amazon Algorithms work differently to other book retailers, in that the sales rank of the book fluctuates for the entire duration of the pre-order; they don't take into account how many sales have been made on the day the book launches.
Therefore, if we set the pre-order up 30-60 days in advanced, it would have been very difficult (and expensive) to keep the momentum up for all that time to make sure that on launch day, the book starts it's life at a high rank.
It's also worth bearing in mind that the Amazon Algorithm also considers Sales History when ranking books; the stronger the sales history, the better the rank. So if we had a 30-60 day pre-order and sales had been slow during that time and had just trickled in at 1-3 per day, sometimes 0 pre-orders per day, that would indicate a poor sales history and therefore negatively affect the sales rank.
So, all of that to say, if you are exclusive to Amazon, I would recommend setting up a pre-order to start 7-10 days before your book actually launches. If you're a Wide author, you can set your pre-order up months in advance if you wish, as all those pre-orders you receive will be collated and reflect the sales rank on the day of release. For example, if you had 1000 pre-order over a 6 month pre-order period, on the day your book launches, the other retailers (e.g. Kobo, Nook, Apple, etc.) would rank your book as if it had 1000 sales in 1 day!
But that isn't the same with Amazon, so you just have to tweak things a little to make the most of how the Amazon Algorithm works.
In the end, after a 7 day pre-order period, we collected 175 pre-orders, which we were relatively happy with.
The Results and Daily Actions...
Now let's move onto the exciting stuff...the results of this book launch and Kindle Countdown Deal! As well as a blow-by-blow account on the actions I took each day to optimize and scale things up.
Day 1 (Friday 30th April)
Today is the day! Book 3 in the series launched today! And Books 1, 2 and the Companion Novel began their 7 day KCD (Kindle Countdown Deal) today in the USA only. The UK KCD begins tomorrow; the reason being that I want the KCD's to end in the USA and UK at the same time, so I had to start the UK one a little later due to the difference in time zones. To better illustrate this, please see below how I've setup the KCD's in the KDP Dashboard:
There really isn't much I do on Day 1 of a launch or promo, aside from keeping a check on the sales and ads to make sure everything is ticking along nicely.
As I had pre-scheduled all the Facebook Ads in advance, they kicked in automatically at 8.15am UK time (12.15am Pacific Time; the time that Amazon works on). So at 8.30am, I logged into the Facebook Ads dashboard just to check that the Ads in the USA had started running, which they had.
With Facebook Ads particularly, I like to let them run for at least the first day of a launch or promo untouched; that way, some of the Ad Sets will exit the Learning Phase*.
*The Learning Phase: a process all Facebook Ads must go through as the Facebook algorithm learns who, within your target audience, to show your ads to, in order to achieve the best results for your money based on your Campaign Objective; in most cases for authors, this Campaign Objective is 'Traffic', meaning that we want as many of the right people as possible to click on our ads and visit our book product page on Amazon, Kobo, Google Play, etc.
Regarding the structure of the Facebook Ads, here's how I have set things up:
3 x Campaigns: 1 x USA, 1 x UK and 1 x Retargeting
1 x Campaign: Using CBO (Campaign Budget Optimization) with a starting budget of £30 per day
4 x Ad Sets: Stacked Authors, Stacked Genres, Stacked TV+Film, 1% Lookalike Audience
By 'Stacked', I mean I have aggregated/combined audiences that I've tested individually that have performed well in the past. A Lookalike audience is an audience that Facebook creates based on the 'Source' audience that you select and it will find people on its platform that are similar to these people in your source audience.
4 x Ads within each Ad Set
The same 4 Ads are in each Ad Set, which enables you to determine whether it's the audience or the Ads that are/aren't performing well
1 x Campaign: Using CBO (Campaign Budget Optimization) with a starting budget of £15 per day
4 x Ad Sets: Stacked Authors, Stacked Genres, 1% Lookalike Audience, 1%-2% Lookalike Audience
The 'Stacked' audiences for the UK are made up of different individual audiences to those used in the 'Stacked' USA audiences, because individual audiences work differently in different countries.
4 x Ads within each Ad Set (same 4 Ads in each Ad Set)
The same 4 Ads are in each Ad Set, which enables you to determine whether it's the audience or the Ads that are/aren't performing well. These are also the same 4 Ads that are being used in the USA Campaign; the only difference with these UK Ads is that they are using the '£' symbol rather than the '$' symbol.
Here is a visual representation of the Ad Images I'm using in each of these Ad Sets (UK and USA; as I mentioned, for the UK Ads, I changed out the $ symbol for the £ symbol)...
Ad Image 1
Ad Image 2
Ad Image 3
Ad Image 4
1 x Campaign: Using ABO (Ad Set Budget Optimization)
This Retargeting Campaign is advertising the new release in the series (Book 3) to people who have previously engaged with Lori's Ads, Facebook Page or Facebook Posts within the last 365 days.
I almost always use CBO with Facebook Ads. However, when retargeting, I sometimes use ABO, where I allocate budgets at the Ad Set level rather than the Campaign level. This way, I am secure in the knowledge that each country I am targeting is receiving the budget I allocate to it. CBO tends to favour Ad Sets with the biggest audiences. So, if I used CBO for this Retargeting Campaign, the USA would suck up 95% of the budget most likely, and the UK, CA and AU would receive the dregs of the budget!
3 x Ad Sets: Retargeting USA, Retargeting UK and Retargeting CA and AU
As the majority of Lori's readership is in the USA, I allocated the most budget to this Ad Set; £10 per day. The UK Ad Set and the CA and AU Ad Set each received a daily budget of £5 each.
4 x Ads within each Ad Set (same 4 Ads in each Ad Set)
Once again, the same 4 Ads are in each Ad Set, which enables you to determine whether it's the audience or the Ads that are/aren't performing well. 3 of the Ads are advertising the new book in the series (Book 3). The fourth Ad is advertising all of the current books in the series in a Carousel Ad.
And here are the Ad images I'm using in each of these Retargeting Ad Sets...
Ad Image 1
Ad Image 2
Ad Image 3
Ad Image 4 (Carousel Ad)
I am also letting 2 Campaigns continue running (for now) that have been running for the past few months; these are my Audience Testing Campaign and my Scaling Campaign. Although the Ad Creative in these Campaigns doesn't reflect the KCD (i.e. $0.99), they have consistently performed well for a few months now, advertising Book 1 of the series, at full price. So with a lower price point of Book 1 (and the other books in the series), we should see even higher conversion than we usually do from these campaigns. Time will tell...
I may decide to turn these Campaigns off over the next day or so; I'll just see how things perform. I would rather push more budget into the Campaigns that are advertising the KCD and the $0.99/£0.99 price point of the books.
Amazon Ads are notoriously slow to build momentum on! So for the most part, I'm just leaving the Amazon Ads untouched to do their own thing, in their own sweet time!
I may come in later in the week to add some new potential targets, adjust bids and budgets, etc. But if things are running well on Facebook and BookBub, I may just forget about the Amazon Ads completely and focus my efforts (and budget) on Facebook and BookBub.
Regarding the Amazon Ads I'm actually running; here's how things look...
1 x Campaign targeting relevant books in the Top 100 of the categories Book 1 of this series is in
1 x Campaign targeting the Author names of relevant books in the Also-Boughts, Also Viewed and Also-Reads of books in this series
1 x Campaign that self-targets the other books in the series. e.g. Book 1 is advertised on the product pages of Books 2, 3 and the Companion Novel. Book 2 is advertised on the product pages of Book 1, 3 and the Companion Novel, and so on. This just creates more visibility for each of the books in the series, as they are already in the Also Boughts, Also Viewed and Also Read carousels; the Amazon ads just allow for even more exposure!
The Amazon Ads sold 2 copies of Book 1 today; both of these sales came from the Self-Targeting Campaign; no movement on the other2 Campaigns as of yet; not even a single click! But things should start improving over the coming days with the Amazon Ads as they start optimizing.
On the morning of Day 1, I checked that the BookBub Ads had began spending money, which again, they had, although I wouldn't be seeing any action on the BookBub Ads until around 3/4pm UK time, as the BookBub email isn't sent till 6/7am PST, which is around 3/4pm UK time. You will see the most action (and most money spent!) on your BookBub Ads when the BookBub email is sent out, so keep that in mind if you are based in a timezone other than Pacific Time.
For the first 3 days of the launch, I'm focusing on running BookBub Ads in the USA only; I'll start running BookBub Ads to readers in the UK from Day 4 or 5 onwards.
On the evening of Day 1, I setup and scheduled 7 more testing Ads that will start running tomorrow (Day 2). Six of these Ads were Audience Testing Ads, where I am testing Author targets I haven't used before. And the final Ad I setup was using the proven author target I'm using to test another Ad Creative and see if I can find another winner.
We don't have any promo sites booked for today; they are all booked for days 5, 6 and 7. So nothing to report on that front today.
And finally, it's worth mentioning that we also had an email scheduled to be sent today to Lori's email list, letting readers know that the new book, Enemy Tribe, has now hit the shelves.
So that's it for Day 1; not a huge amount in terms of optimization or scaling; that will start tomorrow for the USA Campaign, but it will really kick-in in earnest, on Day 4 and onwards.
Continue reading below to discover what I did on Day 2 of the launch to optimize the ads based on the data collected from Day 1 and how I'm going to be scaling things up...
Let's now take a look at the key stats from Day 1...
*It's also worth mentioning that some sales of Book 3 (the new book) were accounted for the day before launch day in the KDP Dashboard. The total sales on the 29th April, for Book 3 alone, were 141.
Day 2 (Saturday 2nd May)
To be honest, on Day 2, I didn't do anything in the way of optimization or scaling! The major piece of this crazy book launch, KCD combo that happened today, was that the KCD in the UK started on Books 1, 2 and the Companion Novel.
For the first 1-2 days of a promo or launch, I like to leave all the ads alone; particularly the Facebook Ads, because, although the USA Facebook Ads were out of Learning Phase for the most part (bar one Ad Set), I prefer to leave things another 24 hours after the Learning Phase is complete, just to allow things to optimize that little bit further.
The UK Facebook Ads only started today (because the KCD in the UK started today) so I definitely didn't touch these!
With the Retargeting Facebook Ads, these were ticking along nicely and I don't have any plans to scale these up at all until Day 4 of the launch window (providing they are still performing well by this point).
I did of course keep a close eye on the performance of the Facebook Ads and how things were looking in the KDP Dashboard, but apart from that, not much more to say with the Facebook Ads.
What I did notice with the Facebook Ads today, however, is that one particular Ad Creative is performing head and shoulders above the other ads.
If you missed the Day 1 results, here are the 4 Ad Creatives I'm using...
Ad Image 1
Ad Image 2
Ad Image 3
Ad Image 4
And the winner is...
I wasn't overly surprised by the fact that Ad Image 2 is receiving the majority of the budget in each of the 4 Ad Sets of the USA Campaign; the reason being, that this Ad Image has been used on my longest running Ad for this series; I used it for around 6-7 months before it started to fatigue. I haven't used this Ad Image for a couple of months now though, but great to see that it still holds some magic and readers are still resonating with it!
One thing worth pointing out here, is that Ad Images 1 and 2 point to Book 1 in the series on Amazon. Ad Images 3 and 4, however, direct readers to the Amazon Series Page for this particular series.
Interestingly, in the last promo we did for this series (around 5 months ago), the Ads directing readers to the Amazon Series Page performed far better than the Ads sending readers to Book 1 of the series.
That's how quick things can change in the advertising and publishing world!
So what I'm considering doing tomorrow (Day 3) is turning off Ad Images 1, 3 and 4 in each of the 4 Ad Sets. I'll then add in another Ad Image to test against the winner (Ad Image 2) and see if we can challenge it! I'll make a decision on this tomorrow morning (UK time) and see if the ads continue performing in the same vein.
Struggling to find any winning audiences at the moment! None of the audiences I've tested have had a CTR above 2% (and 2% CTR is my absolute cut-off for a strong performing BookBub Ads Target.
The proven author target I'm using to test Ad Creative is continuing to perform well and the Ad Creative is still resonating with this audience and producing good CTR's; around 2.5%. I'd like the CTR's to be above 3% really, so will continue testing new Ad Creative tomorrow with this audience.
The Amazon Ads haven't spent a single cent today! So absolutely nothing to report on this front! No change since Day 1.
We just sent one email to the email list today, which was re-sending yesterdays email about the launch of the new book, to people who didn't open it the first time. This email did result in some more opens and clicks, as well as a few replies to Lori. So it was definitely worth sending!
Again, no Promo Sites booked for today!
And that is going to wrap things up for Day 2! Tomorrow, I'm going to start optimizing the Ads and begin the scaling process. Continue reading to discover what I'm doing and how I'm doing it...
Before we wrap up, here's an overview of the key stats from Day 2...
Day 3 (Sunday 2nd May)
Things start getting a bit more exciting on Day 3! Although Ad Spend was a little lower today, Royalties were a touch higher.
The reason that the Ad Spend was lower is because I turned off the 2 evergreen Facebook Ad Campaigns today that have been running for several months; 1 Campaign was the Audience Testing Campaign, the second Campaign was a Scaling Campaign.
I turned these campaigns off because the Ad Creative in these Campaigns doesn't highlight the deals on the 3 books, that are at $0.99 for the next 7 days. So there is no scarcity or price promotion; I would rather push budget towards Campaigns and Ads that are showcasing the KCD's of the 3 books.
The CPC's (Cost Per Clicks) are looking good for the UK and USA Campaigns. As I mentioned in yesterdays write-up, one particular Ad Creative in each of the USA Ad Groups was receiving the majority of the budget; Ad 2.
So, today, I decided to turn off all the other Ads (Ad 1, 3 and 4) in these Ad Groups. I also added another Ad Creative into each of the Ad Groups, to test against this current winning Ad *Ad 2). There's a chance that Facebook will continue pushing budget to the current winning Ad Creative (Ad 2) and ignore the new Ad Creative (Ad 5). Time will tell on this.
Adding a new Ad Creative into an existing Ad Set will cause said Ad Set to re-enter the Learning Phase; performance may suffer a touch, but overall, the Learning Phase doesn't seemed to have affected the performance (CPCs and CTRs) of the USA Campaign.
There are a couple of Ad Creatives in the UK Campaign that are getting all the Facebook love, so I may decide to turn off the Ad Creatives that aren't receiving much budget; but I'll leave that decision until tomorrow to give things a little longer to optimize and gather some more data to and make a more informed decision (the UK Campaign started the day after the USA Campaign).
Scaling Facebook Ads Beginning...
I also started scaling things up inside the Facebook Ads today. To do this, I increased the USA Campaign budget from £30 per day to £40 per day. With the UK Campaign, I increased the daily budget from £15 per day to £20 per day.
This is only small scale scaling, but I like to start scaling gradually, rather than leaving it all until the final 2 days. I'll increase the budget on these Campaigns each day from now on; but the biggest increases in budget will be on the final 2 days.
Again, another day of poor CTRs with the BookBub Ads audience testing unfortunately. The 6 author targets I was testing today all received CTRs of less than 2% (my minimum threshold is 2%), so these are all failures.
The new Ad Creative I tested with the proven audience performed very similarly to the Ad Creative I tested on Day 2 and returned a CTR of around 2.5%.
I also setup some BookBub Ads for the UK market today, targeting my previous proven audiences; I tend to get strong results in the UK with audiences that have worked well in the USA, so we shall see if things continue in that vein today, as it's not always the case.
Not much happening with the Amazon Ads again today, which is why I really don't like relying on them for launches and promos. However, the self-targeting Campaign did manage to sell 1 copy of the new book, Enemy Tribe (Book 3).
Tomorrow, I'm thinking about adding a Category Targeting Campaign to the Amazon Ads; this sort of targeting casts a wide net with Amazon Ads and it should help to position the books in front of more readers; at least more than the ASIN and Keyword targeting campaigns are delivering at the moment!
Once again, no Promo Sites booked for today, so nothing to report on that front.
We also didn't send out any emails today; the next email we'll send will be on Day 7 to let subscribers know that the discount on Book 3 will be ending today.
All in all, Day 3 was a strong day of sales, page reads and royalties and things are going in the right direction. Tomorrow, Day 4, I'll continue the scaling process as we near the final few days of the launch window.
For now, here are the key stats for Day 3...
Day 4 (Monday 3rd May)
The results are in for Day 4 then... Before we get to those, however, here's a roundup of what I did to optimize the ads and begin the scaling process...
The CPC's (Cost Per Click) are looking good for Day 4, at around £0.09 per click. And the CTR's (Click-Through Rate) were strong as well, particularly in the USA cold audience campaign and the Retargeting campaign. The CTR for the UK Campaign was a little lower than I'd like to see, at 2.44%, but overall, as long as it's above a 2% CTR, I'm happy.
With the new ad creative I added into the USA Campaign, as I expected, Facebook haven't really paid it any attention in any of the 4 Ad Sets! If there's an Ad Creative that is working well already, Facebook will rarely push more budget towards a new one.
It's in Facebook's own interest to get you the most results (i.e. clicks, as we generally use Traffic Campaigns) for the lowest possible cost and they don't know how a new Ad Creative will perform, so they play it safe and continue pushing budget to the already proven winner. Which is fine from my perspective! Sometimes Facebook will test a new Ad Creative, but a lot of the time, they just ignore it.
With the UK cold audience Campaign, there was one particular Ad Creative that was performing really well in each of the Ad Sets; interestingly, this Ad Creative was sending people to the UK Amazon Series Page, rather than Book 1 of the Series, which was the case in the USA Campaign.
Here is the top performing Ad Creative for the UK...
Ad Image 3
And below, you can see the Ad Creative for the UK Campaign that didn't make the cut...
Ad Image 1
Ad Image 2
Ad Image 4
As per the Ad Creative suggests, Ads 1 and 2 send readers to the product page for Book 1 on Amazon. Ad 3 and 4 send readers to the UK Series Page on Amazon. With Ad Creatives 1, 2 and 4 receiving very little in the way of budget from Facebook at the end of Day 4, I decided to go through each Ad Set individually and turn off the worst performing Ad Creatives on a per Ad Set basis. This way, I can let Facebook focus on pushing the winning Ad Creative and carry out less testing of the poorer performing Ad Sets.
I also turned off 1 of the 4 Ad Sets in the UK Campaign; this Ad Set was targeting a 1%-2% Lookalike audience. The reason for turning this Ad Set off was because the CPCs were too high, the CTRs were too low and Facebook was putting very little budget behind it. So I decided to turn it off and allow Facebook to focus the budget on the other 3 Ad Sets which were performing far better, with lower CPCs and higher CTRs.
With the Retargeting Campaign, as I mentioned earlier in this guide, I have 3 Ad Sets inside this Campaign, each with their own dedicated budget, rather than an overall Campaign budget (CBO). This is known as ABO (Ad Set Budget Optimization).
Each of these Ad Sets is advertising the new book in the series (Book 3) to readers who have previously interacted and engaged with any of Lori's Facebook Ads, her Facebook Page or her Facebook Posts, so they are already familiar with her brand and her books. Here's what the structure of the Retargeting Campaign currently looks like:
Ad Set 1: RT | CA and AU | LAUNCH
Ad Set 2: RT | USA | LAUNCH
Ad Set 3: RT | UK | LAUNCH
The main optimization with the Retargeting Campaign today was that I removed Canada from the CA and AU Ad Set. The reason being that I looked at the royalties received from both Canada and Australia combined in the KDP Dashboard and what I discovered was that 99% of the royalties from these 2 countries came from Australia.
Therefore, I removed Canada from the targeting of this Retargeting Ad Set, allowing Facebook to focus 100% on targeting readers in Australia. Even with this optimization, I just don't feel that we are going to receive much in the way of profit from advertising to Australia, but I will make a decision on what I do with this Ad Set after another 1-2 days of data has been collected.
The only other tactic I deployed with the Facebook Ads on Day 4 was to increase the budgets of each of the cold audience targeting Campaigns; here's what that looked like...
USA Cold Audience Campaign: Budget increased from £40 per day £50 per day
UK Cold Audience Campaign: Budget increased from £20 per day to £25 per day
As with Day 3, this only small scale scaling, but as we're over halfway through the launch window, I need to start ramping things up gradually to prepare for the big push on the final 2 days.
Once again, another terrible day of results from the audience testing on BookBub Ads! The ads that are running to previously proven audiences, however, are continuing to perform well, delivering CTR's of between 2.12% and 4.39%. Clearly, the 4.39% CTR is what I'm looking for! But 2% CTR is my absolute minimum threshold.
2 out of the 3 UK BookBub Ads targeting previously proven audiences in particular performed exceptionally well, as you can see from screenshot below.
So what I'll be doing tomorrow (Day 5), is increasing the daily budget on these 3 audiences for the UK and see if that CTR either holds, or more preferably, increases; we shall see...
The BookBub Ads for the USA, whilst still performing well, weren't as strong as the UK BookBub Ads, receiving CTRs of between 1.58% and 2.46%, as you can see from the screenshot below.
The 1.58% ad was with a previously proven audience! But that's just the nature of the beast; sometimes an audience that has worked well in the past just stops working and you have to adjust and course correct to find another winner.
Regarding the Ad Creative testing I've been doing, I tested the image you can see below today with one of the proven audiences I've used in the past and the same one I've been using throughout this launch so far for testing new creatives.
Whilst still delivering a solid CTR of 2.36%, it definitely is not the strongest Ad Creative I've seen results from, so I'm going to stick with the Ad Creative that so far delivered the best CTR's with multiple previous winning audiences (illustrated below).
The only other task today with the BookBub Ads was to setup 3 more test audiences to see if I can find a few more winners I can use for scaling on the final 2 days of the launch.
Finally, for today, we'll briefly cover the Amazon Ads side of things; I say briefly as there really is not much going on with these at all! And this is exactly why I really don't like relying on Amazon Ads for a time sensitive launch or promotion; they just run on their own free will and a lot of the time, don't do what you want them to do - sell books! No matter how much money you give Amazon, sometimes, they just don't spend a penny!
As I mentioned yesterday, I was considering setting up a Category Targeting Campaign inside Amazon Ads to see if I can persuade Amazon to spend some money. So that's what I've done today!
I setup 1 Campaign, with 1 Ad Group targeting the Action and Adventure Fantasy category, which is a category that has always worked well for this series in the past.
If I was thinking about Amazon Ads more before the launch and they were playing a bigger role in this whole launch/KCD combo, then I would have set this Category Targeting Campaign up a few days prior to Day 1. Alas, I did not!
But, I will keep this Campaign running after the launch window to give things time to optimize further. The beauty of Category Targeting, in my opinion, is that it casts a wide net, targeting lots of books across a wide spectrum of a specific genre. And whilst the CTRs of Category Campaigns can look horrible (think 0.09% sort of territory!), they can act like research campaigns, finding other books that convert well to the book you're advertising. I generally ignore the CTR on Category Targeting Campaigns as I know they are going to be low.
You can then target the books that generate sales in your Category Targeting Campaign with a Product Targeting (ASIN) Campaign, which can have superb results.
Apart from that, not much else to report on the Amazon Ads side of things.
Tomorrow then, Day 5, I'll continue scaling things up, making a few more optimization tweaks here and there as we prepare for the big push on the final 2 days of the launch. We also have the first 2 promo sites promoting Book 1 of the series tomorrow, so looking forward to seeing how they perform.
For now though, here's a rundown of the key stats for Day 4...
Day 5 (Tuesday 4th May)
It's Star Wars day - may the 4th be with you! And today is also Day 5 of this launch and KCD combo! Things are certainly moving in the right direction and we're gradually moving towards the higher ranks in the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk stores.
Let's now take a look at what optimizations and scaling I've been doing today...
With the Facebook Ads, I haven't really done much today, truth be told. I increased the budgets in all of the Campaigns, however, which I've outlined below:
USA Cold Audience Campaign: Budget increased from £50 per day £70 per day
UK Cold Audience Campaign: Budget increased from £25 per day to £30 per day
Retargeting Campaign (USA Ad Set): Budget increased from £10 per day to £15 per day
Retargeting Campaign (UK Ad Set): Budget increased from £5 per day to £10 per day
I mentioned yesterday that I was considering turning off the Retargeting Ad Set for Australia as it just wasn't proving to be profitable; although this is no longer the case and it is profitable, in total, that Ad Set is only £1 in the green - so nothing to write home about to be honest!
I will leave this Ad Set to run for 1 more day and I may consider turning it off tomorrow once I see another day's worth of data. But I'm definitely not going to add any more budget to this Ad Set as it's not performing well, even at £5 per day. If you scale up something that's not working, it's just going to magnify that which is not working!
With the UK cold audience Campaign, the CPC's have jumped quite considerably, from an average of £0.09 per click to £0.12 per click, which is around a 30% increase! The CTR has also dropped on this Campaign from 2.44% to 2.14%.
This could be for a number of reasons such, but the one I believe it to be is Ad Variance, where the performance of Ads and audiences just fluctuates on a day-to-day basis. And there is really nothing you can do about Ad Variance; it is just part and parcel of the world of advertising.
Overall, taking into consideration all the data from this Campaign over the past 5 days, it still has an average CPC of £0.09 and a solid CTR of 3.17%, as you can from the screenshot below:
The USA Campaign, however, has continued to maintain strong performance, even yesterday, with a CPC of £0.09 and a really strong CTR of 3.68%, as shown in the screenshot below.
Let's now move onto BookBub Ads then! After the previous 4 days of testing different pieces of Ad Creative, I'm confident I've found a winner, so I didn't test any more Ad Creative today, Day 5. You can see the winning Ad Creative below.
I started scaling things up in preparation for the big push today, as well as tested 3 more audiences - a last ditch attempt to find something new! Unfortunately, none of these audience tests found anything fruitful, as you can see from the pitiful results below... Two of the ads didn't even generate a single click!
It's not all bad news though! With the proven audiences, I got some great results, particularly in the UK. I ramped up the budgets of these proven audiences because time is pressing on and I need to start leaning into what works. Therefore, I budgeted $15 per ad for these proven audiences. However, some of the UK ads didn't spend their entire budget; that is likely because I didn't set these up until mid-morning UK time, so they missed a few opportunities and didn't run for the full 24 hours.
Lesson learned! Setup your ads earlier Matt!!!
Anyway, here's a screenshot of the results from these proven audiences... (the bottom 3 ads are for the UK, the top 2 are USA)
As it's Day 6 tomorrow, part 1 of the big push, what I'll be doing is scaling up these 5 audiences even more. I'll also be tweaking the Ad Creative slightly to play on the scarcity factor a little more; but I'll explain that tomorrow in greater detail.
Once again, very few results with the Amazon Ads! Although, I remembered this morning that I had Amazon Ads setup in the UK all this time! Something that had completely slipped my mind! It's very easy to forget things during a big launch or promo as there are a lot of moving parts - this is the one thing I forgot this time!
The UK Amazon Ads actually sold 3 copies of Book 2 today, Day 5, which was a turn up for the books (pun intended!). This was through the self-targeting ads I have running on an evergreen basis, so always nice to see when the Amazon Ads kick into gear. Hopefully we'll see a few more sales from these ads over the next couple of days too.
Aside from that little discovery, nothing else to report on the Amazon Ads. They are getting a total of 3-6 clicks per day and that's the lot! But they should start optimizing over the next few days, so will hopefully see a few more sales over the coming weeks, post-launch.
I'll be able to focus on the Amazon Ads much more after the launch, as my focus has to be on the Facebook and BookBub Ads at this point because they are delivering the best return on investment.
Finally then, we had 2 promo sites advertising Book 1 of the series today; Books Butterfly (part 1 of a 3 day campaign they are running) and eReader News Today.
To be honest, I had expected more of a spike in sales today (see below) with these 2 promo sites and the bigger Ad Spend on Facebook and BookBub. But nothing is a guarantee in the world of advertising and marketing. And when something doesn't run as expected, you still need to keep your head and don't make rash decisions, as this could really harm your overall campaign performance for the entire launch.
We have 6 promo sites running tomorrow, so looking forward to seeing the results that these generate. For now though, let's wrap up Day 5 with a look at the key stats, where we made the Top 1000 in the USA!
Day 6 (Wednesday 5th May)
Today is Part 1 of the Big Push! This is where I'm scaling things up to exit the launch with Book 1 of the series at peak rank in the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk stores; ideally in the Top 1000 (which we hit in the USA yesterday) and then coast (with the help of ads) for as long as possible and pin Book 1 into the Top 5000 of both stores.
Before we jump into the results from Day 6, let's first take a look at how the ads are looking and what I've been doing to scale up...
Not too much to do on the Facebook Ads today to be honest! One of the UK Ad creatives was receiving very little love from Facebook, so I was tempted to turn this off. However, with it being the final 2 days of the launch now, I didn't want to mess around with things too much and put any Ad Sets back into the Learning Phase, so I decided to leave things be.
The Ad Creative that I was considering turning off was sending readers to Book 1 of the series on Amazon, as you can see below.
The Ad Creative that has been outstripping all the others in the UK Campaign has been sending readers directly to the series page on Amazon.co.uk, as shown below:
Still on the topic of the UK Campaign, the CPCs (Cost Per Click) today jumped up again:
Day 4: £0.09 CPC
Day 5: £0.12 CPC
Day 6: £0.13 CPC
This could be for a number of reasons; Ad Fatigue, Audience Fatigue (although I don't feel the Ads haven't been running long enough for either of these to be the case).
I think it's more likely that I'm making tweaks and changes to the Ad Sets and CBO Budget on a daily basis, which is preventing the Campaign as a whole to optimize and stabilize. If I were to let the Campaign run untouched for 5-7 days (which is what I recommend with Evergreen Campaigns) then costs would stabilize. But you just don't have that luxury during a very short launch or promo window.
Moving onto the USA Campaign... this is continuing to be the best performer, which strong CPCs, although they did creep up a touch today, to £0.11 per click. The CTRs are looking great too, at 3.68%. Again, I feel that the reason for the increased CPCs is because of the daily optimizations I'm making to the Campaign; if I were to leave things alone, the costs and performance would stabilize and improve over time.
With the Retargeting Campaign, the CPCs jumped up quite dramatically today:
Day 5: £0.11 CPC
Day 6: £017 CPC
That's quite an increase! Overall, however, since Day 1 of this launch, the CPCs for the Retargeting Campaign have remained at a steady £0.11 per click, which I'm pleased with.
The Ad creative that has been the top performer for the Retargeting Campaign throughout the launch has been my favorite of the Ads I created in Photoshop, which you can see below...
In the USA Retargeting Campaign, this Ad Creative has received an overall CTR of 5.69% so far. This same Ad Creative in the UK Ad Set has received an overall CTR of 6.49%. The fact that I am only showing these Ads to a warm audience (i.e. readers who have clicked on and interacted with previous Ads or engaged with Lori's Facebook Page and/or Posts) has clearly helped these high CTRs. But that is the beauty of a warm audience!
The only downside to the Retargeting side of things is that, with a small audience size of around 62,000 people, the audience will soon become burned out and CPCs will rise start rising more rapidly than the cold audience campaigns. This is why it's important to try and keep the Ad creative fresh with a warm audience so they don't get bored with seeing the same Ads from you! I also recommend that you keep a close watch on the Frequency column in your Facebook Ads Dashboard with your Retargeting Campaigns and make sure the number is ideally under 2.5; 3 at the highest.
Facebook Ads - Final Day Plan...
With the final day of the launch almost upon us, what I like to do is add a bit of scarcity into the mix on Day 7. To do this, I create an alternative of the winning Ad Creative for the week and add the words 'Ends Today' to it, as shown below for the USA and UK Ads...
USA Final Day Ad Creative
UK Final Day Ad Creative
At this stage, with 2 new Ad Creatives, I have 2 options...
Option 1: Add these Ad Creatives into the current Ad Sets
Option 2: Create a new Campaign and Ad Set with an alternative audience to the ones already being used in the existing Ad Sets
I went with Option 2! Here's why...
Reason 1: If I were to add these new Ad Creatives into the existing Ad Sets, this would cause said Ad Sets to re-enter the Learning Phase; something I want to avoid with well-performing Ad Sets at all costs!
Reason 2: Even if I did add these new Ad Creatives into the existing Ad Sets, there's a high chance that Facebook would ignore them anyway, because it's going to keep pumping budget into what is already working well.
Reason 3: By creating a new Campaign and a new Ad Set, I can reach a different audience than the ones I am already targeting with the existing Ad Sets; all be it that these new Ad Sets are unlikely to ever exit the Learning Phase as they'll only be running for 24 hours!
Because of this, the CPCs are likely going to fairly high (£0.20 + I expect) and the CTRs are probably going to be fairly low. I would rather this be the case than cause the existing Campaigns to re-enter the Learning Phase though - the lesser of 2 evils, as the saying goes!
A WORD OF WARNING: Don't create a new Campaign and Ad Set(s) targeting the same audiences that you're targeting in your existing Ad Sets. This will cause Audience Overlap and you are likely to see a dip in performance across the affected Campaigns (i.e. the existing Ad Sets and new Ad Sets) because you will be competing against yourself trying to show different Ads to the same people. There's enough competition on Facebook as it is - don't make things harder on yourself!
Here's what I did to avoid Audience Overlap...
1 x (NEW) Campaign (Not CBO)
2 x (NEW) Ad Sets (1 for the USA and 1 for the UK)
1 x Ad inside each Ad Set (I want to limit the Learning Phase as much as possible, so if Facebook just has the 1 Ad to run, it won't have to test 2 or more Ads against each other to find the winner).
I then set the budgets at the Ad Set level for each Ad Set so that A) Facebook wouldn't have to learn which Ad Set to push more budget to and B) because Facebook would naturally push most of the budget to the USA audience as it is so much larger than the UK audience.
Regarding the targeting for each Ad Set, as mentioned above, I wanted to avoid showing these Ads to the same audiences that I was targeting in the existing Campaigns. Therefore, I decided to run the Ads to audiences that have worked well in the past but ones that I haven't used for 2-3 months. I also excluded people who had engaged with Lori's Ads, Facebook Page or Posts over the past 365 days, to be sure that I was reaching a cold audience.
Budget wise, for these Ad Sets...
USA: £30 per day
UK: £20 per day
Bearing in mind that these Ad Sets are only going to run for 24 hours, it's unlikely that they will spend their entire budget; it's possible, but unlikely. And combined with the budgets on the existing Campaigns, the total spend for Day 7 will be a maximum of £180.
I scheduled these Ad Sets to switch on at 12:01am (UK time) for the UK Campaign and 5am (UK time) for the USA Campaign. The reason for scheduling these Ad Sets in advance is because I don't want to be creating them on Day 7 itself; the review process for Facebook Ads can be anywhere between 10 minutes and 10 hours (or longer!). I didn't want to lose any precious time on the last day of the launch.
Let's change gears a little now and move onto the BookBub Ads. As I mentioned yesterday, I stopped the Audience Testing process and instead moved onto the scaling process, because time is pressing on!
So I took my best performing audiences for both the USA and the UK and increased their budgets. On top of this, I also tweaked the winning Ad Creative of the week so far and, similar to the new Facebook Ad Creative I've scheduled for tomorrow, I added the words 'Ends Tomorrow' to the BookBub Ads, as shown below...
USA BookBub Ad Creative (Day 6)
UK BookBub Ad Creative (Day 6)
I ran this Ad Creative to 2 winning audiences in the USA and 3 winning audiences in the UK. Unfortunately, 1 of the proven USA audiences from Day 5 didn't perform well at all. I could see that it was struggling at around 9pm UK time, with a CTR of 1.72%; it had also only spent a quarter of its budget. I therefore decided to turn this Ad off as the other ads were performing particularly well, with CTRs of between 3.19% and 5.43%, as you can see from the screenshot below...
You may also notice above that one of the Ads has not spent its full allotted budget; in fact, it's spent just over 50% of it! I'm not too fussed about this happening as there's really not much I can do about it, aside from increasing the CPM bid, which I'll be doing tomorrow. And to be honest, I'd rather save the budget for the final push on Day 7, anyway!
Next, we're moving onto the smallest piece of this launch puzzle; Amazon Ads! Once again, as is becoming a recurring theme in this launch, very little happening with the Amazon Ads on Day 6.
The USA Amazon Ads generated 8 clicks today, but didn't garner a single sale, unfortunately. However, they did manage to generate 302 page reads, with an estimated royalty of $1.34, so it's not all bad! And the UK Amazon Ads generated 2 clicks and 1 sale of Book 2. So all in all, not overly exciting! But as I've mentioned before, I'll be focusing on the Amazon Ads much more after the launch.
Finally then, the Promo Sites for Day 6! Here is the list of the Promo Sites that were advertising Book 1 of the series today...
Books Butterfly (Day 2 of their 3 Day promo)
To be honest, I had thought that with the number of Promo Sites running today, the Sales and Royalties would have been higher (see Day 6 results below) than they were; particularly with the slight increase in Ad Spend too.
The last Promo we ran for this series was back in December (around 5 months ago), so it could be that the readers who bought Book 1 then for $0.99 are seeing it advertised again now and clearly don't need to purchase it for a second time. Or it could be as simple as the Ad for Lori's book in the Promo Site emails was just a long way down the email content, so readers would have to scroll a lot to even see it!
Overall though, I'm relatively happy with the performance of Day 6, even though there was a slight loss rather than a profit.
Day 7 (Thursday 6th May)
This is it then! The final day of the launch! Today's aim is to break into the Top 500 of Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk; achieving this with Amazon.co.uk should be a touch easier to do that Amazon.com, but we'll see what we can do.
Here's how things are looking for each of the Ad Platforms...
The new Campaign started running today at 5am UK time, with the new Ad Creative that highlights the fact that this Kindle Countdown Deal 'Ends Today', as you can see from the images below.
USA Final Day Ad Creative
UK Final Day Ad Creative
The CPCs and CTRs for this Campaign were nothing to write home about! They started off particularly poor (as you would expect from a Campaign with 2 new Ad Sets in the Learning Phase). The UK Ad Set in particular was delivering CPCs of £1.52 per click! Naturally, things improved over the course of the day, but even then, the best CPCs and CTRs these Ad Sets returned were:
USA: £0.19 per click | 2.21% CTR
UK: £0.18 per click | 1.83% CTR
I knew this Campaign would never be a top performer as it only ran for 24 hours and wouldn't have the opportunity to fully optimize and stabilize; it would need a bare minimum of 3 days for that, in my experience (I tend to leave Campaigns to run for 7 days before touching them).
However, the Ad Sets generated a solid amount of traffic to the Amazon book product pages:
USA: 112 clicks
UK: 84 clicks
So we garnered an extra 196 clicks for a total cost of £36.73 with this one Campaign. Clearly not all of these clicks will turn in sales! But if I assumed that at least 5% of them did (that's fairly conservative for a $0.99/£0.99 deal), then that accounts for an additional 9 sales (approx). And whilst that would look like a 'loss' on the surface (9 x $0.70 royalty per sale = $6.30), the rank boost these 9 sales would have given to Book 1 on both stores, most likely resulted in more organic sales.
With Facebook Ads as a whole on Day 7, here's how the stats looked:
Ad Spend: £153.46 ($214 approx)
Unique Outbound Clicks: 1,212 (between USA and UK)
Average CPC: £0.13
Average CTR: 3.03%
I didn't increase the Daily Budgets on the existing Campaigns for the USA and UK that had been running for the previous 6 days, due to the extra Ad Spend of the new 'Ends Today' Campaign and was conscious that I wanted to remain in profit on the final day of the launch. We also had 8 promo sites booked today, so I was banking on these driving a lot of sales and taking up more of the slack.
Once again, with the BookBub Ads, I'm introducing more scarcity into the mix, as I did yesterday. For the final day, however, I'm simply changing the text in the Ad Creative to say 'Ends Today', as shown below.
USA BookBub Ad Creative (Day 7)
UK BookBub Ad Creative (Day 7)
And the results from this scarcity were very strong, delivering CTRs of between 3.41% and 5.91%, as you can see in the screenshot below of the BookBub Ads Dashboard...
I did increase the budget of the top audience from $20 to $25 once it had spent the original $20 I allocated to it. And BookBub spent this extra budget without a problem!
There was one audience that didn't spend its full allocated budget again (the 3rd Ad down in the screenshot above). This could be because the CPM bid wasn't high enough, or the fact that this Ad was targeting a UK audience and there are just fewer readers in the UK who are in this author's audience. It spent 75% of its budget though, so I'm not worried about this slight underspend at all.
The only other tweak I made to each of these Ads was to increase the CPM bid from $15.09 to $16.19, just so that I can capture as many impressions as possible for the final day of the launch.
Once again, very little to report on the Amazon Ads front! Although, we are starting to see some KENP Page Reads showing in the dashboard now, which is always nice to see. It can take a few hours (Amazon say upto 12 hours) to see upto date data in the dashboard, so I'm assuming that these page reads weren't actually read on Day 7 (although they very well could have been!); they are just being attributed to the Amazon Ads on Day 7.
The UK Amazon Ads generated a grand total of 1 click on Day 7! And the USA Amazon Ads delivered 2 whole clicks!
As I've mentioned several times throughout this Case Study though, Amazon Ads is going to be more of a focus for me after this launch where I can spend more time researching relevant targets and optimizing things on a weekly basis.
In total, over the course of the launch window, here's how the Amazon Ads stack up:
USA Amazon Ads
KENP Reads: 574
KENP Royalties: $2.55
UK Amazon Ads
KENP Reads: 114
KENP Royalties: £0.35
A slight loss on the USA Amazon Ads, but we may see a few more KENP Reads come in over the next few days as they get attributed to the Amazon Ads. But the UK Amazon Ads seem reasonably profitable (just remember that the Sales are not your take home royalties! They are the total amount of sales based on the list price of your books).
Finally then, we'll take a look at the Promo Sites for the final day of the launch. Here is the list of Promo Sites booked for Day 7:
Books Butterfly (Day 3 of their 3 Day promo)
In total, the cost of these Promo Sites for today comes to £134.70 ($188 approx), so a little less than yesterday's cost, but there were more Promo Sites advertising Book 1 today than there were yesterday. And it certainly shows in the stats, as you can see below! We made it into the Top 500 of Amazon.co.uk today and just missed out on the Top 500 on Amazon.com.
Post Launch and Next Steps...
At the end of a launch or promo, you have 2 directions you can go...
Option 1: Turn off all Ads and Coast on the tail of the high ranking you've achieved on Amazon, as well as the page reads
Option 2: Continue running Ads (at a lower budget) and pin Book 1 as high up in the stores as possible for as long as possible, as well as coasting on the high ranking and the tail of page reads that will come over the following days and weeks
Personally, I always take Option 2. I don't want to rely on the Amazon Algorithms 100%! I want the Algorithm to continue taking notice of the books I'm advertising and keep selling as many books as possible organically, which is what happens when you continue to tickle the Algorithm with sales.
To do this, I'm going to be focusing on Facebook Ads and Amazon Ads. Initially, Facebook Ads will be the main driver and Amazon Ads to a lesser extent. Over time, however, I plan to scale the Amazon Ads up to a profitable point where they can pick up some of the slack when Facebook Ads have an off day, and vice versa.
I'll continue with the Self-Targeting Amazon Ads as they have been doing well throughout the launch, but focus more on the ASIN (Product Targeting), Keyword Targeting and Category Targeting Campaigns, adding new targets, removing poor performing targets and optimizing bids on a weekly basis.
With Facebook Ads, at the end of Day 7, I setup some new Campaigns targeting readers in the UK and the USA, using the same audiences that have worked well over the past week and slightly varied Ad Creative, that doesn't mention the deal on the books.
I'll also continue testing new audiences with Facebook Ads, as well as new Ad Creative, on a weekly basis. Retargeting is also something I'll be continuing with, using around 10% of the total daily budget for this Campaign, which I find is the sweet spot for Retargeting.
To finish off this (very long!) Case Study, here are some final stats and screenshots to illustrate to you what is possible with the right planning, optimization, scaling and really, just keeping a close eye on the data on a daily basis during a launch or a promo.
Total Book Sales
Book 1 Rankings
Total Ad Spend (£)
Total Ad Spend ($)
Final Totals (£)
Final Totals ($)
Looking at the total profit for this launch, it doesn't look like much! But there are plenty of positives, such as...
Wrapping Things Up...
Looking back at the original objectives for this launch, let's see how things went...
All in all, 4.5 out of 6 isn't bad! (Objective 5 is 0.5!). I'll call that a successful launch with a strong foundation to move forwards, lessons learnt for the next launch or promo and a little bit of profit too. And here are a few screenshots of Bestseller positions, sales and page reads...
Thank you so much for taking the time to read this epic Case Study guide - it was a long one! So well done if you've stuck with me all the way through. Overall though, I truly hope that what you have read here has inspired you for your next book launch or promo.
As always, any questions at all, please feel free to get in touch; I'd love to hear from you. You can email me directly on firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit the Contact page and fill in the form :)
Until next time...