Kindle Countdown Case Study: Day 1
In this series of guides, I'm going to be walking you through a Kindle Countdown Deal (KCD) that I ran, sharing my strategy, results, all the data, ad spend, royalties, as well as what went right and what went wrong.
My hope is that this guide will help you to plan and run your own Kindle Countdown Deals for your books, learn from my mistakes and ultimately, get your books into the hands of more readers.
Overview of This Kindle Countdown Deal
- KCD for 7 Days
- 3 Books (of a 6 Book Series) all in KU, at $0.99 for the duration of the KCD (with KCD's, even at $0.99, you still receive 70% royalties. If you were to price your book at $0.99 outside of a KCD, you would only receive 35% royalties; this makes a huge difference to your bottom line and what you can profitably spend on ads)
- The 3rd book is a companion novel to Book 2
- The other 3 books of the series are due to be released throughout 2021
- The next book in the series is due for release in March 2021
- Profit isn't too important for this KCD; it's the visibility and bringing new readers into the series that's important. Though I won't say no to a little profit!
- Boost the visibility of the first 2 books in the series (plus the companion novel to Book 2) and build up a new audience in preparation for Book 3 of the series to be released in March 2021
- Run an aggressive sale on all 3 books in the series by pricing them at $0.99 each in a KCD for a duration of 7 days
- KCD, Facebook Ads, BookBub Ads, Amazon Ads and Promo Sites
2 weeks before the KCD started, I created 80% of all the assets required for the BookBub and Facebook Ads. I also scheduled all the ads on:
During this phase I booked all the promo sites for the final 2 days of the KCD. Some sites were unavailable for the days I wanted, eReader News Today being one of them. And there was one site, eReader IQ, that I could only book for Day 4 of the KCD; as I’ve never tried eReader IQ before, I thought I’d give it a go.
With the Facebook Ads, I looked back at all the ads I’ve been running over the past 6 months, picked out the best performing copy and creative for the UK and USA and tweaked it to include details about the KCD.
I also came up with some brand new ad copy and creative to test that I could use going forward to keep things fresh and avoid ad fatigue.
With BookBub Ads, my previous experience with this platform hadn’t been great - spent a good amount of money with little to no return - low CTR’s, high CPC’s!
However, I’ve since done a lot of research into BookBub Ads and learnt as much as I can about them, and the one drawback, if you can call it that, about BookBub Ads, is that it takes a lot of testing to find the right audiences and the right creative.
As we are launching a new book in 3 months time, I am using this KCD to test audiences and creative and see if I can find some winning combinations (ad creative and audiences) to use for the launch.
Yes, it takes time to find good comp authors; and even authors you think would be a good fit for your books can tank! And authors you think wouldn’t perform great, but you try anyway, can actually end up being your unicorns (i.e. unexpected best performers!)
So I spent several hours researching possible authors to target with my BookBub Ads, looking at their audience sizes on BookBub and whether their books would be a good fit.
After 2-3 hours, I came up with around 30 authors to test during this KCD Promo; I probably won’t manage to test all of them, but will aim to test 3-4 per day.
With Amazon Ads, I looked back at all the ads I’d ran in the past and went through my tracking spreadsheet to see which keywords, ASIN’s and categories had generated sales and created a total of 4 Campaigns for USA and 3 for the UK:
USA Amazon Ads
- 1 x SPK (Sponsored Keyword Product Ad)
- 2 x Category Ads
- 1 x Sponsored Brand Ad (Amazon just released Sponsored Brand Ads when I was scheduling the ads for this KCD)
UK Amazon Ads
- 1 x Keyword Ad
- 2 x Category Ads
I haven’t set up any ASIN ads yet, as I wanted to push more budget to Facebook Ads and BookBub Ads for this KCD, and ASIN Ads are typically much more expensive than the other type of Amazon Ads ($0.70+ per click).
I also left it too late in the day for Amazon Ads really; I should have set these up 2-3 weeks before the promo started, as Amazon Ads take a while to get rolling and get into their groove. I made the mistake of starting the ads on the day the KCD started! Don't do that!
As there are a lot of moving parts to any promo or launch, I created a spreadsheet to keep everything organised; ad spend, promo site bookings, daily to-do list, etc.
So let’s now jump into the day-by-day, blow-by-blow account of the KCD...
Day 1: Tuesday 1st December 2020
Note: KCD was only running in USA today. UK starts tomorrow. Reason being that I wanted the KCD to end at the same time in USA and UK, so due to time difference, UK had to start later.
Day 1 Stats
Book #1 Sales: 60
Book #2 Sales: 21
Book #3 Sales: 10
Paperback Sales: 4
Total Sales: 95
Page Reads: 14,559
Rank USA: 2773
Rank UK: 7903 (KCD not started in UK yet)
Total Royalties: £118.44
Facebook Ad Spend: £70.46
BookBub Ad Spend: £14.00 (approx) / $16.48
Amazon Ads Spend: £0.60 (approx) / $0.86
Promo Sites Spend: £0.00
Total Ad Spend: £84.00 (approx)
Profit: £33.00 (approx)
I was planning on sending some traffic from the Facebook Ads and BookBub Ads to the series page on Amazon, so last week I moved the companion novel onto the series page so that when readers clicked through from Facebook or BookBub they would see all 3 books there and could buy all of them for $2.98 with one click.
Unfortunately, however, the companion novel didn’t appear on the series page! It was just Books 1 and 2 on there. Amazon say that it can take upto 72 hours for a new book to appear on the series page - it had already been 96 hours and it still wasn’t there! Perhaps it’s because of Covid-19 and things are just taking longer than they normally would.
So I emailed Amazon and asked them if they could look into this for me; we shall see!
As I’m in the UK, and the first day of the KCD was in the USA, the KCD didn’t kick in until 8am UK time, as Amazon is based on PST time.
So I had all the Facebook Ads scheduled to kick in at 8am UK time. The KCD was about 15 minutes late starting, but as there wouldn’t be many people in the USA on Facebook at midnight their time, I wasn’t too worried about that.
As well as the USA promo ads starting at 8am UK time on Facebook, I’d also scheduled my current backlist ads that have been running for months, to end at 8am UK time, so essentially, they switched over.
I kept the backlist UK ads running for the day, as the KCD doesn’t kick in for the UK until tomorrow.
Due to the series page issue I mentioned above, I had to turn off the Facebook Ads that were sending people to the series page.
Fortunately, I had already setup ads sending people to Book 1 of the series, so they had already been reviewed and approved and were ready to go.
However, I still wanted to test the series page, so I setup a new ad with an image of the 2 books that were on the series page (Books 1 and 2) and adjusted the copy to suit, as you can see from the image below:
When I was sorting all this out, for some bizarre reason, Facebook logged me out and asked me to reset my password and confirm whether the phone number on my account was correct and whether the recent posts I’d made on my page were actually from me. The reason being, according to Facebook, was that they had noticed suspicious activity on my Facebook Business Manager account.
During this time, they also turned all my ads off. Thankfully, I was watching everything like a hawk (at the same time as looking after our 5 month old twin boys, whilst my wife was writing!) and managed to catch this early.
Here's a photo of little Jacob and Caleb on a rare occasion where I managed to get them both smiling and looking in the same direction simultaneously!
Otherwise, what could have easily happened is I didn’t notice that the ads were off and I could have had hours and hours of thinking my ads were running and they weren’t.
Another bizarre thing that happened with my Facebook Ads yesterday morning was that they reduced my billing threshold from £120 to £2.
A billing threshold is the amount of money you spend on your ads before Facebook bills you and takes the money from your credit/debit card on your account. So at the same time all this is going on, I’m also on a live chat with Facebook Support trying to get this issue solved!
So we got lots of receipts from Facebook today as our ad spend was going up pretty rapidly! Thankfully, though, with easy successful payment, our billing threshold went up, so we weren’t getting billed every 1-2 hours!
But everything worked out and the ads performed well.
I also decided to test some new audiences, which were authors I’d targeted in the past that had performed well. Facebook took their time reviewing and approving these ads, and they eventually got approved around 6.30am the following morning!
Sometimes I’ve had Facebook Ads approved within 30 minutes; other times, it’s taken 24 hours or more! There’s no pattern that I’ve managed to determine with these wildly varying review times.
This is why I like to schedule my ads in advance so that they get approved well in advance and I have time to make any adjustments, if needed, to get them approved.
With Facebook Ads, there is a learning phase that ads go through before they start working efficiently and effectively (if they’re going to). So expect costs and CTR’s to be higher than you’d like; once the learning phase is complete, results will level out.
This is one reason I like to do promos and launches for 7 days; it gives you a few days at the start of the week to test and get everything running like a well oiled machine, ready for the final 2-3 days when you want everything to working at full capacity and maximum efficiency to make sure you come off the KCD on a high.
Tracking book sales with Facebook Ads is pretty tricky and there’s no real way to do it, as we can’t put our own Facebook Pixel on Amazon’s website.
A workaround, which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service, though many authors do it, is to use Amazon Associates Links, which allow you to track what somebody has bought on Amazon after clicking on your link.
On top of this, you also get paid a small percentage of whatever people buy after clicking on your link, which is a nice bonus.
Now, the Amazon Associates link tracking isn’t 100% accurate, but it does give you a good idea of which ads and audiences are working, providing you name the links accordingly.
The other downside about Amazon Associates links is that you can’t track page reads; Amazon Ads is the only platform that allows you to track page reads.
I’ve used the Amazon Associates links for this promo as I needed to know which ads were generating sales and make decisions fast as I only had 7 days to run the promo and I didn’t want to waste money on ads that were costing money but not making sales.
Looking at my Amazon Associates dashboard, I can see that today, the Facebook Ads directly generated 35 sales out of the 95 total sales. 22 of those 35 sales were for Book 1.
Due to the naming conventions I’ve used for the links, I can also see which specific audiences and specific ads have generated those sales, which is invaluable data when optimising ads.
Moving onto BookBub Ads, I know conversion is super high, and sending people to the series page from BookBub can result in amazing conversions, which is why I had set up all the ads for Day 1 to go to the series page!
But with the series page not working, and only Books 1 and 2 visible on there, I had to create some new ads with new creative, as the creative I’d setup had 3 books for $0.99 on there.
So I jumped into Photoshop and tweaked the image I’d made for the adjusted Facebook Ads image, with images of the 2 books and wording to the effect of 2 books for $0.99 each.
As I’m in the UK and the BookBub emails don’t go out until around 6/7am PST, I had plenty of time to make these changes.
The most important stat to look at with BookBub Ads is CTR (Click Through Rate) as this tells you whether your ad creative (and the deal you’re running) is resonating with your targeted audience.
I tested 3 audiences today. 2 of the audiences blasted through their budget within a matter of hours! And provided poor CTR’s and high CPC’s.
The 3rd audience had a better CTR, but only spent around 80% of its budget.
I like to aim for CTR’s above 2%. The first 2 audiences had CTR’s of 1.19% and 1.22%. So I may test these with a different creative later on, but for now, I’m keen to test different targets with different creative.
The 3rd audience I tested today had a CTR of 2.3%, which just creeps into my minimum of 2%. So I will test this audience with a different creative over the next day or so and see if I can improve that CTR.
For tomorrow, I’ve set up 3 more audiences to test, along with a different creative.
With BookBub Ads, and any advertising in fact, it’s important to only change 1 variable at a time.
So today, for example, with the 3 audiences I tested on BookBub Ads, I used the same ad creative with all 3. If I had tested a different creative with each audience (i.e. 3 audiences and 3 creatives) there would be nothing to compare as there would be too many variables and I wouldn’t be able to make any decisions based on that data.
As I mentioned earlier, BookBub requires a lot of testing (and therefore budget) to figure out which audiences and which creative perform well for you. That’s just part and parcel for the platform.
But when you do find some winners, you can really scale them up with superb results, because BookBub Ads convert incredibly well. If you’ve got a good deal on your book(s), strong creative and a great comp author(s), you hold book advertising gold!
So it’s definitely worth persisting with BookBub Ads. You might want to do what I’m doing and run a promotion a month or so before an upcoming launch, do your tests, find gold and use this gold for your launch.
Otherwise, you risk wasting precious days of your launch period, testing creative and audiences, when you could hit the ground running with creative and targets that you know perform well for your book(s).
So that’s it for Day 1. I’ll be back tomorrow with an update on results from Day 2 and what I’ve tweaked and optimised to get things scaling up.