So you’re out there marketing. You’re doing all the right things (or so you think). You’re following the book marketing advice of some leaders in the industry. You’ve got a checklist and you’re methodically checking off your goals. But how do you know you’re doing everything right? The fact is, most of us don’t. Yet we forge ahead, keeping pace with our marketing plan, without ever knowing if it’s paying off. We don’t see it in sales. Does that mean it’s not working? Not at all. You could be seeing the effects in other places but just aren’t keeping track of it.
I find that especially in social media you need to keep a close eye on what’s working and what’s not. If you’ve spent *any* kind of time online you know that you can be in front of your computer for what seems like 20 minutes and yet three hours have gone by. If the three hours of marketing is paying off, then it’s fine to spend the time. But you need to know the difference. Here are a few things you can review to measure the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of your marketing.
1. Jumping in without a plan: Set clear, measurable goals because most marketing is invisible. Let’s face it, you send an email and wonder half the time if the intended recipient got it or if it ended up in a spam filter, never to be seen again. That’s the power behind goals. You need them and you need to run your campaign by them. So what are your goals? And no, you may not say sell books. Yes, that factors in – but there are a million small steps along the way before you even get to sales. Consider these goals and see if any of them fit your book, topic, and future:
a. Establish yourself as an expert or get known in your particular field. Hey, maybe you just want to be known as the go-to person for everything related to paranormal romance. That’s great and it’s a realistic, attainable goal.
b. Increase the visibility of your brand. OK, sort of the same as the bullet before this one but more geared to the non-fiction author.
c. Increase traffic and incoming links to your website. This is a great goal. Whether you are fiction or non-fiction it’s a great focus.
d. Do what makes sense for your book: If your followers aren’t on Twitter then why have you spent the last month or so promoting yourself on there? Mind you, Twitter works for most of the books we manage, but there are a few that don’t make sense. Twitter skews older than most people think so don’t be surprised if your YA reader isn’t on there. Before you launch head first into a campaign, make sure it fits your demographic.
2. Neglecting other marketing: I know it’s easy to get all a-twitter about Twitter but what else are you doing to promote yourself and your book? If you’re good at events and speaking are you still focused on that? Don’t get too myopic on doing just one thing for your marketing. The truth is, you need to do a lot of different things, balanced out over a week or a month for your marketing to really make sense.
3. Set goals – Be clear on what you hope to achieve in social media: What are your goals for Twitter? If it’s just about gathering followers then you are missing a big piece of this social networking tool. For many marketing people it’s all about the number, but numbers don’t make as much sense unless they are driving interest to you and your book. If the numbers keep growing along with traffic to your website then you’re on the right track. But if you’re just growing numbers for the sake of being able to say that you have 10,000 followers then it makes no sense. That’s like buying a fancy car you can’t really afford. Eventually the debt of it will drag you down. It’s the same with Twitter and Facebook and any other social media site. It’s not about the numbers. It’s about the activity.
4. Be clear on who you are trying to reach: Many of you say you’re trying to reach readers but is that really true? We all want to sell books, but who are you really going after? In all likelihood you will have a variety of different targets you are going after. Consider these: booksellers, speaking opportunities, interviews, bulk sale targets, reviewers, and readers to name a few.
5. Measure effectively: In order to know if stuff is working you’ll need to measure effectively. As I pointed out earlier on in this article you may not want to do that by fans or followers – instead consider these ideas as ways to measure your success:
a. Retweets on Twitter: The best sign of success on Twitter is the amount of retweets. Are you getting them and if so, how often? If your tweets are good and your followers are active, you should see a few a week at least (depending on the amount of followers you have). If you’re curious about the amount of Tweets that get RT’d – check out retweetrank.com. Twitter Analyzer (twitteranalyzer.com) is another great tool for determining how far tweets have traveled.
b. Site hits: Are the hits to your site increasing? Are you watching your analytics to be sure? If you’re not, you should be. Watch your site stats closely and monitor the increase in traffic and where it’s coming from.
c. Inbound links: How many new ones are you getting? Did you do a vanity search before you started this campaign? If not, do that now. Make sure you know how many new incoming links you’re getting as a result of your efforts.
d. Sign-ups to your mailing list: Are they increasing? If you’re doing the right stuff in your social media they should be increasing weekly.
6. Increasing the contacts in your industry: Remember that social media marketing is just like going to a networking meeting. You want to expand your reach and get to know others in your industry. If you’re not increasing your reach and contact base then you need to be. This is another great way to gauge how effective your marketing is.
We always want to make progress in our marketing but we’re not always sure how to do it or if what we’re doing is making a difference. Follow these steps and see if it doesn’t help your marketing momentum. If it’s paying off, you’ll know sooner rather than later and you can keep doing the good stuff, and punt the bad.
Bonus: additional tools for tracking marketing
Bit.ly: This site serves as both a URL shortener and also as a measurement tool. Bit.ly can help get you real time results on clicks to links you are posting to Facebook and Twitter.
Google Analytics: If you don’t have any back end web analytics (and even if you do) Google gives you a lot of valuable data.
Trackur: This is a great monitoring site to see what’s being featured on you online and off. It’s not free like Google Alerts but much more comprehensive. Their basic package is $18 a month.
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I agree with you. I have not seen any results regarding sales but recently after a couple of hours blog commenting I have climbed 10 pages up in the search engines. When I eventually get on the first page I expect to see some sales. It is important to set goals and to keep up the hard work even though you may already have a job. It’s totally worth it.