Editor’s Note: Everyone at LeadPages is an expert in some area of marketing, but most of us also have expertise in other fields—or know and care about people who do. Today we’re kicking off a new series in which our in-house experts, hobbyists, and insatiably curious marketers show you how they would use LeadPages to launch a campaign for a very specific—though hypothetical—business purpose. This week, Brandon Lytle will tell us what he’d do to get a self-published e-book onto Kindles everywhere.
As the Business Development Manager here at LeadPages, I’ve spoken to quite a few independent authors. The first question they tend to ask is: “Now that I’ve decided to purchase LeadPages, what’s next? How do I create an audience? And more importantly, how do I sell my book?”
One of those independent authors is my dad—or at least, with any luck, he will be soon. He’s recently decided to write his first book collecting his insights from a career spent in banking. It’s included some interesting ups and downs, and he expects his story will be be an opportunity to share useful insights with people in his corner of the field.
After speaking to my dad about the content and the assets he currently has, I decided to create a campaign for him made to produce a successful, if modest, book launch. This isn’t the only way you could build an audience for a newly published book, but it should be easy enough for just about anyone to follow.
In this post, I’m going to cover the most important tools and tactics I’d use to make my dad’s book a hit. If you’ve launched an e-book or are about to, tell me about any discoveries you’ve made in the comments!
Step 1: Create an e-book landing page with LeadPages®.
This page is the fulcrum of my campaign strategy. I used the E-Book Landing Page Template from Pat Flynn to create a basic page where visitors would be able to opt into my email list (more on that in the next steps). Here’s a draft of that page:
If you’d like to use this template for your own e-book (or any other kind of digital product), we’d like to give it to you free. Download all the files here:
I kept the template colors conservative, in line with the expectations of my dad’s audience: other people in the financial industry. In this screenshot, I’ve left a generic book image at the top of the fold, but before publishing this page, I would replace it with a 3-D image actually representing the book.
I’m not a graphic designer, so I’d put in a request for a simple cover graphic on Fiverr, a platform where freelancers can connect with people who need small creative jobs done. Here’s an example of one freelancer advertising e-book designs:
I chose this designer specifically for his quick turnaround time, low cost, positive rating, and ability to provide both 2-D and 3-D images of the book cover, both of which I’ll need during the course of my marketing campaign.
I wrote some simple copy for this page, but at this stage I’m definitely open to changes. During the early stages of the launch, I’d plan to consult with colleagues in the industry about what kind of headline would resonate best with them. After getting that feedback, I’d start A/B testing their suggestions against my original copy—improving my results continually as I discovered new and higher-performing approaches.
Finally, there’s one other action the most interested visitors can take: I’ve embedded a button where they can preorder the not-yet-released e-book on Amazon. I wouldn’t expect much of my cold traffic to take advantage of this, but I don’t want to leave even a relatively small amount of money on the table. Plus, a button like this adds legitimacy to the offer and assures visitors that this information will be rich enough to be explored at book length.
Step 2: Leave something valuable for potential readers to find there, then deliver it with a LeadBox™.
So: how do you get landing-page visitors to give you their email address? Give them something of high value in exchange. In this case, my dad has some amazing audio clips that give a great backstory on his research into the book topic and really some rare insights that you won’t be able to hear anywhere else. Anyone interested in his topic would love to hear this material, and it’s in a totally different format than the book itself, adding a ton of extra value.
In fact, this kind of material is what makes it worthwhile for me to set up a landing page months before the book’s actual publication. By giving away something interesting with the promise of more to come, I’m not just reaching an existing audience—I’m creating a new one especially for this book. It’d be almost impossible to do that as an unknown author just by asking people to subscribe to a newsletter.
Before giving them away, I’d edit these clips up a bit and record an intro to each one of them so listeners know what they are about to hear. Then, I’d simply package these as MP4 files, compress them into one zip file, and upload them to the LeadPages® lead-magnet delivery system. Once I set up an email service provider (which I’ll cover below), I can make sure that anyone who opts in via the “Get 10 Free Audio Clips” buttons will automatically receive the recordings via email.
At this point, I also set up a LeadBox™ to collect those email addresses (which was really easy: I just clicked on the buttons inside the LeadPages® builder and I was able to modify the LeadBox™ that popped up). I added a book icon and customized the copy, and I was good to go. Here’s what my LeadBox™ looks like:
Now it’s time to get some visitors.
Step 3: Send high-quality paid traffic to the landing page with a Google AdWords campaign.
Before developing my paid-media campaign, I did some planning to define what a lead was worth to me and what kind of return on investment I wanted to see.
First, I thought about what kind of sales conversion rate I could expect. I estimated that 1 out of 10 people on my email list would end up buying the book: for one thing, I planned to be precise with my ad targeting, and for another, the lead magnet I set up was designed to attract only people who were truly interested in the book topic.
I also planned to sell the e-book for $10 based on the going rate for Kindle books on this subject. To break even—assuming I met my sales conversion-rate goal—I’d be able to spend about $1 to acquire each lead. But considering that I’d also have a few other costs to recoup, such as publishing fees, software subscriptions and design work, I decided I wanted to spend no more than $0.50 on advertising per lead to ensure a healthy profit.
When I logged into Google AdWords, I started experimenting with the daily budget planner to see if this was possible. And my ideal cost per lead looked feasible—just barely.
According to Google, the average clickthrough rate on an AdWords campaign is just over 2%. If I devoted $3 a day to Google ads, I could expect 1,000 ad impressions a day and get an average of 22 people to click through.
Based on what I’ve observed about the effectiveness of this kind of landing page and opt-in offer, I estimated that 30% of those visitors would opt in—getting me 6 leads for $3, or $0.50 each.
And if I was right about the proportion of those leads who would eventually purchase the book, I could expect to acquire one customer every two days.
Essentially, I’d be spending $6 to acquire every book purchaser. That’s a hefty chunk of the book’s sell price—but it’d still leave enough of a margin to turn a profit if my projections panned out.
From this point, I’d be able to define my audience (U.S. searchers only, since financial laws are very different in other countries) and the keywords. Keywords are the main factor controlling when and where your ad appears. When someone searches Google for one of the terms you define, AdWords makes a quick calculation based on the amount you can bid (controlled by your budget) and the quality and relevance of the page your ad links to in order to choose which ad to display.
AdWords will suggest keywords based on the landing page, but you can add your own terms as well. For my dad’s book, I’d make sure keywords like “financial books” and “banking industry reports” were represented.
Finally, it’s time to design an ad, which, in this case, includes only 3 very short lines of text. I tried to pack in all the basic details of my landing page while building a little intrigue:
Then, I’d simply enter my credit-card information and launch my campaign!
Step 4: Keep subscribers interested with a MailChimp email campaign.
What happens to those email addresses I’m collecting with the LeadBox™ above? That’s what I’ll cover here. I decided I needed an email service provider (ESP) to effectively nurture the leads I captured through my landing page, and for this campaign I chose MailChimp.
MailChimp is an easy but effective ESP, which seemed perfect for my dad’s book campaign: this is his first time ever writing a book, let alone capturing emails addresses so he can market to them. Plus, it’s FREE to start off with, until you hit 2,000 email subscribers—and at the rate I calculated above, it would take me about 11 months to reach that milestone, at which point I’d have earned close to $5,600 in book profits (net sales minus advertising costs and publishing fees, which I’ll look at below).
While MailChimp is inexpensive and user-friendly, it’s also robust enough to be able to segment your lists, provide analytics and build a solid email marketing campaign. And, of course, you can link your MailChimp list to LeadPages® in just a few clicks.
My goal for this email list is to keep subscribers engaged, talk to them, and send them relevant content—on occasion. Since I have just one product to promote, I’ll need to be careful not to turn people off by emailing too frequently. Every couple of weeks in the months leading up to the book’s publication, I can send subscribers content such as:
- A snippet of a new chapter
- A poll about which cover art people prefer
- Information on new articles and author events
When the publication date arrives, this audience will be primed to buy the book. At that point, I can start asking people to purchase more directly—perhaps with the help of some early positive reviews.
Step 5: Sell the e-book via Kindle Direct Publishing.
Finally we start making some money. There are a lot of tools out there that allow you to digitally publish your book on their platform, and some even will print on demand.
Here I’d use Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s a service from Amazon that allows independent authors to publish their books and keep up to 70% of the sale price. Getting published and listed in the Kindle Store only takes about one day, and the platform is so heavily used that I can expect some extra traffic simply from people searching on Amazon. The Kindle Store also provides you with tools to promote your book within the store, so you don’t feel your book is lost in a sea of publications.
Once the book is published, I’d change the messaging on my landing page slightly to reflect that it’s now available, while continuing to offer a lead magnet for people who aren’t ready to purchase yet. But the template would remain the same—and don’t forget, you can download it free right here:
By this point, ideally the book is getting some buzz from happy readers, reviewers, and—after I send some emails to thought leaders in the industry—relevant blogs. I may be able to scale down my AdWords spend if I need to shrink my budget, though I could also keep it going to rack up maximal sales if it’s still proving effective.
And who knows? If this launch is successful, I could use the same techniques to promote an even more successful Volume 2.