Video #5: Advanced List Building with Facebook Ads
In the Big Leagues
The tactics we’ve discussed, if applied on a regular basis for 6-12 months, can get you a list of 1,000 to 2,500 readers. And while that’s what I’d recommend for anyone to start, there will eventually be diminishing returns. In order to scale up the size of your list beyond 2,500 readers, you’ll eventually need to use some form of paid advertising.
Running Facebook, or other types of ads, can be scary and require a bit of a financial buffer. But they may be one of the only ways to grow an even bigger list. Since you may not be ready for this type of list building, think of this as something to consider for the future to take your newsletter to the next level.
Here’s What You’ll Learn
- The ways that authors use newsletter building Facebook Ads.
- How to find the right kind of readers on Facebook.
- What steps to take to improve your Facebook Ads.
Here’s What You’ll Need
- Enough time to watch the video and do the homework.
- A willingness to at least peek into the Facebook Ads platform.
- To start the ads, a financial buffer as you dive into the testing process.
How Authors use Newsletter Ads
While many authors use paid ads to send traffic directly to a book, you can run the ads to your landing page as well to get more newsletter signups. The Indies who run these ads understand that they’re Investing in their career because they likely won’t see an immediate financial return from their efforts.
They use Traffic, Conversion, and Lead Gen ads to get more readers over to their freebie offer with hopes that when those folks make it through their automation sequence, those readers will buy books, review books, and ultimately become advocates and fans (allowing the money invested to pay off).
How Do I Budget Ads?
In the beginning, it’s hard to say that you want to spend a certain amount of money to gather a certain amount of signups, because testing takes extra money. Many folks will just assume that the first $100 to $300 won’t get them much of a return at all. It’s the cost of doing business. And after that point, you can start to see how much leads cost and estimate that this Cost Per Action will hold up (i.e. $2-$4 per person).
You’ll still need to keep testing additional targets and creative on the side to keep the ads going, which may mean an extra $100 to $200 goes to testing each month. I like to separate the budget for my ads that have gone beyond the testing phase (that I know will usually cost X per lead) and the budget for the testing process (an extra $100+ per month).
How Do I Find Readers?
Facebook has potential readers divided across thousands of possible targets known as “Interests.”
99% of Interests don’t relate to books in the slightest which makes our job easier (only 100-200 to focus on) and harder (it’s slim pickings).
These Interests normally come from other Facebook fan pages, but very few pages are actually available to choose, so you have to do some digging to find possible options. You’ll want to look at people with interest in eBooks or Kindle (tens of millions) and then narrow by one or more author or genre names.
By testing out different sets of potential readers and sending them to your landing page, you’ll start to narrow down which interests (or combination of interests) you should focus on for your ads.
How Targeting Works, Part 1
First, you’ll create a Campaign and initially select that the goal is for Traffic. This will generate an Ad Set and an Ad.
You’ll choose the Targeting in the Ad Set, so you’ll start by selecting one country, a certain age range, and a specific language (usually English).
Next, you’ll choose broad interests like eBooks, Kindle, or other related reading topics to make a massive starting pool of potential readers. But since this audience is far too large, you’ll need to narrow by at least one genre keyword or relevant author to try to get the size to around 500,000 to 2,000,000 people.
Once you’ve created one Ad Set with the appropriate size audience, you’ll want to consider creating another Campaign and another Ad Set with a different audience by using a different author or genre keyword.
How Targeting Works, Part 2
The goal is to create multiple campaigns with different Ad Sets so that you can test certain audiences against each other.
Let’s say that each of your audiences starts with Kindle readers, but Audience #1 is narrowed by “contemporary romance” and Audience #2 is narrowed by “Nora Roberts.” You’d create the same ad to go along with each of the Ad Sets (which we’ll get into in a few slides) and run each for a few days at a $5 per day budget.
After your test, you might see that Audience #1 led to $0.70 per click while Audience #2 led to $0.90 per click. From there, you might stop the more expensive Ad Set and let the ads run just to Audience #1 for a little while.
Creative Makes the Difference
Now, Facebook won’t make the ad for you, and you’ll need several elements to look professional for when readers see your ads on the platform. You’ll need a strong image that has little or no text, that truly evokes your genre (a square screenshot of your cover art, a stock photo, or some other piece of artwork).
Each ad also has a Headline and a Description (basically a Subheadline) that serves as a very short hook to convey the offer (Free Fantasy Book, Dragons & Wizards, The Meet Cute from Hell, etc.).
Lastly, your ad also has words that go along with it, which can be longer or can simply have a hook with a strong Call to Action (Click and register to get your free story!).
Much like you test different audiences to see which one has the most relevant readers, you also test different images, headlines, and copy (i.e. Ad Creative) to see which ones best speak to those readers.
Optimizing Your Image
Book covers don’t always work as the best image because they aren’t the right size, and images with words on them don’t always convert well.
There are countless options to use here including a small portion of your cover without words on it, a stock photo, or even a video of some kind. Authors will often purchase various stock photos or pieces of art and test 5-10 with different ads at the same time.
The image is probably the most important element of your ad to get right and some will test dozens until they find the one that lowers their cost per signup for months or years to come. In some cases you may find that two or three images perform best, so you’ll keep running all of those ads in hopes that they’ll all lead to lower costs.
Optimizing Your Headlines
Much like an email subject line, you’ll want to be short and sweet with your Headline and Description. You don’t have a lot of space, so consider that you may only have three to five words and phrases like “Get Your Free Book,” and “Your Next Great Read” are completely valid.
I’m also a big fan of using three genre-specific or trope-related words that are right for the genre like “Dragons. Witches. Love.” Or “Spicy. Sexy. Drama.” You want to excite your specific readers.
You’re going for short and sweet but you also want to be abundantly clear (which is the challenge of short advertising).
Optimizing Your Copy
Similarly to optimizing images, you’ll want to come up with multiple options for the words in your ad.
Some options include an excerpt from a blurb, a review snippet, a story about the book, something more personal, or anything else you’d want to try out. There is nothing wrong with reusing content you’ve shared on social media or in emails as pieces of an ad.
I recommend that no matter what kind of ad copy you use, make sure to have a strong Call to Action like “Click the link or image to get your free copy of Bryan’s Mostly Right today!”
When I write ad copy, I usually sit down during my creative “first draft time” and come up with as many ideas as possible because you never know which one will work.
The Cost of Testing
Unlike Amazon Ads, Facebook Ads will spend your money very quickly, so you’ll almost definitely spend your entire budget each day. Setting up five audiences to test at $5 a day would lead to $25 spent in a single day just to see which one seems to have lower cost per click (and one day may not be enough).
From there, you may spend an additional $25-75 on trying out different images, $25-75 trying out different headlines, and $25-75 trying out different pieces of ad copy. That’s $100 to $300 just to try to find an optimized ad, which is kind of frustrating. It feels like the money is just sort of poured down the drain.
But if you were to find the right ad that allowed you to profitably spend $1,000 a month to get you 500 subscribers that helped you to eventually earn $2,000+ per month, your initial testing money would be paid off in a shorter time than you’d think.
Things to Keep in Mind
Start with a Cushion: I would only run newsletter ads if your book is already profitable and I would recommend saving up at least $500 worth of that profit as an advertising cushion.
Triple Check Everything: Because Facebook spends money so quickly, you really need to make sure you avoid adding any zeroes at the end of your budget ($100 instead of $10). It’s OK to be a perfectionist here.
Avoid Testing Bias: You don’t know which audience, image, or headline is going to work best, so it’s worth trying a whole bunch of different things rather than assuming a certain one will win outright (I’ve definitely been wrong before).
Follow One Course Until Success: When you’re trying to learn ads for newsletters, I would make that your #1 focus, and keep your workload low so that you can give yourself the time you need to learn.
You’ll Know When You’re Ready
The author with 2,500 signups and a profitable series or two is the perfect fit for ads, and they’ll usually know that it’s time to grow. Advertising is all about tolerating a certain amount of risk that something might not work, and if you’re not ready, you’re not ready.
Once you are in the position to use ads, using low budgets and patient testing will help you to find the right combination of audiences and creative to consistently get readers.
And even if your budget for newsletter ads is only $300 a month, you can start to gather around 100 new signups each and every month to bring into your email sequence.
I’ve personally used Facebook Ads to gather over 10,000 new signups and while it’s been challenging, I’m glad to have met so many new readers I never would’ve connected with otherwise.
Video #5 Homework #1
- What monthly royalties and newsletter size do you think you’d need to be ready to try Facebook Ads?
- When you are ready, how do you think you would go about budgeting your ad testing process to set yourself up for success?
- You can answer these questions in a new post in the Facebook Group with the hashtag #EmailVid5.
- And please remember to comment on another author’s post with some kindness (this is a required step of your homework, please complete it!).
Video #5 Extra Credit #1
- If you already have a Facebook ad account, log in now. If not, go to Business.Facebook.com and create an ad account.
- Once you’re inside, you’ll want to create a new Campaign which will also generate a new Ad Set (don’t worry, we’re not actually going to make an ad, just research).
- Inside your Ad Set, go down to the Interests search box and start typing in genre words and authors you think would be relevant to your book.
- Write down 5-10 interests that you think you might consider trying if you were ready to run ads (make sure not to click Publish).
- Share your findings in a new post in the Facebook Group with the hashtag #EmailVid5EC1.
- Please also comment on another author’s post as you might find something interesting in their findings as well.
Video #5 Extra Credit #2
- Check out a stock photography site like Deposit Photos, and research images that might be a good fit for your ads (and copy down the URLs of each image).
- Brainstorm 3-5 Headlines and Descriptions for your ads that you think would be relevant for your readers.
- Draft a piece of ad copy you’d write to go along with your ad.
- Share the images, headlines, and ad copy you’ve come up with for your ad in a new post in the Facebook Group with the hashtag #EmailVid5EC2.
- Make sure to comment on another author’s extra credit and really cheer them on for finishing the final assignment.
Here’s What You’ve Learned, Part 1
The freebie you create for your potential readers should be relevant to your genre and the book or series you’re trying to sell.
Make sure to test that your landing page works and that it effectively delivers your freebie to subscribers.
Use the power of social media to share your newsletter landing page and freebie with existing followers on Facebook, TikTok, etc.
Share the same offer in a variety of ways by using different kinds of posts on a weekly basis to get the word out.
Optimize your back matter so that you have a link to your next book as well as a link to get a reader magnet when they join your list.
Here’s What You’ve Learned, Part 2
Always use Calls to Action in your backmatter to increase your chances of getting readers to do what you want.
Participate in one-on-one newsletter swaps with fellow authors in your genre to start growing each other’s lists.
Using sites like BookFunnel and Story Origin for both swaps and group promos can help you to participate in more list building activities with ease.
When your list has grown to a certain size and your books are profitable, you can use paid advertising to further grow your newsletter list.
You’ll need to test out the right audiences and combination of creative (images, headlines, and copy) to lower your costs so that you can more easily scale up your email list.
Start Slow and Grow
Growing and sustaining an email list is the healthy eating and exercise of your author career. By giving it some space in your daily and weekly routine, you’ll be able to solidify your sales to help raise your royalties ceiling. You’ll also be able to connect with more fans which can provide you with more encouragement and enjoyment.
Much like the healthy habits of life, it’s so easy to let them slide, but if you make the time and space, you’ll have a long life of writing the stories and books you love and be able to share it with a growing base of lifelong fans.
This challenge has been a ton of fun and I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to share the material with you.
I want to thank the Email Krewe for their support and provide me with resources to complete the videos.
Lastly, I want to thank you for participating. I sincerely hope that you’re able to use these videos to get your author career going in a more positive direction.
Have a fantastic rest of your day, and good luck with your growing email newsletter!
Thank you so much for being a part of our Get More Subscribers Challenge!
Bryan and the Email Krewe