How to Use Bookbub Ads Profitably

Posted on Jul 31, 2020

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BookBub Ads are quickly becoming the best form of paid-advertising for books. 

The reason why the platform is getting a lot of good press and an increasingly high number of indies is using them as a tool in their book-marketing arsenal is quite easy to understand. 

For starters, BookBub Ads are better than both AMS and Facebook Ads. A lot better. 

Their dashboard and backend are more reliable and easier to understand. Their behavior is actually quite simple to predict. Scaling them does not require a Nobel-prize in algorithm technology. 

It’s no wonder that indie superstars like David Gaughran have termed them ‘the best form of paid advertising for books’.

But if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you know all that already. The reason we are here today is to troubleshoot your campaigns. Fix what is wrong with them and make them as profitable and as royalty-generating as they can possibly be.


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Wait: didn’t you say BookBub ads are the best?

I did indeed. But nothing’s perfect. Campaigns can flop. Mistakes can be made. What makes this platform so refreshingly good is that in it, issues can actually be fixed. For once, each problem has a dependable solution (hear, hear, AMS!). Each less-than-optimal scenario has specific procedures that can yield specific results. And if you ask me, this makes troubleshooting quite fun, too!

Bookbub Ads – Problem Solving

Ready? Let’s go through the 4 most common obstacles you can encounter when advertising on BookBub, coupled with effective solutions you can employ right away!

#1 – Can’t Find Authors To Target

BookBub Ads have two types of targeting. You “point” your campaigns to either specific authors or specific genres. Unless you are writing in an extremely small niche, I always recommend you use author-targeting. But do so wisely!

The narrower the author’s audience, the better. Which of course, can also be a problem: what if you can’t find medium-to-small authors to target?

1- Get Creative

There are numerous “places” where you can find names of competitors you can use for your campaigns. Don’t limit yourself to the usual suspects such as Also-Boughts on Amazon or the bestsellers’ lists. Always be on the lookout for author-targets on a day-to-day basis. You can use BookBub’s Featured Deal email, for example. Subscribe to your genre’s newsletter and keep a list of the authors that are promoted on it every day. You’ll be amazed at how many ideas this can spark. 

2 – Go Wide – in advertising terms

If you’re running Amazon Ads and Facebook Ads together with BookBub campaigns, you probably already have a pretty big list of targets to use in your ads. Why not try them on BookBub, too? Worst case scenario, the ad will not perform well and you can pause/terminate it. Always remember, though, that AMS, Facebook and BookBub are three entirely different ‘worlds’. What is working well for one of them, might not even register on BookBub. But the mantra, as always, is: test, test, test!

3- Browse the BookBub Website

BookBub has recently been investing a lot of money on their website. The UI has been improved, and new features are constantly being added to make the experience fun and informative for readers. Give it a test-run and you’ll see how many interesting targeting ideas you get. Start by typing the name of one of your competitors in the search-bar top right. Then click on their name and find the ‘tag-cloud’ of genres the author writes in. Click on one and you’ll be taken to BookBub’s recommendations for that very genre: target-authors galore! 

#2 – CTR is too low

A good CTR (click through rate) is essential in BookBub Ads campaigns. It means people are clicking on your ad and hopefully going on to buy your book (or download your freebie). In general terms (but you should always be testing), I generally consider anything above 1,5% to be a good CTR, though your mileage might obviously vary on this.

If you are not happy with your current CTR, there are a few ways in which you can improve it.

Let’s take a look at them one by one:

1- Narrow your targeting even more.

Narrowing the audience you are targeting is quite easily done on the BookBub Ads platform. The key here is to look for target-authors with a fairly small following. Unless you have a specific strategy in mind, never go for ‘household names’ such as J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. Targeting authors with such a large fan base is going to kill your CTR. Go narrower or, in some cases, use both author and genre targeting in the same campaign, so as to be even more laser-focused. 

2-  Make your graphics even more enticing. 

CTR stands for Click Through Rate. In simple terms, it’s a percentage that indicates how many people click on your ad. When the percentage is low, not enough people are clicking on your ad. What might be the reason for that? Well, in most cases, this is due to the fact that your creative didn’t catch their attention. Making your graphics more enticing for readers can make or break your CTR. Make sure you test different variations of colors, copy and images until you find a good compromise that resonates with your readers. Tools like Canva or BookBrush can be incredibly useful for this, or you can hire a professional designer to get even better results.

#3 – Not enough Impressions  

Having ‘low impressions’ usually means BookBub is not showing your ad enough times. Basically, you are not winning the real-time auction and thus your ad graphic is not being served to readers.

There are two pretty straightforward solutions to this problem: 

1- Increase your bid

Self-explanatory, but sometimes it’s the last thing authors think about. This works with both CPM and CPC bidding. How much should you bid, I hear your asking? Unfortunately, it depends. Bidding strategies can vary enormously based on the book you are advertising, the competition in your genre, and so on. Make sure you have a solid plan when it comes to budgeting and subsequently bid accordingly. Once again, the mantra here is “test, test, test”. 

2- Change your targeting

Whether you are targeting by author or by genre, you might have gotten your audiences all wrong here. No biggie, this is easily fixed. Try ‘thinking out of the box’ or targeting authors with a smaller following.

This should make it easier for the BookBub algorithm to decide to display your ad to a super-relevant audience, thus resulting in more impressions. 


How To Effectively Market A Book in 2023 (and beyond…)

Get The Simple 3-Step Strategy to Selling More Books In This Free Web Class!

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#4 – Campaign is too expensive 

Before you begin advertising, you should always think about your goal for running paid traffic campaigns. Are you after ‘pure’ ROI? Or do you aim at giving your work more visibility, and are prepared to lose a little money in favor of greater exposure? 

If your advertising goal is pure ROI and the campaigns are losing you money, BookAds Doctor to the rescue! Here are a couple of suggestions on how you can turn things around in your favor:

1- Bid lower!

Sometimes, you don’t need to bid so high. A lower bid might still win your impressions and result in cheaper campaigns overall. Of course, this is another area where testing is absolutely necessary, but going overboard each and every time might not be needed. Aim at winning the real-time auctions with the lowest possible bids!

2- Analyze Your Targeting.

By now, you will have surely understood how important targeting is with BookBub ads. If you have not absolutely nailed your target authors and/or categories, your campaigns will cost you more. It’s just how this platform is set-up and there is no escaping this!

3- Try CPC instead of CPM

I usually do not recommend using CPC bidding. Time and time again, I have seen the CPM option to be much more effective when it comes to both costs and CTR. However, some authors have reported CPC to be more cost-effective than CPM in specific genres: after all, you only pay for readers who click on your ad. Worth a try, but if this doesn’t work after a couple of experiments, switch back to CPM! 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this short troubleshooting guide. Hopefully, it has helped you find what is wrong with your campaign and it has helped you set things straight. Let me know in the comments: I look forward to hearing from you!

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