Do Twitter Ads Sell eBooks? #AmWriting

According to Business Insider, Twitter says 232 million people are “monthly active users” on their platform. After searching Google for some information on how effective Twitter ads are, I decided to conduct a little experiment of my own. I like to see how things work with my own eyes. Here are my results:

I prepared my ad content according to Twitter’s instructions. Their ad dashboard makes it very easy to set up an ad. Because I was promoting one of my iBooks, I targeted readers, and more specifically, romance readers. I also targeted #iBooks. On the final day of my ad, I asked some author friends to RT my ad to see if that helped my ad’s visibility. I’m certain that’s why the graph (below) shows more views on the final day. I spent $10 a day for 5 days.

Total spent: $50
Total views: 21,934
Engagements: 252
Engagement rate: 1.15%
Cost per engagement: $0.20

The most important piece of the puzzle:
Number of iBook sales: 0

Have Twitter ads worked for you? I’d love for you to leave a comment. Have you used Twitter ads and found the same result as I did? Please leave a comment. Information sharing is a great thing!




21 comments:

Julie Frayn said...

Interesting experiment, sad result. Many say Twitter sells books. I remain unconvinced.

JamesB said...

I think Twitter can move books, but not in the "check out my book" kind of way. I did a price promo with a bunch of other baseball authors during the World Series. We set up a website with info about our books and links to Amazon. Then we tweeted about it and got a tiny bit of action. Then I hounded some of my friends and acquaintances with much larger Twitter followings for some RTs. And, wow, sales jumped.

I think the keys were we had a varied lineup of titles (10 in all) and the RTs came from people who are known for writing about or working in baseball, so their followers were likely to be curious enough to click the link and check things out. I had two books in the promo and sold 85 copies in seven days at the discounted 99-cent price. There was some carryover for a couple of weeks after the prices went back to normal.

It was successful enough we're putting together another one during spring training. It's a lot of work, but it was the most successful promo I've done since I released my first book three years ago, and aside from the URL for the site it cost me nothing out of pocket.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your results. I'm so sorry you didn't sell anything.

I must confess, I'm one of those writers who's afraid to try new things. These kind of results don't help.

I read your post twice. It seems you did everything right. I don't see how one could improve on it.

All my best,

Lucian
(Conspiracy series)

Donna Fasano said...

James, I agree that Twitter can move books. But I think we're talking about two different things. If the experience cost you "nothing out of pocket," then you are not talking about a paid Twitter Ad. My blog is describing my experience with a paid Twitter Ad.

I see my best success when I tweet blog posts (specifically Awesome Romance Novels blog) that feature a slew (20 or more) bargain book priced at 99 cents. But that is not what I'm discussing here today. I just want to make it clear what I am blogging about my experience with paid Twitter Ad.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

JamesB said...

Donna, maybe I should have made it more clear I was really responding to the first comment, where Julie seemed to be talking more generally about Twitter. I was originally drawn to your post because I was curious to see if anyone else has had different experiences with ads on Twitter. I've tried Google and Goodreads without much success (some sales, but not enough to break even).

Anne R. Allen said...

Thanks for sharing this info, Donna. I think iTunes is the hardest place to sell books, so that may have something to do with your results. But I agree that Twitter generally has dismal results with direct sales. It's only useful for maybe sending people to your blog where maybe they'll see your book and buy it.

Ellie Campbell said...

Interesting. Thanks for sharing. I've never used twitter for paid ads. Not sure I will after reading your results. Thanks so much for this. :)

Amy said...

I had basically the same result! Twitter is tough. My followers get kind of cranky when I even promote things in my timeline (my own books even!) They just want free jokes!

mary kennedy said...

This is a really interesting experiment, Donna, I'm glad you posted it. I think a lot of times we're so afraid of "missing out," we try things with no proven track record. I remember Jo Ann Ross said to me. "Half of all advertising works and get results. The trouble is, no one knows which half." So true!

Colleen Faulkner said...

Thanks for sharing your experience, Donna. I always appreciate hearing honest results from authors. I constantly fight with question of how much time I should spend, as a writer, selling myself and how much time I should spend just writing.

Linda Lee Williams said...

Thanks for sharing your experience with Twitter ads, Donna. I found it most helpful!

Sandra Hutchison said...

Thanks for sharing. I see free or sale books occasionally get a boost on Twitter, but I find general promos pretty ineffective. On the other hand, just being there does draw some people in out of curiosity, I suspect. I am glad I enjoy it for its own sake, though.

Dale Furse said...

That's great info, Donna. Thanks for being a guinea pig. :D

Elle Klass said...

Interesting, I sell nearly as many iBooks as Amazon but am not sure I have sold anything tweeting. I have never run a twitter advertisement either. Thanks for sharing!

JC Wardon said...

Thanks for the insight. I think we all wonder just what will get our books out there with the most productive results, and I seriously think it is as much luck as anything. You can write a great book, but the competition to be seen is so massive, your book may never get noticed. All we can do is write our best story every time, and hope enough people find us to want to read more from the authors they really enjoy.

Stephen Hazlett said...

Good article, and disappointing to see that Twitter ads gave you such poor results. This is food for thought for anyone using Twitter, whether tweeting or using their ads, to try to sell something.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your results, Donna. I spent about the same and got almost identical results with Facebook ads: 21,000 impressions/55 click-thrus/no sales. On Twitter, I ran a promotion with a ten-day free book countdown and gave away 150 books. It made me #5 in the Thriller category on Amazon. It led to no reviews.
What I know for sure: keep writing & keep plugging.
Thanks again - Peter Prasad, author, GUT-CHECK GREEN

Claude Forthomme said...

I had the same experience with a Facebook add: over 4,000 likes on a post telling about my book promotion (it was going for 99 cents for 3 days) and no sales at all!
Just last week I didn't do a Twitter ad but launched a Twitter campaign through a guy who has 4 Twitter accounts and over 350,000 followers - a nice tweet too, fun to read. Result? Zilch, not one sale and again the price was an enticing 99 cents.

Twitter as far as I can see does not work. Neither does Facebook. I blogged about this recently. There are many reasons why we're into another market, e-books don't sell the way they used to!

patrickcolgan said...

As Claude Forthomme said I had too similar result with FB ads. But what happened is that it paid off in time. Rarely people, I learned, buy instantly (when they see the ad they are propbably doing something else, no matter how easy is it to buy) but some will buy in the following days, some more after a second exposure to the ad.
At the end I was pretty happy.

Andrea said...

I don't normally post on here, but I also wanted to say thanks for posting this. I heard in a class I took that it takes the average customer 7 exposures to your product before it makes a sale. Maybe it will happen over time?

Lisa Lang Blakeney said...

Thanks for this post. I was considering Twitter ads as I have had success with Facebook ads. For me, I see a significant drop in sales when my FB ads stop running vs. when they are live. I've tested it twice. I agree with the post that says FB ads work through repeated exposure. But there is such a glutton of information in one's Twitter feed, I can see how it would be less effective than FB. Thanks for this insightful post!