Crushing genre discoveries & Pixel frustration – 2020 Writing Week 26

MJG Weekly Writing Update, Writing Leave a Comment

Last week was a painful climb-down of sales dropping away, after the previous week of getting great sales rates on the Christopher Wren books.

The outcome was that my conversion dropped from 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 or lower – which is a clear difference betwen profit and loss.

Painful. A rollercoaster. What the hell happened?

Crushing genre/marketing discoveries

Maybe it was last Wednesday that sales of the Wren books started to peter off. As far as I could tell, I hadn’t changed anything. I’d added a stronger female component to all blurbs over a week ago, and that had seemed to be responsible for the uptick in sales.

The exact same thing happened with the zombie books. I added mention of Amo dating Lara, and sales swiftly dropped off. This book that had been my profit bulwark for months was suddenly losing money!

I was stunned. Could the addition of a hint of romance be responsible for this downturn? I thought I’d finally mastered genre by adding the tiniest bit in. Was I wrong?

I dug in.

It seemed the tailing off with Wren was connected to a new ad I’d started running on Facebook, across both the US and UK. It was hardly any different from the previous ads – if anything it leaned closer toward appealing to women, with talk of Mason and his sweetheart.

It got great clicks, like the others. But it didn’t convert? I dug deeper still, and found that this particular ad was getting clicked mostly by men. That seemed odd. I had been getting majority female clicks before this. This new ad flipped that, and stole all the clicks from previous ads.

So they clicked, went to the sales page, where the blurb was exactly the same as in the ad, then didn’t buy. The female-tailored sales page blurb was putting them off? Bu then why had they clicked the ad at all?

I acted fast – and changed my ad targeting to focus only on women. Sorted, right?

Wrong. Conversions dropped further. Whaaat?

This was a slump. I didn’t understand it at all. How could I be riding so high one minute then lose it all thanks to the actual blurb that had been doing so well until then?

Here are the conclusions I came to:

  • Mentioning any kind of romance in a thriller or zombie blurb is a no-no. Now I reflect on it, this makes perfect sense. The Reacher blurbs I was inspired by didn’t mention romance. They mentioned strong women, but no hint of romance. So, clearly, genre trumps gender. Thriller and zombie readers want thrills and zombies. They do NOT want the slightest hint of romance. They probably like a strong character of their gender mentioned, but it’s not necessary.
  • People don’t read the Facebook ad copy too much. There’s no other reason people would click more on a romance-tinged ad then click away so completely when they hit the sales page. On the sales page they actually read the blurb. On the ad they don’t. What they’re responding to are the image and the ad headline, maybe.

These were some big learnings. Here’s my response:

  • Take out all hint of romance. Go back to the old blurbs. Pretty much immeditely , conversion returns to what it was before. Go back to targeting men and women. Dang.
  • There’s a problem with targeting via Facebook for clicks. I’m sending a lot of people to Amazon who then read the blurb for the first time. So I’m asking Facebook to get people to respond primarily to the image, not to the text at all. There seemed to be a way around that, partially at least, through the use of a Facebook Pixel.

Facebook Pixel woes

Fucking Facebook Pixel.

I’ve known about it for ages. It’s basically tracking code you put on your website, to log everyone that passes through. In concert with Facebook ads, you can get Facebook to optimize not just for clicks (get the most clicks on the ad for the cheapest price), but instead optimize for website conversions.

It basically extends facebook’s all-seeing eye to your website. They follow along with each clicker off the ad to see what they do on your website.

Now, I don’t sell books on my website, so I can’t show true conversions to Facebook. What I can do is make a ‘squeeze’ page that is a sales page for my book with only one link leading out – to Amazon. People are forced to read the blurb, engage properly with the book here, then click through to Amazon if they want more.

Now Facebook will optimize my ads for people who click through after actually reading the blurb. People who only like the cover but then don’t like the blurb will get ignored. Facebook will try to stop sending me those people.

Will it work? Well, it should. My conversions should become better and cheaper.

Getting this setup though took hours upon hours. I don’t hve the proper coding skills to make the Pixel ‘fire’ properly, so I spent ages trying to craft workarounds via plugins. In the end it proved to be a plugin that was blocking me. I switched it off – now my Pixel is firing happily.

It’ll take some time for Facebook to learn who my audience is. But then they should be on auto. I can build bigger audiences, because Facebook will know better who to target in those audiences. Clicks overall should get cheaper. Conversion should go up.

We’ll see.

I feel good I set it up, probably in large because I finally mastered the Pixel. Also because I’m back in profit. Thank heavens.

Writing news

I’d planned to hit 12,000 words on wren 4. I hit 6k instead, but wrote another 10k on a non-fiction project. We’ll see if I keep pursuing that. It’s ratehr dependent on ongoing success of my marketing endeavors. If I have mastered genre, I can write the book. If I haven’t, I should not.

By the end of this week it’d be good to hit 15k on Wren 4.

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