Thursday, September 08, 2016

Can Adwords Help Sell EBooks? No.

This is a quick summary of my 60-odd days of experimenting with Adwords to promote and sell a series of How To/Reference PDF guides on various skills using Adwords. In the past, I managed Digital Marketing Campaigns for eCommerce companies.

All this happened in the last two months:

1. Good CTR (Click Through Rates) mean nothing. I mentioned in the text and display ads that these were PDF guides.

2. In the 60-odd days period, I got 1500+ clicks, and O conversions.

3. I posted in the Adwords forums about my problem and the internet advised me that only branded content sells well online. This is something worth thinking over. It needs time, some viral posts...it needs exposure.

4. Text ads are the worst. I even tried expanded text ads. I got the clicks. Nothing on the sales side.

5. A lady from Adwords (they call the new customers, and I was using Adwords from my personal account) called. She advised me to use newer kinds of Adwords ads (Gmail ads etc) and promised to check in in 14 days. I started the new ads, got the clicks (the skill guides are really useful), and waited for the lady to call back. When she didn't, I paused all the ads, except the Display and Remarketing ads.

6. I changed the landing page, A/B tested etc more that 5-6 times in this period. More clicks, but no conversions.

7. Thankfully, I got conversions from other channels: Links, emails etc.

What I learnt: Even when I used to do Digital marketing campaigns for ECommerce companies, we knew Adwords/Facebook Ads etc are money-gobblers - good for branding, but if you plan to use these to plan profitable marketing campaigns, after having figured in per-sale margin and all that, you are in for a shock. Yes, yes. Online marketing is supposed to be targetable, measurable and what not...but advertising is advertising.

So, Adwords doesn't help with ebook sales. How about Adwords' effect on other sectors?

Google (India) and Facebook (India) are perhaps the most profitable digital companies, making the most money out of ECommerce in India - Google alone makes more than Rs. 1000 crore each year from India. I am thinking of using Facebook to promote the page for the guides, but I am still figuring out the margins, which is foolish, for online advertising doesn't seem to be about margins/unit economics etc at all.

P.S. The headline should have been 'Can Adwords and Facebook Ads Help Sell Ebooks? No.'

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