It’s time to answer your questions!
Remember, every Monday is Mailbox Monday — when I open up the ol’ mailbox to answer YOUR most pressing questions!
So… What’s your single-biggest question about marketing? Business? Copywriting? Selling?
Let me know! First one in gets their question answered next Monday!
On to today’s question…
I followed your advice, and am putting together a book to promote my business.
I want to test which title of the book would be best for lead generation, and thing I have a pretty good idea.
But can you walk me through your process for how you’d go about testing a book title using AdWords ads?
In my initial testing, the conversion rates are low, and it’s going to take a very long time to get statistical significance — so I’d just like to know that I’m doing it in the best possible manner.
This is awesome!
First, a little rant. Far too many marketing decisions get made outside the market, in our heads, or in the boardroom.
The single-best way to test ANY marketing idea is through actual market testing.
And — as much as I’m NOT a “branding” guy, it’s impossible to argue against the strength of a product name. It’s like the headline for the product itself. And this is definitely true for a book.
If you don’t hook ‘em with the name, you lose ‘em for good.
So it’s especially important to get a good name.
When Tim Ferriss was working on The 4-Hour Workweek, he had all sorts of wacky title ideas for that book.
But he wasn’t sure what to call it.
And he was already a direct response guy, using AdWords.
Now, I don’t think he invented this strategy — but he knew about it somehow, and he used it…
You see, when Ferriss started writing the book, his working title was Drug Dealing for Fun and Profit — his first big success was running a supplement business.
But his publisher wasn’t a big fan of the title, so he had to choose from a few others.
— The 4-Hour Workweek
— Broadband and White Sand
— Millionaire Chameleon
… And likely a few others.
Even though in hindsight, we all scream that The 4-Hour Workweek was the right choice, he wasn’t convinced.
And so Ferriss created a dozen or so AdWords ads, with the different potential titles and subtitles for the book in them.
And he invested a few bucks into testing.
Long story short, The 4-Hour Workweek was the runaway winner, and went on to become a huge sensation and catapult Ferriss into national prominence.
Now, here’s the simplest way to run one of these tests on your own…
Before I start, I’m going to assume you have a reasonable familiarity with Google AdWords. If you don’t, Perry Marshall’s Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords is a very smart investment.
— Create your website with a free download link. Maybe you have a website already. Maybe you don’t yet. Either way, you need one. Build a page to offer the download you’re going to offer. My recommendation here is to simply offer a draft of the book available for download.
The sophisticated version of this test would actually build a slightly different landing page for each AdWords ad. Or at least, for each title tested. That way, the ad “scent” (per Friday’s essay) is high and there’s no confusion when they hit the site that they’re where they are supposed to be.
— AdWords account. If you don’t have one already, you need an AdWords account. It’s easy, and it doesn’t cost a penny to set everything up.
— Narrowly-defined target market. Here’s where the rubber meets the road. You have to figure out how, within AdWords, you’re going to narrowly define the target for your book. If it’s potential clients, you have to think about how you’d find them through AdWords.
And remember that both the Search Network (results on search pages) and Display Network (ads displayed all over the internet) are options.
If search: what keywords will your ideal target market type in that are relevant to your book? Create a campaign based around displaying your ads in their search results.
If display: what websites does your target market visit? Create a campaign around targeting specific websites or types of websites.
There are a lot of fancy targeting options, but your best bet is to keep things fairly simple here.
— Short list of titles. Do some brainstorming. Come up with a few different titles. Remember though, to test big differences. One of the biggest mistakes made in testing is in testing too many things that are too similar to each other.
The reason to test big differences is that you’ll see a big difference in results. If all your titles are basically rearranged versions of the same idea, the response rates will likely be very similar.
Also, come up with a short list of subtitles. Ideally, you’ll have 3-4 of each. If you take the number of different titles you have, and the number of different subtitles, and multiply them, that’s how many variations there will be. Any more than 3X4 and you’re suddenly dealing with a lot of ads. The more ads, the longer it will take to declare a winner.
— AdWords ads. Once you have the titles and subtitles, find a way to work them into the very constraining AdWords ad format. If you’re doing image advertising, it may be easier, because you can cram text in differently. Either way, you’ll want to create versions of the ad matching each title to each subtitle. If you created unique landing pages for each title, make sure you link each ad to the matching landing page.
— Run the tests. Now, spend some money. There are too many factors to tell you how much this is going to cost to run. But you want to run enough traffic through until you have a bunch of clicks. And it’s smart to run the test for at least a week, because click behavior can change based on the day of the week.
— Compare click-through rate. You’ll want to use a split test statistical significance calculator among the ads with the highest click-through rates. Input the number of impressions and the number of clicks for each ad, and hopefully it will tell you that you have a clear winner.
— If it’s a close race, shrink the field. If you don’t have a clear winner, but you can get statistically-significant differences between some of the highest-performing and lowest-performing ads, pause the lowest-performing ones to let the highest-performing ones run. This will mean your highest-performing ads get more impressions, so they can get your data faster.
— Declare your winner. Once you have a statistically-significant winner, you have your book title! Congratulations!
A few notes about this process…
— It’s not a perfect predictor of what people will buy. In an ideal world, you’d actually use purchase data to determine the best title. Because what people click on is not a perfect predictor of what they will spend money on. But this is a quick and dirty micro-test — to borrow a term from Tim Ferriss — that is a pretty good way to test titles.
(If you’re interested in learning from someone who sold 100 million books via title alone — and who took meticulous notes as he tested different titles for the same books and watched sales skyrocket — check out My First 100 Million by E. Haldeman-Julius.)
— It’s testing a limited market. Your test will only be as good as your targeting in the ad. If you’re targeting the wrong audience from the beginning, you’ll get low clicks, and even when you get clicks, they won’t necessarily tell you what your target market wants. Make sure you really focus on getting the targeting right.
— Forget the opt-ins. You could add all sorts of layers of complexity to this. You could ask people who click to opt-in before the free download. You could ask them to opt-in after. You could only base your conclusion on how many opt-ins you got, NOT the number of clicks. There’s a lot of complexity you could add. Usually, done is better that perfect. So do what you can to get it done. My recommendation is not to avoid asking for opt-ins altogether. But to not make them a crucial part of your title test.
Hope this has been helpful!
Yours for bigger breakthroughs,
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