Yesterday we ran an experiment.
We’ve been running free promotions on our books for some time, and, as we documented here, it’s because those promotions always translate into an uptick in sales.
However, free promotions take a lot of work. In the weeks leading up to our promotion we’re listing the book with various sites and twitter/facebook feeds (as documented here). On the days of the promotion we’re listing ourselves on daily feeds and constantly getting the word out to organizations that deal with free books.
It’s a lot of work.
But does it even help?
To find out, we listed volume 2 for free secretly. We did absolutely no promotion. We didn’t advertise it on our website. We didn’t even mention it to our friends or family. It was just another day in the life for our book, except for the fact that it was free.
So what were the results?
Prior to this promotion we ran two multi-day promotions for Volume 2. One in December and one in February. While both of these promotions ran for multiple days, in both cases we noticed that the majority of our downloads came on day 1.
December 2012: 557 downloads domestically.
February 2013: 479 downloads domestically.
Neither of these were considered particularly successful numbers as we easily break 1000 downloads in our volume 1 promotions. Still, they provide a good benchmark, especially given how close in number they are. Plus for both of these the advertising we did was generally the same (the only major difference between the two was that the Feb promotion was done in conjunction with a free promotion for volume 1).
Now the big question…how did we do with no promotion at all?
April 2013: 13 downloads domestically.
That’s right – just 13.
So, what does this all mean.
1. Obviously advertising helps. People like free things and letting them know it’s there leads to more downloads. We expected this.
2. However, we also expected a few more downloads than this. What this means is the book isn’t getting enough exposure outside of free promotions. If it were, more than 13 people would have discovered it was free in one day – especially since some of those people probably found it through websites that simply scour Amazon for free books.
3. The time spent working on advertising is worth it.
We still don’t know which aspects of the advertising lead to the most downloads. We’re convinced some of the sites we list with lead to a great number of downloads while others lead to few or even none. Since we’re running them all concurrently, it’s impossible to tell which is which. We hope to explore individual advertising opportunities more in the future.
Have any of you had any experience with free promotion advertising? Please let us know in the comments below.