From Digital Book World:
Marketers can’t predict the future any more so than anyone else. However, there are two aspects of trying to anticipate the future that I’ve found to be near-truisms—at least when marketing books to consumers (which is really the only time I endeavor to predict the future).
- The more you know beforehand about the consumer, the easier it is to anticipate what he or she is more—or even most—likely to do next.
- The closer in time the hoped-for “next action” is to be decided, the easier it is to actually predict what that action will be. (As a corollary, it becomes easier once the actions begin.)
. . . .
This is the old-school marketer’s bread and butter. This is “Mad Men.” How old is your consumer? What sex? How many kids? Urban, suburban, rural? Census stuff. Let’s say I’m marketing a book on how to retire comfortably even if you feel behind on your savings. Well, there are several audiences I can pretty quickly rule out if I’m using demographics. For example, current retirees. Or teenagers.
. . . .
I have an example I like to use when illustrating the limits of demographic targeting.
I watch golf on TV and, as such, am inundated with ads for drugs that fix a “going problem” and erectile dysfunction medicines. Not to overshare, but I am 41 and while I have my own set of problems, I don’t have any of the health variety which would seem from the ad saturation to plague the vast majority of the demographic they’re targeting. I have also seen many a Buick ad. I’m not in the market for Buick nor is anyone else I know. (Do they even make Buicks anymore?)
. . . .
A favorite of mine, I define psychographics as beliefs, attitudes, and preferences. Often these are buried within us—and we’re all consumers. For psychographics, think political leanings, attitudes toward global warming, religious affiliations or non-affiliations, enthusiasms, “clique identification” (skater, punk, neo-hippie), love of a parent…or not. Sometimes these correspond with demographics to a certain extent (red states tend to have a greater share of conservative population, obviously). But again, that’s too limited. There are liberals in red states. Lots of them, often. And they may well be more fervent than liberals in blue states. Possible—need to check behavior to get at that. Facebook is a great place to get at psychographics. So are listening tools applied to social network chatter (big ones, like Radian Six, mid-sized, like Simply Measured, or smaller, like Trackur). Ditto for macro studies done by organizations like Pew. Any time consumers raise their hands and say, “I believe this” or something along those lines, you’ve got it.
. . . .
Consumer behavior is unpredictable in a vacuum. But with knowledge of the above, one can be prepared to spot behavior (once someone is behaving, they are real, close, and increasingly predictable). The key is to be ready and then react very quickly and wisely to what you see them doing. How?
I’ll go with a Google search, which is behavioral in nature. The searcher – a potential consumer or influencer – is doing something. Right now. If I’ve done my homework about my retirement book, taken into account some demographics and psychographic information and prepared that series of A/B/C versions of, say, AdWord units, I can give predicting the future my best shot. I can message to that 25-year-old searching on “retirement planning mutual fund limits for ages 55 and up”, “parents unprepared?” or the like. I can message to the 55-year-old searching on “retirement guides” something along the lines of “Feel Behind? Read This.”
Link to the rest at Digital Book World
For those who aren’t familiar with Adwords, they’re the links that appear at the top or in the right column of Google search results. In a prior life, PG was an early adopter of Google Adwords and, while he got great results for the tech company whose products he was selling, he has to admit a bit of skepticism about the efficacy of Adwords for selling books.
As usual with book marketing, Adwords is a ten-year-old feature of Google (psychographics is even older), but apparently it’s cutting edge for the book biz.
Off the top of his head, he sees a couple of issues:
1. In the non-fiction example in the DBW article – retirement planning – when someone uses Google to search, aren’t they usually looking for immediate information from a website? Are they really looking for a book? The search result set will include a whole lot of free resources, so someone selling a book is directly competing with free. Of course, if ten million people per day search for retirement planning, you only need to get a tiny slice of that group to sell a lot of books.
2. For those who aren’t familiar with AdWords, they operate on a quasi-auction basis. The advertiser pays Google a certain amount for each person who clicks on the link in their AdWords advertisement. Like many other things on Google, you want your AdWords ad to appear in the first few positions. If you want to be #1, you have to pay more for each click than the advertiser who appears in the #2 position.
The top three AdWords positions for “retirement planning” are held by Fidelity Investments, Charles Schwab and State Farm Insurance. Each of these very large companies is paying a lot of money for each person who clicks on a link there. When you’re selling your retirement planning book, do you want to pay $10 every time someone clicks on a link and shows up at your site, regardless of whether they buy your book or not? You’re competing with companies who can make thousands of dollars by selling someone their products and services. (PG didn’t sign on to AdWords to find out the real cost-per-click for this term, but it’s going to expensive.)
3. AdBlock. For the Chrome browser, AdBlock is the single most popular extension. (An extension is a little free program that integrates into a browser and changes the browser’s behavior.) AdBlock’s job is to keep ads from showing up when you go to a website. When he gets a new computer, PG always makes sure AdBlock is installed immediately. AdBlock completely removes AdWords from all of PG’s Google search results. He had to turn it off to see what companies had purchased the retirement planning search term. If you’re trying to sell to people like PG, AdWords won’t work.
On the other hand, PG has heard a few indie authors talk about using AdWords. He would love to hear how this has worked out so send him links to success or failure stories. In the nature of online advertising, you don’t have to reach as many people as automatically go to Amazon or Goodreads to find interesting books to read. If a several thousand people search Google for Zombie Regency Cookbooks every day and 0.1% of them click on your AdWords link, you may have a good sales tool.