One of the keys to writing as a business is running ads. But there is a very important key to doing so, and that is tracking sales and determining your ROI. Ideally, you want to run these ads in more than one place. But how do you track what happens once someone clicks on your ads? This is a common complaint with ads people run on platforms like Facebook, but that direct traffic to your Amazon book page. You can see the number of clicks on your ad, but what does that mean to sales.

    There is a really effective hack many writers don’t know about that veteran marketers have already figured out. It really is a great way to keep track of how many sales come from those clicks you see in your Facebook ad dashboard.

    But let’s slow down for a second and determine why we would want to send someone to our Amazon page in the first place, and what alternatives there might be.

    Where do you send ad traffic?

    The cool thing about Facebook ads is that you can send the person who sees your ad to any website you want, including your book page or author page on Amazon. But people buy books in other places besides Amazon, right?

    They do, and because of the unique targeting you can do with Facebook ads, you can create ads pointed at Nook users, Kobo users (especially useful in Canada and Europe, where Kobo is popular), iPad, or the inevitable Kindle and Amazon.

    The most common types of ads for authors are lead generation ads, designed to add subscribers to your email list by giving them something for free; or sales ads, where you are trying to get readers to purchase your books. These ads are generally set up to a place readers can purchase on your website directly, perhaps at a discount, or where they purchase at Amazon or another online retailer.

    But you don’t own Amazon. So how do you tell which of those clicks turned into sales? They don’t share that information readily, so you may not know if your sale came from Amazon ads, Bookbub, Facebook, or somewhere else entirely.

    But you can, at least in this case.

    Amazon Associates and Tracking Links

    If you don’t have an Amazon associates account, you should create one right away. There are a few reasons, not the least of which is if you are using StoryOrigin or other promotional tools, you can use your affiliate link and make a little money every time someone makes a purchase of your book, or in some cases, someone else’s.

    You can also use these affiliate links on your own website when you link to Amazon. Not only do you get paid a small amount from every purchase, but you also get a great tracking tool. If you already have an Amazon Associates account, go there now.

    You have the option to create tracking IDs. These are not only linked to your account, but you can use them to track different stores (websites) you own, but even better, under those tracking IDs you can create other tracking IDs for each ad campaign.

    For example, you could create a tracking ID like: “FacebookWAAB2020TLa.” This would be my first Facebook campaign of 2020 for Writing as a Business. I could follow with letters of the alphabet like b, c, d, etc. for each subsequent campaign. You can structure this link any way you want, but I use Platform/Book/Year/Campaign to track mine.

    Then when you look at clicks on your Amazon Associate dashboard, it will tell you how many link clicks and purchases came under that ID. Walla! ROI tracking.

    If you use a bare link that has a whole bunch of stuff after it in a Facebook ad, you might get it rejected. How do you get a link that doesn’t look spammy with that tracking ID embedded in it? There is a tool for that.

    The Site Stripe Tool

    Go to any product page on Amazon. I’ll use my book, Writing as a Business, as an example. If you are logged into Amazon with the same ID as your Amazon Associates account, you will see a tool at the top, the Site Stripe tool.

    You can see that there are a few options under the site stripe tool. This selects the type of ad you want to get code for. You can get a text ad, an image, or a text plus image ad. The details on those options are for another post on another day.

    For now, we will click on text, and note the extensions you can add.

     

    First, we chose the store ID, which is your associate account, although you can have more than one store ID. Second, we chose the tracking link we created for this campaign, the one that starts with the word ‘Facebook.’

    We created a short link, the easiest kind of link, and least spammy looking one, that you can create. Now, we copy and paste that link into our Facebook ad or wherever you are tracking your clicks and sales.

    BOOM! You now have a way to know what clicks on Amazon at least came from that particular Facebook campaign.

    You can create as many tracking IDs as you like. I like to keep them simple, but you can get as deep and complex as you like.

    Determining Facebook Ads ROI

    This section is actually another topic entirely, but quickly you can look at your Facebook ad manager and see your cost per click. If you are not converting at a rate of at least 3-5 purchases per click, you probably have some issues with your book, the blurb copy on Amazon, or something else.

    But when it comes to just simple calculations, the simple formula is as follows: the overall cost of your ad subtracted from the overall profit from your ad. First, calculate the profit on your sales:

    • Price reader pays for your book multiplied by the percentage of royalty you get = gross profit (GP)

    Then calculate the cost of your ad. Facebook will do this for you as well:

    • Cost per click (CPC) multiplied by the number of clicks = cost of ad. (CA)

    Remember to also add the cost of creating the ad. For instance, if your graphic designer charged you $10 to create the ad, that is a cost. Or if you have a subscription to Canva or Book Brush, or a similar program, that is also a cost associated with your ads.

    • GP minus CA = Net Profit*

    *There is a star here to remind you that net profit on one ad does not make your business profitable, nor is that net profit on your book. Again, overall net profit is a discussion all its own.

    If you have a net profit that is positive on your ad, that is a positive ROI, even if it is small. If that number is negative, it means it is actually costing you money to run your ads. That is not necessarily a bad thing all the time, as long as it leads to profit somewhere else.

    If you use this method though, at least you will be able to know and understand where clicks and sales are coming from and will therefore know if your advertising efforts are profitable or not. It’s the kind of data you need to make Writing as a Business a reality.

    Troy Lambert
    Troy is a freelance writer, author, and blogger who lives, works, and plays in Boise, Idaho with the love of his life and three very talented dogs.

    Passionate about writing dark psychological thrillers, he is an avid cyclist, skier, hiker, all-around outdoorsman, and a terrible beginning golfer.
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