Brand awareness may seem like an empty and nebulous buzzword at first glance. It’s no surprise that unambiguous metrics like Clicks and CTR tend to be more popular than “awareness” when determining the success of ad campaigns. (We love clicks and high CTRs as much as the next advertiser!) But does that mean brand awareness is useless for book ads, or could it still be worth your time and ad dollars?
Defining brand awareness for books
Let’s start by making sure we’re on the same page about what brand awareness for books means. Business Dictionary defines brand awareness as “[The] extent to which a brand is recognized by potential customers, and is correctly associated with a particular product [emphasis added].”
The brand we want potential book customers to recognize is often the title. But books have an advantage over many other products because the author and publisher can also function as brands. As a result, any or all of these (title, author, and publisher) can help drive customer recognition.
Should you care?
Any marketing professional (or random person on the street) will agree that people are pretty unlikely to buy a product or book they’ve never heard of. But does simple name recognition really move the needle on making someone more likely to buy a product?
Research shows that the answer is yes!
If you’re interested in a deep dive, here are a few different studies. But the most relevant and fascinating one for books is called Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales. The study showed that simply increasing brand awareness can boost sales by 45%:
…For books by established authors, a negative review led to a 15% decrease in sales. For books by relatively unknown (new) authors, however, negative publicity has the opposite effect, increasing sales by 45%… the effects of negative publicity depend on existing product awareness.
…analysis further demonstrates that increased purchase likelihood for the previously unknown product was driven by increased awareness.
If driving awareness via negative publicity can skyrocket sales by 45%, imagine what increasing awareness with a positive correlation can do!
Generating brand awareness
The case for pursuing brand awareness for books is clear. So how should you go about it? We always advocate a multi-prong approach combining social media, PR, and advertising.
No, you don’t need to create a social media page for every single book. But every single author and publisher should have a place to connect with fans, promote titles, and generate name recognition. We see a lot of social media pages missing one or all of these brand-boosting strategies:
- Feature a profile image that will be recognizable to a book buyer later on – for publishers this is typically a clear, hi-def logo; for authors, a professional headshot (a picture of an author doing a reading, or a cute dog/cat, or a photo of your perfectly organized bookshelf, is not likely to help with recall once someone is in Barnes & Noble browsing the shelves – save those images for your posts!)
- Share reviews and quotes, particularly from sources that have their own brand awareness built up like The New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, or a best-selling author
- Use “pinned posts” on Facebook and Twitter to make sure the title you’re actively promoting is always visible at the top of your page
- Leverage promoted posts and social media ads for a larger audience
You don’t have to hire an outside PR firm, but unless you’re part of a big publishing house with your own experienced PR team it’s often a good idea to call in some experts who can help you with:
- Reviews – remember, even non-glowing reviews can be hugely beneficial!
- Interviews and media appearances
- Book tours, readings, and/or workshops
- Blogging, guest-blogging, and/or blog tours
Don’t forget to highlight your PR successes on your social media pages!
Our Book Shoppers Package is an incredibly powerful mix of real-time bookstore targeting alongside native and banner ads. We carefully designed this package to maximize brand awareness for books on a huge scale, and I’m so excited about the results it’s generated for campaigns like Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Auntie Poldi! The package works by…
- Generating real-time awareness among:
- readers currently shopping in bookstores
- frequent bookstore shoppers
- employees of bookstores
- Then, maximizing engagement via:
- high-impact native & banner ads
- precision audience targeting
- top-tier site placements
Plus, our design team creates eye-catching ads that highlight awareness-drivers like the cover, title, author, and publisher logo!
Let us know in the comments what you think of brand awareness for books and whether any other strategies have worked well for you.
If you want to try your own Book Shoppers campaign or have questions, drop Mary Beth a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!