Sell ebooks 4 – Twitter Marketing Strategy

This is the fourth article in a short series on how to sell ebooks using longtail marketing strategies.  In this article I talk about how to build a customer base on Twitter that you can use as part of your Longtail Marketing Strategy.

You can read the other articles here:

Sell ebooks 1 – Longtail Marketing
Sell ebooks 2 – Website Content
Sell ebooks 3 – Building a Twitter Following

Twitter Longtail Ebook Marketing Strategy

Lots of followers mean lots of people see my tweet, right?   Wrong.

images (3)Sorry, but this is the bit about twitter that is rarely mentioned:  just because you have 5,000 followers does not mean all 5,000 followers see your tweet.  Imagine one of your followers is standing beside a busy eight lane highway, the cars racing past are the tweets from all their followers.  Somewhere, in that mass of speeding vehicles, your lone tweet flashes past.  What are the chances of that follower seeing your tweet?  Probably not a lot.

Luckily, Twitter Analytics gives us some accurate data, if you are brave enough to look.  First the good news:  your 5,000 followers gives you an reach of 90,000 twitter accounts  also, your three tweets per day were viewed a total of 20,000 times in a twenty-eight day period – sounds impressive doesn’t it?

Now the bad news:  the statistics per tweet are vanishingly small. In fact, the figures are so depressing that I have sectioned off the stats in this article.  If you don’t want to read the math, and you really, really,really  don’t, just scroll down fast to the next parallel line where I will save your sanity by summarising the findings in a cosy non-specific way.


Here’s the math per tweet.  The percentages are based on my own twitter activity for a period of 28 day*, statistics are provided by Twitter Analytics:

On average, of the 90,000 possible viewers, only 0.26% actually saw any one tweet – that’s 236 people.  But it gets worse, only 2.4% of those people (6) actually clicked on one of my tweets (the rate varies between 7.9% (19) at best and 0.0% (nil) at worst).  Only 0.82% retweet (2), another 0.52 % favorite (1), and an additional 0.59% (1) follow the link to either Amazon or my website.  To summarize: out of 90,000 possible views, only 1 person, per tweet, takes the action I want them to take.

If, by this stage you are thoroughly depressed, I have to warn you that it gets worse before it gets better.

Twitter sales activity counts as a ‘cold lead.’  And as I know from my time in retail, from a ‘cold lead’ you can expect a sales conversion rate of about 4% (1 in every 25 visitors buys your book).  To summarise again: if you have 5,000 twitter followers, then to sell one book, you need to send 25 tweets.  Now you understand why there is so much spam out there.

Clearly, a substantially larger number of quality followers is needed, which is why I continue to build my Twitter  follower base organically.

Ok, time to cheer us up again. We are not looking for ‘cold leads’ we are looking for ‘warm leads’ (people who already have a relationship with us), where the sales conversion rate is 40% – 70%.  Here is what I am doing to build ‘warm leads’:

During the same twitter period as above I gained 1900 new followers, each were offered a free ebook in my automated ‘Thank you for following,’ response – again a ‘cold call,’ so I would expect a 4% take-up.  The 76 people who read the free book magically turn into ‘warm leads,’ because they have gotten to know me through my writing.  Not all will like my writing, but a take up rate of 40% is not unreasonable – a potential 30 book sales (still only 1 per day, but better).  People who have already purchased with you are 70% more likely to purchase from you again.  So if you have more than one book in a series then you can expect a take-up rate of 70% per book as readers progress through the series.  This is why writing more books is always the best marketing plan.

Another way of turning ‘cold leads’ into Warm Leads‘warm leads’ is by using your website to provide interesting articles and blogs – this is true social media.  However, before someone can truly be called a ‘warm lead’ they will need to get to know you, which generally requires about seven visits to your website.  Which is why you need a good number of varied and interesting articles and blogs on your theme.

Combining your tweet activity and your blog/website activity increases your potential sales substantially.  If 1 tweet = 1 visitor, and 7 visits = a 40% ‘warm lead’ sales conversion rate, then even with a 30% drop-off rate per visit you have still increased you sales conversion rate by 1175%* to just under 1 in 2 visitors making a purchase per tweet.  Increase your twitter base to 7.5k and you could have 1 purchase per tweet, because your twitter reach expands exponentially.

Increase your follower base to 30,000 (I don’t think I could maintain a re-tweet for re-tweet policy beyond that number) and your twitter reach could be in the millions, but even at 2 million views per tweet, you could only get 30 ‘cold callers’ per tweet (1 sale per tweet).  However, turn those ‘cold leads’ into ‘warm leads’ and you could have 14 sales per tweet.

All this proves how essential it is to have a good website where you can engage your readers and they can get to know you and your work.

*  Your stats may be a lot better than mine, the sales conversion rates may be rough approximations, and my calculations may be way-off, but the principles still holds true:  Twitter is useless for selling books (cold sales), but great for driving potential readers to you website where you can turn those ‘cold leads’ into ‘warm leads.’

I did warn you not to read the stats.

Conclusions from the math (a cosy, non-specific  summary)

To sell anything other than a handful of books, you must:

  • Have a good themed website to engage you potential readers.
  • Tweet about the articles/themes on your website.
  • Tweet regularly.
  • Never stop accumulating twitter followers – aim for 50,000 followers as a basic number.
  • Spend the majority of your valuable time writing more blockbusters, because in the long-term it is a better use of your resources.

However, there is hope.


Extend Your Reach

man_helps_boy_reach_for_literacyHaving a good reach is just as important as having lots of followers.

Most commentators concentrate on building big followings on twitter as a way to spread their message far and wide.  However, attracting a large audience is not the only way for your tweets to reach a high number of accounts.

Another feature of Buffer I like is the analytics section, which shows you the reach of each tweet (I like also that you can have this tool free).  The other day, with only three retweets, one of my posts reached almost half a million twitter accounts. This means my tweet was passed on by people with very large accounts.

Once you have a few thousand followers, attracting new people with smaller or equal sized accounts becomes easier – you are now the bigger fish people want to follow.  However, attracting peeps with larger accounts is still difficult, but if you can achieve it you increase the reach of your tweets exponentially.

As your own twitter account expands it becomes progressively more difficult to spot interesting tweets from existing followers and keep track of new followers.  Your attention becomes increasingly focused on the most important things:  those who retweet and favourite your own tweets.  So to get the attention of someone with a large account you have to proactively retweet and favourite their work; the bigger the account the harder you need to work to attract their attention.  For really big accounts (but not celebrities, who, in any event, often employ people to manage their accounts), retweeting three of their tweets in quick succession can get their attention and result in retweets.

Even if you do manage to get a few tweets from a large account, don’t expect it to be a regular occurrence.  Getting attention from big accounts is something you have to constantly work at.  I keep a twitter list of large accounts which I visit from time-to-time to try and get retweets, especially if I have something new to tweet about.


 The Easy Way to Tweet Regularly21838491_m

To send regular tweets over a sustained period you need some sort of automation.  This is difficult, because Twitter don’t allow tweets to be automated.  Finding a free app that will automate tweets is even more difficult.  and similar services, let you pre-schedule tweets, which is useful for an intense marketing campaign, like a book discount, where you want to send out an avalanche of tweets per day.  However, you have to set up each individual tweet separately, which even with cut-and-paste is tedious in the extreme.  This effectively limits the number of tweets you can send, which is exactly what Twitter desire.  Also, something to be aware of is that photo tweets from Hootsuite don’t go into your photo file.

A better solution for regular tweet activity, is to use Buffer which can also work off the chrome browser.  This lets me set up a total of ten tweets which are released at set times.  Ten doesn’t sound too many, but if I set it to send three tweets per day that is three days-worth of twitter marketing taken care off.  I find this number also creates a manageable response rate in the form of re-tweets, favorites, and follows, without detracting too much from my writing time.

However, the best bit about Buffer (apart from being free) is that when I want to set up new tweets, I just enter the ‘analytics’ section, scroll through the sent tweets, and select which ten tweets I want to resend over the next few days.  Twenty or thirty quality tweets, that I can easily reset, is all I need to build relationships with my existing fans and attract new followers.

The Buffer app also works well with my mobile so I can complete the setup operation in a spare moment every three days or so.  I also tend to move the delivery times forward by an hour every time as this increases the chances of different followers seeing the next batch of tweets.  As an additional benefit, Buffer photo tweets also go into my twitter photo file so I always have a ready supply of quality tweets for my followers to re-tweet.

I find that Buffer makes it particularly easy for me to sustain low level (minimum) twitter marketing, on top of which I can build more intense marketing campaigns when I have the time and energy.  Or build personal relationships.

Twitter, combined with Buffer, may not sound like a formula for conquering the world, but it does drive a steady flow of readers to my website and meets my original five marketing aims:

  1. Have a low impact on my writing time
  2. Have low cost
  3. Be Scalable
  4. Be Sustainable
  5. Have a low impact on the rest of my life

It also reinforces my marketing mantra: Market slow; write fast.



How To Say Thank You on Twitter

Saying ‘Thank You’ certainly helps gain more followers and new engagement from existing followers, but typing hundreds of personal ‘Thank you’ messages is just too time consuming.  So generally, I provide a retweet for a retweet, and a favourite for a favourite.  This seems to suit the transactional nature of twitter without me getting too bogged down in personal conversations (I have these too, but not in anything like the numbers required to build a marketing base).

What to retweet or favourite from other people’s accounts often presents a problem.  I try to select stuff that is in keeping with the theme of my twitter account, but I am still surprised how difficult this can be sometimes.  If I have scrolled down a few times on a person’s account and still found nothing original from them, I automatically go to their photo section.  If they are promoting something or have any sort of purpose to their account, this is where you should find it (most people are promoting something, even if it is just their personal world-view or pictures of their cat).

So make sure you send out your best tweets with a picture attached, that way they will automatically end up in the photo file of your twitter account for your followers to re-tweet on your behalf.  However, every follower can only re-tweet or favourite each of your tweets once, so make sure there are enough original themed tweets in your photo file for your followers to re-tweet many times.

I find it amazing how even the most prolific of tweeters shoot themselves in the foot by having only a few original tweets that I can easily access – if there is nothing for me to retweet, I can’t retweet. Don’t make the same mistake on your account.


Market slow; write fastWriting Process Inforgraph

It takes a long time to build a good follower base on twitter:  you can’t attract 50,000 followers overnight – think more in terms of a year or two to build your follower base.  Keep it steady, keep it sustainable, and keep on writing, so that when your follower base matures you will have a trilogy of novels to offer and then you can construct a marketing funnel, which is virtually impossible with just the one book.

I hope you have found this article to be useful.  If you have other twitter marketing technique you would like to share, please leave detail in the comments section, because I would love to hear about them.

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A Dystopian steampunk Author

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