Five Phases That Triggers Readers to Buy Books

I recently came across some research Bookbub did on the effects certain phrases have on how many subscribers clicked on buy links in their Featured Deals newsletters.

The results are fascinating!

It turns out that certain phrases significantly improve how well books sell on retail platforms based on the words that are used in the book description and editorial reviews section. It also affects how well readers engage with the emails authors send them.

Applying these principles correctly will improve performance on newsletters, marketing ads, and by extension book sales. 

Some takeaways from the research

After looking at data they collected from sending millions of emails, here is what Bookbub found to significantly improve engagement on their Featured Deals emails:

  • Speak to the audience. Including copy like “If you love thrillers, don’t miss this action-packed read!” instead of “An action-packed read!” increased clicks 15.8 percent on average. For historical fiction, including the time period increased clicks an average of 25.1 percent.
  • Include high numbers of reviews. When a book has at least 150 five-star reviews on Amazon or Goodreads, including the number of five-star reviews in the copy increased clicks an average of 14.1 percent.
  • Mention where has the highest number of reviews. If a book had more reviews on Goodreads than Amazon, boast about the Goodreads reviews. This resulted in an average 5.1 percent higher click-through.
  • Include author awards. If the author has won an award, including this fact would increase clicks by an average of 6.7 percent, especially if the award is relevant to the genre of the book.
  • Quote authors, not publications. When including a blurb in the copy, quoting an author got an average 30.4 percent higher click-through rate than quoting a publication such as Publishers Weekly.

What doesn’t matter:

Bookbub found that some copy didn't improve engagement at all.

  • Bestseller type. Stating the fact that the book was a bestseller does help. Whether it was a New York Times, as opposed to USA Today, or Amazon bestseller does not improve engagement.
  • Posing the hook as a question. Posing the hook as a question versus a sentence, made no difference in Bookbub's tests. For example: “Will Addi and Mark rediscover their passion?” and “Addi and Mark rediscover their passion.” yielded the same results.
  • Mentioning the age of the protagonist age made no difference. This is also true for young adult novels.
  • Mentioning a debut. If a novel is an author’s debut, mentioning that fact one way or the other doesn’t make a difference at all.

Finding What Works for You

You can gather data on what will work for your target audience by collecting your own data. Here are some options:

  • Show your social media followers two different copy and ask which they prefer.
  • Use Facebook Ads to test how well one book cover would perform if you change it.

Use Mailchimp's A/B split testing feature to see what email content or subject lines trigger more clicks or email open rates.

Having data on how customers engage with your marketing efforts can be powerfuland even more so when you can determine what works and what doesn't. Some of Bookbub's findings make sense, others were surprising.

What do you think?


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