Some years ago I hosted a free ebook promotion where I gave away copies of my book, Own Your Niche, free of charge for three days. Over 72 hours, I received over 1,000 registrations from users who downloaded the book, which far exceeded my expectations. (My goal was to give away 400 copies in three days!)
There has been a lot of buzz recently about ebook promotions, specifically with Amazon’s KDP Select program (where you can give your book away to Kindle users for 48 hours). I chose NOT to participate in Amazon’s program primarily because Amazon requires exclusive distribution rights, which means I would have to cut off my distribution via Smashwords, which would prevent my ebook from being available for Nook readers, iPad users, etc. The other downside of promoting with Amazon is that you never know who downloaded your ebook. There is no email address capture or any way for the author to communicate with readers after the promotion is over.
So, I decided to launch my own campaign. Here’s how it all went down:
1. I set up a registration page on my site where visitors could fill out a form with their first name, last name, and email address. Short and sweet. My web designer created the form, which put all email addresses into a database that I could export and then import into my email management system.
2. After registering, users received an email with a link to a page to download the ebook. I offered it in two formats: PDF or Smashwords. For PDF, they simply had to save the link to their computer. For Smashwords, they had to go through the steps of purchasing the book with a free discount code.
3. I offered up an extra bonus for readers letting them know that if they wrote a review in the next 30 days and posted it on Amazon, BN.com, Smashwords, their own blogs or social media sites, and then sent me a link to confirm, I would send them an additional nine bonus download items (reports, worksheets, etc.). Within the first day of this offer, I generated twelve sparkling new reviews.
Ebook Giveaway Promotion Strategy
To generate buzz for this event, I did the following:
1. Announced via my social media networks each day with messages like, “Just two days left to grab your free ebook: Own Your Niche!”
2. Added a Tweet button to the registration page so that users could easily tweet out a pre-written message: “Free Internet Marketing Book: Own Your Niche by Stephanie Chandler @bizauthor Grab your copy here: <link>”. Tweets were a big part of this campaign with dozens of tweets circulated.
3. Sent an email announcement to each of my mail lists (I have several), letting subscribers know I wouldn’t be reminding them again so they shouldn’t wait to download the book. (I’m not a big fan of email blasts so I wasn’t going to bug my subscribers more than once, though many marketers would disagree with this approach and would suggest a reminder on the last day. I’m quite sure if I had done that, there would have been an additional flurry of downloads.)
What I Would Do Differently Next Time
1. There were a few glitches with my process and the download page. I was in a hurry to launch and didn’t test the process thoroughly. Next time, I would definitely text the process two or three times to make sure the links are delivered as expected and everything is in working order.
2. I didn’t reach out to any of my peers or alliance partners to ask for their support, though several spotted the promotion and mentioned it on their own on various social networks. However, next time I will be more proactive about letting others know about the campaign and simply asking them to help spread the word.
3. It would have been interesting to send out a press release via PRWeb for this campaign to see if it got picked up by any other media outlets. Next time!
Why I Did This
If you’re wondering why the heck I’d be thrilled about giving away over 1,000 copies of my ebook, let me fill you in. The goal for every author should be to get your book into the minds of as many readers as possible, and giving them away is an easy way to do that. Even if just 10% of those who downloaded the book tell a friend about it, that will create some ongoing buzz and interest in the book.
Offering the additional bonus items also helped to spur some great online reviews, and I’m sure many more will come in before the 30-day deadline. And because I hosted this giveaway myself, all who registered have been added to my mailing list. My book also ties in nicely with my business, so I am quite sure this campaign will lead to some new business opportunities (clients, speaking engagements, etc.) in the long run.
It doesn’t cost anything to give away a digital book and I’d do this campaign again in a heartbeat. It has been great fun to hear back from gracious readers already, thanking me for my generosity and complimenting the book. You can’t ask for more than that!
I absolutely do not view this as revenue lost—it is quite the opposite. Hundreds of people will read my book and my not have even heard about it before all those tweets were unleashed on Twitter. The upside is far greater than the downside.
So if you’re looking for a way to stir up some interest for your book, a free giveaway campaign can work really well. It’s relatively easy to execute, just make sure you plan ahead and put the right processes in place. Also note that I’ve been building my audience for YEARS. I am quite active with social media, have mailing lists of subscribers who have been with me for a long time, and have built a lot of loyalty over time. But even without a large network, you can certainly build plenty of buzz and either way, you will add new subscribers to your mailing list—and that alone can be golden.
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