Every other year, the Write Place sponsors a book contest. (We’re still taking entries, if you’re interested.) This year, for our third contest, we had a goal: get more entries from outside our home state of Iowa. We knew we could count on our circle of connections in and around Pella, Iowa, to generate some entries, but we wanted to be more purposeful in spreading the word around the country.
This is where our needs matched up nicely with marketing strategies our clients are considering. Just as we were planning the marketing for our book contest, a few clients expressed interest in using pay-per-click advertising. The fates aligned in another way as well—a consultant up in my neck of the woods had seen our press release about our office location in Lakeville, Minnesota, and called wondering if we were interested in brainstorming about ideas to generate growth. “Do you know online marketing?” I asked. His resume was impressive. The universe was sending a clear message: use the force of AdWords. (As if we needed more evidence that Google controls everything!)
After a few meetings with the consultant and taking an online course, we were ready to set up our campaign. Armed with our knowledge of how to select keywords from our work with website content, we started with four ads in one campaign. We set a daily budget based on what we wanted to spend overall. After a few days, we eliminated one ad that was not getting a good quality score and increased the budget on more promising ads to earn first-page results. You can see where those changes started to pay off immediately.
We ran the campaign for about two weeks as planned, and then checked the results. Our first contest entries, pre-campaign and through the first week it was running, were all from Iowa. (And we’re glad to have you!) But as the campaign ran into its second week, we nearly doubled our number of total entries with submissions from other states. It’s anecdotal at this point—we plan to ask those authors once our contest wraps up whether they saw our online ads and entered as a result—but certainly we can say we’re excited with the number of quality website visitors we got for a minimal investment, and with how a few strategic changes increased the campaign’s effectiveness so quickly.
What should you glean from this, if you’re an author or a client? AdWords is worth a try, and we’re ready to help you put together a campaign. We clearly learned that it’s not a set-it-and-forget-it tool, but it is possible to test the waters with a well-planned, limited campaign and see results.