With much debate and deliberation here at Findaway Voices, we present the Marketing Madness Audiobook Marketing Free vs. Paid tactics bracket results

The Results Rundown

Free Tactics

First in Series Free/$0.99 vs. Series Step Pricing

Winner: First in Series Free

Most marketers are familiar with the 4 Ps; product, price, placement, and promotion. Our first match-up is series-based pricing, first in series free vs. step pricing. First in series free/$0.99 was a landslide win. The good folks at BookBub have some research on the topic. Chirp has a great guide to maximizing series sell-through on a Chirp deal, you can set your first in series at $0.99 and put the rest of the series on sale.

Launch Teams vs. Facebook Groups/Online Groups

Winner: Launch Teams

In the next matchup, we’re looking at leveraging our friends and community to maximize our marketing. Launch Teams vs. Facebook Groups/online groups both had some great things going for them, but in the end Launch Teams was the winner. Your Launch Team is an elemental part of any book marketing strategy and when done even reasonably well, outpaces the hope of having near-strangers in an online group advocating, writing reviews, providing word of mouth recommendations, emailing their friends, and posting to their social channels about your awesome new book. Your hand-picked and highly motivated network of friends, family, and colleagues will want nothing but your success and are (usually) willing to help by going above and beyond a simple like on a post.

Email Newsletter Swaps vs. Guest Podcasts

Winner: Email Newsletter Swaps

This was a grudge match, written word vs. spoken word or the old guard vs. the new guard. Email has been around since the days of dial-up and, while podcasting has experienced exponential growth over recent years, email marketing continues, above other marketing mediums as well, to be tried and true when it comes to reach and conversion. Fellow authors that are in your genre and write books similar to yours are generally open to a little “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” exchange. It’s an easy way to reach an audience that will welcome a recommendation from a fellow author. There’s also a lot of room to get creative here and that could involve a podcast, too! These are generally great opportunities to do promotional content plays like deleted scenes, bloopers from the audiobook recording, alternate endings, or unpublished epilogues. It’s also a great way to make new author friends!

Guest Blog Tour vs. Weekly Blog Posts

Winner: Weekly Blog Posts

This match-up went back and forth many times. Weekly blog posts give your fans insights into your craft, interests, and building an author brand for yourself. It’s also good to regularly exercise your prose muscles when not in the big game of writing, marketing, and selling books. Doing a guest blog tour takes more content coordination with other authors and websites, but gets your name out there to a new audience and some good SEO backlinks. With a book launch in particular a guest blog tour is a content marketing tactic that can yield some reach if you choose your tour stops wisely. However, when you write for yourself, it’s your content and helps you build your author brand over time, not to mention the SEO and writing chops benefits. If you’re an author that doesn’t know the difference between CPM’s and CTA’s, the world of content marketing will be a natural fit and pairs nicely with your email marketing. After all, you’re a storyteller, so weekly blogging can become an easy habit. Every author should understand the basics of content marketing and weekly blog posts are a great tactic for that.

BookBub Ads vs. Google AdWords

Winner: BookBub Ads

This matchup was an interesting one. BookBub Ads enable you to promote a new release to BookBub’s millions of power readers and with Google AdWords, you’re able to develop a targeted keyword search campaign to bring in readers searching for books like yours. The key difference here is known readers discovering your book vs readers searching for a book on Google. While Google is the dominant search engine that most people use for finding anything on the internet, BookBub is a powerful platform of avid readers and audiobook listeners hungry for new content. At the end of the day, fishing in a fully stocked lake won over hoping a fish will bite in an ocean.

Pro Cover Art vs. Pro Book Blurb

Winner: Professionally Designed Cover Art

As a writer, you understand the power of your words to transform minds. It’s also well-known amongst the writing community that the blurb is the one thing potential customers read in order to determine whether they’ll like the book or not. But the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is an old adage for a reason. Your cover art is the only visual that represents those hundreds of hours put into the many drafts, edits, narrator auditions, and recordings that go into a final audiobook product. At a glance, your cover art tells so much to a potential listener and is your opportunity to capture their attention and imagination as to what’s in store for them. We’re not discounting the power of a professionally written book blurb, but at the end of this matchup cover art reigns.

Goodreads Ads vs. Amazon Ads

Winner: Amazon Ads

This matchup is essentially Amazon vs. Amazon Acquisition. Goodreads was acquired by Amazon and has access to Amazon’s library and user data. It’s the dominant home on the web for people around the world to find new books, track what they’ve read, and review books. However, you can’t ignore the fact that Amazon is where so many people buy books. One of its greatest strengths is nailing down Also Boughts, for example. While Goodreads offers a dedicated reader base and is especially useful to promote giveaways, ultimately Amazon Ads is well-suited to provide an ongoing baseline of sales to prevent the Amazon visibility you’ve worked hard to achieve from fading away. Amazon Ads are akin to an advertising safety net if you will, only if you’re willing to learn the ropes.

Display Ads vs. Facebook Ads

Winner: Facebook Ads

So you’ve got customers on your website and they’ve poked around a few pages, but not signed up for your newsletter or converted. Why not serve them up some display ads as they continue their daily happenings across the world wide web? Re-targeting display (banner) ads are still a handy tool in reminding potential customers about you. They’re also relatively inexpensive and a great way to show that compelling professional cover art you’ve invested in creating. While this is a nice tactic in your quiver of tools, it’s not what’s going to bullseye your next new fan. For that, you’ll want to use the biggest, most complex, and most flexible advertising platform available to any author marketer who can master it—Facebook Ads. This is the proverbial 500 lb. gorilla of digital advertising that gives authors the ability to create a laser-focused audience to serve ads up to. This matchup was a landslide victory for Facebook Ads.


The Top 8 Tactics

FREE Tactics

First in Series Free vs. Launch Team

Winner: Launch Team

This matchup is essentially a product pricing strategy vs. a product launch strategy. While both have their marketing merits, having people that genuinely want you to succeed and are willing to help you are true strength in numbers. No one is an island, go team!

Email Newsletter Swaps vs. Weekly Blog Posts

Winner: Email Newsletter Swaps

Well, this matchup was a near shut-out. Reaching new audiences over your existing one? Enough said. We’ll take that audience and convert it… why? Because you’re an interesting and awesome author that readers and listeners want to follow.

BookBub Ads vs. Pro Cover Art

Winner: Pro Cover Art

No matter how good of a writer you are, if your cover art doesn’t reflect your genre and book, looks unprofessional, and is uncompelling; no amount of BookBub Ads you buy will fix your book sales. Cover art has tremendous author brand building and title marketing power. Our friends at Reedsy have a nice piece on The Real Marketing Value of a professional book cover.

Amazon Ads vs. Facebook Ads

Winner: Facebook Ads

With Facebook having much of the first world on its platform and one of the most advanced ad targeting systems today, you have the ability to find and run advertising campaigns to many types of audiences. Amazon is a behemoth, no doubt, but when it comes to WIDE audiobook marketing Facebook is the winner here.


The Final Four Tactics

FREE Tactics

Launch Team vs. Email Newsletter Swaps

Winner: Launch Team

When you introduce your audiobook to the world, what will give you a solid foundation on which to base your marketing efforts? Your passionate group of friends, family, writers, and colleagues or fans of someone else? Your Launch Team is your proverbial wolf pack. People you can depend on and people you know will help you get that initial spike of sales and reviews that tickle the algorithms to put your books in front of others. Launch team for the win. Double win if the members of your launch team have their own email newsletters that they’re able to leverage to help your book launch.

Pro Cover Art vs. Facebook Ads

Winner: Pro Cover Art

Targeting Facebook Ads to people who will like your audiobook is a solid paid tactic, but if and when they get to the product detail page and take one look at an unprofessional cover, you’re dead in the water most of the time. Your cover design is your primary sales tool, the face of all your labor, and the one visually engaging thing that can elevate your work as a true professional. Professionally designed covers do have a price, but it’s not as much as you might think. Think of it as the same importance as having an editor, you could self-edit, but is that really a good idea? No, it’s not. You need a cover designer. Do your research in your genre and give your designer good examples of covers you like and also covers you don’t like. It’s fairly simple to provide decent creative direction to a designer to get the cover right. Paying for professional cover design is your marketing foundation and your author business bottom line will thank you.


The Finals

Launch Team vs. Professional Cover Art

And the winner is… Professional Cover Art!

The finals were a grudge match with form and function going head to head. Ultimately, a launch team will get your book standing up on two feet when it’s introduced to the world with initial sales, reviews, and social proof. But when you’re looking at the long-tail strategy of your book sales over years, not months, professional cover art goes the distance helping you build and sustain your author brand. Ideally, these two tactics paired together make a formidable force in organically powering up your author business through affordable audiobook marketing tactics.

The real winner is the author who uses many of these tactics together, it takes more than just one thing to successfully launch and market an audiobook.

We hope you enjoyed our Marketing Madness bracket and best of luck marketing your audiobooks!