How To Track Book Sales Through Social Media - with Steve LeBel
So, you're published and excited
You want to tell the world that your book baby is FINALLY on sale! But you don't want to spend your time just shouting out into the void, crossing your fingers in the hopes that all those mindless
tweets/posts/shares/pins/videos/subreddits/discussions/chats/etc... will result in sales. You want to know substantial feedback - REALLY KNOW!
Analytics Aren't Cutting It
Maybe you've gone into Google Analytics and set it up on your website. You're able to watch that bounce rate go up and down, and see how much time fans are spending on your blog, but that's not cutting the mustard when it comes to knowing if those hits generated sales.
It's enough to drive you mad!
This can leave many writers and creatives feeling like they are wasting their time on marketing entirely. So what if I told you...
There IS a way to track sales from social media to Amazon
So Tell Me Already!
Ok, okay...I'll tell you. It is a process shared with me by Steve LeBel, author of 'The Universe Builders'. He explained to me about how becoming an Amazon Affiliate can help you secure tracking information for anything you're selling on Amazon. His information was great in helping me see that reports could be generated by Amazon so I would finally know what social media was generating sales - and what wasn't.
Is It As Easy As...
Well, no. There's the rub. The tracking he showed me is not just a click away once you become an associate. And that is where many will bow out. But for those who are willing to follow Steve's steps, you'll have yourself great tracking codes to use on any marketing campaign throughout social media.
Apply To Become An Associate
First, you will have to apply to become an Amazon Associate. This isn’t a huge deal and the vast majority of people are accepted into the program rather quickly. Amazon loves as many associates as it can get! This is different than simply having a basic Amazon account.
Go to https://affiliate-program.amazon.com to apply.
Already An Associate?
When you are accepted and have verified your account, you will login and see an earnings overview chart that is probably flat lined and a black menu strip up top listing:
‘Product Linking’, ‘Promotions’, ‘Tools’, ‘Reports’, and ‘Help’.
Above that, along the top right, you will see your login name, which will probably be shown as the email you registered when you created the account. There is a tiny drop down arrow next to that email.
Click that and the drop down menu will say,
‘Account Settings’, ‘Payment History’, ‘Manage Your Tracking IDs’, and ‘Sign Out’.
You will want to select Manage Your Tracking ID’s.
Manage Tracking ID's
You will go to a new screen with a yellow button that says ‘Add Tracking ID’. Click on that and a box will appear where you can type the name of a tracking ID of your choice.
To track your book baby’s results because of Twitter Tweets, for instance, select a short name and add a ‘TW’ to the end to signify to you that this is to be a link used on Twitter. It can be the title of your book, your name, whatever you can keep track of. (THIS IS IMPORTANT!) Then press Create.
When you hit Create, Amazon will tell you the Tracking ID link has been successfully created. Then hit close. It will then be below the yellow ‘Create’ button as a blue term to select. You can create as many tracking ID tags as you need depending on where you plan to promote your book.
NOTE: Keeping these tracking ID’s separated with TW, FB, GO, PN, LI, SC, IG, etc is vital. By titling them specifically to the social media you intend to use, you will keep them all straight as reports are generated by Amazon. BE SURE to only use the specific tracking ID to the social media you created it for. This way, by looking at your Amazon reports, you will know that the report for the TW id is truly showing you conversions that came from using that specific link on Twitter.
Select the tracking ID you want to work with first. On the manage tracking ID page, click on the ID you want to work with, the page will briefly flash as it refreshes, and then you can go to the top black menu bar and select ‘Product Linking’ and click on ‘Product Links’. When you get there, this box will be waiting for you.
You will now be on a page called ‘Product Links’ where it asks you to search Amazon for your book baby (or product). Depending on your title, it might be easier to search for your name, as I have done below. Select the item you want to create the link for by clicking the yellow 'get link' button to the right of the product.
This will take you to the next screen where you can copy and use the HTML code to build widgets for your websites. Above the code is a preview box (Designated below as 2. Live Preview) which shows you how the widget will look. Click on the Amazon box in that preview widget. You should go to the Amazon page for your product.
On that product page, in the URL bar at the top of your screen, will be a huge address, like this:
Note the tag that's now inserted with the name of the tracking ID you just created (I have highlighted mine in red). It's showing you that the widget takes the person to your book AND is tracking those clicks.
"But Mrs. A, I don't want a widget, I want a link!"
Hang on - this is where it gets good!
Delete! Delete! Delete!
Yes...by cutting this monster down, you can have a URL that will be a fraction of the size, but will still track clicks!
Remove the name of the product, a bit of middle, and trim off the end...like so...
You want to be sure you have the product code (In the middle there, usually beginning with a letter such as B) and you want the tracking code snippet as well ending in 20. Because the rest is related to the widget, you can delete it without compromising the essence of the URL itself.
Now you are left with this:
Taking it over to bit.ly to shorten it, we come up with something even smaller...
Steve explains that this can now be inserted easily into any tweet you send out regarding the book. It will track those Tweeps on Twitter who clicked on it. It will also separately track orders from those clicks. And, as long as you only use this URL on Twitter, you will ALWAYS know that the information in that Amazon report is specific to Twitter traffic.
The report info is comprised on one screen when you click on 'Reports' in the black menu bar.
(information shared courtesy of Author Steve LeBel)
Now, this will be something that can only work if your book or product is already for sale on Amazon.com. You cannot create a tracking tag for a book or product for sale somewhere else. But with KDP giving authors the ability to upload and sell their titles free, it's not too hard to add an ebook copy onto Amazon so you can get in on this information.
And remember, if you take your product down to correct and re-release, the URL will change and these codes will have to be updated.
These only work when restricted to the social media account you created them for. Feel free to get as specific as you want. If you are running a Facebook event next month, even though you already have a general Facebook tracking ID created, go ahead and create a specific one just for that event and you will then be able to tell how well the event went as compared to your regularly tracked Facebook traffic.
Again, special thanks goes out to the amazing Steve LeBel, author of 'The Universe Builders' series. I appreciate his time and generosity in teaching me about this information. Please be sure to follow him on Twitter @SteveLeBel. Let me know your experiences with this tracking information in the comments below. I love to hear from all of you!