None of the BookBub ads performed as well as I had hoped, but the clear winner was this one:
Which I did not expect to use, but I tried this version when various other version proved unexpectedly disappointing.
Things that did not help: Red boxes around the text. Adding “All Books On Sale.” Adding “All Books in KU.” Having a statement about the books rather than a quote from another author, and this quote from Rosamund Hodge did better than the one from Sharon Shinn. It’s a more memorable quote, so maybe that’s why? It uses capital letters, so maybe that’s why? This exact quote didn’t work as well when the ad showed the first book large and all the other books lined up small at the bottom or when the text boxes were red. I have no idea why.
Other comments: Yes, you can easily switch out images at any moment. You can add or subtract targeted authors at any moment, change your bid amount, change the amount of money you’re spending, all sorts of things. This rapid adjustment allowed me to try the ad above just to see what would happen, and that was good. You can also pause or stop an ad that is doing really horribly, which is also good, because wow, you can blow through money fast running ads and get practically nothing for it.
Were ANY of the ads actually cost effective? Though some were better than others, I don’t think any were actually cost effective. I think running BookBub ads lost money. This was money I was willing to lose; that’s why I was experimenting with ads; but frankly I thought the ads would do significantly better. My best guess is that running BookBub ads led to fewer than 200 people downloading or buying books, which is quite terrible compared to Freebooksy, pretty bad compared to Fussy Librarian or Robin Reads, and about the same as EReader IQ or BookRunes — and the BookBub ads were more expensive to run than even Freebooksy.
I agreed with you all that the red text boxes ought to “pop” more and they didn’t, or if they did, it didn’t help. Running the ads in Canada as well as the US and UK didn’t do much. Did any of the ads do ANYTHING? Yes; series books sold slightly better than when using promotion services alone. That’s true even for Freebooksy series promotions, and at this point I don’t think the series promotion via Freebooksy is worth the additional cost.
Overall conclusion: At this point, there’s no doubt in my mind that good promotion services give you a lot more bang for your buck than BookBub ads, unless and until you really figure out how to run the ads. Also, as a bonus, promotion services are MUCH EASIER and involve almost no learning curve at all.
This result doesn’t make me eager to play with ads in the near future, though I’ll try running the Black Dog series ad anyway because why not, it’s set up already. I may try a few versions, with relatively low amounts of money per day. Also, when I have time … late this fall or maybe next year … I should try testing author names the way David Gaughran suggests and then try another ad to see how that works. This is not a priority, and I don’t plan to look at how to do Facebook or Amazon ads right away either.
I did learn stuff about putting images together and how BookBub ads function, so overall this was a worthwhile experiment, even if results were disappointing.