Authors: Why TV Ads Don't Sell Books Online

When you are on the couch watching an advertisement, it takes far more effort, time and, quite frankly, memory to go online and follow through with your initial interest in a purchase.
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Joel Comm is the author of the Amazon best-selling book, KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays (Wiley, 2010). The book reached as high as #35 on Amazon's Best-Seller List with the help of online marketing and social media -- but it didn't sell more than a handful of copies despite spending $10,000 on commercials on top-rated TV shows recently.

The ad, created by Comm's firm, InfoMedia Inc., ran over a 10-day period. The ad appeared 230 times on such top-rated shows as The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Fast Money, Man vs. Food, Mad Men, and Wall Street Journal Report. The ads ran in October.

The ad asked people to go to a website to receive two free chapters of his book in exchange for their name and email address. It did not ask for the order and it did not ask people to call a toll-free number to buy the book. The objective of the ad was to build a mailing list of interested buyers and to provide them real value with information from the book.

While the long-term effects of the branding from the ad have yet to be measured, the conversion rates were a disaster. The commercials created a total of 8.3 million impressions but led to only 112 website visits, a conversion rate of less than 0.001 percent, way below industry norms. Even worse, a mere 40 people filled in the non-threatening, two-line form requesting name and email to receive the two free chapters.

"This is a massive failure. This is proof that old media Calls to Action do not translate to sales on new media. TV is about branding and keeping a brand in the forefront of a consumer's mind," Comm said.

The ad ran on YouTube and received 5,000 views. That led to 1,375 visits to KaChing's website. That's a conversion rate of nearly 33 percent. Of those visitors, more than half -- 753 people -- opted in for the two free chapters.

Comm drove traffic to the YouTube site without spending a penny. The glowing results came from an online marketing campaign in which Comm sent emails to his subscribers and posted the information on his blog. He also enlisted the aid of his marketing colleagues who promoted the ad to their lists.

"This proves that the ad works," said Comm, a masterful marketer with a proven track record of success that includes promoting his other book, The AdSense Code (Morgan James Publishing, 2006), to the New York Times best-selling book list and his book Twitter Power (Wiley, 2009) to multiple international translations.

When asked how he felt about spending $10,000 for poor results, Comm said, "If I can help other online marketers, merchants, authors and consultants as a result of my TV commercial experiment, then I'll consider this money well spent."

This case study proves several key points Comm teaches in Ka-Ching:
  • It is important to build a large list of followers who know, like and trust you.
  • Form alliances with other like-minded businesses who have followers in similar niches and markets.
  • Make a compelling offer that provides real value to the prospect before asking that person for the order.

I am not at all surprised with the results that Joel found because it has been my experience as well. When you are marketing something online, traditional media does not drive traffic for conversions. In my work with the Spiritual Cinema Circle we had very positive stories in USA Today, Newsweek and the LA Times and we would have expected big bumps in subscriptions and we saw almost nothing.

However when we get the right email blast out to the right list traffic and conversions can go through the roof. The instantaneous nature of the internet has a tremendous impact on online sales. You are already online when you read about something through an email, social networking post or video, it grabs your curiosity and within a second it can be yours.

When you are on the couch watching an advertisement, it takes far more effort, time and, quite frankly, memory to go online and follow through with your initial interest in a purchase. As Joel points out, how the television coverage does benefit the author is brand recognition but you can't instantly monetize it. Over the long term, to build the brand it is necessary to be visible across all platforms.

Joel Comm is an entrepreneur, NY Times bestselling author, and new media innovator at InfoMedia Inc., An expert on harnessing the power of social media and mobile applications to expand your brand's reach and engage in active relationship marketing, Joel is a sought-after public speaker who leaves his audience inspired, entertained, and armed with strategic tools to create a new media campaign that will explode their business.

To read the complete article about Joel Comm's experience, click here

Arielle Ford has launched the careers of many NY Times bestselling authors including Deepak Chopra, Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, Neale Donald Walsch & Debbie Ford. She is a former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books. To learn how to get started writing a book please visit:

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