Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Postcript: Tracking ebook links for fun and profit

Putting your ebook envoys to work in earning you income.

(I got this surprisingly logical idea recently - which I've not heard anywhere else -  of how you figure out how your ebook is performing in bringing you additional traffic, leads, etc. Of course, this is after I've published over 150 books on 6 or 7 platforms each - do the math, this is about 900 iterations to retrofit with what I'm about to tell you. Better late than never, though. And you win out of my dilemma.)

Of course, you want to know what your ebooks are doing as envoys for you.

Remember that you put those links in the front and back of your ebook? And they go to a particular landing page? You know, that one with the opt-in on it to get their email? Yes, that one.

The trick is to figure out which book (preferably from which platform) is actually giving you the traffic.

So you use link shorteners to do this. The ones with analytics.

Bit.ly has been around for awhile, and is an easy setup.

Some casual research also found that Stumbleupon and Google API have similar setups you can use.

How to select a link shortener

  1. You want one which has been around for awhile and so will be around for a good deal more. Too many of these have already started up and left with or without maintaining their links, but losing the analytics.
  2. Analytics is the next criteria - can it tell you easily where these come from and when?
  3. You want ease of use. A web interface that will simply give you the shortened link you can use in your ebook for tracking.
  4. Finally, you want social interaction if you can get it. Your ebook link all by itself should be producing traffic for your ebook landing page.

How to set up individual links per book.

I haven't worked out how to get this to individually work on a platform basis (which means creating 8 individual versions, one for each distributor.) It is possible, but not something for a mass-publisher such as myself. More than likely it would be profitable once you actually have a bestseller on your hands and want to separate out which distributor is bringing you the most traffic.

All of it deals with creating anchor links on your page. This is a bit of HTML to learn, but worth your while. (It's also applicable if you have an ebook linking to a shared landing page - which isn't recommended, but does happen when you have a batch of books all on the same topic, but they aren't worth the time right off setting up individual web pages. PLR ebooks would be one such example.)

An anchor link looks like this: http://landingpage.html#anchorlink

All you have to type on your page is #anchorlink (which changes every time) and your browser will open to that point. Such as #seriesbook01, #seriesbook02, etc.

Simple, once you've done it a couple of times. Just open up your blog with the "html" link so you edit the code directly and insert it wherever is appropriate. Of course, you then save the file and test it in another window or tab.

When you know the anchor link works, then you take that link and drop it into your shortener. Take the resulting shortened link and use it in your ebook. (Suggested is that you set up a text file or spreadsheet with all this data. You could even put it in Calibre as meta data, some sites don't like links in their descriptions, so it might not be the best thing to put it there.)

The short list of link shorteners

These are all been-there, done-that. they've both been around a long time and will probably be here in the near future. Both have browser plug-in's which makes them handy to use.

Bit.ly - simple to use and integrates with both Twitter and Facebook accounts. It's been used by scammers before and is banned on certain sites. One advantage is that you can make custom shorteners, which are descriptive to where they go or keywords.
Goo.gl - simpler than using their app, but the data is publicly available, like their other analytics.

There are others, such as ow.ly from Hootsuite, but this leads you into a subscription model one way or another. Means they'll be around for awhile longer, but haven't been around already as long as the other two above.

Of the two, I'd use Goo.gl, since it plugs into everything else you have going with Google - all of which is to entice that search engine to rank your stuff. If you already use bit.ly and gone through their learning curve, then you probably should stick with it. The other point is that Google is so big, it's not likely to go out of business anytime soon.

Or if you have another shortener which serves your purpose, then keep using it.

The bigger point is to put a shortened link as part of every ebook you have so you can track the traffic from it.

Those analytics should start to tell you what is happening with your ebooks and eventually give you a clue as to how to make them more effective in bringing you traffic.

OK? Back to our story, then...

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