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9 Book Metrics To Replace What The Publishing Industry Doesn't Give You

One of the frustrating things about writing a book is that the "metrics" you get back from the publishing industry are less than complete. As an internet marketer, I’m used to getting a certain level of detail with reporting and when you write and publish a book you need to quickly get used to the fact that you will never have those kinds of metrics. Still, over the past few months since my book came out, I’ve developed my own sense for reading between the lines to pay attention to metrics that really matter. Here are just a few that I’ve uncovered that I use to better understand how my marketing efforts for the book are doing:

  1. Quality and quantity of speaking invitations – Since the book came out, the fastest return (almost overnight) was the types of speaking invitations I have been getting. Instead of leading panels, I have consistent offers to do keynotes, Instead of me proactively reaching out to groups for speaking invitations, they are now emailing me. I attribute this to two things – the first is the fact that I have a book, and the second is positive word of mouth from my previous speaking gigs. Lots of these invites are coming from people who have heard me speak at another event. So if you have spread the word or recommended me for a speaking gig – thanks!
  2. More people buying on my Amazon page – It’s undeniable that Amazon.com gets the lions share of online book buying, and so just about every author I know pays attention to their sales rank on Amazon. One of the less often looked at metrics is the percentage of people who visit a book’s page who buy that book. I did a lot of marketing while my book was still on preorder status … so unlike many other books, I drove significant traffic to my book page from people who were not quite ready to buy. As a result, my percentage was about 32% when the book first came out. Now it is up to 83% and continually rising. That means more people are visiting the book page with the intent to buy, which is a good thing.
  3. Direct email referrals to the book website – Looking at referring sites is a common metric for online marketers, but usually marketers will just look at the top 3 or 4 referrers. Going beyond, there are lots of indecipherable URLs that I get referring people to my site. What are they? Email referrals. I can’t follow them back to their source, but I know that most are the result of someone seeing the book site, putting the URL into an email, and sending it to someone else. I love those referrals because it tells me the book is spreading via word of mouth.
  4. Increase in third party endorsements - For the month of August, PNI was selected as the best business book of the month by Soundview Book Summaries. If you have ever seen their ads in the SkyMall magazine on a flight, you know that they only select 2% of all the business books published every year to summarize and when they do they offer a downloadable PDF and short audio summary of the book. These endorsements are really powerful because they help the book to stand above others and be the one that people may choose to read with their increasingly limited time.
  5. Tone and quantity of reader reviews – If you read any media property, it’s easy to think that book reviews are a dying component of the media. Many industry trades don’t do them anymore and recently the LA Times announced that they were dropping their book reviews section (a move brilliantly debated by 4 former editors of the Book Review in case you’re interested). Taking their place are blog reviews, podcasts, and online media properties where people are still sharing plenty of opinions about the books they read and buy. Getting a media mention is nice, but when someone takes the time to review PNI and share their opinions with others, that’s a pretty powerful thing.
  6. The recognition factor - PNI has a very recognizable cover … there aren’t too many other marketing books that have something as striking as a chicken with a rainbow mohawk on the cover. This combined with the fact that I attend or speak at many events mean that I’m meeting lots of people and telling them about the book. As I do that, I have the chance to see their reaction to it and increasingly I’m seeing a certain recognition factor from the people I talk to about the book. Some have heard about it, some of read it, and others may have just walked past it. But its memorable and sticks out for people. As recognition moves higher, sales go with it.
  7. Reader emails and correspondence – One of the things I have tried to do in the book and in all the events that I go to is demonstrate to people that I am open and easily reachable. If you want to send me an email with your thoughts or questions about the book, you can do it. Each week I get more and more of these types of communication and as I respond to them, I feel that I can live up to the premise of the book and have a personality myself. The most common
  8. Real time microconversations – Twitter is by far the simplest tool for getting an idea about what people are saying on a real time basis, but it has also allowed me to connect with people who have read the book or who are considering buying it. I usually reach out to them personally if I can, and ask them to let me know what they think of the book when they do make it through it. Again, I’m trying to build a personal connection with the book. If everyone who has ever read PNI feels like they know the author – then I’ll feel I’m doing something right.
  9. Volume of group orders – The biggest wisdom I have picked up from other authors to learn about how a book goes from good sales to becoming a bestseller is when people begin to consider ordering it in bulk for their entire team. Just about every business book that has hit the bestseller list has passed this milestone. As a result, it is one of the effects that I pay the most attention to (even though it’s last on this list, it’s certainly not least). Over the past few weeks, I have seen several more of these group orders getting placed and hoping to launch a few promotions in the Fall to help encourage even more of these. If you are considering one for your team, let me know and I’ll be happy to give you a preview of the idea …
  10. UPDATED: New business requests impact on work for Ogilvy (my day job) - Thanks to a great suggestion from John Moore (see comments), I’m adding this as another metric that I have been using to judge success of the book, but unintentionally left off.  As word of mouth spreads on the book, I know that many of my Ogilvy colleagues are giving it to clients and had a great situation last week of meeting a client in one of our offices who had read and enjoyed the book. As the book continues to reach current customers and other businesspeople, I am expecting and hoping that more will consider the 360 Digital Influence team that I am part of for their next social media or word of mouth related need.  On that note, feel free to email me at rohit [dot] bhargava [at] ogilvypr [dot] com if you have a request like this and would like more information from our team on how we might be able to help.

As always, if you have an other ideas for metrics I should be paying attention to (apart from the obvious – like total sales or unique visitors), please share them!

  • http://www.amitgupta.com Amit Gupta

    As someone new to publishing with a background on the net where everything is directly measurable, I found this post really interesting. Thanks for sharing, Rohit!

  • http://brandautopsy.typepad.com/ john moore (from Brand Autopsy)

    It’s more than just quality and quantity of speaking gigs, it’s also the $$$ of each gig. Most business book authors are able to raise their speaking fees when their book gets published. That’s needed because, a good percentage of business book authors do not earn back their advance from the publisher and thus no royalty monies are earned.

    The selling of International Rights is another measure of impact for a biz book. You can measure this from a $$$ amount and from a number of rights sold.

    Rohit, the metrics listed are mainly YOU-focused. How is your employer, Ogilvy 360, measuring the impact of your book? Can Ogilvy 360 trace new clients pitch opportunities to PNI? In other words, how is PNI helping Ogilvy 360 maintain and grow its business? That’s an important success measurement you can better track than BookScan sales numbers.

  • http://www.jer979.com jeremy

    Working on Dan Pink’s book, The Adventures of Johnny Bunko, we’ve settled on a few different metrics (see here: link to jer979.com)

    but you’ve hit upon a key problem…since reporting is so horrifically slow, it’s guesswork and you’re looking for proxy indicators.

    I like these (as I do ours) and it’s a nice mix of some hard metrics and some softer ones.

  • http://rohitbhargava.typepad.com Rohit

    @Amit – Thanks for commenting, glad you found it useful!

    @John – Great point, thanks for another well reasoned comment. You’re completely right, I totally left out the Ogilvy metrics on the book and will add that into the post as an update. (As a side bonus, that helps me get to a nice even number of 10!) This is definitely a big consideration and has been a big metric I have been using. One point I would say, though, is that many of the conversation oriented metrics such as emails from readers are more focused on what others are getting out of the book, and not just on me. But your point is well taken – thanks for the comment.

    @Jeremy – Thanks Jeremy, you know I’m a fan of all your marketing for Dan’s book. I will definitely check out your post.

  • http://ZowocoMarketing.com zowoco

    Yes, it is a great thing to let an onli9ne giant like Amazon.com do the marketing for you, since they pull in more potential customers than anyone else around here! And this can be a link to your other online promotions. It is certainly time to maximise what Amazon can do for me, thanks!! :)

  • http://www.bauuinstitute.com/Marketing/Marketing.html Book marketing newbie

    Great points, the metrics an author gets in the publishing industry are very poor compared to all of the ones people are used to who do online marketing. I like your approach – those are nine ways to measure your success and the book’s success. It must feel great to be the sought out rather then seeking out speaking engagements.