Reviews and Direct Engagement Activities vs Online Advertising – Who Wins?

I have tried many ways to promote my blog and ebooks on the net and the easiest and quickest way I thought was through targeted ads on Facebook, Google and Amazon along with giveaways. I did that a lot in the first two years of blogging by spending more than 100 dollars a month on these activities. In fact, for my first book Survival, I spent almost four lakhs on online banner ads and Facebook ads along with video streams to get more likes and followers. I also managed to increase my followers in the short term but kind of saw them disappear within the next six months until I recharged back to the numbers I had once started with. I used all the advertising tools these online sites provide and narrowed down my target customers but after some time, I lost my fan base. I realised online advertising was neither increasing the sales of my books nor was I able to get adequate long-term followers. Yes, despite executing micro-targeting ads on these platforms, I was neither gaining revenue nor any followers. I had also spent two lakhs on advertising in publications like the Reader’s Digest and London Review of Books. Again, top of the line advertising did not result in direct sales of the book.

Ultimately, I got fed up and stopped top of the line direct online advertising on both Facebook and Google. I tried to focus on direct customer and reviewer contacts by looking for people who would be interested in reading my ebooks and then reviewing it. I paid some for reviews. I gave Rs 100 per ebook review. They also shared this on online bookstores and through their social media network. This created a lot more buzz and I could directly relate it to growth in sales. Out of the 10 books of Blogging for Gold that I have sold, 8 has been because of reviews by book experts on their book sites. The word of mouth generated due to this activity has directly resulted in sales.

I contacted travel bloggers, editors and writers through LinkedIn and Google search. I wrote to book lover sites and identified book reviewers in India and the US. I gave them samples of my free ebook along with my blog links. I asked them to do paid reviews for me and the impact was great. Author interviews were done that increased my credibility and word of mouth resulting in direct sales for my second book Blogging for Gold. I even contacted CEOs of OTT companies to pitch my ebook as a web series concept. Here, I was going directly to people in a one-on-one personalised way. This increased my stickiness.

Curated events are also, I believe, a much better way to gain new customers and followers than direct online ads. We are trying to imitate a Swach Kumbh Drive for the Kumbh Mela 2019 and that is direct marketing and promotion for the brand while at the same time contributing to the community at large. This is direct engagement promotional drive and I believe it will turn out to be far more effective than spending senseless money on online direct ads even when you are micro-targeting to your niche base.

My view is that reviews and direct engagement activities are better marketing and promotional activities for online brands like myself than direct online internet ads.

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