Apr 30 2008

Using Google Analytics to Promote Your Book Intelligently

Published by at 11:00 am under Google Analytics,Online Novel,Technical Advice

Authors, particularly new and unproven ones, have to use promotional events to drive sales. Google Analytics can provide useful information about which cities are worth promoting in. The conventional wisdom is probably that the most readers for the typical book can be found in large cities (NYC, Chicago, LA…) But you can probably do a lot better than just hitting up large cities.

For example, we’ve tabulated our numbers for January 2008 and found that Atlanta and Toronto currently have almost as many Superhero Nation readers as NYC.

I think this provides several insights that go beyond the “NYC-LA-Chicago” strategy.

1. Our top six cities (in North America) are Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Toronto, New York, Seattle and Atlanta. I think Vancouver, Dallas, St. Paul/Minneapolis and Madison also stand out because they cram significant numbers of fans into a tight geographic region.

2. Watch out! Analytics makes California look deceptively insignificant by splitting Californian cities (and Toronto) into deceptively small geographic areas. For example, Los Angeles looks like it has far fewer hits than New York City, which is only split up into three zones (New York, Brooklyn and Astoria). By contrast, Los Angeles is split up into at least twenty zones.

3. We’re seeing some evidence to support B. Mac’s expectation that military readers would be statistically significant. (Did you know that Marvel Comics prints comics specifically for the military? Comic books are apparently kind of a big deal on military bases). I’m still somewhat skeptical, but we’ve seen heavy return traffic from several Air Force bases, particularly in Nebraska and California. B. Mac speculates this is because the USAF is relatively techy. I’m just hoping it’s not because the USAF’s Office of Special Investigations is researching an unfair portrayal case against us because Superhero Nation makes the OSI look so wacky.

4. Georgia’s on my mind! Atlanta generated 80% as many site views as the New York metropolitan area. However, unless we want to have angry Bulldog fans riot and kill us, we should probably get BM to tone down his Florida Gator loving… if you look at Northern Florida, you can see that he made a slight adjustment to the color scheme around Gainesville (the home of the University of Florida’s Gators).

5. Canada has been exceedingly kind to us and, demographically speaking, Canada seems favorable because its cities are pretty clustered together. It’s got a few cities in its southeast, a few in its southwest, and Winnipeg* in the middle. The southeastern cluster is especially logistically helpful because it fits most of Canada’s population into an area about the size of Montana.

*Winnipeg is a small Canadian city that is notable for having consistently devoted Superhero Nation fans. It leads the world in the number of viewers that have spent more than 30 minutes on our site.

6. Not too surprisingly, we do well in most college towns. Madison and Gainesville made our map and we got so many hundreds of hits out of South Bend/Notre Dame– mainly tied to B. Mac’s writing classes, I think– that we had to filter them out. I think our main underperformance among college towns is Boston.

7. Demographically speaking, we perform worse than expected in the Northeast, particularly New York, and and drastically better than most American authors in Canada. I’m not too surprised about underperforming in New York. You don’t make too many friends by mocking them. And, besides, so much comic book stuff– pretty much all comic book stuff– comes out of New York already.

8. We overperform in Washington, DC and the northern Virginia area. That’s a bit surprising, given that we mock Washington specifically and US politics generally (suddenly I’m seeing the attraction for Canadians).

9. We only average about one Hawaiian viewer a day. As much as we’d love to take a trip out to the Aloha State, somehow I don’t think the publisher will spring for that. [Cadet Davis adds: what if we started blogging on Hawaiian politics to spike traffic?] In response to Davis, I would say… You dog! I like your thinking. … Likewise, we receive virtually no traffic from Alaska. Thank God. Having no Alaskan traffic guarantees that our publisher will not ask us to go there. (Not that I have anything against Alaskans. After a millennium or two of global warming, they might have a state that’s worthy of them).

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