I first heard about this idea for a reverse blog tour in a book marketing webinar. An author of a zombie book gathered a bunch of fellow zombie authors and hosted “Zombiepalooza.” I thought it was a brilliant idea, and since I had a book title I wanted to increase sales on (Your Perfect Pie) I thought I’d give it a try. Here is a summary of what I did and how I could have done better — so you won’t have to repeat my marketing mistakes!
Piepalooza – The Reverse Blog Tour Concept
My idea was to gather 31 authors of pie cookbooks to guest post on my Carma’s Cookery blog for the whole month of March. This is the reverse of a typical blog tour, where you are the guest on other people’s blogs. I started recruiting in early February. Since cookbooks are hot and the food niche is strong, I thought that I could do even better with Piepalooza than Zombiepalooza did.
This strategy is to get the guest authors to promote their post on your blog, thus driving traffic to your website and to the event as a whole. Everybody wins because the guest author gets to promote their work to a new audience and their audience is exposed to your book, which is promoted at the end of every post.
Zombiepalooza was quite successful, so the idea is sound if implemented properly.
Goals of Piepalooza
There were a three things I wanted to see happen with Piepalooza:
- Increased traffic
- Increased sales of Your Perfect Pie
- Grow my list
Alas, my goals were not achieved as I had hoped, but I did learn a lot and plan to try this experiment again next year.
Traffic – I goofed and didn’t double check that I had Google Analytics set up correctly, so I was unable to check this data. I had a stats plugin installed, but it wasn’t set up correctly.
Book Sales – I did not sell any more copies of Your Perfect Pie compared to previous months. I did, however, have increased Amazon Associates earnings in March compared to January and February. Interestingly enough, none of these sales were for things I actually linked to. This goes to show you the power of having Amazon links on your website … people may not buy what you link to, but since they’re on Amazon anyway, they might buy something else and you still get a commission!
List growth – I gained no new subscribers during the month-long promotion.
So, I achieved none of the goals I set out to achieve. Does this mean that this is a strategy that won’t work? Or does it mean that I made mistakes that doomed it to failure?
Well, given that this strategy did work for someone else, my view is that I did this badly. Here is where I went wrong and how I can fix it next time.
Problem #1: My goal was to get 31 guest authors. I ended up only getting half a dozen, so most of the posts that month were either by me or were reprints by authors who did not promote the content. This would drastically reduce the potential for increased traffic, which, in turn led to bad results for my other two goals.
Solution: I need to start recruiting earlier so that I can reach my goal number of guest authors. Next year I’m going to hold Piepalooza in February, which is National Pie Month, and I’m going to start recruiting in October of this year.
Problem #2: Many of the people I invited to be guest authors never responded to me. There are many reasons this could be the case:
- I gave them very little time to respond.
- I’m an unknown in the food space.
- I only contacted 40 people to fill my 31 slots.
Solutions: Recruiting earlier, using better invitation copy and contacting more people should solve these problems. I need to come up with better, more compelling reasons for someone to participate. And I need to widen my net and contact many more potential guest authors. Next year, I’ll only have 28 slots, so if I contact 100-150 people, I should be able to get closer to my goal.
Problem #3: My stress was high because participants submitted content late or not at all. This gave me very little time to schedule posts and, as Murphy’s Law would dictate, life issues came up that ate up my time, as well.
Solution: Recruiting early and giving a deadline in January should help solve this problem. That way I can have the entire month scheduled and ready to go before February 1.
Problem #4: Traffic sucked for this promotion. This was in part that I didn’t have that many guest authors promoting and I was still figuring out how to promote it myself.
Solution: I think a better pre-event promotion would help, as would investing in some advertising. Tactics I plan to experiment with next year include:
* Video — I want to create some YouTube traffic for PiePalooza next year. I’ve learned some new strategies that I think could be very helpful for the blog as a whole, as well as this special event.
* Interactivity – I want to encourage engagement, so creating ways that people can interact with the content and participate in the event, I think will help. I’m still working on ideas for this.
* Partner Promotion – I need to ensure that partners are promoting their post to as wide an audience as possible. Therefore I will encourage pre-promotion of the event, as well as promotion of their post. I will also follow up with each guest to make sure they are doing what they promised to do.
In conclusion, because I gave myself very little lead time, this event failed to accomplish the online marketing goals I had set. However, with better strategic planning this type of event can be very successful resulting in grown an author’s audience and selling more books.