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The power of early data

Filed under: Tech Forum

Photo of Kristina Radke.

Kristina Radke is the VP of Business Growth at NetGalley, a service that helps publishers and authors promote digital review copies to book advocates and industry professionals. She has more than 10 years of experience in book marketing, publicity and client relationships, serves on the board of directors for the IBPA, and is a proud graduate of the NYU master’s program for book publishing.

Kristina Radke will join us at Tech Forum 2020 on March 25 for a session called Pre-publication trends: Using early data to refine launch strategies.

We believe in the power of data. Publishers tell us all the time that they’re looking for more ways to use the data that’s at their fingertips. They’re used to exploring results like open and click rates from ad or marketing campaigns, and likes, shares, or comments on social media posts. With NetGalley, publishers have long had access to data about the activity generated from members who access, read, and review their books. Now they’re looking for more — they want to understand the big picture when it comes to their pre-publication efforts with digital galleys and promotions.

Why is early data important?

Early data, like how many impressions and requests your book receives on NetGalley, or how many 5-star pre-pub reviews, serve as an indicator of interest the book will receive when it hits the market. Using this type of information to set KPIs (key performance indicators) for yourself — to help you compare your progress toward a strategic goal — will help you set and exceed expectations.

A KPI is like an internal benchmark, and you can create these by understanding the trends in your early data. Identifying these trends will help you understand likely results for similar books the next time, and understanding those likely results is a crucial part of setting expectations and creating new goals. Until you know what to expect, how do you know if you’re setting achievable objectives?

Create benchmarks

In NetGalley, you can compare historical data to see how other similar titles have performed in the past, helping you more easily develop those KPIs.

There is never a one-size-fits-all marketing plan. Publishers have a lot of considerations when building their strategies — genre of book, debut versus established author, marketing budget, pub season, etc. — and they should also be thinking specifically about what they’ve learned from past performances.

Set your goals before looking at data

Once you have a good understanding of the expectations for a particular type of book, the next step is to clarify your specific goals for the new title. After identifying which metrics are most important to you and what kinds of numbers you’re looking to achieve, you will have a better framework for engaging with the data you’ll receive from a new promotion.

Success on NetGalley looks different for different publishers, different authors, different books. It might mean a specific conversion rate from Impressions to Feedback, number of nominations for LibraryReads [Ed. Note: Or Loan Stars!] and Indie Next, or reaching a certain threshold of reviews on retail platforms around the pub date.

Be willing to pivot

Data can also show you when you should abandon your current path and pivot to something new. If you’re disappointed with the response you’ve gotten, whether that’s a low number of requests, critical feedback about the cover image, or poor reviews of the book, use that information to adjust your strategy.

* Excerpted and revised from “The Importance of Early Data” on NetGalley Insights. (Subscribe to the weekly newsletter to receive the password for this subscribers-only whitepaper, which includes examples and NetGalley strategies.)

For more about how we at NetGalley think about data, check out “Developing a Data Strategy with the DIKW Model.”

Kristina Radke will be talking more about pre-publication trends at Tech Forum on March 25, 2020 in Toronto. You can find more details about the conference here, or sign up for the mailing list to get all of the conference updates.