How to A/B Test Your Book Cover Design?


Honestly, your book cover has one job – to turn curious potential readers into buyers, making them pick up your book among others. But how do you ensure your cover design is effective?

The first thing is surely to order a book cover from a professional designer who knows how to grab your target audience’s attention. The second way is to conduct A/B testing to get insightful feedback for improving your design. Keep reading if you want to know what it is and how to do it right. 

What is book cover design A/B testing, and do you need it?

A/B testing, or split testing, is a simple way to see which of two versions of something works better. In the context of self-publishing, you can use it to test your title, blurb, or book cover design – the latter is what we will discuss today.

Simply put, you need to show two versions of your cover design to similar groups of people simultaneously. Then, check which option performs better based on factors like how many people buy something or how much they interact with it.

A/B testing is really useful for indie authors when choosing their book cover designs, and here is why: 

  1. You can get real answers. It gives clear information about which book cover more people like, instead of just guessing based on what a few people say.
  2. Your sales can grow. Finding out which cover grabs more attention can help authors sell more books. A good cover can draw in more readers.
  3. It’s a way to learn about your readers. A/B testing helps authors understand what their audience prefers. This information is great for planning not just covers but also other marketing efforts.
  4. You can save money. It’s a budget-friendly way for authors to make smart choices without spending a lot on professional help.

Reasons for book cover design A/B testing

What can you A/B test in your book cover design?

If you’re redesigning a cover, you can compare the old version with the new one to see if the new one helps sell more books. This way, you can avoid the risk of the updated design not doing as well as the old one and possibly lowering your sales. But if your book is brand new, you’ll have to make two different covers to test and see which one people like more.

So, there are usually two different strategies.

Strategy #1. A/B testing of the full cover design

You can make the two cover designs very different from each other. This is useful if you’re still deciding on a style and want to know what readers like best. Just remember, if you’re paying someone else to design your covers, having two designs made might cost more.

Book cover design A/B testing

Strategy #2. A/B testing of separate elements

If you’ve already decided on the basic style of the cover, you can try out changes to specific parts of the design. Thus, you can test:

  • Typography style
  • Color palette
  • Characters included
  • Certain visual elements
  • Extra effects

A/B testing can also help you understand what additional elements you should put on a book cover.

Basic rules for A/B testing your book cover design

To get the most out of your book cover A/B testing, you should follow some basic rules. They help you to receive the most objective results.

Rule #1. Think about your target audience

It’s important to know who your book is for because different people like different things. Make sure your book covers are designed with your specific readers in mind. This way, you’re more likely to catch their attention.

Also, when you’re done testing, check participants again if possible. If your book is a young adult romance aimed at women, but mostly 60-year-old men are responding to your tests, you should better exclude their answers or do the testing again.

Rule #2. Test both versions at the same time

To get the most accurate results, show both cover options to your audience at the same time. If you test them at different times, other factors (like holidays or events) might affect people’s choices. Thus, you won’t know if the results are truly about the cover design.

Rule #3. Change just one thing at a time

If you’re going with the strategy #2 mentioned above, test just one detail at a time between the two versions. For example, you can understand what font or color palette to choose for your book cover. By changing only one thing, you can clearly see which specific part makes a difference in attracting your audience. If you change too many things at once, you won’t know which change actually matters.

Rules for A/B testing your book cover design

Where to A/B test your book cover design?

Indeed, you can ask your friends, focus team members, or even indie authors on a Facebook group which book cover version is better. However, like-minded people don’t equal the target audience. You should pay attention to the opinion of people who are really going to buy your book because they are interested in it.

This is where A/B testing comes in handy. Let’s take a look at ways you can conduct this activity to maximize the engagement of your target audience.

Facebook ads

Here, you should create two separate Facebook ads, each with a different book cover design. Everything else about the ads should be the same, including the text and target audience. Then, decide how much you want to spend on each ad. It doesn’t have to be a lot; you’re just looking for clear results.

Also, remember that you must run both ads simultaneously. Monitor which ad gets more clicks or engagement. This will tell you which cover is more appealing to your audience.

Polls in Instagram stories

Instagram Stories offer such cool interactive features as polls. You can post a story with each book cover and ask your followers which one they prefer. This not only gets you direct feedback but also engages your audience in the creation process.

The results are almost instant and very clear, showing you which cover your Instagram followers like more.

Twitter ads

This method is similar to the one with Facebook. Prepare two tweets, each featuring a different book cover, and set them up as Twitter ads. For fairness, ensure both ads have the same budget and target the same audience. After the ads have run for a while, see which one performed better in terms of engagement and clicks.

Email marketing

If you have an email list, split it into two groups randomly. Then, send one email version to each group, with each letter featuring a different book cover. You can use email marketing tools to see which email gets more opens or clicks on the link to your book. This will indicate the best cover.

To wrap up

A/B testing is a simple and helpful tool for indie authors who want to improve their book covers. By comparing the two versions, writers can get insights into what attracts their target audience, leading to increased sales and reader engagement.

Authors can conduct A/B testing using platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and email marketing. This way, they don’t even need to spend an extensive budget.

Do you conduct A/B testing of your book covers? Share your experience in the comments.

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