Understanding Your Readers

Below is a guest post from Damian Wampler, creator of the comic Sevara – the Mangement

art of Sevara copiesIn the process of writing and creating my first comic book, I had no idea who my future readers would be. As a 38-year-old man, I’ve long since lost touch with the world of today’s teenager or even twenty-something. Facebook statistics helped me understand my reader’s demographic and focus my marketing, as well as adjust the tone and themes of future issues.

I wrongly assumed that my major audience would be 28-year-old men. I just took my own age, hacked of 10 years, and figured, ‘sure, a younger version of me would love to read this, because I’m the one who’s writing it’. Not only that, but my main promotional image features a full frontal shot of an extremely beautiful, and barely clothed, goddess. I assumed that 75% of my readers would be men.

I was partly right. 77% of my Facebook fans are men. The age set weighed heavily in favor of the 18-24 range, with strong representation in the 25-34 range and a healthy number of 35-44 year olds. The number of people reached and people engaged is about the same, because they are drawing on my fan base. But when I look at my ads, who reach out into all of Facebook, I see a different story.

fanpage demographic

When I began to promote my comic’s ComiXology link with Facebook ads, my adsets featured images of the same strong beautiful women as in my comic. I figured 77% of those clicking on the images would be men. Yet when I looked at the statistics, I found that only a little less than half of the clicks to my ComiXology page were women. At some parts of the campaign, men and women were at 50/50. On top of that, the overwhelming majority of those who clicked the ads were in the 13-24 range. Almost no one else clicks, ever.

first ad campaign showing clicks first ad reached more women

Maybe it has a lot to do with the images that I selected. They women are in poses that display strength, and sexuality without sleaziness. Indiecomix.net reviewer Derrick Crow remarked that Sevara’s design has, “a sexualized look but not once did I see her in a sexual light.”

At the Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai, I found even more gender differences while ‘manning’ my booth in artist alley. Roughly 70% of my sales of the preview book The Art of Sevara were to women. And at this convention, most of the women were college students from Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, or Saudi Arabia, dressed in partial or full-body hijab. I finally stopped trying to interact with the male young browsers, who never bought anything, and focused all my attention on selling to the women. Maybe the men were embarrassed to pick a book with such a striking woman on the cover? But the women felt right at home with a copy of Sevara in their hands. They wanted to look at images of strong beautiful women, and read stories about strong beautiful women. That’s what I try to deliver in Sevara, I just never realized how thirsty my female audience was for women they could connect with.

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  • Good article Damian. Identifying potential purchasers and then advertising to them with minimal wastage is tricky for any brand in any market, at least you had a reasonable plan in place to start with and can adjust accordingly if you do it again.

    If I’m reading this right then roughly 500 people out of nearly 22,000 who saw the ad actually clicked through to the site, broadly 2.2% of the total impacts you bought. I’ve not seen enough comic advertising campaign results to know whether that’s good or bad, maybe Brett has an idea. I have to say that it’s a higher return than I would have thought it would be, I’ve considered advertising for our comic and had a gut feel lower figure in mind. I’ve seen results in other media for other products, some commodities would expect more, some less.

    If I understand the figures right and all 493 punters bought the comic, then this seems a pretty good result to me. If it was 493 sales and you get around 35 cents in the dollar, then a return of $172 for an outlay of $89?

    Pleasantly surprised that you report a healthy female interest, having been to a couple of UK comic cons in the last few months I can honestly say that there were many more women and girls than I expected, both as creators and as buyers- brilliant!

    • It’s hard to say if it’s good or bad honestly. There’s not really great stats out there. I’ve always expect 1%, and if I do better than 1% than it’s good.

      With all things like this, you do some base tests, see how it goes, and then attempt to improve upon the past.

      Personally, if you make back more than you spend, it’s obviously good.