Cover Match Factor
After readers have completed the book, we ask them, if the story matched the expectations that the cover had raised. Are cover and content in alignment with each other? Does the cover capture what the book delivers?
Like for the recommendation we verify that those surveyed actually read the book and filter out those who didn’t read the book.
A zero or negative percentage for the cover match factor means that the majority of readers thought that the cover mislead them with regards to what they were expecting from the content.
A highly positive number means that the cover delivered what was promised.
The cover match factor is not a measure of the covers design quality, aesthetic appeal or its ability to appeal to readers, but how well it performed in terms of describing the book and “correctly advertising” it.
Mismatched covers often lead to very poof completion rates or if completion rates are high, because the content is truly great, mismatched covers may lead to a low recommendation factor, because people feel uncomfortable recommending a book that promises something else than what the person picking the book expected.
Typically, when browsing large numbers of books, readers seem to pay more attention to covers, than book descriptions and covers become the dominant signal for picking a book.
Also many genres basically have unspoken rules as to what a cover signals. When a cover deviates from these uncodified rules, readers can get very uncomfortable and may feel being misled. Book covers have incredibly strong signalling functions that need to be respected. The cover match factor helps publishers get this right.
You may wonder why the cover-match factor rates as one of the key KPIs in reader analytics and the reason is that it is the factor that most frequently leads to great content not selling.