Tips for Selling Books from Your Website

Do you sell your books direct from your website? If so, pay attention to these important findings from Cyber Monday shopping.

On-line shopping is growing. One of the fastest growing trends for online shopping is the buy online, pick up in-store movement. Fifty percent more people used this option on Cyber Monday 2018 than in the previous year.

Shopping using smart phones is also growing. According to an online shopping data report by Adobe Analytics, people spent 48% more shopping from their smartphones on Cyber Monday. In fact, purchases made from smart phones on Cyber Monday amounted to $2 billion. This is the most revenue ever to come from smart phones in a single day.

Interestingly, taking a closer look at the data report by Adobe Analytics, the report states:

 “Large retailers ($1 billion or more in annual e-commerce revenue) saw 6 percent higher conversion rates on smartphones. Smaller retailers, offering more specialized products, were better at getting shoppers to close sales via desktops with 7 percent higher conversions.”

Whoa. Stop right there. For a while now, the trend has been mobile. Experts have been telling us that every website needs to be responsive for mobile devices as well as desktop computers. Yet, this research from Cyber Monday shows that smaller retailers—people like you—had a higher percentage of people purchasing from their websites via a desktop computer this past Christmas season.

If you sell books from your website, your main focus should be on keeping shoppers on your site. After all, conversion—converting a visitor to a buyer—is what drives sales.

Here are a few tips to keep shoppers on your website:

1. Have the books you are selling front and central.

Make the products you are selling easy to see and find on your website. Don’t bury them. Include clear descriptions for each book so readers know what the book is about and how it will benefit them.

2. Make the prices clear.

One study by Corra found that 33 percent of shoppers hate when prices aren’t up front. Make sure that the price of your book and the cost for shipping is easy to find and see.

3. Ensure ease of purchase.

Studies show that for every extra click a customer has to make to finish a purchase, a business loses 50% of shoppers. Create a streamlined buying process on your website.

4. Allow customers to contact you.

The same study by Corra found that more than half of all shoppers wanted to have the option to live chat on a website when they ran into a problem shopping. Of course, most small publishers and independent authors don’t have the resources to provide this on their websites. However, you can provide a phone number. This allows customers to feel confident that they can talk to a real person if they run into a problem.

If you sell books from your website, use these four tips to improve your visitors’ shopping experience, and maybe, just maybe, you might sell more books.

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Photo courtesy of Bru-nO.

Are You Using Video?

Some friends of mine own a custom jewelry making business. They have long had a presence on Facebook, but have recently been dabbling with Instagram for more exposure.

They told me that, to their surprise, after posting a video of one of their employees doing a funky dance in their warehouse, they had a spike in sales. One customer even wrote them and told them that she had been following them for a while, but after seeing the video, she had to buy one of their products.

My friends were perplexed. They reported that the video had nothing to do with their jewelry. I commented, that it may not have showcased their jewelry, but it showcased their workplace culture and was authentic.

I then explained that consumers crave authenticity. They want to know who they are doing business with. The video of an employee dancing showed their clientele the human side of their business.

As an author, you can take two lessons from my friend’s experience.

1. Use Video

Video on the internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. Video on the Internet is extremely popular. Everyone is watching videos. In fact, Cisco predicts that by 2020, 82% of all consumer web traffic will be video.

Video has become an important part of people’s shopping experience. Consider these statistics:

  • Almost 50% of web users look for a video before visiting a store, says Google.
  • Wyzowl says that 79% of consumers prefer watching videoto reading about a product.
  • And Hubspot says that 43% of consumers want to see more video content this year.

If you have not yet jumped into videos, try using some video in your marketing this year. You can post videos on your blog and in your social media posts.

2. Show Your Authentic Self

People want to know you, the author of the book. So, show them your true self in your videos. In other words, make some informal videos that show your personality and likes or dislikes. Tell a story, even one that is not related to your book’s content.

To make your video attractive and draw people to your books, keep these three tips in mind.

  • Grab attention fast. Studies show that the first 8 to 10 seconds of your video determines whether it will be watched to the end.
  • Keep it short. People are busy. Videos that are one to two minutes in length are more likely to be watched all the way through.
  • Include a call to action if you can. You cannot insert a link into a live video, but if you are using a prepared video, include a link to your website at the end.

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Photo Courtesy of Drew Graham.

Effective Marketing to a Declining Reading Populace

The number of people who do not read a single book in a given year is growing. In 1978, that figure was 8%. In other words, only 8 out of every 100 people did not read a book during the year. Now that number is closer to 25%. This means that one out of every four people in the United States has not read a book this year.

Most people agree that the trend toward reading less has grown considerably since the advent of the Internet. Today, with streaming services, experts are beginning to believe that many people are replacing their desire for good stories with binge-watching TV shows and movies rather than reading fiction books. After all, studies show that people are spending more and more time engaged with content on services like Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram.

Interestingly, this trend is not only effecting adults. North Carolina, that state where I reside, spent more than $150 million dollars on a third-grade reading campaign designed to get children to read at grade level. Yet, after five years of administering the program, no improvement was made in the number of children who could read at grade level by the end of third grade.

The lack of engagement with books is a societal issue. I have been dismayed to see not only Christian bookstores fail, but church library associations close their doors over the past few years due to churches no longer hosting lending libraries. Reading is not a priority for our society.

How does an author trying to sell books succeed in this environment?

It’s a good question and a tough question. Many industry experts point to two ways that authors can work to stand out and make a difference with readers.

1. Make It Easier for People to Find Your Book

There are millions of books available for sale. It is easy for any given book to get lost in the mass of books for sale. Two ways that you can ensure your book is easier for people to find is to make sure it is available in multiple venues and it has relevant keywords embedded in the metadata.

If your book is only available for sale on Amazon, you are missing out. Not everyone shops on Amazon. Your book needs to be available in all the online bookstores. Distribution is important. The more places your book is listed for sale, the more likely people are to find it.

Knowing what keywords readers use to find books in your subject area is also important. Making your metadata (book’s description) rich with these keywords helps ensure that readers will be able to find your book.

2. Create Content that People Need

Every book meets a need. What need does your book meet? Why do people need to read your book? Sharing content from your book and ancillary content geared toward helping people solve the problem that your book tackles will help you attract readers. Free content of interest and value is one of the best ways to develop trust with an audience.

Share your free content that meets a need on your blog, in your social media posts, and in your email newsletters. This free content does not have to be written. It can be in podcast or video format. Use whatever format helps you engage your audience. As you develop trust with your audience, they will seek out your book.

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Your Second Most Important Marketing Tool

“Wow. That book has 280 reviews with an average of 4.8 stars! Definitely a book to put on our list.”

I am part of a book group. We are a club of ladies that meets weekly. We read and discuss Christian nonfiction books that we, as a group, select. The above comment was in response to a book suggestion. The individual uttering this statement had just checked the book on Amazon on her phone.

Book Reviews

This behavior is typical. One research firm (Thornley Fallis) found that 81% of people perform a search online before buying a product. This is exactly what my book group members were doing. They were searching online to find out more about the book that was suggested.

Searching online is not the only typical behavior. Reviews influence our purchase decisions. In fact, research shows:

  • 97% of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase decision (Conductor).
  • 88% of shoppers say they believe reviews as much as personal recommendation from a friend (Search Engine Land).
  • 67% of consumers admit that reviews influence their decision to leave or buy a product (Moz.com).

So, the path my book group followed to determine whether we wanted to read a suggested book was typical.

As an author or publisher, this is important information. Don’t underestimate the power of book reviews. If you want to sell books, you need reviews.

I believe that book reviews are your second most important marketing tool (your book’s cover is your number one marketing tool).

If you are struggling to get more reviews for your book, try these two suggestions.

1. Ask, Ask, Ask

I am sure you have heard the phrase, “You have not because you ask not.” It’s true. James says “You do not have because you do not ask God” (James 4:2). First, ask God for his guidance and help. Then, ask people to review your book. Ask in your author  or writers’ groups. Ask on your social media sites. Ask when readers contact you. Asking them says that you value their opinion.

2. Host a Giveaway

You can host a book giveaway on one of the online communities for book lovers—Goodreads, LibraryThing, or BookLikes. Interested readers on these sites can enter to win a copy of your book. While these readers are not required to review your book, some will, increasing the number of reviews your book receives.

These two suggestions are just a few of the suggestions for acquiring more book reviews that I present in my seminar “Book Reviews: Tips for Getting More Reviews”. This seminar is free to Members of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA). Join CSPA now for just $90 for the 2019 calendar year and have free access to this and other great resources.

If you are not a Member of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), you can watch this on-demand seminar for a fee at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Nine Tips to Improve Your Marketing

Everyone wants a formula. Just like 2+2 equals 4, we want to know what to add or subtract from our book marketing plan to sell the most books.

Sadly, no formula exists. Much of marketing is trial and error. It’s finding the message or the vehicle that best connects with consumers in your target audience. However, there are a few tips from psychology that can help push consumers toward buying a product.

Check out this infographic by Connext Digital that shows How to Use Psychology to Improve Your Digital Marketing Campaigns.

Using Psychology to Improve Your marketing

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