Effective Content Marketing

“I’m blogging and sharing on social media, but it just does not seem to help me sell books.”

I have heard this complaint from more than one author. These authors are creating content, but not finding it as effective at driving sales of their books as they had hoped.

Content Marketing is Free.

The beauty of creating content to market a book is that doing so is free. All it costs you is your time.

The downside of creating content to market a book is that it takes time and does not always reap the reward (sales) an author hopes.

Content marketing—creating valuable content that speaks to your readers’ needs and offering this information for free—is a long-term strategy for building trust and relationships with customers and potential customers. In fact, one study by Forrester found that, on average, a person consumes 11.4 pieces of content before buying.

This number is an average. This means that some people will consume less, but others will consume more before they decide to buy. Also, this study did not look at people who did not buy. It only looked at people who bought a product.

The study looked at how many pieces of content people consumed before they purchased the product or service. This average was between eleven and twelve pieces of content—written, audio, or video. Remember, you will always have people who will just read or view your free material and never buy your book(s).

If you are creating content and sharing this information via your blog, email newsletter, or social media sites, you want your content to be as effective as possible. So, before you create or share a piece of content, ask yourself whether your information or material answers one of these four questions.

  1. Does this piece of content boost awareness about my book’s subject?
  2. Does this piece of content help build people’s trust in me as an author on my book’s subject?
  3. Does this piece of content help convert visitors to my site to subscribers?
  4. Does this piece of content encourage readers to buy my book?

If your content does not satisfy one of these objectives, then developing that material may be a waste of your time. To be effective, every piece of content that you create should be relevant to your target audience as well as your book’s subject matter.

Related Posts:
Content Marketing Ideas for Authors
Enhance Your Marketing with Bonus Content
5 Book Marketing Trends You Need to Know for 2020

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Photo by bruce mars.

Are Children Still Reading?

Generation Z, those children born after 1995, are digital natives. The first generation to grow up with ready access to the Internet, smartphones, tablets, and social media, concern has been raised about this generation’s short attention span and disinterest in reading.

Sales of Children's Books Have Grown

Interestingly, the rumors of the demise of reading with Generation Z may be exaggerated. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) reports that sales of Children’s and Young Adult books have grown over the past five years. Specifically, unit sales for Children’s and Young Adult nonfiction grew 17.8 percent.

A study by Scholastic and YouGov in 2017 found that 86 percent of Canadian children aged 6-17 years old were reading or had finished reading a book for fun recently. Another study by Common Sense Media in 2015 of U.S. children found one in four tweens and one in five teens reported reading for pleasure regularly. Both studies found that the majority of these children read print books (67% in Canada and 83% in the United States).

While it is good news that Generation Z is reading, we know that overall reading has decreased in the past few decades. One study on young people’s reading habits over the last 50 years summarized in “The Rise of Digital Media, the Decline of TV, and the (Near) Demise of Print.” cited a depressing finding. There has been a decline of daily reading of some form of print—whether magazine, book, etc.—from 60 percent in the late 1970s to 12 percent today. The authors use the notion of “displacement theory” to explain this decline—82 percent of young people use social media today (not to mention video games), which more than likely displaces time they might formerly have given to reading.

If you are a children’s author, these studies hold both good news and sad news. The good news is that Generation Z is still reading, and that they prefer print books. The sad news is that reading continues to fall wayside to other forms of entertainment.

Books Still Make Great Gifts

What can you as a children’s author do about this? I have two suggestions.

1. Help create a love of reading in children.

Studies show that children with classroom libraries are more likely to be frequent readers. Yet, only 43% of school-age children have access to a classroom library. You can be part of the solution. Volunteer to help build a classroom library for a teacher at a local Christian school. Donate some of your books as well as other age-appropriate books the teacher and kids are interested in.

2. Promote your books as great gifts.

Studies show that busy Millennial moms like online gift guides. In fact, some big box retailers like Toys R Us have gone out of business because many Millennials prefer to shop online. If you are a children’s author, put together an online Christmas gift guide for moms. Offer a range of gift ideas for the age-range your books target, and be sure to include your books in the guide.

Whether you are a children’s author, a young adult author, or an author of adult books, helping increase literacy and reading in children is a good cause to participate in. After all, children grow up to be adults, and you want to have adults read your books in years to come.

Related Posts:
What Every Children’s Author Needs to Know
Authors Profit By Encouraging Children to Read
Promote Your Books as Christmas Gifts

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Photo by Porapak Apichodilok.

Book Reviews Are Social Proof

“I hate asking people for reviews”.

This statement was made to me by an independent children’s book author at a recent conference I attended. Most of us can relate to this statement. Asking is hard.

Quote by Sarah Bolme

Yet reviews are extremely important in marketing and selling books. In fact, Cassie M. Drumm, a book publicist says:

“Getting Reviews is one of the most important elements to selling books.”

Humans are social creatures. When we see lots of other people engaging in something, our brain’s perception of risk associated with that idea or activity is reduced.

Given the choice of two restaurants to eat at—one crowded and one empty—people will gravitate to the one that is crowded. Our brains tell us that the crowded restaurant must be the better option since other people have chosen it. This is social proof.

Social proof is the construct that the actions and attitudes of people around us influence our behavior. This is why 97 percent of shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase decision. The online reviews provide social proof that what we are about to buy is worth our money.

Book reviews are social proof. They tell readers that your book is worth their money and time. Studies indicate that 85 percent of Amazon Kindle readers look at the reviews of a given book before making a purchasing decision.

If you want to sell more books, you need reviews. In fact, the more reviews you have the greater the social proof that your book is worthy to be purchased.

So, go ahead and ask people for reviews. I know it’s hard, but the results may well be worth it.

Review for BookCrashAs an author, you should be willing to give as well as get. This means that you should be writing reviews of books. Be generous. Write reviews of other books in your genre. When authors in your author groups request reviews, step up and write a review if the book is in the same genre as your book.

You can also help out other independent authors by signing up to be a BookCrash reviewer. You can pick and choose which books you want to review. BookCrash reviewers are required to post their review on one social site (blog, Goodreads, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and on one retail site (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, ChristianBook, Walmart, etc.). You can sign up to become a BookCrash reviewer at www.bookcrash.com.

Related Posts:
Social Proof Can Help You Sell More Books
Easy Ways to Get More Book Reviews
Thoughts on Book Reviews

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Photo by Luis Quintero from Pexels

Are You Using This Strong Incentive?

Did you know that curiosity is one of the strongest human incentives? Humans are curious by nature. Snag a person’s curiosity and you have their attention.

Good marketers use curiosity to grab people’s attention so that they can sell them a product. These marketers use sales text that draws the reader.

Curiosity is a powerful marketing tool.

Take headlines. Often marketers will use one of four tactics to grab people’s attention by eliciting curiosity. Curiosity is why these types of headlines get the most clicks:

1. Makes an outrageous claim.

Headlines like “Elvis Is Not Dead” or “Why Marriage Is Not for You” are outrageous. The sheer ludicrousness of their message raises curiosity, making people want to know what the author has to say.

2. Goes against conventional wisdom.

Headlines like “Why Breakfast Is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day” and “Failure Is an Option” go against what most people have been taught. Since the claim is in conflict with what society believes, it raises our curiosity.

3. Opens up a debate.

Headlines that make statements like “Five Ways Women are Better Bosses Than Men” and “Ten Reasons Prom Night is Overrated” are opinions that touch nerves. When people’s opinions are challenged, their curiosity to listen to or read what is being asserted is raised.

4. Claims about the best or worst of something.

Headline like “The 10 Best Movies of 2018” and “The 10 Worst Places to Vacation” make people curious about whether they have seen the 10 movies, whether they have vacationed in a “worst” place, and whether they agree with the list or not.

In a world with so much competing for people’s attention, curiosity is a powerful marketing tool. You can learn to use curiosity to increase reader’s engagement with their books. Crafting your book descriptions and sales text in a manner that raises curiosity can help increase sales. Don’t give everything away in your book’s description. The description is meant to lure the reader in to want to know more.

While not a Christian book, the book description for Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life embodies what raising curiosity in sales text looks like. The book’s description states:

What does the nervous system of the lowly lobster have to tell us about standing up straight (with our shoulders back) and about success in life? Why did ancient Egyptians worship the capacity to pay careful attention as the highest of gods? What dreadful paths do people tread when they become resentful, arrogant and vengeful? Dr. Peterson journeys broadly, discussing discipline, freedom, adventure and responsibility, distilling the world’s wisdom into 12 practical and profound rules for life.  

Are you writing to hook people’s curiosity? Do your titles, headlines, and sales text draw people in and catch their interest? How might you re-word your current book description to improve the “curiosity” factor and snag more sales?

Related Posts:
Headlines Are More Important Than You Think
How to Get More Attention for Your Books
Two Strategies for Creating Effective Marketing Messages

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Photo courtesy of Mali Maeder.

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Scrolling through the apps on my smart phone the other day, I noticed an app called Turo. I did not remember what the app was for, so I opened it to see. Then I remembered. I had seen an ad for Turo on television and wanted to remember the service, so I downloaded the app as a way to help myself remember. My strategy worked.

Are You Riding a One-Trick Pony?

Turo is the latest installment in the new sharing or access marketplace—the move away from organized businesses and toward people providing services to one another. Services like Airbnb, Uber, and Takl all are revolutionizing the way business is done. Turo allows individuals to rent their vehicles to one another, bypassing car rental companies.

One exposure is not enough for us to remember something new. I knew that I would forget the name of the service that allowed people to rent their personal vehicles, but I wanted to remember it. So, I downloaded the app to remind myself. It worked.

The same is true for any new product or service. Reading or hearing about a new product once rarely leads to a purchase of that product. Instead, we need to see and hear about a new product multiple times before we remember it, and before we are convinced that it might be worth an investment of our money.

Most people hear about a new product or service from an ad, radio or television show, or a friend. Often, in our busy lives, we forget about the new product or service, until we stumble upon it again—often a few times. Just like I did with Turo.

Sadly, too many authors fall for the one-trick pony method of book marketing. Instead of realizing that people need to see and hear about their book multiple times and from different sources before they remember and make a decision to purchase, these authors hop onto the hot new marketing idea and think that it is the trick.

Over the years, I have seen numerous hot book marketing trends that are pushed on authors as the “new” way to sell books. These have included:

  1. Blogging
  2. Email Marketing
  3. A Social Media Presence
  4. Facebook Ads
  5. Podcasting
  6. Amazon Ads

Each of these are good marketing techniques. However, any one used exclusively will not be effective in selling large quantities of your book.

Marketing experts know that a good marketing plan involves a well-rounded strategy. In other words, marketing is not a one-trick pony. You have to perform numerous different marketing activities to have the best results.

Book Launch Marketing Checklist

Don’t fall for the latest one-trick pony. Develop a marketing strategy for your book that includes numerous channels where people can see and hear about you and your book. If you need guidance in developing a good marketing plan, here are two options:

  1. Read my book Your Guide to Marketing Christian Books. A bonus to the book includes a link to download a free Book Launch Marketing Checklist that provides marketing activities from six-months prior to launch to on-going marketing activities to engage in.
  2. Join Christian Indie Publishing Association and download the Book Launch Marketing Checklist that is available for Members of the association.

Related Posts:
10 Daily Book Marketing Activities for 2019
Does Your Book Have a Firm Foundation?
Marketing is a Mindset

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Photo courtesy of Christine Benton.