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.

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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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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Social Proof Can Help You Sell More Books

Smart authors know that social proof is an important marketing tactic that eases the minds of worried customers.

Social proof is defined as the influence that the actions and attitudes of the people around us (either in real life or online) have on our own behavior.

There are basically five types of social proof:

  1. Expert: When an industry expert or well-known personality recommends your product or services.
  2. Celebrity: When a celebrity people like endorses a product or service.
  3. User: When current users of the product or service praise it.
  4. Crowd: When a large crowd of people are using a product or service as shown through social media or events.
  5. Certification: When a person or product is given a stamp of approval by an authority in the industry, such as winning a book award or obtaining a seal of approval.

Social proof is extremely important when selling books. As humans, we want to know that what we are getting ourselves into will be worthwhile—especially when it comes to buying a product or a service. Buyers want to know what others are saying about the product or service.

Even wise King Solomon understood this concept when he wrote “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; someone else, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2)

The two easiest types of social proof for authors to secure are expert and user. You gain expert social proof by obtaining endorsements. You gain user social proof through reader reviews.

Sadly, few independent authors take the time to secure expert social proof (endorsements). A recent quick survey of books submitted for the Christian Indie Awards showed that only about one-third (one out of every three books submitted) featured any type of endorsement or review on the book’s cover (front or back) or in the front pages of the book.

If you are not securing endorsements, you are losing out on a very important social proof that will help you sell your book.

It’s never too late to secure endorsements. With today’s print-on-demand technology, you can still get endorsements after you have published your book and then adjust your book cover to feature these endorsements.

If you are unsure about how to go about securing endorsements, Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) provides our Members help. Members can watch the on-demand seminar Endorsements Help You Sell More Books to learn how to obtain endorsements. The webinar includes a sample template letter to use when requesting an endorsement.

The on-demand seminar is also available to authors who are not Members of CSPA. You can pay a fee to watch it at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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Have You Identified Your Target Audience?

If you aim at nothingyou will hit it every time.” ~Zig Ziglar

Are you aiming at a target audience? Or are you aiming at nothing?

When I consult for indie authors, I ask them to send me a list of their questions prior to the consultation so I can structure the time to best meet the author’s needs.

I have yet to have an author ask that I help her identify or refine her target audience. Most simply jump into questions about marketing. And yet, many have not spent any time distilling who the audience for their book is.

Here is the problem. You cannot develop an effective marketing plan without FIRST identifying your target audience. And, many indie authors fail to do just that.

Many marketing plans often fail for the following reasons:

  • Failure to identify target audience.
  • Failure to plan and execute marketing activities for multiple targets.
  • Failure to balance marketing activities to primary, secondary, and tertiary targets.

Think of your target audience as a target with a bull’s eye and expanding rings. The bull’s eye and each ring of the target represents a segment of your target audience.

A target audience is made up of a primary audience, a secondary audience and a tertiary audience. How does this look in practice?

With the recent growth in religious children’s book sales, let’s take a children’s picture book as an example. Let’s use a Christmas story picture book.

The primary target audience for this book would be children ages four to eight years of age who celebrate Christmas. However, children don’t buy books, so we need to include the parents in the primary target. Here is the breakdown of target audiences for a children’s Christmas picture book.

  • Primary Audience: Parents of children aged four to eight years who celebrate Christmas.
  • Secondary Audience: Grandparents and aunts and uncles of children aged four to eight years who celebrate Christmas who give Christmas-themed gifts.
  • Tertiary Audience: Churches, Christian preschools and elementary schools, and libraries.
  • Quaternary Audience: Collectors of all things Christmas.

Looking at this breakdown of audiences for the sample book, you can see that there are at least four distinct audiences for this book. Each audience requires a different marketing approach and strategy.

Identifying your target audience in this manner lets you prioritize your marketing efforts and expenditures. Of course, you will spend the most time and money on your primary audience. But you do not want to neglect your secondary and tertiary audiences.

Remember, the first step in creating a marketing plan is identifying your target audience. Only after you identify your target audience can you develop specific action steps to reach your audience.

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