Are You Doing This with Your Website?

Do you know what the top mission of your website is?

If you answered: To sell my books. You are wrong.

The most important duty of your website is to develop trust with your website visitors. First-time visitors make up 60 to 70 percent of traffic every month for the average website. When these new people reach your website, your job is to introduce them to you and your books. But, more importantly, you must build trust with these visitors. Trust is required for a sale to happen.

To develop trust with your website visitors, make sure that you are providing these four things on your website.

1. Relevant Content

If the majority of the daily visitors to your website are brand new, they are most likely unfamiliar with you and your books. Your primary job is to build trust with these people through information. Providing content that answers their questions and informs and educates them helps you build trust. When website visitors scan your information—and they do scan—and find valuable advice that is relevant to their situation, they begin to trust you and your message.

2. Free Samples

Be open with what you provide in your books. Studies show that providing samples improves sales. If people are confident that they will like what they are spending their money on, they are more likely to purchase. In some cases, offering a sample can boost sales by 2,000 percent. A sample raises people’s confidence. Offer one to a few chapters of your books so that people can sample what you have published to increase their trust and confidence in you.

3. Testimonials

Social proof increases consumers’ trust in a brand or product. Social proof is the construct that persuasion of an idea or behavior for an individual is linked with how others are responding to it. In essence, social proof reduces the perception of risk associated with a purchase. Testimonials are one form of social proof. They tell potential customers that others are benefiting from your books, increasing customers’ trust in you and your books.

4. Friendly, Prompt Support

If you sell books directly from your website, provide a way for people to contact you. From time to time, as Director of Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA), I receive calls from people who are trying to reach a Member of CSPA. These people tell me that they have tried to purchase a book, or made a purchase, or have an issue with their purchase, yet are unable to get a hold of the publisher or author. They have called me to obtain help in this matter.

One recent study by Corra found that 52.4% of shoppers prefer to communicate through live chat on a website, while 32.8% preferred email for communicating, and 14.5% choose a phone call. If you are not providing live chat on your website, at least make sure that you provide a telephone number and an email. Then, be sure to check your emails and phone messages regularly so that you don’t leave customers or potential customers languishing. Prompt responses help to build trust.

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Awareness Is Not Enough

“I need distribution for my book right away. I am doing radio and TV shows and bookstores are wanting to order my book.”

This caller’s frantic plea for help is something that I have run into a number of times. It turns out that this author published her book via KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). The only place it was for sale was on Amazon.com.

The author had hired a publicist—spending thousands of dollars. Fortunately, the publicist was doing a good job of lining up radio and television interviews. The problem: no distribution.

So, while this author was getting lots and lots of publicity for her book, her book was not positioned for that publicity.

I have seen this happen to a number of independent authors. It is not a publicist’s job to educate her client on book publishing and distribution. After all, the publicist’s specialty is publicity. As a result, many publicists fail to make sure that their clients’ books are in distribution and widely available for sale in numerous outlets before booking media interviews. Sadly, when this happens, much of the publicity achieved goes to waste.

Publicity alone does not sell books. Most book sales are determined by three factors.

1. Awareness

People have to know your book exists to be able to purchase it. This is where publicity is very helpful. The more exposure you have for your book, the more people you make aware of your book.

2. Decision

Decision comes after awareness. Only after readers know about a book can they decide to purchase the book.

3. Availability

Once a reader decides to buy a book, the book must be available in the format and place he or she wants to buy the book. If readers cannot find the book where they usually shop, the sale is easily lost. Not everyone shops on Amazon.

When it comes to selling books, awareness is not enough. Availability (think ease of purchase) is just as important a factor in the buying process. Having your books available for sale in multiple places enhances your ability to sell your book.

Christian Small Publishers Association (CSPA) offers our Members ease of access to distribution through IngramSpark and Lightning Source. Member publishers and authors of CSPA can use their CSPA membership benefit to upload titles for free with these print-on-demand services that also provide distribution through Ingram—ensuring that their books are widely available for sale.

Related Posts:
Distribution Is More Important Than You Think
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Making Smart Use of Your Marketing Dollars

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Photo courtesy of Pablo García Saldaña.

 

Are You Making It Hard?

Recently, I went to Best Buy to help my teenage son buy a computer. He had worked hard and saved his money to buy a special gaming computer (he is a typical teen). We chose Best Buy because they had a sale on the computer and also offered a student discount. We went to our local Best Buy because I believe in supporting retail stores and because my son wanted his computer sooner rather than later.

As we were at the register ringing up the purchase, I inquired about the student discount. The sales clerk told me that I had to apply for the discount on their website. I asked him if we could do it in the store. He told me that I could use my cell phone to make a Best Buy account and apply for the student discount.

I asked the sales clerk what the point of coming into the store was if I had to “apply online” for this discount and the store did not offer a way for me to do this in-store (i.e. a kiosk with a computer for such purposes—or a store clerk willing to assist me in doing this). I pointed out that Best Buy was making it hard for me to make an in-store purchase, ensuring that I would, instead, make my next purchase online.

Retail stores in America are struggling. They are struggling because people are buying more online. But, they are also struggling because they are not providing good customer service. The Editor of Christian Retailing recently wrote that she stopped at a chain Christian bookstore to make a purchase. She asked the sales clerk where the biographies were located and was told “in the back of the store”. She contrasted this experience with shopping at Publix grocery store where the sales clerk will walk you to a specific aisle when asked about a product and point it out.

This whole experience made me think about building a platform and selling books. What are independent authors doing that might be “making it hard” for potential customers to give their email or buy a book? Here is my conclusion.

1. Buying Books

We make it hard for readers to buy our books when our books are only offered for sale in a few select places. Not everyone shops on Amazon. Some people actively avoid Amazon because of its practices. Others want to support Christians, and so prefer to buy books at Christian outlets. Still others want to support authors, thus preferring to purchase books directly from an author or publisher.

Are you books for sale in multiple channels? Can a reader easily find your book in his or her preferred shopping venue? If not, you are making it hard for people to buy your book.

2. Collecting Personal Data

Most authors are working on building a platform. This means that you are trying to collect email addresses so that you can communicate directly with readers and potential readers on a regular basis to build trust and increase loyalty. Collecting email addresses is great, but if you are asking too much information, you are making it hard and losing out.

Studies show that the more information you ask of people in exchange for a freebie, the greater the drop out rate. When building your email list, all you really need is a first name and an email. Don’t ask for more. Make it easy, not hard and you will grow your email list faster.

Are you making it hard? I hope not. Ease and convenience drive more sales.

Related Posts:
Don’t Make It Hard
Selling Books in an Overcrowded Market
How to Become a Best-Selling Author

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Photo courtesy of Vera Arsic.

How to Gain More Readers for Your Books

All authors face the one same challenge: Finding readers for their books.

All sorts of gimmicks exist to lure customers to purchase products. Advertising experts even study which words and phrases work best for grabbing people’s attention. Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. looked at words and phrases salespeople could use to get customers to buy. They discovered a few magic words that tend to grab attention include:

  • New
  • Advice
  • At last
  • Truth
  • Love
  • Facts you should know

Advertising legend Robert Collier believed that writing advertising text was like a science. He used the studies done by Tested Selling Institute and Word Laboratory Inc. and applied their findings to printed advertising. Collier’s own research revealed that the word “how” in an advertising headline appeared to be the most useful word in improving the success of an advertising piece.

Each of these words reveals that people are searching for answers. People want practical solutions to their problems. They want to improve their lives.

I frequently say that marketing is simply letting people know that you have the answer to a need in their life. If you publish books, your book meets a need in someone’s life.

We all know that advertising is expensive and often does not have a very high return, especially for books. After all, people need to see and hear about a product multiple times before they decide to make a purchase (with the exception of impulse buys). So, what other marketing techniques can authors use to grab readers’ attention?

Enter content marketing. Content marketing is about sharing information that educates, inspires, and entertains readers. Content marketing allows an author to develop trust with an audience so that these people buy the author’s books.

If you are interested in learning more about content marketing and how you can use this powerful tool to grow the audience for your books, I encourage you to watch my new on-demand seminar Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing. This 40-minute seminar will walk you through six practical steps for sharing content on a regular basis to grow your audience.

As always, these on-demand seminars are free for Members of Christian Small Publishers Association. Other publishers and authors can access this seminar, Grow Your Audience with Content Marketing, for just $15 online at https://mcbuniversity.selz.com.

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