How eCommerce Improves Your Book Marketing Plan, Part 1

How eCommerce Improves Your Book Marketing Plan, Part 1

Kristin Eastman, M.S.

In a previous blog post, we discussed the benefits for publishers to sell books direct to consumers.

This has been a hot topic of debate in the publishing industry since 2012/13 and remains so even today. Some experts support the idea of extending the publisher-consumer relationship in such a way, while others see it as a burdensome challenge—incorporating fulfillment into an already heavy workload.

Changing the way you do business is risky, but in this consumer-driven landscape, publishers can see big benefits from a direct sales approach.

In this two-part series we’ll talk about how ecommerce works to create product awareness, improve the customer journey, and generate better marketing data for improved results.

Customer Journey, Purchase Funnel, eCommerce

The Customer Journey

eCommerce alone can drive the book customer from awareness to purchase to advocacy, by:

  • Attracting the consumer with valuable content.
  • Streamlining the purchase process, removing third party retailers from the equation.
  • Providing a gateway to immediate purchase.

What the customer wants is immediately available, creating the best experience possible. This can lead to loyalty and eventually

advocacy—a customer for life.

Better Customer Data

In addition to creating a positive experience, ecommerce also provides valuable insights that can inform a publisher’s marketing strategy.

Integrating Google Analytics with your eCommerce module is an excellent way to track customer behavior and see what is working and what isn’t.

So let's put it all together.

The eCommerce Tripod

There are three major legs to every eCommerce module:

  1. Product pages
  2. Cart
  3. Check-out

Focusing on product pages, or for our purpose, “book” pages, you can compile the data to help inform your marketing strategy.

Anatomy of a Book Page

A book page typically features the following information:

  • Cover Image
  • Title
  • Subtitle (if there is one)
  • Short/Long Description
  • Author Bio (can be link to the author bio page)
  • Author Pic (can be link to the author bio page)
  • Top Reviews
  • Purchase Information
  • Price of the book(s)
  • Formats available for purchase
  • Quantity of purchase

Once you have your Google Analytics in place you can start looking at metrics like:

  • Page Traffic
  • Bounce Rate
  • Conversion Rate

You might be thinking, “Okay, thanks that is a great start but what can I do with that information?”

Understanding Your Book Page Data

There is a lot of data to glean from the Google Analytics on each book page so we'll just look at a few high-level points and how they will help improve your book marketing.

Page Traffic

When you’re running a book marketing campaign on behalf of an author, track everything. Whatever content you use to attract consumers to a book page, make sure it contains tracking links. This way, you know which tactics (emails, blogs, Twitter posts, etc.) are garnering the most success.

Even if you didn’t track your communications, an increase or decrease in your book page traffic can tell you how well, or not so well, your current marketing campaign is performing.

Bounce Rate

A bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who leave a webpage after viewing it for a short period of time. A low bounce rate means you’ve created an awesome book page - users are enjoying the experience and are ready to purchase. If you are experiencing a high bounce rate, there are a couple of things to think about, like:

  1. Are you speaking to the right audience? For example, did you send an email to your entire customer list for a specific YA fiction novel? Be sure to look closely at who you’re pointing to the page.

Create audience segments in Google Analytics like you would with an email marketing list. Now, you can see which segments frequent which book pages most and create more relevant consumer messaging based off this data.

  1. Is the content on the page engaging and valuable? Do you have enough information to answer their questions and concerns? If yes, you’ll see a low bounce rate. If no - you guessed it, a high bounce rate. Make sure your content is meaningful and interesting.

Conversion Rate

Google Analytics will integrate with most ecommerce modules for a birds-eye view of book page performance, from visits to cart additions to purchases. The most important metric for any book page is the conversion rate. Conversions are the driving metric behind a consumer book purchase.

Book Marketing, eCommerce, Conversion Rate

Interpreting Your Book Page Data

These three data pieces (page traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate) all work together to tell a story. All that data working in harmony means you’re on your way to a happily ever after. Data out of sync can quickly make for a Shakespearean tragedy.

So what are some common reasons for a low conversion rate?

  • The audience wasn’t right for the content.
  • The content wasn’t useful or engaging.
  • The purchase process was difficult to navigate.

Here’s an example:

You’ve placed an advertisement in an industry newsletter, as well as on Facebook, and also sent it in an email. The data tells you which source drives the most traffic to your book page. But is that same source getting conversions?

While the email may generate more traffic, your Facebook ad warranted the best conversion rate. So the take away is – spend more focus cultivating that Facebook audience.

You can also reverse engineer data to support high conversion rates. For example, during promotions for a new release, you notice the book page for a backlisted title is getting a lot of traffic and conversions. Put a little more focus on this title. Take a look at the segments visiting that page and find other books they’d like. Then create a few minimal-resource marketing campaigns targeting those titles.

Putting it All Together

Book pages hold a ton of data points that can help you improve your book promotion—too much to cover in one blogarticle. Begin by focusing on the big areas like the page traffic, the bounce rate on the page and the conversion rate. Each of these pieces can be looked at in a silo, but you can ensure the best possible customer journey by using them together.

Alright, that was a lot of information. And we’ve only covered the product pages. Be on the lookout for our part 2 in this series—Cart and Checkout for Your eCommerce Store.