September 18, 2020 • Aerio Staff
As consumers continue to buy books online, having a strong digital sales and marketing strategy has never been more important for holiday success. In this part 1 series, we’ll discuss the important of marketing and selling in social streams, as well as how to run inexpensive and effective Facebook and Instagram ads.
But first, let’s get some context on what’s going on now in the book industry, and how this will affect the upcoming holiday sales season.
The Global Book Market is Rising
Visits to books & literature ecommerce sites at the end of Q1 2020 grew dramatically. The pandemic took hold and the shift to the online channel began. According to SEMrush, between January 2020 and March 2020 website traffic for books & literature went from 1.35 billion searches to 1.51 billion.
Consumer Buying Behavior Has Changed
Search volume hints at the changes in consumer behavior. Google searches for “buy books online” spiked in April and now has a new higher baseline. There was a corresponding rise in ebook and audiobook searches, but they have slowly fallen back to normal - most likely due to the popularity of new subscriptions to platforms like Kindle and Audible.
So, where are these ecommerce book searches leading people to? Based on traffic, they are going to retail stores. Barnes and Noble, Powell’s, and Bookshop just to name a few. The growth of Bookshop.org in the wake of the pandemic appears to be holding and we expect this to grow as the holiday season nears closer.
However, let’s not forget the big players. Most online traffic went to or stayed with the big guns - Amazon, Walmart, Target — as the three major consumer ecommerce players in the US have a sizable physical book presence.
Amazon made the largest overall increase since February 2020, having gained nearly 5.4 billion in website traffic in July alone. As of late, when it comes to Amazon website visitors there has been a slight move away from mobile to desktop, which could be due to the rise of at-home workers. These trends can shine a bit of light on overall consumer trends.
According to Similarweb, Amazon is gathering a great deal of website traffic directly and via search BUT… Look at social, not trailing far behind email traffic.
All Online Activities Are Trending Up
Ecommerce and book commerce are reaching a peak in activity, as are other online activities. Recently, Hootsuite released a digital 2020 report giving a comprehensive look at the state of the internet, mobile devices, social media, and ecommerce. In one section it was reported that internet users aged 16 to 64 spend more time on each of the following activities due to COVID-19:
Taking an Audience First Approach
Right now, there is an opportunity to capitalize on the increase of online book sales. Specifically, the social media space is a marketing lever with a tremendous number of users and targeting capabilities. Especially, for booksellers.
Understand Your Target Audience
When looking to build your audience, it’s important to consider what targeting factors to consider like demographics, geographics, behaviors and psychographics.
These factors help to cut through the noise and find the right readers, so you’re not wasting resources on:
There are two keys areas to make your mark when it comes to an audience first approach. First, readers who are aware of your book and willing to buy. Second, readers who are not aware of your book but likely to be interested.
Audience Research Tools & Tips
Besides your books, the tools and technology you use to understand your audience and sell your books will be your greatest assets. The following is a list of tools necessary to make the most of your online sales:
Facebook Insights helps you to build an audience, using the same targeting factors mentioned above – demographics, geographics, activity and behaviors, and psychographics. Not all brands on Facebook are big enough to target, but when you find one it will often lead to others. You can also save your audience in Facebook for use in future ads.
Facebook’s targeting factors include:
Tactics for Social Success
There are 3 tactics for social success:
Organic Posts & Creative Content
The key to successful organic posts is to optimize your copy, creative and call-to-action (CTA).
There are also a variety of tools out there to help with optimization, efficiency and tracking. Tools like Buffer and Hootsuite can help schedule when posts are published to reach and grow your audience even when you’re not online. These tools can also work across social networks to help you manage your social presence on multiple platforms. However, it’s important to remember that this should not replace active, real-time engagement.
Tools like Followerwonk can help analyze Twitter analytics. Their free account lets you see when your Twitter followers are most active and allows you to analyze your followers as well as your competitors.
Paid Advertising: Facebook & Instagram
There are several basic pre-requisites you should have in place, before running an ad on Facebook and Instagram:
Now that your accounts are set up, it’s important to know when and why you should advertise. We’ll discuss this in three parts – campaign, ad settings and the ad itself.
It can also be a good idea to set your campaign budget, however you can also do this further into the process.
Managing Your Budget
When it comes to managing your ad budget, there are several best practices:
Choosing Your Audience
Building a custom audience is great if you have an engaged audience on FaceBook or an email list you can pull from. You can also use a saved audience that you previously created in Audience Insights or create a new audience. Pay attention to the estimated reach and suggestions as you build your audience out, to find the best fit. And make sure to save any new audiences so you can easily target the same group again.
Refine your targeting by excluding or narrowing your audience. When you exclude your audience, you’re removing target subgroups. A narrow audience helps you to only reach those who are book-buyers with high interest, so you’re not spending more on an audience that won’t convert.
Placement & Delivery
Placement is deciding where you want your ad to appear. Especially at first, we recommend automatic placements or only limiting by platform (e.g. Facebook vs Instagram). For example, if your audience is much more likely to be on Instagram, focusing there may make good sense.
Manual placement offers lots of control, however unless you know for sure which placements (newsfeed vs stories) will be better for you, Facebook’s auto-placement is likely the best choice.
To optimize your ad’s delivery, it’s important to know what your goals and metrics of success are. Facebook will adjust ad delivery based on these, which will be different depending on your campaign objective. For example, if your ad is linking to retail partners, link clicks are likely the right choice for you
Ad Set Up
Your ad set up includes what images, video, and text your ad will have. A few tips and best practices are:
When it comes to setting up your ad, first you’ll want to decide if you’re creating a new ad (which will not show up on your page feed) or using an existing post to promote something you published on your page organically.
From there, you’ll want to determine:
Facebook’s Creative Hub also allows you to create and share mockups outside of the ad manager, which can be useful for approvals.
Monitor & Optimize
There’s nothing we do online that we don’t want to monitor and optimize. The Facebook Ad interface gives you a lot of data on what’s going on and most importantly – impressions, CTR (click-through-rate), and cost-per-result.
In the book industry, we’ve seen successful cost-per-results around 50 cents to $1, but that cost should be driving down as you optimize your ads.
In addition to the Facebook Ad interface data, we’re also monitoring point-of-sale data to make sure that we’re affecting sales of the books, which helps to inform how long an ad runs or if edits should be made.
Selling Books in Facebook & Instagram
When it comes to selling your books directly through Facebook and Instagram, there are several ways to get started, all with varying degrees of complexity:
No matter which option you choose, you’ll increase consideration and drive more conversions with rich content and offers. A few ideas are:
Stay tuned for Part 2 of this blog post series, where we’ll share the top successful holiday book marketing promotions that get readers engaged and more importantly, to buy.