The Importance of a Website to Sell and Market Books
In today’s digital marketplace, it is critical to offer customers online avenues where they can quickly and easily find products and make purchases.
To some this may seem obvious. However, a 2016 report administrated by Clutch showed out of a sample 350 small U.S. businesses, 46% of them did not have a website.
Some business owners, especially smaller ones, may be thinking:
“A website is a lot of work and an expensive investment. I don’t need one.”
“A website isn’t really relevant to my business. I don’t need one.”
Both of those statements are gravely inaccurate. Even more so if you are trying to sell books online in a highly-competitive market.
Why You Need a Website to Sell and Market Books
- The internet.
The Internet is the first place the majority of shoppers go to find information about products. According to a retailer study done by Forbes Insights and Synchrony Financial, 82% of customers conduct the majority of their research online.
A website is one of your most powerful online book marketing tools because it allows you to take full advantage of the internet, which leads to the next point.
- More control.
Your website offers the most control of any online platform, especially when used in conjunction with other platforms. For example, cultivating a healthy social media following is a smart move for authors and publishers trying to sell books online. However, most social media platforms offer rigid designs and structures, with no control over ads that may show up on your profile.
Therefore, expand your online marketing potential by using your social media platforms in conjunction with your website. View your social media strategy as a supplement to a more controlled and directed online marketing strategy that starts with your website. Which leads to our next point.
- Total audience coverage.
Social media alone does not provide total audience coverage. This may come as a surprise, but not everyone uses Facebook, or Twitter, or Pinterest, etc. A well-optimized website can multiply your reach on a global scale that surpasses what is available on social media alone.
Ok so I need a website - how do I get started?
Hopefully we’ve convinced you that a website is important to sell your books online, but you’re still unsure on how to get started, and what that perceived cost looks like.
Well we’re happy to report there are tons of inexpensive platforms out there that make a basic website quite affordable. Here are a few you may want to take a closer look at:
WordPress – Thousands of themes & plugins, superior Google optimization, and a highly-engaged user community.
Wix.com – Plenty of templates to choose from with intuitive drag and drop functionality.
Web.com – Another one with tons of templates. Also includes free SEO tools.
SquareSpace.com – Free hosting and privacy, plus design-forward templates.
Weebly.com – Geared towards light users, but very easy to use and comes with free email.
Once you’ve chosen a platform, here is some basic info your website needs to include:
- Information about you—author or publisher, this is where you sprinkle in a little personality
- A contact page—people need to be able to reach you with questions or comments
- Author pages (for publishers) – each page dedicated to one author that includes a bio and links to their books
- Book pages – a page for each book featuring: cover image, short or long description, and link to the author page
- Links to social media—so your audience can easily follow you on all your online platforms
- Imagery—pictures of your books, pictures of you, pictures of everything
- Style—branding a website is your best opportunity to feature what makes you unique
Ok so I’ve got a website - how do I use it to sell books?
Once you have a website setup, the biggest cost comes in time and effort, but it will be worth it in the end. Here are a few ways to start marketing and selling books on your website:
- Search engine optimization – Most importantly, you need to make sure people can find you and your books online. This is a constant organic process worthy of an entire series of post.
- Blogs – These can be whatever you want them to be. A review of books. A Q&A with authors. Commentary on reading trends. Posts targeting niche audiences. The most important thing is to offer visitors valuable and useful content.
- Lead Generation – Add a form to your website to capture your most interested reader’s information and continue the conversation. Examples might include a sign-up for a weekly newsletter to promote upcoming books or contests, or giveaways for signed copies of books. Once you know what visitors engage with the most on your website, build lead capturing elements around that content.
- Ads – There are tons of advertising options available to you, from pay-per click ads on search engines to paid ads on social media. Knowing your audience is key to planning a paid advertising strategy.
People shop online. It is a basic fact. To be successful selling books online, you need a strong online marketing and sales strategy. A website is a key part of that.