With so many people at home, book sales are having a moment. To butcher an old saying, it’s the agile company that gets the worm. Mega retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble have big data, sophisticated digital storefronts, and advanced personalization built into the customer journey. It’s hard for book publishers to participate. For both printed and digital products, personalization rules and algorithms are set by the retailer and are out of the publisher’s control.
This isn’t a new problem. In a brick-and-mortar store, endstands and displays are built to draw attention from passing customers, but offer very limited options. Publishers pay more and compete with other brands for spots with higher point values. Similarly, online retailers have prime spots on their homepage, but the competition remains the same. With the strain to be noticed felt even more keenly now, how can publishers maximize their own storefronts and enhance the B2C experience in addition to their existing B2B sales?
For publishers with their own inventory to move, without a physical space to market products, it’s time for an upgrade (or five).
Here Are Five Digital Upgrades for Book Publishers to Make Right Now
1) Have Your Own eCommerce Website
Having your own storefront allows you to market more directly to your readers. Retailers are valuable, but don’t discount the power of brand loyalty. If you don’t have an online store yet, it’s not too late. Having your own ecommerce operation doesn’t have to be complicated, and gives you an opportunity to manage the message. It can not only help with near-term sales, but with customer data collection, too. Once a customer purchases, you can control customer marketing on email, advertising, social media and more.
2) Personalize the Shopping Experience
Readers follow a link to your page with an encouraging “Read more here!” but when they get to your storefront it doesn’t hold their interest if there’s just a generic splash page. Shop your own site to find places where you can easily personalize with data that you have readily available such as recent searches or past purchases. Not only should the site be easy to navigate, with an up-to-date catalogue, it should be tailored to give consumers more of what they’re interested in. Try featuring titles by the same author or keywords from past purchases, not just generic categories. The site should also adjust based on the user’s digital device and offer content based on input such as where they navigated from, keywords, or what books they have in their library. An ecommerce platform can help optimize many of these important elements.
3) Balance Print and Digital
When eBooks first came on the scene, everyone waited for print books to become obsolete. That hasn’t happened, and hard copies still make up 80% of all book sales. Regardless, readers expect to have both versions available to choose from, with preferences adjusted based on topic, genre, and price. Being able to easily track those trends can help book publishers narrow the focus of their promotions and audience.
4) Make Digital Marketing Consistent Across Channels
Customers may still read print products, but they’re buying them online more frequently. They need ads that reside in the same space as their buying habits, and that’s online, across display, social, and search. Your online storefront can also generate personalized online ads and promotions to both existing and potential customers. Targeted ad messages can connect directly to a personalized on-site experience so that customers have a more efficient, seamless journey to purchase. And their shopping data can be used to personalize for new site visitors, too, creating a much broader personalization approach.
5) Activate a Linking Strategy
You’ve created a great storefront, you’re getting traffic, and you’ve provided a link to reviews on sites like Goodreads for individual books. But, what does it matter if the review site doesn’t list your store as a spot to buy? Don’t allow a customer to leave your site without a clear way back, so that you can control the customer journey as much as possible.
Using your own B2C storefront in addition to selling through retailers can help keep readers interested in your products. With an updated digital strategy that prioritizes the customer relationship, book publishers can start collecting insights, selling more products directly, and increasing their branding.
This blog post was authored by Kibo Technical Writer Sharon Chester.