Why Book Marketing (Still) Starts and Ends with the Website

Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.

www magnifying glass book marketing websiteIt’s almost 2015, and so much in the publishing industry remains in flux, from publishers’ distribution channels to their methods of driving consumer awareness and discovery—even book content itself.

From a marketing perspective, many of the techniques, platforms and strategies publishers implement to approach the market are continuing to evolve at a sometimes surprising pace as well. (Who was really marketing through Pinterest or Instagram even two or three years ago?) More often than not, those changes increase the number of choices publishers need to make to market effectively: online vs. ‘real’ world; email vs. social media vs. paid advertising vs. mobile vs. content; budgets for overall marketing efforts vs. those for specific books. The list could very well be endless.

But one thing that has remained consistent over the past decade and will remain so in the future is the importance of the publisher’s website. In fact, the website could very well be one of the most important channels allowing a publisher to be competitive, even—and especially—as everything that surrounds it changes at an ever increasing rate.

To do that, though, the site itself needs to become something more than it has been in the past. For a publisher (especially small and midsize publishers), having a robust online destination for customers to easily find and purchase your books is absolutely crucial.

While a lot of focus in recent years has been on building up an off-site following through social media, for instance, the real purpose of those channels should be to drive customers back to the one thing a publisher truly owns on the web: its site.

Establishing a direct customer relationship is probably the most important task for publishers in 2015 and beyond. Owning that customer relationship will increasingly become the barometer of future success, and, ironically, it is the larger publishers with much larger budgets that are potentially disadvantaged relative to their smaller counterparts.

Why? Because smaller publishers are likelier to have an easier time building a brand and establishing customer purchase preference around its category or genre simply because they have fewer imprints, titles and organizational obstacles to achieving that online marketing focus. Once that relationship with consumers is established and nurtured over time (via all of the available on- and off-line channels), those smaller publishers may indeed find it easier to market their titles profitably.

The goal for any small or midsize publisher looking at their existing digital marketing strategy or building one from the ground up should be to acquire 1,000 fans who will purchase every book they publish, hopefully on the day it publishes–then tell everyone they know about it. (Larger publishers, of course, would need many more fans to be successful). To be sure, that kind of fan isn’t easy to come by, but they’re out there—and they’re the most valuable kind of customer a publisher can have.

Fortunately, publishers have help in seeking out those dedicated fans. In the modern world, authors and publishers need to work together to drive sales. An author who is willing to help build an audience for his or her books is worth more to a publisher than one who isn’t. Likewise, a publisher that provides authors the resources to help make that happen is worth more to an author than a publisher that doesn’t. And at the center of those partnerships is the publisher’s website, which serves as the hub around which both parties’ online marketing activities must revolve.

Here’s what a publisher’s website must include in order to succeed in today’s digital marketplace:

  • Full search engine and mobile optimization
  • Integrated social media content, curation and sharing
  • Email registration and community programs
  • Robust e-commerce capabilities
  • An effective mechanism for amplifying authors’ online and social media activities
  • A dynamic, ongoing digital marketing program across as many channels as time and budget will allow

Getting there is no overnight process, but there are a few fairly straightforward ways to start. Join me on Tuesday, December 16th at 12pm EST for an exclusive webcast showing you how to rethink social media marketing in order to drive readers back to your website and turn audience engagement into sales. Click here to learn more and register.

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