E-Marketing Strategy: Find Online Book Buyers Fast
In the January/February issue of Book Business, this column explored how to redesign your website for maximum effectiveness. Assuming that your website is now redesigned, poised and ready for an influx of customers, the next step is to build a strong Web marketing foundation.
As exciting as it is for you, a website redesign will not double or triple your site's traffic on its own—unless, of course, you're checking it 3,000 times a day to see how pretty it is … which I'd understand. Rather, your website traffic will only grow when the crowds of would-be-interested Internet browsers begin to learn about your site, your books and your amazing content.
We know people discuss and recommend books online. We also know people buy books online. The key to Web marketing success is finding the best ways to get people to discuss, recommend and buy your books online. The first step is to find these folks.
Begin by narrowing your search. You're not looking for all book buyers online. Instead, search only for the people who would be interested in buying, discussing and recommending your books online. So, what do you publish? What's your niche? Focus there.
Let's say, for example, that you publish cookbooks. And, in fact, your company publishes books by some of the leading chefs in the world—but your online presence is nonexistent. This may sound discouraging at first, but it is an enviable position: You and your expert content are poised for an online explosion.
Begin your search with the "Big Three" social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere.
Searching for your audience on Facebook is easy. Log in to your account and type "cooking" into the site's top search bar. (Searching on Google for Facebook audiences can sometime be more effective than Facebook's own search tool.) You're looking for results marked "Group" or "Page." You'll notice that more than 5.7 million people have indicated that they "Like" cooking as an "Interest," but since Facebook does not allow you to contact people through an "Interest," it's better to look for cooking-related Pages or Groups since you are able to send content to all of the folks who "Like" those.
If the keyword "cooking" isn't producing the results you want, try variations on the keyword, or more specific keywords that relate to your books, such as "grilling," "barbecue," "desserts," "baking," etc. You'll find Groups and Pages belonging to all sorts of people, businesses and organizations. Examine the Groups and Pages that look promising. Create a list of those that have the biggest numbers of followers and the most appropriate audiences for your books.
I'll cover how to make use of these in the next article. For now, just familiarize yourself with their offerings, tone and audience.
Twitter never ceases to amaze me. It is an ongoing public conversation on every topic imaginable. Conversations are organized by the hashtags inserted into messages. For example, people discussing cookbooks will often use the hashtag "#cookbooks." Hashtags are organic creations. They are not regulated by Twitter. Therefore, they come and go. A hashtag's individual popularity depends on the waxing or waning interest in that topic at any given moment.
Gauge the momentary interest in any hashtag by searching for it on http://search.twitter.com. These results will give you a quick glimpse of the people currently discussing that topic.
To find other folks on Twitter who commonly discuss your niche topic, you can use third-party directory tools that rank Twitter users based on their favorite topics and influence. These tools include: WeFollow, Twellow, JustTweetIt, Twitr and others. Pour through these directories, searching for all the folks listed under the appropriate hashtags or conversation topics. Follow several hundred of them with your Twitter account. (Beware: In an effort to prevent spam, Twitter monitors the number of folks you follow in a day. It's best to follow 50 to 100 per day until you build up a list of several thousand people.)
Your Twitter stream will now be full of folks who like to talk about your topic. Watch the conversation for a few days. Learn the landscape.
The blogosphere too often is overlooked. In my opinion, it is the single-most effective place for social media and Web marketing. The most popular blogs attract millions of readers every week. Your ultimate goal is to place your books and content onto the most popular blogs and, therefore, out in front of millions of new readers.
You may know many of the most popular blogs in your niche already. That's a good start. I suggest you find at least 10 to 15 blogs you'd like to target as possible outlets for your content. Search AllTop.com to find a good list of blogs in your niche, and then use Compete.com to determine their traffic. Remember, when determining whether or not a blog is worth pursuing, your first criteria should be appropriateness for your audience—traffic should be second.
Twitter is also a phenomenal place to get blog recommendations and meet many of the blog editors. Ask the folks in your Twitter stream for tips, and don't forget to use the hashtags.
Once you've got a list of 10 to 15 sizable blogs with your ideal audience, subscribe to all of their RSS feeds. This will allow you to read (or scan) their content every day in one place. Watch these blogs for a few weeks. Familiarize yourself with their content and tone. Refine your list as needed.
Other Places to Look
The Internet is full of "hangouts." Facebook, Twitter and the blogosphere are just the biggest three at the moment. Depending on your niche, your audience may not spend time on Twitter or Facebook; they may be spending time on more niche- focused social media platforms like LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo or Scribd. Once you've found (or not found) your audience on the big three, poke around the smaller ones to see what you find.
In the next issue, we'll start the ball rolling by working our way down that list of blogs you've put together. BB
J.S. McDougall is co-owner of Catalyst Webworks (CatalystWebworks.com), a Web design and marketing firm specializing in the book industry. He is the author of six books about conducting business online, including "Start Your Own Blogging Business." Follow him on Twitter at @catalystwebwks.