Buyer's Guide: Marketing Automation Accelerates D2C Efforts
This article is from the Book Business Buyer's Guide which is a publisher's reference on emerging technology in the book industry. You can find other Buyer's Guide Sections here:
There's no doubt that Amazon's market dominance can be sobering, accounting for up to 65% of ebook sales, followed by Apple and Barnes & Noble. Book publishers are facing pressure to evolve their digital marketing practices. Yet book publishers have an opportunity to gain ground where behemoths like Amazon fall short: individual consumer engagement.
While Amazon has the algorithms to suggest complementary titles to individual consumers, it's not engaging them beyond the sale. It's an efficient retail experience if you come seeking product information or a transaction, but you wouldn't go to Amazon to simply pass the time.
The challenge, however, is that Amazon is so good at providing that retail experience, that book publishers will need to work extra hard to lure them away. They can't just provide a good experience for consumers—they need to provide a great experience for consumers.
Publishers are finding they must engage directly with consumers, and fortunately they have a powerful tool for doing that: content—and lots of it. The challenge is then to provide opportunities for engagement, rise above the noise to attract the most relevant audiences, and do so efficiently.
The Powerful Lure of Content
Despite the fact that the majority of consumers have nearly unlimited access to any kind of content at any time, people have learned to navigate the online information barrage to focus only on what's truly relevant to them. To put it another way: good content is quickly becoming a valuable digital currency.
Publishers happen to have good content at their fingertips. By creating auxiliary content—blogs, video, social media—centered on their books and authors, publishers can establish a presence in the constant flow of information, fight for mindshare, and extend consumer interactions beyond just the purchasing and reading of books.
It's up to book publishers to get themselves in front of consumers using all the channels available to them. Doing that efficiently means reaching audiences anywhere, assessing behavior patterns in real time, and then responding immediately to changing consumer desires.
Extending the Experience with Marketing Automation
Marketing automation tools (such as HubSpot, Marketo, SilverPop, Eloqua) simplify and automate online marketing tasks. Basically, you set certain criteria and the system responds according to the rules. For example, you might have a rule that sends a follow-up email to people who have abandoned a shopping cart. Or your email newsletter program might tag individuals who read a specific article and follow up with similar content or a product suggestion.
Audience development and marketing automation tools can provide greater efficiency, agility, and insight by combining capabilities in analytics, multichannel distribution, and automation. These capabilities allow book publishers to optimize their marketing platforms to move faster and more responsively to market nuances.
Marketing automation tools can help you manage a plethora of content channels, including email, websites, and social media, all on one platform. Most tools allow you to automate repetitive tasks and include analytics features that can track and measure channels against one another, in one view.
For example, you might view how your website traffic increased or decreased due to Twitter activity around a book release. More sophisticated tools, particularly those geared toward B2C segments, are distinguished by their ability to manage huge databases of customer information such as purchase history, demographic information, online behavior, and social media activity. A publisher might want to look for regional or cultural similarities among its most active buyers. Book publishers can then orient specific content or campaigns toward individual segments, large or small.
Marketing on the Move
Mobile capabilities play a large part in enabling an omnichannel presence. Even a simple email campaign must now accommodate any number of unknown platforms and devices. On top of that, large providers like Gmail could implement sweeping design changes, such as separating marketing emails to a different tab, that greatly impact your expected campaign results. When evaluating marketing automation or email marketing providers, publishers should particularly explore their mobile testing capabilities, as well as their ability to adapt to swift market changes.
Analyze the Niches, Fill in the Gaps
Readers are still buying books—they're just purchasing them differently. Increasingly those purchases are online. Engaging content can provide a reason for readers to come straight to the source and online content analytics tools can help offer a fuller view of who those readers are, where they're coming from, and what they're interest are.
Helping to monitor user traffic and engagement and inform content optimization, analytics services run the gamut of functionality. The most well-known analytics services is Google Analytics, which among other things, offers statistics about website traffic, sources of traffic, and conversion of sales. Analytics tools can also provide deeper insight on web visitor referrers, such as search engine and social networks, and how users are engaging with specific content.
Book publishers have some shifting to do in order to start connecting better with their audiences. Combining content and marketing analytics with ecommerce data should offer a fuller picture of an audience segment or the big picture.
Selena Welz lives, works, and writes in the San Francisco Bay Area, focusing on technology and content marketing.
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