D2C Isn’t Just About Selling, Says Hachette, Perseus & Rodale. It’s About Great Content.
It also requires significant data analytics to understand what content readers are engaging with most. "We use a lot of social media analysis," said Fain, "as well as Google Analytics. We're also tracking sales data throughout the life of our campaigns to see what specific actions drove sales spikes."
Mary Ann Naples, publisher at Rodale Books views content marketing and gathering consumer data as a cyclical process. To gain the data needed to create better and more targeted content, Naples and her team create a number of pieces that connect to a certain title. "We actually create content packages for each of our books," said Naples. "Those go on our sites and on other sites as well. Then we'll track links to books purchased at retailers so we can actually see if our content had an impact." As data on engagement, or lack thereof, comes in, Naples and her team can tweak its content marketing message as they see fit.
Naples emphasized that page views alone do not tell the complete story when measuring reader engagement. Book publishers should also look at time spent on the page, number of returning visitors, social shares, comments, etc. "Yes, it's important to have a big audience, but if you don't have engagement, it doesn't mean much. Engagement is what works for sales."
Although this D2C bookselling discussion ran the gamut, from metadata to social listening, all three panelists contended that none of these strategies were possible without valuable content. "When we're thinking about our sites, or anything that we're doing, we're thinking about benefits to the reader," said Naples. "We're really thinking, 'How do we solve the reader's problems?' And then by way of that, also telling them about our books."