Best Practices in Online Selling
On the Focal Press home page (FocalPress.com), tabs direct visitors to pages dedicated to specific areas of interest, where there are sample chapters to read, tutorials with clear tie-ins to instructional book series, and “sneak peeks” of multimedia packages offered for sale. Bestsellers and new releases are prominently featured, as are author profiles.
Elsewhere at Elsevier, e-books have come to dominate the online purchasing market. On the company’s Science Direct platform (ScienceDirect.com), designed primarily for academic and corporate libraries, and other institutions, subscribers receive frequent alerts to new releases (by e-mail or RSS feeds) and benefit from sophisticated search tools that Anderson says are built around the workflow needs of users.
Getting Creative With Custom Content and Purchase Options
“We’ve been doing a great number of customer advisory boards, and a lot of research with focus groups to really find out what the most useful formats are for people in the [scientific] community,” Anderson says, citing as an example options available to libraries specializing in certain subject areas.
“We offer packages—we call them collections—based on subject areas,” Anderson explains. “Institutions big on some subject areas can pick collections most suitable to their organizations, or can pick and choose, and get one or two that fall outside of that collection. Pricing is based on institutional size and the number of users they will have.”
At McGraw-Hill Education’s award-winning AccessPharmacy site (AccessPharmacy.com), which provides curricular-based access to dozens of textbooks and reference works, purchases are also based on a subscription model—and, as with Science Direct, extensive market research.
“We always work with an advisory board in developing a product,” says Helen Parr, executive editor of medical online at McGraw-Hill. The company also pays attention to visitor habits, recently adding a “pay-per-view” option after noticing many visitors were finding the site through Google.