Companies across the globe are full of executives who believe in the traditional model of digital marketing and may need a little convincing to recognize that times are changing. You may also find that these executives are a bit jittery because their once tried-and-true tactics are becoming less effective. The well of consumer patience for constant interruption is exhausted.
The digital revolution was a huge win for the act of publishing. Content is now everywhere and can be purchased anywhere. But how, in this sea of content, do publishers who invest in the time-honored processes that ensure quality content communicate that? There are many methods to boost content discoverability—many are technical, many are strategic, and all should be tailored to the content and audience in question. The most powerful—and most resilient—method for improving your content's discoverability, however, is to inspire your once-passive audience to actively seek you out.
Active discovery—where customers know to specifically seek out your content—requires branding.
Here's your strategy landmine for the day: The web browser is dying off. It may be difficult to fathom, but in a few years, no program we use on our tablets, phones or computers will resemble the web browsers we're using today. Digital services, social platforms and most importantly, digital content are all steadily migrating away from the web browser and into the world of apps.
Publishers have been blessed with the gift of invisibility. For the last several decades of modern book publishing, the industry's "top-down" distribution model has allowed publishers to stand behind the scenes—working tirelessly, but not publicly—to make sure high-quality and important content found its way to the world's stage. This shroud of invisibility has long protected publishers from suffering the worst effects of their worst failures, and it has granted them certain freedoms to take the risks required of a publisher—on new authors, on new topics, on new ideas, etc. Colossal failures during these years may have tarnished the author in the readers' minds, and the booksellers who recommended their steaming pile of a book, but not the largely invisible publisher—who lived to publish another day.
Content marketing is the hot new term in the world of marketing. As it is when anything new and potentially revolutionary comes along, confusion and fear about this new 12-headed beast are running rampant. I've heard some bewildering arguments against content marketing that were based on little more than fear and "yeah, well, my second cousin the web geek told me xyz" reactionary belligerence.
The tools we use to find content are changing and becoming more intelligent. Google can now distinguish between content that people find actually useful and content that has been perfectly optimized to game their system. Obviously, it is in Google's interest not to be gamed.
To all you publishers who are struggling and stressing about catching up on the latest techniques for search engine optimization (SEO) in the hopes that your books will become more easily discovered by searchers:
Stop. Take a breath. SEO is dead. We've entered the days beyond SEO. We're now playing a new game.
Since the earliest days of search (remember AltaVista?!), search engines have been locked in a battle with Web developers for control over their search engine results pages.
One of the obvious advantages of Web marketing over the traditional kind (print, TV, radio, etc.) is that nearly everything anyone does online is trackable and measurable. Each post on Facebook, each tweet fired off at the end of the day, every newsletter sent, and even every inch scrolled down a Web page can be parsed, segmented and measured.
When people think about Web marketing these days, they tend to focus on the potential of shiny, new platforms like Google+, Twitter, FourSquare and Tumblr.
Sexy though it may be, social media marketing isn't easy, and it isn't free.
This installment of E-Marketing Strategy picks up right where the column in the March/April issue of Book Business (accessible at BookBusinessMag.com) left off: blog marketing.
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.