What is the single most significant thing you can do for building your book sales or business? If you answered, “Have a website,” then you are spot on. I am always amazed at how many people jump into building their website without any knowledge of what it involves. Especially when they know how important a great website is to their business or book sales. And although design is important, that’s not really what I’m talking about. Instead, I’m talking about the goals, the mission, and understanding the principles that go into creating something that isn’t about you. Yes, your website has information about you and your books, but it’s ultimately about your users. In the end, they are the single most important aspect of how you sell your books.
Today, there are more ways to build a site than you can count. Many of these routes are very affordable, and some are even free. Free websites come with guidance about how to add pages, but they don’t come with a marketing design expert. We love free, but to have a successful site that drives business and book sales, you will need to decide which components will increase your success and what could make your website fail.
You may be able to do this on your own, or you may need a professional to help guide you. And it’s important to know that if you choose to hire a designer, they may not have the marketing perspective you need. That said, they can often create beautiful and technical masterpieces. Some are just great designers and while there’s nothing wrong with that, you need to know some basics about what will attract readers and customers, as well as what will help you close sales, too
These ten steps will help you identify what your site will need to accomplish in order to be successful for you, your book sales, and/or your business.
1. Set your goals: The first thing you must discover is why you are building this site. If it’s because someone told you that you had to have one, then think again. That’s not a good enough reason. You need to know why you’re building a website before you even get started. A site that lacks a single goal is a site without any real direction.
2. Know your reader: It’s critical that you know what your readers (or customers) want or need.. Why? Because your site isn’t about you, your book, or your accomplishments. Your website is about them and what you have to offer.
3. It’s not about “you” it’s about YOU: How many times do you say “I” or “we” on your website? Go ahead, count them. If you’re like most folks, I’m betting you say that a lot. Guess what? That language needs to go. It’s ok to occasionally use words like “I” or “We,” but use them sparingly. Instead, say “you” and “your” – because again, it’s about the people you want to buy your books, not about you.
4. Words on your website: We’ve talked about the importance of focusing on “you” and “your,” so now it’s time to spend some time discussing your website verbiage – the copy. This too is critically important, and all too often, it’s overlooked. Authors and business owners write copy with little idea about crafting compelling verbiage that draws in your readers. Not only must your website be captivating, but you also need to weave calls to action onto the page. If your website hits all of the points in this article, but it still isn’t driving book sales, maybe your website copy needs refreshing. How do you know if your copy isn’t working? Ask someone who knows. Maybe one of your readers can tell you – or maybe it’s time to ask a professional.
5. Write a Newsletter: A big social media following is no longer enough. Social media is changing. And Facebook pages, though still great tools, are most successful with paid advertising. If you aren’t running Facebook ads, your updates probably aren’t consistently showing up in your fans’ newsfeeds. To grow your readership, a newsletter is definitely a must – and there are lots of great email campaign services available.
6. Upgrade your ethical bribe: It’s a good idea to give people something in exchange for their email address. When someone signs up for your newsletter you really need to give them a solid reason to do so. It used to be that providing a book chapter or a free report was enough to drive sign-ups. But now, consumers expect more and you need to deliver. Sometimes offering a monthly drawing for a $25 gift card can drive sign-ups. If the idea of a gift card doesn’t appeal to you, think of something else that’s substantial. Maybe even a free copy of one of your books.
7. Build trust: Would you ever buy something from someone you didn’t trust? Most people would probably say no. Yet so many sites are devoid of testimonials, reviews, or social media love. For example, do any of your social media icons show numbers? “Join 1,000 other fans on Facebook!” That helps show your consumer that they, too, can belong to a large tribe of adoring fans. If your social media numbers are low, you can skip this until you grow them, but testimonials are definitely a must. And speaking of testimonials, have you ever considered video?
8. Film videos: A single enthusiastic consumer talking about a product, message, or person can outweigh any, and perhaps most other promotions in your marketing plan, and for this reason, video is very important for your website. Whenever you can, record people using/reading your product, or get them to record something after they’ve used/read it. You can also do it for them, here’s an easy way. Invite them to Google Hangouts and record it using their YouTube connection. It’s very easy to do and a simple way to grab more video for your website! Or ask them to use the new Facebook live feature, save the video, and upload to YouTube.
9. Upgrade your blog: I recently read a brilliant article on how to double, triple, and in some cases, quadruple the sign-ups you get on your website. How? By using your most popular blog posts and offering an “upgraded” or enhanced version of them. Let’s say you have one post that you know does amazingly well. It’s been shared a lot and has a ton of great comments. Why not offer an expanded version of that blog in exchange for an email address? Pretty cool idea, right? You can see the full post here: http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions. I wish I could take credit for this, but I can’t, although I can assure you that we are implementing this now.
10. Different types of calls to action: In order for your website to be an effective sales tool, you need multiple strong calls to action (CTAs). Include several different types of action statements in multiple places to help pull visitors in. Make them want to click, and make it easy to do what you’re asking of them. Here some of the most popular CTAs:
- Contact Us
- Learn More
- Call now!
- Chat with us live!
- Take our Survey
- Request a Consultation
- Click Here
- Apply Now
- Ask the Expert
One final tip: Installing Google Analytics on your site is a must. It’s imperative for measuring traffic, gauging how people get to you, what search keywords are driving them to your site, and your bounce rate. A bounce rate is the percentage of people who “bounce” off of your site after landing on it. There really is no typical “best” number for this. For some sites, a 70% bounce rate is exactly right, while for others it’s too high. If you’re not sure, check with your web person or someone who understands your market.
Building a website can feel like a very complicated beast, and in fact, the process can be beastly. But, ultimately, creating a site your readers will love is deceptively simple: give them what they want. In the end, that’s really all that matters. Because a website is more than just a pretty face.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at www.amarketingexpert.com.