In Q1 of 2012, ebook revenues exceeded hardcover book revenues for the first time, showing that the publishing industry has now changed as much as the marketing industry since the arrival of the Internet and social media.
As in marketing, the big brands are losing control, readers/customers now call the shots, and smart independent authors can become overnight successes through innovation and clever promotion.
So what can marketers learn? Here are seven marketing lessons from the eBook revolution worth paying attention to.
1. Un-gate your content
Paper-and-ink books often have a fixed price, but ebooks give publishers flexibility. One publisher sparked sales in November by dropping the price of an ebook from $9.99 to $2.99 for 24 hours. The move generated buzz and expanded their market, creating future sales.
Cutting prices by 70 percent isn’t the only way to inspire your fan base to action. Consider offering a free quote, sample, or chapter. The offer can expand your business’s reach and corral new customers. Be careful though: offering too much for free will attract people looking only for a handout.
2. Funnel customers to conversion
Though not a common practice yet, ebook publishers are now putting links in ebooks that allow readers to purchase products as they read. For example, 40 Years of Queen has links to Queen songs on iTunes.
Get the most from your content marketing by finding the pages that most often turn visitors into buyers and funneling customers to those pages. Insert calls to action in emails and blog and social media posts that will drive followers to those areas.
3. Embrace the power shift
Big publishers no longer get to pass the final judgment on what is fit to appear in front of readers’ eyes. In 2011, 211,000 self-published titles were created.
Just as publishers no longer control what books hit the market, businesses have lost control of their image to their customers. Alhough scary, it creates opportunity. Customers can deliver your brand to places your business could never reach. The key to having customers work for you? Creating shareable content.
4. Use integrated marketing
Self-publishers must employ a mix of passive and active marketing techniques to be successful. Standing out from hundreds of thousands of other self-published works means authors must have their books available to large portions of the public and use online marketing tactics.
Marketers, too, should rely on integrated marketing campaigns. Simply having a social media presence or doing email marketing won’t cut it. Use content marketing to get in front of a large audience and social media and email to engage them.
5. Test different strategies
NPR compares publishers’ different library ebook lending strategies to the Wild West because everyone has their own sets of rules. Some publishers don’t lend at all, others charge fees based on number of reads, and others charge a one-time licensing fee. Though everyone has different strategies now, that will change if one publisher finds the perfect recipe for turning a profit.
Finding the best solution for your marketing doesn’t require waiting. Do A/B testing to find where you can make improvements to your email, content, and social media marketing.
6. Tap loyal fans for help
A publishing group announced on December 20 that it would start crowdsourcing romance stories. After writers submit a manuscript, readers participate by rating and commenting on them. The highest rated books by readers and the publisher will be published. The fans will even help tailor the marketing of the book.
Tap into the knowledge of your fan base to create a more effective product. From improving a slow-moving product to recommendations for tweaking a new version of a hot seller, customers can provide valuable insights to allow you to better fulfill their needs.
7. Turn one-time customers into repeat buyers
Publishing Trends predicted that in 2013 publishers will move beyond one-time content for cash sales. Instead they will create relationships between readers and their libraries by increasing value with, among other tactics, order add-ons.
Not only is your company top of mind at checkout, customers often think highly of you as they buy. Take advantage of this by asking customers to sign up for your newsletter and other emails during the checkout process. Receiving valuable information in their inbox will inspire customers to return.
Image: goXunuReviews (Creative Commons)