In today’s highly competitive book industry, getting readers to purchase your books requires an effective marketing strategy. To ensure you get the most return (i.e., book purchases) for your investment, you need to focus your marketing efforts on the readers most likely to be interested in your book’s topic or story. That’s where reader segmentation comes in.
What is reader segmentation?
Readers must be at the center of all your marketing efforts. But how do you do that effectively when not all your readers are the same? They have different backgrounds, interests, beliefs, and preferences. Rather than trying to market your books to every potential reader, focus your marketing message toward a smaller, targeted group of readers who have shown, through various research methods, a greater likelihood of purchasing a particular book.
Reader segmentation is the process of separating your audience into subsets of readers with similar attributes. These attributes may include demographics, specific behaviors, preferences, buying patterns, and more. When you know more about your readers, you are better equipped to position your books to reach readers who are likely to be interested in that book. For example, if you are selling an academic book about epidemiology in third-world countries, you likely would focus your marketing efforts at related medical conferences, to members of an applicable society, via social network groups that deal with the topic, and to academic libraries. Trade books, however, would require a different approach. For example, you may focus your marketing to related websites, LinkedIn, bookstores, email lists, and other channels that deal with the subject matter.
To segment your readership, compile and analyze data collected from website visits, email lists, social media, surveys, focus groups, and other sources. This information will give you valuable insight into your readers. Next, group individuals into subsets based on the data available for each person. For example, you may have groups for geographic location, demographic criteria (e.g., age, sex), psychographic categories (e.g., interests, beliefs), and behavioral triggers (e.g., buying habits, reading habits). These category groups and insights will enable you to develop and distribute meaningful messages to each group.
How authors and publishers use audience segmentation
When writers begin a new book, it’s crucial they know who their ideal reader is so they can write to that one reader. They likely already have a following of like-minded individuals who are prime candidates for potential readers and book buyers. Authors, publishers, and booksellers can use that ideal reader persona to create interest surrounding the initial book launch and marketing efforts.
The target audience or ideal reader persona can help guide promotional messaging and distribution channels. If the prospective reader frequents a particular social network, for example, you should incorporate that channel into your promotional strategy. By learning as much as you can about your prospective reader, not only will your messaging resonate and your book sales increase, but you also will maximize your marketing budget by focusing only on the channels and tactics that matter most.
Second-wave marketing to extend your book’s reach
After your initial marketing wave, it’s important to analyze data collected from buyers as well as individuals who have shown interest in the book. Look for audience segments outside of your original target audience. From those insights, you can recreate your marketing message to appeal to a new subset of potential readers. This second wave of marketing will expand your book’s reach beyond your ideal reader persona. This technique can be used repeatedly to identify new reader segments for which you can adjust your marketing.
Because scholarly and reference books have such a highly specialized audience, there may be less opportunity to market books outside of the niche audience. However, for trade and fiction titles, data analysis will highlight additional opportunities to expand the book’s reach.
If you want to start segmenting your audience — and you should — the technology is readily available. Most email platforms or customer relationship management systems have some type of basic segmentation capabilities. You also may choose to hire a data analysis expert for more advanced segmentation.