From being able to engage directly with your audience, setting your own pricing, retaining greater revenues, and capturing customer data and purchasing behavior – selling directly to your audience offers many benefits. However, when choosing to sell direct, publishers take the responsibility for driving traffic, which is heavily reliant upon your website’s discoverability. Discovery is all the touch points in the mind of the consumer that it takes to decide to purchase and read a book.
How do you improve discovery? There are several best practices that should be taken when building your online bookstore that will help improve discoverability. These can be separated into two major parts: improving acquisition and increasing retention and referral rates.
The first, is improving the acquisition of new customers. In the digital age, there are several new ways of discovering books online including search engines, social media, and other online forums and tools. Because of this, it is important to increase the rate at which customers actually land on your website. Below are several methods that can be used to achieve this.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Improvements in search rankings is most commonly obtained through Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Typical SEO techniques include keyword selection, meta tag development, linking strategies, directory listings and website submission.
- Increase Site Activity – Websites that have frequent updates and regular fresh content are more likely to appear at the top of search results and will encourage readers to frequently visit your site. Adding a blog, industry news, or other relevant information are ways to increase your site activity.
- Metadata, Metadata, Metadata! – Descriptions, keywords, and tags should be added to every page that describes your content accurately. Product descriptions are important to buyers and search engines. Be sure to include terms that your customers may use when searching in Google or on your site for optimal results.
- Marketing Campaigns – Marketing campaigns are a tried and true way to improve discoverability. Utilizing Search Engine Marketing and Social Media can help further improve campaign results.
The second best practice, is increasing retention rates once a potential customer has landed on your website. Your primary goal is to preserve their attention and lead them towards a sale. This is a more difficult challenge, but new advancements in web technologies offer several tools that can be used to improve the customer experience and engage them with your content.
- Robust Search Tool – For all publishers, regardless of your size, it is very important to include a robust search tool that allows your users to find what they are looking for quickly. The search form should be easy to find and should include a way for users to generate a simple or advanced search and should allow them to filter the results easily.
- Recommendation Engines – Once a user is on your site, it is important to get them to the information they are looking for quickly. Recommendation engines (“You may also like…”) are nice ways to display relevant content based on customer behavior and search terms
- Lists – People love lists. Give your potential buyers a list of new releases, best sellers, or staff picks. If the list proves to be useful, you will find users bookmarking it and returning to this list in the future. Another opportunity is to allow your users to create their own reading lists and share them with their friends, family or colleagues.
- Reviews & Ratings – Encouraging customer participation is a key way to improving discoverability. Customers like to read about what others thought of a book before making a purchase. These frequent postings will also help to improve your site’s SEO.
- Keep it Simple – No matter what type of content you are selling, keeping your site design and content simple will make it easy to buy products on your website and help users find what they are looking for.
Incorporating some or all of these practices will help improve your discoverability and ultimately help consumers find your content.