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Marketing Insights Series: How to Build a Strong Book Marketing Foundation

In the first part to this series we discussed what goes on behind the scenes of search, social media, and retail algorithms. We then touched on marketing tactics you can use to most effectively reach your audience on those platforms and ensure your content is providing value.

In the next few posts, we’ll take a deeper dive into key digital marketing platforms and tactics to see how they all play a role in building strong campaigns.

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Your Marketing Strategy Structure

Building Your Foundation: Content + Context

You can’t build a house without a foundation, and the same is true for marketing a book. It is tempting to start with outbound marketing tactics, such as email, social posting, or price promotions – but the way to ensure the greatest likelihood of success of any tactic is to have a solid foundation in place first.

There are a number of content types, tools, and supports that go into planning, designing, and executing a successful book marketing campaign—and it all starts with a solid foundation made up of informative and relevant book and author data.

Algorithms and search engines are robots, but not the kind you might imagine in Westworld or your favorite sci-fi novel. They are intuitive, but only to a certain degree. You need to give algorithms (and potential readers!) rich, detailed information in the right places to make sure they understand what your book is, what it’s about, who the author is, how they are related to each other and all of the things that audiences care about. This data is critical for online discovery and will strengthen and support all other marketing and optimization efforts.

There are three key areas to focus on:

Book Metadata: Feeding accurate and robust product data out to retailers and other channels

Book and Author Profiles: Placing and managing information about the book and author on authoritative sites and networks—eventually creating connections

Publisher and Author Website(s): Owning and controlling your information

Let’s take a closer look at how these three foundational elements function.

Your book metadata powers online discovery and sales. It’s used by algorithms to understand what the book is about. Your audience experiences metadata in many different ways.

Keep in mind that your title metadata is often the first discovery mechanism for any book – whether print or digital – online, and it is also frequently the last thing potential buyers see when they are deciding whether to the buy the book.

What metadata matters for book marketing?

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Your book title and description, cover image, and other key consumer-facing (and algorithm-driving) metadata elements are fundamental to your marketing foundation. Each should provide rich, detailed, and accurate information optimized for both machines and humans in general search, and at point-of-sale.

  • Title, subtitle, and series information
    • Distinctive and descriptive title and series data helps your book stand out in search (and in consumer’s minds).
  • Cover image
    • Make sure the cover image is clear and legible as a thumbnail and larger sizes. Consumers often only see the cover of your book in search results or retail pages before making a decision about whether or not to learn more.
  • Product description
    • Provide detailed information about your book. What it is about? Who is it for? What are the key topics and themes? Are there any special features to note? This type of information helps potential buyers find your book and aids the decision making process.
    • Start with a bold headline to capture consumers’ attention, and use structural elements such as paragraph breaks, unique formatting, and bullet points to highlight key aspects of the book.
  • Keywords, topics, and phrases
    • Use language that speaks to your target audience in ways that they will understand. (How do potential buyers talk about and search for books like this?)
    • Incorporate this language into the product description and keywords metadata field.
  • BISAC codes and categories
    • Specify three (3) BISAC codes. These should be precise. When possible, they should come from more than one top-level category.
  • Look Inside and equivalents
    • Previews power book search. Consumers are more likely to purchase if they can ‘see’ the book content before they buy. (This is especially true for illustrated print books or graphic novels.)
  • Professional book reviews
    • Include high-quality review excerpts highlighting a diversity of perspectives on the book when possible.
  • Author/contributor information
    • Provide as much detail as possible for each relevant contributor. Include names and roles as well as a brief biography.

Book and Author Profiles on Authoritative Websites

One way search engines—and readers for that matter—make meaningful connections with book content is by looking to authors and publishers, those behind the pages. The benefits of making this type of information readily available are two-fold:

Where to start with online profiles:

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Develop detailed presences for the book and author on leading consumer-facing sites and authority platforms. Fill these profiles out as completely as possible, and make sure to link between them whenever you can.

  • Social profiles
    • Social media profiles can help round out an author’s web presence, even if they’re not frequently used. Choose social networks your target audiences actively use and post engaging content.
    • Be sure to provide complete information on any social profile and to link to any and all other presences and sites when possible.

Publisher and Author Websites

Content is an effective marketing tactic; platform ownership gives you an incredibly powerful marketing tool.

Though you can manage and influence author and book information on the channels we’ve discussed, they are all still owned by other parties. Often those parties’ goals and agendas can conflict with yours.

On your own website, you control everything. Your website should be a central hub for the most up-to-date, authoritative information about any book, author, or series you manage.

  • Author information
    • Include a detailed biography and photo along with supporting info. This can (and should!) be different than what is found in other places online.
    • Link to external author profiles and social networks.
  • Book and series details
    • Provide complete title information, including detailed descriptions, reviews, and a cover image.
    • Create landing pages for book series as appropriate and provide clear chronological information like pub dates for each title in a given series.
    • Help simplify the customer’s buying experience by linking to retail channels.
  • Press and events
    • Include links to interviews, related news, and tour/speaking/event schedules if appropriate.

Once you have these foundational elements in place—book metadata, profiles, and websites—you can start attacking other parts of your book marketing strategy  with confidence—like forming a mutually beneficial relationship with your audience.

In the next post, we’ll look at how you can use and expand on these core elements to form an understanding of your audience and connect with them in the most effective ways.

Ingram’s iQ Marketing Insights, a new analytics platform designed to deliver key marketing and sales data, insights & recommended actions is currently in beta.

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