As publishers, the way we handle our data and other information we send out into the world has a huge impact on the success of our books with Amazon and other online retailers.
These retailers’ algorithms need detailed metadata in order to merchandise our books. They digitally ‘shelve’ the book based on the information we provide. The richer the information the more searches, site promotions and email campaigns our books will be included in, and the more customers will visit the page.
Our responsibility doesn’t end with getting customers to visit webpages. We spend a lot of time and money driving that traffic—on PR, advertising, data optimisation and co-op deals—so once a customer is there, we need to make sure we are doing everything we can to convert them to purchase.
With all that in mind, here are my top five tips for getting people to your page and buying the book.
1 Use your keywords
These are an often forgotten part of metadata, but they can have a huge and immediate impact on title visibility. You can add as many as you like within a 500-character limit, but Amazon will only read the first six to eight entries. Use only relevant words or terms you think a customer would type into a retailer’s search bar, or you will be wasting your keyword limit.
2 Re-write your jacket copy
People behave differently when they read online compared to when they read in print. There are so many things to distract you just a click away on the internet, so make it short—250 to 300 words—and use paragraphs breaks and HTML format tags. If appropriate, use bullets and lists. There’s a reason so many blog posts are written in a top-five-tips style…
3 Don’t rely on Search Inside alone
Always aim to have Search Inside up ahead of publication, but also try to use secondary images. These can be spreads or pages from a book, but also product photographs, particularly if there are features such as pull-outs or special finishes. Help people see what they will be getting, and draw their attention to these features with extra images.
4 Use Amazon Vine
The Vine programme isn’t cheap, so prioritise your top titles if budgets are tight. The aim here is to have good reviews up on the page when all your PR is running and people are looking at the book. Recommendation is still the best tool for converting people to purchase.
5 Use Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) and Vendor Self Service Promotions (VSSP)
… If you have access to them through Vendor Central or Amazon Advantage. A VSSP promotion, which you can manage yourself, will ensure that your book is price-promoted on publication. You might also want to think about AMS advertising during this period; it works the same way as pay-per-click advertising (PPC), and you can make sure that your book appears in searches for competitor titles.
Much of this work can seem like tedious form-filling in title management systems, but believe me: it is highly effective. With all the money we spend getting books to market, this extra effort could make the difference between customers hitting the ‘Buy Now’ button and being distracted by the latest ‘Lolcat’ meme and moving on.
Sam Shone is a freelance marketing, campaign and online sales consultant, and former director of marketing and online sales at the Quarto Group. You can email him here.