Snapchat offers a fantastic support menu, which details all of the features and how-to’s, but I’ll help you get started on the basics.
BookMachine Works is a creative events and marketing agency, specialising in the publishing industry. We combine experience, energy and enthusiasm to create outstanding events and unrivalled marketing campaigns. Here Nicola Slavin, who is part of the core team, shares her tips on why email should be your priority.
For many marketers, email is one of the most important channels. Adestra’s recent report says email reigns supreme in terms of delivering ROI and it drove an estimated £29bn of UK online retail sales in 2016.
And yet, for those of us promoting books in an ever-changing digital landscape, email can get lost in the rush to create video content, hashtag campaigns and social media accounts.
All of these have their place but there’s little doubt that a healthy, engaged, growing email list is one of the most powerful assets you can own. That’s true whether you’re launching a new book, promoting backlist, or building up your brand.
Here’s a few reasons why…
Every social media comment, every Amazon review, every Goodreads conversation – they’re all happening on networks subject to algorithm changes, platform updates and acquisitions. The people on your list haven’t used a social account to give you a fairly meaningless like or follow. They have trusted you with their email address – not Facebook or Twitter or Goodreads. This means you own some very valuable data.
Your subscribers are usually there because they’ve opted in, and now they expect to receive content. You need to work to keep your list current – tracking open rates, click-throughs and conversions can help keep it healthy – but the fact people have chosen to hear from you is a great starting point.
One way to capitalise on this is to talk with your readers. You can do this on social media too, but particularly for small publishers and authors, email allows for ongoing conversation. Engaging with your subscribers is also a natural way to keep your list healthy. A small, engaged list is better than a huge, disinterested one.
If you’re a publisher with multiple series or an author with a diverse writing portfolio, you might find it hard to know where to focus with social media. Although platforms like Facebook allow you to target posts, there isn’t much that can compete with a well-segmented email database. If you capture the right kind of information, you can send incredibly targeted communications.
With Mailchimp opening up automation for free accounts and other email service providers onboard with automation, there’s little excuse for not utilising this powerful tool. An automated sequence allows you to set a trigger or series of triggers so that your readers receive targeted emails whenever you choose. For example, you could share a book recommendation one week after a reader has signed-up.
A healthy email list is an asset not just in itself but because of the other ways it can be used. For example, Facebook’s advertising platform allows you to use your list and build a very targeted audience. This is a great way to reach people who are already interested in your content but might not previously have bought anything.
You can contact BookMachine Works to discuss how we can help you with your own mailing lists.
This is a guest post by Rachel Maund. Rachel is is Director of publishing consultancy Marketability (UK) Ltd and a tutor at the Publishing Training Centre. This blog post first appeared on the Publishing Training Centre Blog.
This was a mantra of an ex colleague, and very irritating it was too. It was only years later that I realised she was right. An editor visiting a lecturer is marketing just as surely as the marketing manager sending an email campaign.
The best results invariably come from what’s most obvious. What one business author I worked with called ‘opportunity spotting’. When I review marketing questionnaires returned by authors, their connections will often dictate the direction of the marketing plan. If they’re organising a conference for 2,000 people, then that’s where my resources will be concentrated. If they run an influential blog, I’ll be talking to them about how to promote their book there in the most appropriate way.
Everyone welcomes relevant content but nobody wants to be marketed to. Marketing fronted by authors is perfect, putting your expert directly in touch with their audience. We do all the back-end stuff (this really isn’t about avoiding doing the work), we just put their name to it rather than our own.
… said Napoleon Bonaparte. Spot on. Readers will buy/act when they’re persuaded that they personally will lose out if they don’t, so we need to be hard-hitting and confident about benefits.
It is 8 seconds (2014 survey by the National Centre for Biotechnology). So give readers keywords that prove relevance and cut the waffle (fluff). Deliver messaging in chunks – including images – that can easily be scanned. Nobody’s reading paragraphs, trust me on this one. Did you know that Taylor & Francis are now producing cartoon abstracts of scholarly journal articles? Good for them.
Fact. In publishing we are constantly working on new formats and innovations, but our customers are living in the here and now. We need to be wary of investing in the ‘next big thing’ until our audiences are there. Just this month a schools publisher told me that a significant percentage of their orders from schools were online order forms that had been completed and then FAXED. Yes, really.
How we measure a ‘result’ can be perplexing. With use of tools such as Google Analytics, there are seemingly endless ways to evaluate the performance of our digital content. Fortunately, there are some universal steps you can take to increase the performance of your content, regardless of the measure you are using. Here is a quick rundown of some of the things you should bear in mind.
Last month Claire Morrison, Senior Marketing Manager at DK, felt passionate enough about our feature Amazon: How to Get Your Book To Appear Alongside the Best Sellers to tweet about it. Here she explains why it evoked such a reaction.
Whatever the format or platform you use, every time your business communicates, you have an opportunity to strengthen your brand. Each communication is also an opportunity to further your strategic marketing objectives.
There aren’t many people who can describe themselves as a professional content marketer, publisher and writer. These are three things very close to my heart, so I was practically dancing round the room when Melissa Romo agreed to be my guest on The Extraordinary Business Book Club podcast.
Melissa is Head of Global Content Marketing at Sage (the accountancy software company, not the publisher), and wrote a novel, Blue-Eyed Son, which she set up a publishing company, Red Ship Books, to publish. (You’ll have worked out by now that this is not a woman who does things by halves.)
Content marketing is now mainstream in every industry. It’s part of what Melissa described as the ‘digital transformation’, but that doesn’t mean it’s always necessarily done well. Here are three top tips from my conversation with Melissa to check your own content marketing strategy is on track.
Melissa described how Sage ‘is striving to truly leverage content as a strategic element of its digital marketing in a way that it hasn’t been able to so far.’ One reason why it’s been problematic in the past was legacy structure: ‘The company has really been organised by countries or acquired units, and so activity around content has been relatively siloed in those countries or acquired units… there hasn’t been a holistic thinking about the audience.’
The audience is not monolithic, of course, and neither is it an abstract concept. The people you’re writing for are real people with their own preoccupations, fears, frustrations and hopes. ‘It’s the job of content professionals and content specialists to help define the audience, and put a face on the audience,’ says Melissa. ‘We worked on this last year, defining six personas for Sage, and that is how we define our content… we have, in the past, tended to start with the product we’re trying to sell, and what we are working hard to change at Sage is that we actually should start with the person we’re trying to sell to.’ Not the imprints. Not marketing vs editorial. Not the UK vs the US. Whatever way your company has been carved up to create neat reporting lines is almost certainly not the way you want to be presenting yourself to your readership.
I was struck by the fact that Melissa is one person on Twitter (@RomoAuthor), despite wearing so many hats. It wasn’t always that way, she told me, but ‘trying to run three Twitter accounts as an author, a publisher and a content professional was too hard, and I realised I lost the synergies that go between those three types of roles, and so I just decided to dump the three and go with @RomoAuthor… I want to just be that one persona out there in social media.’ What makes her so special is precisely that blend of expertise, experience and interests. People buy people, so focusing on your audience should not mean that you lose your sense of yourself. The publishers who are winning at social media and content marketing today are those who let the personalities of their passionate, intelligent, sometimes snarky, often funny individual members of staff shine through. Having said that, you can’t always have a bright young thing on hand to answer a customer’s question so…
I asked Melissa what she thought were the trends in content marketing – what do we need to be thinking about next?
‘What’s really hot right now is content coming out through robots… The bot that Sage has developed is called Pegg, and Pegg actually works through Facebook Messenger and through Slack… You know, if you ask Pegg about your accounting balance, or just “Have I been paid by this customer today?” Pegg will be able to tell you if that has happened or not.’
Some publishers are already using chat bots like this: HarperCollins has recommendation bots that work through Facebook Messenger (BookGenie and EpicReads), and Pan Macmillan are on the brink of launching theirs. The team behind it, BAM Digital, are also developing a recommendation engine for voice-activated assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, which as Melissa notes is taking the US by storm: ‘Everyone has Alexa on their kitchen counter.’
Content marketing is still a relatively young discipline. In some ways it’s simply what we’ve always done – told stories, connected with each other, made someone laugh or cry or think, or persuaded them to do something – but it’s also just beginning to explore the boundaries of what’s becoming possible in this disrupted world.
Watch this space.
Alison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers. www.alisonjones.com.
Katie Roden is a publishing, marketing and content strategist with 25 years’ industry experience. She is speaking at ‘Marketing vs Design, which matters more?’ on November 2nd. Katie works with a wide range of publishers on commissioning strategy, marketing campaigns, digital strategy and design challenges, and is a co-founder of design consultancy Fixabook.
It’s been a gradual process over the nearly 25 years I’ve been in publishing. I started out as a children’s non-fiction editor, but was always fascinated by the best ways to reach the market and – crucially – by how a publishing team has to work together to find, attract, delight and hold on to readers. Now the boundaries between editorial, marketing, sales and design are increasingly blurred, I am working across all sectors – which makes my job enormously enjoyable.
In a variety of ways – from working with long-time designer collaborators to help clients with their brand development to writing design briefs for digital and print. As our screen world gets more and more busy, design thinking is needed at the very very early stages of absolutely everything.
Always be clear about why you’re asking for a certain direction – not just what the final design should look like. A shared understanding of strategy and of exactly what a reader wants will make the process massively more creative and fulfilling.
And don’t forget that you’re not just creating a book cover any more – you’re creating a visual asset to be used on every platform and device available. So impact, clarity and innovation are essential, as is testing any visuals for all iterations, from jackets to Snapchat identity.
And finally – collaborate, listen and have fun. The more time and effort you, the editors and the design team spend together early on, the more rewarding the results will be for everyone.
Some pretty things… and, more likely, some very ugly things indeed.
You can hear Katie in London on 2nd November at Marketing vs Design: Which matters more? Grab a ticket here.