Conversion marketing is less exciting and interesting than most other marketing efforts. But stick with me, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn about. You do want to sell books, right? Then your content marketing strategies need to include some method for converting followers into buyers.
What Is Conversion Marketing?
Conversion marketing aims to entice your followers—people on social media or your email list—to convert. That is, to do something specific and measurable, like sign up for your newsletters or buy your book. This differs from Content Marketing, which aims to provide those would-be readers with useful information they need to make an informed choice.
Here’s a simple example of conversion marketing:
The goal is for you—the person reading this blog—to click on the banner and sign up for our emails. (Our email marketing manager would appreciate it if you signed up)
What are Marketing Conversion Funnels?
A marketing funnel is a way to visualize how the people who are just learning about you will discover and buy your book.
Here’s a simple sales funnel example:
At the top, we have all the people who discover your author brand through search, social media, or advertising. These are people who have actively engaged with your content (like reading a blog, watching a video, or liking a post). They are aware of you.
In the second stage, we narrow to the smaller portion of people who are aware of you and like/follow you. This is where your first conversion goal should live: to convert potential customers browsing the web to followers. That might mean following your social profile, subscribing to your YouTube channel, or signing up for emails.
And finally, we have those people who have found you and (maybe) have followed or subscribed, who then make a purchase. This is the second level of conversion (from follower to buyer) and is your end goal.
It’s worth noting that someone might discover you and buy a book without signing up for emails—this kind of conversion is not uncommon. The funnel is a simplified way to visualize how most of your conversions will work.
14-Point Conversion Checklist
1. Build a Responsive & Optimized Site
You have to start with an author website that is well-designed, loads quickly, and looks good on any screen size. Don’t let that intimidate you though. Any good platform like WordPress or Shopify will do most of this work for you.
It is on you to optimize your content and drive people to your website. None of your conversion techniques stand a chance if no one ever finds you!
2. Make The Shopping Cart Obvious
Put a link to your cart in the site header. It’s that simple.
An icon will do, just so long as it’s simple to navigate to the cart. If they’ve gotten far enough along that they have one of your books in their cart, you need to make it incredibly easy to finish ordering.
3. Make Checkout Simple
Your conversion marketing efforts will be wasted if the checkout process is complex. Don’t make it hard for shoppers to give you money for your books!
There’s a solid opportunity to meet BOTH of your goals here. You’ll need to ask for an email address for their order. Ask (really nicely) if they want to get updates from you too. Just like that, you’ve added a subscriber to your mailing list!
4. Product Spotlights
Spotlighting different books (or other products if you sell more than just books) helps draw attention. Make the first image someone sees when they land on your site an advertisement for a book.
You can be judicious with slide-in advertising or banners in blog posts too. Pick a product to spotlight and use it consistently (for a period of time) on all your pages.
5. Display Reviews/Ratings/Testimonials
You’ve seen the quotes and recommendations on book covers. This is the digital equivalent.
And it’s an effective way to convert visitors! Seriously, most of us read upwards of 6 reviews before we decide to buy something.
You can help would-be buyers by prominently displaying glowing reviews or your star rating. Most web hosting platforms will have a plug-in or add-on to help display ratings from outside sites too (like Goodreads).
6. Capture Email Addresses
Conversion marketing often focuses on selling a product, but it’s fine to also grow your audience. When someone lands on your site and signs up for an email, they’re saying “I want more from you.”
That might not mean they want to buy a book today, but with their email, you’ll have the opportunity to sell them a book tomorrow.
7. Upsell Upsell Upsell
You can utilize a lot of upselling and cross-selling techniques to promote your books. This is a strategy that works really well if you offer other products too.
For example, you might upsell an art book with different alternate art covers. Or a print-on-demand t-shirt with artwork relevant to the book.
Another method to consider is to email them after the purchase. Say ‘thanks!’ and let them know you have another book out soon or that there are more books in the series they just purchased.
8. Make Discounts Clear
Do you offer discounts? If you do, don’t hide them!
Definitely email your subscriber list with a simple email that declares the sale, any discount code if you’re using one, and the amount and duration. If you’re doing a straight discount on the book, show the original price
struck out and the discount price nearby.
If you’re really looking to emphasize your conversions, put up a banner or homepage image declaring the discount.
9. Contacting You Should Be Simple
If you’re selling a product, you have to anticipate the need for some amount of customer support. You need to make it easy for people to contact you.
How does that relate to conversion marketing?
On the surface, it’s key to your reputation. Over time, you’ll see people who had a problem with an order (like forgetting to add a coupon code). If you made them happy (gave them that 5% back) they might leave a positive review.
Aside from just being the right thing to do, offering support (and making it easy for users to get that support) builds the social capital you need to drive other conversion efforts.
10. Solve Problems
This is a core concept for conversion marketing. Think about the reason you use search engines like Google. It’s to answer questions; to solve problems.
When someone goes to Google and searches ‘Books about …’ and finds you then you’re solving their ‘what should I read next’ problem. Or maybe your book is a bicycle repair manual and they’ve got a broken bike. Problem solved.
If you can predict the problems your readers will have and answer them clearly on your product pages and in blog content, you’ll become a valued resource. That’s a great way to earn loyal fans, the kind of people who leave reviews, recommend you, and buy your next book.
11. Include Clear Calls To Action
A Call To Action (CTA) is often the mechanism of a conversion. It’s the button or banner that prompts them to click.
Make them clear and direct. If you see a button like this:
You expect the button to (somehow) result in you getting free cookies. If the link just goes to a recipe about how you can make your own cookies, it would be a misleading CTA. Your buttons and banners need to be clear and direct.
12. Cart Abandonment
This is a more advanced strategy, but it can pay off if you have a lot of interest in a product.
The strategy is to email anyone who puts a product in the cart on your site but doesn’t complete the order. You might simply remind them like ‘hey you left something here’ or you might offer a coupon to entice them back.
13. Gather And Use Data
Conversion marketing efforts—be it product spotlights or upselling in the cart—have to include measurements for success. A product spotlight is successful if it drives the visitor to the product page. But if they still don’t check out, there might be an issue on the product page (or cart or checkout pages).
Problem-solving is a core concept of conversion marketing; think about the data as just another problem to solve. Use common metrics like click through rates and exit page
14. A/B Test
To perform an A/B test, create two unique versions of content (like a page, email, or social post) and send each version to some of your subscribers.
For example, if you want to use product spotlights on your homepage to try to drive more traffic to your product page, you should come up with two spotlight designs. Google offers free options to A/B test, but your hosting platform may offer tools as well. Use them to set each image to appear for 50% of your visitors.
Now you can measure how many people from each group click on the spotlight. Did spotlight #1 get 100 clicks and spotlight #2 only 30 clicks? Something about spotlight #1 worked (or something about spotlight #2 didn’t work); this is information you can use to guide future conversion marketing efforts.
Finding What Works
Conversion marketing is about finding what works and what your audience wants.
Develop clear bookselling and audience building goals based on your audience. The more you can create measurable goals for your efforts, the more success you’ll have selling your books.
Paul is the Content Marketing Manager at Lulu. When he's not entrenched in the publishing and print-on-demand world, he likes to hike the scenic North Carolina landscape, read, sample the fanciest micro-brewed beer, and collect fountain pens. Paul is a dog person but considers himself cat tolerant.