If you’ve got ambitious sales goals this year, you need to be taking a holistic approach to marketing. It’s pretty common for expert advice to go on and on about social platforms, author communities, and email marketing. One thing you don’t see too often is specifics about ecommerce conversion marketing.
Conversion marketing is less exciting and interesting than most other marketing efforts. But it’s also vital that you have some strategy and metrics in place to drive sales. You do want to sell books, right? Then you need those people who like your posts and read your blogs to also buy your books!
What Is Ecommerce Conversion Marketing?
Marketing efforts centered around ecommerce conversion aim to achieve a specific action from your would-be reader (so, in marketing-speak, convert them from ‘site visitor’ to ‘shopper’). This differs from Content Marketing, which aims to provide those would-be readers with useful information they need to make an informed choice.
The simplest example of the two marketing pillars is this post you’re reading right now! The post itself is content marketing. I’m sharing my industry knowledge to help you sell more books. But the banner directly below this paragraph with a sign-up link to Lulu is conversion marketing.
The square in the sidebar with email sign-up; that’s conversion marketing too. I’ve established a couple of important goals here—sharing your email address so I can send you updates and signing up for a Lulu account—and my ecommerce conversion marketing efforts reflect those goals.
Please note that just slapping an email sign-up form on your pages is not effective conversion marketing, even if it kind of fits the definition.
Effectively Converting Visitors To Buyers
I kind of hate marketing funnels, but there is something to be said for the simple model it presents. The visualization of funneling people through a series of web pages laden with images and text with the final goal to sell them your product is useful.
Here’s my simplified version of a funnel built to define conversion marketing goals:
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 ecommerce conversion goal should live: to convert people 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 ecommerce conversion is not uncommon. It’s also why it’s important to have multiple conversion goals.
Goals First, Results Second
Before you can develop a conversion marketing strategy, you need goals. These are the things someone does to ‘convert,’ so you need to be clear about what a conversion looks like. Luckily, there are two very common and useful goals you can start with:
- Book sales
- Email sign-ups
These are the goals I’m going to help you with today. The checklist will run through 14 points you can optimize to increase ecommerce conversions. Book sales will be primary and getting their email will be secondary.
Ready to turn those visitors into readers?
14-Point ecommerce 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 from an enormous monitor to a handheld mobile phone. 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 for anyone 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
Again, you’ll get a lot of help from various ecommerce platforms with this. In most cases, the out-of-the-box order screens will be all you need.
Do you see where these are going? Your first step in effective ecommerce conversion marketing is to make the checkout process simple and accessible. 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. Bam! You’ve added a subscriber to your emails!
4. Product Spotlights
Spotlighting different books (or other products if you sell more than just books) helps draw attention. Again, it’s that simple. 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
Most of the points have heavily favored selling your book. 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
Okay, maybe not that aggressively. But you can utilize a lot of upselling and cross-selling techniques to promote your books. This is another strategy that works really well if you offer other products too.
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.
Upselling often requires using a plug-in for your site. Here’s a couple of lists to get you started:
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 conversion, put up a banner or homepage image declaring the discount too. That way everyone who lands on your author website will see the discount and know how to utilize it.
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?
Supporting buyers is a long game. 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. Or even tell you how much they appreciate your help (testimonial material).
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 potential 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 even offer a coupon to entice them back.
13. Gather And Use Data
Any effort you make toward conversion marketing—be it product spotlights or upselling in the cart—you have to be able to measure success. Each effort will have a slightly different metric though. 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).
If problem-solving is a core concept of conversion marketing, think about the data as just another problem to solve. You need to know which efforts work and which don’t so you can better solve problems for potential readers out there!
14. A/B Test
Finally, you have to A/B test whenever you can.
What is an A/B test? Most simply, it’s when you test two unique versions of content (like a page, email, or social post) against roughly similar groups. With mountains of data about what each group did, you can make guesses about what’s working and what’s not.
For example, if you want to use product spotlights on your home page 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 for your visitors (or something about spotlight #2 didn’t work for them); this is information you can use to guide future conversion marketing efforts.
Finding the ecommerce conversion Techniques that Work
You should not try to do everything I listed here. Conversion marketing is about finding what works and what your audience wants. If you write amazing blogs, you might prioritize building your email list. A bigger audience who loves your writing means you’ll have more people to convert to buyers when your next book comes out.
And always keep your goals in mind. Are you building an audience or driving sales? 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.