This post was originally written by Cindy Floren on March 20, 2012 and reblogged from the ecommerce blog.
When it comes to effectively marketing an e-book (or physical book), many authors assume a “if you build it, they will come” mentality. However, generating consumer interest in an e-book is difficult, especially when the e-book is being presented to an unprepared market. First-time authors, or authors trying to establish themselves as experts in an unfamiliar topic, are even more likely to experience low page views and sales on their e-book sales landing page.
Creating demand by creating an audience
Creating an audience is critical to successful e-book marketing for reasons beyond the monetary. First of all, your audience can provide valuable critique and insight about your subject matter, the topics presented, and even your writing style. Having such “editors” on hand means that major errors can be corrected prior to e-book release. Likewise, if you survey your audience members, you can find out what they hope to gain from your e-book and what they want the e-book to discuss in its virtual pages. Having a ready audience, especially prior to publication, also means that you have potential buyers looking over your final draft and suggesting changes and/or corrections to it. E-book publishing becomes more of a team rather than lone effort.
While having an audience both before and after your e-book release is invaluable, creating such an audience takes time and effort. Setting up a blog, initiating an e-mail marketing campaign, posting guest blog posts, and gaining followers and friends via social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are all great methods for ensuring a loyal (and profitable) fan base for your e-book; however, these methods cannot be implemented overnight. Unfortunately, when e-book authors do not utilize any of the following marketing techniques (either before or after e-book launch), they end up spending more money later on for PPC and PPA ads and other marketing strategies. This is because they are offering their product to a “cold” audience that has probably never before heard of the authors’ names or affiliations. Likewise, because online search engines cannot find results on the authors’ names or subject matters, (organic) search engine traffic to the e-book sales landing page is minimal.
Instead of assuming that people will just love your e-book the minute it’s published, consider implementing the marketing techniques listed below to create an audience that is anticipating your book and on which you can count on for preliminary sales. Some of these techniques, such as starting a blog, can be implemented months, if not years, in advance of your e-book release to help build your audience. Other techniques, such as guest blog posting, will help establish your subject matter credibility and improve name recognition among the audiences of other blogs. Through e-mail marketing, you can alert your fans of your e-book’s upcoming release, offer sample chapters, and even provide a product discount.
Once your e-book is released, continued marketing via the techniques discussed below will help ensure that the demand for your work does not wane; in fact, maintaining demand can be useful for when you decide to follow up your e-book with backend products such as tutorials, lessons, software, or even a second e-book. Your audience can even be utilized as an impromptu affiliate sales force to further promote and sell your e-book. In essence, there is no limit to the benefits you can reap from having an audience prior to and after the publication of your e-book.
Your blog as a marketing tool
A blog is an excellent way to generate e-book publicity via unique SEO content that places your site at the top of the SERP’s. Book sections can be offered as “teasers” that initiate discussions and debates, all the while giving you valuable feedback. These teasers can eventually lead your visitors to a sales landing page. Your blog can even provide special incentives for visitors who purchase your e-book; for example, Tim Ferriss’ book, The 4-Hour Workweek, provides book buyers with a unique code for a hidden forum located on his blog by the same name. Other incentives might include an additional unpublished chapter, access to software, or a free e-course. Last but not least, a blog allows you to capture visitor e-mail addresses, which in turn allow you to initiate an e-mail marketing campaign for your e-book. Most site visitors will not purchase your e-book outright and will typically want to get to know you via continued blog posts. E-mail marketing allows you to send your latest blog posts, or any other material you deem appropriate, to your subscribers. This helps establish visitor trust as well as a growing interest in what you have to offer in your e-book. Eventually, you can start including a link to your sales landing page in your e-mails. The end result is higher e-book sales.
Expanding your reach with articles
Article marketing is another method by which you can garner interest in your e-book. Articles that are submitted to directories such as Ezinearticles, Knol and SubmitYourArticle provide valuable information about and exposure to your e-book. While the articles themselves must be objective and not contain any sales references, there is one area where you are allowed to market yourself: the resource box. In the resource box, you can include pertinent information about yourself and the product that you are trying to sell, include your website or sales landing page URL and your author bio. Be sure to state that your posted article content was excerpted from your e-book. To provide exposure for your other posted articles, you may wish to forego linking back to your sales landing page in favor of those other articles instead.
On a related note, you may also consider posting regular online content to writing community sites such as Yahoo!’s Associated Content, HubPages, Examiner and Squidoo. The main advantage of these community sites is that, as their name indicates, they are supported by an actual community of writers and/or subscribers. If your articles are well-written and focused on a subject matter that is popular with a given community, traffic to and sales on your e-book’s landing page can increase exponentially. Furthermore, affiliate websites/blogs in your niche could contact you about additional writing opportunities, which of course would translate to more exposure for your e-book.
Guest posts: gaining the interest of other subscriber groups
Writing content for another site is a great way to find new readers and increase traffic to your own blog. Ideally, you should write guest posts for larger and higher PR blogs. Start by contacting some of the smaller to midsized blogs first, though, and gain some experience at pitching at least three article ideas. Include an outline or bulleted list of the key points you wish to make. Doing so will increase your chances of landing a link on these sites. Additionally, most webmasters e-mail new blog posts to their subscribers; having your post e-mailed to a completely new subscriber group can help you acquire some of those subscribers for your own site.
Once you have written several blog posts for the smaller blogs, start pitching your writing ideas to the biggest sites in your particular niche. Reference the articles that you have posted to the smaller blogs as a kind of blogging resume. While it may seem intimidating to contact blog sites that receive 300,000 or more page views per month, consider what that kind of traffic would mean for your own website/blog and your resulting e-book sales. In order to increase awareness and sales of your own e-book, you must be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and take a few risks.
E-book social media marketing
Using social media as a marketing tool has become almost a necessity for many individuals and businesses in order to gain traffic, generate product awareness, and collect user feedback. Social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn have unquestionably changed the way that information is disseminated online, with one of the key changes being that posted content can go viral. In other words, any social media user has now become a potential broadcaster. As a result, even if a marketing message is sent to only a small number of subscribers, it can quickly reach a large general audience. Another way in which social media has changed the dissemination of online information is by making every user a potential publisher. Thus, marketing messages that used to be posted as monologues have become dialogues between marketers and subscribers, with the general audience fully capable of also jumping in on the action and posting comments or questions.
You can use social media to your advantage when marketing your e-book by posting informational content about your subject matter. Outright sales marketing is a no-no in the social media landscape; however, giving away helpful advice, freebies, third-party resource information, etc., helps build a community of followers around your profile. This community can help make your content go viral and provide you with valuable feedback. In due time, it can also start clicking on your e-book sales landing page and generating income.
Leveraging your e-book sales through affiliate marketing
You need not be alone in your e-book marketing efforts; there are plenty of affiliate marketers who would be more than happy to help market and sell your e-book for a small profit (i.e., commission). Many of these affiliate marketers have high PR websites/blogs that generate tremendous traffic, and more than a few are also trying to sell their own e-books. Many of these affiliates could even be composed of your current audience or customers who have purchased your e-book. Through ad networks like AdSense, Kontera, Clickbank and Chitika, you can have other website owners and bloggers display your e-book ad (and its associated sales landing page) to their subscribers and random visitors, increasing your potential sales.
If you would prefer to target successful websites and blogs individually, that can also be arranged through one-on-one correspondences. While more time-consuming, such an approach has the advantage of you knowing exactly which affiliates are advertising your e-book and what their sales pitches consist of. This helps control for unintentional branding of your e-book (e.g., having your e-book on paying off a mortgage early be solicited on a website advertising reverse mortgages). If you target only high PR websites and blogs, such an approach may also help raise your own website’s/blog’s PR through the valuable backlinks that these sites give you.