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Archive for the ‘Author Website’ Category

11 reasons books are like shoes

I know you must be thinking why on earth would anybody need so many shoes! I don’t need the shoes, but I do enjoy collecting shoes.
Marieesbella

While writing yesterday’s post about how books are not commodities like tires or groceries, it occurred to me that books DO have some things in common with one piece (make that two pieces) of apparel that virtually everyone in the Western world wears daily: shoes!

shoes

Here are a few of the ways books are like shoes…

——+ So many different varieties…

+ Some are for pleasure, some are work related, and some help us feel better about ourselves…

+ It’s not uncommon for people to own just a couple or to have a collection of a couple hundred…

+ Some folks store them on shelves…

+ You can sort them by color … or purpose…

+ It’s much nicer to shop for them in person than online because you can touch them and examine their every detail…

+ You can find them in dedicated shops – or general purpose stores…

+ Selling them requires a business plan, as evidenced in this paragraph from the MPlans site

Passion Soles has captured good information regarding their market and knows a great deal about the common attributes of the most prized customers. Passion Soles will leverage this information to better understand who should be served, their specific needs, and how Passion Soles can better communicate with them.

+ Smart brands like Puma, Jimmy Choo, and Bergdorf Goodman are using social media to great success…

+ Marketing both is similar, as illustrated through the following list from Dimensional Business Solutions … (The bold pieces are from the original list. The rest are my observations/suggestions. LO)

  1. Send out a monthly or weekly email newsletter to your customers. Authors should be using their websites, blogs, and social media platforms to build a lists and touching their fans regularly.
  2. Optimize your website for the search engines. If you want people to find your author website, you need to make, implement, and sustain an SEO campaign.
  3. Set up a Facebook Page for your business. While it will likely become burdensome for an author of multiple titles to maintain Facebook pages for each title, an author page is a really good idea.
  4. Partner with friendly companies to create a fashion blog. Can you partner with other authors in your genre to do a group blog?
  5. Showcase your goods and services on your website. Share photos of your book, of your readings/signings, and of people reading your book. Use these on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest as well.
  6. Create a “Rewards Program” and invite your customers to join. Get as creative as possible – same ideas you’d use when creating perks for a crowdfunding campaign. Offer giveaways, interviews, the chance for your very special raving fans to read chapters of your upcoming book before it’s published.
  7. Collect your customers’ birthdays and send out birthday cards. Rather than sending cards to your readers, create an ecard or two based on your book and allow readers to send ecards to their own friends and family. This is a great way to generate traffic to your site!
  8. Sell gift cards in your store, especially around the holidays. Offer discounts on your books: two-for-one; sell multiple titles in a package; create a workbook to go with the original book
  9. Test the specials advertised on your website. Test your “Add to Cart” buttons on your website, blog, or social media platforms!
  10. Market to your customer database. You can – and should – be collecting names/emails on your website, but also at every live event you do. Make sure you can sort your list by each event so that you can reach out to each group in a special way, should the opportunity present itself. For instance, if you do a signing in Cleveland on your launch and then go back to Cleaveland six months or a year later, you don’t need to alert your WHOLE list to the new event.
  11. Post specials to the free advertising sites, such as Kijiji and Craigslist. Make sure to get your book noticed, and list your author events on all the local sites.
  12. Record videos and post them online. Of your readings. Of other people reading your work. Of you in the process of writing or brainstorming. Of you talking about your book. Of things OTHER THAN your book.
  13. Look to other industries for marketing. Ahem … like shoes?
  14. Post a daily offer to Groupon to attract more business. Smashwords and CreateSpace are just two sites that allow you to offer coupons/discounts on your books to select readers. Before assuming they’re a go, test them out and be sure they deliver as promised.
  15. Add your business to Google Maps. Use a service like TravelBuddy to map your book signings and events.
  16. Prove your advertising claims. If your book promises to make people laugh, post video of readers cackling their heads off. If it promises to solve their problem, post testimonials from those who successfully used your methods.
  17. Use testimonials in your ads and on your website. Besides testimonials, you want endorsements from well-known authors and experts in your industry. Shoot for the moon. The worst you’ll ever hear is “no,” and you’re no worse off in hearing someone say no than you were before you asked them.

So there you have it – almost a dozen ways books are like shoes. And, more importantly, ways marketing books is like marketing shoes. Book signing at a shoe store, anyone?

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below."Practical Philanthropy" book cover

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Check out Laura’s newest book, Practical Philanthropy: How ‘Giving Back’ Helps You, Your Business, and the World Around You. A percentage of all book sales is donated to Art4TheHomeless.org and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

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Are you playing Hide & Seek with the people who are trying to connect with you?

I’ve been on a bit of a rant lately about contact information – or lack thereof – because it’s SOOO

How about an old-fashioned phone call?

crucial to your marketing campaigns. Again, it seems so obvious that we shouldn’t have to talk about it, and yet, I see it again and again and again: people neglecting to make themselves easy to connect with.

This all started out with did a post I did a few weeks ago with this piece of advice: Make your blog user friendly by including your e-mail address up front where everyone can see it. Yes, it’s possible that someone would want to contact you directly, via a mechanism other than the comments.

Here are a few other REAL-LIFE examples.

WEBSITE

Most web designers know to include contact info somewhere on the website, but many miss out by making it way too hard to find. The best strategy is to include your contact info visibly, on every page. Please don’t do what I’ve seen so many websites do, which is bury the contact info on a Contact page that is buried on an About page that I’ve got to dig through a menu to find. Remember, you’re in the book business, so make it easy for people to do business with you!

SPEAKER HANDOUTS

I recently attended an event where a speaker did a pretty nice job with a presentation about SEO. She distributed handouts with good information the audience could take home and implement. But nowhere on the handouts did she put any contact information for herself. No phone number. No email address. No Facebook link. Not even her name. Good golly – was that a missed opportunity or what?!

MEDIA RELEASES

I attended a panel discussion a couple years ago where various members of the Phoenix media offered words of advice to the audience about submitting media releases. One reporter said his biggest problem was when the news releases didn’t contain contact information – and all the others on the panel immediately nodded their heads in agreement! Seriously? You’re contacting the media about doing a story or promoting you in some way and you don’t include your contact info? How is that possible?

Of course, today most media releases are done electronically, so at the very least an e-mail address is attached. But if you submit your release as a Word doc or a PDF attachment, make sure your contact info is on it! You can easily imagine these reporters’, editors’, and producers’ inboxes filling up with release after release from people just like you. If they decide to follow up on a particular release, they might just print it and dump the e-mail. If your contact info’s not on the actual release, trust me – they’re not going to go back into their e-mail trash and try to fish it out. They’ll just move on to the next release that does include contact info.

BUSINESS CARDS

OK. I get that we’re inundated with e-mail and some people misbehave when it comes to adding folks to their mailing lists. Unfortunately, handing someone a business card with an email address on it is often construed as tacit acceptance to be added to such a list. That being said, isn’t the whole idea of a business card to make it easy for people to contact you? Again, you’re in the book business, so make it easy for others to do business with you by including all of your contact info, including e-mail and snail mail addresses. Today, this especially means including your social media contacts. Save them the trouble of having to go to your website and hunt down some remote Info@MyBlog.com or Web@MyDomain.org address.

However, you needn’t be the person who lists every form of contact under the sun: Phone. Direct line. Cell. Home. Fax. Home fax. Pager. I’m reminded of Drew Barrymore’s scene in He’s Just Not That Into You when she does the rundown of how our myriad connections play out in dating scenarios.

DO NOT do this with your card!

OK you get the message. Remember why we brand and why we use particular colors or fonts. We want people to remember us. So when they do want to contact you, make it easy for them to reach you!

Happy connecting!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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In honor of our 1-year anniversary (May 2, 2012), we’re hosting the Author Blog Challenge! It starts June 2 and is open to published authors, authors-in-progress, and would-be authors. Come check us out and register today!

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Blogging mishap: The content is overpowered by the background image

If you’ve been following Marcie and me for a while, you may agree that we have a generally positive, upbeat attitude and outlook on life and writing and book marketing. I feel the need to make that caveat, as I’m about to post the second of two cautionary (i.e., “DON’T do this!”) posts in less than a week.

And like my last admittedly opinionated commentary (about reposting someone else’s content not being blogging), I also came across this one through Google Alerts for “book marketing.”

It is a post titled How To Create A Successful Book Marketing Campaign, written by Bob T. Taylor for Vu Books.

Please understand that in this instance, I am NOT critiquing content. In fact, I reserve comment on the content, entirely. My point here is that the appearance is problematic. In attempt to create an interesting backdrop for this blog, the designer cleverly incorporated an image of some books, photos, and writing implements. The problem is that the image is too dark, so much so that it makes the text of the blog  the entire point of the page, as you are no doubt aware  very difficult to read. As I said, this is a clever concept, but if it is to work, the background image must be MUCH  lighter, creating significant contrast with the text.

Compare for yourself…

This is an actual screen shot from the Vu Books blog.

This is a mockup of the same screen shot I created using a comparable background image. The primary difference is that I made the background image about 70 percent lighter than in the original version. In my version, the text of the books is not competing with the text of the blog post to create illegible chaos.

This lesson applies equally to blog sites and traditional websites. A background image can go a long way to build interest, brand your site, and make for a generally more favorable experience, provided that it doesn’t overpower the text you actually want your visitors to read! In this case, I  might also consider increasing the font size and putting some space between the lines. However, depending on your blogging platform, choices like that may or may not be available.

The main point is to ALWAYS keep your reader in mind. Make it easy for them to enjoy visiting your blog/website and give them a reason to want to come back. If they can’t read the text  especially of a blog post  they will most likely click “NEXT!”

To appropriate background imagery!

Laura

P.S. If you’re not using Google Alerts, you should be. You can ask Google to email you whenever your selected keywords are mentioned in new online content. It’s simple to sign up and helps you stay up-to-date on your topic, industry, trends, or even your own name.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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Visit the Write | Market | Design Facebook page to meet other authors and aspiring authors who have a sincere interest in writing, publishing, and selling the best books they can. And if you need a self-publishing consultant in your corner for anything from advice on structure to developing a marketing strategy, drop us a note at MarcieBrock@WriteMarketDesign.com or give us a call at 602.518.5376!

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Once your author site is ranked, you must use SEO to maintain that ranking

(Click twice SLOWLY – not a double-click – to enlarge the image.)
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We’ve spent a great deal of time talking about how to build a successful author website. From design to content to eCommerce, we’ve given you a lot to think about. We talked about how essential SEO is to improving your site’s visibility and ranking in the search engines so that it is among the top results for the designated keywords.

Our first conversations about SEO were more from a perspective of getting ranked in the first place. One day, your author website is born, but how do people find out about it? They can’t, unless you put some effort, energy, and/or money into good SEO. Today I want to emphasize the importance of ongoing SEO to maintaining your ranking.

Scott White is a personal trainer in Scottsdale, Ariz., and the person who taught me most of what I know about search engine optimization. Why do I trust Scott more than any other source on the topic? Because Scott built his website from scratch in the early 2000s, spent a few years getting it ranked on the FIRST page of the major search engines for one of the most competitive search terms in the world (personal trainer – try it in Google, and you’ll see it returns 54 MILLION+ results), and has kept it among the top two pages of search results ever since.

Why is this so incredible and important? Research suggests that only 8 percent of all Web users will delve deeper than the first or second page when doing a search. MOST people won’t bother to keep looking for you if you’re not at the top. To maintain a top ranking for years on end takes skill, effort, and energy … or money.

Came across this on Facebook on 2/24/12.
Would gladly credit it if I knew who created it.

The good news is that the search term for which you want to rank your site is likely to be a lot less competitive than “personal trainer.” You can always improve your rankings by adding geocentric keywords to your search terms. For example, “dental school success tips Northeast” as opposed to merely “dental school success tips.”

Now, I am not suggesting that you hire a company to do your SEO for you, although it is something you might want to consider, if you have the budget for it and you don’t have the time and/or skills to do it yourself. A good SEO company should offer services such as:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Monitoring your SEO rankings and tracking your traffic
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, navigation, hosting, redirects, error pages
  • Keyword research
  • Competitive analysis between your site and others in your industry
  • Content development and regular addition of fresh content
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies

Right up there with unreliable Web design companies, SEO service providers can be sketchy, so you’ll want to make sure you are getting your money’s worth. A few questions to ask anyone (or company) you are considering hiring to help maintain SEO on your author website include:

  • Can I see some examples of your previous work?
  • What kinds of success stories can you share with me?
  • Do you offer any online marketing services or advice to complement your organic search business?
  • What kind of results can I expect to see, and in what timeframe?
  • How do you measure SEO success?
  • What’s your experience in my industry?
  • What’s your experience in my country/city?
  • What are your most important SEO techniques?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • How can I expect to communicate with you?
  • How will you share with me the changes you make to my site and your recommendations and the reasoning behind them?

If you’re going to spend your time, effort, energy, and money to get your site ranked, don’t let it be for nothing. Do whatever you can to hold on to that ranking, because the Web is a most competitive place: someone else is just waiting to take your spot should you become complacent.

Happy ranking!

MARCIE

RESOURCES: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35291 and http://www.isitebuild.com/seo-maintenance-services.htm

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Proper eCommerce is essential to the success of your author website

OK. You’ve found a Web designer you trust. You’ve got stellar copy and great SEO in place on your author website. You’ve got every duck, flamingo, and penguin lined up and everything looks good to go. So how’s your site set for eCommerce? Right – the part of the site that actually allows you to sell books and accept payments. This part needs to be done well, or the rest of your work could all be for nothing. A proper eCommerce component is essential to your success.

Things to consider when developing your author site’s eCommerce structure:

CAPACITY. Internet marketing expert Tracy Repchuk is just one of many I have heard who insist on PayPal as one necessary method of payment, if only because it is so well known. Not everyone is enamored with the online payment giant, but it does get the shopping cart job done, for the most part. While PayPal attempts to be all things to all online retailers, the service is limited. If you will be offering multiple products, subscription services, or other complicated pricing options, you might want to go with a more established merchant account service.

SECURITY. You’ve no doubt heard about the little problem with ID theft in our country. Internet fraud is a related problem. No one wants to get scammed or lose money making a purchase online. So one of your main concerns as an online retailer is working out the security aspects of your site. Retail-Revival.com offers an EXCELLENT eBook about creating an eCommerce site, with very good information about security, among other things.

CONVERSION. Volumes have been written on the subject of converting Web visitors into buyers. One of the longest running and most informative sites on this topic is grokdotcom.com. You’re an SBM*, so I trust you to be able to do your research and get the necessary information/help around this.

I realize that a lot of this stuff is quite technical in nature – and yet another reason you may want to turn your site design and construction over to a pro. But if you want to sell books and other products, it’s essential. Don’t panic or get scared, just get informed and get the right people in place. You can do it. Your book sales – and your readers – are depending on you.

Happy selling!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Ideas for finding a QUALITY DESIGNER to build your author website

So we’ve been talking for weeks now about the importance of your author website to connecting with prospective readers and making sales. Here’s the question: Who should do your website for you? I completely understand issues around budgeting and why – if you have some natural (or learned) skill at it – you might want to build your own website. WordPress offers excellent tools for creating a pretty nice-looking DIY site.

However, there are a number of good reasons for finding money in your budget to hire a professional Web designer. Among them:

  • Hiring a professional designer can save you time.
  • The Internet changes constantly – your website should reflect that dynamism and change with it.
  • A friend/relative will never prioritize your work the way a paid designer will.
  • Some designers have good SEO knowledge and skill that can benefit you.
  • A pro will be able to optimize your site for various browsers (and mobile devices).
  • If you want a site that makes a splash of any sort, you may need the design skills of a professional.
  • One thing that will make your site look great – and work well – is a finished appearance, which a professional designer can do for you.

So, once you decide you will make the plunge and hire a Web designer, how do you find the right one for your author website? To be honest, more than any other industry I’ve encountered, this field is rife with the sketchiest of feedback in terms of the quality of service providers. I long ago lost count of how many friends, colleagues, and clients have told me they were misled, ripped off, or had otherwise bad experiences with Web designers. That is just my experience, but ask around. It seems to be an unfortunate trend in the industry. What that means is that it is up to you to do your due diligence and make sure the designer you’re hiring is worth the money before you plunk down a dime.

Here are some things to consider before making a decision about which designer to hire.

GOALS FOR YOUR SITE. Is your site going to be mostly a brochure site where prospective readers can come and test drive a sample chapter or two? Are you looking to build a speaking career around your book? If so, that site is probably going to be somewhat different. Do you want a forum where readers can interact with each other? There’s no right or wrong, but you must know before you begin what you want your site to do. Then, go find a designer who can do it.

EXPERIENCE. The best designer may or may not have a ton of experience under their belt. Either way, you’ll want to look at sites they have already created to get a feeling for whether they synch with your goals for your author website. There may be something to be said for hiring a designer who specializes in author sites; however, you probably don’t want a cookie-cutter site that looks like a bunch of other authors’ sites, either. So make sure the designer you hire has the breadth, imagination, and listening skills to capture exactly what you want to create in your site.

As thenextweb.com puts it:

Web designers come in various shapes and sizes. Many specialize in one technology or another, and further, some specialize in specific visual styles or servicing a particular demographic. I know of a few designers who do nothing but political sites all day, every day — and they nail the style that they are known for.

While expertise in a style can be useful, and an agency or freelancer that targets your specific area might sound great, there are some who simply re-hash the same few designs over and over again. There’s a big difference between knowing a particular style of design well and innovating within that style, and trying to make a living as a one-trick pony with under-developed skills.

FREELANCE vs. COMPANY. The next thing you want to decide is whether you will hire a freelance designer or an actual Web design company. Each has its pros and cons, but in this industry neither is a sure bet – so again, do your research!

WHERE TO LOOK. The best place to begin is by asking other people (authors) whose sites you like: “Who did your site?” They will likely give you honest feedback about their experience working with their Web designers. Another place to look is on Web design galleries (a Google search can get you there). If either of those options doesn’t pan out, you can always try the freelance sites like Guru.com or eLance.com. The most important thing to remember is not to rush this process. Find a designer you feel good about, and whatever happens, go with your gut.

LOOK AT THE DESIGNER’s SITE. Make sure you visit the designers’ sites to see how they represent themselves on the Web.

Sitepoint.com recommends asking yourself the following questions, at minimum:

  • Do they tell you who they are and what they offer?
  • Do they appear to have the specific skills you need?
  • Do they have a portfolio you can view?
  • Does the designer describe their technical background?
  • How well do they use color on their own site?
  • Are their page titles appropriate and informative?
  • Is their site easy to navigate, and to get back to where you began?
  • Would your visitors/readers like a similar navigation system?
  • Are all their pages accessible, with no broken links?
  • Is the overall page design consistent?
  • Can you easily find the Contact Page and Site Map?
  • Are things on their site aligned properly?
  • Is the text on their site easy to read?
  • Do the pages load quickly?
  • Do all links open in new tabs or new windows?

PRICING & CONTRACTS. Other things to consider are pricing and the sort of contract they offer. Pricing for Web design runs the gamut from several hundred dollars to many thousands. Of course, part of that has to do with the complexity of the design, but unlike many other industries, a high fee is not always a guarantee of good work. I like how thenextweb.com puts it: “You might find that many really talented designers aren’t charging particularly expensive rates, so don’t take their previous work as an indicator of price.” And as far as a contract goes, it’s always a good idea to get someone with some legal acumen to look over any contract before you sign it.

REFERENCES. Lastly, remember to get references! Find a few people who’ve worked with the designer before and get input from them. Remember, though, consider the source. If three out of four tell you they had a great experience, there may be more to the story for the one who did not.

Yep, it’s going to take some work, but when you end up with a site you (and your readers) love, you will be glad you made the effort.

Happy hiring!

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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Tips for optimizing your author website for mobile users

In one of our earliest posts, we explored the idea of knowing your reader, particularly as it pertains to marketing your books to them. We talked about the well known demographics and lesser-known psychographics. In her new book, relationship marketing expert Mari Smith reveals a new one: technographics: “Technograpchs is a composite picture of the type of people you’re trying to reach, which networks they hang out on, and — perhaps most importantly — how you’re going to reach them.” One of an author’s keys to technographics is knowing how people purchase your books, because the number who are purchasing — and reading — via mobile devices is growing.

Last time, we talked about how these mobile users need to factor into your web design. Today, I’d like to point you in the direction of some help for formatting your site so that mobile users can easily read, navigate, and use it.

PracticalCommerce.com offers some good questions to get you started:

  • Have you ever seen your website on a mobile device?
  • Are you confident your customers can find the information they are looking for?
  • Can they make a purchase from your website on their handheld device?

Depending on your level of skill as a Web designer, you may simply want to pass on this info to your webmaster. PracticalCommerce.com also recommends checking the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) specifications for mobile devices. Issues they tackle include:

  • Is your site using tables?
  • Does your site use a lot of images or multi-media files?
  • Does your site take a long time to download on a web browser?

Something to think about when assigning styles for mobile devices is to keep it very simple. Mobile devices are still a bit slower, so you want to avoid using lots of images and graphics. In addition, there are varying screen sizes and resolutions with handheld devices, so it’s a good idea to scale page elements by screen size, rather than setting fixed pixel widths for page elements.

You can also find a 60-item list of Mobile Web Best Practices at WC3. I won’t list all of them here, but they include things like:

  1. Thematic Consistency. Ensure that content provided by accessing a URL yields a thematically coherent experience when accessed from different devices.
  2. Navbar. Provide only minimal navigation at the top of the page.
  3. Balance. Take into account the trade-off between having too many links on a page and asking the user to follow too many links to reach what they are looking for.
  4. Pop-Ups. Do not cause pop-ups or other windows to appear and do not change the current window without informing the user.
  5. Auto Refresh. Do not create periodically auto-refreshing pages, unless you have informed the user and provided a means of stopping it.
  6. Clarity. Use clear and simple language.
  7. Page Size Usable. Divide pages into usable but limited size portions.
  8. Large Graphics. Do not use images that cannot be rendered by the device.
  9. Use of Color. Ensure that information conveyed with color is also available without color.
  10. Page Title. Provide a short but descriptive page title.

Note that some of these are good advice for ANY website.

According to Pelfusion.com, you can easily set up your WordPress blog for mobile users with the WPTouch plugin.

Lastly, I’m not making a recommendation for this, but Google offers a simple way to optimize your site for mobile devices. Enter the URL of the website and indicate whether or not you want to include images. Click “Go” to create a mobile-optimized version of the site.

Happy optimizing!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

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Growing number of mobile users MUST factor into your web design

Once upon a time, a 20-pound laptop was considered a mobile device. Twenty years ago, only a handful of people had email addresses; today, not having one is like not having a phone number. Ten years ago, Facebook didn’t exist. Today, what’s one of the first things you do when you meet someone new? Not only do we live in the digital age, but we find ourselves in a world where mobile connection is becoming less a luxury and more a necessity. What do the following have in common?

  • Meeting people at the airline gate
  • Giving a client directions to your office
  • Wondering if today’s special at your favorite restaurant is any good
  • Standing in line at the movie theatre
  • Carrying around a keyring full of stores’ discount cards

These are all behaviors that have gone by the wayside – or are disappearing – due to mobile connectivity.

What’s all this got to do with book marketing – and specifically your website? Everything, in that designing your website to accommodate mobile devices is yet one more important ingredient for success.

Consider the following:

Now think about your own frustration in navigating around sites on your smartphone or Kindle Fire. As more and more of our online behavior moves to mobile devices, our web design must shift with it. And if you’re really an SBM*, you will pay specific attention to which device your audience is using to connect.

Next time, we’ll get into some of the specific considerations that factor into designing a website (or formatting an eBook) for a mobile device. For today, just soak in the numbers. And begin to laser-focus on content and design concepts that will work for a smaller device tailored to an audience on the move.

Happy connecting!

MARCIE

*Savvy Book Marketer

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Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

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If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

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The least you need to know about SQUEEZE PAGES


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We’ve been spending a lot of time talking about the content side of a website that works. First we explored the basics of copywriting. Last time we delved into split testing. And today, we’re dissecting squeeze pages. Why are we going through all of this stuff when you’re just an author who wants to sell books? Can’t you just sell your books on Amazon? You betcha. But how many books do you want to sell? Even if you have a big push for your launch and hit best-seller status on Amazon, it takes selling about a dozen books a day to remain in the Online Book Behemoth’s top 100. And Amazon works just like a search engine – the titles with the most demand get the highest rankings. So do you really want to rely on Amazon – with its 30 MILLION other titles – as your sole sales machine?

Selling from your own website makes sense because you can target your niche audience, and this is the stuff that will make your website work. Without these pieces to the puzzle, you may make some online sales, but you’re never going to stand out in a very crowded field. Do you need to implement all of it? Of course not. But there may be a time when it will be useful for you to know – or understand how to hire someone who knows – how a successful website is put together.

Onto the squeeze pages!

We talked in a previous post about the importance of capturing e-mail addresses from your visitors. Well, that is pretty much the only goal of a squeeze page. We’ve all been there. You see a promotion that interests you and click on a link that takes you to a landing page. This page generally displays sales copy that is a continuation of the information in the advertisement or link that first grabbed your attention. Landing pages are secondary pages, but carry the same (if not better) potential to rank in the search engines as the home pages do.

Almost anybody can build a simple landing page, but it’s what you do with the page is that matters. If your goal is to sell books (or other products/services), a squeeze page – also known as an opt-in page or a lead capture page – can be pretty useful. A squeeze page is a simple landing page that asks a visitor for their name, email address, and potentially other information, in exchange for a free report or other item. In the case of an author, a sample chapter is an ideal offering. When the visitor clicks the submit button, their information is automatically stored so that the site owner can collect that data and use it for future marketing purposes.

You may think that squeeze pages are annoying or bothersome, but it can be a big mistake to skip using them. How else will you collect your visitors’ names so you can let them know about your upcoming signings, speaking gigs, and the release of your next book?

Remember, your squeeze page must have 4 items:

  1. A captivating headline
  2. Engaging copy
  3. A capture box
  4. An irresistible offer

Here’s some great advice from PersonalTrainerWebsiteDesign.com:

Most people think that flashy colors, tons of images and all sorts of banners are key to success. More often than not… they are the key to failure. When you are developing your fitness website squeeze pages, keep a few things in mind:

  • Keep the riff-raff to zero. Include only what’s absolutely necessary to get someone to give you their name and email address.
  • Use the power of video.
  • Keep the form on the initial opt in page short.
  • Your font should be san-serif and large enough for easy reading.
  • Limit text to only a few lines or bullet points.

Some of the savvier marketers employ handwriting and drawings in their squeeze pages. While it’s not necessary, by any means, it couldn’t hurt to test it out.

Check out Codrut Turcanu’s blog for his 13 Best Squeeze Page Examples.

  1. Stupid Simple Squeeze Page.
  2. Header Squeeze Page
  3. Video Squeeze Page
  4. Audio Squeeze Page
  5. Graphic Squeeze Page
  6. Random Draw Squeeze Page
  7. Try-It-Free Squeeze Page
  8. Blog Integrated Squeeze Page
  9. Discount Squeeze Page
  10. Newsletter Squeeze Page
  11. Sales Letter Squeeze Page
  12. eCourse Squeeze Page
  13. eBook Offer Squeeze Page

Again, you don’t need to master all of this yourself, but this is invaluable information when it comes time to getting your website off the ground. Even if you’re an author with just one book to sell, these techniques can help you create a successful Internet marketing strategy … especially if there will one day be a second book or other ancillary products.

Happy squeezing!

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Tuesday, Oct. 18 An autoresponder campaign will keep your call to action from getting lost

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Even authors can benefit from SPLIT TESTING.


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Yes, yes. I know you’re an author, not a marketing specialist, but we touched on the importance of split testing last time, and if we’re going to learn this, we might as well understand it fully. Even if you’re not going to do your own marketing, this is an invaluable technique for testing every aspect of your book, from cover design to the wording of your bio page.

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, is a marketing technique in which a baseline sample is compared to a variety of single-variable test samples in order to improve response rates. Often used in direct mail strategies, this model has proven integral to successful Internet marketing campaigns, from social media to e-mail and landing pages.

The reason we’re talking about it – and that you should do it – is because it works. Split tests of elements like copy, arrangement of page components, use of one image versus another, and colors have shown significant improvements in reader response. Changes to these elements do not necessarily promote equal changes in response, but that’s just a part of what you want to examine when you look at the test results.

Marketers using this testing method distribute various samples of a test, including the control, to determine which single variable is most effective in improving the response rate or achieving any other desired results. In order for split testing to be truly effective, samples must reach a large enough audience that the test will provide a decent chance of detecting a meaningful difference between the control and the variables.

Split tests can be used to determine things like:

  • Whether different placement of the shopping cart button affects how many people click it.
  • Whether a form with fewer – or different – fields encourages more people to complete it.
  • Whether your assumptions about the best way to design or write a page are accurate. You are not your reader/customer – so is what you perceive as compelling actually compelling to them?

Split testing is not just about selling more books – although that’s a great benefit. According to SixRevisions.com, split testing can also help:

  • Get visitors to linger longer on your website.
  • Get visitors to be more interactive on your site.
  • Get more visitors to request a consultation or opt in for your free giveaway.

The say further:

Split testing also helps ensure that when it comes to advertising, you are maximising each and every dollar. If your website doubles its conversion rate from 1% to 2% using split testing techniques, you have just doubled your revenue using the same marketing budget.

One thing to keep in mind about split testing: believe the results. You may love your book’s title font, color scheme, or cover graphic – but what if your research reveals that it’s not converting as well as something else might? You want to be willing to hear what the results are telling you and make the necessary changes – especially if it means you’ll sell more books.

Happy testing!

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Tuesday, Oct. 18 An autoresponder campaign will keep your call to action from getting lost

Thursday, Oct. 13 Capturing e-mail addresses from your website visitors is a CRUCIAL aspect of marketing your book

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Good copywriting is a learned skill, and essential to a successful website

(Click twice SLOWLY – not a double-click – to enlarge the image.)
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Happy New Year!

Before we jump right back into the swing of things, let’s take a little trip down memory lane and review the techniques for building a good website that we’ve covered so far:

Today we’re going to talk about the all-important aspect of copywriting. You’re an author (or soon-to-be author), so copywriting should come easily, right? Well, yes and no. Successful copywriting is only partly about the words themselves; it’s also about how you arrange the words and other elements on the page.

For instance, you want to avoid the mistake that many novice copywriters make by cluttering up your sales page. Should you include an image of your book cover? Absolutely! Your head shot or your publishing company logo? Perhaps, but not above the headline, which is the FIRST and MOST IMPORTANT piece of your sales page.

As we have discussed in previous posts, the entire goal of any piece of marketing material is to get the person to KEEP READING. In Web copy, that means you must start with a compelling headline that entices them to … KEEP READING. According to CopyBlogger.com, “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest. This is the secret to the power of your title, and why it so highly determines the effectiveness of the entire piece.”

We’ve talked about the hook! Well, never was it more important than here in the headline of your web copy.

One thing you must remember is that good copywriting appeals to the emotion of your prospective reader/customer/client. In order to do this well, you’ve got to get into your reader’s head and know what will compel or entice them to want to learn more. In short, pose the question that they are seeking to answer! A financial advisor client of ours works specifically with retirement planning. So, in order to craft a good headline at the height of the financial meltdown, we went to someone with that particular concern, asking, “What specifically keeps you up at night when you think about your financial future?” His answer became our headline: Are you worried that you’ll NEVER be able to retire?

So you come up with a dynamite headline and figure you’ve hit a home run, but you’ll never know unless you test it. As Copywriting Basics 101 writes, “It doesn’t matter if you think your headline is the greatest thing to hit the internet if it doesn’t convert. And thus, split testing becomes a priority. Split testing is based on science and logic. Instead of trusting your gut with your headline, USP, and other parts of your copy — test. Take the time to design two or more different versions of the sales page for the same product.”

It may surprise you to learn that taking the time to test and test and test again, and then using those results to tweak the copy and sales page based on the results, is probably a copywriter’s most essential skill — way beyond the ability to write.

When it comes to the words themselves, if a visitor to your site is inclined to read past the headline, they will read long sales pages as often as short ones, provided that the copy is COMPELLING. How do you make it compelling? Speak to their interests directly. Tell them what the book is about and link to a sample chapter, without giving away the farm. Reference the Table of Contents. Rave about the most important point they will learn. Talk about others who have read and loved your book. Tell them what it will do for them (nonfiction) or how it will make them feel (fiction). Most importantly, use hypnotic writing.

Master Internet marketer Joe Vitale defines hypnotic writing as “intentionally using words to guide people into a focused mental state where they are inclined to buy your product or service.” Any words you use that cause your readers to react because of the mental images you plant in their minds qualify as hypnotic writing. Telling stories is one of the quickest and easiest ways to do this. If your sales copy is going to be effective, it must be hypnotic!

For a look at a great sales letter that pushes just the right emotional buttons, combined with a compelling offer and great testimonials, visit SecretsOfQ.com. It may take some practice to get comfortable with writing sales copy — especially if you’re an author who has never really focused on the sales side of writing before. But if you commit to it, you can do it and do it well. If you won’t do it yourself, the other option is to pay someone else to do it for you, because the book cover alone is not going to sell your book.

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Tuesday, Oct. 18 An autoresponder campaign will keep your call to action from getting lost

Thursday, Oct. 13 Capturing e-mail addresses from your website visitors is a CRUCIAL aspect of marketing your book

Monday, Oct. 10 Without an investment in SEO, your author website will be largely invisible

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An autoresponder campaign will keep your call to action from getting lost

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Last time, we talked about the importance of building an e-mail contact list and explored the holes your list might have in it. Once you build that list, the next step is to connect with the people on it – on a regular basis. An autoresponder campaign is a great way to do that. An autoresponder is a program or script that automatically sends or replies to e-mails via your e-mail service provider. Even if you’re unfamiliar with the term, you probably have received an autoresponder if you’ve ever contacted a company through their website to request service or help with a problem and received an e-mail response letting you know they got your message.

An autoresponder campaign involves more than a single e-mail, but rather a series of e-mails intended to invite and entice the recipient into learning more about you, your book, your company, and/or your other offerings. It plays off that initial free offer on your site for an item of value (e.g., special report, teleclasses, webinars, sample chapters) in exchange for the visitor’s e-mail address.

If your special report, teleclass, webinar, or sample chapter contains a stellar call to action, you might hear your phone ring or see a jump in sales through your site, or…

Say your free giveaway is a sample chapter of your next book. Joe Smith enters his e-mail and – voilà – your sample chapter appears in his inbox within minutes. But what say Joe doesn’t immediately open your sample chapter, because he’s a busy man, and while he wants to read it, he looks at the e-mail, closes it, and intends to get back to it tomorrow. In the meantime, tomorrow comes, and 67 new e-mails pile on top of the very important message containing your sample chapter. He goes back through the e-mail and, yep, he sure means to get to that sample chapter, but after he finishes with a couple client calls. Whoop … 59 more e-mails pile on top of the one with your sample chapter. Soon, your e-mail is way down the list, even though Joe really does want to read your sample chapter, which could help revolutionize his business.

Why leave it to chance? With an autoresponder campaign, you follow up with Joe the next day to remind him that he downloaded your sample chapter, and encourage him to open it and read it right now. And then you also encourage him to do something else with another specific call to action.

A couple days later, you send another follow-up message, assuming Joe has now read the sample chapter, and asking if he’s had the opportunity to try out the tip you offered on page 3. And so on, following a regular schedule, for a specified period of time. Only you don’t have to remember to send these messages, because they are on autopilot, set to begin going out as soon as Joe enters his e-mail address into your capture box.

Our client Amara Charles used an autoresponder campaign to help her reach #1 on Amazon in her niche category, shamanism, for her book launch; another client who promotes a health product went from selling 12 units a week prior to implementing his autoresponder campaign to 700 units a week. Who wouldn’t want that kind of success?

In an article for AllMerchants.com, Ken Hill offers some tips on other ways to use autoresponders, including :

  • Use autoresponders to conduct simple polls.
  • Use autoresponder to deliver an email course that gives a hands-on explanation of the benefits of purchasing your product.
  • Use autoresponders to send out excerpts of your book or info product.
  • Use autoresponders to announce when you’ve written a new article for publication.
  • Use autoresponders to send out weekly tips.

In order to begin your autoresponder campaign, you will need a subscription to an e-mail service that facilitates their delivery. Two good ones are A Weber and Mail Chimp.

Once you’ve begun to build your list, make sure you touch them regularly and cement that call to action with a strong autoresponder campaign.

MARCIE

__________________

Download your complimentary copy of the highly useful Website Design & Marketing worksheet from Write | Market | Design.

__________________

We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________

If you’d like us to add a link to your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog, please send us a note. If we think it’s a good fit, we’ll be happy to add you. Of course, we’d appreciate the reciprocity of the same!

Additionally, Marcie would be happy to make a guest appearance on your writing/self-publishing/book marketing blog. Just let us know the theme or your idea (preferably including a 6-panel concept), and we’ll see what we can draft for you.

__________________

PREVIOUS POSTS

Thursday, Oct. 13 Capturing e-mail addresses from your website visitors is a CRUCIAL aspect of marketing your book

Monday, Oct. 10 Without an investment in SEO, your author website will be largely invisible

Thursday, Oct.6 Does your author site give visitors a reason to COME BACK?

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