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Posts Tagged ‘copywriting’

35 days … Will I finish my book or finish the Author Blog Challenge first?

Well, if you’ve been reading along for the last week or so, you’re aware that I’m launching a new Author Blog Challenge today. That makes this the first of 35 consecutive days’ posts, all on the topic of writing, publishing, and book marketing. I hope you’ll stick around through all 35 posts. And if you want to take part, come on in – the water is great! You can register here.

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Day 1 writing prompt:

What are your goals for the Author Blog Challenge? Do you want to introduce new readers to your writing? Increase traffic to your blog? Get in some extra writing practice? Share your very important message with the world? Use your first post to talk about why you joined the ABC, what your goals are, and what you hope to learn from the experience. In short, let your readers know that you’re participating in the ABC and why.

As the ringleader of this little adventure known as the 5-Week Author Blog Challenge, I find myself in the position of REALLY needing to meet the Challenge by 3d coverwriting posts to address all of the prompts that I created. Sometimes, this is an easy task. Other times, like when life or my business or my husband demand call for immediate attention, it’s not as easy to just bang out the posts.

I could have cheated – ahem, planned – and written ahead (everyone can see 5 days’ advance posts), but to me, that doesn’t seem to serve the spirit of the Challenge. It may yet happen, but not today!

This is the longest of the three Author Blog Challenges, beating the inaugural one in 2012 by seven days. I went back and borrowed a bunch of prompts from that challenge, and reviewed my posts in the process. Interesting how I’m pretty sure I’ll answer virtually none of the posts in the same way, which is good for Marcie’s SEO, and for her long-time readers.

These days, I’m pushing to finish my first novel, Stan Finds Himself on the Other Side of the World, so all of my posts that are related to a specific book will be geared at that one. I’ve admittedly been working on it for a very long time, and it’s limping its way to completion. The good news is that I like the story – and my characters – more and more and more as I spend more and more and more time with them. Now, it’s time to finish things up so I can send them out into the world for the rest of you to meet!

So I hope you’ll stay with me for the next 34 days of this excursion into my personal thoughts about writing, publishing, and book marketing, as applied to my own books (rather than my clients’ books).

Would love any feedback! And, of course, would really love to have you support all of the bloggers in the Challenge. Find their links here. If you have time to read only one other post today, please check out Josh Hoyt’s blog!

Saddle up, ’cause here we go!

Laura

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We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.

__________________Anatomy of a Book Launch

If you’re getting ready to launch your book and would like help to put together a successful event, download my free special report: Anatomy of a Book Launch. Then CALL me at 602.518.5376 to schedule your complimentary 15-minute consultation. It’s never too early to begin planning!

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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

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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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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

__________________

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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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.

__________________

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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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Is your author website DOA?

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

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Once upon a time, the Internet was shiny and new and only certain people had websites. Mostly companies, maybe famous folks. For the average author, though, it was a reach. Fast forward to the cusp of 2012, and a website is no longer an optional luxury. It is an absolute necessity for doing business, particularly for a self-publishing author.

OK, so if this is basic stuff for you, feel free to skip ahead. You’ve read it here before: this should go without saying … but, after visiting a number of author sites lately, it occurs to me that some of these things very much need saying AGAIN.

Every successful website contains three discrete elements:

  1. Design
  2. Content
  3. SEO

DESIGN is the way the site looks. The colors. The fonts. The menus and buttons. The choice to utilize Flash, video, or other movable segments. It also incorporates functionality. How well is the visitor able to navigate the site, moving from page to page, or section to section? What is the overall feel, tone, and personality of the site? Is it elegant? Whimsical? Humorous? Thoughtful?

Remember, you are not your reader/Web visitor. When you are thinking about the design aspects of your site, consider your end users! Imagine you are your ideal reader, seeing your site for the first time. Does it invite you in? Make you want to look around and learn more? Or is it cluttered, busy, or schizophrenic?

CONTENT is the stuff that fills up your site: the words, images, videos, links, etc. YOU the website owner are responsible for creating the content for your site. This means that you must either take on a new/different writing role: copywriting. Or you must hire someone to do it for you. There are books, courses, videos, and every kind of tutorial you can imagine about copywriting for the Web, if it’s not your strong suit. Honestly, I think every author should have some skill in the copywriting arena. But there’s also a lot to be said for hiring a pro who can turn out magical copy for you almost effortlessly.

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the behind-the-scenes work that allows your site to be found on the search engines. If someone types in your name, does your website come up first, or is it way down on page 2 or 3, after all the other sites that are selling your book(s)? Although a good Amazon ranking is important to many authors, it’s equally important that YOUR site be found on the first page of results, particularly in a search for YOUR name. SEO is the tool that will make that happen. There are many things you can do to improve and enhance your site’s SEO, but if technology confuses, confounds, or frustrates you, it’s probably in your best interest to bring in a consultant to help you.

The interesting thing about building a successful website is that each of these three essential components is often so separate from the others. Many Web designers understand the concept of SEO, but do not specialize in it. As the owner of the site, you really want to act as the quarterback, pulling all the pieces together to make sure they are all working in harmony. This is easier to manage if you are writing the copy and choosing the images. If you’ve hired someone else to handle that portion, it becomes even more essential to make sure the Web design complements the copy and helps the SEO, that the copy contains good key words to boost your search rankings, and that your SEO expert is using appropriate strategies and key words.

We’ll be exploring all of this at greater length in the coming weeks. In the meantime, you may want to take tour of your website, scanning for some of the significant flaws that could be hampering your sales success:

  • No email capture. If you don’t have a way to capture the names of your site visitors, you are missing out on an obvious and essential marketing opportunity.
  • Using a newsletter as giveaway. Newsletters are passé. How many are you subscribed to? And how many do you read? Find something interesting and creative to give away.
  • No author bio. This one is just inexcusable. Sure, people are visiting your site to learn more about your books, but as an author, you’re in a unique position because your product is so personal. YOU wrote the book, so people also want to know about you. Reward them for caring with a nice bio and picture.
  • Hard-to-find contact info. Don’t make the user hunt for your contact info, especially not the media! Make sure to include all your social media links.
  • Too busy; too many sections/frames/boxes. You don’t have to put everything on the front page. Easy-to-use navigation buttons that steer your users where you want them to go will serve you much better than a junky, cluttered home page.
  • No call to action. What do you want your visitors to DO next? They won’t do it if you don’t tell them.
  • No samples of your writing. Like your bio, this is simply a courtesy to your readers. You want them to buy your books, don’t you? Well, how will they know they want to buy your books if they can’t first sample your writing?
  • Nowhere to purchase. I am banging my head against a wall as I write this one. Even if you can’t or don’t want to handle fulfillment personally, you must include links on your site to the places where your readers CAN purchase your book.
  • Irrelevant links and content. Make sure every aspect of your site is geared toward building your relationship with your reader. If you’ve written a travel guide, by all means, include links to travel resources. If, however, your book is about knitting, dump the travel/recipe/theatre/cosmetics  links, unless they are somehow relevant to your knitting book.
  • No event calendar. If you are doing book signings and events, make it easy for your readers to find them.

Surely you’ve found yourself frustrated by a website at some point in time. Remember that, and guard against doing the same thing to your visitors. Managing a website is a big job, but an important one. Review your site regularly to make sure your visitors are having such an optimal experience that they will visit again, and more importantly, tell others about you and your site.

MARCIE

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Please contact us if you’d like help putting together your media kit, media releases, or book proposal. Free 30-minute consultation when you mention this post ($99 value).

__________________

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

Monday, Sept.26 Internet Radio: Are interview opportunities just waiting for YOU?

Thursday, Sept. 22 Rehearse your BOOK PITCH until it rolls off your tongue fluidly

Monday, Sept. 19 Want to be attractive to the media? Include a MEDIA ROOM on your website!

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