Thursday 15 October 2015

Use SumoMe to Drive Sales from your Book Site

It's every author's nightmare.

Your new site is looking awesome. You are about to hit "go" on some well-tuned Facebook advertising, and you hope this will give sales a bump, since most of your books' rankings have started to drop off on Amazon.

The advert goes live. Impressions start coming in, and soon you are racking up the conversions. Yes, people are going to your site through the ad! Money well spent.

But then the book sales don't really move. At all. They stay stubbornly on trend, and that trend is "meh".

What to do?

Well, as luck would have it, this exact scenario happened to me shortly after I created the shiny new web site. Because I don't believe in holding back strategies that would help other authors (you're my colleagues, not my competition!) I'm going to share my solution with you now.

The main problem here is that unless you spend ages learning the forbidden language that is Google Analytics, you probably don't know much about what happens when people land on your site.

Enter SumoMe. Ironically I found this service by clicking on an advert in my newsfeed on Facebook.

SumoMe has some paid services, but it also has a lot of free "apps" which can be applied to your site with just a few clicks. We're going to look at two of the free apps: Content Analytics, and Heat Maps.

Put simply, Content Analytics can be used to "record" how far down a page visitors actually read. This is invaluable information to have: if most people are stopping reading before they reach your all-important sales buttons, then you need to change the page layout.

Heat Maps record where on the page people are clicking, and represent these clicks with little hotspots which scale in intensity according to how frequently a link or button is clicked.

Why Use these Apps?

The best way to explain it is with an example. I'll use the book page for my first novel, Steal from the Devil, because it's almost being given away anyway so I'm not that bothered about skewed analytics figures.

Here is the page as it appears now. Take a good look at how the content is broken up into blocks:

Before I used SumoMe, I had the book's blurb at the top of the page, to the right of the cover image. The paperback and Kindle links were below it, in two columns, with the book details column on their right. The Goodreads reviews box occupied the bottom of the page.

Now here's the important bit: to me, that layout was both logical, and aesthetically pleasing. The problem is... most people didn't read beyond the book's blurb.

That disturbing fact showed up very clearly once I began using Content Analytics.

The solution I came up with was to partially invert the rows. Now, the book's cover has the point-of-sale links on the right of it. The blurb is below, with the book details on the left. I also added into that second left-hand column a new bit to show people where this books appears in the current story.

On a mobile device, the page should now appear in this order:

  1. Cover
  2. Kindle Links
  3. Paperback Links
  4. Series Position
  5. Book Details
  6. Blurb
  7. Goodreads Reviews

This works. Content Analytics shows clearly that most people are reading down to the end of the book's blurb, and more people are reaching the end of the whole page. Heat Maps shows that they are now singling out links to their Amazon region's site, more frequently than they were before.

Why does it work?

I suspect it's to do with selection psychology. Before, people landed on the page, read the blurb, thought "hmmm, sounds kinda cool", then went somewhere else. They therefore missed all of the carefully curated sales links and helpful information.

Now they have to scroll past the sales links to get to the blurb. They see that the book is available on Amazon as both a paperback, and on the Kindle platform. When they reach the blurb, there on the left of it — and Westerners start reading from the left — is a clear indication that this book is part of a series, with links to the other volumes, as well as assurances about things such as the book's length.

When they reach the end of the blurb, the first word their brains will pick out below it is "reviews".

Great. But anyone could design their site that way, right?

Well, perhaps not. It's easy to figure out what's going on now I've made the changes, clicks are occurring, and sales are bumping up again on KDP. But I'm a writer, not a web designer or salesperson.

I need tools like SumoMe's apps to help me see what's going on, and whether my changes have any effect.

I'm betting you do too, so why not try it out?

I'd be interested in hearing about any success stories, in the comments section below.

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