When it comes to selling books on Amazon, publishers mostly think about opportunities. Recent surveys have suggested that more than 5 million titles are available exclusively on the Kindle platform. 5 million+! Best-seller lists are dominated by the Big 5 publishers, which is why getting a strong publishing deal usually results in automatic high rankings on Amazon. Small publishing houses and self-published authors simply can’t compete, especially when one bears in mind the substantial advertising budgets and VIP seats secured for best sellers in the books section.
In order to be a successful publisher on Amazon, one has to utilize the full gamut of benefits and tools available, and not simply count on Amazon’s help. After all, when it comes down to it, Amazon is primarily focused on:
- Customer experience – delivering a unique experience by offering its customers products that are most likely to sell, based on the customer data they receive and produce.
- Products that are most likely to sell / have a history of strong sales – favoring sales rank over relevancy (which isn’t to say that relevancy is not also important to Amazon)
In other words, you are pretty much out on your own… that is, until you get some impressive sales results. And I’m serious! Amazon does offer free promotion services or discounted deals for eBooks enrolled with KDP Select, and these features are a useful marketing tool when combined with free and/or paid promotion services. However, these tools are not designed to push your sales, and have no impact on your Amazon Sales Rank…which happens to be your entry ticket to Amazon’s other sales channels. To be frank, most of Amazon’s doors remain closed to those with lower sales ranks!
Most publishers ask me: how can I improve my sales on Amazon?
I think that a better question would be: how can I improve my sales?
Amazon is arguably the most important digital sales channel for books, but it certainly isn’t the only sales channel you should focus on. Some other retailers are also doing a great job, and are more than capable of securing some very positive profit margins. Each sales channel needs a commitment from the publisher in time-consuming efforts to beat their competitors. Also, every Amazon marketplace is different, and if you want to improve your ranks on Amazon’s UK site, you’ll need to invest your time in getting your consumers to know – as knowing their customers is key to Amazon’s strategy. You should do the same on each and every digital sales channel that you appear on. I know this can be very difficult and time-consuming, but that’s the nature of every business venture, and the effort can be very much worth the eventual reward. If you think of Amazon as a simple library shelf, don’t set your hopes too high. It’s a marketplace – or perhaps ‘battlefield’ would be a more fitting word – and you should bring some real assets to the fight that lies ahead!
So, what’s the safest digital sale strategy? It goes without saying that it’s to build your own audience, while simultaneously strengthening those channels you can control. Many things on Amazon go on under your radar. For example, you can’t establish direct communication with your customer, even if you sell highly relevant products that should be a good match to customer search queries. As such, building your own sales channel is the best sales strategy in the long run, and it’s without any doubt the safest investment you can make towards your sales ranks.
If you are building your own audience on your website and/or blog, you have a variety of marketing channels already at your disposal. When considering sales and marketing channels, the main difference is that through sales channels, your products can only speak for themselves when a customer lands on your product page. With marketing channels, you are able to engage in communication – something which happens to be a key element of every marketing approach. A marketing channel simply refers to the places where you can interact with your audience. Those channels are:
- Social media
- E-mail opt-ins
- Search engine optimization (SEO)
Let’s see what we can do with those.
Search engine optimization allows you to direct organic search traffic to your website, by using carefully-selected keywords and keyword phrases tailored to your customer’s needs. By optimizing your content, you tell the search engines for which range of search queries your is content relevant. On Google and other search engines, it’s all about relevancy. Their algorithms want to deliver the most relevant search results, and as a result, new sites are not necessarily pushed back by prioritizing pages with better Page Rank. If you can deliver regularly updated relevant content, the search engines will reward you with rising levels of free traffic.
When we speak about the power of email marketing, people can easily become misguided. People search for information using search engines, and they search for products on various marketplaces. That may be correct, but email marketing remains the most effective marketing channel as far as direct communication channels are concerned. If your mailing list has 100 subscribers interested in your books, most of them will read your offer… and many of them will respond positively to call-to-action messages.
Social media means people reading, liking, sharing and commenting. Your social media profiles are different than any other marketing channels, simply because of their two-way communication nature. If you use your profiles wisely and share not only information but insights into your life with your friends and fans, a certain amount of readers will end up getting attached to your stories.
By directing your marketing channels to your website, you are able to offer appealing content that you can control. You can use powerful landing pages, videos, and all other fancy features that will market your book considerably more effectively than those channels that you can’t control (other people’s blogs, marketplaces etc.). If your customer connects to your marketing messages, they become your lead prospect – and this is what you need on your Amazon product page to improve your sales rank! You need more prospects, more people that are likely to buy your product. You have to reduce the bounce rates – which can be respectively high – due to the frequent posting of your Amazon product page to a broad audience that might never have heard of you before.
The conclusion of all this is self-explanatory: building your own audience comes down to strengthening your assets for a digital sales channels like Amazon. The more you bring to the table, the more you receive.