When it comes to ebooks, the numbers speak for themselves.
Revenue from ebooks is expected to grow from 2.3 billion in 2011 to 8.7 billion in 2018.
One thing is clear: traditional reading habits are definitely on the decline, or at the very least undergoing a dramatic change.
If you’re selling ebooks of any kind, whether that’s fiction, non-fiction, or using ebooks as a format for an information product, you’re right at the beginning of a major shift in how people consume information and content.
It’s already happening, but it’s a bit like the wild west – plenty of opportunity, but lots of chaos.
The growth is undeniable, though, and the pie is being divided up as we speak, by big players (Amazon, Barnes & Noble) and small indie publishers.
So the question for you is: how can you cut yourself a slice of the pie?
Now, you might be a fiction author or simply a business selling ebooks of different kinds, but how you can make use of marketing automation to cut yourself a slice of this pie is about the same.
Really, you’re selling content and information, packaged as ebooks, so how can deploying marketing automation help you sell more?
More specifically, how can you use marketing automation to increase customer lifetime value (CLV), optimise your sales funnel, and improve contact with your customers?
Let’s dive in and see how you can benefit.
How A Marketing Automation Funnel Can Help Boost Ebook Sales
There’s no shortage of ideas on how to promote your ebook, but once you do capture the attention of a potential buyer, you’ve only just gotten started.
Plenty of time is spent on attracting and capturing attention, eyeballs, and traffic to your website or landing page (that sells your ebook), but what about your “end game?”
Once you have them, what are you doing to capture those who are not ready to buy now – and even if you do, how can you serve up useful, relevant, personalized content to them and guide them along towards a big fat “buy now” button?
To this end, the most common tactic is to offer a free sample of your ebook.
It’s usually a chapter or two, or selections of an ebook.
Everyone is doing this, but that’s okay – it works.
You usually end up with someones email address, and that’s all you need for now.
But most people stop there. There’s little to no follow-up, no strategy, no sales funnel; if there is, it’s under-performing.
A sample chapter download is only the beginning of your relationship.
That’s when your marketing starts. Anything before then is simply a mixture of PR, advertising, promotions, and pseudo-marketing activities, functioning as a net to catch some fish.
So, sure, we’re going to talk about using free sample chapters – but instead of the standard, worn, and boring “download free sample > send a few emails, hope they buy” approached, there’s a better way.
You can actually increase sales, build your brand, optimize your sales funnel, and deliver content people love with marketing automation.
Step 1: The New Way of Giving Out Free Sample Chapters That Shortens The Sales Cycle
Look, this is pretty straightforward and simple: by using marketing automation, you can set up an opt-in form on your website to capture email (and data) from customers who are interested in receiving a free sample chapter of your ebook.
We’ve all seen the landing pages, offering a sample chapter and perhaps some bonus content.
You’ll be able to create quick and easy marketing campaigns this way, and guide your visitors through the purchasing process (more on that soon).
Sending them a free sample chapter of the book functions like an extended version of Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature; visitors can browse through sample pages of a title before making a purchase.
However, if they are still not convinced, you will be able to send them a series of follow-up emails with valuable and personalized content.
So far, so good; all pretty standard stuff.
A potential customer who visits your website may be interested in the ebook you are selling will often need an additional nudge to convince them to make a purchase.
That nudge needs to be something that’s perceived as relevant and useful.
The power of marketing automation lies in functions like tags, rules, triggers, segmenting, intelligent autoresponders, and personalization of content.
So, here’s a quick rundown of how you can empower your free samples (and follow-up sequences, which we’ll cover shortly):
- Instead of just having one “point of entry” into your funnel, and one sample that might only appeal to one particular sub-segment of your buyers, you should experiment with having several samples.
- Each sample should have it’s own unique landing page and opt-in form, resulting in one list of emails per sample.
- By using tags, you can quickly tag and segment your signups according to what sample they got.
- This will help you tailor content that’s related to their download, and not just generic book content.
- Furthermore, once you’ve had this running for a while, you should be able to deduct which sample results in more book sales, and even if a particular sample follow-up results in more sales, faster.
- The data and analytics will give you insights into all this, coupled with tags for segmentation.
This, invariably, leads us into the need for a proper follow-up sequence.
Step 2: Empower And Optimize Your Follow-Up Sequence For More Sales With Marketing Automation
As we touched on above, the path to more ebook sales lies with your follow-up sequence, also known as an email autoresponder, email funnel, and so on.
The gist of it is this: You can use marketing automation to target those potential buyers who downloaded a free sample of your ebook and deliver highly focused and specific marketing messages over a period of a few weeks in order to increase sales, customer engagement and brand loyalty – even when no previous purchase has been made.
Some potential customers just simply aren’t ready to make a purchase on any particular day.
But, by delivering high-impact marketing, you will be able to keep your product fresh in their mind, so when they are ready, they’ll come back to your website and purchase the full version of your ebook.
Standard examples of of follow-up emails can include messages like: “I noticed you downloaded chapter one of our ebook…”, which can be delivered within the first few days of the initial download.
You can follow this with additional content over the next few weeks. You will be able to use marketing automation software to trigger different rules, effectively personalizing the content you send out to your readers.
For example, when an individual downloads your free chapter, and engages with your emails, perhaps even downloading an additional sample, you might want to take them off one marketing list, and move them onto a different campaign.
With marketing automation software, this is as easy as selecting a few options via drop-down menus.
Now, getting the most out of marketing automation, we need to add a few more tactics:
- Put triggers and rules in place that kicks in, depending on the behavior of a contact on your email list.
- If someone is opening every email, clicks on links, and comes back to your site, that would be indicative of a likely buyer. These people should be put on a separate list, and you should connect with them with different emails, perhaps an early-bird offer, or bonus content.
- You can start identifying likely buyers who can also become allies in promotion of your ebook, like posting about it on social media, spreading your ebook by word-of-mouth.
- In pure “marketing speak”, we’re talking about “lead nurturing”, which consistently brings substantial returns. In fact, lead nurturing is the most important component that marketers look for when purchasing marketing automation software – and so should you.
- The email you send should have content that’s relevant and perceived as valuable. By using tags and triggers, you can refine your messaging and increase personalization.
- This in turn will help you establish trust and likeability with your potential ebook buyers.
A follow-up system that’s empowered by marketing automation will help you not only increase sales, but also optimize your entire sales funnel, without being sleazy or obnoxious.
The right messages and content that’s delivered to the right people, at the right time, is a powerful strategy for selling your ebooks.
And once they’ve purchased, there’s still more you can do to serve your readers – and help your business grow.
Step 3: Post-Purchase Automation To Boost Lifetime Value of Your Customer
Obviously, with marketing automation, you can still communicate with your customers, even if they have made a purchase.
It starts with making sure your previously prospective buyers are now tagged as a “customer”.
Of course, this also means that you segment your contacts with different lists, and deploy different campaigns.
The purpose of these post-purchase campaigns and content is for customer retention, engagement, and repeat sales.
Remember those different samples from Step #1? As we talked about in Step #2, you should be collecting and attaching data and tags to your contacts as you go.
Data like this will help you distinguish between different types of customers, which in turn will help you with future promotions and allocations of resources.
And, of course, if you have additional ebook titles (or future releases), maintaining a relationship with past buyers will help you make more sales in the future.
As an example, using lead scoring will help you determine which customers need to be nurtured in order for them to make a purchase, how to nurture them, what to communicate, and which “leads” are more ready to buy your ebooks than others.
Want to keep your customers informed about future products and services long after they paid for your ebook?
Of course you do!
Use marketing automation software to keep them engaged and encourage them to make future purchases when you publish and launch new ebooks.
Oh, and I forgot to mention: once you’ve set this up, the beauty of automation is that it’s automated. It just runs and runs and runs; making adjustments and tweaks is easy.
Ebooks + Marketing Automation = Best Friends Forever
Marketing automation simplifies and optimizes the process whereby a customer may not be ready to commit to a purchase at a particular point in time, but could simply use a bit of nudging and nurturing to make a purchase.
With smart use of free sample chapters, coupled with segmented lists, and the other features of marketing automation (tags, rules, triggers, and so on), you’ll be able to get potential buyers to know, like, and trust you – and the automation software does the heavy lifting for you.
You will be able to focus on customers you deem to be most likely to making a purchase, and use data from these individuals in order to create marketing campaigns based on implicit buying signals.
Are your potential buyers still not convinced that your ebook is right for them? Using marketing automation can guide them through the buying cycle, from the very first point when they initially made contact with your website, up until the point where they become a loyal and engaged customer.
Free follow-ups can be delivered by email to potential customers who have either downloaded a free sample of your ebook but not yet made a purchase, or customers who haven’t got round to downloading your free sample yet.
By implementing automation for every phase of the ebook sales cycle, from sample download, to nurturing for purchase, and post-purchase engagement, you can build a powerful sales machine.