Why Should Publishers Persist with the ‘Direct-to-Customer’ Model for Marketing and Selling eBooks?

Why Should Publishers Persist with the ‘Direct-to-Customer’ Model for Marketing and Selling eBooks?

In a recent article (The Future of selling eBooks is direct to customer in 2015) I wrote about the growing trend of authors and publishers building new platforms that cater specifically to a targeted audience and selling eBooks related to this specific category directly from the site.

For example;
1.    An online gardening community with forum, articles, video, tips and advice and then sell gardening eBooks directly from the site.

2.    An online cooking community with recipes, forum, cooking tips, interviews.

3.    An online community for fans of Adult Fiction eBooks where readers can discuss eBooks, discover new talented authors, write reviews, read interviews, participate in polls and watch videos all specific to the category of adult fiction.

For authors, this is a great way to complement sales generated through Amazon. For publishers, it can be a little more difficult as they have to protect ‘already existing’ sales channels. By opening up new ‘direct-to-consumer’ sales and marketing channels there is the fear that they may be ‘cannibalising’ sales on their existing ‘All-in-One’ stores.

There are publishers already doing it the right way and growing their business through this popular model. At the moment these ‘direct-to-consumer’ sales channels are having little impact on Amazon but it is starting to make some big publishers stand up and take notice.

Although ‘Direct-to-consumer’ eBook selling is still in its infant stages, it appears that it could be a positive move in recapturing the market for selling eBooks and books without being so dependent on Amazon.

So What Do Publishers Have to Lose?

  • Money?
  • Time in building a new platform?
  • Increased staffing to provide customer service for additional sites?
  • Re-directing customers away from existing sales channels?

Sure, there are some risks. But failing to capitalise on a growing trend of ‘specificity’ by selling eBooks direct to niche markets is a mistake most publishers do not want to make after being slow off the mark to accept the digital revolution.

So Why Should Publishers Persist in the ‘Direct-to-customer’ Model for Marketing and Selling eBooks?

1. You Get to Learn about Your Customers
Being able to directly access the data of your customers only helps to improve on the sale process, direct marketing campaigns and advertising.

2. You Can Directly Engage and Connect with Customers
When you own the platform you can engage, connect, communicate and build a relationship with your target audience. This is almost impossible when you just sell eBooks through online stores such as Amazon.

By engaging your readers you are driving sales through the sense of ‘community’ which exists when you cater to a person’s specific interest.

Requirements for Success:

  • Understand the needs, wants and desires of your customers.
  • Understand how your customers arrive on your site (advertising, from social media, from referrals)
  • Create a platform that is focused on the category. Don’t try to cater to all interests.
  • Create a ‘user-friendly’ platform that is easy to navigate.
  • Don’t bombard the user with ads and pop-ups.
  • Build a community that encourages the user to return
  • Make the user feel that they ‘belong’ as they connect with like-minded people
  • Provide fresh content
  • Engage through give-aways, newsletters, forums, online chat or community building
  • Control the ‘key-word’ rich domain names and websites with existing communities (acquisition)
  • Be willing to test and experiment with new features that makes your site unique

Ultimately, publishers must independently take on Amazon and one way is to create their own category-specific online communities and platforms. The threat comes from Amazon buying out these sites and using then to direct customers to Amazon to buy the eBook.

This has already occurred with Amazon’s acquisition of Goodreads. But I am talking about websites that cater to more ‘specific’ interests such as cooking, crime fiction, golf, pottery, gardening and so on.