There is always a place for traditional bookstores in our neighborhoods for the community to gather, share our comradery of reading, and spend a few hours getting lost in the bound pages of a classic novel or the latest sci-fi thriller. However, the digital age has changed the traditional habit of reading, and we have seen more people buying their books without leaving their homes. With readers online, this can actually help your store's awareness by building your online marketing. With just a little bit of technical savvy and a few digital online marketing tactics, you can get readers into your business!
Getting Your Bookstore the Recognition It Deserves
Today, an online presence is crucial to the success of your independent bookstore. It not only gives your customers a way to spend money with you, it is also a cost-effective way of marketing your bookstore, creating recognition for your brand, building relationships, and engaging with potential and existing customers.
If you’re not the most tech savvy person, no worries! Don’t be intimidated by the online world that may be unfamiliar; instead, embrace this digital space and promote your store with a variety of creative (but easy) tactics to increase your traffic flow and sales. Here’s a few tips to get you started:
Online Marketing Tactics for Your Indie Bookstore
- A Website is a Must – If you don’t have a website for your bookstore – get one today! You should utilize your website to promote events, get your store listed in web searches, and of course – to sell books! If you are not sure exactly which type of website would be best for you, here are some great website templates that are created just for bookstores. Options for designs include a reliable commerce plug-in to allow you to sell books online, Book Flip slider, which is a website feature that ends boring page flipping and spices it up with cool transition effects, and other widgets to allow complete customization. These templates are so easy, they even allow those with no digital background to create a great website.
- SEO Marketing of Your Website – Remember that you must compete with major retailers that have serious brand recognition, so marketing is crucial. Become familiar with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is basically any attempt to improve search engine rankings. This will make your company more visible to people in your area, or your target audiences, who are looking for bookstores. One simple way to accomplish a higher ranking for your store is to have interesting content that other sites will link to. When others link to your website (to share the latest book or to spotlight an event you are having) it shows Google that your website is interesting and authoritative, which leads to higher search engine ranking because it is Google’s goal to list interesting and authoritative pages at the top of their search results. Yes, it’s really that easy.
- Metadata for Website Marketing- Another great way to increase discoverability is metadata, which is simply information that gives context and meaning. The metadata allows website creators to offer better explanations to reveal more related content to their audience. Examples of metadata include title tags, page description, and categories, typically associated with blog posts on your website. For example, when you use a search engine to look for a specific item, gourmet cookbook; as a result, you get different websites. Underneath each of those results, there will be a description explaining what the site contains—this information derives from metadata. The more metadata you have on your site, the higher you will rank on search engines. If your store ranks high on search engines, your store will be the first listed when a customer googles bookstores.
- Get Social Media Savvy – Every bookstore should take advantage of social media. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram offer retailers a FREE and easy way to brand their stores, engage with their customers to make them aware of their sales, events, new merchandise, and more. Be sure to post daily and encourage people to visit your store or website, especially during the holiday season. Posting pictures of your cozy store with folks sipping hot coffee on a chilly day, spotlighting the latest release of the new book everyone wants, or posting holiday hours and specials will have folks talking about your store and shopping, there, too! For extra marketing bonus points, go “live” via social media during events to engage your audience and give them a feel for your store.
- Create a Press Kit - Designed to point out the highlights of your bookstore to whoever is reading it (author, publisher, media, customer,
etc.), a press kit gives you the opportunity to tell people the best and most unique things about your store. This is the perfect sales piece to
give to those interested in having an event at your bookstore. A press kit should include:
- Store Info: Name, address, website, email address, and phone number, as well as your logo, a picture of the store, social media accounts, and contact information for more info.
- Location: Driving distances from major cities, nearby accommodations, and area demographics.
- Events: Highlight successful events including the date, book title and author, the publisher, and sales/attendance.
- Partners: Include details about any other businesses that partner with you to co-host events or marketing efforts including restaurants, colleges, libraries, etc.
- Distribute a Newsletter – A newsletter is a great way to keep in touch with your customers and gain the attention of new ones. Be sure to have a place for customers to subscribe to your newsletter on your website, as well as in your store. Publish regularly to keep customers updated on specials, author signings, special events, and more. It’s also a great idea to offer an incentive for them to visit your store, such as a percentage off an in-store purchase, a free coffee, or bookmark to subliminally remind them about your store.
You don’t have to be tech savvy to establish a substantial online presence for your indie bookstore. Try some of these helpful tips and you just may be surprised at the attention you are getting and the new customers you are seeing.
We can help:
Improving your marketing can make your books fly off your shelves. With Ingram’s vast resources for retailers, we can help keep your bookstores stocked. Find out how here!