Once you’ve published your novel, set up a blog and started tweeting, how do you know who you’re reaching? How do you know if the content you publish is drawing them to your books and creating sales?
Without becoming a digital guru, you can discover a lot about your fans using free analytics tools to which you already have access. Knowing their interests and behavior can help you tailor book promos, jacket copy and even impact what you write next.
Consider that the folks reading your tweets and blog posts may be on the fence about buying your book(s) or perhaps they’re browsing a subject and your name appears in a search. They want to learn more. You can use the built-in analytics of your social media tools to learn what they want to know.
We’ll take a closer look at Neilsen Bookscan, your WordPress Dashboard, and Twitter Analytics.
Most often, we sign into Amazon KDP to look at sales volume. Once a month, or at least within the first two weeks after publishing your novel, login into Amazon Author Central and view your sales by Geography. You’ll see the U.S. with sections highlighted, the darker the area the more sales you have in these regions. This is calculated by Nielsen BookScan, which is estimated to cover 75% of all retail print sales.
Why is this important? Now you know where your audience lives and most importantly their time zone. This allows you to schedule blog posts, promotional tweets, and content to when they will most likely see it. It is also easier to sell to a market already buying your product, so you may consider book promotions based on what’s happening in those part of the country. Target ad images for snowy days and lazy reading only for locations still gripped by winter, and target the beach reads for the coast. The norms are different from one part of the country to another, and if your book sales are strong in other countries, take that into consideration as well.
There are many blogging sites and services, but the tips here still apply. It’s not the service provider, but the data provided in your stats and dashboard that you’ll find helpful. Here are four things you’ll want to review.
- Pull up your stats summary and make note of which days of the week are getting the most traffic. Those are the days you should be posting. Once you have a consistency to the day and time you post, you’ll build an expectation in your audience and they’ll look forward to your content and miss it if it’s late.
- How often are you posting? Taking a look at six months to a year’s worth of site traffic you should see a natural ebb and flow of visitors. After a post has brought a boost in traffic, note how long it takes for the visitor traffic to slow down. This is your guide to determine the frequency of posts. Is it two days or is it two weeks? Aim to be on the leading edge of the timeline before your audience moves on.
- Next, migrate to your posting summary and sort by most popular posts. This is where you get insights into what your audience likes. You may have written a post two years ago, but it’s still getting random traffic from web searches. It should be easy to look at the top ranking posts and identify the similarities in content. Now you know your sweet spot and can build your audience by writing to their interests.
- Knowing where your traffic comes from lets you know how effective your marketing is on other sites. You’ll see which pingbacks, social networks, or book sites do the best job of driving readers to your pages. Use this to build a strategy to reach book lovers. Is it posting to a particular social network or building backlinks from other websites?
If you’re using a Twitter management program like Hootsuite or Socialoomph, then you’re familiar with their stats and dashboards. They’re very good at showing follower counts and click-throughs. However, Twitter has robust free analytics tools that gives unique insights into your audience demographic.
To begin, log onto Twitter with a web browser and click on your icon in the upper right corner. This gives you a menu which should include Analytics. If this is missing from your menu, click https://analytics.twitter.com while logged in and it will bring up the same screen.
At the top, you’ll have a few choices: Home, Tweets, Audience, Events, and More which covers video and app interaction.
Tweets give you an overview of followers over time. You can set the date paraments to get a snapshot of activity. Each tweet is listed below the impressions graph, giving information on individual posts. Impressions are the times the tweet was viewed by someone on Twitter.
You may have several thousand followers, but they are not all looking at Twitter at the same time. Also, tweets come and go quickly on timelines. This means only a limited number of people will see your content at any given moment.
If your tweet gets shared, you’ll see the impressions increase. This is where the engagement comes in. Engagement is when another person clicks, shares, likes your post or takes a look at your profile.
Why is this important? Knowing what times of the day have the most impressions can help you schedule tweets for the most viewers. Guy Kawasaki recommends tweeting your most important content four times within a twenty-four hour period. This ensures the most reach among your followers. Keeping these two points in mind can help you fine-tune your timing.
Also, knowing what earns a click can help you understand what works and what doesn’t work when you’re trying to get clicks to your point of purchase or website.
Why is all of this important? Your audience is made up of fans, people who have chosen to read what you write and seek out the content you provide. They are the fans who will talk about your blog posts and recommend your novel to friends. When you write a post or share a comment on Twitter you now know who you’re talking to, and that’s where a conversation begins.
The only sure thing about marketing on social media networks is that it will keep changing. Your follower makeup will change. What works and doesn’t work will change. Data will give you a leg up on trends and message so you can effectively reach your audience and when they move you can move with them.
Writing your novel is your art and craft. Selling your novel is business – be engaged. Listen, ask questions, and talk with your fans. Using the free analytics tools available to you can give you an edge when it comes to marketing your writing.
New resources are popping up every month with services to help you take the guesswork out of determining what readers want and make writing less stressful. Here are a few recommendations:
Buzzsumo – Check out the popularity of topics before writing your blog post. This is also helpful in seeing what new insights you can to existing trending topics.
RazorSocial – Ian Cleary’s site and newsletter is crammed with actionable marketing tips relevant to today’s authors. You’ll find information on tools that help with Content, Analytics, and SEO to help you optimize your blog and author sites.
StoryboardThat – Layout ideas, scenes or entire novels. This site helps you visualize the action.
Trello – One of my new favorites. This replaces the legal pad “To Do” list and post-it notes all around your computer. Get your tasks, goals, and notes organized on a virtual board. The site supports more than one board. I have one for my work life and one for my writing life. There’s also a handy mobile app that syncs with the site. Evernote is similar – the only difference is a matter of preference.
Sococo – Virtual office. How does this help? Imagine you have a team of writers for a publication that works remotely or you collaborate on novels. Sococo gives you a virtual meeting space where you can video conference face to face and share screens. When it’s on, all you have to do is talk and the other folks there can hear you unless of course, you’re in one of the private conference rooms.