Today Angelika Niere, director at BIEG Hessen, an office established by various Hessian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to help small companies improve their online marketing, talks about the importance of an author’s website:
We live in an era where companies shut down their websites to migrate to Facebook. Nevertheless, while simply maintaining a Facebook profile can certainly be somewhat less complicated, I’d still recommend running your own website. It’s the only place where you can take full control of your design and content and thus your marketing. A good website greets visitors who have learned about the author or novel somewhere else, taking them by the hand on their walk towards the sale. It leads. It also converts—meaning, it transforms as many visitors as possible into customers. (Or into potential customers on their way to Amazon with an intent to buy.) How does it do that?
A good website lures its visitors in with good content. It offers answers to questions. Websites about authors usually give answers about the author’s books. What are they about? Genre? What’s the target audience? Why should I read that? Why shouldn’t I be reading another, similar author’s books instead? Did previous audiences like the book? The “about the author” on the website is meant to sell the books, too. If you look like a pro here, chances are it means you take your writing seriously and your book will have good quality.
If you’re a lawyer, chances are you’ll get the facts right in your murder mystery; a warm, friendly photograph will convince people that you know your way around romance rather than the picture of a woman in a cutthroat business blazer. You showcase your competence and create sympathy. Beyond that, additional content can draw more visitors onto the website. What else might people who care about your book care about? This blog post offers information about online marketing for authors, because Ylva Publishing is interested in drawing authors onto the website—particularly those who are willing to work on their marketing, apparently. You should have a very clear idea about who you want to draw in, because it enables you to pick very specific content that will please your audience.
You’re a writer, all your writing should be flawless, on your website and otherwise. Your content should be organized, wrapped in designs that support it but don’t pose a distraction. You optimize your website for search engines. In this day and age, you should also consider optimizing it for small displays. It should display at least something when accessed with a phone.
A good website leads visitors to where they need to be. No matter where they enter the website—they might have followed a deep link to a subpage—they can recognize that this is an author’s website offering fiction. Menu buttons can be helpful in communicating website content. (If I enter a website with menu buttons for “historical novels” and “free e-books,” they will tell me a lot more about the website than ones that say “special offers” and “about me.”) Every page always leads somewhere, ending in a sales button or a contact form, depending on where you want people to end up. We refer to that as a call to action: “Buy the book now!”, “Sign up for that newsletter!” Without it, people might just shrug and leave.
How many visitors become customers? There should be a web analytics tool running on any website. It enables website optimization. If you change your design, content or structure, you can see whether the change has actually resulted in more clicks or sales. Because all of this always is about a simple equation: X hours of work leading to x book sales leading to x coins in the currency of your choice ending up in your pocket. That’s what we call a return on investment. It’s how you know stuff works—it’s also how you know you made money.
About the Author
When not working on a PhD in German literature, Angelika Niere is a director at BIEG Hessen, an office established by various Hessian Chambers of Commerce and Industry to help small companies improve their online marketing. She is in charge of writing and publishing marketing guides, specializing in content marketing and social media marketing in particular.