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Site Submissions

Submissions to most major search engines (e.g., Google, AltaVista, MSN, Yahoo, etc.) are free. Simply visit the sites, click on "submit url" or a similar offering, and follow the instructions. It pays to do some research before submitting information to websites. Many tips are offered on the links I mentioned previously. Some search engines also have "spiders" or "robots" that travel around the net in search of new pages. However, the length of time it takes for your site to actually be listed by the major free sites can vary from days to months. Some search engines (e.g., Overture and Kanoodle) are pay-per-click or fee-based.

Faster results are promised, and you may want to experiment with these to if it is cost-effective. So far, we have used free submissions only. To find out if your website is listed on major sites, try SelfPromotion.com's Are You Listed?

Monitoring Your Site

Our website, which was built and is hosted by Chrislands has a statistics area which functions as a type of log analyzer. It takes the information captured during visits to the store and displays the information in various formats for review. This information includes:

  • Statistics Home - Displays how many web pages in your store have been visited broken down by hour, day, week, and month.

  • Browsers - Displays the type of internet browser software your visitors use when visiting your store.

  • Domains - Displays where visitors are coming from broken down by domain name extension (such as .com, .org, .net, etc…)

  • IP Addresses - Displays where visitors are coming from broken down by their IP address.

  • ISPs - Displays where visitors are coming from broken down by Internet Service Provider

  • Operating Systems - Displays what computer operating systems your visitors are using.

  • Pages Visited - Displays what pages in your store have been visited broken down by day, week, and month.

  • Visited From - Displays the pages that visitors were on before they visited one of your pages.

By viewing this information, you can learn where your customers are coming from and what kind of books seem to be of most interest to them. It will also record visits by spiders and robots from the search engines, and the keywords customers are using to search on your site. There are also services and software available that will monitor this in much greater detail for you, usually for a fee. This can give you valuable information about ways to bring customers to your site. Whether or not to utilize additional tools depends on how much time you want to spend in analysis of your site and its visitors.

Having a high ranking in search results is a definite advantage, but logic tells us that everyone can't be on the first page of search results. This is why I believe that effort will be well spent on other areas of marketing which are often ignored.

Don't Neglect "off-line" Marketing Opportunities

There are many traditional methods of marketing that apply to website merchandising:

  1. Have a well-designed business card with your website address and e-mail on it and carry a supply with you wherever you go. Display them, if you can arrange it, in places frequented by readers …colleges, other bookshops (reciprocate!), antique shops, chamber of commerce, local library, etc.

  2. If you also have a bricks & mortar shop, you can distribute business cards and/or flyers to customers with your website address, and perhaps offer a discount to regular customers or first-time visitors to your site, or offer other creative promotions to pique the interest of potential on-line customers.

  3. If you have time and opportunity to set up at book fairs, by all means do so; talk with customers and hand out your business cards.

  4. Check out promotional opportunities with local radio stations and your local public television station. PBS watchers read. We donated several books of regional interest to our local PBS fund-raising auction which is held on-line. In return, they provide a link to our bookshop website for the duration of their auction (20 days). Take advantage of other community and fund-raising events where you can help someone, possibly get a tax deduction, AND promote your shop name and web address to readers. You are selling to the world, but your own community is a good place to start your marketing program.

  5. Establish good relationships with other booksellers, locally and on-line, and have a cordial and cooperative relationship with them. Be willing to offer a reciprocal trade discount to other booksellers, and to drop ship books for them when requested. Other booksellers are not only our colleagues, but customers, too!

How are we doing so far?

In Part I of this series, I listed the expenses we incurred setting up and hosting our website. The following list includes traffic details and sales to date.

Our website became active on March 24. During the last week of March, we had 2 sales through the site for a total of $124.00. .

Between April 1 and April 30:

Inventory listed: 6,050 (average daily listing)
Number of purchases through the site: 13
Number of books sold: 15 (one multiple purchaser)
Total sum of books purchased: $763.61 USD
Average sale price: $50.91

For comparison, our current average sale prices on fixed-price venues:

Alibris: $18.45
Biblio: $22.85
Abebooks: $26.91

Where our visitors came from (ranked in descending order of hits):

Abebooks.com (home page link)
BookThink.com (website article link)
IOBA.org (website link)

We will be experimenting in the future with the website, making some changes from time to time and tracking the results. A reliable mentor told us that it can take years to get a handle on what may work for you on a website. It is important to have an open mind and stay innovative. However, too much constant change is not a good thing either. Finding what works and sticking with it is key (but stay vigilant).

We are very pleased so far with the response to our website and hope for continued growth as we make improvements to our site, service and inventory. We hope this is an encouraging report for some of you who may be considering a website.

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Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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