There is a lot of advice out there on book promotion during the Holidays. As you well know we pride ourselves on data so in this article we’ll explore the data-backed Holiday trends for this year and how authors and publishers can take advantage of them.

Trend 1: Holiday is a Marathon Not a Sprint

The Holiday season, as measured by an uptick in online traffic and ecommerce revenue starts in mid-November and ends in early January. This graph below shows Google searches on the terms related to “gifts and presents” from 2015 (source).  Searches start trending up in early November, and increase significantly starting the day after Thanksgiving until Christmas Day. There is an accompanying spike in online traffic the day after Christmas into the New Year as people redeem gift cards they have received during the Holidays and take advantage of post-Holiday sales.

Holiday Shopping TrendsOnline searches for “gifts and presents” according to Google

Takeaway for Authors:
It is important to prepare a marketing plan that spans early November through early January. Everyone is in a buying mood, so this is the perfect time to sell more books. Here are a few noteworthy dates within this range that are significant online shopping days, with ideas on what tactics and messages will resonate with customers:

Date Consumer Mindset Authors Should
November 25th –
Black Friday
Bring on those Black Friday deals baby

I’d rather shop online than wait in line with the crazies

I need to check my email every hour so I don’t miss out on any new deals

  • Send an email on this day
  • Discount titles to free or 99c
  • Offer two for one deals on physical books from their website
November 28th –
Cyber Monday
Please do not disturb, I am shopping the best online deals

Oooh, another email from Amazon, I wonder what this hour’s lightning deal is?

  • Discount titles to free or 99c
  • Send customers to Amazon, where everyone will be shopping
  • Run ads in deals newsletters that will hit inboxes during the day
December 21-23rd –
Shipping Deadlines
Oh shit, what am I going to get Aunt Anne? It’s too late to ship anything and I can’t/won’t brave the mall

What can I buy online that can get delivered in time for Xmas?

  • Send emails reminding readers that ebooks are the perfect gift that requires no shipping
  • Use last-minute and stocking stuffer language
December 26th –
Boxing Day
I’m so sick of my family, I’m going to spend the next 4 hours redeeming all these Amazon and iTunes gift cards I just got

The best deals are after Christmas! Super sales here I come

  • Run ads promoting your book to get a share of the gift card redemption dollars
  • Email your readers reminding them that they can redeem gift cards for your books
January 1st –
New Years Day
I am so hungover, I am going on my couch all day and stare at my phone

It’s the New Year, time to work on my resolutions for this year

  • Post to social media, email your readers and pay for placement online
  • Use resolution messaging in your copy, ex: Is it your NYR to read more books this year? I can help you get started

 

 

Trend 2: Amazon Owns Holiday

Amazon was the most dominant online retailer during Holiday last year taking an almost 40% share of sales (source).

 

amazon-dominanceAmazon.com’s estimated market share of Holiday revenue in 2015

 

Based on consumer data, Amazon will continue to dominate this year with over half of consumers planning to shop on Amazon this coming holiday season (source).

usa-holidayshopping-online_jpg__800x760_

 

Takeaways for Authors:

  • Focus on Amazon. Emphasize links to your books on Amazon. Your prospective customers will already be shopping on Amazon, so make it easy for them to purchase your books by being where they are (on Amazon!)
  • Expect to make more affiliate revenue on Amazon in November and December. You can use this additional revenue to offset your marketing costs. Remember that you get an affiliate commission on everything someone purchases within 24 hours of clicking a link that includes your affiliate code. So make sure to include your affiliate codes on all your links.  You can try to boost your affiliate income by incorporating non-book gifting ideas in your emails to readers during this time of year. For example: What’s on my wish list this Holiday season, What I’m gifting this Holiday season or Perfect gifts for the writer in your life.

 

Trend 3: Mobile Traffic Continues to Grow

The majority of online traffic is from mobile devices and this trend will be highly evident this Holiday. Last year, Amazon announced that “nearly 60 percent of Amazon.com customers shopped using a mobile device this holiday. Mobile shopping accelerated as customers got later into the shopping season.” Target announced that “Mobile traffic made up 60 percent of Target.com traffic November through December.” (source)

 

 

Takeaway for authors:

  • Make sure all the emails you send are mobile friendly.
  • Do not send traffic to your website if it is not mobile friendly. Google has this nifty tool to check if your site is mobile friendly.  If the answer is not what you hoped, you can take our free course on how to build a mobile-friendly website in less than 4 hours.
  • If your site is mobile-friendly, we would still recommend sending the majority of your traffic to Amazon over the course of the Holiday season due to the stats we covered in trend 2.

Trend 4: Everyone is Advertising on Facebook

And we do mean everyone. The folks at Adspresso summed it up best: “There are peak times in the year when advertisers are flocking to Facebook Ads in droves—even more than normal. During these peak times, there will be more competition for ads, and you’ll pay more as a result. Think about how much ads are during the super bowl—now imagine every marketer trying to use Facebook Ads for Black Friday and holiday sales, because that’s pretty much what happens. Big brands spend a lot, raising the cost of Facebook Ads for everyone (thanks, Walmart). This not only causes a surge in costs, but also creates a problem of deliverability. This past November and December, the Facebook Ads community was flooded with complaints from small businesses unable to even spend their budget.”

CPM on Facebook ads increased 39% on mobile ads and 180%  on desktop ads last Holiday season (source). Remember that customers are in a buying mood resulting in the average return on ads doubling over Holiday (which is why everyone is advertising). The higher returns are due to consumers buying items (apparel, electronics, toys) that are higher priced than books.

 

facebook-ad-costs-increasesource: http://www.nanigans.com/blog/cross/ecomm/advertising-strategies-advertisers-need-2016-holiday-shopping-season

Takeaway for authors:

Your Facebook ads will become more expensive as you compete with big brands for the same audience. You can mitigate this by:

  • Monitoring your campaigns daily and reducing budgets when you see ROI decreasing.
  • Targeting your ads to your own fans and lookalike audiences
  • Move your Facebook budget over to other book promotion services that have proven results and don’t raise their prices over Holiday (our sites Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, and Red Feather Romance do not raise prices over the Holidays and deliver the same great results).

Trend 5: Email marketing is more effective during the Holidays

Email marketing becomes more effective during Holiday because shoppers are looking for deals in their inbox. (source) As we mentioned above, shoppers are in a buying mood and they use email as a primary source of research and inspiration on what to buy. Retailers know this and they use email as a primary marketing channel during Holiday. Experian reported that email volume increased by 25% during holiday 2015 (vs. 2014). Despite the increase in volume, “the number of email opens, clicks and transactions also increased.” (source).

The bottom line: consumers expect to receive more email during the Holidays and they use email to make purchase decisions.

Takeaway for authors:

  • Don’t be afraid to send emails over Holiday. If you currently send one email a month, you can safely send two emails a month in November and December.
  • Make your emails the best they can be. Read this guide to email marketing for best practices.
  • Focus your emails on your products (your books!). Readers are looking for ideas on what to buy and now is the time to put your books front and center.
  • Use book promotion services that leverage email marketing (Bookbub, Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy, Red Feather Romance) to capitalize on customer’s receptiveness to emails. This is a great way to broaden the customers you can reach without incurring a Holiday cost premium (as you will with Facebook).

Don’t know where to start with email marketing? Take our free course: When Everything Clicks: 20 Minutes a Day to Email Marketing Bliss.

Conclusion

You now have the knowledge, the next step is to take action and plan for this Holiday season! Start by setting aside an hour sometime in the next week to sit down with a calendar and plan your marketing activities. It is better to plan one or two promotions and do them well, than to overwhelm yourself with trying to do something every week. You likely have other important things to focus on during this time of year, like spending time with family, giving thanks and taking time out for you. Give yourself a gift this year by setting up your marketing plan in advance. Happy holidays from the Written Word Media team!

 

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