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Publishers' Top Web Site Blunders

Keywords: Websites

If you publish books, then it's tempting to lead put those books front and center when structuring your web site. However, if your company has a theme connecting the books you publish, you'll attract more traffic and sell more if you create an informational site on that theme that also sells books rather than a blatant sales site.

Why do I say this, given that few publishers create their web sites around this principle? Understand that most of a publisher's potential book buyers are not on the Internet in search of a book. They are hunting for information. If they are consciously looking for a book, they would search at Amazon or another online bookstore rather than do a general web search.

And if they're looking for information on, let's say, cat diseases and they get to your site and see that you are selling books, they may immediately back out and click to the next site that might have some free information about cat diseases. But if they get to your site and see that you're a portal for information on cats, they will probably stick around long enough to understand that what they really need to do to get the best answers to their questions is to buy one of your cat health books.

You can sell thus more books on the web by not leading with a sales pitch but offering information that draws visitors in and then selling to them. For an example of a site that serves as a resource on a topic and also sells a book, take a look at . It's easiest to implement this approach if you publish nonfiction and specialize in one topic area or a small number of topics.

The next most common blunders made by publishers are obstacles that make it difficult for people to place an order, once they've decided to buy. Do you make it crystal clear whether your books are paperbacks, hardcover books or digital downloads? Do you explicitly and obviously state shipping fees and shipping times? People should not have to put an item in their shopping cart and begin to place their order to learn shipping fees.

Do you offer overnight delivery? Can you ship to post office boxes? Do you guarantee your products and issue refunds upon request? Do you ship overseas? All these questions should be answered either on the page from which someone places an order or on a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page or both.

According to Internet marketer Randy Gage, "The confused mind always says no." Thus, two keys to a successful publisher's web site are building an information-rich destination for information seekers on your topic(s) and eliminating all the annoyances that might get in the way of a "yes, I'll buy."

by Marcia Yudkin

Marcia Yudkin is the author of Web Site Marketing Makeover and 10 other books. A four-time Webby Awards judge and internationally famous marketing consultant, she critiques web sites and performs web site makeovers for clients. Learn more about her detailed critique sessions on five different kinds of web sites (including those of publishers) at

Posted by Angie at August 24, 2004 04:21 PM
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