Tech Talk: Keeping Your Website Up to Date

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Christine Onorati of WORD in Brooklyn, New York, and Kelly Justice of Fountain Bookstore in Richmond, Virginia, offer tips to increase online sales and to ensure your customers know that, whether they’re looking for e-books, print books, or just updated information, your website is always open for business.

Tips from Christine Onorati:

  • Change the content often so people have a reason to check back often. For example, each week we change the front page of our site to showcase the covers of the books we recommend in our partnership with the blog Largehearted Boy. The covers are changed each week when we send our picks. It’s part of the routine, and it’s fast and easy. And it looks good. It keeps the front page from looking too text-heavy.
  • Do personalized pages for schools, charities, gift registries, anyone who wants to circulate a link for purchasing. We work with schools to create online book fairs, where parents can purchase from a list of books and a portion goes back to their school. It’s easy to create these pages and a custom link, and no one who doesn’t need to see the pages will.
  • Create unique pages for ticketed events so that you can pre-sell books to attendees and get a better idea of how many people to expect and how many books to order.
  • Create pages for signed and personalized books for all visiting authors. Encourage people through social media leading up to the event to preorder a book and have it personalized if they can’t make the event. Create buzz!
  • Make your website reflect your store. Repeat imagery, logo. Make people feel they can look at your website and know what it’s like to step into your store.

Tips from Kelly Justice:

  • Open a PayPal account and start accepting PayPal today. We saw a shocking increase in orders, particularly overseas orders, the minute we started accepting it. (Call or e-mail IndieCommerce staff to have it enabled for your store.)
  • Maintain relationships online through Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, and other sites. Online shoppers find their ideas from their online friends. If you think you don’t have time, think about how much time you would spend on the floor of your bookstore talking about a book to get a sale. You’d probably talk to someone for 15 minutes, right? That’s a few tweets a day. It’s greeting your online customers and telling them what’s up at the shop and at [YourBookstore].com.
  • Make sure all of your tweets and Facebook posts that feature an item are linked to a product page on your website.
  • It is incredibly important to audit your shipping rates every three to six months. They change often. In addition, if you take a lot of pre-orders for major releases, open a shipping account to save the money so you don’t get hit all at once.
  • If the front page of your website is very wordy, people will leave it. Big pictures, calls to action are what the front page of your store is about. Think of how big signs with lots of text on your front window doesn’t work. People don’t read them. But they’ll read a sign that says “Author Appearance Today!” or “Sale!” in big letters.
  • Online, think of yourself as a bookseller to the world, not just your own neighborhood.

Additional website resources: