Direct-to-consumer (D2C) marketing and bookselling is predicted to be the topmost priority for all segments of the publishing industry in 2016. D2C programs have almost become a necessity in order to stay competitive especially for small, independent and boutique publishers. Although D2C strategy is all about building a direct relationship with customers and giving sales the needed impetus, it is never really free of obstacles. Let’s discuss the biggest challenges faced by D2C bookselling in 2016:
1. Mobility: The popularity of mobile phones and the subsequent transformation of all elements of web and digital realm to suit the mobile experience have created an unsurprising hurdle for D2C publishers. As mobile usage continues to grow, D2C book publishers are expected to tailor their product for mobile devices.
2. Discoverability: Readers usually find books through an online or bricks-and-mortar bookstore. The readers typically do not connect themselves with publishers but instead go after an author or sometimes a bookstore itself. Since books have been bought this way for quite some time, the domain of publisher branding has remained malnourished. Publishers have long been focusing on metadata but now the focus is shifting to SEO and social media marketing.
3. Audience Data Management: With consumer-facing sites, apps and newsletters publishers are attempting to get insights into how consumers discover books, why they purchase and how marketing can lead to better sales.
4. Novelty and Competition: Let’s face it, D2C bookselling is a relatively new field. The newer a field, the less we know about it and consequently less in control we are. D2C publishers require a new mindset whereby they need to focus on building relationship with their readers instead of remaining faceless vendors like the big players in market. Also, to keep up with the competition, the D2C booksellers will have to offer something that other publishers cannot, which is why there is a need for authenticity of voice and vision.
Publishers are getting acquainted with these new challenges and finding ways to solve them. For instance, providing brief and engaging content to readers will alleviate the problem of mobility. Similarly, technology and investment in new tools to manage audience data can put to rest the obstacle of Audience Data Management. Perhaps the most important lesson in the D2C bookselling and marketing is that investing solely on technology won’t suffice; talent and training aspects also needs to be paid special attention.