Bookseller Roundtable Calls Attention to Free Digital Marketing Tools

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Booksellers participating in last week’s online marketing roundtable hosted by the American Booksellers Association looked at some of the free digital marketing tools currently available on the Internet that can be used to find better keywords, write effective e-mails, create captivating graphics, automate social media posts, and more.

IndieCommerce logoOpen to all ABA members, the marketing roundtable is a biweekly online video conference held on and led by IndieCommerce Director Phil Davies. At this most recent session, IndieCommerce Specialist Ryan Quinn went over the tools listed in the article “Amp Up Your Marketing Budget: 7 Ways to Use Free Tools to Improve Your Digital Presence.”

One of the free tools mentioned in the article was Ubersuggest, which lets users search through keywords they know to see how they are performing online; then, Ubersuggest provides alternate keyword suggestions.

“I’ve seen businesses using this have a much better turnaround on their keyword searches,” said Quinn. “It walks you through and gives you a guide, so when you’re creating content on your site, you have a better idea of what keyword to use so that you’ll appear higher on Google or Yahoo searches.”

Another free online tool that booksellers can use to find keywords that generate more website traffic is Google Webmaster Tools, Davies told booksellers.

“While Google Analytics will give you some of the very broad-based terms being used on your site, Google Webmaster Tools drills down and finds where people are on Google search, the terms they are using, how frequently and where you come up in their search results, and how many people are coming through that way,” said Davies. Booksellers can then put these more specific terms into Ubersuggest to find additional keywords you can plug into your site.

The free website Really Good E-mails (RGE) floods its own inboxes with e-mails from a range of companies in order to compile screenshots of the very best ones. Users can then search under a specific category in the dropdown menu to see a range of e-mails from popular brands worldwide; they can also submit any e-mails they think are worth featuring on the site. Quinn told booksellers that RGE is a good tool for those looking to create the best versions of different types of e-mails.

“For example, if you’re offering a sale on a book, you can look under the category ‘Product Specials’ on the dropdown menu, and the site curates lists of what they determine to be the best e-mails sent so you can get an idea of what you might want to include in your e-mail about a coupon you’re sending out,” said Quinn.

Canva, another useful tool, provides template sizes for various types of designs and offers several pre-designed digital templates made by top web designers. At $12.95, Canva for Business provides a variety of extra features, including transparent backgrounds for graphics.                                                                                   

“It’s easy to use the free account, but users can upgrade to Canva for Business for additional features,” Quinn told booksellers. “But even their free photos and backgrounds are pretty good quality.”

Booksellers who sign up for a free account with Creative Market can receive up to six products from its marketplace of design templates, fonts, images, and website themes each week. Booksellers can even use the templates and images they get from Creative Market in Canva.

“Creative Market gives out free templates and sometimes free fonts that are high-resolution or high-quality, which you would normally have to pay for,” said Quinn.

The final resource mentioned in the article was the social media scheduling platform Buffer, which offers users the ability to schedule posts for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Google+. While Buffer’s free account is just right for businesses with only two to three active social media accounts, for $15 a month, Buffer’s Pro plan allows users to schedule unlimited posts.

Another marketing resource mentioned at the roundtable was “A Year of Bookstore Profitability,” a detailed calendar for booksellers provided by ABA at the regional Spring Forums; the calendar includes an exhaustive list of the year’s holidays, literary awards, industry events, and suggested operational and financial tasks, as well as marketing goals for each quarter of the year. Davies told booksellers that this information could be helpful for putting together bookstore newsletters.

“If you have the opportunity, something like this would allow you to build a very broad calendar spreadsheet for your upcoming newsletter that you could plug things into very easily,” said Davies. “Having a path is much easier than trying to put together [a unique newsletter] spontaneously every single week. You can always refer back to the calendar and it will keep you moving along.”

At the Spring Forums, in addition to the calendar, ABA also provided a list of helpful online resources booksellers can look to throughout the year.

ABA hosts these 30-minute roundtable videoconferences at 11:00 a.m. EST on two Thursdays a month. Stores do not need to be part of the IndieCommerce program to participate. Booksellers who would like to take part can send an invite request to