Checklist Offers Best Web Site Marketing Practices

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The success of a bookstore's Web site is directly dependent on the bookseller's efforts to market it, stressed Len Vlahos, director. "In some ways, a storefront retailer's Web site functions as an extension of the store, and, in other ways, as an additional location," Vlahos said. "However you look at it, a Web site is only as effective as the effort devoted to it -- content needs to be freshened, inquiries need to be responded to in a timely manner, and, perhaps most importantly, the site can only be successful if it's marketed to customers and potential customers."

In an effort to help booksellers plan their Web site marketing efforts, this week, Vlahos sent to participants a "Web Site Marketing Checklist." Vlahos is urging booksellers to review the marketing checklist and implement as many of the items as possible. He added: "Doing so before the holiday season can help increase traffic to the site and to the store, increase online sales, and further help brand your store."

Below is a list of best marketing practices, all of which will help booksellers make their Web sites a success. Booksellers should review the list and check all that apply to their current marketing efforts with a view toward implementing as many others as possible. (To download the "Web Site Marketing Checklist" in PDF format, click here).

o The store's URL (Web site address) appears on the front door and/or front window.

o The store's URL appears on the cash register receipt.

o The store's URL appears on bags.

o The store's URL appears on bookmarks.

o The store's URL appears on your printed and/or electronic newsletter.

o The store's URL appears on gift cards and/or gift card backers.

o The store's URL appears on store letterhead, business cards, and in your e-mail signature.

o The store's voice mail/answering machine promotes the Web site, telling customers you are
open 24 hours a day at

o A marketing piece specifically promoting the Web site is periodically stuffed in bags.

o Staff meetings to review the Web site are periodically held.

o Each member of the staff has made at least one purchase through the Web site.

o Each member of the staff is familiar with the Web site content; you have asked for their

o The Web site's affiliate program has been enabled.

o Local authors, nonprofits, and other businesses are routinely asked to join the affiliate

o Your Web site is an affiliate of other Web sites (e.g., Levenger, etc.).

o Customer e-mail addresses are collected in-store and online, and you expressly ask for your
customers' permission to communicate with them.

o An e-mail newsletter, including links to your Web site, is periodically distributed to your

o The store and the Web site are cross-promoted, with in-store displays of online promotions.

o Web site sales and buyer reports are routinely reviewed and analyzed.

o Web site traffic reports are routinely reviewed and analyzed.

o Online pricing policies (including shipping fees charged to customers) are routinely reviewed

and analyzed to ensure that you're providing the best value for the online shopping experience.

o Special online pricing (sales, discounted shipping) and/or limited run merchandise available only online (e.g., signed books) are routinely promoted through your newsletters.

o Book Sense Picks lists are inserted in all orders shipped from the store.

o All available co-op, including newsletter co-op, is being claimed.