Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing

How Publishers Can Optimize Their Websites to Improve Sales

November 01, 2021 Sarah Arbuthnot Season 2 Episode 4
Westchester Words: Education, Ed-Tech, and Publishing
How Publishers Can Optimize Their Websites to Improve Sales
Show Notes Transcript

Sarah Arbuthnot, Commercial and Partnerships Director for Supadu explains steps publishers can take to create a positive website experience for their customers, helping to generate higher sales volume. 

Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Nicole Tomassi:

Welcome to Westchester words, education at tech and publishing I'm Nicole Tomasi . And in this episode, my guest is Sarah. Arbuthnot, commercial and partnerships director of Supadü, a leading website and e-commerce provider for the publishing industry. Sarah will be discussing how she and the team at Supadü work with publishers to optimize their websites, to help connect customers with the books that they want to read. Welcome to Westchester words, Sarah .

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Thank you, Nicole. And thank you to Westchester Words for inviting me on here today. Um, I hope I can give your listeners some useful information to take away and put to good use.

Nicole Tomassi:

I'm sure you will be able to do that and to get things going. Uh, prior to our conversation today, I did a little bit of research and I learned that you have extensive experience in account marketing and client management. Can you tell us a little bit more about your professional background and how that led to your joining Supadü in 2010?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Well , um, so I've been working online with brand websites for wow , uh , near on 20 years. And my experience has always been focused on online consumer behavior and specifically how consumers purchase online. My background pre Supadü was global media companies , uh , and digital agencies working mostly with content publishers, actually such as magazines and newspapers. So joining Supadü when it launched in 2010 seemed like a great fit. And clearly it was, cause I'm still here 11 years later.

Nicole Tomassi:

Indeed it was. Um, and some of our listeners while they may be familiar with Supadü, some of them may be more familiar with companies who are working on their books further upstream during the editorial and production phases, and Supadü works on connecting publishers with consumers. So for those who are not as familiar with Supadü, could you give a brief overview about the services you provide for publishers?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Of course. So Supadü is an e-commerce and website provider to the publishing industry. So we build beautifully designed, fully responsive data-driven websites and stores. All of which are really easy for a publisher to update and have very low support costs. And these are provided by us on a subscription basis. We also have a number of marketing tools for publishers to use. Um, currently we work with , uh, around 250 publishers globally managing over 4,000 websites marketing sites. And we have nearly 6 million books, which run through our platform, Supafolio , uh, on a daily basis. Our solutions are powered by our core platform, Supafolio. Um, and they're designed for enhancing a publisher's title visibility and helping that publisher increase their direct to consumer sales. For example, Supafolio automatically creates product details pages for all the titles, whether or not they're populated by Onix or other data sets . And we encourage our publishers to enrich that metadata. So adding video , uh, author bios , reading guides and other content, which might drive their Google rankings and attract new audiences, all to increase those online sales. And I also mentioned some marketing tools. We have tools such as an instant landing page builder, also powered by Supafolio. And this is super popular with publishers who , uh , want to create marketing campaigns, such as flash sales or destination pages, perhaps online events, which we've seen quite a lot of , uh , over the past 18 months. And of course, all of these are great for community building. Um, and then another popular product is the automated book flyers. And I would say our philosophy at Supadu is we're all about making websites simple and all our products and solutions definitely do this.

Nicole Tomassi:

That's quite a, that's quite a portfolio if you will. And 6 million books daily, that's pretty impressive. So tell me what sets Supadü apart in the space from other website suppliers.

Sarah Arbuthnot:

I guess the answer to this lies in the technology we use, we've spent over 10 years building our core platform and product suite specifically for publishers , um, and we're focused on streamlining and automating , uh , the workflow for a publisher. So that's from title management all the way through to integrated fulfillment. Um, we built our websites using highly flexible and fully customizable themes, which we've developed for trade , uh , publishers and university presses. This means that all websites don't all look the same, but they're all powered by Supafolio. Uh , so these themes include publisher centric functionalities such as the ability to create multiple collections, which might be editors choice, great summer reads, best sellers. And they're integrated with e-commerce if required. And we built our themes on the WordPress and Shopify platforms. We're completely integrated with most title management systems and more than 25 fulfillment and distribution suppliers and our services are always adapting to our publishers needs. So for example, the increased demand for direct consumer sales has accelerated our product development with other fulfillment suppliers and making sure we offer , um , those publishers that need a single cart option so they can enable all product formats to be purchased from their website. And of course we support all international and national shopping requirements. How do we differ from a typical agency vendor? I guess an agency typically builds a bespoke websites . So without the Supafolio feeds , so there's less automation, less enrichment, less integration, and probably a bit more expensive and more support required. Um, and then at the other end of the scale an off the shelf website and , uh , can't cater for the ingestion of Onix say and the complexities of a typical publishers workflow .

Nicole Tomassi:

So it's basically kind of taking the best of both worlds for publishers because it's focused exactly on the kind of things that they will need , um, and then giving that ease of use that the book buyer is looking for, is that what I'm hearing?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Exactly exactly that Nicole.

Nicole Tomassi:

Hey, not bad now, as you, as you alluded to before, you know, the last 18 months or so we're further accelerating a trend that was already happening towards greater online research and purchasing by consumers. I'm just wondering if you could walk through how Supadu worked with publishers during that timeframe to ensure that their websites were making the experience as seamless as they could.

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Well, you know, lucky enough, Supadü was perfectly placed to help our publishers in this time , um, and definitely to increase their online exposure and D to C sales. We advise our customers to focus on improving title visibility and user engagement, both of which are drivers of website effectiveness and of course sales. And they can be both be done from outside and inside their websites. So in order to expand reach on social media, say we recommend running reader promotions, and user generated content and communicate with their existing communities through online events. He direct marketing again, using the flash sales example and author readings, or both of these were popular and still are , uh , examples of , of how publishers , uh, connected with consumers. And we also focused on a simple, fast, clear path to purchase. Every time we encouraged our publishers to create landing pages for each campaign and link directly to their stores or to the third parties, if they were selling through that. Good point to note, that landing page is a really great way of driving SEO and sales , um , and ensuring less users fall away. How did we make all this seamless? Uh, so our platform Supafolio that I just spoke about creates product details pages and allows the publishers to enrich that metadata outside of the Onix. So this improves search engine visibility. So they're improving that findability and it's driving consumers directly to their website, directly to that purchase, making the user experience seamless.

Nicole Tomassi:

I have a question kind of spring boarding off of this, cause you did touch on the fact that, you know, social media is a really key component in engaging with customers and bringing them specific promotions. And certainly we've all heard a lot about , uh , BookTok, which is, you know, kind of almost a little space that's been carved out within TikTok , uh , that has just had an incredible explosion of interest in growth and , and followers. So how can a platform like Supadu , um, help kind of connect that BookTok community with publishers?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Do you know what we talk so much about BookTok and the Booktubers and everything. So while Supadü and our products aren't directly running anything on BookTok, you're still engaging a community. So any conversation that might happen on BookTok, you can drive them to your website, you can drive them to your store and you can kind of promote other authors or the books in the series. And you're kind of creating an ecosystem, not just in your website, but out there in the social channels. And I'm hoping, I don't want to say too much because this is definitely marketing's , um , side, that we'll be doing quite a lot on , um, our experience , uh , publishers receive on social media, which will include BookTok. Like we're seeing loads of university presses now starting to do stuff. It is something.

Nicole Tomassi:

Really.

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Yeah, it's so cool.

Nicole Tomassi:

So Sarah, if a publisher has employees within their sales and marketing team who are focused on website channel marketing, and e-commerce, how do Supadü and super folio, how do those services help augment those efforts?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

There are a ton of ways to produce products, help marketeers , um, through Supafolio. You can easily create customer book collections. So these are designed for specific marketing campaigns. Um, the flash sales that I keep mentioning, and these can be run in different regions concurrently. Um, we have an advanced website search , um , and publishers and other suppliers may also have the same thing, but this gives you an ability to boost those titles in your website search results. So to give prominence to a title or a group of books or an author say , um, and we also know that , uh, users that buy one book will generally look to that author or related recommended titles and go on to purchase other ones. And then there's the landing page builder, as I mentioned as well, and book flyers and author, many site templates, marketers can use all of these , uh , tools. And of course the ability to run promotions, apply discounts and coupons on the website and via social channels. I would say some of our publishers have found that through COVID, they were really successful in driving title sales through that online communities , um, with book clubs , uh , we've got one publisher , uh, Kensington books, who've got a really great book club called between the chapters that has done extremely well and , uh, a university press of ours, Texas A and M university press, they successfully and do successfully run a regular promotions of all description, including discounting these titles and all of this is available to marketers that use our product .

Nicole Tomassi:

Yes, I mean, I recall during the webinar that we had done with PW , back in the spring, the publishing now webinar that the publishers on there, Princeton University Press, Sourcebooks and Legend Times in , um, your area of the world , uh , they all shared similar stories about how they leverage their websites to do different kinds of, you know , flash sales or other creative ways to keep customers engaged and to move books , uh, during, you know, especially this last year and a half. So to the flip side of this , um , you know, look at a publisher who maybe has a bit of a smaller staff and they don't have the bandwidth internally to dedicate towards , uh , building and maintaining a consumer- facing website. How does Supadü help them?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Supadü products and services and solutions are available to be used by all publishers, including smaller publishers. Um, we can and do provide a hundred percent fully automated websites and stores to publishers who want them and , uh, and don't have a marketing team. So this means that that website data is updated daily. Uh , and we can even automate some of the marketing materials such as their promotional carousels on their website, their book flyers. So we're taking out the hard work and the time for the publishers if they need. And if they are able to grab 30 minutes a month, it's really easy for a small publisher to go in and create some ad hoc marketing or some messaging , um, or simply look at their Google analytics and see what's working and what isn't.

Nicole Tomassi:

Wow. So a minute a day, you can't get any quicker than that can you?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

That's a good breakdown, a minute a day

Nicole Tomassi:

Since I've got you here, you know, I'm going to ask you for some, you know, some tips that maybe you could share for publishers to help them easily make and deliver a better website experience for their customers.

Sarah Arbuthnot:

There are so many things I could say. Um, some of the simple things you can do to make your online presence, a success , uh, number one, make sure you have complete metadata where possible three or four pieces of metadata per title make a massive difference. So book or jacket, cover subtitles, author, bio contributors, long descriptions, keywords reviews. I could go on and on , um, Nielsen who I'm sure you all know , uh, around this excellent report in 2020, and they just want , again , uh , 2016, the importance of metadata for discoverability and sales. And they found that just five elements of descriptive metadata made such a positive impact on a publisher's online sales. Um, read it , uh, and do that with your metadata. But what was interesting in the report was that the jacket cover scored really highly and higher than the subject code on its impact on direct to consumer sales. Certainly. Um, and those were jackets. So twice as many copies as those without. So, you know, in our experience, some publishers there's find jackets a bit tricky.

Nicole Tomassi:

So basically what you're telling me is that , uh, customers are judging the book by its cover.

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Yes, they really are. Uh , number two, I would say leading people to a product page or a landing page rather than a home page. And this is probably fairly obvious nowadays, but definitely from social media or direct marketing , um , or their search engine. This is going to increase the publisher's chance of retaining and engaging that visitor, that user, so that they buy. And so that they're not having to travel through your website, find what they're looking for, which means you would have lost them. Number three, have if possible, a single cart shopping experience and make that path to purchase really easy . Allow the user to buy all product types , um, and consider different devices like the mobile shopping experience, really important. Keep your checkout design clean and uncluttered for, I would say website search. Um, so website search, allow the searches and browsers across your full inventory and content, don't just restrict it by your Onix. This will, this will allow users to kind of be much more engaged and kind of find what they're looking for. Number five, meet your standard accessibility requirements. These not only help your Google rankings, but they increase your reach. And then finally, I would say , uh , regularly review your Google analytics. It doesn't have to take very long, it's free, and it really helps you evaluate what pages are working and what aren't working, where your traffic drivers are coming from, where they're coming from, what are they doing? And what's their profile and behavior.

Nicole Tomassi:

A bit of a sidebar question here. Do you provide publishers with a monthly report of the Google analytics as far as what the top drivers were or the , um, the top inbound channels that, you know , their purchasers are coming from that sort of stuff?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Well, the beauty is that we can set up the reports and they're automated, so it goes straight to the publisher's inbox. Um, and with our publishers where they need, we definitely can give them like , uh , training and to help them set up different reports that they get, you know, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, whatever they need. So the answer is yes, we can set it up for the publisher.

Nicole Tomassi:

So Sarah , before we finish our conversation here, is there anything else that you would like publishers to keep in mind when ensuring that their websites are optimized to engage customers and make the purchase process as seamless as possible?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Yes! We would like to educate publishers on effective e-commerce and how to reduce that abandoned cart. There are so many difficulties , uh, we find that publishers face with e-commerce. For example, what's the best and most suitable e-commerce solution for them to use? How do they automate their tax ? How do they deal with pre-orders? How should they deal with split payments or split shipments, if that's, if that's what they need? How do they integrate with fulfillment and distribution and global shipping? How do they manage multi-lingual, multi-currency requirements? How do they automate the workflow So they can focus on marketing and building a community of users. And how do they review that Google analytics?

Nicole Tomassi:

Anyone is interested in learning more about how the Supadü platform works. Do you offer any kind of , uh, you know, try before you commit sort of scheme?

Sarah Arbuthnot:

Get in touch with me. I think it would be good because we put lots of different solutions compared to what the requirements are and what type of publisher you are. So if they could get in touch with us , um, and we're also, you know, happy, even though Google analytics isn't a service we sell, we're totally happy to educate the publishing community because it really does help with the kind of enhancing that metadata. Uh , and e-commerce where we're happy to kind of provide some insight and training in there If they need be, get in touch, we can pass you a demo. We can have a conversation and just give you some impartial advice. Excellent. And , and we all know metadata is very important. Certainly I've sat in a number of webinars , uh, by our friends over at the BISG it's about, you know, the , the importance of making sure your metadata is up to date and , and has all the information that it needs. And so metadata, metadata, metadata. And simple and fast. Yes. Convenience is key these days. Sarah , it's been such a pleasure to have you on the Westchester Words podcast today, and to learn more about how Supadü is helping publishers with their website. Thank you so much, Nicole. And I really hope we've passed on some snippets of information that publishers can use.

Nicole Tomassi:

To learn more about how Sarah and the rest of the team at Supadü can help you to optimize your website for consumer purchasing. You can visit their website at Supadü.com That's S U P a D u.com. We'll also put a link in on our website so that you can connect with the folks over at Supadu to get more information about the complimentary training. I want to thank you for listening to this episode of Westchester words. You can follow us on your favorite streaming platform to be notified about new episodes as they become available, or to listen to previous episodes that you may have missed. You can find all the episodes from season one, as well as the current season plus additional content that's been shared by some of our guests on the podcast page of our website, Westchester publishing services.com. You can also get in touch with us there by completing the contact us form on the homepage. We love hearing from our listeners, so send us an email at Westchester words at Westchester, E D S V C s.com to share your thoughts or comments about today's discussion and let us know what content you'd like to hear Westchester cover in future episodes. Speaking of future episodes, I hope you'll join us for the next one when we'll be talking with Rich Portelance of CareerPath. Until then stay safe, be well and stay tuned.

Speaker 1:

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