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Inbound marketing: how Waterstones and Foyles use inbound marketing to sell books


How to sell books through inbound marketing

Alison Proofreader

Inbound marketing: how Waterstones and Foyles use inbound marketing to sell books


"Inbound marketing is a business methodology that

attracts customers by creating valuable content and

experiences tailored to them." (Hubspot, 2020)

In this blog, I'll be looking at the importance of inbound marketing. I'll explain how to approach it with regards to selling books. I have analysed the inbound marketing of Waterstones and Foyles book retailers. I compare them for strengths and weaknesses, which you can use to reflect on your own inbound marketing. I will then suggest some tips for improving inbound marketing.


Approach to inbound marketing

Strengths

Weaknesses

Which book retailer was best at inbound marketing and why?

How could inbound marketing be improved?



Approach to inbound marketing



How does Waterstones sell books?

Waterstones creates an awareness of its products and brand by using a wide variety of channels, website, blog, social media, email marketing, SEO, organising events and YouTube videos. This attracts audiences to its website through calls to action to complete the sale. It focuses on visuals to attract its audience and interesting, quality content portrayed through a variety of media.


How does Foyles sell books?

Foyles promotes its products through interesting content on its blog using authors and social media. It uses its website and calls to action to complete the sale. Other aspects are used though not regularly.




Strengths



How does Waterstones sell books?

· Website is very visual showcasing the products and attracting the audience. Images are seasonal and up to date with the latest products. Book of the month.

· Website has a call to action at the top of the page with new arrivals to attract customers to new products. Social media ‘follow us’ links at the bottom of the page to help spread the word.

· Website content is categorised under different headings easier to navigate and search for on google. Headings promote using adjectives, for example, ‘Our best fiction books’ using persuasive language and a common theme throughout.

· Regular blog celebrating new books – adult and children, with a call to action at the bottom of the blog to buy the book. Good use of visuals to help tell the story of the books and attract the audience to want to read more.

· Content promoted through a variety of media – podcasts, blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest.

· Good, regular use of Instagram with interesting content to promote the latest products using videos, for example, recipes from the latest book.

· Good use of Twitter with a variety of content ranging from images to videos showcasing events and products with links to the website. Use of hashtags and tags to authors to spread the word. Attractive image design and appealing to the audience.

· Waterstones offer an affiliate programme to sell the books through links from other websites. Therefore, improving the SEO with backlinks.

· Good use of email marketing offering vouchers to use online backs up the content used in social media. Common theme throughout marketing.

· YouTube channel with live chats, events and literary festivals, ‘Shelfie’ authors introducing their latest books.

· Customers can sign up to an account, therefore collecting data to use for email marketing. Waterstones rewards returning customers to retain loyalty through a Waterstones plus card. Customers can create a wish list of their favourite products for the future.

· Products have customer reviews and media reviews from Newspapers to endorse them. Adds trust to the products.

· Comparison articles on its blog, comparing the best books.

· Book readings of the products to give a taster on the product page.

· Competitions and prize draws on the website and online events updated regularly.

· Calls to action with current offers and possibly ideas for purchases, for example, a section titled ‘You might be looking for …’



How does Foyles sell books?

· Website has banners across the top with latest offers to attract the audience and calls to action to complete the sale.

· Website content is categorised under different headings easier to navigate and search for on google. Headings use persuasive language to describe and sell, for example, ‘Simply beautiful books’.

· Regular blog written by authors showcasing their ‘Author picks for Christmas’, includes authors in advertising other authors books. Topical blogs including ‘Celebrating Black History Month’ and blogs of upcoming books written by the author and interesting blogs, such as ‘What makes a great Christmas story?’

· Content promoted through a variety of media – blog, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Tumblr and Pinterest.

· Good regular use of Instagram and Twitter using images of books to promote its products. Links back to the website and other social media. Use of hashtags and tags to authors to spread the word.

· They offer an affiliate programme to sell the books through links from other websites. Therefore, improving the SEO with backlinks.

· Use of email marketing offering vouchers to use online and newsletters.

· YouTube channel with book readings by authors and staff picks, gives a taster of products.

· Customers can sign up to an account, therefore collecting data to use for email marketing.




Weaknesses


How does Waterstones sell books?

· Missed opportunity with the LinkedIn account, hasn’t been used for 2 months and previously very few posts each month. It has 22,100 followers who could be potential customers.

· On the product pages, there is just an image of the book. It would be nice to see images of inside the book or be able to download a free sample. It helps to persuade the customer, the more information they have before they buy.



How does Foyles sell books?

· Website consists mainly of images of books with very little text and not much to entice the audience. Layout and style seem to overload the eye.

· LinkedIn account has no posts and looks unfinished, missed opportunity to promote.

· The links at the top of the website for social media are just to share Foyles’ website on social media not to access its social media account to follow or see posts.

· Videos on Instagram and Twitter rotate too fast to see the books properly.

· On the website, the navigation of the blogs section seems awkward having to scroll up and down rather than clicking on an overview page.

· YouTube channel is not updated regularly.

· There is a review section for each book. But very few reviews have been added.

· Limited information on each product page.



Which book retailer was best at inbound marketing and why?



How does Waterstones sell books?


· Waterstones has a very visual website to attract its audience with products and promotions. It uses common themes across its marketing and offers interesting content to promote its products. It is present on a variety of channels to promote and attract audiences back to its website through calls to action to complete the sale. Waterstones gains the trust of potential customers and understands the buyers’ journey of creating awareness of the products before tempting them to the sale. They have a comprehensive approach to inbound marketing covering all the bases getting its brand out there and attracting the most customers.


· Foyles’ inbound marketing seems simple in comparison. It has used similar approaches to Waterstones, though the quality and buyers’ journey does not always follow through or maximise the opportunity to promote. The marketing feels as though it has begun but is work in progress. There is some good quality content, particularly in the blogs, to rival Waterstones, but it is not consistent and feels a common theme is lacking in the approach. With a few improvements, Foyles could improve its inbound marketing and build trust with its potential customers.



How could inbound marketing be improved?



· Ensure the website is easy to navigate and not too overloaded with products.

· Have a common theme throughout all inbound marketing and be consistent across all channels posting regularly.

· Promote the latest products and blogs on LinkedIn.

· Include customers to endorse products by doing reviews, case studies and comparison articles. This provides trust in the products.

· Add videos to product pages to give samples of products.

· Provide links to social media on the website to encourage customers to follow and spread the word about products.




Taking a consistent, well thought out, step-by-step approach to inbound marketing is important, offering quality content and developing your brand should always culminate in building relationships and trust with your potential customers. Therefore, improving your buyers' journey from building awareness of the product to considering buying your product to completing the sale.



"Inbound marketing focuses on creating useful

content for your customers and focusing on their

needs in order to build relationships." (Patel, 2020)



I am a freelance proofreader and a qualified teacher with a love of learning. If you need support with your book, please contact me. Thank you for reading 'Inbound marketing: how Waterstones and Foyles use inbound marketing to sell books'. Want to find more out about how much proofreading costs?


Check out my blog "Proofreading: how much does proofreading cost?" on my website www.alisonproofreader.com, or say hello on Twitter at @alisonproofread, or Instagram at @alisonproofreader, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.



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Keywords


Inbound marketing Inbound marketing is a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them.

Email marketing emailing potential customers with quality content to attract them to your business.

Blog quality articles based on a website to provide content about the products to attract customers to the website.

Call to action a button or linked text to other pages or products on the website or social media.

SEO stands for Search engine optimization and is how to improve the traffic to your website.


References


Foyles (2020) 'Foyles' [logo] in foyles.com. Available at: https://www.foyles.co.uk/ [Accessed 20 November 2020]


Hubspot (2020) 'What Is Inbound Marketing?' Hubspot [online]. Available at: https://www.hubspot.com/inbound-marketing [Accessed 15 November 2020]


Patel, N. (2020) '22 Inbound Marketing Strategies Your Startup Needs to Start Using Today' in neilpatel.com [online]. Available at: https://neilpatel.com/blog/22-inbound-marketing-strategies-startup-needs-start-using-today/ [Accessed 17 November 2020]


Waterstones (2020) 'Waterstones' [logo] in waterstones.com. Available at: https://www.waterstones.com/ [Accessed 20 November 2020]


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