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Thread: Using "Customers Who Bought This Item ..." to promote your book

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    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Using "Customers Who Bought This Item ..." to promote your book

    I was just reading an article on Self-Publishing Review: Why Amazon Reviews Just Arenít Enough. The writer makes a few good points, but also a lot of questionable ones.

    One of her more interesting claims is that the books listed on Amazon product pages under the heading "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" are "immensely important" (her emphasis) for driving sales. She advises authors, in effect, to trick Amazon into adding their book to that list. The way to do that is to get all your friends and relatives to buy books that are related to the one you are promoting, and also to buy your book at the same time. That way, she claims, your book will appear as an "also bought" item on the other books' product pages. The exposure you thus gain will greatly boost your sales, even more so than positive reviews will.

    The two obvious questions are:

    - Can this possibly work? Wouldn't you need a vast number of people to buy the books if it is to have any effect?

    - Even if it does work, would it be economical? After all, you would have to re-imburse those involved for not only the cost of your book, but that of the other ones they buy at the same time. Is it really likely you would get enough extra sales to recoup your expenditure?

    I'd be interested in hearing your views.

    Mike

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    - Can this possibly work? Wouldn't you need a vast number of people to buy the books if it is to have any effect?
    Books are longtail items, most do not sell more than a few copies a day (and many are lucky to sell a few copies a year). Some have calculated that to be in the top 10 bestsellers in Amazon you only need to sell 300 print copies a day on Amazon (http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...estseller.html http://okdork.com/2014/02/17/hit-1-a...stseller-list/)

    Now, it would obviously be much easier to game a non-best seller and it looks like you could it fairly cheaply. Throw in an Amazon affiliate id to reduce the price even further and it could work.

    - Even if it does work, would it be economical? After all, you would have to re-imburse those involved for not only the cost of your book, but that of the other ones they buy at the same time. Is it really likely you would get enough extra sales to recoup your expenditure?
    If you can get into a virtuous circle whereby it drives people to legitimately buy your book as well reinforcing the effect, then it could be profitable. You also need to look past the unit sale and look into the lifetime value of a customer. If someone buys your book based on it being recommended and then determine that they like your work so continue to buy then it may be worth it for you.

    I really like the idea, not sure how easy it would be implement, but I think I would try it out if I were publishing on Amazon before I discounted it as unworkable.

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    Marketing Mentor Mikl is a Premium Member
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    Thanks for those comments. I am a little surprised that you only need about 300 copies per day to get to the top 10, but the Publishers Weekly article looks convincing.

    Of course, even if the strategy proposed in the original article succeeded in getting you into the "also bought" list, I would have thought it would only be a short-term benefit. The list is probably updated at least once a day, and to get any lasting gain, you would have to get your friends and relatives to keep buying the books over a reasonably long period.

    Still, it's an interesting idea.

    Mike

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    Publishing Mentor dsieg58 is a Premium Member
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    I read that article as well and liked it. But that was the one part I took exception to. Speaking for fiction markets only...

    First, selling 300 copies/day is unnecessary and unrealistic. Selling 10 copies a day, in fiction markets will get you into top 10,000 in paid sales, which will land you in top positions in a number of sub-categories. And fiction is much more competitive than nonfiction. The goal is to reach the top half of the page in as many primary and sub-categories as possible. The reason being, if you can get there, then Amazon will do the marketing for you, and sales momentum will (hopefully) keep you there. So I don't know where the "300" number even comes from. So unless your name is "James Patterson" or "Stephen King" 300 sales a day isn't do-able. However, since Amazon search Algro updates itself every hour, you have to be able to keep those sales going to stay there.

    Most Indie authors I've talked to shoot for selling 10 copies a day. If you do, and you have three books, and they are priced in the $2.99-$3.99 range you'll realize about 25K USD a year.

    Second, you'll show up in the the "Also bought" by default, without any effort on your part. Many people "binge" on buying books. If you have a series, and people like them, you'll show up almost automatically when they come back and buy more of them. I know my books show up on them immediately even after one sale. And I'm in the "Thriller" genre and have to compete with Lee Childs and James Patterson. Which is ten times more competitive than "Make Money Online" or any other nonfiction genre on it's most competitive day.

    Third, you're jumping through a whole lot of hoops gaming the algro when you could put the same money towards Goodreads PPC and building backlinks to your Amazon sales page, and probably do it honestly with better effect. Also it wouldn't surprise me if the Amazon Algro is able to understand your connections and associations to other people. (Christmas gift lists anyone? Sending free copies, etc.) In which case it's a short step figuring out what your doing and penalizing you for it.

    I do agree the "Customers also bought" is a money maker and important, but I have issues with his methodology. Have your family and friends go out and buy a bunch of books in the same niche? That would be a tough sell in my family. Another way to look at Amazon is that as an affiliate (which you are) your job is to "Pre-sell" your book, and the Amazon page is there to close the sale. I do agree that reviews are no longer the end all, be all, of the Amazon sales page. SEO'ing your book description is just as important. Having a good book cover is just as important (Maybe more) than reviews. I also really enjoyed the comparison between Google search and Amazon search. The vast majority of my reviews are 4-5 star but I can't see that has had any measurable effect on the sales rank. It simply reassures the customer who is teetering on the fence about buying.

    Based on my experience only. Mileage may vary.

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