Monday, May 2, 2011

eBook Store Rankings

eBook authors are playing catch-up with game makers and musicians when it comes to online marketing. In bookstores, endcap placement drives book sales. In online stores, it's a rankings game.

CNET describes the games game publishers play to increase product rankings in Apple's App Store:
[T]he real heartbeat of it all, and where things still feel like the Wild West, is the realm of the top charts--the home, at any given time, of the hottest 300 free applications and the hottest 300 paid. Once on one of these lists, a good app can continue to make its way up, because a new--and large--group of users is now seeing it. That kind of power also makes these lists a big business target for those with the top in mind.
To increase rankings, some game publishers give away a game, then use Tapjoy or Flurry technology to promote downloads and convert free games download into sales. In response, Apple recently modified its rankings system. So the rankings game is played.

Rankings will be an important aspect of eBook marketing, too. Authors need to consider rankings in their marketing mix.

The best way to get high rankings? Write a good book.

Online stores are the best place to have high rankings. This review of top online eBook stores lists good target stores. High rankings at a few of these stores will yield great unit volume sales.

Besides writing a great book, here are other strategies to increase rankings:
  • Authors can spike a book's rankings by coordinating friends through social media to buy the book on the same day or same hour through a specific online store.
  • Advertising campaigns that focus traffic on a specific online store will increase rankings and, while campaign-related sales may not pay for the campaign itself, the residual increase in sales from higher rankings could pay off the campaign if high rankings persist.
  • Find rankings lists outside of stores, especially top-10 or top-100 lists for genres related to the book, and figure out how to increase the book's rankings on these lists.
  • To increase download rankings, authors can give away a few chapters of a book, and then provide a link to buy the rest of the book.
  • Adjust pricing down to move a book up a sales rankings list.
As the eBook market expands, more companies will provide these services, either for a fee or as part of an online publishing service. For now, authors have their emarketing homework cut out for them.

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