CONSISTENCY IN THIS CASE IS REINFORCING HOW USERS SHOULD READ THE MANGA. VIZ MEDIA AND KODANSHA UNDERSTAND THAT AMERICAN END-USERS MAY NOT BE AS FAMILIAR WITH THE JAPANESE MANGA READING STYLE. CONSEQUENTLY, BOTH MADE EFFORTS TO ACCOMMODATE THESE READERS BY INSTRUCTING THEM HOW TO PROPERLY USE THEIR PRODUCTS.
CRITERIA #6 ATTRACTIVE
VIZ MEDIA & KODANSHA IPHONE APP – GOOD EXAMPLES
BOTH USER INTERFACES ARE AESTHETICALLY PLEASING TO END-USERS. OBVIOUSLY BEAUTY IS IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER (OR IN THIS CASE THE USER), BUT THE LOOK OF AN APP DOES INFLUENCE HOW I INTERACTED WITH BOTH PRODUCTS. INTERFACE ELEMENTS SUCH AS BUTTONS AND ICONS CAN MAKE A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE IN HOW THE USER FEELS ABOUT USING THE PRODUCT.
CRITERIA #7 EFFICIENT
KODANSHA IPHONE APP – GOOD EXAMPLE
KODANSHA DEVELOPERS UNDERSTAND THAT YOUNG CONSUMERS MAY NOT KNOW HOW TO SELECT FREE PRODUCTS OR AGE-APPROPRIATE PRODUCTS. SO IMPLEMENTING THIS “AGE-RATING” SYMBOL HELPS. MOREOVER, IT HELPS TO CLEARLY OUTLINE WHICH PRODUCTS ARE FREE, FEATURED AND NEW.
CRITERIA #8 FORGIVING
VIZ MEDIA & KODANSHA IPHONE APP – GOOD EXAMPLES
LASTLY, I FOUND THAT BOTH MANGA APPS ALLOWS THEIR CUSTOMERS TO RECOVER FROM THEIR MISTAKES. FOR INSTANCE VIZ MEDIA GIVES CUSTOMERS CONFIRMATION MESSAGES ASKING IF THEY ARE SURE ABOUT THEIR PURCHASE. CUSTOMERS WHO ARE UNSURE OR NEED ADDITIONAL TIME MAY CANCEL THEIR ORDERS. VIZ MEDIA ALSO REQUIRES ALL CUSTOMERS TO REGISTER THEIR PROFILES IN THE SYSTEM TO BETTER TRACK THEIR TRANSACTIONS, WHICH HELPS IN CASES THERE ARE IDENTITY FRAUD.
Publishers have you ever wondered how your Facebook and Twitter followings impacted your sales? In the Age of E-Books and Apps, how exactly are your social media fan bases affecting your success? More importantly, if social media optimization (SMO) is the future how can publishers adapt?
Here to help me answer those questions is M. Scott Havens who serves as the Sr. VP of Finance & Digital Operations for The Atlantic.
E-Publisher Confesses: Scott thanks so much for making time for my interview. As the Sr. Vice President of Finance & Digital Operations how much of your day is devoted to learning how readers discover your content?
Scott Havens: Quite honestly, not as much as I’d like these days. I’m spending a lot more time in the financial numbers of our media properties in order to assess where we should be investing and allocating our resources going forward. I do get a series of daily, weekly and monthly reports (some automated, some created) that break down where our readers are coming from, what they’re reading, etc. I also spend at least an hour a day reading trade pubs (Digiday, PaidContent, etc.) so I can stay abreast of all the new developments and innovations going on in media.
EPC: So then you’re familiar with metadata advocates who claim that if a book or magazine isn’t listed in the top 10-20 results of a query there’s no chance of readers discovering it. Scott can the same be said of The Atlantic’s readers? Or do they discover content differently?
SH: I can’t validate that statement, but it seems likely. Fortunately for us (I think!), we get 2x as many referrals through social networks/sites/referrals as we do from search. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about SEO or we don’t try to implement best practices, but given the types and categories and volumes of content we produce, we’ve found SMO (social media optimization) to be a better use of our time. There are also many new technologies, apps, sites that can be very valuable partners for publishers – including Flipboard, Pulse, TrapIt, Trove – and it may prove valuable for publishers to put on their “business development” hat and think about becoming partners.
EPC: Can less established publishers create an optimized Web presence without partnering with these third-party affiliates? Could publishers familiar with HTML5 software launch a successful magazine or book site without this partnership?
SH: Sure, but I think publishers have to experiment with every available tactic and see what works for them. It could be search, it could be Twitter, or it could be Pinterest. Not one size fits all. HTML5 and all the hype around it is a bit overblown. It is simply not a fully formed markup language / coding language. It certainly shows promise to help optimize content for all the new devices and platforms (among other things), which is clearly challenging and expensive. Having said that, publishers do need to make sure that once they create the unique and interesting content, it can be consumed everywhere. HTML5 and responsive design could help do this. There are also several companies building and investing in CMS’s that will allow content to be pushed out in many forms so publishers can simply focus on the content. But again, focus on creating content that users want to read, develop a loyal audience and then think about ways to monetize the readership through paid products and/or advertising.
EPC: Earlier you stated that it seems likely readers won’t discover content past 10-20 results. So you suggested that publishers spend less time worrying over rankings and more time making their work shareable. Is that a correct summary?
SH: Yes I think so, but I’ll caveat that by saying that all publishers are not created equal. If you are a high velocity news site that feeds off news searches or a restaurant review site that needs to leverage the “long tail”, you may want to spend more time on SEO. At the end of the day, I firmly believe that if you write unique, quality, differentiated content and follow the “rules”, you should ultimately do well in search over time. I do think the key search engines are trying to surface the best content, not the content that has the best “SEO score.” My best advice for publishers is find a niche where you can produce differentiated content for a specific target audience and let them help you grow. If you focus on creating interesting, visual, shareable, viral, unique content – you’ll be amazed at how quickly new readers will emerge because of the power of the “social graph”.
EPC: Why is it important for publishers to connect to a social graph? Does social sharing affect how publishers’ content is discovered by readers?
SH: Quite simply because social sharing is incredibly important in content discovery today. For some publishers, like TheAtlantic it’s more important than search discovery and it’s an entirely different way. In one, a computer algorithm decides what you are looking for and in the other; people in your “network” are helping you discover content. I’ll take the latter any day of the week.
EPC: Lastly, Scott can you offer any words of wisdom for aspiring publishers? Are there any other factors they should consider before entering publishing?
SH: My first words of wisdom are: stop calling it publishing! It feels SO OLD MEDIA! Other thoughts for aspiring digital media execs might be: be obsessive about using all the new devices that are launched, experiment with new sites and Apps as much as you can, read the latest news in the industry, network like crazy, and get a deep understanding of how technology works. Even if you are not a designer or developer, those who understand the ins/outs of digital media are usually one-step ahead of the pack.
EPC: Thank you again Scott for fitting me into your busy schedule, I can see there is definitely a dimension beyond SEO that publishers now have to consider. Publishers are not only contending with e-books, but apps too. I’m looking forward to seeing how new and established publishers continue adapting to these new developments. Thank you again for your insight!
Readers tell me what you think of tonight’s confession by answering the poll below. Join me September 23 for “An E-Publisher’s Road Ahead” I’ll be updating you on my career plans and aspirations.
In the era of Digital Books can a book marketing plan be successful without social media?
Judging by last week’s Book Marketing: Post Print Era Pt.1, I would say there could still be a glimmer of hope. Then again have you ever wondered why some books flop while others find success? Critics claim the difference lies in the quality of the writing. But, I think it goes beyond that—hello, remember Fifty Shades of Grey? I think we can all agree that the social marketing plan was the driving force behind its success.
Former Marketing Director Jeanne Crotty joins us again this time to provide insight about effectively marketing books with new and older technologies.
LG: What are your personal favorite marketing tools?
JC: I think emails are one of the most effective book marketing tools. When done well, they can move a huge number of books. By well, I mean they have an engaging subject line, are timed correctly, are going to the right audience, and that the format fits your audience. Remember that the most important component of a marketing email: is an engaging subject line. Other things to think of when creating an email: does your audience respond to direct marketing? If so then you should drive them directly to a store or online book seller. Does your audience respond to more indirect marketing? Then you should offer them free content or drive them to a social media account.
LG: HarperCollins hybrid model Authonomy gives fans the choice of which books get published. Do you think this is the future for publishers? Should social media control which books get published?
JC: I think Authonomy is a great tool for both publishers and aspiring authors; I hope it’s the future for publishers. In my mind, HarperCollins has embraced social media and the power of self-publishing through Authonomy, and I think that’s the best way to survive as a publisher. I don’t think social media should control which books get published, but I do think it should influence what books get published. After all, as a publisher, you want to give your audience what they want and what they will buy.
LG:Jeanne thanks again for agreeing to be interviewed. Are there any parting words you would give new publishers? Any advice for self-publishers?
JC:For new publishers and self publishers, I would say find out where your audience and readers are, go there, and give them what they want through the channels they use. There is no longer one way to publish books or to become published. Embrace the new technology, marketing channels, book formats, and exploit them.
LG:I lied, there is one more question I have. Is there a difference between a marketing director and a sales director? Do the roles overlap?
JC:Yes, but they definitely overlap. Every publishing house is different though, so the division of responsibilities don’t always necessarily fall down along the lines I’m about to describe.
A sales director is in charge of making sure the sales force takes as many books as possible to ensure the book is in as many places—and on as many sites—as possible. Typical duties include selling-in books to accounts, working with a distributor and sales representatives, pitching books to buyers, helping set budgets, and bringing in custom projects. It is typically a bit more data driven than a marketing director’s job. The sales director also tends to deal with the trade more than with consumers.
In contrast, the director of marketing deals more with consumers rather than the trade. The director of marketing is in charge of figuring out the audiences for the book, the positioning and messaging of the book, and deciding which channels best convey that messaging. At some houses, such as mine, the director of marketing might also be in charge of marketing the books to the trade as well. Which involves writing and delivering sell sheets to the trade, working with publicity on picking out excerpts to send, collaborating with design on blads, and getting galleys made.
LG:When you explain in detail, the differences in the positions seem clear. Still they do seem to overlap a lot why is that?
JC:Both positions depend upon each other. The sales director often asks the marketing director for sales materials, such as sell sheets or sample content, in order to get accounts to order the book. The marketing director often asks the sales director for sales goals and expectations, so they can cater the sell sheet and marketing plan accordingly. Both deal with numbers, but the marketing director looks at more immediate numbers—how many books did x marketing campaign sell vs. y marketing campaign—and the sales director looks at overall profit and loss sheets as well as sales trends to determine how many books the trade should order and reorder.
LG: Thank you for clearing up that confusion and for taking time out of your busy schedule. I’ve truly appreciated this learning experience.
Join us on September 5 for an in-depth interview with The Atlantic Media Company’s Sr. Vice President of Finance & Digital Operations M. Scott Havens. He will explain why search engine optimization may be a thing of the past for book and magazine publishers.