Can Technology Replicate Word-of-Mouth Book Marketing?

In Feature Articles by Guest Contributor

Written Word Media operates Red Feather Romance, among other email book marketing verticals.

Written Word Media operates Red Feather Romance, among other email book marketing verticals.

Ferol Vernon of Written Word Media argues that online, email book marketing is at its most effective when addressing readers in precise verticals.

Editorial by Ferol Vernon, Co-Owner, Written Word Media

“Word of mouth” is one of the hottest terms in marketing. Nothing works better than a personal recommendation from someone you trust. Every marketing expert loves — and wants — business through word-of-mouth, but nobody has figured out the perfect way to automate and digitalize this vital tool. At Written Word Media, a company that runs websites catering to different types of readers, we have a unique perspective on this age-old problem.

Many, if not most businesses try to crowdsource recommendations with varying degrees of success. Our strategy at Written Word Media is vertical: rather than build a one-size-fits-all site for readers, we design separate web communities that cater to the needs of each reader group.

Written Word Media

Each Website Represents a Trusted Friend

Readers are smart — they don’t typically ask one friend for all of their book suggestions. Instead, they go to different friends based on their specialties. We all have that buddy who buys the hottest vegan cookbook; the one who obsesses over bestselling thriller novels; and the one who reads popular fiction and can tell you to “buy or borrow.” When it comes to book recommendations, one size does not fit all.

When we create a brand, we’re thinking about a trusted friend. Designing a website that represents that type of friend is how we’ve been able to create brands that have very high engagement rates.

There are multiple dimensions upon which readers differ, and genre preference is the first level; the second is which book format the reader consumes. Is it a hardcover, paperback, ebook, or audiobook? Price sensitivity is the third measurement. We segment readers based on these elements to provide an individually tailored experience.

For example, www.newinbooks.com is our newest web property that focuses solely on new books and caters to readers who are interested in newly released titles. It is customized further by genre and format. Like your friend who lives in New York and works in publishing, you can be sure that what NewInBooks picks is going to be trendy and insightful. Technology makes this recommendation smarter by only informing you about books available in the format you like to consume. If you do not own an ereader, you will hear about a book only when it’s available in hard copy — removing disappointment from the process.

Other websites under our umbrella are Freebooksy and Bargain Booksy, which are discount book sites; and Red Feather Romance, our community that delivers recommendations on the hottest erotica and romance reads — books that people may be less comfortable asking a friend or librarian about.

Email as a Delivery Source

Friends give us their recommendation in a variety of ways: in person, over the phone, and via text message. Written Word Media delivers recommendations through email — we’re a big believer in email as a delivery mechanism. It’s less invasive than text or phone, but still very intimate. Email gets a bad rap because everyone thinks of spam when they think of email marketing, but the truth is that people are very happy to get an email as long as it delivers value to them.

The friend who knows how to get free stuff isn’t always the same as the friend who knows about coupons; in that respect, word of mouth marketing is simply a trusted entity suggesting a product you may find of value. This, overall, is what Written Word Media aspires to be: the most trusted source to recommend the perfect book for you.

Based in Durham, North Carolina, Written Word Media has served over 10,000 self-published authors, and works with three of the big five major publishers as well as a long list of smaller publishers and publicists on book promotions. Written Word Media has a combined audience of over 525,000 users of which over 275,000 receive book recommendations by email based on their genre and device preferences.

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.