How publishers can increase discovery and sell-through this Christmas


Ingram Content Group explores key trends for the final quarter of 2020—and how publishers can capitalise

2020 has been a different year for everyone in publishing, and there will be some unique challenges in the run-up to the Christmas selling season. But at the same time, some things have remained the same. Many of the tactics that will find publishers being successful may not be as different as one might expect.

Four trends likely to define Q4 sales


1. Continued disruption in the bricks-and-mortar supply chain

Consumers’ rush to online retailers in Q2 and Q3 does not look to have slowed, despite some openings in the bricks-and-mortar space. It is always difficult to determine the permanent behaviour of consumers, but we can be fairly certain that Q4 2020 will find consumers online in higher numbers than usual.

2. Uncertainty and unpredictability in consumer behaviour

With many people working odd hours from home and young students learning virtually, there is ongoing disruptions to many consumers’ behaviour, including an increase in engagement with streaming media, social media and video conferencing. The effect on leisure reading is unclear: so far it’s fairly flat, but genre trends will likely remain unpredictable and change quickly.

3. Frontlist competition

There is going to be hyper competition over the next three months. Many 2020 frontlists were delayed to Q3 and Q4, and with more readers online being presented with more titles in a ‘flat space’ of search and minimal merchandising, frontlist titles are in a more crowded environment than ever. And with the rise of backlist as a percentage of overall sales, frontlists are also competing with backlist titles too. Disruption in the supply chain and printing may cause more negative impacts, and monitoring availability at all times will be critical.

4. Fatigue, distraction and best-laid plans

 Your yearly marketing strategy may not have gone as planned. The patterns and ways you have interacted with others may have changed too. Tools that cut through the noise and make prioritisation easy will be important.

These four points may feel gloomy. But through slight changes and agility, these trends can lead to a positive impact on your book sales.


What defines every Q4 on the internet

Not everything is upside down in 2020, and some things will likely look the same as in ‘normal’ years.

As this Google Trends data shows, every year there are spikes in online searches for ‘books’ and associated keywords and phrases. (Yellow circles indicate holidays, orange the back to school season and red the pandemic baseline.) What you won’t see for 2020 is the usual trough after the back to school spike, as readers have continued to buy books through the year—so we may well see a higher peak this holiday season. Over the past 12 months, Amazon’s search volumes for ‘best books’ and related 275 terms has sustained a 21% increase. The May 2020 search volume matched a typical holiday season’s search volume.


The real challenge this autumn

Increased competition due to the increase of frontlist titles being pushed back + More readers buying online = Incredibly challenging discovery for consumers and publishers alike. Readers are going to have a hard time finding the best book for the topic they desire, and publishers will have a challenge to get books in front of the right readers. Authority, timeliness and relevance are going to be key, and data and technology can help you be agile and unlock creativity through your marketing.


Marketing Insights exists for this reason

This is a big data tool that is all about consumers finding your books online and providing you with the insights and suggestions you need to prioritise actions to remove the friction during your buyer’s discovery and purchase journeys.

We know these things to be true:

  1. People look for and buy things online.
  2. Most if not all assets owned by publishers are underperforming on the internet at all times.
  3. Any list can be optimised to improve discovery and conversion.
  4. We can monitor buying signals with technology.
  5. Taking action to reduce friction will produce real gains.

So, what does success look like through the use of Marketing Insights?

This graph from Marketing Insights shows a title’s bestseller rank. As consumers find and purchase it, it rises and falls throughout the ranking continuum until late July, and the rank rises rapidly as the publisher takes actions including improvements to metadata, price adjustments, ads on Amazon or social platforms and blog posts.

These onetime efforts prove to result in long lasting success, and they are equally valuable for frontlist and backlist titles as online search and social media algorithms take hold.

Success lies in incremental improvements across a list of titles—but they can happen in a lot of different ways, and it’s difficult to know which to make and when. These questions might help.

  • Am I advertising on the right platform?

  • Why isn’t my title performing better?

  • How do I know which title needs a keyword update?

  • How do I find which titles have errors and mistakes?

  • Why am I losing the Amazon Buy Box?

Marketing Insights gathers data from key online channels to analyse signals and help prioritise action on all titles across a list. The platform will identify opportunities based on consumer demand and activity to provide actionable recommendations for every title.

For more about Ingram Marketing Insights, click here.


Special webinar and offer for IPG members 
Ingram is hosting a ‘Masterclass on Audience-Centric Book Marketing: Strategies, Tactics and Tools to Reach the Right Consumers’ webinar at 2.30pm on Wednesday 4 November. It’s free for all IPG members and
you can register here. You can receive 50% off the first three months of Marketing Insights if you sign up for six months by 4 December, plus free digital set-up on new titles and Market Access Fee waived.