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6 ways book publishers can use audience intelligence to reach new readers

Every author knows that understanding your audience is the key to writing books that sell. The question is, how many publishers take this to heart when planning marketing campaigns? Disconnects in the publishing industry’s supply chain make it tough to get direct feedback from their readers, meaning campaigns are often based on outdated insights.

A recent report revealed that word-of-mouth recommendation drives $6 trillion in annual global spending and even better, word-of-mouth generates five times more sales than paid advertising. Luckily for publishers, book conversation is thriving online, with many readers taking to social media to share news and views about their favourite authors.

With the industry estimated to grow by almost 20 billion in the next three years, it’s all to play for. But for marketers, reaching new readers is an ever-present challenge. With more than one million books published in the US alone each year, audience intelligence could be the difference between hitting the bestseller chart and publishing into the void.

We’ve compiled 6 ways book publishers can use audience intelligence to reach new readers and create smarter marketing campaigns.

1. Build audiences based on comparative titles

A core part of any acquisition process for publishers is to understand what already exists on the market. Does this title fit within a genre? Are there similar books published recently that did well? Who are the competitor publishers or authors for this kind of book? Does the author have existing fans? With audience insights, marketers can take these questions one step further to identify potential audiences and segment accordingly.

This is particularly useful for debut authors, where a fanbase may not exist. Through accurate segmentation, marketers can quickly extract information such as, which booksellers or bloggers are following similar authors, which can support sell-in and provide promotional opportunities. Even better, marketers can gain a holistic understanding of their audiences based on real conversations such as where they buy books, the types of books they’ve recently enjoyed, and demographic information such as their age and location.

2. Understand when and where readers spend their time

You might know who your audience are, but where are they spending their time? Consumer insight for publishers tends to be stagnant, with little investment for everyday authors and titles. Audience analysis allows you to track and analyse real-time consumer insights at scale, ensuring each and every campaign is tailor-made to the intended reader. For example, Audiense can show you details such as the websites your readers commonly use, the social networks where they’re spending time, and even better, what time of day they’re most likely to be online.

The devil is in the detail and equipped with these kinds of insights, marketers can be much savvier with their budgets. Use this information to plan more efficient programmatic advertising or build more focused interest-based digital advertising audiences, perfectly targeting the websites your readers spend time on. Likewise, use information about the time they’re spending online to daypart your paid social accordingly and ensure your ads are being served when your audiences are most likely to see them.

3. Spotlight emerging talent and trends

Publishers are often described as merchants of culture. In this industry, it pays to spearhead the hot new trend, whether that’s teenage vampires, edge-of-your-seat thrillers or good ol’ historical fiction. Audience intelligence tools are designed to help you be a leader, not a follower, offering benefits for editors and publishers, as well as marketers.

Here are just a few ways different publishing professionals could use audience intelligence and social listening to spotlight emerging talent and trends online.

  • Identify interesting new authors - particularly for children’s and non-fictions - by highlighting influencers who have engaged, quality followings as well as larger reach with brands.
  • Analyse #publishing, #booktok or #bookstagram hashtags to spot emerging trends on key social networks and get a sense of what readers are really loving.
  • Harness social listening to track word-of-mouth around your own titles and your competitor’s titles, to understand how you’re performing in the market overall.

4. Enhance your digital advertising

Whether you’re working with $500 or $5,000, marketers are always looking for ways to make their budgets go further. Audience intelligence can enhance your digital advertising campaigns by extracting interests, brands, job titles, lifestyle choices and other cultural intelligence information that will allow you to develop more sophisticated targeting for your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram campaigns.

Even better, tools such as Audiense allow you to create bespoke targeting packs. These targeting packs allow you to build lookalike and interest-based audiences to help you efficiently target fans of comparative authors. For example, if you wanted to launch a debut thriller title, you can easily identify fans of Gillian Flynn, Lee Child, James Patterson and more in just a few clicks. Less time building audiences, more time to dedicate to optimizing your budget and crafting a killer one-liner.

5. Identify influential bloggers and brands

Think about the last person that recommended a book to you. Was it a friend? A colleague? Your mother? For readers, word-of-mouth recommendation is all about trust. After all, reading 400+ pages is a big commitment, you want to make sure you’re enjoying every page. Audience insights go beyond the vanity metrics and can help you select truly impactful partners, whether that’s a respected book blogger or multiple micro-influencers on BookTok with a small but mighty community.

With Audiense, you can identify mutual brands and accounts between your audience - i.e., are they all following that influential fantasy book blogger? - to help you understand how to have the biggest impact on your desired audience. It’s also possible to filter by macro and micro audiences, allowing you to select influencers quickly and easily, without spending hours trawling through social media accounts.

6. Plan more strategic out-of-home campaigns

One of the most cost-effective ways of using audience intelligence is to extract insights that will help you plan more strategic media buys. There are a few helpful ways you can do this. The first is to segment your audiences by the type of media they consume to help you plan which magazines or publications you should approach. For example, you might notice that the vast majority of your fans tune into Fox News, read Good Housekeeping and regularly listen to a particular radio station.

The second is the more classic route. Filter and segment your audiences based on real-time geographic location, to see the cities where people are most likely to engage with your campaign. For example, your instinct might tell you to focus your energy on New York since that’s where the majority of publishers and potentially, readers spend their time. Audience insights can help you put a stop to the speculation and make more strategic decisions. You might find when you run a report in Audiense, your author has a huge base of fans in Chicago. Easy as pie.

Key takeaways

Let’s recap the 6 ways book publishers can use audience intelligence to reach new readers!

  1. Build audiences based on comparative titles
  2. Understand when and where readers spend their time
  3. Spotlight emerging talent and trends
  4. Enhance your digital advertising
  5. Identify influential bloggers
  6. Plan more strategic out-of-home campaigns

P.S. If you liked this blog, we highly recommend reading our learnings from our interview with Jimena Diez, Product Manager at Penguin Random House Spain.

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