Landing pages vs. direct linkage
Yesterday saw the launch of the 2nd Annual Indie Author Labor Day Sale. (If you’re here for great authors and great books, just skip me and scroll down to yesterday’s post! I won’t mind!)
For the authors, when advertising your books, one of the major decisions is whether to drive traffic through a portal or direct to book. The advantage of driving traffic to a landing page is that you can show off more work, or more of the work than, say, an Amazon.com page. Also, you’re more likely to reach out to readers who use google or kobo, or amazon.de, .co.uk, or .au by providing outlinks to those sites instead of assuming that everyone will purchase off Amazon.com. You also have a chance to connect with the reader as a person, not just another book, and draw them into coming back to your blog, entering into a drawing, signing up for a mailing list, etc.On the gripping hand, you also get all the data on how many people came through, and how many went on to the retailer of choice. Combined with an associate account code embedded in the link, you can then see how many bought the story. This is awesome, because it lets you know if you’ve got the right blurb, right cover, and right audience lined up (high click-through and sales) or if there’s a something that needs changing (high clickthrough, low sales, or high click to landing page, very low clickthough.)
The biggest and worst disadvantage is a significant traffic loss due to requiring another outclick. Every single time the customer has to make another click, the percentage of those who do takes a hit. This is why Amazon worked so hard on the one-click-buy button, and other web companies quickly tried to follow. Also, most authors are good at writing, not at producing slick professional websites. The average shopper at a grocery store may not be able to tell you exactly where and when meat gets dodgy, but they’re very well-tuned at saying “That doesn’t look right. That one looks better.” (No, I’m not good at websites, either. A woman’s got to know her limitations, and web design is definitely not my forte.)
On the gripping hand, when traffic hits a landing page, they’re usually not very invested. They saw a cool piece of artwork on a Facebook ad, or a MGC Club sale announcement, and went “Interesting. Click.” If you distract them from the cool artwork and the promised story by demanding engagement they don’t yet feel because they don’t know whether or not they like you yet… they’ll close the tab or click the back button on the trackball, and not come back. This is not the place, really, for newsletter signups or data-dumps on worldbuilding, or a blog that mainly talks about how the garden is doing. This is where you want to make it as painless as possible for the customer to get what they wanted (a cool story), as fast as possible.
When you look at the Labor Day Sale below, note that the person curating the list split the difference: They provided links directly to the books, but also links to the Amazon Author Page, which is set up by Amazon to best display all your wares for interested browsers. (I may not think it’s the best setup out there, and that it doesn’t favor remembering authors the way a personal social media connection does. I note though, it keeps changing, subtly, every few months, and improving.) So if you are interested in a cover, or a premise, you can click directly over and buy, or you can go “Oh, yes, I read that and it was good. What else do they have out?” and check out the rest of their stuff, with links to their social media (if any.)
While the sale page itself does count as a landing page for anyone coming from social media, it’s designed to do nothing but get the reader to the stories as fast as possible. There’s no extra clutter of pull quotes, reviews, puff pieces, or fancy framing, and that’s frankly as it should be. (The time for mini-reviews is when the curated list is explicitly based on the reputation of the person curating it. If Neil Gaiman were to put together a list of 10 books he liked, people would go check them out because Neil liked them, and they like Neil. If he put together a list and said “I liked this one because it was the inspiration for…” or “This was perfect for reading to my daughter when…”, people would also buy them because then they’d have something to talk about “I’m reading this book that Neil Gaiman says…”, or because he provided an endorsement that it’d work “Worked like a charm to put somebody to bed”. This doesn’t work with John Doe.)
To sum up: landing page or no? Depends on if you think the traffic loss due to the extra click is worth the data gain, or if you’re sure you’ve got enough value added (or non-Amazon.com users) that you won’t lose many readers.