The Tower Press Books Website
We needed an easy way to sell books directly to readers. Our website now records sales automatically in Quickbooks. All we need to do is print the shipping label and send the book.Tower Press Books Sales Team
What The Client Needed
Tower Press Books is a publishing company that needed a simple but optimized website to market and sell their books. Although generating sales was important to them, what they were most concerned about was how they were going to handle the data generated through the sales pipeline. They knew that it would be difficult to review and organize the data by hand, and they wondered if there was a way to automate the process.
After talking the problem over with them, we came up with the following objectives:
- A responsive, SEO optimized website with a unique design for each book.
- A Funnel marketing strategy
- Allow readers to purchase books
- Sell or give away eBooks, and to track access.
- Automate as much of the sales process as possible
How We Solved Their Problem
The Website & Analytics
The first and simplest of the objectives to solve was designing a pubic facing website. We built a responsive, mobile-first website that looks great on computers, tablets, & phones. Using an advanced templating system, each author and each product can have their own uniquely branded page. This is important because the target audience for each book varies wildly, and a design that successfully generates sales for one book, would fail to convert on another.
While the design of the website might lead someone to believe that the functionality of the website is simple, the guts of the website, the backend, is actually quite powerful. The ultimate aim of the Tower Press Books website is to collect data and to provide a marketing platform that generates sales, not just directly through the website, but through various book sellers, such Amazon & Barnes and Noble, and other 3rd party affiliates.
To that end, significant effort was made to collect analytics, track visitor habits, and to create reports from the data. Each time a visitor accesses the website, all their publicly facing information, such as their IP address, web browser, referring website, and more, is tracked, sorted, & saved. By collating this information, Tower Press Books is able to make informed, data-driven decisions about how their marketing strategy, such as whom to target, and which advertisements are the most effective. In the future, Tower Press Books will that information, and their advert tracking system advertise their books with 3rd party websites.
Infographics & Funnel Marketing
Tower Press Books needed a way to determine which call to actions, and which marketing strategies were the most effective. And they needed to devise a plan to target visitors more effectively so that they could increase book sales. Using the analytics gathered from from visitors we generate the following:
- Heatmaps: we generate heatmaps so our clients can visualize which parts of the page visitors interact with the most.
- Recordings: we sample and record visitors actions and mouseclicks so that we can see how the page is actually used by our customers, and where the client loses out on sales.
- Funnels: we track visitors as they progress from page to page so we can determine which user-flows are effective, and which aren’t.
The Sales Solution
A simple checkout system is essential to Tower Press Book’s conversion strategy. We realized that if a checkout is too complicated, or if a visitor was forced to fill out too much information, the visitor could change their mind and the client would lose out on a sale. We also realized that multiple books weren’t often purchased together. Therefore, instead of implementing a full cart system, we used a streamlined checkout powered by Stripe. Books are able to be purchased immediately and without leaving the page. And, after each transaction, the buyer info is synced with an email marketing list for future funnel marketing, and the sales data is sent automatically to the accounting software.
eBooks and Link Tracking
Tower Press Books needed a way to sell and to distribute eBooks. A link system needed to be built that assign a unique URL for each eBook purchase, and tracked how many downloads originated from each URL, to prevent abuse.
Automating the Process
Tower Press Books was worried about how much time they would need to allocate to handling direct sales through their website. They knew that eCommerce platforms could be burdensome, and they were afraid that the time and effort needed to maintain a direct sales program through their website would not be cost-effective. After going over their concerns, we realized that most them hinged on labor costs. So we knew that if we could automate the processes, we could cut labor costs, and therefore make selling direct to customers profitable.
Send Stripe Data to Quickbooks Using Zapier
Data entering is a time-consuming task. We saved Tower Press Books hours of labor by connecting Stripe directly to Quickbooks, their accounting software. Now, instead of recording each sale manually, sales data between Stripe and Quickbooks is automatically synced. Stripe deposits the money directly into the bank, and Quickbooks automatically matches the transaction.
Add Buyers to the Marketing Lists
Funnel marketing is an important aspect of Tower Press Books sales strategy. A customer who buys a book is more likely to purchase another book by the same author, or on the same topic, in the future. Whenever a purchase is made, information about the sale is recorded, so that Tower Press Books can market to them in the future based on their location, purchase history, and general engagement.
Buy Postage with EasyPost
Collecting money is only part of the online sales process. After a customer has made a purchase, Tower Press Books still needs to package and ship them the book. Filling out envelopes, going to the post-office—these are inefficient, labor-intensive tasks which can, and should, be automated. Whenever a sale is made, we purchase and generate the shipping label programmatically. Tower Press Books simply prints the label, puts the book in the envelope, and lets the post office pick up the mail.
In addition to shipping labels, tracking numbers are automatically generated and sent to customers, so that they can track their package.
The Technology Roundup
Tower Press Books is hosted on Heroku, a cloud PaaS. Heroku is highly scalable to handle increases in traffic, and is quickly deployable so improvements and bug-fixes go live quickly. Maintenaince and updates are also conveniently applied.
Tower Press Books was built using Python. Python’s expressive language saves time while developing, while it’s clear and straightforward syntax keeps the code repository clean and easily maintainable.
Tower Press Books is built upon the Flask Micro Framework. Flask makes it easy to add the fully customized functionality, allowing one to add only what one needs and to omit what one doesn’t need.
Tower Press Books uses New Relic to monitor the website’s performance, allowing us to analyze how long each part of the loading process takes. This allows us to make adjustments to ensure that the website performs optimally.
Tower Press Books uses MongoDB to store its files because of its flexibility. When dealing with unpredictable document content, a NoSQL like MongoDB is the best option.
Tower Press Books uses Amazon S3, a scalable, secure way to host static files. This service, provided by Amazon, is highly reliable and backed by a 99.9999% SLA.