Gather Email Signups Through Web Visits

When potential customers visit your website for information, there are digital tools available to convert the user from one who seeks information to one who receives it.

If you have a WordPress site, be sure to check out OptinMonster or FooBar. Since most of your sites are not WordPress, here are a couple of digital tools to explore.

Hello Bar

Hello Bar is an optimization tool that allows you to show the right message at the right time to your website visitors. Whether you want to encourage sign-up for your newsletter or simply direct visitors to other pages on your site, Hello Bar will walk you through the process of crafting the right message. You can choose the text of the message as well as the verbiage for the call to action.

Hello Bar sends subscriber data to your email lists in Aweber, Campaign Monitor and MailChimp. It offers A/B testing so you can discover the messages that work best for your website visitors. (Test “subscribe” vs. “send it to me!”) And it’s free.

After you’ve created the right message, Hello Bar will give you the WordPress plug-in or HTML code to paste onto your site.

SumoMe List Builder

SumoMe offers a lightbox popover that can be customized to popup after a user has been on your site for a certain amount of time. They also have an exit intent option, so the email signup request doesn’t occur until they’ve completed their search on the site and are leaving.

SumoMe offers newsletter integration with MailChimp, Aweber, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor. And you can get your code as a WordPress plug-in or with HTML code.

No matter what tool you use, be sure to keep these things in mind:

Look to your analytics when customizing the sign-up bars. This way you can address the greatest need. For instance: Are the pages most frequently visited event listings?

“With our weekly Books & Such newsletter, we’ll deliver event details straight to your inbox.”

Not only does this message address the greatest need for information, by adding “weekly” it also indicates the time commitment involved.

Dated content? It’s still content.

what-to-expect-the-toddler-yearsI often stumble upon potential content worth sharing on social media, but then I look at the publication date and think, “Too bad this was published 7 days ago halfway around the world.” Inevitably, about 3 weeks later, I’ll kick myself when I see the same content on an NPR blog.

I saw this on social media yesterday. Chances are you’ve seen it before. Probably a long time ago. But it’s perfect content for booksellers, and maybe your followers haven’t seen it yet.

Dated content is still content. Especially if it makes you smile.


Review: “Of Metal and Wishes”

Sarah Fine’s Of Metal and Wishes lay like an unclaimed promise on my kitchen table, but I was too swamped with work to read for fun. Then late one night, I peeked into the promise and was sucked in. A few pages later, my annoying inner adult made me go to bed, but before I did, I skipped to the end. (I know! SO wrong!)

And I was confused — but intrigued.

Two days passed. When I finally sat down to read, I didn’t stand up again until I finished.

Sixteen-year-old Wen, grief-stricken after the death of her mother and the loss of their home, and her doctor father have moved to the grounds of a slaughterhouse, one of three heinous factories ruled by contemptible bosses, where people sell their souls to the company store. Now instead of embroidering delicate gardens on silk, Wen must sew straight and true, and together she and her father repair the sick and the mangled.

When a silly boy, one of the Noor brought in as cheap labor, humiliates her in the cafeteria, she wishes for the ghost of the slaughterhouse to punish him. She gets her wish. Guilt-stricken, she befriends Melik, the leader of the Noor, and is in turn befriended by the Ghost, setting off a chain reaction of love and hate that leaves her questioning everything she thought was true and bringing them all to an apocalyptic climax.

A loose teen retelling of The Phantom of the Opera, the characters deal not only with family and first love, but also with violence, sexual predation, human trafficking, and interracial tensions against a visceral and clearly drawn background. I wish teens today were blissfully unaware of this dark side of life, but even in this Midwestern city where I write, human trafficking is well-established, and I’m sure Fine in her day job of child psychologist has seen more than plenty of darkness.

Wen and the others Of Metal and Wishes are victors, however, not just survivors. Wen is a role model, making strong choices from a loving heart, and Fine’s lyrical writing shines against a horrid, smelly background.

The story ends somewhat ambiguously, which I rather liked, but I’ve read that Of Metal and Wishes is a duology, so I’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing this strong heroine again.

Build Your Email List, Part 2

This week we’re focusing on ways to increase and improve your email lists. Tomorrow we’ll be presenting some digital tools that are available, but today I want to focus on opportunities in the bookstore.

I’m a fan a providing a sign-up opportunity at the checkout counter. I like individual sign-up sheets that are bound in pad.

The form should include a space for the name, address, city/state/zip code, phone number, and email. If you offer more than one newsletter, provide a list of the different newsletters with check boxes so the customer can sign up to receive only what they want. You could also provide a space for them to share their interests, like favorite genre or author.

SPAM has sullied email’s reputation a bit, so ensure customers that they can unsubscribe easily and you will not sell or share their address with anyone. This is one reason to remove the sign-up sheet on the clipboard with line after line of names and email addresses. If it’s on the counter for all to see, their information is not being protected. (Especially when an image of the sheet can be easily captured on a smart phone.)

When offering customers the opportunity to sign up for email newsletters, try not to pressure them. Instead, focus on what’s in it for them. Event information, so they’ll not be disappointed after the fact again. Information about new books for middle readers, so they can be better prepared in the classroom. Sale information, performance information, exhibit information. The key word is information.

300 Seconds: Visit Regional Sites

When I wrote about the regional trade shows, I mentioned that the American Booksellers Association provides links to each of the 9 regional trade organizations on their website.

I visited each of the sites to gather information for the trade shows. If you haven’t visited, you really should spend 300 seconds looking around. These organizations have so much to offer through their websites.

So for these 5 minutes, 1) go to, 2) scroll to the bottom and look on the right, 3) click on the appropriate link.