Iterate iterate iterate | The Bookseller’s Marketing and Publicity conference heard from Rebecca Gray, Senior Publicity Manager at W&N Fiction, and Julia Pidduck, Senior Digital Manager at W&N, on their experience with the Belgravia App. Belgravia is Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes’ bite-sized story delivered in instalments via app, merging the age-old art of storytelling with cutting edge technology. It features 11 weekly episodes, with text, audio reading and bonus features. It’s £1.49 per individual part, or £9.99 for a subscription to the full series.
First they had to consider: who is the audience? There was no comparative title. Fans of Downton Abbey, Julian and his fiction were first, but they used the data from their announcement to refine this further. Over 50% of those who signed up were over 55, and most were female – it aligned with the key demographics for historical fiction; they’re not necessarily familiar with apps but might buy the hardback on its release, so they decided to focus purely on the app in the marketing and drop all mentions of the hardback. There were 10,000 downloads.
Online, you don’t have shop windows, so you have to build your own audience. They had 16,000 people on email, and 15,000 on Facebook. Find ways to engage people: a Twitter book club for new episodes week on week – these cause no above the line spend.
What they had to do was build the world of Belgravia online, and take people on a journey. By having content that people would like and share, they soon doubled their email list and reached nearly 23,000 fans on Facebook.
They had to change their media pitch to win over skeptical journalists; some just got it, others needed the app taken to them, to use a phone, interact with it. When your approach doesn’t work, change it until it does. You can’t expect journalists to meet you half way – go to them and work with them, especially if it’s a new media.
It’s a two way conversation: when you engage with people, they will engage with you.