Bowls Central Case Study
Bowls Central is a specialised site providing information, advice and educational resources for lawn bowling clubs to help them to provide the best bowling surfaces for their members and to manage their clubs profitably.
For this project we have designed, built and maintain a modern site that delivers 3 main components to the readers:
- The blog which provides in depth articles on greenkeeping and club management and is updated by the owner, John, up to 3 times a week. At the time of writing this, there are over 240 articles on the site, which has been a big driver of traffic to the site from organic search. We can’t recommend highly enough the power of a generous and helpful blogging strategy.
- The shop which sells John’s self penned eBooks that help readers to take their learning to a deeper level. These books are very popular and illustrate a key point in maximising the value of your own expertise. While many self produced eBooks languish on Amazon with pitiful sales, even at £0.99, John’s best selling Performance Bowling Greens eBook has remained popular at a price point of £12.97. The book is exclusively available on Bowls Central. Sometimes there’s a case for exclusivity.
- The membership package provided by Bowls Central ensures that readers sign up to John’s email list in order to get access to the full text of the articles. Of course, once you are on that list, John looks after you with special member only information, free eBooks and unlimited free help, proving that dedication to your cause also goes a long way.
John’s blog forms the back bone of the content on the bowls central site. Although John’s expertise in this industry is much wider than just lawn bowls, he has deliberately confined this site to the subject of performance bowling greens. This is a great example of how you can gain great advantage by focussing on a laser sharp niche within a niche.
We’ve designed and built a modern, responsive site that loads fast and looks great on any screen size, automatically sensing and adjusting to the size of the screen the reader is viewing on whether that’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smart phone.
Content Management is easily handled by WordPress making it easy for John to concentrate on writing and helping his readers achieve a performance bowling green.
Membership sites are powerful tools in the right hands and this has certainly been true of Bowls Central.
After experimenting with various models, John has settled on a system that allows him a great deal of flexibility in how he deals with members of his site.
Firstly, John protects the content of some of his more in depth blog articles making sure that people with a real interest in his work sign up to become members of the site. A portion of each article is visible to everyone, but reading the full article requires the reader to be logged in. This is achieved with a polite link at the end of the freely viewable text which opens a pop up log in box, so that readers don’t have to leave the current article to log in.
This level of membership is free on Bowls Central, but John has plans to introduce a paid Gold membership level that will provide members with a wealth special content and offers on current products.
We have recently added a quirky HELP! link in the top bar of the site at John’s request, which leads members to a form where they can ask any questions and upload photos to let John see the problem they are facing.
Email or Permission Marketing is a key part of the Bowls Central marketing strategy and we have set up and designed this functionality using Mailchimp.
Members of the Bowls Central list receive an automatically generated Digest of new blog articles every week through this service.
In addition to this John uses the Mailchimp service to keep his readers up to date with new projects and frequently sends out free member only content.
Permission marketing should be a key component of every business’s growth strategy and Mailchimp helps to deliver this for Bowls Central:
- Each campaign can be set up easily and quickly
- Mailchimp provides full reporting on every campaign so you can see what works and what doesn’t
- Your list can be segmented to further maximise the value you provide to readers based on their interests.
Social Media plays a big role in driving new traffic to the site.
We’ve set up and designed John’s profile on Twitter and built a Facebook page for Bowls Central.
Both of these social channels are fully integrated with the bowls central website so that Twitter and Facebook followers are instantly alerted to new content on Bowls Central.
The Bowls Central Facebook page features a sign up facility to allow readers to join John’s email list.
We’ve also set up and configured a Buffer account which allows John to pre-schedule tweets to his @bowlsgreens Twitter account, which saves time and provides a powerful analytical tool to help gauge the success of individual Twitter campaigns.
Bowls Central makes direct income from the sale of eBooks and services to bowlers and bowls clubs.
We designed and built a fully functioning store within the site that handles the sales of John’s eBooks and guides fully automatically, so that it becomes a truly hands off experience for John, leaving him to concentrate on writing new content, develop new products and serve his existing readers.
When a customer buys an eBook from the site they are routed to Paypal where they can pay by credit card or with their own paypal account. The in-site store then handles the delivery of the eBook via an encrypted link in an email, making sure that the actual file location is never revealed to the reader.
The store and membership functions of the site are fully integrated so that John can sell recurring payment memberships at any time without having the worry of remembering to bill members.
It’s never been easier to build yourself some “thin air assets”, literally selling your ideas for hard, dirty cash with virtually no cost or barriers to entry.
Of course with this new freedom in publishing has come a megastorm of white noise; millions of new titles appearing every year that haven’t gone through even the most rudimentary level of editing, formatting or design…and a lot of these are simply bad.
OK, it can be cheap or even free to get published, but publishing’s only the start; before your book can be sold, it needs to be found.
John’s eBooks are popular and demand a great price compared to most titles. This is down to good writing on a specific topic (that happens to be a very strong but small niche), good editing, formatting and simple, no nonsense design.