Rare Books Retailer Increases Leads and Customers Leveraging HubSpot

Established in 2002, Books Tell You Why is one of the leading sources for rare books in the Southeastern United States. With a focus on expanding their international customer base, they realized that in order to reach this audience they had to focus on establishing a streamlined marketing strategy that drew traffic to their website and helped educate their sophisticated buyers. Turning to HubSpot for marketing automation, content development, email marketing, and customer segmentation, as well as a CRM, Books Tell You Why has significantly improved their ability to attract visitors online and convert them into loyal supporters and customers.


increase in traffic


increase in leads


increase in new customers


Based in Charleston, South Carolina, Books Tell You Why is a seller of antiquarian books with a collection spanning more than five centuries. Collectors rely on their expertise and international service whether buying their first antiquarian book or enhancing an established library.

Addressing an Increasingly Sophisticated Buyer

Today, many predict the death of physical books with the ascendancy of eBook readers. Books Tell You Why began to observe that the market for 'books as content' was becoming more subdued and that many more people read for information on their electronic devices. Conversely, the appeal of books as 'collectible objects' has grown over the past decade.

The executive team at Books Tell You Why discovered that focusing on the “right” collectible items, such as first editions of Mark Twain or unique fine press, meant that they had to become increasingly sophisticated and strategic in attracting the right type of traffic to their website.

While a student looking to download "The Old Man and the Sea" could become a prospect for a first hardcover in an unblemished dust jacket, chances are that he or she prefers an immediately available eBook. It has become commonplace that people searching for books online also prefer an online version of said book.

Many traditional antiquarian booksellers struggle in this environment. They often have a limited web presence that is based on the premise of “build it and they will come” or “a great product sells itself.” The early observations of Books Tell You Why challenged this attitude.

Many books sellers fell into the initial trap of compensating for a small internet footprint with the convenient solution of pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements. About four years ago, the monthly PPC expenses of Books Tell You Why began to show negative returns on their investment. In addition to being rather expensive, PPC did not generate sustainable online traffic.

In an effort to differentiate, they launched email campaigns, yet had limited ability to verify who was interested in what segment of their book offerings due to limited website analytics and data. To compound this issue, they lacked the tools to follow-up with thousands of prospective customers and customize their messages to what prospects and customers desired.

They quickly realized that this approach was both ineffective and expensive.

"The wonderful thing about HubSpot is its functionality. Its components are well-integrated, efficient, and capable of satisfying our customers’ high expectations."

Andrea Koczela

VP of Marketing

Books Tell You Why

Establishing a Mission and Key Objectives with HubSpot

Books Tell You Why started their deployment of HubSpot in February of 2013. They implemented a disciplined inbound marketing approach. They started this mission by laying out the following objectives:

  • Significantly reduce dependency on PPC as a traffic generator

  • To increase customer loyalty

  • To learn from customers and provide them with targeted offerings

  • To significantly grow customer base and associated revenues

The ambitious marketing team worked day and night to become fluent with the inbound marketing basics and HubSpot methodology. Shortly after starting with HubSpot, they converted to the COS that summer, implemented Sidekick and subsequently HubSpot's new CRM in 2014. 


"What sets HubSpot apart is its unparalleled dedication to a customer's success. When partnering with HubSpot, not only do you get a proven, best-in-class solution, you get the insurance to have your team perform at a whole new level of excellence."

Joachim Koch


Books Tell You Why

Recipe for Success

Since launching with HubSpot in 2014, the marketing team at Books Tell You Why have added more than ten resources to their marketing toolbelt in order to reach their strategic goals.

Some of the key tools in HubSpot's all-in-one platform they use include:

  • Blog - Initially they began with weekly blogging but very quickly transitioned to daily blog posts using HubSpot's Blogging app. "The blog is our most important driver for winning new visitors to our site. Furthermore, it evolved into a great educational resource for new and established collectors. We include calls-to-action (CTAs) in nearly every post to showcase key areas of our inventory or offer one of our many free downloads. HubSpot reports and our own analytics help us understand which blog posts are our most popular reads and perform well in the eyes of potential buyers. In addition, the baked-in SEO features are a great aid to assist our bloggers in the positioning of relevant terms and topics."

  • Landing pages and forms - "HubSpot Landing Pages and forms are crucial for converting visitors into leads; they offer visitors a way to learn more through our wide range of free content. We have a variety of complimentary downloads, from book catalogs to guides on collecting children’s books, identifying first editions, or restoring rare books. We also use landing pages for job inquiries and scholarship applications. This allows us to streamline the candidate process and associated documentation."

  • Social media - "We maintain a vibrant social media presence across many platforms. We are big Google Plus fans and receive the most involvement from our friends in the G+ world. HubSpot's Social Media app makes it easy to engage with all platforms in an integrated fashion."

  • Email, lists, and workflows - "As an eCommerce operation, email nurturing and targeted messaging are key ways for us to win repeat business. Knowing that “Joe” collects James Bond literature will allow us to send messages tailored to his interests instead of horror book newsletters, for example. Not only does this approach increase our open rate and click-through rate, it also builds goodwill with our contacts. They can trust us to send relevant emails and not clutter their inbox."

HubSpot’s all-in-one suite of tools allows Books Tell You Why to learn from their customers, apply the inbound knowledge, understand the digital behavior on their site, and integrate it with past purchases or preferences of their buyers.

"We considered many providers before selecting HubSpot. Yet HubSpot’s seamless product integration, smooth ramp up process, and second-to-none support team continue to prove that we chose the best possible marketing platform available in today’s market.

After our own success with HubSpot, other companies have asked us to share our content marketing expertise and assist them in generating sustainable growth. We consider this to be the highest of compliments," says Andrea. 

Impact and Results

Through HubSpot, Books Tell You Why has exceeded their initial business objectives to a remarkable degree. Not only was 2014 their best fiscal year ever, 2015 is currently exceeding it by more than 25%.

With a vastly reduced cost for PPC, their overall marketing cost has grown just marginally (i.e., they've significantly increased the ROI of marketing dollars spent).  Their annual growth numbers (YTD 2015 compared to YTD 2014) are compelling.

Additionally, their revenue from repeat customers has increased to more than 40% across all segments. "We’ve never been stronger in our high value segment; business with existing customers through our online retail operations shows an even stronger growth. For us, this is a key metric of customer loyalty," says Joachim.

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