We’ve told you about sites devoted to tracking Amazon.com sales ranks before, but here’s a new one: Ranktracer.com. Tracking only books that have been added by users, the service offers several appealing features, including slick flash graphics, estimates of Amazon’s highly guarded sales numbers, and tracking of ranks on international Amazon sites.
Ranktracer also offers promotions on its own site and Amazon’s, which you may or may not find useful. Size it up with the other Amazon tracking sites and let us know which one you find most functional. (Ranktracer does charge a small fee, which is, hint, waiveable if you have a blog.)
Ranktracer tells visitors all about Amazon sales ranks and what can be done with them on the front page of its site, and—while much of the information is eerily familiar—it brings up a good point: The rank, although visible to any Joe Schmoe lurking the web, can be a powerful market research tool. The ranks of your niche competitors are available at any time to help feel out what’s happening in your genre. It’s a good idea to request that a rank-tracking site add competitors to its database early; none of the sites can retrieve data from before tracking on that item was initiated.
Also, if you don’t have access to BookScan, but want an idea of whether that promotion did anything at all, check for drops in your rank after marketing or publicity activity. Not incredibly accurate, but it might help you gauge what works and what doesn’t.
Alternatively, you could distribute defamatory pamphlets about a close competitor and check their graph for spikes. Either way, comprehensive sales rank data can be very helpful.