The thought of developing an entire book as part of your marketing strategy might seem daunting. Rest assured, though, e-books are totally doable and definitely worth the effort. Read on to learn how to make them a staple of your content marketing.
What is an E-Book?
E-book is short for electronic book. You’ve likely heard the term in reference to both electronic versions of physical books (the sort you read on a Kindle, for example) and publications from businesses. It’s the latter we’ll be discussing here.
A true e-book is, like a physical book, designed to be easily read. It can be formatted in either a vertical or horizontal orientation, though horizontal is best for reading on a screen. If you expect most readers to print your e-book, consider a vertical format, which fits better with other papers and in folders.
Typically a PDF file, an e-book can contain common, interactive features like links, the option to jump to certain sections from the table of contents and even video. While you might find an array of interactive online documents, a real e-book will also be scalable to a desktop, phone or other device (unlike many PDFs and other official documents).
E-Books as Effective Marketing Content
An e-book that’s part of a marketing strategy should be a relatively high-level overview of a topic the company specializes in. It could also focus on trending topics relevant to the brand.
Where Do E-Books Enter the Marketing Funnel?
The marketing funnel is a simple image that illustrates the process and scale of turning visitors into leads and leads into conversions. The top of the funnel is where people first meet your brand, and as they move farther down their numbers decrease until a small segment becomes actual customers whom you try to retain.
Depending on where visitors are in the marketing funnel, brands should use different types of content to speak to them where they are. For example, while social media posts and videos work for initial attraction, those considering whether to buy will want more specific and thorough resources to explore.
The Marketing Eye provides a helpful image to describe how content matches up with the marketing funnel:
Based on this, you might choose to target e-books to the middle of the funnel (MOFU) where potential customers seek useful, educational resources and downloads. According to Moz, this is the consideration phase where customers start associating you with the solutions you offer. E-books are a great place to present evidence and build trust in the MOFU stage without being salesy.
Of course, depending on your e-book topic ideas and the project’s eventual focus, it could be better suited to the top (TOFU) or the bottom (BOFU).
E-Books and Inbound Marketing
E-books are part of what’s called inbound marketing – attracting new customers and building relationships with existing ones through valuable, useful content (as opposed to appealing to the masses with interruptive ads). Since e-books are often downloadable once the visitor provides an email address, they’re a great way for companies to gather the contact information that turns visitors into leads.
Early this year Carrie explored the Content Marketing Institute’s report on B2C content marketing, and e-books got a mention as one of the top content types used by B2C marketers (35 percent report using it).
Perhaps not surprisingly, e-books get more attention within B2B strategies – 71 percent of B2B marketers report using them for content marketing purposes.
Further, the majority of B2B marketers find e-books effective for achieving specific objectives. More than 60 percent think they’re even more effective than case studies or non-video social media posts.
Including e-books in your inbound marketing strategy comes with plenty of benefits, even before you get started with the actual marketing. As a marketing material, an e-book is:
- Easily stored – these aren’t massive digital files.
- Quickly shared with interested parties.
- Environmentally friendly.
- Easily updated if need be.
You can market your e-book in a range of ways. From featuring it on your site’s homepage to sharing it in email campaigns to highlighting it in social media posts, you have a number of channels for sharing the link and download instructions.
Another idea has to do with something we explored recently: repurposing content. Your e-book contains easily-digested pieces of content that could be expanded into blog posts, and chapters that could become a series of posts. However you repurpose pieces of the e-book, make sure you include a prompt to download it.
Getting Started with E-Book Creation
Once you’ve decided to make an e-book part of your inbound marketing content strategy, it’s time to dive right in to the creation process. To help, we’ll share our own process for creating original, customized e-books.
Identify your e-book topic. As I mentioned earlier, e-books should be high-level overviews of something you specialize in or a topic that’s currently trending in your industry. Analyze your target audience/personas and marketing goals, then zero in on what information needs addressing right now for Persona A, for example, at the most appropriate place in the marketing funnel.
Decide how you’re going to write the e-book. Do you have the resources in-house or do you need to outsource the work? Remember, too, that an e-book with images is more appealing than one without, so enlisting the talents of an in-house or contracted graphic designer is a must.
Choose an e-book layout. Time to decide if you’ll use a template or create your own layout. Templates are available online, though a custom design gives you full control over every aspect of the project and keeps it fully original.
Like a physical book, an e-book needs a cover page, table of contents and clearly marked sections. As a piece of marketing content, it needs an introduction, body, takeaway and call to action.
When your e-book is complete, share it somewhere in your web content, making it easily downloadable with a simple email share. With plenty of visuals and easy-to-digest chunks of information, marketing e-books offer solutions for readers (often potential customers) who face challenges the company can address. (Plus, you can repurpose the content on your blog, for example).
Learn more about making e-books part of your content strategy by downloading ours! Simply sign up for our email list and get instant access to your entire content strategy blueprint.
Have you tried creating e-books for your brand? What did you love (or hate) about the process? Tell me about it in the comments!