Are your lead generation strategies growing stale? Could your brand use a credibility boost? Enter the e-book: the tool that dually educates your target audience while building your brand.
You’re probably thinking, “Me? Write the next great American novel? No way!” Well, e-books are also used by marketers and business owners as better versions of whitepapers. Whitepapers are typically focused on a highly researched topic and are data-rich. Following a scholarly approach, whitepapers are presented in a formal, textual way but in short form – usually between 5-10 pages.
E-books for marketing can be much longer – typically about 12-50 pages, yet with the option of page ranges in the hundreds – but are more “readable” by target audience standards. E-books feature visual graphics that break up text and segment topics to assist readers in speeding comprehension. They are more general in nature than whitepapers and allow for an exploratory voice. Viral marketing guru David Meerman Scott refers to them as the “stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper.”
Your goal for an e-book should be to benefit your readers by offering educational content. Select something that will help your target audience, not just market your business. No one topic will appeal to everyone, so brainstorm different aspects of your expertise that can lend themselves to instruction. You may come up with a long list of ideas that can eventually become viable e-books, which will silo your content, making it more easily marketable to your business’ various target audiences.
Write the way you would actually speak about the topic. This conversational tone will create a natural flow throughout the text that will keep readers engaged. It will reflect your own personality and assist with building your brand identity. E-books also stand out because of their design. Utilizing white space, a landscape (vs. portrait) layout, and eye-catching, colorful infographics are common ways to attract readers. This strong visual appeal assists readers with fact-retention and makes the overall experience enjoyable.
Interactivity is another way to further engage your target audience. eConsultancy contributor, Tom Whatley, suggests designing e-books as interactive guides and recommends Guides.co as a user-friendly solution. This platform allows for the embedding of videos and other media-rich formats, as well as the integration of landing pages, which will pull readers into an action-oriented experience. This leads to more reader participation and a higher likelihood of lead conversion to customer.
Once your e-book is finished, you need to distribute it to the right audience. Choose your most interested audience – the one that includes your most probable customers. Immediately post it to your website’s homepage and any related sites, including partners willing to post it to theirs. Create a landing page within your website for the e-book (make sure to include an email submission form for readers to gain access so you can contact them with additional information later) and drive traffic to it from all related promotions. This includes Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook posts, online ads via Google and LinkedIn, press releases and blog posts. Forward it to existing customers and prospects in e-zines and newsletters, include a link to it in your email signature (and those of your employees), and give it to prospective customers at meetings, conferences, and trade-shows.
If the idea of designing and promoting your own e-book gives you a headache, hire a graphic designer and/or a marketing firm to take care of those aspects for you. You can simply serve as author – or do so in name only and have a ghostwriter collaborate with you and do the heavy lifting. Publishing your e-book is as simple as sitting down with your laptop or getting a little help from some friends.
Either way you do it, you’ll be glad you did. You will establish yourself as an expert in your industry, increase your company’s name recognition and deepen your brand impact – leading to increased sales. You’ve got nothing to lose, so get started today!