Do you need an ebook?
ebooks can be a great addition to your content marketing toolkit, for many reasons. They can give gravitas to a complex subject, add depth to your content range, create greater perceived value for your content marketing – and provide a welcome change in markets saturated with white papers.
The benefits of ebooks as a content marketing and lead generation tactic include:
- Perception of value: The idea of a book has more clout in people’s minds than an article, white paper or blog. So an ebook is especially useful if you are looking to capture lots more data than a simple email address – the user has to perceive that there’s a fair exchange of value taking place. If you want a screen’s worth of data from me, I want to feel I’m getting some serious content in return.
- Variety: Too often, content marketing activity centres on blog posts, email newsletters, tweets and the occasional infographic. In some b2b markets, the white paper has become so prevalent that the mere mention of the name can switch people off. So an ebook gives you something fresh to add to the mix.
- Thought leadership and brand building: Subjects that are complex or in-depth require content treatments that are fit for purpose. A brief article that promises to tell you ‘Everything you need to know about buying your first home’ or ‘How to start investing’ is likely to seem lightweight and lack credibility; an ebook, on the other hand, suggests a more substantial and rigorous treatment – and positions you as an expert with lots to say on the subject.
- Curate and vary the content elements. ebooks don’t have to be hugely labour-intensive to produce. You could create one that brings together a round-up of content you’ve produced in other channels eg a series of blog posts.
- Visual content: Despite the name, ebooks don’t have to be nothing but dense text. With strong design, funky graphics and infographic elements, they can be very visually appealing too. Given that half of our brain is dedicated to visual function, why wouldn't you use these tools to increase engagement?
- Tailor your ebook content to different audiences. Based on the data you gather, you can produce several versions of an ebook and tailor the content and promotional messaging of each version to different clients, based on the data you hold.
- Qualify higher-value leads. Leads generated from ebook reads tend to be of higher value to a business. The reader has invested a good chunk of time to consume the content and so is likely to come to you with a higher level of engagement and knowledge.
How to get your ebooks right: top tips
- Develop a clear purpose for your ebook, with supporting metrics. What are you trying to achieve with it? How will you recognise and measure success?
- To generate ideas, look at blog posts with high engagement rates, keyword traffic, social feedback and other signals to see what kind of topics might warrant more in-depth, ebook-style treatment.
- Use captured data to help you tailor your content.
- Think hard about how you’ll promote and distribute your ebook, eg through email signoffs, social channels, your website…
- Incorporate clear, intuitive calls to action as part of a considered follow-up strategy to convert your ebook readers into customers.
- Think about where and how your users are likely to access your content. Will they download and print from your site? Or are they more likely to access via a platform like SlideShare? Will they be on a PC at work, or on a mobile or tablet?
- Plan ahead to make ebook production easier. Can you plan and write blog posts or articles in a way that will make it easy to curate an ebook later?
ebook success story: Unum
Financial protection insurer Unum produced a very successful ebook, Unusual and useful staff retention strategies that won’t break the bank, which was based on a series of blog posts that had achieved high engagement rates.
Distributed via Promoted Tweets, the ebook content – as part of a content marketing campaign that included infographics and blog posts – helped Unum to achieve 3,700 new followers in five months, an 8.6% engagement rate and 480% more blog traffic. In the process Unum was able to reach the right audience, gain excellent user feedback, and crowd-source fresh, original content for future publications.