How To Use E-Books In Your Content Marketing
These days digital marketing involves a lot more than just maintaining a blog.
In the past, content creation and other inbound marketing strategies were relatively simple to perform. All you had to do was publish unique, valuable blog content on a regular schedule targeting your ideal audience through various social media channels.
But now, things have changed. These once novel marketing tactics have now become the norm. Almost every business now has a blog, and they each have content marketing techniques they use to drive targeted traffic to their respective sites.
So, what’s the best way to stand out in a space that gets more crowded by the day?
Putting together some of your most relevant and best insights into an e-book is something that will help you add to the conversation and mark your business or brand as unique.
An e-book will entice readers and customers to visit your site.
But, writing a good e-book is not as simple as putting together a post for your blog.
It calls for a lot of consideration, thought, and planning (unless you’re just writing it for the sake of putting one out there…) If that’s you, then this post isn’t really for you.
But if you want your book to be an effective tool that you can use as part of your overall digital marketing strategy, then read on.
Why You Should Write an E-book
Also, thanks to Google’s frequent algorithm changes, ‘thin’ content just won’t cut it anymore.
This means that you will no longer be able to get away with lightly researched articles on your blog. Instead, now you need to craft well-thought-out, long-form, in-depth pieces of ‘fat’ content if you want your posts to rank high in the SERPs.
Just so we’re clear:
- Thin online content is out
- Low-quality blog posts (and guest posts) are out
- Lightly researched articles that don’t fully answer your readers’ questions are out
- Long-form content – and that includes e-books!
As an online marketer, this is a trend that you absolutely need to get on board with right now if you want to stay relevant and maintain your competitive edge now and in the future.
This type of content will allow your business to provide your audiences with exactly what they need: In-depth, complete answers to their questions so they have no need to go to any other website to get more information.
Over the past year or two, there has been a steady shift among the majority of bloggers and online business owners as they started to realize that longer pieces of content perform better on the search engines.
Now we’re seeing more and more blogs publishing 2,000+ word articles on a regular basis.
While e-books are still at the tail end, their popularity is only going to increase with time as they give entrepreneurs and brands an opportunity to connect with their audiences on a much deeper level.
Short-form articles (and even some long-form ones) don’t have the resonance of a well-crafted e-book.
Since e-books are much longer and more considered, they are better tailored to specific audiences.
Another major advantage is that audiences often have to opt-in to gain access to the content.
So, as long as you create e-books that totally resonate with your target audience and say more than your regular blog posts do, you’ll be able to better serve your business’s reputation and, in the process, add to its legacy.
Here is a quick recap of the benefits you’ll get from writing an e-book:
1. Building your personal brand
E-books are great for writing about unique industry knowledge you possess.
2. Positioning you as an expert
An e-book that has high-quality, relevant content and outstanding insights will instantly position you as a thought leader in your niche.
You’ll become known for your work, which will further establish your brand in your particular niche.
3. Providing valuable advice to your audience
This one is simple. An e-book can help you showcase your expertise so you can gain your audience’s trust.
4. Building a relevant list of email subscribers
Email list-building is something that every online marketer should already be doing, and a high-quality e-book can help you achieve that even faster.
Every business has at least one of the goals listed above, but it’s important to note that creating an e-book isn’t going to instantly turn your content marketing into a success (although it might…).
Instead, a good e-book will give you the opportunity to connect with new audiences and offer them relevant, actionable, enticing content that they won’t easily find anywhere else.
As previously mentioned, light content is no longer fashionable, but it still has its place.
For some industries, short blog posts are great for piquing interest and for helping to direct social media users to your site.
So, while shorter pieces of content are super-useful resources for driving relevant traffic, they aren’t quite as useful for converting that traffic to paying customers.
And that’s where e-books have the advantage!
Specific, in-depth content is tailored to the customers who are much farther down your sales funnel. These are the ones who are already doing the research on their intended purchase and are a lot closer to converting.
This means that the content you provide them with at that stage needs to be detailed and full of valuable information that will help them make better-informed choices (while showing off your vast expertise and educating them on your offerings, of course!)
You can see why e-books work so well for this. They not only educate and elucidate, but they also function as a long-form evergreen piece of content that you’ll be able to use over and over again in your brand’s marketing.
As you’ll probably find in your own marketing, e-books provoke a more active response from your audience than ordinary blog posts or infographics and over time, they will provide you with benefits that outweigh the time, money, and other resources that you spent creating them.
As long as it’s done right, an e-book will have staying power, whereas a blog post’s traction might die down after a while.
This means you’ll be able to keep driving lots of engagement and interest in your business long after you published the book.
How to Write Your E-book
Creating an e-book can take a lot of time – but, it doesn’t really have to.
The time you’re going to spend on creating and publishing your e-book will depend mostly on factors like your topic, the amount of research to be done, and the length of your e-book.
Some people take two or three months to write a 10,000-word e-book, but the truth is that with the technology at our disposal today, you could have a book out in a couple of days.
Some authors actually have a technique for producing e-books in just an hour or two:
All you need to do is have someone conduct an extensive interview and record it.
Afterward, you can have it transcribed and then hand the transcription over to a professional writer/editor who will turn it into an e-book for you!
But, if you’re going the traditional route, the question for most people is how to get started writing the book?
And more importantly, how do you ensure that all your hard work yields an effective return on investment?
First, you must consider that writing an e-book requires focus. You have to have a solid plan from the onset – albeit a flexible one, as things can change as you progress. Don’t just build content as you go.
Consider the concept you want to impart to your audience and then create a logical progression for it.
A great way of doing this is by defining exactly what your writing is about using a single sentence (something that is a lot harder than you’d imagine) and then relating everything that you write back to that original idea.
This is the best way of ensuring that everything flows and makes sense to your readers. Your e-book needs to be coherent from the beginning until the end. It should be filled with facts and figures.
Make sure you include well-reasoned insights and back everything up with hard evidence whenever possible.
This is particularly important for adding value to your audience so that they don’t doubt what you can do. You must show them that you know more than they do on the subject, and that will make them become more nuanced and reasoned – all as a result of your work.
How to Pick the Right Subject for Your E-book
If you’ve never written an e-book before, it may seem next to impossible trying to pick the subject of your first book.
Instead of letting this process overwhelm you, use the tips listed below to help you in making the right choice that will benefit your business and brand.
Just make sure that whatever topic you choose is something that you know very well and that you can add useful insights on.
This is how you can pick the right topic:
Ask your existing audience
Use an online poll, or questions on social media, etc. to identify knowledge gaps that you can take advantage of and then write an e-book that fills those gaps.
Re-purpose old content
All you need to do is find some of your most relevant and successful pieces of content and then update and rewrite them.
You can then reuse them for your e-book, saving you precious time and energy.
Turn customer testimonials into case studies
If possible, expand some of the testimonials from your customers into a collection of valuable case studies.
Whatever approach you choose, it’s important to make sure that your content is targeted toward your ideal audience. Keep up with industry trends and craft content that capitalizes on the conversations your audience is already having.
After you’ve determined what your subject matter will be, it’s time to write out an outline.
Your outline needs to be as detailed as possible. Use chapter headings as well as a clear through-line – and remember to relate everything to your title, or that one sentence that describes your writing.
If you don’t do this, it can be very easy for you to go off-track.
The Actual Writing Process
I totally understand that not everyone is a skilled writer. And even those of us who can put together a decent blog post still may not have the bandwidth to craft a whole e-book.
For many marketers, it makes more sense to hand off the e-book creation to a professional.
There are benefits and drawbacks to this approach:
Pros of Using a Professional Writer
- Professional-level writing and editing
- Clarity of purpose
- You free up your time to focus on other things
Cons of Using a Professional Writer
- Your personal voice may be lost
- Your identity might not shine through
- Your expertise may not translate well
The Bottom Line
Now that you know how important it is to create an e-book for use in your content marketing strategy, the only thing that is left is for you to decide whether you’ll be writing it yourself or outsourcing the work to a professional writer.
If you’re doing it yourself, just keep in mind that as with all other creative endeavors, you’ll need a solid plan before you begin writing.
If you’re hiring a writer, take the time to choose a really good one who will be able to capture your personality a lot more accurately.
Whichever path you choose, strive for simplicity.
Articulate your thoughts with great clarity and the end result will be an e-book of immense value that benefits both your audience and your business.
Feel free to post your comment below. An email address is required but it will not be shared with anyone, put on any list, or used for any kind of marketing, just to alert you if there are any replies. Thanks and happy hunting!
Updated: Originally published March 23rd 2019