Why Your Content Strategy Needs an Ebook (and How to Create One)
For many brands, “writing an ebook” is one of those items that is perpetually on the corporate “to do” list. Yes, you know that it’s probably a good way to boost your digital presence and draw in more viewers and conversions, but it seems like so much work, right?
While there’s no denying that an ebook is a major content marketing commitment for organizations of all shapes and sizes, the truth of the matter is that your business is leaving so much on the table in terms of outreach and sales potential by not ebooks as part of your content strategy. With this in mind, here’s a complete look at why you should incorporate an ebook into your future marketing plans, as well as how best to go about this endeavor.
Why Bother With an Ebook in the First Place?
Let’s start with why writing an ebook is almost always the right call for your brand. As Joe Pulizzi (founder of the Content Marketing Institute) explains via a survey of organizations that rely on content marketing to connect with customers, ebooks stand as a top option for making an impact with audiences. In fact, those survey respondents ranked ebooks at the top of the list of effective content marketing options, ahead of in-person events, videos, blogs and newsletters, and tied with webinars/webcasts:
- ebooks (65 percent)
- Webinars/Webcasts (65 percent)
- In-person events (62 percent)
- Videos (61 percent)
- Blogs and Newsletters (tied at 60 percent each)
Moreover, ebooks are all the rage with Google and other leading search engines.
“Thin online content, such as low-quality guest blog posts, is out this year, thanks to the various Google algorithm updates of the past few years. Experts suggest that in 2015 and beyond, it will be all about ‘fat’ content — such as ebooks.”
These words, from James A. Martin of CIO, point to the fact that readers – and the search engines that put your content in front of them – continue to place an emphasis on “fat” content that is jammed full of quality and value. Few offerings even come close to espousing this mindset in the way that branded ebooks can.
On top of all of this is the fact that an ebook serves as a lasting content marketing asset. Once you’ve created one, you can always go back and break down engaging segments or excerpts for future blog and social posts. It might sound a little funny at first, but these offerings stand as one of the content marketing world’s few truly reusable resources.
In short, ebooks are well worth the time and effort that goes into the creation process if you’re a brand that is serious about building a lasting connection with its target audience.
Crafting the Perfect Ebook for Your Brand
Now that you’re on board with the rising importance of ebooks, it’s time to follow through and actually create one. According to the HubSpot Blog’s Anum Hussain, it’s hard to go wrong with picking a topic and fleshing out the idea via an official outline. Instead of just building content as you go, take the time to really think about the logical progression of whatever concept you’re trying to impart upon your audience.
A coherent and reasoned ebook that is backed up by researched stats, figures and data offers so much more impact and appeal to an audience than a haphazardly crafted alternative. Speaking of stats, figures, and data—the more the better. Readers inherently have more trust with brands that don’t just make a claim but also prove these statements with undeniable facts and insight.
It’s also important to get the tone of your offering right. Let’s be clear here: ebooks are not purely sales tools. Jamming your ebook full of product and service pitches is a great way to turn your audience off in a hurry. A better course of action is to let your valuable insight speak for itself, all while taking on a tone that imparts your brand’s thought leadership on the subject. You are an expert who can educate the reader, so write authoritatively and leave no doubts about your knowledge and understanding of the issue at hand.
Keeping the Good Vibes Rolling
Unfortunately, simply coming up with a great idea and putting digital pen to paper isn’t enough in today’s competitive marketplace. Spreading your ebook across the web requires a few more advanced tactics that promote and support the quality content held within.
In his look at this process, Brian Honigman of Honigman Media suggests “gating” your content and spreading the word via social media as a means to generate leads and collect data. By turning your ebook into a premium offering that requires joining your email contact list or the completion of a survey, your organization can gather valuable information and forge new connections with future customers.
The key here is to balance your desire to harvest this information with the limits of consumer patience; if you make these viewers jump through too many hoops to gain access to your ebook, don’t be surprised when the campaign falls flat on its face.
As you can see, incorporating an ebook into your content strategy comes with a healthy dose of both work and rewards for those who are willing to take on the challenge.