An ebook is one of the most valuable marketing tools for engaging prospects in an increasingly competitive online market. Studies on brand authenticity reveal that 63 percent of customers are more likely to buy from authentic brands, so building brand authority is key.
One of the best ways to show your authenticity is via an ebook that addresses customer concerns around a subject they care about.
Ebooks have a number of advantages over other content formats:
- The ebook format is ideally suited to in-depth content, which is fundamental to inbound marketing.
- They’re an efficient way to attract leads and move them along the sales funnel.
- They’re excellent ways to brand credibility and strengthen the brand-to-customer relationship.
In this article, we’ll break down what it takes to create an ebook and look at ways to make your ebook more attractive to your target audience.
Pick the Right Topic
To get the ball rolling, first answer these basic questions:
- Who exactly do you want to reach out to?
- What will your audience gain from reading your ebook?
- How does your ebook fit into the buyer’s journey?
- What are your conversion goals?
Answering these questions will help you figure out the key messages you want to get across and inform the structure of your ebook. Remember: the goal of your ebook is to generate leads, so choose a topic that will attract potential customers and also encourage them to take further action.
You don’t have to write the definitive guide to a certain topic.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- An expanded version of existing blog content.
- An introduction to your industry or a relevant topic.
- An answer guide to frequently asked questions.
- Content around industry studies and statistics.
- A case study based on the story of a client.
- A product guide.
- An interview with an industry expert.
Find out from colleagues what questions leads and callers are already asking. You could also ask customers directly or look at past customer interactions. If you don’t have any customers yet, look on Q&A sites likes Quora to find common industry questions. What topics can you cover in depth?
Write a Compelling Title
The headline is your first chance to make a good impression and encourage further engagement. Insert target keywords in your title to attract attention from search engines, but consider some of the less obvious keyword phrases which have less competition.
The key is to create a title that highlights your topic and resonates with your target audience. Keep it succinct.
Your title needs to capture attention, highlight some kind of benefit, and pre-qualify prospects.
While the landing page and other promotional channels will reveal more about the content of your ebook, sometimes it’s a good idea to add a subtitle to clarify and expand on what the ebook will cover.
Another technique is to use an analogy to make it stand out, and follow this with a more explanatory subtitle. For example, in “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World,” Gary Vaynerchuck uses the boxing analogy to help explain his approach to social media marketing.
Here are some other techniques to make your title more appealing and memorable:
- Use catchy and unusual words.
- Use numbers to add credibility.
- Use emotional adjectives to describe how customers might feel now or how they’ll feel after reading.
- Apply the “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how” series of questions to the topic.
- Mention your audience in the title. Everyone has a label they can identify with. For example, “mother,” “homeowner,” or “business owner.”
- Tell readers what to do. For example, “Improve Your Work-Life Balance in One Week.”
- Ask a question that your audience often asks.
Create an Outline
Whatever the length of your ebook, an outline will ensure you cover everything you need to, and give your ebook a structure that is easier to read.
Take it one step at a time:
- Start with the introduction, which explains what you’ll cover in the ebook and how readers will benefit.
- Write a list of the chapters you’ll need, using the main topics as headings. Try to make each chapter flow logically into the next.
- Break each chapter down into three to five key points, using subheadings. Add stats and sources if possible.
- Show where images or graphics should appear.
- End with a conclusion that summarizes your main points and includes a call-to-action.
There’s no ideal length for an ebook; it depends on the topic and your audience. It can be as short as five pages, as long as it covers the selected topic and effectively educates your readers.
With a complete outline, you have a framework in place to break up your writing into manageable chunks. Wrap up each chapter with key takeaways to help the ebook flow from one section to the next.
You can approach each chapter in the same way you write a blog post. Use subheadings and bullet points to improve clarity and readability. Keep the formatting consistent across chapters to make it more readable. You can then add a table of contents to help readers navigate the ebook.
Finally, don’t forget to optimize the ebook for lead generation. Include hyperlinked CTAs to drive readers further down your marketing funnel. For example, a CTA could lead to another landing page, another offer, or a product page.
Hire a Quality Writer
Are you worried you don’t have enough time to take on a job like this? Instead of going it alone, outsource your content to a freelance writer who has experience writing for your specific industry.
There are a number of compelling reasons to hire an ebook writer:
- A good content marketing agency has access to thousands of writers who specialize in writing for specific industries in various formats.
- Professional writers know how to create compelling titles and use their storytelling skills to engage readers.
- Freelance writers are used to working to briefs and meeting deadlines.
- Outsourcing content is more cost-effective, as you can buy content when it suits you at a fraction of the cost of hiring in-house writers.
- Good writers can turn business jargon into user-friendly content that builds your credibility.
Make It Look Attractive
People judge the value of content based on how it looks. Consider using some of the following techniques to make your ebook more appealing, credible, and readable:
- Add a branded cover to your ebook with contact information on page footers and on the final page.
- Use shapes, colors, and contrast to add visual interest and draw attention to key messages. For example, use background color bars for main headings or “hot tips” boxes.
- Customize your color scheme to match your brand’s colors.
- Insert headings, images, and graphics to break up text and make your topics easier to understand.
- Use bolded text to highlight key points and phrases.
- Break up text with large-font quotes and stats to support the topic.
- Use a consistent font in the main headings, subheadings, and body content.
- Keep line lengths to around 50 to 80 characters so that readers can easily find the start of the next line.
- Add a contents page so that readers can easily locate different sections.
Ebook Creation Tools
Word processing and presentation software like Microsoft Word and PowerPoint are good for creating an ebook, but these formats need to be converted to a PDF so that your recipients can easily receive the document. For best results, try out some ebook creation tools that allow you to lay out a PDF.
Here are some of the best:
If you can’t achieve the exact results you’re after, don’t worry. Spending hours learning to use a tool might not be worth the effort. Anyway, simple designs often work best.
You won’t have much success with your ebook without a promotion strategy. More exposure will attract more readers, which will hopefully increase conversions.
First, it’s important to create a landing page for your ebook, where users can download the content. It should summarize the content and highlight what readers will get out of it. Here, you can include a form that requires a user’s email address to gain access to the ebook. Now you have a destination URL that you can use to promote the ebook across other marketing channels.
Second, you want to advertise it on your website and blog. Insert CTAs on your homepage, on other main pages like your services page, and at the end of relevant blog posts.
Next, send out an email to your subscribers describing your new ebook, including a link to the landing page.
Finally, reach out to your target audience across the web:
- Use paid advertising to reach relevant prospects on search engine results pages and social media networks.
- Regularly publish extracts of your ebook to your social media channels with a link to the landing page.
Taking It Further
Incorporating ebooks into your content marketing strategy will give your business and prospects something of real value that other content formats cannot achieve. Readers will receive useful information that they actually want, and you’ll receive more qualified leads.
Creating your first ebook may be difficult, but it’s worth it in the long-term. It will help to drive website traffic, build your authority, and drive sales for years to come.
If one ebook has this power, think of the marketing benefits that multiple ebooks can achieve! Once you’re comfortable with the creation process, you can create a series of ebooks that all speak to the same audience. This way, you can cross-promote each ebook to provide even more value to your audience. On the flip side, you can create a diverse range of ebooks to cater to different audience segments, all focused on topics they care about.