A beginner’s guide to marketing ebooks
I’m pretty sure that you’ve downloaded and read all the marketing ebooks from Hubspot. I honestly did the same. Every time they publish a new marketing ebook, I immediately want to give them my contact details in exchange for their valuable content.
Hubspot is well-known for using ebooks as part of its lead generation marketing strategy for a long time. Moreover, they had succeeded in becoming a strong authority in the world of digital marketing.
But what exactly is this lead generation marketing strategy? Maybe you’ve heard of it, but you’re not quite sure what it means. Or you don’t know how to put it into practice.
You could start by creating successful marketing ebooks, just like Hubspot does. It might look complicated at first glance, but trust me, it’s no rocket science. That being said, in today’s article, I’m going to show you how to create a marketing ebook and how to use it as a powerful marketing tool. So let’s get started.
- What is a marketing ebook?
- 5 benefits of using marketing ebooks as part of your lead generation strategy
- What can a marketing ebook be about?
- How to create your marketing ebook
- How to convert a PDF to an easy to share marketing ebook
- Ways of distributing your marketing ebook
What is a marketing ebook?
Before answering this question, we should all remember what an ebook is. Therefore, an ebook (short for “electronic book”) is a book in digital format that can be read either on a computer or handheld device. Ebooks are usually packaged as PDF documents, so they can be easily transferred from one person to another.
Usually, there are two main categories of ebooks: the literature ebooks (horrors, thrillers, romances, dramas, sci-fiction, etc.) and the ebooks used as a marketing tool to collect leads. Whether we talk about professionals in the real estate industry or marketers looking to expand their audiences, ebooks can be a great marketing tactic for both cases. Although I’d like to talk about both literature and marketing ebooks, this article is about the latter.
That being said, marketing ebooks are a popular type of gated content. This content can vary from white papers, ebooks, and videos to case studies, product demos, and webinars. Through gated content, marketers generate leads by providing prospects with original and valuable information in exchange for their name, email address, company name, industry, title, and other contact information.
Here is a relevant example of how SEMrush takes advantage of gated content. They offer a marketing ebook template that can inspire anyone to create their own after submitting a lead form.
However, it’s highly recommended to use gates only at certain points in the marketing funnel. There are three stages within the marketing funnel and specific types of content that complement each. For instance, ebooks, white papers, infographics, and podcasts are used in the awareness stage. Webinars and case studies correspond to the consideration stage. The decision stage is the last one, and it includes product demos and free trials.
So, next time when thinking about creating marketing ebooks that generate leads and help you grow your business, make sure that you know where your prospects are situated in the marketing funnel.
Why use marketing ebooks?
According to statistics, 65% of today’s B2B businesses use ebooks in their content marketing campaigns. Moreover, ebooks are considered to be one of the most powerful marketing tools. But have you ever wondered why? Let’s talk about the main benefits of using ebooks in your marketing strategy.
5 benefits of using marketing ebooks as part of your lead generation strategy
- They increase brand awareness
- Ebooks collect high-quality leads
- Ebooks establish authority and trust
- They stand out from the competition
- Ebooks improve the content marketing strategy
Let’s take them one by one and discuss them thoroughly.
1. They increase brand awareness
Through marketing ebooks, you get to target a certain audience that wouldn’t have otherwise heard about you and your brand. Just think about it. You have conducted research or a survey on a certain topic. Then you decide to put all the information together into a marketing ebook. Many people will want to download and read all about it. This interest represents the perfect opportunity to offer them a short intro to your brand doctrine. Yes, I agree, it might not lead to purchase straight away, but it arouses their curiosity regarding your brand. Nurture it with strong marketing efforts and watch these people become your customers in a short time.
Semrush knows how to increase brand awareness. They conducted vast research and analysis and then put all the information within an ebook that’s free to download in exchange for some contact details.
But what I find even greater about this ebook is that Semrush offers specific information about what the readers will see if they download it. It seems a fair deal to me. After all, you’re giving some private details about yourself, so you need to know what you’re going to get in exchange.
Here’s a short excerpt from this ebook’s description that keeps out any blur:
“This eBook gives a detailed insight into how you can perform these processes using the Semrush.Trends toolkit. In particular, it explains how the reports and features in Market Explorer and Traffic Analytics can paint an accurate picture of your target market and allow you to closely analyze the strategies and performance of your competitors.”
2. Ebooks collect high-quality leads
Like I’ve mentioned before, marketing ebooks are probably the most popular and effective strategy for generating relevant leads. They are the perfect solution if you want to collect email addresses in order to contact people who may be interested in your products or services. You’re offering them something very valuable – the ebook – and you’re asking for their emails in return. It may seem like a simple process, but creating valuable content for your ebook and actually getting high-quality leads in return is more of a complex task. Don’t worry, we’re going to discuss it thoroughly a bit later.
Before they download the ebook, they will supply basic info such as their name and email address. But you can also ask them for extra details such as the company they work for as well as the number of employees. Hubspot uses these leads to increase its outreach efforts. This way, they’re reaching out to a valuable target audience that they want to turn into customers. This powerful marketing strategy is now being adopted by many other brands. And for a good reason. It works.
3. Ebooks establish authority and trust
How to convince people that your business is better than your competitors? The answer is simple: you must establish your business as an industry leader and authority. Of course, it’s much easier to speak about it than actually getting there. However, taking slow steps like having a killer content marketing strategy can increase your chances of getting there sooner than later. Creating marketing ebooks filled with original and high-quality content that’s both interesting and engaging for your potential customers can really be a good starting point. Write about a subject they care about and answer their questions in a creative and entertaining way.
A marketing ebook gives you the possibility to boost your credibility. When you write something in your area of expertise, then you position your brand as the expert in your industry. It’s a sign that you know what you’re talking about! This authority opens up new opportunities that might lead to new customers. Just think about it. If you can successfully gain the trust of your target audience, then your sales will just pop!
Here is an example of how Intercom uses marketing ebooks to establish credibility and reliability. They are already an authority in their field, but with the help of this ebook, they build trust even more.
This marketing ebook talks about customer engagement and creating compelling messages. It’s an interesting subject for both Intercom’s target audience and their potential users who might try this product for the same thing that we would all do: to send emails to our customers.
Once again, through this piece of work, Intercom proves once again that they know their users very well and offer them valuable content.
4. They stand out from the competition
Always think to be ahead of the competition when creating your marketing book. Not just showcase your reputation, trustworthiness, and expertise through your ebook, but also go the extra mile. This tactic works best if you’re activating in industries where your competitors are using ebooks as part of their lead generation marketing strategies. In a crowded space, you will need to create content that has the power to stand out.
If your business uses a certain tactic that no one in your industry does, brag about it. If there are two different ways to solve a problem, tell people about both options, then explain why your business prefers one way over the other.
That being said, this marketing ebook from Intercom is a great example in this regard. It’s about their growth process and building their marketing strategy from the beginning ‘till they got 20k users worldwide.
But do you know what makes this ebook even more valuable? The sincere words of people involved in the marketing team at Intercom. They talked about trying and failing and then trying again until succeeding. In the end, they learned the hard way what works and what doesn’t.
The subject of this ebook is precisely what makes it stand out from the rest. People who usually download a lot of ebooks might find some of them redundant and approach the same subjects over and over again. However, this ebook from Intercom is not the case. By telling their story, with the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, this ebook really differentiates itself from its competitors.
5. Ebooks improve the content marketing strategy
If you’ve written evergreen blog articles or valuable landing pages and the users have given you really good feedback, then it would be such a waste not to develop them into useful ebooks.
Ebooks allow businesses to provide more information about a specific topic in extreme detail, improving your content marketing strategy. Through ebooks, you can offer all the examples you want, add as many bullet points as possible, and even go into in-depth details to fully explain concepts and ideas.
This is something that you could never do through blog posts because usually they are limited to a few hundred words, maybe a couple thousand for longer articles.
Give your target audience the opportunity to consume longer, valuable content in the form of a marketing ebook that they can download and read whenever they want. You can even reference your marketing ebook in future blog posts to guide readers to learn more about a specific topic.
Here you can see an example of how Slack used ebooks in their content marketing strategy. They have an entire category about collaboration on their blog, but this ebook has much more content, and it reflects broader expertise because it was well researched together with an advisory firm. Its subject – workplace shift during Covid19 – is also really interesting, and it is niched to IT and business leaders.
What can a marketing ebook be about?
From my point of view, before writing a marketing ebook you should answer the following questions:
- What are the types of leads you want to gain?
- How much expertise do you have in this industry?
You can’t just choose a random topic and start writing content for your marketing ebook. At first, you should think about your target audience and where it is situated in your marketing funnel. Then, you should consider the knowledge you have in the field you want to write about. Hubspot is a really good example in this regard. Having so much expertise both in the marketing and sales field, they have all the right to offer as much valuable information as possible in these industries.
But what happens when you’re just getting started and don’t have such expertise? My advice is to reach out to experts on Twitter or LinkedIn and ask for their help. First, choose a niche, then pick the right people who have expertise in that niche, and then gather all their opinions within a round-up session. It’s always great to partner with professionals to get great results. This is precisely what Slack did with the advisory firm I’ve just presented or Intercom with Ann Handley on their customer engagement ebook.
Now that I’ve clarified this, let’s see some marketing ebook ideas that can turn your potential customers into relevant leads:
- How-to guides
- Product presentations
- Case studies
Let’s take them one by one and get into more details.
1. How-to guides
First on my list is the how-to guides. These marketing ebooks are the most wanted and helpful ones because people want to learn tips & tricks as fast and as easily as possible. And when it comes to marketing, everybody knows that this topic covers a lot of subjects.
You can write about how to reach & engage your audience on social media, how to run inbound marketing campaigns, how to become an influencer in your industry, how to conduct a technical SEO audit, how to increase email-click through rate, and even how to create an ebook from scratch. But the list could go on, of course. There are many topics that how-to guides could cover.
It’s really easy to create this kind of marketing ebook. Choose your topic (make sure to possess expertise in the field, as I’ve mentioned earlier), then gather all your information, and write your pieces of advice as simply as possible. Tell people about your experience, gain their trust, and give them reasons to reach out to you when they look for something professional.
Here’s an example of how Hubspot has gathered all their how-to guides in one place. Anyone can download from their platform by just completing a lead form:
Of course, you don’t have to compare with Hubspot, but you can learn great things from them. Since you’re just at the beginning of this journey, you’ll need to do a lot of research before actually getting started. Download as many marketing ebooks as possible, how-to guides, and anything else you find necessary in your quest to create your own ebook. And slowly but surely, you’ll see that you’ll get there. It’s all about trying and trying until succeeding.
2. Product presentations
If you have a product that many businesses are using or should use, then it’s a must to learn how to create a marketing ebook where you clearly explain how to work with your product and why you recommend it.
But you need to be strategic regarding this. You can’t just brag about your product throughout the entire ebook because you’re going to bore people, and they won’t find it interesting enough to download it. That being said, you must find the proper context to promote your product.
The marketing ebook from Semrush I’ve presented above is a great example in this regard. They created an ebook where they explained how users could use Semrush to expand their business, market research, and analyze the performance and strategies of their competitors. Pretty clever tactic, right? It’s a win-win situation that works well for both parties involved. Readers have access to valuable content and learn how to use Semrush to achieve their goals and Semrush has the perfect context to advertise their features.
What is a marketing ebook without inserting some great topics within? Words without meaning. Interview successful people who work in the marketing field and write all their answers. It’s useful to have such a topic within your ebook because these people give useful insights about being a marketer these days. Package all interviews into ebooks, making it easy for your customers to read and share them.
Inspire yourself from this marketing ebook example from Hubspot. This ebook has gathered useful and relevant information from 3,400 marketers and over 500 global sales leaders with a specific focus on Canada about an evergreen topic: trends and data in sales and marketing. Download the full report to get insightful tips and tricks.
Don’t get scared about these big numbers. You’re just at the beginning of this journey. Start with 5, maybe 10 experts, collect their answers, and gather them within your publication. For a first marketing ebook, this is more than enough. And slowly, you’ll get there. Maybe for the second ebook, you’ll be able to gather 20 experts. And so on. You’ll see that the more you’re going to persevere, the more you’ll succeed! And you will build an email marketing list, which means, it will only get easier to contact professionals and collect valuable insights.
4. Case studies
Everybody loves to read stories, especially if they’re about success and achievement. If you have friends or simply know people whose marketing businesses you’re proud to know, why not tell their story in your next marketing ebook?
Ebook case studies analyze, in general, a business from A to Z: how it started, how it developed, what were the challenges that came in the way, and how it became successful in the end. Write about the most fruitful business you know and describe in detail all these aspects I’ve mentioned above.
These types of ebooks are especially useful for promoting your personal brand or the brand you work for or when it comes to advertising an event.
I had recently downloaded an ebook that talks about content marketing in 2019 from a brand I admire. After having subscribed to their email list, I got an email two days later. It was a discount coupon to an event about content marketing. So in a way, you can tell that writing ebooks and distributing them is a great content marketing tool to reach new and valuable audiences.
Again, Hubspot is a relevant example in this regard. They offer you this article about marketing case studies filled with lots of valuable content, plus a free kit and templates in a popup window that you can download in exchange for your email address.
How to create your marketing ebook
There are many things to take into account when creating your marketing ebook. For this article, I’ve chosen just 5 tips & tricks that I consider the most important and also suitable for any kind of marketing ebook.
So, here they are. 5 tips that help you create your marketing ebook:
- Research your target market
- Choose the topic wisely
- Write, edit, and format your ebook
- Stick to a color palette & simple fonts
- Add interactivity to your marketing ebook
Let’s take them one by one and get into more in-depth details.
1. Research your target market
First thing first…keep in mind that the ultimate goal of your marketing ebook is to collect leads, so make sure that you know who your target audience is before creating your marketing ebook. This is valuable information because you have to know what kind of topic and content is relevant and interesting to your target audience.
Google Analytics and Google Search Console come in just handy. Log into your accounts, connect them to your blog, and check the most popular keywords and search phrases that people are using to find your blog.
Take advantage of Google Analytics even more and collect important data from your audience. By accessing the demographics and interests report, you can see useful insights such as your audience’s age, gender, location, and interests. After all, all this data directly influences the way your readers consume your content.
But that’s not all. There’s one more crucial thing to take into account before you create your ideal buyer persona. You need to establish where your target audience is situated in the marketing funnel. I’ve mentioned this at the beginning of this article, but it’s highly important to repeat it once again because you should always create content based on the funnel’s stages.
That being said, create and distribute marketing ebooks only when your target market is in the awareness or consideration stage. They have just discovered your business and start to see your product as a potential solution to their problem. On the other hand, if your potential customers are in the decision stage, you should focus on presenting them product demos or free trials because they are already on the point of buying from you. Exactly how I’ve explained in the marketing funnel illustration from above.
2. Choose the topic wisely
Now that you know who your target audience is, it’s time to pick a relevant and catchy topic for your marketing ebook. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is to choose something that solves your target audience’s problem. In the first place you’ve discovered their problem, now it’s the time to offer them a solution.
However, before writing about the chosen subject, make sure you have enough expertise in the field. You need to convince your potential customers that you know what you’re talking about. Prove them you’re indeed a reliable authority in your industry. Just like Hubspot did. They are a huge authority both in the marketing and sales field, and of course, they have the right to offer their expertise in these domains.
Besides everything I’ve already mentioned, don’t forget that you also need to resonate with your topic. Write about that subject only when you’re 100% sure that you enjoy it and believe in it because you’re not only going to publish your marketing ebook, you’re also going to distribute it and sell it. And if you’re not 100% convinced to download or buy your work, who do you think it would be?
3. Write, edit, and format your ebook
This is the part when the fun begins, and the magic happens. Open a Google Doc or any other writing software program you enjoy. Then, start sketching an outline of your marketing ebook for any chapter so you know what information to cover. Your readers need to know what to expect from each of your chapters, so it’s helpful also to write an introduction that will draw them in. Regardless of what you write and how you organize the content, make sure each chapter transitions smoothly and fluidly from one to the other. As you put the finishing touches to your ebook, your outline can also double as your table of contents.
It’s also important to create a marketing ebook that’s easy to read and scan. Therefore, I encourage you to use headings and subheadings, lists, bullet points, and short paragraphs. Don’t be afraid to add white space on the pages as well, if it’s necessary.
Also, keep in mind that it’s not compulsory to write a long ebook, but a qualitative one. Write exactly how much is needed to explain the information clearly and concisely. If that requires 5 pages, then write 5 pages. If that requires 30 pages, so be it. But don’t just waste words thinking you need to write a lengthy ebook.
Never publish or distribute your marketing ebook before you ask someone to proofread it. Instead, hire a professional editor or a knowledgeable person in your industry that has the know-how and can offer you an honest opinion about your writing piece of paper. You should also use Grammarly to check your spelling and grammar mistakes.
4. Stick to a color palette & simple fonts
A marketing ebook is nothing without a simple yet catchy and on-point front cover. Stick to your brand’s colors and fonts, and make sure to add your business name, logo, and the ebook’s title.
Speaking of colors and fonts, make sure to keep it as simple as possible. Less is more, as an old saying goes. That being said, use your brand colors and fonts as much as possible. Flipsnack allows you to set your own custom colors and upload your own fonts. However, for contrast and emphasis, some secondary colors will be just perfect.
Clueless when it comes to choosing the right colors? I have some helpful suggestions for you: use dark blue for headings, light blue for subheadings, dark green for graphical elements, and black for the written content. As a result, your ebook will look clean, simple, and neat. As a tip, make sure that both your brand and secondary colors are consistent throughout the entire marketing ebook.
And regarding fonts, make sure to use your branded fonts everywhere, not only on your website. If you don’t already have a brand kit, you can still experiment with fonts and colors. But remember to always opt for legible and straightforward fonts. It’s such a pity when you download an ebook and come across a crazy font that makes the ebook difficult to read! So, choose something basic like Arial, Verdana, or Georgia at size 14 or 16. As easy as that!
5. Add interactivity to your marketing ebook
Almost all the marketing ebooks that I’ve personally downloaded were boring PDFs filled with lots of texts. Yes, the information was great (most of the time), but I’ve always wondered if something could make them more exciting and engaging. And there is.
Flipsnack is a powerful ebook maker that allows you to add interactive elements to your marketing ebooks and make them more attractive and readable. Its Design Studio offers you the possibility to insert all types of interactions that you find suitable for your ebook, starting from hyperlinks, images, videos, and graphics to charts and calls to action. Moreover, they can also help you illustrate crucial points and better deliver your message.
The purpose of images in a marketing ebook is to enhance the reader’s understanding of the material you’re covering, not to make the ebook easy on the eyes. Remember that you’re not writing an ebook for children. When creating your ebook, Flipsnack allows you to upload your own professional image or choose from our stock photos if you find something suitable.
Hand in hand with images are graphics and charts. They illustrate statistics and figures, and they provide important contextual clues. They make the content more shareable as well.
For an extra layer of interactivity, you can also insert videos. Their purpose is to deliver the message faster and better explain what words can’t. Flipsnack allows you to upload your own videos directly from your computer or embed them into your marketing ebook. The choice is yours.
On the last page of your marketing ebook, you should add appropriate Call To Action and social media buttons. Usually, this CTA is a link or visual object that pushes the readers to click and arrive on a landing page to convert them into leads. And the social media buttons should help your readers find you on all platforms and follow you for more relevant content.
How to convert a PDF to an easy to share marketing ebook
If you already have a PDF filled with lots of marketing materials and want to transform it into a shareable ebook, then you’ve come to the right place. Flipsnack is a tool known for its PDF converting magic. We made it super easy and fast to host your marketing ebook online and distribute it to your target audience. How?
Here is a short step-by-step tutorial on how to convert your PDF to an ebook in Flipsnack:
- Sign up to Flipsnack.
- Upload your PDF and wait until the magic happens. The PDF to ebook conversion will take less than a minute.
- You now can customize your marketing ebook by changing its background color with your branded ones.
- Since the primary purpose of your ebook is to collect leads, Flipsnack allows you to add a customizable lead form in your online publication. Select a few pages as a preview, and readers can unlock the rest of the ebook by submitting their email addresses. This option is available if you choose the Classic or Modern mode.
- But go the extra mile and select the Enhanced mode that allows you to collect other contact information besides email addresses. You can add up to 8 fields and ask for the personal name, company name, country, website, and so on. Moreover, you can even select the Custom input option, which will allow you to gather any type of details you may need from your users.
- Make sure you update your lead form’s title and button text before saving and sharing your marketing ebook.
- Right after your readers have submitted their contact details, you can save their information in a CSV file.
- Download the CSV file by going to My flipbooks, clicking on the … button in the upper-right corner of the flipbook in question, and then clicking on Stats.
- Once you’re on the Stats page, scroll down to the bottom ‘till you find Lead form statistics and click on the Download CSV button.
- The last step is to import your CSV file into a CRM system. CRM stands for Customer relationship management, and it gives you a clear overview of your leads. It helps you analyze statistics and qualify the leads. This is really important, because your purpose is to contact these qualified leads at the right time.
Marketing ebook example
As you can see, here is an example of a marketing ebook uploaded in Flipsnack. The first 3 pages are available, but when getting to the 4th one, you’re asked to complete a lead form to read the entire ebook. This way, you’re provoking your readers to give you their contact details in exchange for relevant information. It’s a win-win!
How to distribute your marketing ebook
Your job is not done after you’ve created your marketing ebook. The most challenging part only now begins because you have to promote your ebook to achieve your marketing goals successfully.
That being said, here are a few distribution methods to help you collect relevant leads:
- Create a dedicated landing page for your marketing ebook where people can download it after filling out a leading form. Landing pages are the gateway to collect information. They’ll have to insert their email addresses (and other contact information that you’ll require from them), and you’ll be able to contact them in the future. This is how you’ll convert your visitors into customers and how you’ll also increase your sales. And this is every marketer’s dream, right? But don’t stop here. Promote your landing page on your website, in your blog posts, on your social media platforms. Anywhere you spread the word about your marketing ebook.
- Embed your marketing ebook directly on your website or blog. After all, your target audience should be there already.
- Promote your marketing ebook on your social media channels or use partnerships with other social media channels to reach new audiences that might be interested in reading your content.
- Email the existing subscribers. If you have a segment of people who you think might be interested in receiving such a piece of content, do yourself a favor and send them the ebook. Even though your purpose is to attract new leads and build an email list, you shouldn’t forget about your existing subscribers who are already interested in your work.
There you have it. Hopefully, this article convinced you that ebooks are one of the best converting lead magnets and that you must use them in your lead generation marketing strategy.
Consider all the pieces of advice I’ve been giving you throughout this blog post, and start making your own marketing ebook that will get you sales, leads, and conversions. You’ll see it’s no rocket science to master this powerful content marketing tool.
So, what are you waiting for? Choose Flipsnack to create your own marketing ebook in just a few minutes. Make it engaging and attractive so that your readers will interact more with it. From content creation to grabbing your CSV and growing your mailing list, you can do it all within Flipsnack!