Looking beyond social media in today’s digital marketing world

Jul 17, 2014

E-books offer a unique option for businesses

In today’s world, your customers see more marketing than ever before. Social media has caused customers’ expectations to evolve―rather than passively receiving marketing messages, consumers value interaction and information provided pre-sale and with no obligation.

Social media is the obvious method of delivery, but what if you’re looking for something with a longer shelf life or something that carries more credibility? E-books might just be your answer. For about the same as or less than the cost of a full-page 4-color ad in many magazines, you can hire a writer and a cover designer and arrange for distribution of your e-book. An e-book can establish you as an expert in your industry and generate excitement about your product or service. Offer it free of charge on your website and to new potential customers. The credibility that comes with having authored a book is significant if your book is well-written and provides valuable content.

Other e-book advantages:

  • Provides valuable content for your website, where search engine algorithms are placing more value on content and chatter about your business and less on keywords.
  • No worries about printing or inventory.
  • A relatively easy way to reach a global market, especially if you set up distribution through a site like Amazon.com.
  • Building your contact list by offering a free download in exchange for a name and e-mail address.
  • They make calls-to-action simple: feature links to your business website and your email address.
  • Once completed, your e-book content can be used to create blog posts, Facebook posts, tweets and press releases.

The first hurdle to creating the e-book is coming up with an idea. E-books don’t have to be long (10-20 pages is fine), so the topic can be a solution to a specific challenge. Think about the questions you regularly get from customers and answer during the process of securing new business. Turning this conversation or string of emails into an e-book may not only save you time—it’s packaged, branded, and ready to email to prospective customers—but it also begins to establish your expertise. Another idea is to showcase a customer success story. Don’t worry about giving away too many of your secrets—if your e-book helps customers overcome a small problem, they’ll come to you again when looking for solutions to bigger problems.

The tricky part for some businesses is the writing. Some tips: create an outline, stay on topic and make it useful. If you give away a free e-book that doesn’t offer any new information, it can lead to more bad feelings than good. Next, make sure to edit your work for clarity and then proofread for grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes. Nothing says “unprofessional” like an excess of mistakes.

The design of the e-book is equally important. Though readers will never hold a physical copy of your book in their hands, your cover needs to catch people’s eyes on your website or on Amazon.com. Once completed, you have to get the e-book to your customers. Your e-book can be a PDF that you offer on your website. This is a great option if your e-book is graphic heavy. Or, you can convert your e-book to be used on e-readers, such as Kindles (MOBI file format) and NOOKs or iPads (EPUB file format). These can be distributed through a vast network of online sites, including Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and Apple’s iBookstore.

In today’s digital world, creating a marketing piece that has a long shelf life and offers something of real value to customers will make your business stand out from the crowd. A thoughtful e-book can help fill a number of holes in your marketing lineup.


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