Firstly, thanks for taking the time to download our eBook about eBooks!
I want to share a story that illustrates why I believe eBooks should be a big part of your marketing mix. We landed a new client recently and one of the first things they said to us was “I love what you guys do and how you approach marketing. I’m happy to trust you to make this work for me.”
I’ve been running a marketing agency for a long time, and in my experience, you don’t see that level of trust from prospects who have just met you via Google or from customers you’ve found via prospecting.
At Rocket, it’s common for us to land a new client and discover that they first came across us by downloading an eBook we’d promoted in LinkedIn a number of years ago. Or by finding us via Google and downloading an eBook from our website to solve a specific problem.
The eBook download would have given us their email address and the ability to stay in touch with them. We call this nurturing. When one of our well-nurtured prospects is ready to make a purchasing decision, we are going to be on their list of companies to talk to.
Often, we are the only people on that list.
I’ve put everything I know about eBooks into this eBook. Hopefully, you can see the value in either starting your eBook journey or perfecting what you’re already doing.
I sincerely hope this form of content marketing is as successful for you as it's been for us over the years. If there are any questions you have or if you’re considering outsourcing your eBook creation or other parts of your marketing then get in touch with us at rocketagency.com.au/contact or 1300 059 620. We’d love to have a chat with you!
PS. I’m going to use the term eBook, but you’ll also see them referred to as whitepapers, downloadables, PDFs, lead magnets, free reports and more.
An eBook is a type of content marketing. According to the ContentMarketingInstitute:
“Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”
In short, content marketing allows you to connect with and educate your prospects in an effort to eventually turn them into paying customers.
Content marketing can take many forms including blog posts, emails, eBooks, podcasts, webinars and more.
eBooks have certain advantages and play a particular role in your marketing mix:
As a marketer, the most important reason for me to create an eBook is the ability for it to collect email addresses of my perfect prospects.
When COVID first hit we invested significant time into creating two eBooks. One was to help our audience deal with the crisis in front of them. “The COVID-19 Marketing Survival Handbook” included 71 practical actions people could take to survive, adapt and thrive. For those taking a longer-term view, we also released “The Recession Marketing Manifesto” which is a call-to-arms for companies who want to grow their market share through these challenging times, specifically when creating a recession marketing strategy.
These two guides allowed us to massively increase the size of our database at a time when marketing was very challenging. The reality was that most of the companies we attracted were not able to appoint a marketing agency at the time, and that was to be expected.
However, having their email address allows us to nurture each contact with content we believe will help them successfully solve their most pressing marketing problems. As the economy improves, or as an individual business takes a more aggressive marketing position, we will be in a strong position to be part of the sales conversation.
If you get this wrong, all of your efforts will be largely wasted. There is only one perspective here which is important, and that is your customers. What are their problems? What are their needs? How can you help add immediate value?
Here’s where I see people go wrong:
They create a topic that is too much in the weeds or too detail orientated.
For example, in this guide, I am not going to talk about which application to use to build an eBook or which fonts and colours are most likely to be the most effective. I’m keeping the content at the level which provides value to the people I most want to reach and these are marketers, business owners and senior managers rather than designers.
They create a topic that is too general.
I could have made this eBook about content marketing in general. It’s a huge topic, and there is value there, but I know marketers who are considering creating an eBook will face real challenges and are often a good fit for a discussion with us.
They don’t understand who their audience is.
Yep, that’s right. A lot of marketers and business owners don’t really understand their key personas so will struggle from the start. Speak to your salespeople, your customer support people and your frontline teams if you want to better understand what your perfect prospects value and what problems they need help solving.
My advice is that you spend a lot of time on this point. Build a list of topics that you think will be of value to a specific persona you are targeting. Once this list is finished, review it to decide on the most valuable eBook you can create.
You’ll be promoting your eBook in all kinds of places and it’s important for the title to stand out and clearly promise value in the eyes of your prospect. The title should not be misleading and the title does not have to be clever, it just needs to be clear and communicate value to the reader. Your title should never be confusing or mysterious.
It’s worth sharing your title ideas with others in your team and even your perfect prospects to get their view. If no-one likes it, change it! Remember, an eBook is never about you and there is every chance you’ll be too close to the problem to best know how to describe it.
A good place to start is on Google. Start searching around your topics and see how others describe the problem. Sites like Quora are an excellent place to see the language your prospects are using to describe their problems.
People will download your eBook based on the strength of your topic, title, cover and landing page. This means the content can be average and you’ll still get the email address. 15 blank pages coming right up? Absolutely not.
Content marketing only works if you genuinely provide value. If you don’t, you will have wasted your prospects time and, if you have asked for an email address, also likely created a bad relationship from the start.
Your content needs to deliver on the promise of the cover and the title.
This does not mean the content has to be long. It does not have to uncover a secret. It does not need to be formal. In fact, it only needs to do one thing - deliver value to your perfect prospects.
We have eBooks that are simply a cover and a single template and they are genuinely valuable. We also have eBooks that took weeks to write in order to deliver value on a challenging topic. Either can be successful.
Understand what your prospect needs to solve their problem and deliver on it.
Design plays a huge role in ensuring your valuable content gets into the hands of your perfect prospects. I believe in the value of great design and we make sure that all of our eBooks are designed to the standard required for our audience of in-house marketers, business owners and senior managers. I’m lucky to have an excellent team of designers as part of the Rocket team and take full advantage of them for everything produced as part of our marketing.
The cover is by far the most important part of the design process and needs to really sell the value - but the inside of the eBook should also not be forgotten. Great design will make the content more readable and will add value to your overall brand.
Don’t skimp in this area and don’t overestimate your own skills.
If you don’t ask, you won’t get it!
It’s incredibly frustrating to come across an excellent piece of content that delivers value but fails to give the reader a reason or an easy way to get in touch with the writer.
This is not a time to be shy.
The primary focus of the guide should be on delivering value, and you don’t want to detract from this by being over-salesy or tacky.
However, it is entirely appropriate to include a reference to how you can help at the start of the eBook and a clear offer and call-to-action at the end. Branding and contact details on every page (in a subtle way) are also a must-have.
Your prospect has downloaded your guide because they have a problem they want to solve. If the content itself solves this problem then that’s great. But for some prospects, they will see how well you can solve it, and they’ll decide that they’d prefer to speak to you rather than take a DIY approach.
An offer should be included which clearly explains to people the reasons they should get in touch with you and what they will receive or experience if they do. This offer should be appropriate to the sort of business you are in and the tone of your brand message.
But it should be clear and the calls-to-action (CTA’s) should be strong and obvious.
If you require that prospects enter their email address (and possibly other fields) in exchange for your eBook, then a great landing page is going to be critical to success. It will have a significant impact on your conversion rate (i.e. the percentage of people who arrive on the landing page who actually go on to download the eBook).
Here are some important considerations when creating a high converting landing page:
For more information on building high converting landing pages download our landing page checklist.
It’s critical in all marketing campaigns that you can evaluate the return on investment and eBooks are no exception.
For most eBooks you are unlikely to be driving sales or leads in the first instance. Rather they should be considered as a tool to introduce people to your business, and as a way to start and then nurture a relationship with your perfect prospects.
For this reason, if you are using a simplistic attribution model like last-click (i.e. you measure the importance of your marketing campaigns by how many of them led directly to a conversion in the next click) then you’ll be disappointed by how your eBook performs.
An eBook’s true value is in first introducing prospects to your brand and in providing further value along the way (people who have downloaded one of your eBooks will often download more in the future).
Tracking and reporting is crucial to measuring each interaction with an eBook.
When we create an eBook we do the following:
Most importantly, we review the key metrics being generated on a regular basis to ensure our eBook is performing as expected. Of most interest are the total number of downloads and the average cost per download. If an eBook is not performing, we quickly want to understand why.
One of the most common mistakes we see is when a business creates a great eBook, they will put it on their website and then simply wait for success.
I have never seen this approach work.
The success of an eBook always relies on how hard you are willing to work in promoting it. One critical measure of success for an eBook is how many new prospects it added to your database. Without running marketing campaigns, this number is going to be very small.
If you’re not intending to promote your eBook then I’d suggest you save your time and money and don’t bother.
Here are the various ways we promote our eBooks. Typically, an eBook is promoted in all of these ways for us.
Display ads: We will typically create one ad for prospecting and another for remarketing. The creative is often a little different for people who have previously visited your website versus those who have no idea who you are.
Social ads: As a marketing agency we’re a B2B business in terms of our own marketing. In our case, we found Linkedin InMail and LinkedIn Sponsored Posts are some of the best digital marketing strategies for B2B businesses. On Facebook, we typically only run Retargeting Ads as prospecting ads are less effective for us. For many of our clients, however, the mix is completely different and often the only way to know is to run experiments with new content pieces.
Organic social: eBooks give you a great reason to reach out to your networks via social. For us this includes not only our main company pages, but also for key people within Rocket to promote the eBook, or parts of it, to their own networks.
Paid search ads: If you can identify top-of-funnel search terms your ideal prospects are using, you can promote your eBook to them via paid search. The trick here is to avoid the more expensive bottom-of-funnel terms which will generally make your campaign unprofitable.
EDMs to your database: Every eBook we create is promoted to our own database and generates a large number of downloads and feedback. This serves a few valuable purposes. It reminds your prospects that you exist even if they don’t download the content. If they do download the eBook, it provides them with value and hopefully helps them solve a problem. In some cases, it will hit the inbox of a prospect who finds themselves close to making a purchasing decision and they will, in turn, get in touch with us for a chat.
Website placement: Every page of our website contains a call-to-action to download one of our eBooks. We also have a section in our top-level navigation that takes users to all the eBooks we have created. This is an incredibly important part of the process. We will often have people find us via a referral, search or social and the only reason we will be able to market to them in the future is because they spotted some content they valued and provided us with their email address.
Find a partner: This is huge. You should find companies that share similar personas with your business but are typically not your competitors. You should then look at ways to co-brand or co-promote your eBooks so you can increase your reach and credibility exponentially.
So much of the value of a serious piece of content comes from how many different ways you can re-use your hard work in the future. It’s a massive waste if everything you’ve learned and written as part of putting together your eBook is used in just one place.
Here’s how we re-use our eBook content:
Create an HTML version: Once an eBook has been in circulation for a little while, we’ll often create an HTML version of it and place it on our site as a Free Guide to be read on-screen. This is one of our best SEO management tips as it provides excellent long-form content (You're reading the HTML version right now!)
Create shorter blog articles: Each of the chapters of your eBook is likely to be a future blog post.
Make a short video: Shooting a short video talking about the topic covered in your eBook is a great way to give visitors a different way to consume content. These videos can be promoted via email, on social and within your blog posts and landing pages. Here’s one we did after our most recent eBook on Google Ads.
Run a Webinar or Podcast: A good eBook will often provide the structure and knowledge you need to run an effective webinar or release a new podcast episode.
PR articles: Digital is not the only way to market your business. Publications are always looking for new content and your eBook topic, re-written as an article, might be just what they are looking for.
In my experience, effective nurture emails and remarketing ads are the most powerful way to add long-term value to the effort already invested in your eBook campaign. No matter how fantastic your eBook is, and no matter how much someone liked your landing page, it’s likely that unless they are ready to buy right now, you will have been forgotten when that time to buy arrives.
For most of us, the reality is that only about 3% of our entire market is thinking about buying in the near future. If someone who downloads your eBook is in the other 97%, then you need to stay in touch with them in a way that ensures they remember who you are when the time is right.
There are a number of ways to do this:
As I said at the start of this eBook, I’m a huge believer in the value of eBooks. Here at Rocket creating and promoting eBooks is a significant part of our own marketing strategy. It’s also an important part of the strategy we use for many of our clients.
In this eBook I’ve taken you through the steps we actually follow and pointed out what really matters in ensuring you get the most value from your effort.
Here’s a quick recap of the most important steps:
Aside from eBooks, we’re specialists in SEO, Google Ads, Social Media Ads and email marketing. We’re also Platinum HubSpot partners.
If you’ve got an eBook challenge you’d like to talk about, or you’d like to discuss any marketing problem at all, then we’d love to speak to you. You can reach us via rocketagency.com.au or by calling 1300 059 620.
All the best,
James is co-founder of multi-award-winning Australian digital marketing agency Rocket, keynote speaker, host of Apple’s #1 Marketing Podcast, Smarter Marketer, and co-author of the 2019 Amazon Australia’s #1 best-selling marketing book of the same name. He was also a finalist in 2019 and 2020 B&T Marketer of the Year.
James’ 15-year marketing career working with more than 500 in-house marketing teams inspired the 2019 release of Smarter Marketer. It has been endorsed by marketers at some of Australia’s leading brands, including Hubspot and KPMG.
In 2022, James launched the Smarter Marketer podcast, the definitive podcast for Australian marketers. Released fortnightly, James sits down with local experts and global authorities to discuss how Australian marketers can become more successful in their careers.