EBooks are not complicated machinery, but it takes a skilled master of the craft to develop an eBook that is worth marketing. To this end, most companies outsource their eBook creation needs, finding professionals that are well-suited to the creation of entire eBooks that focus around a particular topic or topics. The free eBook has been around for quite some time, but even so it retains its original effectiveness as a marketing tool. The thing you have to remember is that even though the eBook is free, it should never be poor quality.
The Free EBook: A Revolution in Online Marketing
The exchange that takes place when a customer signs up to receive a free eBook is basically allowing the customer to gain value (provided by yourself in the form of the eBook) in exchange for their consideration in the future. The content of the eBook is crucial since you are asking for their consideration but providing value for it in terms of information. The modern consumer is wise to the idea of deals and know when they aren't getting worth for their value. It's much better to provide a valuable resource to a customer since it's much more likely when you do that they will consider you in a good light.
Why Should You Create an EBook For Your Business?
EBooks shirk the trend of the traditional marketing strategies by removing the hard sell from the marketing copy. More and more, traditional channels are struggling to stay relevant when the modern consumer is adamantly set against "falling" for the hard sell. The reason why eBooks are so good at what they do is because they don't seem like marketing material. This makes them more amenable to the customer at large. As far as marketing content and distribution goes, eBooks are among the cheapest to produce and give great value for their investment. The bottom line is that you spend less money to produce an eBook, but get many times the value you would out of traditional business marketing techniques.
The Three Rules of Development
Developing an eBook professionally takes time in order to get it right. However, if you have a guideline of the things that you should already be considering when developing your eBook, you cut down the time significantly. Alternatively, you can always have an external company craft your eBook, but even so you need to be able to know what works and what won't. This handy list of key rules in the creation of eBooks allows you to check your thinking against what is proven to work. Each eBook is, of course, its own project and to this end they should be considered on a case-by-case basis. When developing your eBook, be sure to follow these rules of the craft in order to make sure they're not only readable, but highly marketable as well.
1) Determine Your Topic And Your Style. The very first step in developing an eBook that will market will is figuring out what sort of topic you should be writing on. Unlike regular web content, the topic you choose must be something that you can create a substantial amount of content for (let's say between ten to fifteen pages of well-written prose) that will keep the audience interested. A useful tool for your topic generation process is aiming for one of the steps in the Buyer's Journey and writing around that. It gives your eBook direction and allows you to focus on a particular point of view: that of the consumer. The tone is as important as the topic.
A good tone seeks to make the reader feel at ease or to motivate them to do something. The tone should reflect your brand persona. However, you should remember that the tone should not be sales-y. Ideally, you should write a marketing eBook with the same tone you would expect to find in a commercial book. You're not trying to push your product onto the consumer, but rather educate and gently guide him or her to the product. It's a subtle push, and one that requires a bit more finesse than marketing muscle.
2) The Email Opt-In. Just because an eBook is free, doesn't mean you don't have to sell it. Although, in this case, the thing you gain in exchange for the eBook is not money, it's information. The online marketing world has made it very lucrative to have and hold information. In fact, the world's biggest social network, Facebook, deals solely with the marketing of users' information in order to turn a profit.
You don't ever get something for nothing. Even "free" samples are done with the intention of building upon brand awareness. The same principle exists in developing a free eBook. If you're expecting an email address in exchange for your eBook, then you need to have premium content in there. This serves to build brand confidence with the consumer and at the same time give them the feeling that their information is worth something. It's a win-win situation and one you should consider as a basic part of your marketing math when it comes to free eBooks.
3) The Design Process. Putting together your eBook requires two distinct areas of design, namely the content and the graphics. When it comes to most marketing material, the content works in tandem with the graphics in order to achieve the desired end. EBooks are slightly different because of their method of distribution, dclab.com writes. Because an eBook remains with the customer, they can peruse it at will. Most other content marketing depends upon the user seeing the information and storing it away for later access. Because of this the development process for an eBook is usually distinctly different from other forms of marketing.
The most important part of a free eBook is the content. The reason why content is that important is twofold. Firstly, by giving the user great content, you give them something valuable for their information. Consumers love being valued by companies, and by offering a free eBook that is valuable, you endear them to your brand. The second reason content is important is because it's going to be picked through. Offering a free eBook to a consumer gives them information that they can slowly digest and mull over. It's the polar opposite of the hard sell since there isn't any time-limit imposed on the customer. Because of that the content in the eBook must encourage the reader to read it.
b) Graphics and Design Elements
You might have the best content in the world, but if your eBook lacks graphical consideration and other aesthetic design elements, no one will want to read it. These elements include the cover, page layout, font, and any other graphics or art that you would like to include. The final product should encourage the reader to dive into the eBook. The use of colors and borders encourage a user to want to read the information in the book. You should be careful, however, to avoid including too many design elements since those take away from your book's impact rather than add to it.
4) Don't Forget the Calls to Action. These are especially important if you plan to use your eBook for lead generation. As we said before your content is important and your calls to action should be contextual. If you throw a call to action at your client out of left field you risk breaking the groove that the reader has gotten himself or herself into. The call to action doesn't even have to be something massive, spectacular or hard-hitting, as it is in other marketing media. It can simply be a link to more information or a phone number for the reader to call when they feel like it. In a free eBook, your aim is not to upsell, but to inform. Although you want interaction and returns from your audience, trying to get it through heavy-handed calls to action will only damage the effectiveness of your eBook's impact.
5) Marketing your EBook. For people to want your eBook, they need to know it exists. Awareness can be spread by a number of means, but depending on your audience, some marketing channels work better than others. For example, an eBook focusing on corporate practices or professional engagement does a lot better on a social media platform like LinkedIn than on a platform like Twitter. Knowing what your audience goes for helps you to streamline your marketing efforts. If you have a regular blog or content distribution system (email for example), you can get a lot more mileage out of contextual calls to action that work with content developed around your eBook's topic. Ideally, you'll track your distribution channels and figure out which one gives the most return, then focus your marketing on that channel for the best results.
eBooks = ROI
Developing an eBook that is worth reading is a noble gesture. Offering your eBook to a user in exchange for their email address opens up a whole new world of possibilities in terms of lead generation and building loyalty in readers. It's also a great way to promote brand awareness and to subtly direct users to your company. In the long run, the kind of return on investment you're likely to see from a commercially developed eBook is far better than what you would see on traditionally devised marketing campaigns. EBooks have a lot going for them, have you decided what you're going to put in yours yet?
If not, you could let our eBook experts decide for you.
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