Want to create buzz around your brand, build trust with your audience, and add tons of fresh names to your email list – all at the same time?
Create an ebook.
This type of content is a winner for marketing your business.
The trick, however, is to keep the content inside the ebook totally free of sales pitches and chock-full of value. It needs to reach must-read status for your audience to want to pull the trigger and trade their details in exchange for a download.
If so, let’s get into why ebooks are so awesome for business marketing, plus five rules to follow when creating your ultimate lead magnet.
Why Create an Ebook for Your Business Marketing?
Ebooks are valuable for your marketing because they don’t look like marketing at all.
If you do it right, your ebooks should provide nothing but relentless value in the form of expert, informative, useful content – without selling or pitching anything.
That, right there, is their draw for your audience. They get tons of value in exchange for nothing more than their name and email address. It’s not a hard trade, and it will pay off for you in spades because your list will grow by leaps and bounds. (And, as we all know, your email list is a powerful tool.)
Another huge plus: Ebooks are relatively inexpensive to produce. All you need is some well-written content and basic design to pull it all together.
Here’s an example of an ebook from Jeff Goins on growing your blogging audience:
It’s a 55-page PDF that includes a table of contents, 3 parts, an introduction, and a conclusion.
Pretty cool, right?
Yours doesn’t have to be nearly this long, either. You can create an ebook as short as 3-5 pages, as long as the information inside is super valuable.
Feeling excited yet? Follow these 5 rules to create an ebook, and walk away with an awesome lead magnet that will draw in tons of interest and new subscribers to your list.Market your business by publishing ebooks. They don’t look like marketing at all, but they give nothing but relentless value through useful content. Here are @JuliaEMcCoy's 5 basic rules in creating an ebook. Click To Tweet
How to Create an Ebook: 5 Basic Rules
1. Find the Right Topic, Tone, and Style
If you want to create a desirable ebook, you have to begin the process with the right topic in hand. After that’s accomplished, you need to write the ebook with a tone and style that’s consistent with your brand voice.
How to Find the Right Ebook Topic
When I say the right topic, I mean one that your readers will eagerly look forward to reading. It’s one they want to know about, have questions about, and one for which you can provide concrete, valuable answers.
That’s why, before you start on your ebook, topic research is essential. Here are a few tips to begin:
- Search for industry hashtags on social media and look to see what people are talking about. Follow conversations and find the questions people are asking. Could you answer topically related ones in your ebook?
- Search for industry keywords on BuzzSumo and see what major topics come up over and over in top-shared posts. Look for knowledge gaps you can fill with your ebook content.
- Look at your own blog posts for inspiration. Which topics are most-shared? Which ones get the most follow-up questions and comments? You could potentially create an ebook that dives deeper into these subjects.
- Consider common customer problems you hear about regularly and write an ebook that helps solve them.
How to Ensure Your Ebook Tone and Style Are Consistent with Your Brand AND Non-Salesy
When creating ebooks, consistency is key. If the writing style and tone of your ebook content differs from your brand style and tone, it will be glaring to readers. That disconnect makes for a disjointed experience with your brand, which you never want.
To keep the writing style and tone on-brand, ensure you/your writer are familiar with:
- Your brand style guide (Don’t have one? This how-to from 99designs is a good primer)
- Your blog posts
- Any other materials that effectively showcase your communication style
For a good example of a brand with a consistent style across their content and communications, check out our post on Panera Bread’s content marketing.
Image: Mitre Agency
After you (or your writer) have a clear idea on your brand tone and style for writing your ebook, you need to turn your attention to non-salesy writing.
The purpose of your ebook is NOT to sell your brand, products, or services. Its only purpose should be to hand your reader tangible value in the form of useful information.
To avoid salesy language:
- Keep your focus on the reader, not on your brand.
- Think about what the reader wants/needs to know to fully understand the topic you’re covering.
- Answer questions you encountered in your topic research.
- Provide your unique expertise on the topic.
2. Include Premium Content
To create a must-have ebook, it needs to include premium content.
- You haven’t written about the topic elsewhere, like on your blog, where readers can easily access it.
- If you have written about it before, you haven’t covered the topic in a deep way.
- The topic requires research to provide a full picture.
In other words, premium content needs to be exclusive, exhaustive, and the highest quality possible. It needs research and your best writing.
The main reason premium content in your ebook is necessary, though, is because it builds trust with your readers. When you offer such a valuable resource for free (in exchange for their name and email address), your reputation and authority will grow by extension.
That’s why an ebook is so valuable to you as a marketing tool.
Great example: Brian Dean of Backlinko started offering “content upgrades” (A.K.A. premium content) to his blog readers in exchange for their email. In this way, he increased his conversion rate from .54% to 4.82%. That’s a huge difference.
Premium content in your ebook is necessary... it builds trust with your readers. When you offer such a valuable resource for free, your reputation and authority will grow by extension. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
3. Don’t Skimp on Ebook Design
If you’re going to pour your all into your ebook content, skimping on the design makes zero sense. That’s like baking a delicious birthday cake but leaving it undecorated.
This is a special lead magnet. Treat it as such. Your ebook needs to be the entire package for the best outcome.
Page layout, organization, design, graphics, fonts, and branding are all going to matter here. For a relevant example, I’m going to reference Brian Dean’s case study again (linked above).
Brian, like most people, doesn’t have design or Photoshop skills. When he creates a lead magnet, it looks like this:
I think this is on par with what most of us can achieve. However, when you create an ebook lead magnet, you need to do better.
It needs to be professional, branded, and pleasing to the eye. For Brian, that means he hands his lead magnet draft over to a graphic designer. This is the result:
Now that’s a lead magnet which is not only pretty to look at, but fun to read. Plus, it uses brand colors and design so you know this is a Backlinko resource.
If you truly want your ebook to be a valuable, lead-generating machine, you need to go the extra mile, too. That means investing in the final presentation, including layout and design.
Good news: It doesn’t have to cost tons of money. Try hiring a fledgling designer looking to build their portfolio – they will have lower rates. Cloud Peeps and Fiverr are good places to find designers looking for work.If you’re going to pour your all into your ebook content, skimping on the design makes zero sense. That’s like baking a delicious birthday cake but leaving it undecorated. - @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet
4. Include Calls-to-Action in Your Ebook Offer
So your new ebook is written, edited, designed, and ready to go as a complete package. Now it’s time to offer it to the world.
One problem: If you don’t use a call-to-action with your free ebook offer, your time and hard work will be wasted.
Wherever you end up offering the ebook for download, you need two things:
- A way to capture leads who want to download the ebook (i.e. a form where they can submit their details)
- A call-to-action to tell them what to do and encourage more downloads
Look at this download page for one of my ebooks:
It includes a lead capture form as well as TWO calls-to-action: “Download our free 20+ page ebook” and “Get your free copy”.
The page also includes a preview of the ebook cover as well as a short description of what’s inside.
All of these elements work together to make downloading the actual ebook as enticing and easy as possible. Plus, when I create relevant content where the ebook might provide further reading, I can link to this page to encourage more downloads (and more list subscribers!).Don't forget CTAs in your ebook. These should: 1️⃣ capture leads who want to download the ebook and 2️⃣ tell them what to do and encourage more downloads. - @JuliaEMcCoy on the 5 rules in creating an awesome ebook. Click To Tweet
5. Market Your Ebook for Best Results
Nobody will download your ebook if they don’t know it exists. That’s why you need to market it effectively.
Link to Your Ebook Download Page in Related Blog Posts
One way is to add the link to your ebook download page to related blog posts, as I mentioned already. You can add a simple text link anchored on a call-to-action (“download my ebook” works), or you can create a banner or call-out box linked to your download page, like we did, below:
Link to Your Ebook on Social Media Posts
Another easy way to market your ebook is to post the link to the download/landing page on social media. Add a line or two of copy to spice up the offer, include an image of the ebook cover, and you’re good to go.
Market your ebook by linking it to your related blog posts and sharing it on social media. - @JuliaEMcCoy on the 5 rules to create awesome ebooks for business. Click To Tweet
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Create Awesome Ebooks for Marketing That Builds Your Email List (+ Trust & Authority)
Creating an ebook lead magnet is a smart way to invest your time and a bit of money. Once your ebook is out in the world, it should be an evergreen resource that will help you bring in new leads and build your list for months (and maybe even years) to come.
Follow these 5 rules to create the best ebook that ultimately will do exactly what you want it to – build up your brand with flair.