By Nicolas Gremion published November 8, 2012

Content Strategy: How eBooks Help You Generate More Leads

add eBooks to your content strategyEvery company is looking for ways to pump new life into its lead generation tactics. Some send executives to conferences, where they rub elbows with other leaders until their eyes cross with fatigue (and perhaps from one beer too many). Others bring on affiliate marketers who blast prospects with emails that claim their new product will change their lives forever.

Yet, there are some businesses that make it their mission to provide value that brings customers to them.

The smartest companies know that customers like businesses that meet them halfway — those that provide something of value in order to win customers’ business. But how can businesses prove their worth without undercutting their own efforts?

How eBooks work as lead generators

Think of your most recent trip to the supermarket: Did you see stands with samples to try? Did you find products bundled together — for example, a package of ice cream that came with a coupon for sundae toppings attached? Was there a display hawking a new flavor of potato chips at a discount? These marketing tactics entice customers by providing immediate value — a taste, a direct use, or a lowered price — for a small investment on the customers’ part.

By providing a little value in exchange for a little more consideration, these brands tell consumers they know they have worthwhile products to offer and are willing to prove that. Whether your company sells services or products, you can do the same thing with your content strategy, by providing eBooks as a sample of your wares.

eBooks are unique marketing tools because they don’t seem like marketing tools — digital books usually exist to provide expertise or entertainment. However, companies should keep in mind that the best source of knowledge is often an industry expert who can offer profiles of real-life customers and how their problems were solved.

In their content strategy, smart businesses frequently include testimonials from satisfied clients as proof of their ability to serve new ones, so why not control the content and increase its value, by turning these testimonials and case studies into an eBook that lets you control the content you share — including the examples you use?

Why eBooks benefit companies

Not only can companies dictate the information captured in their eBooks, they can also steer the tone. People are bombarded with advertising these days, and traditional lead generation sources are providing less ROI — people resist the hard sell when they feel it’s lurking behind every corner. eBooks provide subtle marketing that allows prospects to find you, rather than the other way around.

They’re also affordable to produce. For less than the cost of a full-page, four-color ad in a mid-tier print magazine, a business can hire a writer, design a cover, and publish a lead-generating eBook. These reads don’t have to last hundreds of pages — in fact, a book ranging from 25 to 50 pages is plenty; too long is actually less effective. Think of it this way: How many reports does your company produce annually? How hard would it be to draft a 25-page book of practical tips for automobile engine care or employee evaluations?

However, the best part of eBooks is their simple technological advantage:

  • Convenience: The electronic medium provides the best method for an immediate call-to-action: a click! Coupons, recipes, and checklists can draw prospects in immediately, requiring a click to retrieve the offer. Where do those clicks take them? To your website, blog, or Facebook fan page. Your company doesn’t have to ask customers to memorize a URL (how’s that working for you?).
  • Quantifiable measurements: eBooks containing links allow businesses to track their success, making it easy to determine the ROI of marketing costs.
  • Variety: Rather than provide a static product, companies can add links to video, audio, or graphics, adding visual appeal. Some eBook publishers even allow companies to provide updates to their eBooks’ content, preventing it from feeling stale long after its original publishing date.

Converting eBooks into branded image enhancers

Of course, investing the time and money in making an eBook isn’t worthwhile if people don’t connect the valuable content with your company’s brand. In order to ensure that potential customers are encouraged to check out your company, you need to maximize the eBook’s ability to enhance your image:

  • Complement your existing brand: If your company and product logos are already trusted and recognized, use them on your eBook cover. If these are less known among your target audience, use a professional photograph that exemplifies the feeling you want your brand to evoke.
  • Present a professional image: Make sure the format, writing, and editing are publication-ready. The manner in which your eBook is presented will dictate how prospects perceive your brand.
  • Execute with precision: When making your eBook publication-ready, consider the conversion of media. Whether you’re taking content from a seminar, webinar, or a series of articles, consider what shape the content would need to be in to maintain charisma on the page. For example, if you’re converting spoken content into your eBook, make sure the language tone remains conversational. If you’re converting slides, make sure the rhythm of the visuals will be good for paging through on an eReader. eBooks are their own medium, and you want your message to be received as clearly in that format as it is on any other format.

Wales eBook adds value to content strategyA great example of maximizing this image-making aspect can be found with Martin Wales. The president of free-ebooks.net, he wrote an eBook called “The P.U.M.P. Marketing System,” which included links to more tips and free video training. The book was a simple transcript of a training session he’d provided; which in a short period has been downloaded more than 46,000 times, delivering him targeted prospects without forcing his service upon them.

While other companies are throwing money behind endless bar tabs and spam-laden marketing schemes, your business can get ahead by providing an informational product that brings leads. Customers will have more faith in your company’s expertise, and your competitors will be busy trying to revive their tired tactics. Who has the lead then?

For more advice on successful content marketing tactics for lead generation, check out eMedia’s white paper, Lead Generation from Start to Finish: A Marketer’s Reference Guide.

eBook image via Shutterstock

Author: Nicolas Gremion

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  • Chris Adams

    Nicolos,
    Excellent article. We are in a very early stage of content marketing and other day we were debating if we need to publish E-books or not. Your post has answered our question. Any thoughts on some best practices related to E-Book creation?
    Thank you
    Chris

  • Nic

    Thanks for your comment Chris. The most important thing to
    do is to put together an eBook of value; one that will have people A) thinking ‘wow
    this guy’ knows his stuff, I want to hire him’ and B) want to share the eBook. Writing
    an eBook that reads like an ad will backfire. Use your eBook to demonstrate
    your professionalism, skills and knowledge.