A blog is fundamental to a successful inbound marketing strategy. But eBooks are the next part of the process - they are an excellent way to turn visitors into leads.
Research by the CMI consistently shows eBooks to be one of the most effective forms of content. And the bonus? They’re relatively inexpensive to produce.
However, the prospect of creating an eBook can feel daunting. First, you need to write it, and then you need to design into a professional-looking document that your prospects and customers will want to download.
In this blog post, we break down the process of creating an eBook to make it feel more manageable.
Choose a topic
The purpose of your eBook is to generate leads, so it needs to be interesting and relevant to your audience. So when choosing a topic, the first port of call should be your buyer personas.
Your eBook could address some of the most common questions or concerns your buyer persona has. Perhaps you could tackle an industry-wide issue that has ramifications for them. Or you could address industry trends - organisations love to see how they benchmark against others in their industry. You could even conduct your own research survey and use the findings as the basis of an eBook. Delivering original research content is a sure fire way to demonstrate authority in your field.
An easy win could be to repurpose some of your existing blog posts into an eBook. Is there a topic you blog about regularly that has been received well by your audience? A meatier piece of content around that topic could be of appeal to your customers and prospects and provide a perfect eBook opportunity.
It’s also best practice to create eBooks with the buyer’s journey in mind. Educative and informative offers that are agnostic of your solution but still wrapped in your brand will capture your audience at the ‘Awareness’ stage. And ‘Consideration’ stage eBooks can be more aligned with how your company might help.
The most important thing to remember is that an individual agrees to share personal information about themselves in return for this content - so it has to be worth their time.
Break it into sections
Once you’ve chosen a topic, break it down into sections, or chapters. Here at Equinet, we usually start off with writing a synopsis, where we outline all the sections so each has a clear purpose. Typically, an eBook will consist of four to six sections, including an introduction and conclusion.
Take our eBook The Inside Track on Inbound Marketing for Professional Services, as an example. We broke it down into the following:
- How is the face of the professional services industry changing?
- The inbound approach to marketing professional services
- Defining your inbound strategy
Much like the chapters in a book, having clear sections in an eBook helps guide the reader and makes the content more digestible. And when it comes to writing, you can approach each section one at a time - this will make the process easier.
Writing for Copyblogger, Ali Luke advises: “Think of your eBook as a series of blog posts. Content-rich, in-depth posts that readers can’t wait to read and share. When you look at it that way, your eBook suddenly seems less… daunting.”
However, your eBook still needs to feel joined up and have a clear progression from one section to the next. Include segues at the start and end of each section to help it flow and to keep the interest of the reader. Segues signal to the reader that they have left one thought or idea and are moving on to another.
Other usual writing rules apply; ensure you keep your reader in mind, craft a compelling title and section headlines, and adopt the right tone. You may want to write a touch more formally than you may do in a blog post, but make sure your personality is still reflected.
Design your eBook
Once you’ve written your eBook, the next stage is packaging it in an appealing way. Your eBook might be 4,000 words. This is all valuable content, but your audience won’t want to read dense passages of text.
Designing your eBook isn’t simply about converting a Word document into a PDF. Your prospects and customers are far more likely to invest their time in reading something that is carefully designed with images and infographics incorporated to help them navigate the content.
If you have in-house design capabilities, that’s great. If not, there are lots of free templates out there, like these from Hubspot, which can be downloaded in either PowerPoint or InDesign.
Make sure you lay out the text in a way that’s easy to read and that allows for plenty of white space. Where appropriate, make use of bulleted lists, bold text, italics or highlighted quotes to draw the reader’s eyes to certain points you want to emphasise.
Include visuals that complement your writing - infographics to illustrate concepts or data in a simple and visual way, and images to enhance the reader’s understanding of a point you’re making. And when it comes to the front cover of your eBook, be sure to include an image that captures the concept of your eBook in an interesting way.
Get it out there
Once you’ve created your eBook, packed full of valuable content and packaged in an appealing way, you need to get it in front of your readers. eBooks are a great way to turn blog readers into leads. But to do this, you’ll need to create eye-catching call-to-action (CTA) banners and place them at the bottom of your blog posts. If the reader wants to find out more, they simply click on the CTA button and are taken to a landing page where they can access your eBook.
You can also place the CTA button on other pages across your website, share it on social media, and send the offer to those in your contact base who may be interested in the content. Therefore driving more opportunities to convert prospects to leads.
eBooks should be an essential part of professional services marketing. Not just as part of the inbound marketing process, but for projecting the credibility of your business too. Though they can require a significant investment of time and resource, they are a great way to convert a prospect in to a lead and get your ideal customers closer to doing business with you.