Sooner or later, while you build your content plan, one huge question emerges: Do you need an e-book?
This is a fairly simple question that evokes a lot of conversation. Many companies and organizations shy away from e-books. They require more effort, and can take a longer time to produce than the standard blog of 600-800 words. On the other hand, when produced correctly, e-books can provide valuable information to your audience, while improving your lead-generation efforts.
What It Is
An e-book is long-form content, topping out at 4,000 words or even longer. Long-form content is different from its short-form sibling in that it offers your audience a deeper dive into what, and how much, you know about a particular topic.
Here are some other advantages to long-form content.
· It expands your contact list. In exchange for industry information, your prospect will likely be willing to share name, email and phone number with you.
· It offers a great resource to your audience. A well-written e-book or white paper offers answers to questions, as well as up-to-date information.
· It can be leveraged into multiple content distribution channels. Long-form information can be shortened for social media, industry events and even web copy. This provides various ways for you to reach your audience.
· It can include various formats. In addition to verbiage, your e-book can offer videos, podcasts and infographics.
Creating That Perfect E-Book
Having extolled the benefits of e-books, here is the caveat. There is more to creating long-form content than slapping words into an e-book template. Here is what you need to consider when producing an e-book.
· Ensure relevant content. One problem we see with e-book content is the audience doesn’t care about the topic. If you want your audience to willingly hand over its contact information, be certain that the insights you offer provide answers to questions or solutions to problems.
· Ensure the content is easy to access and read, watch or listen to. Another problem we see? E-book producers that are so enamored with their knowledge, they devote paragraphs upon paragraphs to it. We said, above, that long-form content allows for more words. But those words should be presented in short sentences, set in short paragraphs, with plenty of bullet points and white space. Videos should download quickly, and infographics should be colorful, with just the right amount of information.
· Ensure the content carries your branding. Whenever we mention branding and e-books, the response tends to be “our logo is on every page.” That’s great, but branding needs to focus on a lot more, such as fonts, colors and even to the way your piece is laid out.
· Ensure your contact information is readily available and findable. The first rule of marketing is to make sure your audience knows where to find you. Place your phone number, e-mail address and website URL throughout the e-book.
· Ensure a distribution plan. We’ve written about the “if you build it, they will come” mentality in another blog. Your audience won’t know about your long-form pearls of wisdom unless you tell them about it. Plan an e-mail campaign around the e-book, and incorporate frequent reminders through social media and e-mail signatures.
To summarize, creating the ideal e-book does require resources and extra time. But, that long-form content is an ideal way to offer important information to your audience, while generating leads and growing awareness of your company or organization.