Who Reads Ebooks Anyway? Examining the Utility of Ebook Content

Ebooks can be a very valuable format for content marketers. Ebook content provides a way to dig deeper into a big topic, as well as inform and delight customers. Many enterprises use ebooks as gated resources to build their email lists and nurture prospects. But it is worth the time to develop this content? Does anyone really read ebooks?

Well, that depends on how well you execute and position the ebook. Quality and relevance are essential, as they are for every content marketing asset. Let’s start by defining marketing ebooks and looking at some data regarding ebook utility.

What Is a Marketing Ebook?

An ebook is a long-form piece of content that is formatted as an electronic book. Content marketers use them to provide insight and expertise on a topic. They also often have a narrative flow and feature branded designs that are visually appealing. In most cases, organizations use them as lead magnets, and interested parties must complete a form to download them.

Ebook Data: Do They Perform?

There’s not a lot of data in the content marketing world about ebook performance. They usually get lumped together with long-form content. Ebooks have advantages and disadvantages, just like any format. But some data does exist.

The 2020 State of B2B Content Consumption and Demand Report for Marketers reveals that ebooks are the number one content type by request.

Netline Research - Top 10 Content Types by Requests

Image: Netline

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) B2B research also revealed the usefulness of ebooks. The format was in the top three for securing leads.

CMI Research - Top Content Types

Image: CMI

Content marketers see the value of ebooks, and they wouldn’t put their faith in a format that didn’t perform. Making a case for producing more ebooks would depend on your own content analytics. Even if you haven’t seen as much engagement as you’d like, you shouldn’t abandon the format. Instead, you may need a better strategy.

Why Ebooks?: Strategies, Benefits, and Ideas

If you’re going to commit to developing ebook content, it should certainly be part of your content strategy. Within this strategy, you should outline the basics of your ebook efforts:

  • How many should you produce each month.
  • Goals for ebooks (build email lists, conversions, thought leadership, nurturing, etc.).
  • What metrics you’ll analyze to understand performance.
  • The resources you’ll need (writers, designers, etc.).

Once you have these pieces, you should begin placing them into your content calendar, which means you’ll need topic ideas. Brainstorming topic ideas for ebooks can involve many things. You could focus on pain points, explainers, industry- or location-specific topics, or products. It all depends on your content pillars and audience.

Ebook Benefits: What You and Your Audience Can Get Out of Them

Ebooks can deliver benefits for content marketers and their audience. An ebook is an exchange of knowledge. In most cases, you’ll use them for top of funnel (ToFU) content, so they need to be geared towards this. Here are the ways in which you and your buyers can benefit:

  • Bolster your expertise on the subject: You’re providing your insights on a unique topic specific to your company. Audiences will appreciate the information and begin to trust you as a reliable source.
  • Start a conversation: A gated ebook may be the first connection you have with a buyer. It’s an opportunity to introduce a topic they care about as well as your brand. Now that you have their email address, you can nurture them with compelling emails. You’ve begun the conversation, and considering most B2B buyers consume many pieces of content before sales engagement or making a decision, you now have a path to conversion.
  • Personalize content: Use buying personas and segmenting as guides for ebook content development. You could develop content for a series of ebooks that are industry- or location-specific, effectively connecting with audiences.
  • Repurpose content in ebooks: Ebooks are a great format for repurposing. One of the best ways to do this is to take a series of blogs on the same topic and combine them into one ebook. Your audience gets a more holistic view of the subject, and your team cuts down on the time and resources needed to develop ebooks.
  • Leverage ebooks in paid ads: Most of the time, paid ads are driving users to buy, register, or schedule a demo/consultation. In these scenarios, conversions are low. That could be because the buyer isn’t at the consideration stage and wants more information. Offering an ebook in these situations allows you to gain their contact information while delivering insights in the ebook. You could see higher conversions that you can then nurture to purchase.

Ebook Design Ideas

The design is just as important as the words in your ebooks. It needs to follow your brand identity and deliver an exceptional reading experience. Here are a few design ideas that can boost the design of your ebook:

  • Use landscape rather than portrait: Landscape ebooks are easier to scroll on mobile devices. They also look better on desktop. Having a landscape ebook can help your stand out from the rest, as well.
  • Develop a theme: Ebooks that have narrative themes keep readers in the book longer. For example, if you’re creating an ebook to promote partnerships with other vendors, use a theme that uses imagery of very famous duos, such as Lewis and Clark or Batman and Robin.
  • Keep in mind that imagery doesn’t always have to be topic-specific: In many B2B companies, the topics you’re writing about aren’t physical things. That can make it hard to illustrate. There are other options. For instance, if you are writing an ebook about a general but location-specific topic because different laws or regulations apply, use photos that represent the state, city, or country. Readers will immediately notice that the ebook speaks to their situation.

Ebook Content: Make Sure You Have the Right Tools to Manage Projects

Ebooks should have a prominent place in your content plan. They are critical to demand generation. Managing ebook projects is another challenge, but one you can overcome with the right content marketing platform. Learn how DivvyHQ provides the best tools to do just that.