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How to write and design an eBook that engages

We've just completed an eBook for Longevity Box - a supplements brand supporting people to live longer, healthier lives. Working with a great designer and my client, it made me reflect on what ingredients make a perfect eBook recipe for engagement.

In our case, we wanted to make the subject of longevity accessible. The healthy lifespan sector was crowded with online academic data and research. It made the topic hard to navigate and we wanted our eBook to change that for customers.

Why consider an eBook?
eBooks for any business can be an effective marketing tool and for B2B businesses, with hard to reach customers, eBooks are an excellent tool. Well written content with impactful design will present your expertise, relevance and purpose in an easy to understand format. eBooks are proven vehicles to secure customers seeking solutions.

As well, eBooks are in effect a win-win.These content rich assets give your audience valuable information and insights, in exchange for an opportunity to build a direct customer relationship which potentially serves both your business needs.

What is an eBook?
In simple terms, an eBook is a digital form of a book and in the world of business the eBook doesn’t have to be the length of a novel. In fact, getting to the point with succinct sections that help illustrate and resolve marketplace challenges is an ideal ebook format and formula for success.

In the past, brands seeking to publish anything had to pay a publisher to print and promote a book - so few outside of the academic sphere would invest in this long term and expensive marketing. Nowadays a wealth of digital publishers are available like Google, Youtube Linkedin or Meta Business Suite. These platforms offer built in marketing and sales support levers so publishing owned content has become accessible to most businesses.

What’s more, eBook formats come in all shapes and sizes - everything from several hundred pages to a 10 page quick read on a particular subject. Depending on your audience needs, there are no one size fits all rules.

What are the benefits of eBooks?
An eBook is an ideal format to address trends, industry topics and shared sector challenges. The content requires little customer time and can quickly engage and educate target customers on a particular topic and inspire them with a range of solutions. However do remember rule number one - an eBook is not the same as a sales brochure!

According to market data, eBooks have healthy conversion rates as part of an inbound marketing campaign. A well written eBook converts at 60-70% during the first six months of launch and then averages around 20-30% thereafter. Industry averages for B2B eBooks is about 16-18%.

-eBooks are cost effective. Particularly for small businesses and startups looking for the best ways to reach their target audience without considerable investment. eBooks can be curated in a lean way working with a specialist agency or team of freelancers expert in writing, design and importantly, growth marketing. Working with an expert will help set up and manage pre-set budgets with trackable digital marketing activation on a variety of digital platforms like Linkedin.

-Optimising expertise. A recent LinkedIn study found that 93% of B2B buyers are likely to engage with a thought leader business. Other research shows that 93% of B2B buying decisions start with online search. Sharing unique insights is a smart and tactical method of marketing - establishing you and your business as a leading and trusted authority within your industry.

-Measurable. eBooks are an excellent method to improve lead generation and boost brand credibility and loyalty. And they enable a business to track, monitor and evaluate ROI, providing key learnings that will help enhance and improve future activity.

6 steps for making effective eBooks

Know your audience;
Tight audience targeting is key for any eBook campaign. In fact your eBook content must be focused on topicality and relevance to reach those prospects at target companies.

For B2B companies, a target customer group is often smaller than B2C counterparts. Most B2B companies operate within the well thumbed 80:20 rule. It’s the concept that a relatively small number of customers, around 20%, account for the majority portion of sales and profits. Therefore B2B-focused businesses should target a few specific group of customers identified by their business requirements.

Target buyers can be segmented by business, industry, job function and other categories like geography. This is where paid strategies on platforms like Linkedin and Facebook can really help hyper target potential customers. And this is often where an expert agency proves its value by helping set up, manage and quickly adapt this targeting strategy.

What’s the topic?
Defining your topic expertise is potentially the most important part of any eBook strategy. An eBook is about building authority and credibility that will engage customers. Crafting a set of unique sector insights that will help potential customers make better decisions is key. A successful eBook is a well mixed blend of educative content that ultimately links with your business product or service.

Many eBooks succeed as future gazers. Topics that raise and resolve issues that B2B customers aren’t yet facing but recognise that they will soon. Trying to be ahead of competition in tackling the issues and sharing solutions is a winning strategy - especially if timed within customer buying cycles for the year ahead.

As a final check, Google analytics can help find keywords and content relevant to your industry and SemRush can help unlock topics trending with your competitors.

Who writes the content?
Writing compelling content is easier said than done. It can be useful to engage an expert copywriter - particularly if business topics are somewhat complex or deeply technical and writing talent doesn’t exist in your team.
All eBooks work best with a blend of copy, impactful imagery or video supplemented with independent quotes and endorsements from leading professionals in your industry. If relevant, customer case studies can play a part in the narrative but remember eBooks are about education and enlightenment not commercial headlining.

Professional writers can also guide you in creating a powerful title that grabs attention. It’s important to remember that being as specific as possible with front cover titles and section headings will help better targeting and optimise eBook engagement.

How to design an eBook?
Don’t write great copy at the expense of great design! B2C and B2B customers will become more engaged with an intriguing or unexpected set of images or graphics that illustrates your narrative.
This is where you may want to commission photography, graphics, illustrations or icons to help both premiumise and professionalise your unique content. This is also where you want to observe the competition. How can you design your own eBook signature that transforms the norm and commands more attention as a result.

How to help your eBook engage and travel?
Now your topic is decided and eBook content is written and designed, it's time to optimize for lead generation and promotion.

Firstly, think about how to promote the eBook - using a combination of paid and organic methods. Creating a dedicated landing page will help you articulate your business, lead customers to download the eBook easily and enable you to gather customer data like contact details and information such as where they heard about you.

Paid digital marketing through Google and Linkedin for example will help target and connect your expertise with appropriate customers and minimise marketing wastage. However any paid strategy must be backed up by brand and business authenticity. Consider how to do this through a calendar of potential speaking opportunities, webinars, conferences, awards and PR storytelling or article writing. Ensure your paid strategy is further backed up with a content stream on your social media channels so all available channels are aligned in messaging.

How to measure success?
There are numerous ways to measure success and the answers are essentially in the question - what do you want your eBook to achieve?

Paid digital marketing activity will give you the data to measure customer engagement (through eBook downloads) and build a valuable customer database. But if your intention is also to heighten business visibility, it’s useful to understand how customers found you and therefore which channels worked best for you in driving visibility.

This further reinforces the need to put all your paid, owned and earned channels ‘on’ so you can measure which tactics worked best. Remember however that not all earned activity like PR or article writing deliver instant results so it may be worth undertaking measurement through a media or influencer survey to understand the impact of your eBook marketing campaign over 6 and then again, 12 months.

Writing excellent eBooks are an important and effective tool in B2B and B2C marketing and we’re here to help deliver the results you need!

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