5 ebook examples that are content marketing workhorses
Ebooks are one of my favorite content types because they’re effective, hardworking and flexible. In this article, I’ll share five ebook examples that will show you how this popular content marketing technique works in practice – and why.
Entente, the content marketing agency I started in 2008, created all of the ebook examples described here. That means that I can reveal exactly what the goals were for each ebook, which I couldn’t do for ebooks written by other agencies or businesses.
There’s also a bonus to this set of examples: I can make them all available to you for download in a single compressed file:
First, a definition
An ebook is a book publication made available in digital form. It’s made up of text, images, and sometimes multi-media. It’s readable on computers or other electronic devices. Although sometimes defined as “an electronic version of a printed book”, many ebooks exist without a printed equivalent, especially when they’re created for content marketing purposes.
Why ebooks work in content marketing
Ebooks tell a story with a sequence
That makes them a powerful way to describe a multi-element message because you can lead a reader from the story’s beginning to its end.
Ebooks are visually appealing
Ebooks usually use minimal text, simple layouts and lots of imagery. That makes their messages easy to consume and understand.
An ebook is solution-focused
Unlike a spec sheet or sales brochure, a good ebook describes a problem and its solution rather than a list of product features. That makes them educational and helpful rather than pushy.
Ebooks present in-depth content well
By breaking a story into short chapters and sections, ebooks can cover detailed material without being overwhelming.
Ebooks are popular
Many people like to download ebooks – even if they never get around to reading them!
How ebooks are used in content marketing
Some of the most common uses of ebooks in content marketing include:
An ebook with sufficient value or appeal can convince an interested person to submit a data form, which generates a lead.
Because they can tell a story in a detailed way, ebooks are perfect vehicles to establish the unique perspective of a business: its thought leadership.
An ebook can provide a clear understanding of underlying causes or industry trends. That in turn can give logical support for a specific solution.
Value propositions and business differentiation aren’t easily communicated in short-form content. But ebooks can handle these tasks with ease!
Sometimes ebooks are written to directly address one targeted persona for a business.
Root of a content tree
Content trees are a way to carry out a multi-element content campaign. Ebooks are often used as the primary long-form content in such a campaign: the root of the content tree.
5 ebook examples
The five ebooks described in the rest of this article leverage the strengths of this unique content form and were created for one or more of the uses just described. Here they are.
1. Content Marketing Isn’t a One-Night Stand
This light-hearted book explains the content marketing process in a simplified way. Originally created to provide solution insight for Entente Marketing prospects, it now serves a second purpose as a lead magnet for the Content Marketing Startup learning site.
In a short 18 pages, the ebook tells a story using an online dating metaphor. Rich red colors on both the cover and initial two-page spread set a tone of romance.
The interior of the book sticks to a very simple layout, with one main idea described in minimal text presented next to a simple image on each page.
Entente emailed this ebook to prospective clients to start a conversation about content marketing.
As a lead magnet, it’s been Content Marketing Startup’s number one content offer, converting over 40% of viewers to downloaders.
Created with iBooks Author.
2. Rural Emergency Care: A Plan For Education And Team Development
This 23-page ebook provides an overview of the ongoing training challenges faced by rural emergency medical personnel and offers a potential solution in the form of a multi-step educational plan.
The primary goal of this content was to tell an easily digested solution insight story. While the CALS website covers all of this material as well, the sequential nature of the e-book leads the viewer through the story in a more directed way than random web navigation ever could.
This ebook also functions as a lead magnet. Advertised in a prominent location on the client’s home page, it has generated hundreds of downloads that represent potential students of the non-profit’s course offerings.
Note the upfront identification of the primary target personas on page two (“Why You Should Read This”).
Simple imagery and photography throughout the book reinforce the logo and rural nature of the brand.
Finally, note the “Next Steps” and “Resources” chapters that provide clickable links to other materials. That makes this ebook one hard-working piece of content!
Created with Adobe InDesign.
3. The Fives Stages of Analytics Maturity
This is the longest ebook example of the bunch at 29 pages. It’s also the wordiest, departing from the short paragraph style of the previous two examples.
This piece was meant to convey the thought leadership of the business. In a complex industry such as business analytics consulting, that required a more scholarly and in-depth approach.
In days gone by this piece might have been structured as a boring white paper. But the ebook format introduces lively color, imagery, illustrations, distinct chapters and other book-like elements that improve readability and appeal.
This book is aimed at C-level executives, senior IT staff and strategists. While it’s somewhat academic in nature, it nonetheless includes action suggestions in the “Time to Change?” questions after each main chapter. Another workhorse!
Created with iBooks Author.
4. Your plan to make payment processing a competitive advantage
Much like the CALS approach, this 16-page ebook example uses a proscriptive plan to give insightful advice to target readers. Plans are a helpful way to present actionable solutions to businesses, making plans a great theme for ebooks.
Aimed at software publishers whose products require some sort of payment processing back-end, this ebook uses solution insight to recruit potential partners. There’s also a healthy dose of business positioning in the content.
In contrast to the in-depth academic style of Clear Peak’s offering, Reliafund’s content is short, conversational and friendly in tone. It reflects the culture of the company, which is an important element for prospective partners to evaluate before making a decision.
In this design, key words become super-graphic elements, large and dominant on the page and tied together with a consistent color palette. The headlines invite further reading, and the minimal text presents few barriers to turning the page.
Even if you’re not a software publisher, this lively presentation pulls you in!
Created with Adobe InDesign.
5. The New Model of Insurance Marketing
Twenty-two carefully crafted pages present thought leadership and solution insight in this in-depth exploration of industry trends. The first chapters are decidedly educational, followed by four proscriptive solution recommendations.
This ebook example illustrates the effective use of market research to build credibility. While the piece is clearly opinionated, the opinions are backed up by facts. That makes it believable and hard-hitting.
Because the copy is long and the concepts a bit complex, this ebook uses an effective “Bottom Line” section after each recommendation to sum up and simplify it’s main points.
This content was the root of a larger content tree campaign. Content derived from the ebook included an executive summary, emails, several blog posts, a press release and multiple social posts.
Created with Adobe InDesign.
Tools for ebook creation
Our agency used Adobe InDesign and Apple’s iBooks Author to create these ebook examples. Both require a fair amount of training and skill, with iBooks Author a bit more approachable given its design as a dedicated ebook creation tool.
Similar results can be achieved, however, with more mainstream document authoring tools such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Pages and Apple Keynote.
In addition, a number of dedicated e-book creation apps and services have recently become available.
No matter which tool you use, ebooks can represent some of the most effective content in your library. If you clearly define how an ebook will be used in your content strategy, and use these ebook examples as inspiration, you’re sure to take your content marketing capabilities to the next level.
Have you created an ebook yet?
If not, what’s holding you back?
What would help you get started?
Download all five ebook examples:
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