7 Ways to Get More Eyes on Your E-book
Conventional wisdom tells us that attention spans are short so content should be shorter. That might be true when it comes to the latest celebrity gossip, but when people are truly interested in your message, they want more than a bite-sized teaser. Social media campaigns and 500-word blog posts can jump-start engagement, but longer content, like white papers and e-books, is shared more often and rated as more influential by decision-makers.
When should you publish an e-book instead of a blog post? The answer is simple: When you can’t do the topic justice in a one-page blog post. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Do I have critical details beyond the scope of short-form content?
- Does this information help my audience make an important decision or solve a problem that requires more than one step?
- Do I want my information to be easily tracked and accessed?
If the answer to any of these questions is “Yes,” an e-book could be the ideal choice. After that, it’s just a matter of execution. You don’t just want an e-book; you want an awesome, nobody-should-miss-this-so-I-have-to-share-with-everybody-I-know e-book. Here are a few tips for writing an e-book that will attract clicks, boost shares, and help you build a reliable email list (because you will, of course, ask for an email address in exchange for downloading your awesome, free e-book, right?).
1. Identify your audience
Whose attention are you trying to grab? Is your e-book for consumers, fresh prospects, B2B customers, or donors to your non-profit organization? Once you’ve identified an audience, break it down further. If you’re writing for consumers, are they professionals, teens, retirees, single parents, etc.? Do they live around the corner or halfway across the world? What is their reading level? Is English their first language? What is their average household income? Paint a clear, detailed portrait of your audience so that you can create their perfect e-book.
2. Get inside their heads
The best way to come up with relevant, engaging topics is to figure out what matters most to your target audience. What keeps them up at night? What makes them feel calm/happy/inspired? Once you have the answer to those questions, coming up with topics is a cinch. Solve their pain points. Talk about the issues that interest and inspire them. Let’s say you’re a travel agency. First-time overseas travelers might be worried about passports, visas, getting through customs, currency exchange, etc. Seasoned travelers might be more interested in venturing off the beaten path and discovering restaurants and shops that aren’t in the typical tourist brochure. When you know what your audience is thinking, you’ll know what to write.
3. Clarify your purpose
The next step is to nail down what you want your e-book to accomplish. Ask one really important question: What do you want people to know, think, feel, or do after they read it? You might have to dig down a few levels to get to the real purpose. For example, if you want to educate readers about a product or service, that’s nice — but what you really want is for them to eventually buy that product or service. If you’re writing “how to” content that illustrates a technique or skill, why do you want the reader to master that technique or skill?
Depending on your brand, you might want to teach them how to renovate a kitchen so you can sell them home improvement products — or you might want to teach them CPR to help keep their friends and families safe. Since this is content marketing, you may not want to come out and explicitly state your goal — especially if it’s sales-related — but going through this process will help you stay focused, guiding your e-book’s format and writing style. Resist any urges to veer off course (save that thought for your next e-book).
4. Appearance counts
You could come up with the most riveting e-book ever created — but that won’t matter if it’s so text-heavy that it sends readers running before they get to the second page. The right graphics, for example, can create emotional appeal, add visual interest, or simplify a complicated topic. Fortunately, we live in a world where quality visuals are easily accessible. Flickr is filled with photos that are licensed through Creative Commons, and several online sources offer free or low-cost illustrations.
And then there’s white space. White space is your friend. White space gives your readers room to breathe and makes each page easy on their eyes. At the same time, white space helps you make key points and facilitates scanning. You can incorporate white space in a number of effective ways. Some of the most common techniques are grouping similar points into topic sections and breaking up longer narratives with bullet point or numbered lists.
5. But quality writing counts more
Just like great content can’t make up for huge, boring blocks of text, great graphics can’t make up for lousy writing. Spelling errors, grammatical errors, factual inaccuracies, and lack of focus, and — more than anything else, just not having anything to say — are deadly, no matter how many pretty pictures you include.
For your content to make a difference, it has to be not just relevant, but well-written, engaging, and above all accurate. Few things kill credibility more quickly than getting your facts wrong — unless it’s including a bunch of facts without revealing where the information came from. But great content also has to capture your brand’s voice and style, transforming your brand from a two-dimensional logo to a living, breathing persona. It’s critical that your writing encompasses your brand’s voice and that you use that voice consistently across all of your content platforms.
6. Track performance
Easy tracking is a huge plus with downloads.Not only can you track total volume or use of your e-book, but you also capture contact information from customers and prospects. Most readers are happy to complete a brief registration form in exchange for viewing or downloading relevant, high-value content. (As a result, e-books are one of the best ways to generate leads!) You can also post your e-book to a web page and add coding that will track how far the reader has scrolled.
7. Make sharing easy
One of the most powerful aspects of content marketing is the spontaneous desire in readers to share something they liked or found valuable. Make that process quick and easy by including icons that connect your readers to Facebook, Twitter, and other social media platforms that are relevant to your business and the e-book topic. You might even include suggested tweets, and point out illustrations that are ideal for Pinterest. Buffer has a useful guide to creating these helpful visuals.
Let’s face facts: Creating superficial content is easy. Top-notch content requires more time to plan and create. Even savvy digital marketers can feel overwhelmed by the relentless pressure of an aggressive editorial calendar. That’s why many brands find it more cost-effective to keep their eyes focused on the business, and outsource content creation to seasoned professionals who know the turf inside out. Prose Media offers the best of all worlds: Top-flight content marketing writers and editors with proven expertise in specific industries, an insider’s perspective on topic suggestions, and a full spectrum of solutions. We’re good. We can help. Sign up to gain access to our free platform and get a free, no-obligation custom quote.