In modern marketing, content is still king — everyone knows that. Both business owners and site visitors recognize the vital importance of content that is well-researched, persuasively written, and beautifully designed,
Content can take many forms, from the familiar blog post to newsletter text and even brief social media headlines. They have different forms because they have different purposes. Sometimes it’s to attract attention, sometimes it’s to inform & educate and others it may be just to reinforce brand messaging.
ebooks have a special place in the world of content marketing. They’re the go-to choice for situations where a deeper dive into a given topic is needed. If brief, marketing-oriented content marketing is supposed to get people interested, ebooks are there to help close the deal by explaining a subject in detail and making the supplier of the ebook look like an expert in the process.
Business portals effectively use ebooks for presenting research data, trends, analytics, and reports. Tech companies leverage the power of ebooks for presenting complex topics in a much easier-to-digest form, maintaining the fragile balance between advanced and accessible.
For eCommerce, ebooks are the ideal way to engage with potential customers who are in a longer sales funnel, considering items or services that, by their nature, require much more customer education.
ebooks require much more time and resources than other forms of content marketing but they can be just what distinguishes you from the competition in many areas. From closing the sale to enhancing your reputation in the marketplace to building credibility as an expert, ebooks can deliver in ways that less-demanding forms of content cannot.
Here are 5 ways ebooks can help your eCommerce operation right now.
Ebooks work wonders for lead generation
This is the number one reason most businesses decide to go with ebooks in the first place: they are great for getting precious user information because they are typically gated material accessed with an email address.
The process is very straightforward if you do your job well:
- Someone is interested in a subject
- They search for information about that subject
- They find your ebook packed with the information they want
- You ask them for an email address in exchange of a free copy
- They start reading about this amazing product or service (provided by you, of course) and you have the email address of a potential lead
The user now has just the information they’ve been searching for, and you get a new prospect (after all they came to you, not vice versa) to target with your special offers.
Besides, it’s not just any prospect - it’s already a very qualified one. Based on the contents of the ebook and the information you choose to collect, you can learn every little thing you need about this potential client in order to personalize your sales pitch in the future.
Your “regular” content marketing sets a kind of standard for what you consistently produce. ebooks give you a chance to impress with something even better.
Consumers understand that ebooks are harder to create - they are longer, require more advanced design and simply involve much more work on your end. It only takes a few seconds to see that an ebook is not like an ordinary blog post.
In an ironic way, the fact that ebooks are usually gated material and shared only for an email address makes them that much more attractive and credible as a source of information. After all, no one would demand an email address in exchange for an ebook if it wasn’t worth it, right?
Put yourself in your customers’ shoes for a moment and ask yourself — Who would you trust more, a brand that regularly produces ebooks on various aspects of their business or one that doesn’t?
Ebooks improve your brand image
This follows from the previous point. Since ebooks take more to produce, the fact that you invest the time & effort needed to make them says something about your brand. In fact, it does this in two ways.
First is the simple fact that you produce something that clearly demands a lot of effort but you give away for free. Never mind for the moment that you are, in fact, getting “paid” for the ebook through the email contact information you get for it. Going the extra mile for customers is recognized and appreciated.
The second way ebooks boost your brand image is they establish you as an expert in the field. If you have so much information about a topic - advanced information - that you need a longer, more comprehensive format to share it, then you must be a reliable source, right?
Publishing ebooks on a topic helps you look like a specialist. While other brands might stop with a simple blog post, you take on the extra work involved with organizing, designing and publishing something that can be much longer, much more detailed and, as a result, much more valuable.
Consumers will notice this and turn to you when they want to know more about something in your field.
Your competitors publish ebooks, so you should too
Another reason to seriously consider adding ebooks to your eCommerce marketing strategy is that customers already expect you to have them.
As an effective form of lead generation and product advertising, ebooks have been around for quite some time now. Internet users are already familiar with the process of exchanging their email address for a slightly more advanced form of content. In fact, many users are searching for this opportunity, especially if the ebook you offer on a specific topic is introduced in the right way.
That’s why, by preparing a couple of online books on trending topics within your industry that are also backed up by SEO, you prove your eCommerce site’s visitors that not only are you an expert in your field, but you also know your customer.
You are especially vulnerable if you have never published an ebook. With every brand looking for an edge and a way to stand out, more of them are turning to ebooks. If you find yourself among the few brands yet to publish one, what kind of message does that send to customers?
Offering an ebook goes beyond lead generation or boosting your reputation as an expert — it shows consumers that you keep up with trends, are active in your field and have the resources needed to assemble an ebook and offer it for free. In short, it’s a sign of vitality and awareness of your market.
Ebooks feed other elements of your marketing automation
Let’s circle back to the part about how ebooks are gated material that are traded for an email address. If you set it up properly and gain marketing consent on the page where you collect addresses, it opens up all the opportunities associated with marketing automation.
Sharing an ebook can have the same bottom line as adding a new subscriber to your newsletter address database. It’s another address you can use for your other content marketing. You can even have an opt-in for your newsletter on the same page where you share your ebook.
They say that data is the oil of modern eCommerce and a valid email address from an interested customer is as good as it gets. Which would you rather have — someone who regularly reads your blog posts but never shares an email address or someone who downloads a single ebook in exchange for their email address?
Website traffic is great, but a customer who invites you to their inbox is even better. Use ebooks as a way to supply your marketing automation with more interested customers who are engaged enough to share an email address.
Is an ebook always a good idea for eCommerce?
ebooks are definitely worth the effort but you need to understand right up front that there is a much higher bar here than, for example, blog posts. Part of the reason that ebooks are so impressive is that a lot of work really does go into them.
While investing in the preparation of a marketing ebook for eCommerce business might be the best decision you’ve ever made, you also need to be aware of the downsides:
- Ebooks are hard to make. We’ve already touched on this, but the fact is that ebooks are high maintenance. From start to finish they require a lot of time, attention, resources, and dedication if you want them to bring the desired results.
- They involve research you might not be used to doing. ebooks are supposed to take readers behind the scenes, introducing them to the deep industry currents they might not know about. Depending on what you’re selling and what your customers are looking for, you may have to put in a lot of research time before a single word is written.
- Not everyone will pay the ‘price’ for your ebook. Consumers are sophisticated these days and many understand that sharing their email address will result in emails that they may not want. The bounce rate on the “give us your email page” can be quite high.
- Not all leads will be the “right” leads. Even if 100 site visitors decide to download your amazing ebook, you can be sure that will not translate into 100 happy customers. Some will lose interest, some will find it’s not what they had in mind and others will give you an email address they just use for getting free ebooks but otherwise never check. Success rates for follow-up messages can vary.
Are ebooks right for you and your eCommerce?
Probably yes, they are, but the decision lies with you. We’ve presented you 5 ways ebooks can boost your eCommerce marketing strategy, however it’s up to you to decide whether or not to use them in the end. Start small, be sure you're sharing content and information that's worth it, track the results and see how it works for you!