Guide For Article
- Guide For Article
- Q: How did you come to the clarity that eBooks are so powerful in helping brands build connections with their buyers and audiences?
- Q: What roles would an eBook play in your content marketing campaign?
- Q: Could you share other secondary goals and objectives you can achieve with eBooks?
- Q: What’s your workflow for creating an eBook?
- Q: What is the difference between providing a lot of information and creating an eBook to inspire people to ask questions?
- Q: What is the process of discovering what could inspire your audience?
- Q: What’s your process to get feedback and reviews when creating your eBook?
- Q: Many people create eBooks and let them sit on the shelf. Why do you think that happens?
- Q: What is your promotion strategy for your eBook? What is a micro-site, and how does that work?
- Q: What do you think about taking an eBook and turning it into a blog series?
- Q: Could you share more about a “native ad campaign”? What does it look like?
- Q: Could you share more about the relationship between different channels when promoting eBooks?
- Q: What kind of budget and timeframe would you think could someone start if they want to execute this?
Q: How did you come to the clarity that eBooks are so powerful in helping brands build connections with their buyers and audiences?
I think my background is in content marketing for technology companies and PR, which use a lot of assets to achieve their goals. During my years working for large tech companies, I realized that the ebook is often a little bit misunderstood and pushed into a corner.
I think it’s been categorized as the funnel conversion asset. So its job is to grab a form fill and then give a lead to the sales team. It just occurred to me over the years that I’ve had the ability to test that an ebook can do so much more than that.
When we use ebooks above the funnel and at the top of the funnel, they can be incredibly powerful tools for bringing people into a relationship with your brand.
Q: What roles would an eBook play in your content marketing campaign?
Yeah. I think one of the reasons I love talking about DocuSign is because I still love this project. It’s that it was a really clever use of an ebook for a top of funnel or a brand strategy. It influences many of my approaches today.
So DocuSign had gone public, and its goal was to expand its services. Its goal was to break brand perceptions of the past that it was simply confined to one area of the market like a signature and to really let people know that it had a far wider scope.
I guess in the role of agreements, not just signing them, but everything that surrounds agreements, from analyzing them to forming them absolutely everything. So breaking a brand perception is hard to do, but it’s also very rewarding.
Then I think I just found the right tool to start that conversation about who the brand was; we did a bit of brainstorming and settled on the ebook because it is something that if people get it right, people have such a strong emotional engagement with a story and it was the perfect vehicle for storytelling.
I was just gonna add that I also have quite a long background in PR, and the difference between changing someone’s perception through media articles and an ebook is you’ve got that beautiful benefit that you can actually use the ebook to move them into the funnel.
So yeah, ebook content marketing creates a lovely connection above the funnel and then brings them into the funnel using that tool as a bridge.
Q: Could you share other secondary goals and objectives you can achieve with eBooks?
So one of the key objectives for this ebook was not just perception but actually bringing people to DocuSign domains. So we wanted to start the journey there and saw that ebook is a really good way; if we could bring them to the Doc science domain, then we could keep re-engaging them there, which leads them and helps move them further down the funnel.
For me, advising clients on their content is that eBooks are pretty hefty investments. We often let them fizzle out before they need to. So we use them for a single-use.
But I think you said, these different strategies that we had thought about to give it life. A content marketing strategy with ebook marketing really gave life, legs, and longevity.
I think that was our goal here, and that’s what I advise our clients when we talk about content programs, is to not make a single-use asset, but really do that due diligence to think about how you can elongate the use of that asset so that it’s really hitting all of those points over a long period of time. Then you’re getting your investment.
Q: What’s your workflow for creating an eBook?
If you’re starting with a less than relatable topic to your audiences, then you’re just going to keep adding money to something that isn’t necessarily going to hit the right points. So I’m really passionate about the creation process.
Any investment you make in coming up with a highly relatable content concept that deeply resonates with your audience will pay you back tenfold.
I think one of the things that people think about is their marketing question. What do we want to achieve in the market? And I would place emphasis on the creation part; it’s not the marketing question but the audience’s answer.
So in the case of the example, we just showed, the audience’s answer would be, when I sign an agreement, I don’t have to leave there and have a talk about marking it up and having the next version of the agreement; I can have those conversations right there digitally in the agreement.
Q: What is the difference between providing a lot of information and creating an eBook to inspire people to ask questions?
When people think of an ebook, they think of something that gives people information that they want to give you their details for, and it’s very transactional, quite short, and it has its place.
But the power of an inspirational ebook is that you resonate on an emotional level with people. You get them thinking about questions they don’t already have.
So you can engage them even before they’ve thought of needing their agreements to do something more or needing your technology in any way, and you get them to have this strong positive thought that is really hard to undo.
So inspirational ebooks, I think you tap into a sense of nostalgia; you tell stories or give information that doesn’t just answer a question that your audience doesn’t necessarily have yet. But start showing them a world of possibilities that gets their heart racing or that gets them spouse thought of their own.
Now, the reason that people don’t do that as often is that they often want to run to the end-stage, so that leads to them creating an asset that markets to people in the consideration phase.
But an ebook that actually inspires, instead of informs, brings the ability to reach a far wider audience. Then you get to create the longtail ebooks marketing strategy that keeps them engaged with you and moves them to conversion over time.
Q: What is the process of discovering what could inspire your audience?
We like to start all of our content projects with a discovery session. I think that one of the risks of creating content is the assumption. I think it’s actually really hard not to make assumptions. Because we’ve been dealing with people for so long and think that those assumptions are really true, going into a discovery session.
So I think it’s important to go into the discovery session and ask challenge yourself with questions about your audience, like, what are their frustrations? What are they raising?
First, when you go into a room with a prospect, what assumptions do you see them making about your brand? Ask some of them. And then I think one of my favorite tactics within a discovery session is if they were to sit there and write a review about your brand and your product, what would that have in it, and I always find that so revealing.
And you start to think in the shoes of your audiences, and then pull that into the brainstorming that you do to create an asset that touches on their frustrations, that touches on their inspiration, that does genuinely motivate and inspire them.
Q: What’s your process to get feedback and reviews when creating your eBook?
Mock-up, even if it’s just in a PowerPoint, this is what I’m thinking and then test that with people who will give you genuine feedback, whose feedback is aligned to your audiences. I think we are often in a hurry to get a program out the door; we skip over those little checkpoints that really help us maximize our investment.
The beautiful thing about content is you can change it depending on how people interact with it. So that’s a really important interaction point before you actually make the final asset to get great feedback that could save you time changing or editing that asset later.
Q: Many people create eBooks and let them sit on the shelf. Why do you think that happens?
Whenever we create a piece of content, like an ebook, we have a primary purpose in mind. For example, I want to engage people through social ads, and I want them to bring my website, and it can be very easy to get tunnel vision and create the asset.
Once the asset has done that, I like to encourage people to just think beyond that; what else could it do? Keep asking the question.
I always find that surprising and encouraging a list of secondary uses for that content that actually support the primary use evolves as part of that process. But where else could it add value? How else could we use this ebook in some of the other marketing problems?
Q: What is your promotion strategy for your eBook? What is a micro-site, and how does that work?
Suppose you could come up with a big theme, like the history of innovation and 50 agreements, and you have done your due diligence and understand how people like to interact with content. In that case, I think you still have insights into your overall goal, which is bringing people to your domain.
So a microsite is a really great way to do that. I think that lets us think about thought leadership ebooks, not just in their entirety that somebody could actually download from a landing page.
But then start thinking about creating a site where people could have bite-sized interactions with that ebook, not just a holistic ebook, because not everybody’s going to want to download an entire book or see the value of downloading an entire book off the bat.
If you create a microsite as we did with the history of innovation in 50 agreements, that gives little stories. And in this case, it was just one or two stories, not all 50.
I think it was something like 10, were on the front page, and then you could search the stories, then you start to pay in with people’s time commitment that they have to interact with content.
So they could read little bits, maybe come back snack on more content. And ultimately, they might then want the entire eBook.
Q: What do you think about taking an eBook and turning it into a blog series?
I think the thing about an ebook is not that I think we’ve said all the way through this session, not letting it sit, stand-alone, and then die on the vine.
So a blog is a great way of elongating that you can bring many perspectives out from the content; you could come from the agreement because of perspective for the history of innovation.
You could come from the perspective of the partnership or even story by story. I think the blog allows you to explore those different angles and find those different kinds of trigger points for audiences that help them to say, yeah, actually, I relate to that; I’m going to go ahead and read this ebook.
So it’s just using the blog as one channel to maximize the success of the book and the likelihood that it will be downloaded.
Q: Could you share more about a “native ad campaign”? What does it look like?
I think this goes back to the point of understanding your audiences. So going back to our case study example, history of innovation, we were talking about business leaders who are looking at disrupting business and found through that discovery process that they like to spend their spare time reading things like the Guardian.
So then that made native advertising a really powerful tactic in the case of this particular ebook, we could use a selection of four or five stories, I think it was an interrupt their usual habitual Sunday reading of the Guardian, with the story that then led me into to use on the domain and led them into a relationship with Oxfam.
Q: Could you share more about the relationship between different channels when promoting eBooks?
Yeah, I think this comes into actionable measures. Because people look at industry benchmarks and say, are we above or below the industry benchmark? And that’s not always 100% useful because one piece of content isn’t like another.
That said, I think it’s really important to have your own measures in mind, what means success, and then use those measures to understand or those benchmarks to understand whether you’re actually getting what you need.
So it is always good to keep an eye on your top-line measures: what means success for you? If it was foot traffic to the website, not everybody is going to click on something, engage with it and come directly to the website.
So it’s important to measure everything that you believe is meaningful. And in the case of many of these ebook programs that we run, it makes sense for people to look at their inbound organic sources and the correlation between those and activity through those and a big campaign, such as an eBook out in markets.
So when we launch an ebook, we’re not just looking at who came directly through; we’re not just looking at click-throughs and website visits. But we’re also looking at if we have more organic visits to our homepage, have more people come in through even the phone line, have more people just organically email us or come through contact-us for a form?
I think that’s a really important correlation to make because we do know that some people might read an ebook, wait for two or three days and then just come to your home page.
Q: What kind of budget and timeframe would you think could someone start if they want to execute this?
I think one of the beautiful things about content is that you can adapt it to any budget. I also think one of the things I wanted to share in this session is when you do that discovery process, think outside the box, and understand your audiences upfront; it can actually be quite relatively fast to operationalize something because you’re going in the right direction.
You’ve done that due diligence, so it needn’t be months; it can be weeks to operationalize something like this. And these days, we’ve got small clients that are really handy and things like Canva.
So it doesn’t have to be that kind of premium gold level; there might be fewer channels involved. There might be fewer tactics, but essentially, the same result that you’re producing something that talks directly to your audiences is well thought out and resonates deeply.