Savvy Speaks: eBooks – What They Are and How to Use Them Effectively In B2B Marketing

Savvy Speaks: eBooks – What They Are and How to Use Them Effectively In B2B Marketing
Savvy Sisters @savvy_b2b - Wed Nov 03, 2010 @ 05:40AM
Comments: 15

The last few years have seen the rise of a new form of marketing collateral – the eBook.

While some have embraced it with wild abandon, others are still admittedly scratching their heads a bit. This week the Savvy Sisters sound off about eBooks – what defines the medium and how to use them to your best advantage. Next week we will share some links to great examples on the web.



In many ways, it’s best to describe an eBook but comparing it to its cousin, the white paper. I love this differentiation by Jonathan Kranz, author of the very engaging The Ebook Ebook: How to Turn Your Expertise Into Magnetic Marketing Material: "A successful ebook is more collegial, reader-friendly and visually interesting than the traditional white paper."

In many ways, white papers and ebooks are similar:

  • Both should be targeted to a specific reader.
  • Both should educate the reader by solving a problem.
  • Both should not be product-centric, yet they should persuade a reader to reach a certain conclusion.
  • Both are lengthy, yet they should be easy to scan.

But, they are also markedly different. When done well, there is something very engaging and approachable about ebooks:

  • Ebooks are in landscape format, making them very easy to read on screen.
  • Ebooks are graphics-heavy, often using an image on each page for aesthetic appeal.
  • Ebooks have bold text treatments to really make key points pop.
  • Ebooks have a very sharp title page.
  • Ebooks have more white space than white papers.
  • Ebooks can have interactive content. (For a great example of this, see the Lumension ebook, 7 Things Every CEO Should Know about Information Security.)



Tactically, an eBook is a content tool that is intended to provide the reader (aka - your potential customer) with useful information. It is meant to have intrinsic value while also increasing your brand's credibility and top-of-mind real estate. Bonus points if your eBook becomes a trusted reference that the reader refers to again and again.

In addition, an eBook can be the perfect place to let your brand's personality shine. Unlike other types of corporate content (like case studies and white papers) which are traditionally pretty straight-forward in terms of layout and design, eBooks provide an opportunity to let loose with creative ideas, images, and fun metaphors. An eBook gives you a chance to connect with your reader on a more intimate, conversational level.



I think David Meerman Scott said it best when he defined eBooks as "the hip stylish cousin to the white paper." Think of an eBook as a strictly educational white paper written in a conversational tone and turned on its side. The best eBooks marry valuable information with strong design and graphics that help tell the story. A good resource for how to write an effective eBook is The eBook eBook by Jonathan Kranz, which Michele reviewed last year.

B2B prospects are increasingly turning to eBooks as they consume content during the research process. Since this content asset is best geared toward the early stage of the buying process, it's ideal to offer it without requiring registration but include a call to action pointing the reader to additional content for which you can begin collecting profile details.

Join the conversation!

Have you been using eBooks in your marketing efforts?

Still have lingering doubts or questions?

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