Why E-books Belong in Your Marketing Arsenal This high-value editorial piece will help those in your target audience gain a more full understanding of a hot industry topic or challenge. What are the steps to get this off the ground? E-books burst onto the content marketing scene just a few years ago, and have gained notable traction as a tactic for engaging consumers — especially in the scientific realm. Because e-books provide a vehicle to explore topics in length, they can be a good fit for science-driven companies with complex or technical concepts to communicate. First, some background: Referred to as “a white paper on steroids” by the Content Marketing Institute, the e-book is an electronic version of a traditional book that can be read on a personal computer, tablet, or e-book reader. This high-value editorial piece will help those in your target audience gain a more full understanding of a hot industry topic or challenge. And in the process, they’ll develop loyalty to your brand. (A recent survey by C&EN Media Group found that 58 percent of C&EN’s readers are more likely to buy from companies with custom content or custom publications.) At a time when content truly is king in connecting with customers, the e-book is a unique way to deliver valuable, in-depth expertise in return for solid leads from prospective customers. Not to mention, it can act as the cornerstone of a company’s content marketing strategy, providing fodder for blog posts, webinars, quizzes, articles, and more. As you begin to plot out this worthwhile content project, first determine what is doable on your end and where it would make sense to seek help from outside. Here are three steps to get your e-book on track: Identify an audience-relevant topic and expert sources. E-books should be anywhere from 20-50 pages, providing information that is truly considered insightful among your target customers; the content cannot be promotional or blatantly self-serving. To create an e-book that will appeal to your niche audience, leverage your internal team — including scientists and engineers — to brainstorm key problems or challenges your customers face in the lab or during the course of their job. Then, ensure that you have enough content to address the situation thoroughly and artfully; don’t be afraid to get a bit technical, but use clear language and avoid jargon. Or, if leveraging internal staff is not the right option, don’t rule out the e-book possibilities. An industry publisher can find the most appropriate scientists to speak to your topic. Organize your book logically into chapters and employ clean writing skills or work with a content specialist who can do this for you. Either way, you should know that many successful e-books follow a how-to approach, presenting the problem and solution in a very clear manner. To do this well, excellent writing and design is required. Special creative attention must go toward the title of the book and each chapter, as well as the cover design and layout. Reading your e-book should be a breeze! Develop a smart distribution plan that leverages existing channels. With all of the effort that goes into creating an amazing e-book, you’ll want to maximize the potential for leads. A simple yet effective landing page is a must: this is where potential customers will come to download the e-book and learn more about your company. But how will customers find the page? Employ various strategies for getting the word out: a press release, excerpts in trade publications, blog posts, a pay-per-click ad campaign, and social media are among the options to consider. Often times, publications may have specific outlets for this type of content. Each of these elements should link back to the landing page, where you can collect contact information before giving away the content. At the end of the day, creating an e-book is a content tactic that’s worth exploring. You are, after all, an expert in your field. With the right help, it’s possible to master the task even if your in-house team doesn’t have the bandwidth on its own. The key is identifying a core problem that your audience needs help to address, and providing a solution in a thorough, accessible, and helpful way. Not only will potential customers be willing to provide their contact information in return for the e-book, but your company also will benefit from enhanced thought leadership in your field. WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU Have you written an e-book or read one? What do you see as key factors for success with this type of project?