What can we learn from these great e-book examples?
An e-book in its most general sense is typically defined as any ‘book’ designed to be consumed in a purely digital format. Technically this includes everything from Kindle best sellers to digital marketing quick reads.
For marketers an e-book is a unique opportunity to give readers a detailed insight into an area of specialism. It is the epitome of content, designed to deliver real value to users, whilst also boosting the brand authority and trust associated with the writer. But despite the many benefits readily available from these assets, many marketers remain daunted by the e-book format.
To try and dispel some of the mystery around what makes a truly amazing e-book we have compiled some favourites from our own e-book store. Let’s check them out and have a look at the features which allow them to succeed.
What are the features of outstanding ebooks?
1. Content, content, content
It makes sense that the key attribute of a great e-book is the insight that can be gained from within. In all cases this comes down to well written content that succeeds in both educating and engaging the audience. This may sound pretty straightforward, but it is a tough balancing act to pull off, particularly if your subject matter is at all technical or something people would traditionally view as ‘boring’.
To ensure that your e-book is both informative and interesting, it’s best to first consider what areas your company is well placed to provide insight into. Think about what knowledge you have that may be valuable to others.
- For example: If you’re a security software company you may be well placed to report on current security threats in the area or how companies can go about improving their cyber- securing their systems.
Including any original or new research that you have access to will also add authority to your observations and help increase the force of your content.
Our example: ‘How to optimise your social media channels (plus best practice tips you can actually use)’
How to optimise your social media channels – maybe not one of the most inherently thrilling marketing concepts but nevertheless one which is increasingly important to master in the digital age,
As a content marketing agency with our own expert team of social media ninjas we were confident that an e-book compiling some of their wisdom would be useful for anyone trying to start out in social media marketing. I.e we put effort into ensuring that we were writing about a topic we knew back to front – that way our reader would definitely be deriving value from the asset.
This e-book contains fantastic insights for readers, and gives them a thorough understanding of how to manage their key social media channels. A particularly useful element are the key takeaways arranged at the bottom of every chapter. This compilation of pertientat stats and action items helps clearly sum up what the audience needs to know in a quick-read fashion.
Another useful tip to take from this e-book is how the content is arranged to allow for maximum reader understanding. The book is broken up into distinct chapters- each focused on a different key social media chanel. So one for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and so on. This helps to make the book itself more digestible, something that is particularly useful for a subject matter like this that could easily become dense. It also means that time poor users can skip to the section that they want to focus on and get the value they need without being bogged down in unnecessary information.
2. Clear and individual formatting
E-books can be a tough market in which to compete. As digital content has gained popularity, the likelihood of being found among the many thousands of other options has become much tougher.
Fortunately there are still ways to stand out, and the most effective of all of them is to be unique. Differentiate yourself with great content wrapped into a noticeable. individual composition or slant on a well known topic.
Get creative and consider some different ways that you could look into subjects that interest your audience. Make it as fun and inventive as possible, while ensuring that you are still delivering value. We guarantee that when given the choice between the same old docs and a fresh exciting e-book, the latter wins every time.
Our example: ‘SEO and Content Marketing: A speed date’
Sounds a bit wacky right? But I bet it got you more interested than a more predictable ‘what’s the difference between SEO and content marketing?’ title. This e-book provides a thorough breakdown of both concepts, and their relation to other related search engine tools, whilst keeping up the amusing narrative of a speed date between the two.
The writing is fun, witty and full of useful nuggets for reader to learn from. Take a leaf out of our book and have a go at creating your own exciting spin.
3. Audience appropriate writing style
All marketing lives and dies by its audience’s approval – and e-book content is no different. The first step to creating any written asset should be to consider the needs and wants of your target audience. In fact, creating a full blown user persona or working from one is almost always a good idea.
Once you have a firm grasp of what your audience is looking for, make sure everything adheres to their desires – most importantly the tone and style of your writing.
There is nothing more likely to off-put your readers than alienating them with an inappropriate writing style.
- For example: New subscribers to a programming course reading a ‘basic introduction to HTML’ are going to irked by a very technical style that assumes knowledge they clearly do not already have. Similarly those on the advanced course reading ‘advanced HTML programming’ will be frustrated by any over simplification of topics or over explaining of elementary concepts.
Before putting pen to paper, first seriously consider:
- Who is your audience?
- What is their level of knowledge on this topic?
- What are they interested in learning?
- What questions do they want answers to?
- How much time do they have?
Our example: ‘Your 2019 guide to 16 types of written content’
This e-book looks like it’s designed for marketers, likely marketing managers, who want a break down of the current uses of written content. Marketing managers by definition are:
- Busy people.
- Have high-level knowledge of marketing concepts.
- Want specific information about the marketing niches over which they have oversight.
- Need statistics and authoritative sources to back up their proposed strategies.
Our e-book has been tailored to suit this audience’s style to the exact measure. As you can see the copy itself is tight. Sentences are short, get to the point immediately and all contain value. Basically there is absolutely no fluff. In fact the majority of this asset’s information is in the form of small infographics or bullet points to maximise the efficiency with which insights can be gathered – all of which is ideal for the time poor marketing manager.
Furthermore the e-book focuses heavily on quotable statistics, with each page boasting its own fact box. This is prime material for the stat heavy marketing mindframe.
We all judge books by their covers – even e-books, so it’s essential that your design work is on point.
Investing in a smooth, stylish visual arrangement is a significant factor in both encouraging readers to interact with your work and also enjoy it.
Let’s face it, information interspersed with exciting visual elements is far more enjoyable to read than a wall of text. So what design elements should you pay particular attention to?
- Page layout: The arrangement of your page should be designed to make your content super easy to read. This means plenty of space between paragraphs, clear titles, sub heads and where possible break information into logical bullet points.
- Your font choices: Exclaiming over your e-book font choices may sound a bit Devil Wears Prada nit-picky, but correct typography actually has a huge impact on the experience of your readers. You want to find a balance between the correct stylistic feel whilst also making the text itself uber readable – noone is going to struggle through a beautiful yet illegible font.
- Colour scheme: Your colour scheme defines the initial feel of your e-book asset. It should be consistent with your brand style guide whilst also helping to make your work easy to navigate.
Our example: ‘6 awesome LinkedIn content strategy examples (and why they work)’
This e-book has been created with a clear theme in mind. It combines a playful mix of LinkedIn type graphics alongside a business theme with an emphasis on clarity.
For example: Our quick LinkedIn stats page clearly lays out the vital information in a highly legible font – easy for quick intake of facts. The key element of each stat is also bolded to help the eye find the right information. A little graphic accompanies each stat to sum up the concept of every point and to add some vibrancy to the page.
The content pages themselves are also well thought out, each designed to highlight a pertinent LinkedIn example. For each showcase(all of which are clearly titled), there is a snippet of the content example that is being referred to. Not only does this provide some interesting graphics to the page, it also helps the reader to follow exactly what’s going on and how it relates.
5. No stinting on the creative graphics
Technically this element is included within the overall design, but graphics should also be considered their own separate task which adds to the whole.
The imagery that you use on your e-book should support your overall message and be an active part of the communication effort. Visual storytelling can be achieved using a broad range of graphics, such as charts, graphs, animations, pictures, small infographic designs and even screenshots.
It is particularly important to focus on providing good visual storytelling throughout your e-book as many of your audience will be scan-readers only. A quick flip through your e-book for main points is significantly easier with the aid of clear guiding graphics – thereby enhancing the experience for a lot of your users.
Our example: ‘8 types of infographic you should be using in your content marketing’
Our e-book, detailing the eight variations of infographic available to content marketers, very much embraces the visual elements of its subject matter. Infographics are one of the most shareable and therefore valuable graphic assets – so it makes good sense that an e-book looking into them makes a concerted effort to provide creative visuals!
The e-book itself uses a simple elegant structure, with each type of infographic explored in its own separate chapter. Creative graphics work is then used to literally illustrate each individual infographics type, as you can see below:
Not only does this form of graphics work provide a welcome relief for the eye from a block of text, it also actively supports the point being explained in each chapter. The graphics are not only fun, they make the text easier to comprehend and derive useful takeaways from too.