So, you’ve decided that an eBook is the right advanced content format for your target buyer persona. That’s great, because a B2B eBook that’s chock-full of authoritative, original content can be a valuable part of your inbound content marketing program.
There’s just one key question remaining, and that’s, well … how to create an eBook.
No need to worry. Keep in mind, you’re an expert in your industry, and your knowledge and experience are valuable to your prospective customers. That’s what goes into your eBook.
Just follow the steps we’ve outlined below, and in no time, you’ll have drafted and crafted your very own eBook — and put it to work generating leads as part of your inbound marketing program.
What An eBook Is (and What it Isn’t)
If you just mumbled, “electronic book,” you’re right, but that doesn’t really tell you what an eBook should look like or include, or how it’s accessed by users.
An eBook should be formatted as a non-editable file (to protect you and your content). It should be easy to access and read on any device (desktop, laptop, smartphone, tablet).
In terms of content, expect to go deeper with an eBook than you would with a basic guide, tip sheet, or infographic. How deep? Think about it this way: your eBook is meant to meet your buyer persona in the Consideration stage of their buyer’s journey. They’ve drilled down to their problem or challenge, and now they’re evaluating potential solutions and identifying vendors that can help. So an eBook is your opportunity to:
- Demonstrate how well you understand the problem
- Your depth of expertise in the specific knowledge area
- How your proposed solution offers real value
It’s especially powerful to provide some specific value right there in your eBook, too. That could be your own how-to instructions, a succinct explanation of a crucial process, or some stats to back up your prospective purchaser in their internal conversations as they evaluate options.
11 Steps to Craft & Promote an Inbound Content Marketing eBook
You know your target audience. You understand their challenges, and you’ve had more than a few illuminating conversations with current customers to generate a few possible eBook ideas. So let’s walk through this step-by-step guide to creating your marketing eBook.
- Brainstorm & Research Potential eBook Topics
- Narrow Your Focus For a Workable eBook
- Pick the Brains of Your Subject Matter Experts
- Write that eBook!
- Choose Images Wisely
- Edit for 8 C's & Optimize for Search Engines
- Proofread Again!
- Design & Format Your eBook
- Bring It to Life on a Landing Page
- Promote Your eBook Everywhere
- Recycle & Reuse Your eBook Content
1. Brainstorm & Research Potential eBook Topics
In this step, resourcefulness is key. Your subject matter experts, sales teams, and customer service reps can be a great starting point. Dig into industry publications and forums, social media sites, conference agendas, and anywhere you keep a pulse on current and prospective customers.
Chances are, you’ll end up with quite a list of possible topics—and you might also have come up with stats, facts, and other useful information to add value to your eBook.
2. Narrow Your Focus For a Workable eBook
Don’t toss all those great ideas, but choose one to get started. How you choose is up to you. If it’s your first eBook, it might be wise to start with a topic you can easily break down and explain … But there’s also a good case for starting with a topic where you see an urgent need for information. And try to think like a teacher — organize your information, research, and commentary into a logical, easy-to-follow order.
3. Pick the Brains of Your Subject Matter Experts
This is your opportunity to shine a light on the expertise of your colleagues, so be sure to reach out for their insights. That’s what makes the difference to help you create an industry-relevant eBook that’s authoritative and demonstrates the knowledge and experience your company can deliver to customers. Start by sharing your notes and/or drafted outline as a prompt. You might be surprised at just how much information they have to share.
4. Write That eBook!
Create your complete first draft with an eye toward ensuring your content is complete, the flow is logical, and the length is appropriate. How long is too long? It really depends on the subject matter, but shoot for a succinct 2,000 words or so. Remember, your eBook is meant to be helpful, cover a specific subject area, and demonstrate your expertise and understanding of the customer’s challenge.
5. Choose Images Wisely
Visuals should add value to your eBook, not merely decorate it. Charts, graphs, diagrams, illustrations, and photographs help break up the text and help readers better visualize the concepts covered in the copy.
6. Edit for 8 Cs & Optimize for Search Engines
Editing your eBook is all about being considerate of your readers and ensuring the content is:
Sometimes, highly technical subjects can lean heavily into industry jargon; will that resonate, or will it alienate your reader? It’s wise to check your reading level, too — this is a good way to determine whether sentences could be shortened for clarity.
Then go ahead and optimize your eBook content for SEO. Use keyword-rich headings, embed useful links, add captions to images, and use keywords in alt text and graphic tags. Your eBook introduction or executive summary should be sure to include the most important keywords associated with the subject.
7. Proofread Again!
A second quality check read-through, preferably by at least one fresh pair of eyes, can help you find and correct any stubborn errors or typos, and another look by a SME is key to making sure concepts haven’t been lost in the writing and editing process. Remember, flawless presentation shines a spotlight on your subject matter expertise and helps your company put its best foot forward.
8. Design & Format Your eBook
Your eBook design doesn’t need to be complicated. In fact, simple is smart. Design should focus on making the content easy to read and understand above all. Remember to design an eBook cover, table of contents, and a back page with company contact information.
Some folks prefer to use the specialized EPUB file format, since it creates a reflowable document for easier reading even on small device screens — and now Amazon’s Kindle can finally also read EPUB files. The EPUB file type allows users to change font size, bookmark pages, highlight, and use other tools within a specialized eReader application.
On the other hand, PDF (portable document format) files aren’t technically book formats, but they’re super easy to use, access, store, and share without needing an eReader. And just about everyone knows how to handle a PDF, making it a great option, especially for B2B eBooks that aren’t especially long.
9. Bring It To Life On a Landing Page
In a bookstore, you’d want your book to get a face-out on the shelf. Your best website equivalent is a well-built landing page with a form to capture contact information to generate and qualify leads for your marketing and sales teams. Make sure the landing page URL is short and includes a keyword, and the content of the page calls out the main benefits of your B2B eBook.
10. Promote Your eBook Everywhere
Schedule social media posts, create a blog post, and use targeted email marketing with links to the landing page where your eBook is featured. Remember, you’ve created the content to be helpful to them. The right targets will appreciate the share!
11. Recycle & Reuse Your eBook Content
You’ve already broken the topic down into smaller, digestible chunks the perfect size for blog posts, shorter content pieces like checklists and infographics, and quick videos. Repurposing that content helps you get more mileage (and more ROI) out of the hard work of researching and writing.
Congratulations. Now, Do it All Again
We’re not saying B2B inbound content is easy to develop and publish, but we can confidently say that when it’s done well, it’s effective. Our best advice for B2B inbound marketers is to consider your marketing content as something more like a regular publication than a series of standalone projects. This can encourage you to see how your different content pieces relate to each other. It can help you produce more content, more regularly.
To help you build out a more robust collection of inbound content, we’ve developed a free Content Creation Guide with all the templates and checklists you need to choose the right content format, and then craft it for your audience. Just click the link below to download your guide and templates, and get started creating content that generates leads.