The blogs, videos, and other content that you put out about your business are the fuel that keeps your marketing engine running. When it comes to eBooks, they’re like a high-octane injection that can get you out in front of your competition fast.
Yet, often tech business owners shy away from the idea of putting an eBook together for a number of reasons: “It’s too hard or I don’t have time,” “I’m not a writer,” “I don’t know what IT topic to make an eBook about.”
But once you get past the unknowns of eBooks and dive into creating one, you’ll find they offer a treasure trove of marketing power that can attract new customers, help you retain the ones you have, and help you break into new markets.
How to Put Together an eBook
While an eBook might take a little longer to put together than a blog post, their value isn’t lost on website visitors. 63% of people are willing to share information about themselves (like their email) in order to download an eBook.
Before we get into the brilliant ideas for using an eBook in your content marketing, let’s go over some basics of putting together an eBook and how to find topics for one.
First, this isn’t a novel you’re writing, eBooks are most easily digested by readers when they have plenty of photos and other visuals like graphs or infographics that go along with the text content. Think of them as being closer in style to a PowerPoint presentation than a paperback.
A standard length for an eBook can run anywhere between 15-35 pages on average. For example, marketing guru HubSpot tends to keep their eBooks around 25 pages long.
Elements of an eBook include:
- Captivating cover (this is the image you’ll be using to promote it)
- Engaging title (just like creating great blog headlines)
- Concise topic that includes a value proposition
- Well-written and well-organized content
- Good use of headers, sub-headers, bullet points, etc.
- Quality visuals (images, graphs, etc.)
- Clear call to action at the end
The main format you want to end up with for an eBook is a PDF, which can be easily downloaded and read on any device. So you can create one in a number of different programs (PowerPoint, Word, Pages). You can also convert a PDF to a format that can be used by e-readers (but we’ll get more into that later).
How do I choose an eBook topic?
Choosing a topic for your eBook can be daunting. I mean, it’s difficult enough to come up with great blog topics regularly, right? The secret is to write what you know and just focus on one key topic, instead of trying to throw everything into one eBook.
Here are some tips for landing on a great IT-related topic.
- Look at what you’re most passionate about
- What are your most common IT questions from customers?
- Which product/service do you want to promote?
- Ask your followers on social media what they’d like to know more about
- Look for your highest performing blog topics
- Pull from other content marketing topics (videos, presentations, etc.)
- Do some keyword research in your industry
Get a jumpstart with a template
A great way to get a jumpstart on an eBook is to use a template that can give you some formatting shortcuts and save you hours in the document creation process.
Here are a few options to choose from. The quality of the templates varies, so you may need to look through a few before you find the one you like.
Tip: One of the best groups of templates we’ve found is from HubSpot.
- HubSpot free eBook templates
- Lucidpress free eBook templates
- Crello online eBook creator
- Canva online eBook creator
Using Your eBook to Drive Leads & Sales
Now that you’ve got eBook creation handled, here are the 7 best ways to make the most out of this high-value content.
1. Lead Magnet
eBooks are excellent lead magnets to build your email list and segment it because they can often get people to share more than just their email address in order to download it.
People actually expect there to be a form to fill out to grab an eBook because it’s considered more valuable content. If you make the mistake of not putting a lead capture form in front of your eBook download, people may actually value it less.
Statistics show that the key things people are willing to exchange for great content are:
- Name/Company/Email address: 95%
- Job Title/Industry: 85%
- Telephone Number: 33%
- Budget/Purchase Timing/Annual Revenue: 18%
So, you may want to add more than just an email address to your lead capture form, just don’t go overboard on the required fields or people might not think it’s worth it.
2. Customer Retention/Repeat Sales
eBooks on helpful subjects like, “Unlocking the Secrets of Office 365 for Productivity,” can keep past customers coming back to you and seeing you as more than just an IT repair shop to use when something breaks. If you help your clients be more successful, they’ll stay engaged with your company and keep coming back to you time and time again for their IT needs.
This is a way that you can use two different areas of your marketing engine working together to and drive repeat sales. Use email list segmenting to note which customers you haven’t heard from in a while and send them targeted eBook downloads as a “free gift” to keep their business thriving.
For example, an eBook for repeat sales and customer retention that uses the Office 365 topic above would be perfect if your company offers Office 365 migrations and managed cloud services.
You kick off the eBook giving them free and valuable tips on boosting productivity with a software that most offices on the planet use, then use a call to action at the end about getting help from your firm to put all those tips into action. Add a coupon in there, and you’re golden.
3. Brand Building (Become the Local IT Expert)
By creating branded eBooks, you can increase your profile in your community and online and position your IT business as an expert. Strong branding of your company builds trust, which converts to sales.
67% of consumers say that a good reputation will make them more likely to buy from a company.
When you’ve authored any kind of book, including eBooks, your reputation as an expert goes up a few notches. Promoting your eBook locally might also persuade local media that you’re the IT guru they should come to for any local tech related stories, which can further your brand exposure in your service area.
4. A Secondary Revenue Stream
If you put the right amount of effort into your eBook or eBook series and make it valuable enough to customers, you could potentially end up selling it to generate another revenue stream.
eBooks have been growing in popularity, generating over $13 billion in revenue in 2018. Amazon makes it easier than ever to convert your eBook into the format that Kindle readers need and upload it to their marketplace.
If you’re going this route, you’ll want to increase the number of pages to more like 50 to 150 and understand that pricing for eBooks is typically lower than print. It generally ranges from $2.99 to $9.99, with $3.99 being the most popular eBook price.
5. Customer Education
eBooks give you the opportunity to offer your customers some valuable education on a particular IT product, service, or issue. Educational eBooks are a great way to drive new leads who may not know you but are interested in your topic.
If you provide IT services for businesses, you might pick some topics like:
- The difference between QuickBooks Online and Xero accounting software
- Steps for running an IT security risk assessment
- Best practices for automated inventory tracking and management
- Top # automations you can do to save time in Office 365
If you work mainly with residential customers, try topics such as:
- How to put together you own custom-built gaming computer
- Family cybersecurity tips for social media, web, and mobile
- Best ways to personalize your PC in Windows 10
- 10 steps for speeding up an older computer
6. Break into a New Industry
Have you been trying to grow your business by breaking into some niche industries like property management, construction, or law firms? One of the best ways to get their attention is to write an eBook that speaks to technology use in their industry.
Most eBooks are designed to be used by a wide range of customer personas, but by taking a more targeted approach, you can make yourself relevant and illustrate your value as an IT expert that understands their specific industry needs.
You could write an eBook that addresses the top technologies used to manage smart buildings or create an eBook about data compliance for attorneys. There’s no limit to the number of targeted topics you could choose to help you get your foot in the door and gain more business from a specific market sector.
7. A Free Gift for Subscribing to a Managed IT Plan
Another inventive way to use an eBook is an enticement to choose one of your higher end Managed IT plans. If you create an eBook that’s exclusive for your “Pro Plan” users, you’ll give potential customers another reason to choose that plan over a lower priced one.
Adding a free gift as an enticement can improve the effectiveness of the media it’s attached to by up to 44%.
Getting a free eBook or eBook series – such as “Free 4-eBook Series on the Technology Secrets of Successful Small Businesses” – could be the one thing a customer needs to inch them towards your managed services plan with the higher coverage.
Some other free gift eBook ideas might be:
- Blueprint for your whole office data security
- HIPAA compliance checklist
- Cloud strategies to improve customer satisfaction
Fuel Your Marketing Efforts with Targeted eBooks
If you approach eBooks strategically and map out ahead of time your purpose for using them, promotional roadmap, and how they can tie into your other content marketing, you’ll be halfway on the road to lead generation success.
What’s been your experience with eBooks to promote your IT business? Let us know in the comments.