Like SEO and PR, online marketing is an ever-evolving industry. It’s tightly linked with both camps, so perhaps it’s no surprise that marketers are caught in a flux that can sometimes be difficult to handle. On the other hand, learning to adapt and take advantage of modern tools and technologies makes marketing an exciting discipline.
For the last few years, marketers have been keen to stress the importance of incentives, and the free ebook has become synonymous with that. Marketers have produced ebooks – generally in PDF format – to woo website visitors into parting with contact information. In exchange for expert advice, someone with a passing interest becomes a lead.
But does the ebook still have power?
The ebook has become a more acceptable tool since the Amazon Kindle pushed digital publishing to the forefront of the web. In an era of content production and content consumption, digital is quick and convenient. Having spent money on a device to consume content, it’s even better if the material is free.
The reasons to create a free ebook are solid, and they’re still as valid as they ever were. You might want to create value from killer blog posts, or build your authority and get your name out there. You could use a free ebook as a dress rehearsal for a Kindle publication.
Also, you might want to use your ebook to hook people in. That’s the angle marketers are most interested in.
Does the Ebook Still Work in Marketing?
Ebooks are now offered pretty much everywhere. Surely we’ve all followed someone on Twitter and received a DM advertising an ebook download on their site. You’ll have seen plenty of squeeze pages and refined, split-tested landing pages offering an ebook in return for your email address.
Over time, this marketing tactic has partially eroded something that made the free ebook great. It has detracted from its value. Not in all cases, of course, but many businesses have now started making ebooks simply because they should – not because they have anything life-changing to say.
The Bottom Line
Ebooks are still valuable. As long as the ereader and tablet PC exist, there will be a market for the ebook – especially the type that doesn’t cost any money. Providing you make the download process simple, people will still take a look.
Like any other content, the quality and value in the ebook is the crucial thing; the content must inform, delight, entertain, excite or impart fresh information that your client needs to know. Just like blogging and article writing, the process of writing an ebook should be part of an overall content strategy that genuinely says something new.
If you’re not sure whether it’s time to create an ebook, think about your web content first. If you genuinely feel that it would benefit from a supplementary PDF to build on its success, and if you know you have something new to offer, go for it. If you’re not yet creating momentum on the web, it might be right to hold back until you have something genuinely new to say.