Downloadable content like ebooks and whitepapers provide your website visitors with excellent incentive to make the leap into your marketing funnel. Contact forms on your website are important, but unless a site visitor has an immediate need for your services, they are going to cling tight to their contact info. Offer them a valuable piece of content in the form of an ebook, however, with info that makes their life better in some way, and they’ll loosen their grip a bit, thus results in improved lead generation for your marketing / sales funnel.
Just like any marketing tactic, creating and promoting an ebook should not be done on a whim. It takes careful planning and consideration, as well as high production quality, to really be successful.
Know your audience
The first step in the process should always involve developing a solid understanding of your target audience. Talk to a sample of your current clients and ask them what they would like to see in your next ebook and what content or messaging made them convert. After all, they were once on the outside looking in and converted to customers because of some piece (or pieces) of content you put in front of them.
Explore topics that provide answers to the questions being asked by potential customers. Think about which stage of the journey the audience you are targeting is in as well. If they are in the consideration stage, for example, provide them with an answer to the problem they have identified. They are actively seeking a solution at this point, but they aren’t clear which direction to take. Your ebook should lay the ground work for driving them into your funnel by offering your expertise and lending them a hand.
Take your audience knowledge to the next level by creating buyer personas. Drop the information you have uncovered into a template (or templates) that clearly defines your audience. This will help you stay on track and provide a focused message when creating the content for your next ebook.
The goal with a buyer persona is to develop a really clear understanding of a particular segment of your audience. If your personas are too vague, they’re more or less useless. To ensure your personas truly help inform the content you create, try adding information about the following:
- Geographic location
- Professional role(s)
- Struggles and challenges
- Media consumption
- Areas seeking help
- Motivations (professional and personal)
- Personal and professional values
Use the experts
Once you have clearly defined your audience, the next step is to bring in the pros. You need an expert voice behind the content to lend credibility. At this stage, namedropping is perfectly acceptable, especially if your expert is someone with a well-recognized name who holds a good deal of clout with your target audience. In cases where the recognition is not as high, however, you can still add a layer of credibility by spelling out the expert’s credentials in a brief bio at the front of the ebook.
To create a level of trust and respect between you and your ebook reader, showing them that the info you are providing is legit is really important. For example, would you trust marketing advice for your business coming from a highly respected industry influencer or advice coming from your neighbor who claims to have “read a book or two”? You get the point, right? Using the voice of an expert can have a truly powerful impact on the return you get from your ebook.
When selecting an expert to lend their voice, think about the following:
- Relevance to your audience
- Level of respect and recognition
- Years of experience on the subject
- Following (personal brand)
- Conflicts of interest
- Negative info online about expert
Failing to understand these things can lead you to select an expert that just doesn’t resonate with your audience. And failing to look deeper to ensure there is nothing negative about your expert can lead to some unwanted, unflattering media attention. So, do your groundwork to have the biggest impact and avoid any negative press.
Design is key
Expert or no, if your ebook is ugly, no one will give it a second look. Design is a critical element of your ebook’s success. There is no one-size-fits-all option here. Your choice of design depends on a number of things, including (but not limited to); your industry, tone and voice of the content, preferences of your target audience, and of course, your brand.
You should use a true graphic design platform like Photoshop and bring in a publishing tool like InDesign to ensure that your cover (and the pages within) look great. Drop in images, graphics and other visual elements to really engage your readers and pull them into each page. A really well-developed design boosts your chances that your audience will read through to the end, get to that call-to-action and start to build a level of respect for your brand.
Aside from obviously have a high-quality, engaging cover image, you’ll also want to add the following visual elements to your design:
- Company branding elements
- Mobile-friendly layout and fonts
- Graphs or charts to accompany stats
- Image of the author (if high-profile)
- Representative images to enhance talking points
- Social media icons to drive following
- Visually engaging title pages for section transitions
- Product and service call-outs (use these lightly and at the end)
The visual part will often be the key to getting your ebook noticed. Use the space on the cover to grab your readers and pull them in. Then use the visuals on the inside to guide them through and keep them reading the whole way to the end.
Quality landing page
As much attention as you pay to the design of your ebook, that is about equal to the amount of attention you should pay to your landing page. This time you will want to think about design and layout, but you will also want to be sure to create a catchy headline to grab your site visitors’ attention. The goal is to convince them to read the additional details following the headline that summarize what they would get if they downloaded the ebook.
What you write here is critical. The catchy headline will draw visitors in, but to convince those visitors that there is enough value within the ebook to get them to give you their email (and potentially other contact info) you need a cleverly worded summary of the ebook. This should include some bullet points with key takeaways to show what value will be obtained by reading your content. Do not take this step lightly. The copy you write can be the difference between driving high numbers in traffic to your landing page and actually driving high conversions and boosting your marketing funnel.
One last thing about landing pages is that you should consider having different versions for A/B testing and to drive traffic based on specific ads and other factors. That way, you can drive traffic from different sources, using different social media posts or targeting different keywords.
Try these two useful tools to start testing out your landing pages:
- Unbounce: This tool is very simple and straight forward. They are currently offering a free trial, so you can test it out risk free to see if it works for you.
- Leadpages: The great thing here is the drag-and-drop feature. No coding necessary.
This is not an exhaustive list by any means. Feel free to test out the tools I mentioned, or do some digging of your own. The important thing is to start A/B Testing your landing pages. The result is that your targets end up landing on more relevant landing pages that convert. This tactic also allows you to attribute conversions to specific marketing campaigns.
Driving the traffic
Using Google Ads is a great way to drive qualified traffic to your landing pages. The first step in creating targeted ads is to conduct some keyword planning to make sure you are targeting keywords that are relevant to your audience. Failing to target relevant keywords can end up costing tons of money with little or no return. By taking some time to use various keyword research tools (and there are tons of great ones out there), you can make sure your ads are being served up to the most relevant potential customers.
Here are a few suggestions for keyword tools:
The ad copy you craft is equally important. It should be short and sweet, but engaging enough to grab attention and convince someone to click on your ad. Your copy should focus on the benefits to your target audience, contain focused keywords and contain specific calls to action.
Social media ads (Facebook ads or LinkedIn Sponsored updates for example), have really great targeting options to help you ensure your ads are reaching the right audience. The good news here is that you have already clearly defined your audience (remember back about 600+ words ago), so you are already armed with all the info you need to start targeting ads toward your audience.
The key with social media ads is to craft clever posts with messages that entice people to click. Engaging imagery goes a long way to complement the copy you put together for the posts you plan to promote. So, put your copywriting team on this task and write some killer social media content. Then go ahead and put some ad spend behind promoting your posts on channels appropriate to your target audience.
Email communication flow
Did I mention yet that your ultimate focus should be on conversions? In the case of your ebook, the conversion is getting site visitors to willingly provide you with their email address so you can move them into your email communication flow. This is where you really have a chance to seal the deal.
Not sure which email platform you should use? Here are a few of my favorite for you to check out:
- Mailchimp: The great thing about this platform is that the free version has a lot of great features. As your list grows, you can then graduate to paid versions that offer additional tools.
- Pardot: While this platform does come with a heftier price tag, the Engagement Studio feature is a great way to add automation actions and create a smooth communication flow.
- Constant Contact: This is a tried and true platform, and it offers lots of great features. Constant Contact has stood the test of time, and the regular addition of new features helps keep this platform on par with the competition.
- ActiveCampaign: The claim to fame here is the ability to automate the entire lifecycle of a subscriber. The platform also integrates with Optinmonster, another great tool for collecting leads and engaging prospects.
Once it gets to this step, some level of automation is really useful. First things first, you will want to have a “thank you” email crafted that gets sent out after someone downloads your ebook. This email can look a bit different depending upon which version of your landing page the person downloaded the ebook from. Then you will want to have automated follow up emails in place to keep engagement going and to entice your newly acquired potential customer to learn more about your products or services and open up their wallet.
That is the ultimate goal. Turn readers of your content into loyal, paying customers by building relationships; relationships that start with a simple, free piece of content like an ebook. It does not stop there, however. You need to continue to delight. Converting a customer with promises of free ebooks, great blog articles and all that is great, but you need to keep it up once they are in the door. Continue to provide free ebooks and other content to maintain lasting relationships with your customers once they convert and create loyal followers of your brand.
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