Long-form content is the gold standard of marketing — learn how to write an ebook that engages readers and strengthens your brand.
According to a recent study from BuzzSumo, which analyzed over 100 million online articles, long-form content gathers better SEO rankings than short articles. A skeptic might interject: of course long-form pieces get more SEO matches — they’ve got more words! But BuzzSumo’s study offers a strong counterpoint to anti-long-form rhetoric. The study found that pieces between 3,000 and 10,000 words averaged the most social media shares — a metric that hints at an organic consumer interest.
The main vehicle for long-form marketing is the ebook. Because ebooks do not require print resources, they can be as long or as short as necessary. Ebooks are also flexible when it comes to publishing. They can be self-published or delivered through an online publishing house; they can be sold or distributed for free; and they can (and usually do) take the form of gated PDFs or, with the help of a smart digital marketing agency, ungated HTML.
Now that you’re sold on the magic of ebooks, let’s get yours off the ground. Here are six key steps.
1. Find a Great Topic.
First and foremost, you need to identify a topic that your clients are especially interested in. For this, you can use surveys, website analytics, and SEO tools.
Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll then want to begin plotting out what you, as an industry leader, know that nobody else does, and what you are right about that others may not fully understand. Now you have a basis for building out your content.
2. Pick a Format.
Ebooks come in many formats. The two most ubiquitous of these are EPUB (.epub) and PDF (.pdf). Base your choice of format on the goals you’ve set for your ebook. EPUB ebooks are more heavily copy-protected than PDFs, and they can be sold on marketplaces like Amazon. PDFs use a fixed interface, so many users find them more easily adjustable for mobile browsers than EPUB files, which use floating images. Other ebook formats, like AZW files, are tailored to specific ebook distributors (AZW files, for example, are only available on Amazon Kindle).
Regardless of which format you choose, you’ll want to ensure that your ebook exists out in the open, attracting the widest readership possible. You should also make your ebook interactive. Include internal navigation, bookmarks, live links, and even moving graphics.
3. Don’t Skimp on the Visuals.
It’s always important to make a good first impression. With ebooks, graphics are the first thing your readers will notice. Sleek visual branding should be a central component of your ebook plan. For a successful visual design, don’t bog down your ebook with wall-to-wall text. Instead, keep your pages spacious and colorful, with elegantly-placed data and subtle artistic flair.
A note on visuals: make sure not to hit your readers over the head with your logo. Nobody wants their reading to be continually interrupted by advertisements. Your readers should be aware of your brand while remaining focused on your thesis topic.
4. Don’t Skimp on the Editing, Either.
Your ebook’s gorgeous presentation won’t help much if your readers spot a glaring typo on page three. Don’t be afraid to enlist professional help in making your prose publication-ready. There are people who edit ebooks for a living, and others who ghostwrite long-form digital marketing. If your firm already employs a copyeditor, make sure to use their expertise for a readable — and 100% grammatically correct — piece of brand journalism.
Unfortunately, your ebook is not a Beyoncé album that will achieve immediate fanfare following a surreptitious midnight release. You will need to dedicate a large fraction of your ebook budget to promotional efforts. A robust promotional campaign might involve SEO-informed brand publishing, social media, and digital advertising.
The last step in writing an ebook is revising. Unlike a print publication, an ebook is revisable. Consumer data shows which links were popular, which demographics were thrilled by your publication, and which parts of your ebook didn’t hold anybody’s attention. Once you’ve found areas for improvement, you can change your ebook for the better — and publish it again.