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How To Use eBooks for Branding, Lead Generation, and Beyond

October 17, 2011

One of the most effective tools we’ve seen online community sponsors incorporate on their sites is an eBook. Why? Quite simply, it’s a powerful branding, lead gen and thought leadership-driving tool that satisfies a few marketing objectives in a relatively streamlined way. Here is some information on what eBooks are, with some step-by-step instructions on how to take advantage of this feature of your online community program.

What is an eBook?

eBooks are designed to collect content that has been developed for an online community into a consolidated resource document. As you can see from this example by Ingate the piece works to integrate existing articles and research in a unique and visually appealing way. The intent of an eBook is not to create new content, but rather combine and package past content pieces into a reader-friendly resource.  

An eBook is an extremely beneficial SEO driver, as you’re taking your high-quality, keyword-driven content and boosting its exposure through any promotions you’re running about the piece. And, it’s a great lead-capture piece also, as the eBook can be gated so viewers can enter their information before viewing.

Developing an eBook: 3 Steps

Step 1: Do a content assessment and think about a theme. Look at your: 

-          Articles

-          Product Reviews

-          Videos

-          Podcasts

-           Case Studies

-          White Papers

and think about what is covered in each piece. Then, select one topic for this eBook. Tip: Don’t just throw everything in the eBook without an underlying theme. You’ll have plenty of opportunities to create additional eBooks focused on other themes, and the more concentrated the piece, the more likely you’ll get your target audience to read it and perceive it as valuable.

Step 2: Create a visually appealing eBook:

Working with your designer, think of some unique and creative ways to pull your eBook together. If you’re including links to videos, why not pull in a screenshot from it? Think about using cartoons, calls to action, graphs, charts, and pictures. The more you “break up” the content, the more your reader will think they are reading a comprehensive piece, not just a series of articles.

Then, as Ingate did, pull it together in a visually appealing way. Make it look as professional and valuable as possible to entice readers to download (make sure you use the thumbnail in all your promotions).

Step 3: Gate, but Also Give

Before you throw up a gate for your eBook, take the time to think through what will really make your readers download the piece. Then, extract a few images, paragraphs or charts from the eBook and put them on the sign-up page. The more valuable information you put on the sign-up page, the more trust your audience will have in you that the piece is worth handing over their personal information for. You have to “give” a little if you expect to get the right kinds of leads for the piece.

As a reminder, an eBook is a complementary part of your Online Community program, so take advantage of this resource by working with you TMCnet dedicated team!

Have you developed an eBook for your company? Tell us how you did it, and any lessons learned or best practices, on our social sites: Facebook  | LinkedIn | Twitter

Anna Ritchie is product manager for TMC's (News - Alert) Online Community Program. Previously, she worked as a change and communications practitioner for a global consulting firm, and as a freelance marketing and communications specialist. She received her master's degree in English from Seton Hall University and her bachelor's degree in English from Loyola University.

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