The world of content marketing is an interesting one. It is the next step in the evolution of marketing. This field came about because, according to the Content Marketing Institute, regular marketing has been tossed aside as businesses have become experts at finding the right information online (1).
Content marketing has gradually taken the place of regular marketing. Content marketing is the approach of a business to constantly deliver reliable content meant to retain an audience. This content helps businesses communicate with other businesses by strategically laying out when content will be delivered and what it will be about. For instance, a business may create a piece of content that soft sells a product by using customer testimony or other relevant information.
What exactly constitutes the content in this marketing approach? Almost any format, such as infographics, blog posts, video blogs, white papers and photographs. One format in particular may soon help put some content marketing strategies over the top, and that is the electronic book.
Thin vs. fat content
According to CIO, there are two types of content businesses utilize (2). Thin content can be comprised of low-quality blog posts. Due to a change in Google's search algorithm, CIO contributor James Martin said thin content will be a thing of the past, as fat content becomes preferred – fat content comprising of areas such as e-books. Ideally, this type of high-quality content will be broken up to drive multiple channel campaigns, Jesse Noyes, senior director of content marketing at Kapost, told the Content Marketing Institute.
"We'd much rather do a high-quality piece we can market in several different ways than 10 different white papers," Alison Munn, a senior social media strategist at BMC, told Business 2 Community in an interview (3).
The appeal of e-books is easy to understand. According to Statista, the e-book market is projected to increase to $8.69 billion in 2018, up from $2.31 billion in 2011 (4). Self-published e-books make up 32 percent of daily unit sales on Amazon, according to the October 2014 report from Author Earnings (5).
Provide a wealth of information
A benefit of utilizing e-books in any content marketing strategy is being able to provide the necessary information to other businesses. E-books should not necessarily be about the products or services being offered. Instead, this information should be created in a way to entice readers to come back. For example, a business that offers a special type of computer software may want to create an e-book highlighting what specialized programs can offer that popular ones cannot. E-books are the preferred method because they are typically longer and more in-depth than blog posts.
By utilizing a soft-sell approach, businesses are also helping to generate leads. Businesses can create an effective B2B marketing e-book by controlling all aspects of the content, including the tone. According to Jonha Revesenico, controlling the content and tone will make the e-book seem less like a marketing scheme (6).
"You can use customer testimonials and turn them into case studies, having an industry expert show how customer's issues were resolved," she wrote in a June 2015 column for The Huffington Post Business.
E-books require time
While blog posts can touch on some topics an e-book might require, an e-book offers a more complete option to convey a message or highlight testimonials. As a result, creating an e-book requires dedicated time and investment. Brian Carter, in an interview with CIO, said an e-book about Twitter marketing was approximately 15,000 to 20,000 words in length. The time spent writing was less than a month, but he added edits and promotions that would increase the time to roughly two months. For some B2B marketers, more hours may be required to conduct proper research, writing and edits.
Likewise, marketers will need to secure the necessary funds to create the e-book. E-book sales may not translate into high returns on investment immediately. In the long run, however, businesses may see an increase in partnerships and new clients.