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E-books: Effective marketing tools

December 11, 2010 Leave a comment

This fall, my wife and I added another tool to our social media marketing toolkit: Free e-books.

Basically, these are pdf files with lists of helpful information. They consist of a cover page, an index, and one page devoted to each item on the list. Each page has lots of whitespace and a graphic element or two, as well as a paragraph or two of helpful information.

With an e-book, you get the opportunity to position yourself as a leader and/or guide readers to a call to action — in a paragraph on the index page or, perhaps, a credits page at the end. Be sure to include your logo and other branding elements.

We created these e-book for the Hamilton County Department of Job and Family Services: 10 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe and 5 Online Resources for the Long-Term Unemployed. My wife crafted an e-book that shares free resources for cancer survivors. You’ll have to visit her blog (www.miraclesurvivors.com) to request one.

If you’re looking for more examples, see David Meerman Scott’s Web Ink Now blog.

At Hamilton County JFS, we primarily promoted the e-books through social media — the agency director’s blog, Facebook, Twitter — and the organization’s newsletter and website. We tracked downloads using WebTrends.

My wife, author/blogger Tami Boehmer, used her e-book as a tool for building her mailing list. For example, we got more than 40 e-mail addresses at our table at a breast cancer walk by asking people if they wanted to sign up for the e-book. Otherwise, traffic to our table at the chaotic walk attended by thousands of people — who not there to buy books — would have been minimal. (It helped to have our 11-year-old daughter ask passers-by if they would like to sign up for her mom’s free resource guide for cancer survivors!)

We found that it’s really important to pack your e-book with information of value to your target audience. It’s a took for getting (or keeping) people engaged in the process that leads to the desired action — such as supporting your organization’s tax levy or buying your book about cancer survivors who beat the odds.

What has your experience been with e-books? Please feel free to share in the comments.