At BlogMutt, we’ll be the first people to tell you about the value and importance of blogging. It’s our namesake, after all, and well, we’ve seen first-hand the impact a consistent and targeted blogging strategy can have on your business. However, the world of content marketing is vast and ever-changing, and it isn’t enough anymore to simply have a good blog.
Today’s consumers are hungry for information, and they expect the businesses they patronize to deliver the answers and solutions they seek in many formats. One such format is the ebook. This valuable form of gated content is quickly becoming an industry standard. However, there are many businesses that still either dismiss its potency or fear its scope.
But we’re here to assure you that not only can you do ebook content, but you can do it well.
Unlocking the Value of Gated Content
Up until now, you may have written off gated content, such as ebooks, as being too much work and hassle to be worth your time. But this line of thinking isn’t just wrong, it could also be costing you leads and even customers.
Gated content can be a powerful source of lead generation because it offers real value to your audience, providing them with answers and solutions—answers and solutions that often can’t (and shouldn’t) be fully addressed on your blog.
High-quality ebook content can also assert you as a thought leader in your industry, helping to build trust and loyalty among your potential and current customers.
However, the key here is to ensure your gated content actually does provide the value your customers are looking for. Consumers are becoming increasingly hesitant to dish out their personal information in forms online, and they’ll be even less inclined to do so if they don’t perceive your ebook as being useful.
Developing Ideas for Ebooks Your Customers Want
The ebook brainstorming process looks a little different than your usual process for developing blogs and shorter-form content.
The first step in writing effective and valuable ebook content is coming up with ideas that will actually interest your audience.
Often ebooks will cover your customers’ most commonly asked questions or will take basic concepts and break them down in greater detail. These are both excellent places to start because they typically lend themselves to evergreen content that will continue to be valuable to your customer-base for the foreseeable future.
Another great resource for topic ideas is your very own blog. Take a look through your archive of blog posts, and see which posts have performed and continue to perform well. Is there a post that seems worthy of a deeper dive? Do you have several separate blog posts or a series on a subject that could be combined into a more comprehensive ebook?
It’s also beneficial to perform some thoughtful keyword research to identify terms your target audience is searching for online. Think of the questions your audience is asking and then come up with a few ideas that answer them. Once you have a couple strong ideas, test them out on your blog. Write a post or two and see how your audience responds.
IMPORTANT: Be sure that whatever topic you choose has enough meat to fill a multi-page piece with substantive information. There is absolutely no room for fluff in your ebook content, as it will only leave your audience feeling duped or disappointed, two feelings you don’t usually want associated with your brand.
Writing Your Ebook
Writing effective content for ebook form looks a whole lot different than writing effective content for your blog.
It’s important to approach it with that mindset.
1. Create an outline.
With longer-form content it is always wise to create an outline from which to write. With an ebook, especially, it’s important to break that content down into smaller, more easily digestible points.
Start with the broader themes, in the form of chapters or subheads, and then whittle your way down to the finer details. The more specific you are in the outlining phase, the easier it will be to pack your ebook full of valuable information.
Remember that bullet points, breakout text, visuals, and infographics are your friends.
2. Write in clear, simple, useful language.
The most effective and informative writing foregoes the technical jargon and the sales-y persuasion, opting instead for clarity and concision. Keep it simple. Say what you mean.
And focus on writing for your readers—not for your ego.
3. Make it only as long as it needs to be.
There’s no magic number when it comes to the perfect length of ebook content. Your ebook could be 5 pages or 50. Let it be as long as you feel it needs to be.
But keep in mind our earlier point: avoid fluff. It takes up unnecessary space and bores your reader.
The Future of Content
The future of content marketing is trending more and more toward high-quality written content (ebooks, white papers) and more easily digested content (video, infographics). As a business, you can no longer delight or even reach your audience with basic blog content alone.
Data from BuzzSumo found that 50% of content gets 8 shares or less. With so much content being produced every day, it becomes harder and harder to stand out. Keeping up in the future landscape will almost surely require businesses to expand their content strategy to include other more relevant and valuable forms of content, to repurpose their most effective content in new and interesting ways, and then to find effective ways to get that content in front of readers.
In this rapidly changing digital world, we can no longer rely solely on the content forms we’re most comfortable with to have the impact they once had. Divorce the content from the form that it currently exists in. When you do this, you unlock endless opportunities for your content strategy. Blog posts can turn into series, be developed into more effective infographics, or be combined into a kick-ass, well-performing ebook.
You can do it. And if you need a little help, well, BlogMutt has your back.