Not every subject can be discussed in just one article or a newsletter. Sometimes, you need to say more, for example, showcase the results of your research. In such situations, white papers and ebooks are extremely helpful. Today, I’m going to show you how to create an attractive and engaging ebook. Let’s get down to business!
Like it happens with blog posts and articles, white papers and ebooks, although they are not the same thing, are used for similar purposes and are usually pretty much alike in terms of their form and length. That’s why I will sometimes use both these terms interchangeably.
What white papers and ebooks are for
In short, these forms of content are used by companies and other organizations to:
- Educate the market
- Educate employees/customers/users
- Show the results of a study or a survey
- Explain a complex subject
- Promote the author and their expertise
The last application is frequently exploited by influencers and bloggers who want to, e.g., sell paid online courses. Both white papers and ebooks are, in general, quite useful, especially when you have a lot of material to cover or knowledge to convey.
If you have anything to do with digital marketing, you’ve surely heard this term many times in the past. A lead magnet is a piece of content that has but one purpose – to drive as many potential customers as possible. Companies do that by creating a valuable white paper or ebook and then – distributing it via their communication channels in exchange for an email address. This technique is generally very effective. However, there are a few boxes that you need to tick to benefit from a lead magnet.
For starters, your lead magnet has to be really insightful and fine-tuned. You can’t just create an ebook about your company and its offer. The lead magnet has to GIVE something useful and meaningful. Of course, you don’t want to give away too much knowledge for free, right? That’s why you must find a golden balance between creating a valuable piece of content and revealing too many cards. It’s not always easy, but it can be done. Here, there’s one more thing to remember about. Your white paper has to be INTERESTING. And no, it’s not a cliché. There are thousands of ebooks that no one wants to download and read because they are straight-up boring or non-innovative. You really need to put your best foot forward!
Secondly, you have to promote your white paper somehow. Keeping it just to yourself completely defeats the purpose of such a text. Use all of your marketing materials to promote your ebook. Most likely (depending on how recognizable you are), you’ll have to conduct a marketing campaign. Here, performance marketing is your best bet, primarily because you need quick results. Although ebooks can work for you for many months to come, you rather expect a quick win in the form of new hot leads.
How to create (and promote) a successful ebook
We’ve already started this topic, but let’s elaborate. What can you do to make your ebook fully successful? Let’s go through the process of creating such a text and see what can be done to make it effective.
STEP 1: SUBJECT – WHAT DO YOU WANT TO WRITE ABOUT?
You can use tools like AnswerThePublic to find out what your potential target audience is interested in. If you run social media profiles, use them to ask your followers what they’d like to read about. Usually, it’s best to give 2-3 potential titles and let them vote. Ask your coworkers and employees. See what other publications in the same niche are about. Gather all that knowledge to come up with one perfect idea.
Next, outline what you want to mention in your white paper. What kind of data do you have? What kind of knowledge do you want to convey? What forms are you planning on using? For example, quotes from other experts (outside of your organization) usually work very well. An interview is also a good idea. Remember – your major goal is to engage the reader. If you can do something extra to do that – nothing should stop you!
STEP 2: WRITE THE TEXT
Every white paper has two substantial layers – a textual one and a visual one. Start with the first one. Why? First off, changing a text is easier than changing the layout or infographics. Secondly, you most likely have at least part of that job done (see your other blog posts and articles to see whether they could be used). If you want to show the results of your surveys or studies, gather all the results and present them legibly and transparently.
STEP 3: GRAPHIC DESIGN
Once the whole text is ready, think about elements that should be presented graphically. Charts, infographics, quotes, key points… All of that should be presented attractively. Graphic elements make your ebook more edible and easier to read. No one wants to read a wall of text, correct? The next step is to create all these materials. Keep them unified so that they work well together. Use the same fonts colors everywhere. Now, you have a text with all the graphic elements in between. Great! The next step is to create a table of contents. It requires an additional page in your ebook and some visual elements. The last stage is the layout of the entire ebook. You need one cover and a design for every single page. Please don’t go overboard with it, though. Text is always the most important element, don’t let the graphics in your ebook overshadow it.
STEP 4: GATHER SOME FEEDBACK
Your ebook is almost ready! You have the text and all the graphic elements. It’s already been all put together in one amazingly-looking PDF file. Are we ready to go online with it? Not yet! Now, it’s time to gather some feedback. Show the result of your work to your coworkers, clients, and business partners. Ask them about their opinion. If there is a need to introduce some changes, it’s the best thing you can do. Lastly, give your ebook to a professional proofreader to make sure there are no typos or other errors in your material.
STEP 4: MARKETING
Your white paper can finally be put online. Here, you have a couple of options:
- You can create a dedicated landing page just to promote your ebook
- You can create a section on your website (ideally, the main page) devoted to it
Both these options have their pros and cons, and there is no clear winner. It all depends on your budget and expectations. No matter what you do, though, it’s essential to offer your ebook in exchange for an email address. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of time and effort. Everyone who downloads your ebook is potentially interested in your services, right? Don’t let them slip away!
The last element you have to think of is promotion. Use everything you have to promote your ebook. And by “everything”, I mean:
- Your website
- Social media profiles and groups
- Ads (typically Google and Facebook ads)
- External websites and experts
Let’s talk a bit more about that last element. Many companies neglect that part. Huge mistake! Why wouldn’t you look for external specialists who could say a word or two in your ebook? The more experts give a statement in your publication, the more buzz it will get! After all, each of these experts should be interested in informing their audiences that they participated in a new publication, right? That’s how it works. And here’s the second idea – media patrons. Surely some news and industry websites are operating in the same niche. Reach out to them and offer them cooperation as media patrons. Many websites will gladly participate, even for free.
As a part of that, you’ll have to prepare several press releases explaining your new project. Usually, it’s good to mention at least some of your findings directly in the press release. This way, people who might be interested in downloading the ebook will feel encouraged to do that.
Summary: Ebooks and white papers
Of course, this one article didn’t exhaust the whole subject. There are many stages between these four steps that I indicated in this text. Remember what I told you about revealing all of your cards? 🙂 If you want to create an ebook that readers will love, there’s a lot of work ahead of you. It’s a long and complicated endeavor. But it surely is worth it when you have a clear strategy and an achievable goal!
And if you need help you crafting ebooks and white papers – we’re here to help! 🙂