Writing an eBook requires substantial resource, but is an effective way to generate leads. Here are 10 tips on how to write a successful eBook.
Structure and planning are integral to successful Inbound campaigns. Whether you’re specifying or implementing a campaign, a solid structure dictates the best route toward achieving campaign goals.
The same applies to inbound content creation. With a good structure, it's easy to keep your writing on track as you'll know the direction each piece will take before it exists. For eBook creation particularly, planning is of particular importance. To make best use of writing time and create content assets that produce good quality leads, it’s wise to work to an exact pre-planned structure.
The steps below outline 10 key things to consider when planning an eBook.
10 Things Successful eBooks Need To Include
1. Solid planning and research
To create a credible, valuable piece of content, before you think about writing it’s important to start with research. Any piece of content you create must begin with this step if it is to be accurate and relevant. Be sure to schedule a good amount of research time before writing - your research will inform the bulk of your content structure, so it’s important to get it right!
Define the overarching topic and angle of your eBook. Why are you writing it? What buyer pain point will your eBook address (that you can help solve)?Your eBook must address that pain to achieve best resonance and build trust with target buyers. Typically your eBook will address a wider ‘Awareness’ or ‘Consideration’ stage challenge in the buyer’s journey.
Explore how that wider challenge topic can break down into sections and stages. This will help you plot a coherent structure.
Do an audit of current content. Can you put together a foundation of relevant eBook content/chapters based on content you already have? You will likely need to rework or update this content to ensure it fits your eBook structure and context (such as removing ‘salesy text’ or specific references to product), but often there’s no need to reinvent the wheel.
Research the latest news, trends, tips and advice on your topic. Interview your sales and marketing team to dig into those key buyer challenges and locate up-to-date supporting statistics and data.
2. A bulleted structure
Done your research and collated your information?
To stay on track when writing, the next step is to compile information into a coherent structure. While researching, you should have found that your wider topic splits down into distinct sections and stages. Each of these sections can be used as an individual chapter theme. Expand each of these chapter themes further and bullet point the sub-topics each chapter needs to develop your structure.
It often helps to think of chapters like a series of blog posts, all relating to an overarching theme. That way it’s easy to ensure each chapter contains a complete structured view of its topic, and remains on track within the overall theme.
3. An enticing introduction
Once the structure has been drafted, you’ll have a skeleton version of your eBook ready to work on. The next step is to flesh it out.
Like the opening notes of a great piece of music, an eBook must begin with a catchy introduction to entice the reader on. To hold attention, relevancy to the buyer challenge is key. Remember, good eBooks help readers either solve a pain point or advance their understanding of how to address a challenge.
When writing the introductory section:
Include statistics relevant to your key topic challenge
Provide clear examples of the pain target readers will be experiencing - and give a brief example of what (non-branded) solutions might be needed.
Lastly, try to limit the introduction to a few paragraphs. Don’t give away all the information in the first line - encourage the audience to read on!
4. A clearly outlined (but brand-neutral) benefit
While writing (and following your bulleted structure), keep checking that you’re clearly offering beneficial information and actionable insight to the reader.
Remember too, that eBook content should remain solution-neutral (don’t use it to promote your latest product offering, else risk alienating the reader). Good eBook content will offer step-by-step guidance (such as how to choose the right industry solution), or explore other brand-neutral but actionable ‘how-to’ advice.
5. A solid conclusion
Every book needs a beginning, middle and end. An eBook is no different. Once you’ve covered your key points, summarise the preceding chapters and take the opportunity to reiterate the main lessons learnt.
Make sure the solution to your reader’s challenge is clear here, along with typical next steps - while again, keeping the text brand/specific-solution-neutral. You don’t want to put readers off by slipping into promotional text; your eBook is there to boost awareness of you as a thought leader, and to entice readers to consider you as an informative, trusted source within the context of their own buyer’s journey. If you’ve written your eBook well, the association of your company and the solution the reader needs will be clear without you needing to push it.
6. An appropriate word length
If it offers good value, your eBook doesn’t need to be a 1000 page epic! In fact, a shorter concise ebook is more likely to hold attention. For an average marketing Ebook, depending on the topic and the level of supporting graphics, statistics, charts needed, your content could be anything from around 2000 - 10,000+ words.
7. A clear CTA
Don’t leave new leads hanging, direct them to further helpful content and nurture them through the buyer’s journey with an appropriate call to action at the end of your eBook.
As an example, your CTA might:
Encourage readers to sign up for a webinar that discusses the topic further.
Offer a free consultation to explore their unique business challenges in more depth.
For best nurture, make sure the next step CTA is aligned with the next stage of the challenge your eBook initially addresses. Don’t just push readers straight to a product page!
8. Clear, accessible design
Once you’ve finished writing, have proofed your eBook and can improve no further, it’s time to template the copy.
When it comes to eBook design, there are a few tips to bear in mind:
Use an eye-catching and visually attractive cover - you want people who see the cover to download and explore further
Keep a consistent colour theme and style template, typically in line with your company branding. This helps readers recognise your content when moving from one platform to another.
Make sure your copy remains accessible and readable within each section.
Provide a clear ‘contents’ page at the start of the eBook so readers know what to expect and can easily access the best sections for them
Make your final design is optimised for all devices. Your eBook needs to be equally as accessible on mobile as it is on desktop.
But without a well designed, clear landing page that highlights the benefits of your new eBook - you’ll struggle to get people to convert and download. When creating your landing page, make sure you include:
A clear page title that outlines the key benefit of downloading/reading your eBook
List key benefits of downloading your eBook/ the lessons readers will learn in brief bullet points
Include at least one supporting image - likely of the ebook cover, images of what to expect inside.
Make sure you have a lead capture form. At a minimum the form should contain fields for; name, business email, phone number, and a question regarding their key business challenge.
Last but not least, promotion is the last stage to eBook success. Once your ebook and landing page are in place (not forgetting that in an inbound campaign, your eBook will need supporting workflow emails to nurture your new leads), you need to begin promoting your eBook to attract readers - and leads.
Writing an eBook does not need to be daunting. With a well structured and researched topic, good design and a sound promotion strategy, you’ll form the basis of a basic campaign and start to see quality leads and opportunities come in.