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How to Create a Great B2B eBook

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 by Lauren

B2B eBooks are in vogue–and starting to replace longer B2B marketing white papers. (I haven’t written a white paper of more than eight pages in ages.) Are marketers just calling “white papers” eBooks? Maybe. Is there anything wrong with that? Yes and no.

Readers may have more patience with an eBook than a white paper. That’s not just because we expect “books” to be long. Great B2B eBooks tend to have a more engaging format than white papers. That’s one of the reasons readers might be more inclined to read an entire eBook than a 10-page white paper. But readers have high expectations for today’s B2B eBooks. If you just take a traditional marketing white paper (even a well-written one) and call it an eBook, readers may bail.

Readers want more from an eBook than just a message about your solution. They expect value-added content. So, you can’t just write something that says, “You’ve got a business challenge. We’ve got a solution.” Even if you choose to keep close to your message, plan to educate your readers along the way. Keep asking yourself what additional information a book on your topic would include. Facts? Real-world examples? Tips and tricks? eBooks are incredibly flexible, so there’s no one answer.

Following these steps will help you create a B2B eBook that will appeal to your target audience:

  • Find the right topic: Focus on a topic that will allow you to share your message while providing readers additional valuable information. You could tell customers how to do something, dispel myths about a topic, chart industry trends, or share research. All roads might eventually lead to your offer—just make sure the route includes some stunning vistas of general interest to your audience.
  • Think in terms of chapters: eBooks can handle more complex information than most traditional B2B assets. Look to traditional books for help organizing this richer content. Chapters should advance the core topic while focusing on a subtopic.
  • Develop a detailed outline: Take the time to grapple with the content in an outline. If it reveals any holes, fill them in with research or insights from a subject-matter expert.
  • Establish the right tone: Go for the conversational, easy-to-read tone you would find in a high-quality magazine. But a word of caution: avoid the second person (addressing the reader as “you”) in eBooks longer than 10-15 pages or it may sound like you’re nagging the reader. Use examples (real or hypothetical) to make your points instead.
  • Choose the right format: You can publish an eBook that takes advantage of all the functionality of eBook touchscreen readers. Or you can opt to publish in a PDF format. Either way, you’ll want to create an eBook that looks great and is set up to let readers move easily through the content. The Content Bureau’s Ruth Burk walks through the differences between eBooks designed for e-readers and iPDFs in this useful blog.
  • Partner with a good editorial team: Books—even those sharing B2B content—are ideal for telling engaging stories. Give your readers a beautifully written eBook, and they’re more likely to read to the end. Even if you prefer to write the outline or first draft yourself, have professionals edit and lay it out. Then, proof it at the end to ensure it’s flawless.

Give us a call for assistance with your B2B eBook. As always, we’re here to help. We’d be delighted to share some examples of great B2B eBook writing and design.

is a member of the Content Bureau editorial team.

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