E-books are valuable fuel for your content marketing engine.
According to a 2017 DemandGen Report, 63% of people are willing to register and share information about themselves in exchange for e-books. E-books assist in positioning people and companies as thought leaders, provide value to customers and prospects, and generate leads.
However, e-books are as vulnerable to the phenomenon of content shock as all other content marketing formats. With 3.3 million pieces of content posted to Facebook every minute, and 50% of content online getting eight shares or less, creating content that stands out isn’t easy.
So creating a high-quality, standout e-book is a challenge. Creating a high-quality standout e-book with a bad topic is near impossible. But if you read the following steps, you’ll find generating a captivating e-book topic just takes a little practice.
What Should an E-Book Be About?
There are three common sources of information you can mine to help generate an e-book topic.
1. Your Company
For your first source of inspiration, look internally. Consider the following questions about your company when brainstorming e-book topics:
- What does your company want to promote?
- Are you launching a new product or service?
- Do you want to present your CEO’s expertise on a particular topic?
- Are you creating a new market category and want to own search results on that topic?
An e-book should not be overly promotional, but your company’s vision should be incorporated into your topic selection. After answering those questions, you’ll be able to see topics in common with the things your audience cares about.
2. Your Audience
It’s critical to create an e-book that focuses on your audience’s needs, interests, and/or pain points. To minimize information dedicated to your company and its products, try to look at your company with the fresh eyes of an outsider. (You can find additional tips on how to align yourself with your audience’s needs in “Why It’s Worth Writing for a Niche Target Audience.”)
The following tactics will give you a better idea of what your audience cares about:
- Check your site analytics. Which content is downloaded most frequently? Which blog posts have the highest traffic or the longest time on page? Make a short list of the topics that feature in these posts.
- Head to sites like SpyFu, AnswerThePublic, or Keyword Tool to find out which key phrases people are searching for, and at what volume. That will tell you which topics and issues your readers care about.
- Get on social media. Research hashtags and topics that are trending with your audience, and jump in conversations to get a better understanding of what interests them.
3. Your Competitors
Find out what your competitors are writing about. It will help you fill in the gaps and position your content as a superior offering.
Choose a Topic
After examining those three information sources to create a complete list of potential topics, look for commonalities, topics you’ve never covered before, high-traffic terms, and topics related to your product offering.
Once you have a list of potential topics, it’s time to narrow those topics down and select one. The trick is finding a topic where your audience’s interests and your business interests align.
An important factor to consider is the key phrases you want to own on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) as a result of your e-book. (Have a look at Curata’s list of marketing e-books on a range of content marketing topics for inspiration.)
After you’ve shortlisted the most relevant topics, narrow down possibilities further by picking out topics that differentiate you from your competitors.
Differentiate Your E-Book
Analyze the e-books that competitors in your industry have published. Determine which types of titles are most successful in search ranking, social shares, etc., and any aspects that set those e-books apart from the others. Decide what you can provide that your audience cannot get elsewhere. It’s OK to emulate some of the attributes of the best titles, but don’t be afraid to be unique.
As noted earlier, SEO is an important factor to consider regarding your topic. Ranking organically for topics your audiences care about is a great way to increase your website’s traffic month to month, and to ensure your content is continuing to work for you over time. Consider these tips for creating an SEO friendly e-book topic:
- Choose a topic for which you can create a supporting blog post. A long-form post is more likely to rank than a landing page with a PDF download.
- Pick a phrase within your keyword search volume goals. It should get enough traffic to help make a difference in your search traffic, but not have so much competition that it’s impossible to rank for.
- Make sure you’re not already ranking for that topic with another blog post or e-book.
If you’re still struggling to find the right topic, content marketing tools can help with e-book topic ideation. For example, you can use Bottlenose to track what’s trending for topic discovery; and you can use Curata CMP to inform future topic decisions by understanding what content is driving traffic, generating revenue, and more.