Do people really read e-books?

I mean, lots of them published by brands looking to deliver thought leadership and industry insight. Some brands like HubSpot do a good job but most brands create, at best, mediocre collateral.

Nevertheless, many people download e-books because all that’s required is an email address. But the question is whether people read them after they download them?

I would suggest that most ebooks are unread. They’re probably never opened or they collect digital dust in a “Read Later” folder.

But that doesn’t have to be the case. I think eBooks can deliver accessible and user-friendly content featuring insight and thought leadership while offering brands with ways to connect with target audiences.

To be honest, I think many brands are approaching eBooks in the wrong way. They see them as long-form content, almost like books, as opposed to what I would say a blog post on steroids.

In this day and age, people don’t have the time or interest in reading things that take a long time to consume.

We want information. We want it now. We want it easy. We want it fast.

While blog posts have lost their luster, eBooks still have a lot to deliver. The key is approaching them in the right way.

Let’s start with the topics being covered.

An eBook should have little or nothing to do with your product or brand. It really isn’t about selling, it’s about creating a stronger and more dynamic presence.

It’s about establishing your brand as a valuable part of an ecosystem and a reference source for people who may be interested in your products. Your eBook addresses their needs, questions, problems, and challenges. That’s job one.

Second is the length. Again, part of the problem with eBooks is they’re simply too long. No one is going to read at 20,000 or30,000-word eBook. No one.

However, they will read an eBook that’s 1,500 to 3,000 words. We’re talking 10 to 15 pages. That’s not much content to read if you’re interested in a particular topic.

If you’ve done a good job of identifying interesting topics and deliver it in a user-friendly way, 1,500 to 3,000 words is enough real estate to provide good insight without being too long.

The third element – and I think this is probably the most important – is design.

Simply put, something that looks good, seems easy to read, that’s engaging and leads people on a user-friendly journey is a lot more accessible than something that looks long.

When people look at a 50-page eBook, it strikes them as something that takes a long time to read and involve a lot of effort. But if you open a well-designed eBook and it’s not terribly long, they may say “I’ll give this thing a chance”.

An eBook should feature graphics and photographs. It should have quote pullouts, fact charts, and mini-case studies. It can feature a list of tools. They’re bite-sized pieces of information that make an eBook a pleasure to read.

You’re not forcing people to read a long piece of content; you’re giving them different options. They can read the main narrative or some of the sideline pieces that strike them as particularly interesting. The goal is giving people different ways to easily access your content.

The bottom line is that ebooks have value, people will download them and read them but the right approach is required. It is important to think about the target audience and their questions, challenges, and interests.

If you’ve created an eBook that touches upon these three characteristics and done it successfully, I’d love to hear your story and learn more about how you approach eBooks. And if you want to share your eBook in the comments that would be great.

If you’re thinking about a creating an ebook, I would think about following these “rules”, which will put you on the right path to develop something that’s going to be downloaded and, as important, going to be read.

It’s time to jump-start your marketing!

My new book, Marketing Spark, provides entrepreneurs with strategic and tactical guidance about the power of brand storytelling and how to integrate marketing into your marketing. Marketing Spark is a user-friendly workbook with templates, worksheets, frameworks, and tools. It helps you make marketing happen.