E-books offer your company an opportunity to showcase deep knowledge and expertise in one topic area, and they can be a key tool for generating qualified leads. The challenge for many marketing teams (both big and small) is finding the time to research and create long-form content on a topic in e-book format. If you want to make e-books a part of your content marketing strategy but have neither the writing skills nor the time to create them, outsource e-book writing with the right content partner.
Why e-books should be part of your content marketing strategy
Before we get too far into a discussion about outsourcing e-books, let’s take a minute to clarify a few terms:
- E-book: This is a long-form piece of content (over 1,500 words) used as part of your content marketing strategy. An e-book is usually published digitally as a PDF and is available for download from your website or landing page. It’s designed with colorful graphics, links and other elements to allow a reader to easily scan the content.
- Whitepaper: This is a research-heavy document that breaks down complex topics to inform or facilitate decisions on an issue. While they can seem similar, whitepapers are usually more text-heavy and only include charts or graphs to present data.
- Self-published book: This could be in an electronic format and may even be called an e-book, but it’s not quite the same as a marketing e-book. Electronic self-published books are longer, similar to a printed book. They are often available on e-readers (such as a Kindle) or as a PDF. Whereas a marketing e-book is usually free in exchange for contact information (email, name, phone number), self-published books usually cost money.
Now that we have clarified all of these, let’s talk about why writing and publishing e-books is a common strategy for high-performing brands:
- They offer a unique opportunity to reach your audience and provide a more detailed overview of a topic.
- They showcase expertise and build trust with your audience.
- You can add graphics, charts, interactive content, and links for further analysis and education.
- They are relatively quick and inexpensive to produce.
- Audiences perceive them as more valuable than a basic blog post and are willing to provide their information in exchange (top-performing marketing e-books generate thousands of engagements and downloads).
- You can distribute them through different digital channels to boost leads and conversions.
The pros and cons of outsourcing e-book writing
There are good reasons to outsource e-book writing and other good reasons to consider doing it in house. The exact answer to whether you should outsource your e-book writing depends on your available resources and how e-books fit into your overall digital marketing strategy.
Pros of e-book outsourcing
- Create a lot of content quickly even with a small marketing team.
- Get more specialized writing skills from writers who focus exclusively on content creation.
- Tap into expertise that you don’t have on your own team.
- Provide native-language fluency for international e-book marketing strategies.
- Consistently create and produce new e-book content as part of an overall strategy (and not just a one-off when you have extra time).
- Generate more leads without the cost of adding permanent marketing team members.
Cons of e-book outsourcing
A few include:
- You have less control over the content.
- You may end up working with an agency that doesn’t have the knowledge or expertise to provide quality e-book content.
- Writers from external agencies might not have a comprehensive understanding of your products and your brand.
- Outsourced e-book writing may require more rounds of edits to produce a final product.
When to outsource e-book writing for your brand
There are times when outsourcing e-book writing makes sense and can provide a much higher ROI.
Small marketing teams without a lot of resources often benefit from outsourced content marketing. You acquire all the specialized skills and experience without the high cost of hiring employees, which includes salaries, benefits, IT equipment and office space.
Hiring freelance writers or content marketing agencies to fill the gaps when you are short on time can help you publish more content without scrambling to hire more people internally on short notice.
You may not be planning to create e-books forever, or you may not really know what your strategy will look like in one, three or five years. Hiring a content marketing agency to outsource e-book writing to can help you meet your short-term content goals without any long-term staffing commitments in case your strategy shifts in the future.
Lack of expertise
E-books are a great way to showcase your expertise, but what if nobody on your marketing team actually has the in-depth experience you need? Outsourcing to a freelancer with more experience and knowledge on a topic can help you build trust with the audience as a leader in that content area.
Expertise but no time
An outsourced content marketing partner is beneficial when your organization has the expertise but doesn’t have the time to write about it. For example, you might want to publish an e-book on revenue cycles, but your CFO is too busy. A freelancer can interview the expert and then put in the time and effort to do the writing.
Ongoing content marketing needs
Most marketing teams can find time to write one or two e-books. However, if your strategic plan calls for ongoing content, having a partner who can focus on content generation full time will free up your time to focus on content promotion, lead follow-up and data analysis.
How to select a partner to help with e-book writing
When you’re ready to outsource e-book writing, search for the following characteristics to find the right content partner:
- Experience:E-books are not the same as other forms of content, so it’s important to find a company that has created effective e-books in the past and can prove how those books translated to quality leads for clients.
- Guaranteed quality: Make sure your content partner stands behind the work they do. They should be willing to provide at least one round of edits based on your feedback so you can get exactly what you expect.
- Graphic design: One of the great benefits of e-books is your ability to add design elements so it’s visually stunning and easy to read and digest. If you don’t have an in-house graphic designer, find a partner that offers this service.
- Promotion:Content is important, but so is e-book promotion. Find a partner who can help you publish your e-book content in the right places to get conversions and sales.
The best of all worlds: Managed service providers
For marketers concerned about the cost of working with an agency, the uncertainty of trying to hire your own freelance writers through a marketplace, or the hassle of researching and purchasing your own content management software, a managed service provider is your best option. They offer the best of all worlds:
- High-quality content from a team of carefully-selected and fully-vetted writers with expertise in various content areas and industries.
- Better ROI than with an agency, which normally requires long-term contracts, retainer fees and by-the-hour billing.
- Built-in software tools like plagiarism checks, SEO scans, readability and more, so you know you’re getting unique, exceptional content.
- Improved productivity with seamless integrations into your back office and easy workflow management through the managed service provider’s software platform.
- The highest level of customer service and guidance to create and execute your content strategy.
The bottom line
E-books are a critical part of a content marketing strategy, but not every company has the tools and resources to incorporate them alone. You should find the right content marketing partner to expand your internal capabilities by including this effective lead generation strategy.