Web content sells. An effective content strategy, artfully executed, drives action. Organizations that use online content have a clearly defined goal—to sell products, generate leads, secure contributions, or get people to join and deploy a content strategy that directly contributes to reaching that goal. Content takes many forms including an effective content-centric Web site, blogs, podcasts, and e-books.
As a resource for buyers to learn about answers to a market problem, e-books are a valuable resource. But for many people and organizations, an e-book also has a less tangible effect. E-books do much more than just sell product. E-books directly contribute to an organization's positive reputation by showing thought leadership in the marketplace of ideas. This form of content brands a company, a consultant, or a non-profit as an expert and as a trusted resource to turn to again and again.
So what is an e-book? For the purposes of marketing using web content, I define an e-book as a PDF-formatted document that identifies a market problem and supplies an answer to the problem. The best e-books don't sell a product, but rather brand an organization as thoughtful in a defined market space.
In the B2B world, e-books are like the hip and stylish younger sister to the nerdy white paper.
I recommend that e-books be presented in a landscape format, rather than the white paper's portrait format. The e-book has more white space, more graphics and images and is written in a lighter style than the typically dense white paper. E-books (as marketing tools) are free and I strongly suggest that there is no registration requirement.