I cringe to think about the first ebook I ever wrote.

I was in college at the time, writing articles for an SEO company, and my manager came to me with a question: Could I write something longer? She had a client who was willing to pay twice my per-page rate if I would put together a 50-page ebook for him.

I jumped at the change, but I wish certain ebook tips have been in my memory bank at the time, because that draft sucked. I mean, really sucked. Luckily, my manager was patient and all to happy to give me feedback and allow for revisions. Still, I’m pretty such the final copy I sent in was pretty embarrassing, at least by my standards today!

Writing an ebook is no small feat, but this is still, in my opinion, the number one way to build your email list. In fact, I’m working on my own ebook right now for this very purpose (sign up for my email list on the sidebar now and you’ll get a copy when it’s finished!). The problem? Lots of people create ebooks that are unsuccessful, either because they don’t help collect many leads, the leads are low-quality, or there are too many unsubscribes. Let’s look at a few ebook tips that can help you avoid these problems.

Ebook Tips for More Leads

You poured your blood, sweat, and tears into your baby, and she’s finally ready to unleash on the world. You upload your ebook, proudly put a sign-up box on your blog, and sit back to watch the leads roll in.

Crickets.

Is there anything more disheartening than working hard on something that is ignored? Here are my best email tips for getting more people to download your ebook, and, thus, give you their information.

  • Ask for less information. You want my name and email? No problem. My Twitter handle. Well…okay. My phone number? Meh, I don’t really want your ebook that badly. The more information you force someone to give you, the fewer signups you’ll get, no matter how great your ebook is.
  • Work on the title. Just like a catchier blog post title will get more clicks, a catchier ebook title will get more signups.
  • Give people something totally new…and needed. What kind of insider information can you offer that they can’t get anywhere else? That should be the subject of your ebook.
  • Pay for cover art. Unless you are a designer yourself, pay to have someone create a beautiful cover for your book.
  • Prominently display the sign up form. I’ll probably never find your ebook if it is hidden on a page of your blog or you need a special URL to get to it. Stick it at the top of your sidebar.
  • Share the news! It astounds me that people don’t use social media to remind new followers to sign up for their ebook. You don’t need to be annoyingly promoting every day, but every so often, mention it. Your new followers will thank you!
  • Ask others to share. When I wrote about link building and guest posting, I talked about the importance of building relationships when others. When you have a new, awesome resource, like an ebooks, it’s time to call in some favors and ask people to share.

Ebook Tips for Better Quality Leads

Another common problem people have when giving away an ebook is not collecting quality leads. In other words, you get a huge number of people signing up for your ebook, but few of those people actually convert into sales. Here are a few ebook tips that can help you squash this problem:

  • Do research before writing. Your free ebook shouldn’t be about what your think people want. It should be about what they actually want. And by they, I mean your target market.
  • Keep your ultimate goal in mind. A free ebook is just part of a sales funnel. If your ultimate goal is to sell more widgets, your ebook needs to be about widgets. If it’s about gizmos, your audience won’t be primed to take that next step and buy a widget.
  • Make sure your target audience can make the purchase. If you sell used cars, writing a driving guide for teens might seem like a good idea. One problem – most teens can’t afford to buy a car! So even though the topic is related, something more attractive to the actual decision makers – mom and dad – would probably get better results.
  • Start email people right away. Don’t let people linger on your list with no follow up! Set up an autoresponder campaign to keep them engaged – strike when the iron is hot. And anyone who was really in it for the freebie will get annoyed at the constant communication about unwanted topics and unsubscribe quickly. Get ’em off your list as fast as possible!

Ebook Tips for Fewer Unsubscribes

Lastly, I hear a complaint from people that their ebook was downloaded hundreds or thousands of times, but everyone unsubscribed really quickly. As noted in the previous section, one of my best ebook tips is to start communicating with people right away so the freebie hunted unsubscribe quickly instead of taking up space on your list. But if it seems like everyone is unsubscribing, something is definitely wrong!

  • Hire an editor. The majority of the ebooks I download are hot messes. An editor is well worth the money, because they’ll make sure your book is organized well and that the fat is cut, not to mention they’ll find typos and grammatical errors.
  • Care about design. If your ebooks is a wall of text, I’m probably not going to read it, no matter how interesting the topic sounds. And I’m probably going to unsubscribe because I’ll assume that I won’t have time to read your emails either. Send a little time make sure your ebook is well designed, filled with snackable content bites that I can easily consume.
  • WRITE BETTER CONTENT. I don’t mean to all-caps-yell, but some people think that because they’re giving away the ebook, the content doesn’t have to be that good. It’s just a freebie, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. This is your foot in the door. It’s like a sample at the grocery store. It has to be the BEST you have. Otherwise, no one will want to buy because they’ll assume everything you do is crappy quality.

Some Final Ebook Tips for Lead Generation

Before closing, I wanted to give you a few final ebook tips that will help you overall, not just in one of the above categories.

First, keep in mind that not every lead is going to be qualified. In other words, this is a numbers game. Just because someone downloads your free ebook doesn’t mean they are interested in ever buying anything from you. That’s okay. What matters is that you keep your conversion rate as high as possible, and that you track it. That way, if conversion dips, you’ll know that something is wrong and you need to figure out what happened.

Second, split test everything. This blog post about a/b testing is a great place to start if you’re wondering what to split test. You can’t know what works and what doesn’t work until you try it. Trust me, you will be surprised at what has absolutely no effect, even though it is a big change, and what has a huge effect, even though it is a seemingly meaningless change. Once, I changed the my sign-up box to be thirty pixels wider on a niche site and it increased sign ups by 5%. Five percent is pretty significant. Another time, I made the box red and really stand out from the background when it had previously blended in, and sign ups didn’t change at all.

People are weird and act different across every single website.

Third and lastly, sign up for others’ ebooks and experience the processes. What did you like about it? What did you find annoying? What made you want to unsubscribe right away? Use your experiences to help build out your own download process and autoresponders.

I’ll now turn it over to you to answer these questions: What makes you download some ebooks and not others? Once you download, what makes you love some ebooks and hate others? What about autoresponders: are there some you love and others that make you unsubscribe right away? If so, why? Give us your best ebook tips in a comment below!

Image credit: “TXTR lecteur ebook low cost” by ActualLitte, modified

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