If you're marketing products and services, or creating brand awareness, e-books can be an incredibly useful tool. Marketers can use e-books for both lead generation and brand building. Typical uses include giving away e-books to entice potential customers or using an e-book to tell your company's story, outline your value proposition, and highlight market differentiators.
E-books are popular because they're an effective marketing solution that is relatively inexpensive to produce, distribute, and share. If you're ready to jump on the e-book bandwagon to generate leads or build your company's brand, you'll have some decisions to make about format.
Here's a quick overview of the main formats available and the pros and cons of each one.
PDF (Portable Document Format)
The default e-book format choice for many marketers, a PDF is a method for creating and sharing documents from a variety of file types. Creating a PDF requires little specialized technical knowledge or software, so marketers can easily convert existing collateral into an e-book, create a PDF, and share it as a file attachment. PDFs preserve the original layout, which makes designers happy. The downside is that the fixed layout won't necessarily render correctly on different device types, and readability can be a major hurdle on smaller screens.
EPUB (Electronic Publication)
A distribution and interchange format that is XML-based, EPUB is the most widely supported vendor-neutral e-book format. It allows marketers to distribute rich media elements in a single-file format across virtually all device types. There are currently two versions: release 2, the standard most e-book producers still use, and version 3, an updated release. EPUB features a flowable layout, which means people can view EPUB e-books on all types of devices and screen sizes. It also works with native multimedia players, meaning users can view video and other elements using their device without having to download a player.
A digital rights-protected format proprietary to Amazon, Mobi is the e-book format used for Amazon's popular Kindle devices. Like EPUB, Mobi reflows design to fit different screen sizes and enables embedding of rich media elements, such as video. Because Kindle is the most popular e-reader, many potential customers can view e-books in Mobi format. However, Mobi incorporates digital rights management elements that can make it difficult for readers to share material, a challenge PDF and EPUB-based e-books eliminate.
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Each of those format types offers unique features and advantages, so as a marketer, you'll need to decide which format works best for your campaign goals.
E-books are a great way to get the word out about your company's products or services, and to tell your brand story. Just remember that when it's time to select which format to use, you'll need to keep your campaign goals in mind and choose wisely.
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