What are e-books?
E-book stands for electronic book, like e-mail stands for electronic mail. The “electronic” means that the text is digital, though the “book” part is a bit misleading. There are fiction and non-fiction e-books that run 1000 pages or more, but for the purpose of marketing, that’s extreme overkill. An e-book is simply a booklet of information that an interested potential patient can download and read later. Usually, e-books focus on one topic or answer a single question, like “How Much Do Dental Implants Cost?” or “What to Expect When Your Infant Is Teething.”
Does Google like e-books?
Yes! Today, e-books are usually PDF documents that can be opened and read by Adobe Reader, a free program that most people have on their computers and phones. PDF files have the option of adding metadata to a document, as well. Metadata is what search engines read to get an overview of what a webpage is about. Google does indeed index PDFs, so like videos, your e-books can show up in Google Search.
MOST IMPORTANT: Because e-books are SEO-friendly, don’t use existing content from your website or blog in your e-books. Google penalizes websites that have duplicate content. Also, don’t ask colleagues to publish your e-books on their sites; that, too, causes a duplicate content issue. Instead, you need a competent dental copywriter and SEO expert to compose original content for your e-books. Then, the e-books will become part of your SEO/online marketing strategy and could bring you new patients.
EXCEPTION TO THAT RULE: If you are only publishing e-books for an e-mail marketing program, and the books will not be published on your website, they can contain duplicate content.
Now for the 5 Rules for e-Book Success
- Keep It Simple, Silly! Ah, the power of the “KISS.” The familiar acronym comes into play with e-books. Don’t write a novel. If you’re going to make an e-book longer than 30 pages, perhaps the content would be better broken into smaller, more easily digested bits. Remember, e-books are a form of online media, and tech-savvy patients have short attention spans, in addition to being multi-taskers. Employ concise headings, shorter sentences, and easy-to-read language. I suggest e-books be about 8 pages long, including pictures.
- New Directions. Dentists often ask me how my writers and I can write thousands of unique articles on crowns without self-plagiarizing. The answer is actually very basic. We leverage new directions. We may write about how to get a crown, why you need a crown, materials used for crowns, crowns in root canals, cosmetic crowns, alternatives to crowns, crowns and bridges, the history of dental crowns, how long crowns last, what to do when a temporary crown breaks, what to do when a permanent crown breaks, do you need a crown? You get the idea. The same technique should apply to your e-books. Don’t write an overview on dentures if you’ve already done that on your website. Instead, dig deeper. What else can you say about dentures?
- Use Pictures, Please. In addition to mountains of research promoting the value of images in marketing, common sense says that pictures are good. People like pictures. For your e-book, remember that people have an emotional response to seeing other people, so even if you don’t like stock photography with human models, those pictures have value in marketing dentistry. However, if you have good pictures of your staff and patients, by all means use them!
- Don’t Overuse Pictures, Please. Nothing frustrates me more than downloading an e-book to find that it’s one long infographic with text that could have easily been published in a short blog. Sure, I like infographics. I don’t however, like marketers wasting my valuable time – and neither do your patients. Make sure your e-books have value!
- Capture That Email Address! One big benefit of e-books, besides being SEO-friendly, is that you can use an email capture form to acquire the email addresses of potential patients who took time to read your publication. Whether you use Demandforce, Constant Contact, or MyEmma, you should have access to a bit of coding that will create a form website visitors must complete in exchange for your e-book. In most cases, the form automatically adds email addresses to your subscriber list. You do have to let the web visitor know that they are joining your list by downloading the e-book. (By the way, you can join our email list here.) For those who don’t want to join a list, ask them to email your office directly for a copy of the e-book, and coach your receptionist on how to entice the caller to schedule a free consultation.
BONUS TIP: Embed links to your website’s service pages in the text of your e-book. PDFs allow active hyperlinks, so when a reader clicks on a link in an e-book, his browser will open to the page you linked to in the text.