We recently starting read some good old-fashioned marketing books and found that they were some of the most insightful and memorable pieces of content. After reading 15 books from cover to cover (and another six in parts), we have come up with a good list of five in particular that fit our criteria of books to read. They check all the boxes:
- Not too long
- Easily scannable for the most important sections
- Lots of real-world examples
- Key takeaways that stick with you
- At least one element that you will want to add to your digital marketing strategy
While we are still authoring our own publicly available book, we have set up these links as Amazon Associates, so we earn from qualifying purchases. Hopefully, in the next few years, we will have our own book to peddle and promote here on Amazon! One additional note is that we are not promoting these books on behalf of any of these authors, as they do not know us personally or in a business manner. We would love to have conversations with these brilliant individuals, but at the time of writing this, none of them knew about this article or the links they would be getting.
Without further ado, here are five marketing books to inspire your digital strategy.
Our favorite marketing books
At the top of our list is One Million Followers: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days. Without question, this has been the most impactful book for us because it teaches the value of… value! Creating value on social media is often lost in the shuffle of dozens of other goals. Whether those be product promotion or earned media, value creation sometimes gets forgotten.
For us, value creation is the name of the game. The author, Brendan Kane, has written several books on related topics and we’ve enjoyed several of his other titles, but this one is great. To be honest, we were skeptical after the first chapter, but it got a lot better – in a hurry. Check it out on Amazon where you can buy it hardcover as we did, or you can buy it for your Kindle now if that is your kind of thing. We prefer good old-fashioned books that have physical pages.
Our next favorite book comes from our favorite author, the godfather of content marketing himself, Joe Pulizzi. Joe has written many content marketing books and several of them have the same takeaways, but our favorite is Content Inc., Second Edition: Start a Content-First Business, Build a Massive Audience and Become Radically Successful (with little to no money). What a mouthful!
This book is an easy read, even though it looks thick and daunting up front. We really enjoyed this because of the diversity of examples he shared. But when it came to a key takeaway, the big thing to remember is to build a community first!
If you follow Joe on social media or subscribe to his various channels, you have probably heard his famous line “don’t build your house on rented land” with the rented land being social media and the house being a community. And we completely agree – you want to be able to connect with your audience offline and outside of the confines of social networks. If your audience only knew you for Facebook and a business page on the giant social network, what would you do if Facebook went away? This book goes into great detail on how to build an audience through targeting a small niche and – wait for it – creating valuable content!
When buying Content Inc., be sure to pick up the second edition (it’s the most recent) and you can get it in any version.
The second tier of marketing books (but still very good and worth the read)
Search engine optimization books are becoming a dime a dozen. Back in 2014, we fell in love with SEO Like I’m 5 by Matthew Capela, but it has been so long that we have had to move on to newer publications. And with newer SEO publications come specialized SEO books, like our next favorite: Local SEO Secrets: 20 Local SEO Strategies You Should be Using NOW by Roger Bryan.
You could find an SEO book on just about any type of search engine optimization: local, global, white hat, black hat, or even semantic SEO like we have been harping on for years. And yet, this one on local SEO is both the most practical AND the most likely to be relevant for more than six months. The elements of the book that focus on driving traffic to your website are critical, and they provide important distinctions between local SEO and other forms. If you work with retail SEO clients or other businesses that may ever have people searching “near me” after the company name, this book is for you.
We don’t know Roger Bryan too well, but he does have other books that look insightful. You can check out those out after you buy this one. We want to read Sell My Stuff: Target Marketing 101 but have not gotten there yet. It’s also 10 years old, so it is not high on our list. Anyway, check out Local SEO Secrets as they have both a paperback and Kindle version for cheap.
If you are looking for a good entrepreneurial digital marketing book, look no further than The Hawke Method by Erik Huberman. The first chapter of this book is one of the most captivating and interesting chapters in a business book we have ever read, especially the part about his t-shirt company and how he got his first earned media hit (and subsequent 600 t-shirt sales).
The book is centered around three principles of marketing which all seem fairly straightforward: awareness, nurturing, and trust. But it’s the later content that really makes you think differently about digital marketing. Chapters 5 – 7 on earned media and then the last few chapters about the third-party validation will make you add new strategies to your plan. We do not love his take on content marketing, but we agree with the wider sentiment on the importance of partnerships.
This is a brand new book that just came out earlier in 2022, so the content is fresh. You can buy the paperback online, but the Kindle version is a little pricier than the ones we’ve shown you far.
The best of the rest
The final book on our list (and still a very good and worthwhile read) is Email Marketing Demystified: Build a Massive Mailing List, Write Copy that Converts and Generate More Sales by Matthew Paulson. Email marketing books are hard to come by these days, and while this one is three years old, it provides the best strategies we have seen in a book about email. We really like his approach to the text and the in-depth case studies he seemingly did on his own businesses.
We have always been big proponents of email marketing and love any content that promotes its strengths. It also helps that he takes a holistic approach to email in the larger digital marketing ecosystem where it can thrive. Email, when viewed in a vacuum, is hard to understand as a digital marketing strategy. But when put together with all of the other major digital elements, it is easy to make sense of it.
This book is great partially because of its subject matter, but we also love that it is both extremely in-depth and inexpensive. The paperback version is less than $10 or you can check out the Audible version, too.
Did we miss any heavy hitters? Or have you written your own that you would like us to consider for this list? Leave a comment or contact us!