Definition: Ebooks (electronic books) are online texts that are paid-for, downloadable, or viewable from a web browser. Retailers and other online businesses use ebooks as part of their content marketing strategy, which can help establish a brand as an authority in a given space.

Pros and cons of ebooks for online merchants

Content marketing allows ecommerce businesses to reach a broader audience thus creating the potential to increase their customer base which can result in increased sales. While content marketing such as posting to social media sites, blog articles and e-books all allow online merchants to boost their online reputation and improve brand awareness, there are pros and cons to including ebooks in a content marketing campaign:

Pros:
  • Communicates complex information in an easily-digestible, engaging way
  • Combines interesting and practicality to keep the reader interested throughout an entire piece of longer content
  • Offers the ability to educate potential customers on topics of interest to them; for example, if a retailer is selling vacuum cleaners an educational ebook about the importance of keeping carpets clean would be of interest to a potential buyer.
  • Establishes the online retailer as an authority on services they offer or products they are selling
  • Ebooks — when ungated — can significantly expand an ecommerce store's organic search presence
Cons:
  • Incorrectly identifying customer personas can lead to long content that is not relevant to potential customers
  • If not properly constructed and designed in a way to remain interesting, it may not be read at all as customers won't take the time to read longer content
  • May require more time to develop a detailed distribution plan to ensure the content reaches the target audience to achieve desired results

Gating vs. Not Gating

Once an ebook is created, there are two primary distribution strategies:

Gated content - Often used for lead generation, where users enter their contact information to access the ebook in its entirety. The downside to gated content is that a large portion of readers may not be interested in the publisher's products or services, which then wastes valuable sales time and resources. Gated content is recommended for B2B organizations engaged in a long sales cycle.

Ungated content - Freely-accessible e-books can make the content seem more trustworthy, since the publisher is not directly asking for anything in return. Ungated content can also benefit from substantial organic search traffic, thereby increasing reach. An ebook could be published on a single page, or broken up into chapters.


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