7 Creative E-book Design Examples (B2B + B2C)

In marketing, good e-book design isn’t just about making something pretty; it’s about enhancing your viewer’s experience with your content. When you turn a boring cover into a stunning calling card, or a cluttered layout into a visual treat, or a confusing data set into an elegant visualization, you make it that much easier to grab—and, most importantly, keep—your audience’s attention.

We love it when we see brands from all industries up their e-book game by applying A+ design, and we think seeing others’ good work can inspire you too. That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the most standout examples of e-book design we’ve seen lately.  

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7 Excellent Examples of E-Book Design

If you’re facing an e-book design project and need a little inspiration, we have just what you need. Here are seven great takes on e-book design from both B2B and B2C brands. 

1) The Secret Sauce by LinkedIn

Why we love it: A great cover

Linkedin ebook example

We’re suckers for a bold visual, and this e-book cover hits the mark for several reasons. 

  1. It’s a clever theme, demonstrating that LinkedIn has the literal secret sauce (bonus points for making it the only bottle with a label).
  2. Its clean photography really pops, especially compared to most of the boring covers in the B2B space. 
  3. It reflects LinkedIn’s brand identity via their signature bright blue (a visual differentiator). 

When you’re looking to make an impact, a visually arresting cover is the way to do it in an instant.

Note: While a cover is incredibly important, maintaining a design aesthetic throughout all of your content is equally as important. LinkedIn decided to promote the e-book by creating an infographic, which also carries the same visual theme. A+ all around.

Linkedin ebook example 2

Tip: Make sure your e-book design reflects your brand identity. To make it easier for content creators to replicate, find out how to craft a strong brand’s style guide.

2) Your Field Guide to Foraging Intent Data by Terminus

Why we love it: A clever theme

Gathering data is a crucial part of a marketer’s job, but you can feel like you’re lost in the weeds. Terminus does an excellent job of translating this metaphor into an exciting adventure guide. From the people and animals to the maps and trails, this interactive e-book is a perfect example of how a little creativity can drastically enhance a viewer’s experience. By giving it this unique twist, learning how to gather data feels like an exciting adventure—not a dull chore.

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Tip: It’s easy to come up with obvious visual metaphors (e.g., lightbulb = idea), but challenge yourself to come up with a visual theme that is both relevant and interesting.

3) Break Free of Boring B2B by Ceros

Why we love it: Unusual imagery

This is a perfect example of super creative e-book design for a subject that can be notoriously, well, boring. This interactive e-book is an explosion of color, pattern, and surprising imagery that is totally unexpected. From a screaming bear to a soda-drinking cat, it takes Internet meme aesthetic to a whole new level while delving into the ins and outs of B2B content marketing. We love an eye-catching interactive, and this brings the best of animation and information together in one easy-to-navigate package.

E-book examples page with bear

Tip: Since you don’t have to be literal in your metaphors, think about the real message you’re trying to deliver. Ceros wanted to prove that B2B doesn’t have to be boring, so they created a totally surprising and whimsical e-book design to prove just that.

4) STFU Already by Unbabel

Why we love it: Bold palette and typography

Not all e-books have to be interactive adventures. Unbabel’s thoroughly entertaining PDF e-book proves you can make a big impression without a ton of bells and whistles. Its bright and bold color palette, playful illustrations, and beautiful typography make the subject matter that much more interesting. Whereas they could have taken the technical route, espousing their software benefits in a boring brochure, this technicolor approach generates excitement and curiosity about their offering. F yeah, Unbabel.

Unbable e-book design example Unbable e-book example 2 Unbable e-book example 2

Tip: Bold colors can help you stand out from your competition, especially when you use them for your cover. If you’re not sure what fits your message, find out how to curate the right color palette for your brand. 

5) How EU Banks Can Ensure EPI’s Success by Feedzai

Why we love it: Pops of personality

Any time a brand can transcend their product offering and show us who they are, it’s a win for brand storytelling. Feedzai is a perfect example of this. For an e-book about financial safety, which may seem rather droll, they do a good job of adding personality via people-centric illustrations (which feature a balance of genders and more than one skin tone—thank you).

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Tip: Depicting diversity is crucial. Be mindful of who you’re representing through imagery (be it illustration or photography).

6) How to Successfully Negotiate a Higher Salary in 4 Easy Steps by Her First 100K

Why we love it: Simplicity with style

Good e-book design doesn’t mean you have to design a custom font, create hand-drawn illustrations, or conduct a 5-day photoshoot to get the best images. This guide makes great use of photography, typography, layout, and negative space to deliver the information in a straightforward, cohesive package. If you wanted proof that strong design can elevate even the simplest e-book, this is it.

Her first 100K ebook 2 Her first 100K ebook

Tip: If you don’t have a ton of design resources, simple typography treatments and callouts can do a lot to make content easily digestible.

7) Einstein’s Guide to AI Use Cases by Salesforce

Alright, so this one isn’t technically an e-book, but it is a clever piece of lead generation. You answer a few questions about what type of work you do, and this interactive guides you to the most relevant case study for you. This is a very clever way to create a personalized, guided experience through strong design. The Einstein character animation, the simple and clean navigation, and the brand colors make this a clearly branded experience.

Salesforce einstein e-book design example

Tip: Simple interactivity can make all of your content more engaging, whether it’s an e-book, guide, or questionnaire. If you’re curious to learn more, find out how to brainstorm great interactive content ideas. 

How to Nail Your Own E-book Design

We want to see better e-book design in the world, so we’re always happy to share the tips we’ve learned from our own projects. If you’re looking for more tips to improve your e-books…

And if you need a partner to help bring your next e-book to life, here are 12 tips to find a good content agency. You can always hit us up too.

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Blend Consumer Banking E-Book

Blend’s digital platform streamlines the journey from application to close—for every banking product. For this project, Blend was specifically interested in a report that would explore the state of the industry as it relates to the application process for deposit accounts, the keys to a good process, and how institutions can best serve their customers.

However, this wasn’t a standard data design project. Before we could bring the data to life, we needed to get it. So we crafted custom criteria to outline the key factors you need to create a successful application experience and audited a list of 100 financial institutions (including banks and credit unions) to score each. Of course, the challenge with all data storytelling is identifying the most relevant information (aka the real story). Because the primary goal of the report was to help readers improve their own application practices, we focused on identifying industry trends and the most interesting insights to turn into relevant takeaways for the reader.

The result was a high-value piece of content that establishes Blend’s authority and expertise in the industry, and positions the brand as a trusted resource to their customers—a content marketing win-win.

5 Easy Ways to Turn Your Old E-Books Into Fresh Infographics

Content takes time, money, and resources to produce, which is why we believe you should get as much mileage as possible from anything you create—especially with cornerstone content like e-books. Unfortunately, marketers are usually sitting on an archive of great content that’s just gathering dust, either because it never had much traffic to begin with or because it’s been forgotten. This is a huge waste.

You can get a lot more from your existing assets by using them to create fresh content. This approach is called a divisible content strategy, and not only is it economical but it expands your reach, takes less work, and helps you promote other content, helping strengthen your entire content ecosystem. 

One of the best ways to breathe new life into old content is to create infographics. Things like e-books, reports, guides, research, and surveys are filled with valuable information and interesting data insights that can be used to tell many different types of stories—and infographics can help bring those stories to life in unique ways.

5 Ways to Create Infographics

If you’re not sure what types of infographics to make from your e-books, here are some of our favorite ways to extract stories and come up with new ideas.

1) Expand on a Topic

E-books and reports are full of valuable information, but they can only cover so much on a given topic. By exploring a related subject or doing a deeper dive into a single topic, you can create an interesting infographic that educates your reader—and encourages them to learn more by checking out the original e-book. Pro tip: Comb through the sidebars or callouts in your e-books or reports—those are often great subjects to explore.

Example: To promote their What DDoS Attacks Really Cost Businesses survey, we helped Incapsula create an infographic on the anatomy of a DDOS attack. While the survey covered how the issue affects businesses, it didn’t precisely explain how these attacks happen. Creating this infographic allowed Incapsula to further educate people while promoting the survey.  

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2) Create a How-To

People are always eager to learn something, and if you can provide them with practical information that makes their lives easier, they will love you for it. Turning your best tips and tutorials from e-books or other cornerstone content into compelling infographics is a great way to provide value—in a highly shareable format.  

Example: We partnered with LinkedIn to create a fun infographic that offered tips on how to create a great marketing machine. The infographic was used to promote the brand’s e-book, The Marketing Skills Handbook, which included many more great tips.

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3) Summarize a Chapter or Topic

Infographics are an effective form of storytelling because they help people process information visually, making them a great way to communicate concepts that may be complex or challenging to explain. Also, not everyone has the time to dive into an e-book or research report. Creating a condensed infographic version that includes the most important, interesting, or relevant information provides a great service.

Example: Education company Course Hero is dedicated to helping people learn online, so we partnered with them to create a series of infographics that summarize famous works of literature. These infographics are useful study materials for busy students, helping them learn in less time.  

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4) Find a News Angle

Newsjacking can be a great tactic to give older content new relevance, as long as it’s done appropriately. (Follow these tips to make sure you do it the right way.) Think about the trending topics in your industry or in the larger media landscape. Do you have data that might shed light on an industry trend? Is there a social tie-in that might make your content more interesting?

Example: To promote their Definitive Guide to Digital Advertising, we helped Marketo create an infographic on the “Mad Men” of the millenium, showing the major trends that define today’s marketing landscape—contrasted with those of the Mad Men era. Thanks to the popularity of the show, it was an interesting, unique, and relevant angle that helped Marketo join the conversation in an organic way. It was also picked up by Ad Week, helping Marketo expand their reach.

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5) Tell a Surprising Story

Data and research often contain interesting, unique, or surprising insights and discoveries that tell a very interesting story. Turning that type of information into a compelling infographic is an easy way to repurpose content and get more attention.

Example: We helped High Five craft an infographic based on their 2015 Workplace Culture and Communication Report. The story revealed the negative effect that tech has on the workplace—a surprising take that is relevant to people in all industries.

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How to Make a Truly Great Infographic

Coming up with a strong infographic idea is just the first step. Once you’re ready to start creating that infographic, you must follow best practices at every stage of the process. To ensure your infographic is as successful as possible, follow these tips to nail everything from copywriting to promotion.

If you need a little help getting everything done, find out what to look for in an infographic design company. Or let us know what you’re struggling with. We’d love to chat.

How to Make E-Book Templates to Create E-books Faster

Providing people with high-quality, comprehensive content is a great way to build relationships, increase leads, improve SEO, and more. That’s why e-books are such a valuable tool for marketers. The problem is they are also one of the more difficult pieces of content to produce. From copywriting to e-book design, it can take a lot of time and energy to create something of quality. But there are always ways to work smarter, not harder. And we’re always on the hunt for the best tools, tips, and tricks to make your life easier. So let’s talk about one of the easiest ways to create quality e-books in less time: e-book templates. If you are a brand that produces a lot of e-books (or wants to), templates will change your life.

The Benefits of Custom E-Book Templates

When some people hear the word “template,” they think of a ‘90s PowerPoint slide. But well-designed templates don’t turn your content into a boring brochure. They are an efficient way to create content that is:

  • On-brand: An e-book design template is designed around your visual language, including fonts, colors, logos, etc. You don’t have to get approval from an art director, and you can be confident that you’re producing something that always reflects your brand.
  • Consistent: If you look through your archive, you will probably notice your e-book design reflects a range of styles and design aesthetics. This is problematic if you’re trying to build an instantly identifiable brand (and who isn’t?). Whether you’re working with a freelancer, an agency, or an in-house designer, templates ensure that everything you do will have a cohesive feel.
  • Easy to replicate: Building an e-book design from scratch takes a ton of time. But you can reduce that time tremendously with a comprehensive template. You just pick and choose the elements you need, then plug your content in. This makes it easy for novice designers (or even marketers) to create something of quality with a quick turnaround.
  • Economical: If you don’t have to create a brand-new design every time, you can reduce costs while increasing your output. That gives you a higher ROI for every e-book you create.

So, how do you create these magical templates?

How to Build E-Book Templates 

We know marketing teams are usually overloaded, especially designers. But remember that a little bit of work up front can save you a ton of time down the road—and make designers’ lives a lot easier. If your team doesn’t have the time, you might consider using a content agency (or baking templates into an engagement you already have). But if you’re going to DIY it, here’s the simple 3-step process to create an intuitive visual design system that anyone can use.

1) Go Through Your Existing E-Books

You might only have a handful of e-books, or you might have a huge archive (in which case you can choose, say, 10). Go through each to identify the common elements that you will need to build into your e-book design template. The goal is to build something that works for any e-book subject, so it should be comprehensive and scalable.

This might include things like:

  • Cover design
  • Data visualization (charts and graphs)
  • Illustrations
  • Diagrams
  • Sidebars
  • Callouts and pullquotes
  • Images/captions
  • Chapter breaks
  • Headers/subheads
  • Iconography
E-book design template

Identify the most common design elements in your e-books. 

Make sure to poll your team about what they might also need. You can also look at brands whose content you admire. (Here are 5 great e-book design examples you can learn from.)

2) Build Your Design System

Once you know what your design should include, start building those elements. At this stage, you’re building your visual system, such as:

  • Grid system
  • Typography (heirarchy, headers, bodycopy, bullets, hyperlink style)
  • Color palettes
  • Graphic elements
  • Data visualization styles
  • Photography style
  • Illustration style
  • Layouts

Everything should adhere to your visual language. Don’t have one? Here’s how to make one, as well as everything it should include.

3) Create Your Template

To turn your visual system into a practical guide, build out your design files, providing mockups of actual pages that reflect best practices. (If you already have an e-book design that works well, you might adapt it to the guidelines.) Examples:

E-book design template

The important thing is to offer clear explanations and visual examples of everything. Whoever picks it up, whether a freelancer or in-house designer, should be able to understand it and replicate it without asking questions.  

You might also include any relevant design tips. (And make sure you avoid these 30 common e-book design mistakes.)

Once you put your e-book design templates to work, you’ll see how much easier they are to produce, and you’ll be grateful you put the work in. 

Remember, too, that you can also make the most of your work by repurposing your e-books after their first run. (Try these 9 tips to do that, and check out this roundup of 101+ resources and tools to make better e-books.)

Look for More Ways Template Can Improve Content Creation

There are always ways to improve how you do things, so think about how templates might help in other areas of content marketing, including:

  • Infographic templates
  • Interactive templates
  • Social templates
  • Reporting templates
  • Ad templates

We know that not everyone has the resources to tackle design templates, though. If you need a little help or someone to help lighten your content load, holler at us.  

Interactive E-book: The Content Marketer’s Guide to Brand Video

If you don’t have video in your content mix, you’re missing out. It’s simpler to make than ever, and people really want to see it. (A 2014 Levels Beyond survey found that 51% of millennials would rather watch a video than read.) Now is definitely the time to dive in.

But we know you might be a little intimidated (or overwhelmed) to start, and you probably have a lot of questions. We’re here to help.

Our new interactive e-book, The Content Marketer’s Guide to Brand Video, covers everything (seriously, everything) you’ve ever wanted to know about brand video but were too shy to ask, including:

  • Why are humans biologically wired for video?
  • How can brands use video to deliver a strong message?
  • What makes a truly great brand video?
  • How do you measure the ROI of video?
  • What does it take to produce video?
  • How should you act on set?

It’s all there, plus great data, pro tips, and great examples of brand video. We also made it interactive so you can skip to the stuff you want to know—and bookmark it when you want to come back. Click below to check it out now. 

brand video

And if there’s anything we didn’t answer, we’d be happy to chat.

6 Easy Fixes to Makeover Your E-book Design

How’s your latest e-book doing? How’s your oldest e-book doing? Have downloads dipped? It’s frustrating, we know, but sometimes a few quick tweaks to your e-book design can really improve your readers’ experience, making them more eager to consume your content and connect with your brand. If the content in your e-book is gold, but people are tapping out before they get to page 2, consider how a makeover might help.

Does Your E-book Design Need a Makeover?

Design integrity has a lot to do with how content quality is perceived. First, print out your latest e-book. Take a critical look at what’s in front of you:

  • What catches your eye?
  • How does it flow?
  • What do you feel when you look at it?

These gut reactions and first impressions are what your reader probably experiences, too. We hate to see you give off the wrong impression, so we’re here to help. All it takes is a little creativity to turn a blah design into something beautiful. Here are 6 ways to do it.

1) Choose a Theme

The problem: Your design is totally generic or all over the place, mixing clashing styles, imagery, and visual metaphors right and left.

The fix: E-books are awesome because they give you a nice creative canvas to tell your story. The best, most effective e-books deliver a single story, and use every element of design to support it. Choose a single theme or concept to ground the design, then use your creativity to bring it to life.

6 ways to makeover e-book design

2) Rehab Your Cover

The problem: The cover is the first thing people see, but too often marketers miss the mark. The most common mistakes: too cluttered, no imagery, irrelevant imagery, boring typography, generic design.

The fix: Let your content be the guide. Use high-quality imagery to catch the reader’s eye and draw them in. The cover should match the content theme and infuse a little brand personality into it. There should also be an intuitive grid-based layout and logical header hierarchy so that everything is clear at a glance.

6 ways to makeover your e-book design3) Add Personality with Imagery

The problem: Your e-book looks like a PowerPoint: generic templates, boring iconography, etc.

The fix: Consider both the tone of the content and your brand personality. The images you use should help cultivate a feeling that supports your message. Is your e-book about employee collaboration? Let’s see people working together. Is it about increasing revenue? Let’s see some tasteful data visualization.

6 ways to makeover e-book design

4) Condense and Trim Down Copy

The problem: Someone got a little carried away in trying to build suspense, so you have to flip through 5 pages of “teaser” content before you get to the meat of a section. Conversely, they packed so much in that you’re facing a cluttered mess on each page.

The fix: Know two things: Negative space is your friend, and pages should be used economically. While chapter breaks may deserve their own page, condense content to deliver the message efficiently. Oftentimes this means trimming down content on a page. Removing an extraneous pullquote or sidebar can make a huge difference. Also look for opportunities to let design do the heavy lifting. A paragraph explaining a process can be visualized in a single diagram. A stat in a callout can be turned into a chart. These are great ways to break up the text. 6 ways to makeover e-book design5) Kill the Visual Junk

The problem: Some designers hear the word “visualize” and go nuts, packing every page with illustrations, photos, charts, or iconography.

The fix: Look critically at every visual element. Ask yourself:

  • Does this enhance the story? Things like illustrations are often added arbitrarily without much thought.
  • Can it be condensed? Data visualization can sometimes make things even more confusing if, say, you’re trying to compare three bar charts when a single grouped bar chart would do it better.
  • Does it make sense? This is especially true for icons, which can be far too abstract to represent anything meaningful.

If the answer isn’t yes, say bye. 6 ways to makeover your e-book

In addition visual elements, colors can sometimes overwhelm. A helpful tip: Use 1-2 main colors and 2-3 accent colors.

6) Tame Your Typography

The problem: There are so many fonts and sizes it looks like a teenager’s notebook.

The fix: Limit the number of type styles (the combination of kerning, leading, point size, etc.) to create consistency and harmony. Also, don’t use more than 2 typefaces, and do follow a grid. 6 ways to makeover e-book designFor more of our tips on great e-book design, here are a few posts you might like:

If you need an expert to help you out, let’s chat.

Free E-Book – How to Maximize Publishing with Microcontent

Content marketing is all about diversity: high-value evergreen content that informs, mixed with high-impact, real-time content to bring awareness to your brand. But content marketers are often pulled in every direction, tasked with creating a high volume of content to fill each bucket while ensuring that every piece feeds long-term brand goals.

With limited resources and ever-increasing demands, how do you create content that is economical and impactful? Enter microcontent—an effective approach to content creation that requires little effort and provides maximum value.


Our sister company, Visage, has teamed up with Kapost to create this wonderful free e-book that aims to provide brands with an actionable strategy for microcontent. In this e-book you’ll learn:

  1. What microcontent is: Learn about the different formats to get an idea of what you might want to experiment with.
  2. Why microcontent supports your content strategy: From long-term goals to day-to-day publishing, learn how microcontent helps support your efforts
  3. How to create effective microcontent: Whether you’re just starting to create content or have an enormous archive, find out how to produce a high volume of content with minimal effort.


Free E-Book: How to Build a Long-Term Content Strategy in a Real-Time World

How do you get the most results from your content marketing? With a killer content marketing strategy. Of course, in a real-time world, it can be hard to plan ahead. When news stories break or a product launch gets postponed, you have to adapt your content while keeping your long-term goals in mind. And no matter what you publish, you also have to keep everyone from your sales team to your social following happy. It often feels like you’re serving two masters—or five or six. But with the right planning, you can create a long-term strategy that saves your energy and your sanity.

A well-crafted, long-term strategy has built-in flexibility and a solid foundation, letting you fill in your content needs as you go—even if (and when) your larger goals change. It means you can stay agile enough to react to the latest trending hashtag while scheduling production for your next evergreen infographic. (Trust us, we did it last week.)

Want to know how? Check out our new e-book, How to Build a Long-Term Content Strategy in a Real-Time World. We cover everything you need to know to create a strategy that works for you, including: 

  • Why a long-term strategy saves you time, energy, and money
  • How to identify your objectives
  • What type of content will serve your objectives
  • How to map content to your objectives
  • How to effectively schedule content

Check out the e-book, and let us know your tips for creating a content strategy.

How to Build a Long-Term Content Strategy in a Real-Time World


Free E-Book Download: The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution

Though content marketing is the new frontier, marketers are still facing the age-old question: How do you get your brand’s content in front of an audience? Thanks to the proliferation of new media, with the right distribution strategy, you can reach more consumers than ever before.

Still, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Sure, you can create content, but how do you know if it’s serving your marketing goals? Once it’s created, where do you publish? And how do you optimize content for maximum results? Over the last few years, we’ve heard these concerns from all corners of the content marketing globe. And, in many ways, things have only become more confusing as more platforms pop up.

Because we’re in the business of making confusing things easy to understand, we thought it was time to help make sense of it all. At Column Five, we’ve assembled a pro Communications team to help some of the world’s biggest brands reach the right audience. We’ve also made friends over at Onboardly, a PR agency that specializes in content marketing for startups. Our brands have learned plenty over the years (both the easy way and the hard way), so we joined forces to create the new e-book, The Ultimate Guide to Content Distribution.

Whether you’re a PR pro or DIY content marketer, this e-book covers everything you need to know about content distribution, including all our insider tips and tricks. Want to make the most of your content? Download the e-book to learn about:

Crafting a killer content strategy: Get tips for strategic ideation to make sure your content serves your objectives.

Content formats and types: Curate your content marketing mix to include a variety of formats primed for different platforms.

Tips for making media contacts: Learn how to cultivate relationships with journalists and social influencers to expand your content’s reach.

Choosing the right distribution channels: Learn about how each channel can serve your goals and identify which channels to target.

Measuring your ROI: Find out which metrics help track your content’s success at every stage of the sales funnel.

Good content deserves to be shared. With a little bit of structure, planning and foresight, your content can make a major impact.

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Want more on creating great content marketing?
Of course, if you need a little help with your content, we’d love to chat

HP 20/20 E-Book

Outlook for the future.

7 Smart Strategies for SaaS Customer Acquisition

As budgets tighten and markets become more competitive, it’s harder and harder to close a deal in the SaaS space. That’s why it’s so important to build out customer acquisition strategies that target the right audiences and entice them to take action. 

Unfortunately, many brands splinter their focus between top-funnel marketing (to build brand awareness and relationships) and bottom-funnel sales conversations (to close the deal), neglecting the oh-so-crucial customer acquisition stage to move people down the buyer journey. (Admittedly, we’ve been guilty of this too.) 

But if you want to bridge marketing and sales effectively, you need to carve out strong customer acquisition strategies that work effectively. Fortunately, we can help you do that. But first, let’s talk about what customer acquisition actually is. 

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What Is Customer Acquisition? 

Customer acquisition is, in essence, the process of attracting new customers. Although it is technically a marketing function, traditional marketing tactics are usually focused on brand awareness and audience engagement. Customer acquisition is more narrowly focused on speaking to the audience who already knows who you are—and convincing them to take real action toward becoming a customer (e.g., signing up for a demo, downloading an e-book, joining your email list, etc.). 

What Do You Need to Implement Successful Customer Acquisition Strategies? 

If you want to create strong customer acquisition strategies, you need to set yourself up for success with the right tools, infrastructure, and ability to execute. To start, you need to have the following: 

  • Ideal Customer Profiles and Personas: If you don’t have an intimate understanding of who your audience is, what they need, and what problems they’re trying to solve, it will be nearly impossible to convince them to take the next step. For this reason, it’s crucial to have both ICPs and personas clearly documented. (See our handy guide to get both on paper.) 
  • Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC): This is how much it costs to acquire a new customer. The formula for CAC = Total Acquisition Costs / Number of New Customers Acquired. Your CAC is important to understand how well your efforts are working and how you can work to lower that number (as your goal is to acquire new customers for less investment).
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV): This shows you how much value a customer brings during the course of the relationship with your business. The formula for CLV = Average Purchase Value × Purchase Frequency × Customer Lifespan. By understanding both CAC and CLV, you can better understand how your strategies are working and work to improve ROI for your overall customer acquisition efforts. 
  • Measurement infrastructure: No matter how smart your strategies are, you must have a way to effectively measure your efforts. (You also need to know which metrics to measure). Ensure you have the appropriate tools and infrastructure in place to do this well. 

If you already have this information documented, give it a once-over to ensure it is accurate before you start to implement the following strategies across channels. 

7 Smart SaaS Customer Acquisition Strategies

If you’re looking for more ways to strengthen your buyer journey, here are our best tips to reach the right people and maximize conversions.

1) Create quality content for Search Engine Optimization.

SEO has been the mainstay of marketing efforts for years, but as Google refines its algorithm and AI changes the way people find information, your old SEO strategies may not work as well. These days, it’s important to focus on an EEAT strategy for acquisition.

  • Experience: You may have noticed that every keyword is cluttered with fluffy articles that regurgitate the same information. Nowadays, people are desperate to hear thought leadership from people who have experienced real-life wins, failures, and lessons. If you want to provide more value to your audience, share your personal perspective and anecdotes that reflect your experience. 
  • Expertise: People always want to hear from experts. Share your pro tips and insights to educate your audience and gain credibility. 
  • Authoritativeness: There are a million people who call themselves experts, but not everybody holds real weight in their industry. The more people link to your site and the higher your authority score is, the more you’ll be seen as a respectable resource. 
  • Trustworthiness: People want to know that your site is trustworthy and worth engaging with. Ensure you’ve covered your bases in terms of things like site security—and provide transparency about who you are as a brand to increase trust. 

If you want to strengthen your EEAT for customer acquisition, serve the most valuable content to your audience and give them clear next steps to take based on said content.  

Tip: Create high-quality content, accompanied by downloadable toolkits, templates, or guides to help them solve a problem or do something more effectively. Use data storytelling (e.g., proprietary research or case studies with strong results) to demonstrate your expertise and real-life results. If you want to tap into your audience’s most burning questions about a topic, plug in any topic to Answer the Public, review the related questions generated, and think about what types of gated content you can create to answer those questions. 

You can also check out SEMRush’s deep dive on the power of EEAT for more ways to speak to your audience effectively.

Example: Our Guide to Build a Brand Strategy is our #1 most popular piece of content that has converted the most customers. 

2) Use paid search (PPC) to target the right audience. 

PPC can be a great strategy, as long as you follow the right rules to avoid wasting funds on an ineffective campaign. 

  • Research the right keywords. Consider the keywords you want to target, as well as the negative keywords you do not want to target. (See our guide to find the right keywords for your campaigns.) 
  • Create strong landing pages. They should be well-designed, mobile-responsive, and optimized for conversions. 
  • Consider your audience’s most active times. Schedule ads to go live then. 
  • A/B test everything. Try different ad formats, keywords, creative, etc. to see what resonates. 

You should also start with a basic test to ensure your funds are used efficiently. 

Tip: Make sure you have the right tools set up to measure your campaign success. 

3) Use organic social media to engage with your audience. 

Social media is a great way to boost your content, connect with customers, and entice them to take action. And if you’re investing in quality SEO content, it’s also a great place to repurpose that content. There are all sorts of ways you can do this. 

  • Create a tip series.
  • Share smart hacks.
  • Educate people about your brand. 
  • Show them how to solve problems. 
  • Use video to grab attention. 

Social is also the perfect channel to tease gated content. Share previews or snippets, and encourage people to go to your site to download your toolkits, templates, or guides. 

Tip: When people are deciding if they want to work with you, they don’t only judge your product, tool, or service. They can also be highly swayed by the people who work behind the scenes. Follow these tips to showcase your people and culture on social media.

Example: Freshbooks uses Instagram to entertain and educate, providing high-value content to their audience with every post. 

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4) Use paid social to convert. 

Paid social is a great way to amplify your downloadable content, tips, tools, and guides. Just make sure to follow best practices. 

  • Choose the right platforms. While every social platform has its benefits, LinkedIn is gold for SaaS customer acquisition. 
  • Make ads that stand out in people’s feeds. You need attention-grabbing design, copy, CTAs, etc. Consider which format is the best for your ad as well (e.g., carousel, video, static image, etc.).
  • Identify the right audience. LinkedIn has helpful audience templates to get you started. 
  • Create landing pages that are optimized for conversion. You want your audience to take the next step, so make it as easy as possible for them. 

Tip: You can also partner with influencers to increase visibility and credibility with your audience. 

5) Engage people through email. 

Your email list is full of people who may be on the cusp of becoming customers. This makes it one of the most important channels for customer acquisition, and it requires a proper strategy like anything else. Remember: Your goal is to keep your brand top of mind and convince people to take the next step. 

The good news is email subscribers are already interested in your brand, so they are more inherently invested in the content you provide. 

Tip: Poll your subscribers to find out what type of content they’re interested in. Not only does this make them feel seen and heard but it helps you give them exactly what they need. When we did this for our own agency, we found out our email subscribers favor content that features real-life marketing examples. This helped us better curate our editorial mix to appeal to their needs. (For more ideas, you can also see these 10 tips to improve your SaaS email marketing.) 

6) Tap your network for referrals.

Referrals are always one of the best ways to acquire new customers, as a customer co-sign increases your credibility. You can garner referrals directly and indirectly, using a variety of tools. 

  • Use Net Promoter Score (NPS) surveys to identify customers most likely to refer you, and ask them directly. (This also goes for the clients you have the most longstanding relationship with.)
  • Create a referral program that benefits the existing customer and the new customer (e.g., discounts, freebies, etc.). 
  • Ask your favorite customers to write online reviews or submit to directories and other relevant online databases. 
  • Create compelling case studies that tell a strong story. 
  • Publish testimonials across channels. 

Tip: As previously mentioned, email is a great channel to engage, so you can easily send personalized emails to your happiest customers to ask them for referrals. (You can also include special incentives and easy links to make the referrals even easier.)

Example: Case studies are an easy way to demonstrate social proof, especially when you can share impressive results. Hubspot does this well by showcasing simple, short customer success stories on their Instagram.  

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A post shared by HubSpot (@hubspot)

7) Go to events to convert people IRL. 

Events have always been an effective way to meet and convert customers in real life. And in a post-pandemic world, there are actually more opportunities to engage than ever, as you can host both online and in-person events. 

  • Think about your specific business goals, then select the type of event that would be most relevant. Again, there are more options than ever for every budget and goal: a multi-day conference, webinar, conference, trade show, online event, local community event, etc. Even something simple like a virtual “in conversation” series with industry leaders on YouTube is a low-lift way to engage with your community. 
  • Sponsor or partner with other brands to participate in their event. If you can be a featured speaker, you can gain both visibility and credibility.
  • Create teaser campaigns announcing your event (or that you’ll be attending an event). This helps you increase visibility and even start conversations before the actual event.

Tip: If you’re hosting an in-person event, film as much content as you can. This gives the event a second life online and ensures the valuable information shared can engage even more people.

Example: Hubspot does this well. Inbound is their biggest conference of the year, and they share event recaps, conversations, and highlights on their YouTube channel to bring an online audience into the event. 

How to Improve Your Customer Acquisition Strategies Over Time

Your customer acquisition strategies will be ever-evolving, particularly as you learn, iterate, and gather more insights. 

  • Ensure your value prop is accurate. One of the most pervasive problems we see in the SaaS space is that brands struggle to communicate who they are and what they do effectively. Use our free brand messaging template to ensure your value prop and messaging are as compelling as possible. 
  • Audit your competition. If you want to compete in your industry, you need to pay attention to what other people are doing. Use our free guide to audit your competitors’ efforts to see how they present themselves and why they may be more effective at customer acquisition. 
  • Stay nimble. No strategy is set in stone, and as market conditions change, trends come and go, and new technologies arise, it’s important to adapt. With every new strategy you implement, focus on learning and getting the most insights possible. 

That said, we know it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. Sometimes, you need the right partner to help you bring your strategies to life. If you’re on the hunt for a helpful team, follow these tips to find an agency partner with the right expertise, or start your search by reviewing our FAQs or reaching out to us directly

But above all, whether you partner up or go it alone, the number one most important thing you can do is stay educated. If you want more tips and insights into customer acquisition and more, subscribe to our Best Story Wins podcast to hear thought leaders share how they win hearts, minds, and market share every day. 

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12 Things to Look For in a Great Content Marketing Agency

Choosing the right content marketing agency can be overwhelming. Ideally, you want to establish a strong relationship, grow together, and do the best work possible. But if you’re not on the same page as your agency, it won’t be the right fit—no matter how many fancy awards that agency has won.

So how do you find the right agency? Luckily, we’re here to help. We’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly of the industry, so we know what to look for—and what to run away from—when you’re on the hunt. Whether you’re looking for a little content creation support or a partner to help you build your brand strategy from scratch, you can follow these tips to narrow your choices down. 

Why Do You Even Need a Content Marketing Agency?

Content marketing requires a strong strategy, available resources, and the ability to execute it effectively. Not every brand has these things. Marketers already have enough on their plates, so a supportive partner can be invaluable. The right content marketing agency can give you the energy, expertise, and insight you need to achieve your goals—with less headaches. Here’s why.

  1. Experience: In content marketing, it can be easy to make a misstep. But because content marketing agencies have worked with a ton of brands and marketed to many different people in different industries, they’ve seen many of the pitfalls and mistakes that can be made. Thus, they can help you hone a strategy that works for your goals and keeps you grounded.
  2. Infrastructure: Silos and a lack of resources are the biggest culprits that cause chaos in content marketing productions. This sabotages your ability to create quality content consistently. A good content marketing agency has an optimized production process to keep you on track, on brand, on budget, and on time.
  3. Better ideas: When you’re tasked with managing a brand, you can easily find yourself so immersed in it that you’re really just working in a bubble. Marketers get tunnel vision, and content creators are so focused on getting content out the door they don’t stop to consider whether it’s the right content at all. A content agency can offer a fresh perspective with stronger ideas, spot potential pitfalls (again, they’ve been around the block), and push you toward more innovative ways of thinking.
  4. Insider info: Content agencies are full of creative people who eat, breathe, and sleep content marketing. And they are eager to share their knowledge with you. They’ll pitch bold ideas, experiment with different formats, suggest new distribution channels, tools, resources, and more. All of these tips can upgrade every part of your marketing operation.
  5. Great connections: In addition to their expertise, content agencies also have established relationships with vendors, media contacts, influencers, PPC experts, and other resources that can help you implement your strategy effectively. Whether you want to get your infographic featured in a major publication or need a great video production company to produce a web series, they can help you out.

That said, before you start your search, you need to decide if working with a content marketing agency is the right choice. If you’re not sure, see our guide to figure out if you should DIY or outsource to a freelancer or agency.

If you’ve decided that you do need an agency, know exactly why you’re seeking help.

  • What type of support do you need (strategy, content, distribution)?
  • How much of that work will you need them to do?
  • Who will be your stakeholders?
  • How will you share that workload?

You may not have the answers to all of these questions before you start, but these are important things to think about.

How to Find a Content Marketing Agency

While there are a lot of decent agencies out there, you want a great one. That means rolling up your sleeves and vetting them. Here are 12 things to look for once you start your search.  

1) A Good Process

How You Know: They tell you who you’ll be working with, when, and why.

Nobody wants to repeatedly be handed off to a stranger. The right agency will tell you exactly who will be handling your account’s business, creative, production, and promotion from the get-go. They should also talk you through their process and who your point person will be. Although the agency may know who’s in charge of what and when, you can easily feel neglected if this isn’t clear. 

Pro tip: If you’re starting your search, here are 7 questions to ask to understand who they are and how they work. 

2) Real Results

How You Know: They present case studies.

An agency should never wrap a project like they’re sending off a message in a bottle, just hoping for the best outcome. The right agency wants to know what they did right, what they did wrong, and how to improve the process and performance for next time. Case studies show that they’re invested in their work and their clients.

Pro tip: Search for agencies who have case studies for work in your particularly industry or what you aspire to do.

3) Versatile Skills

How You Know: Their portfolio will showcase a range of projects.

In content marketing, few things are less attractive than a “same thing forever” attitude, even if the agency’s good at it. Experimentation is crucial if you want to push your brand to the next level.

Find a content marketing agency that wants to try the new and devour the unknown. Even if they specialize in a field (e.g., tech), they should be pushing their own limits and constantly evolving. Hire an agency that you know is game and ready for anything.

Pro tip: Ask them to send you examples of their more experimental work. Even if it’s an internal project, they should have something on hand. (For example, we once made a music-themed video game just to flex our creative skills.)

4) Demonstrated Expertise

How You Know: They write thought leadership pieces.

The right agency always wants to learn more but is happy and confident to teach a thing or two. It’s a sign of wisdom and maturity. Look to see if your agency has a blog or a regular contributorship somewhere. Reviewing this content will give you a sense of who they are and how they think. 

Pro tip: Review a recent article before you chat; it’s a great ice breaker when you’re trying to get to know them.

5) Industry Contributions

How You Know: They create industry resources to help people make better content.

A decent content marketing agency does their work well and goes home for the day. A good agency sees the big picture and strives to be part of it. A great agency wants to elevate their platform and their industry as a whole. This means they’re willing and eager to share presentations, e-books, white papers, videos, etc.—all in the name of achieving new heights.

Pro tip: Ask them about the trends they’re seeing, and what they’re passionate about. These conversations can be inspiring for both of you.

6) Lasting Partnerships

How You Know: They have long-term clients.

Never trust anyone who can’t maintain relationships. (If everyone else is the “problem,” it’s probably them.) Sure, some engagements are bound to have their issues. But if the majority or all of someone’s clients don’t appear to stick around, it’s a red flag. Don’t start work with an agency you already assume will burn you in the end.

Pro tip: Look for a content marketing agency with a track record of successful partner relationships by searching their portfolio. Also find out how you can cultivate a healthy relationship with your agency to do the best work together.

7) A Trustworthy Reputation

How You Know: They have client testimonials and recommendations.

You want to know you’ll get your money’s worth from your agency, and word-of-mouth is always powerful. If an agency can’t find a single client to say something nice about them on their site, LinkedIn, or somewhere, run…run away. They aren’t just crooks but lazy ones at that.

Pro tip: Check out review sites like Clutch, which can be helpful resources to vet agencies and see what people really think of them.

8) Great Communication

How You Know: They always make sure you’re on the same page.

Great work comes from great communication. The right agency will check in with you, talk through problems, and touch base regularly to avoid wasting your budget and destroying your timeline. Whether it’s double-checking deadlines or providing visual references, they’ll do everything they can to make sure the conversation at the end of the project will be over margaritas—not problems. 

Pro tip: You’ll know how good they are at communicating from that first meeting. Notice how well they’re listening and whether they’re taking the time to really answer your questions (or just saying what they think you want to hear).

9) Solid Boundaries

How You Know: They’re willing to say no.

If you just want yes-people, you won’t get the work you deserve. What you need is strong, creative counsel. But plenty of content agencies are willing to take on anything just to get paid.  

The right agency will tell you if you’re accidentally working against your own goals. The right agency will explain why an idea won’t work, then present a better alternative. Hire an agency to be your partner, not someone you can just bark orders at.

Pro tip: Ask about a time they said no to a client—and why. Ideally, they’ll tell you why they said no, what they did instead, and why it worked. (For example, that’s what happened when we convinced Microsoft to do a video instead of an infographic…and ended up with 45 million+ views.)

10) Transparency at All Levels

How You Know: They tell you exactly what you’re getting.

If they’re dodging questions or not responding to emails, it’s only going to get worse. They should tell you what you’re going to get, how you’re going to get it, and how they’re going to make sure you do. From brainstorming to content creation, strategy to promotion, you should feel informed and confident every step of the way. 

Pro tip: Ask them what you can do to help your collaboration. They’ll appreciate the consideration and vested interest in building a partnership—not just being treated like a gun for hire. (BTW, if you’re sending out an RFP, you can get better work by being transparent too. Follow these tips to get the best RFP response possible.)

11) Open to Constructive Criticism

How You Know: They’re open to feedback.

Why would you ever, ever, ever work with anyone, any team, any agency that isn’t open to feedback? They don’t have to take it, but they should darn well want to hear it at the very least. Client-agency projects are like personal relationships. When was the last marriage vow that noted, “I love the way you never listen to me and refuse to change even when I ask nicely”?

Pro tip: A good agency solicits feedback and pushes themselves to grow. Ask them how they challenge themselves, and what they do to improve.

12) Good Vibes

How You Know: You hit it off from the start.

If you’re just doing a small rushed project, you’ll likely get away with a few emails throughout the process. But complex campaigns are an investment of time, money, and energy. They require a lot of back and forth and, sometimes, there are a few bumps in the road. You want someone you feel comfortable working closely with, especially under stress. 

Pro tip: Honestly, there’s no pro tip for this one. When you feel it, you feel it. 

What to Do When You Find the Right Content Marketing Agency

Finding the right agency is a relief, but the real work begins once you do. A good relationship is a true partnership, where you’re both invested in each other’s success. To help cultivate that dynamic from the jump…

Above all, keep your communication lines open. Be open, be proactive, and be engaged. And, hey, if your agency doesn’t work out for some reason (though we hope it does), we’d love to be considered. Just holler at us.