Fed up with content marketing books that turn out to be utter tripe?
That was me too.
When I googled “content marketing books” looking for inspiration and learning so I could better myself as a marketer, I became frustrated and annoyed.
After I reached a boiling point (about 20 bad books in), I decided something must be done to save all you other content marketers out there.
Here is the output of reading 100 content marketing books over the last three years.
Of course, I suggest you buy them all. (I will earn a small affiliate commission if you do). But, if your budget doesn’t stretch to all of them in one go, buy one and I’ll buy you another.
That’s how good these content marketing books are.
We’re diving right in with a big hitter.
Andy Crestodina is the CMO and Co-Founder of Orbit Media, a Chicago-based marketing agency that is absolutely crushing content marketing.
If you read any of my blog posts about content marketing, you know I worship this man and his company.
And as a content marketer, you should too.
In Content Chemistry, Andy walks through every step you need to take when creating and promoting content.
The book covers keyword research, assembling a blog post, creating a landing page that performs, SEO optimization, and a whole bunch of content promotion techniques to bring hoards of traffic to your website.
As I read through Content Chemistry, I became an Orbiteer. I completed every exercise in the book and I credit my marketing success with Mio to a lot I learned in this book.
If you’re new to content marketing, aren’t getting the traffic you desire, or think you might benefit from even more traffic, read Content Chemistry.
You can hold me accountable if you don’t see an immediate ROI. Heck, Content Chemistry even covers content marketing ROI!
If Content Chemistry is the daddy of driving traffic to your website then The Art of the Click is the mommy of converting all that traffic.
Written by Glenn Fisher, the king of direct-response copywriting, this book will not just teach you how to sell with your writing but it quite literally forces you to do so.
If written exercises aren’t your thing, this book is not for you. And while we’re on that point, if written exercises aren’t your thing, why the heck are you reading this blog post?
Glenn teaches you the psychology behind writing, provides examples of excellent (and not so excellent) sales letters, and how to weave this knowledge into your own writing.
Once you’ve started to attract loads of traffic because you’ve read Content Chemistry, you’ll need Glenn’s advice to convert all those potential customers.
The best advice I can give to you as a marketer is to read one after the other in quick succession.
This book was first published in 1931 so you might query what on Earth it’s doing on this list?
I was recommended this book on Twitter and bought it without reading the blurb because I trusted the referrer.
When it arrived through my postbox, I had two observations:
- It’s bloody old
- It’s bloody short
But for the price of a latte, I thoroughly enjoyed reading George Orwell’s ramblings about politics, writing, and advertising.
While not directly linked to content marketing, this book (as it says on the front cover) runs you through how political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.
This won’t take long to read. If, when you’re finished, you don’t appreciate the complexity of your craft…read it again!
This next content marketing book is even older.
Published in 1923, Scientific Advertising serves as a reminder of both how simple and complex advertising can be.
And if you think you think you can skip this one because you don’t work in advertising, what do you think content marketing is?
It’s okay, I didn’t want to admit it either. We’re all writers, right?
You can put dirty advertisers in the corner with salespeople.
Claude Hopkins is considered one of the greatest copywriters of all time. Which is an accolade high enough for you to read his book.
No, I hadn’t heard of him either — until I read his book and started telling people about it.
David Ogilvy, founder of one of the largest advertising agencies of the 20th century was rather complimentary about Scientific Advertising.
More than just a good name for a book about making people read your content, Read Me is 10 lessons to hone your copywriting skills.
This book breaks down components of writing and advertising that us marketers take for granted.
And when we take them for granted, we don’t perform these tasks as well as we could and should.
Even if you’re a seasoned copywriter, these 10 lessons (and exercises for you to work through) will prove valuable.
If you won’t take my word for it, take Jonathan Sands OBE’s word for it. He’s the Chairman of Elmwood Brand Design and a big fan of the book.
“This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to make their writing memorable, award-winning, and, above all, really effective.”
I couldn’t agree more.
The follow-up to the classic…I actually have no idea what the first one was.
I’ll level with you. I got this as a Christmas gift and it’s taken me five years to complete the 712 things to write about.
Sounds like a waste of time?
You know that thing us writers moan about quite a bit?
It’s a bit like he who must not be named.
Begins with a W and ends with block.
Hmm. That thing.
Any time I’m nearing it, I reach for my copy of 712 More Things To Write About and set about writing something completely random.
There is no order to this book. And that’s what is so great about it.
In fact, while writing this post, I’m going to flick open the book to three random pages and let you know what you’re getting yourself into:
- Write the dialogue between two neighbors chatting about the weather. One is modest and the other is pompous. They despise each other but are too polite to let on.
- Hera writes a letter to Zeus regarding the time he has not been spending around the house.
- You are a marine being awarded the Medal of Honor for your role in a battle abroad. Describe the battle.
Mad as a box of frogs but I promise it will spark your creative juices.
For books 7&8, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t just listing off my favorite books.
I reached out to my Twitter followers for their favorites — and then read them to confirm whether they were worthy of making the list.
Recommended by Nathan Ojaokomo, I’d already read They Ask You Answer.
When I asked Nathan what made this one of the best for him, he mentioned the real-life accounts used throughout.
And I agree. Less theory; more practice!
Badged as “A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer”, this book is best read when you have some understanding of SEO or search engine marketing.
The author, Marcus Sheridan, doesn’t say as much, but when I read this book, I had the feeling that I wouldn’t have taken as much away from it if I’d have read it before I got into marketing.
Best read after Content Chemistry, you’ll learn how you can influence buyer’s decisions by simply providing answers.
Okay, it’s not simple at all. But, when you read the book, your approach to answering your audience’s queries should differ immediately.
Yes, it’s about time we got a book on design included in the best content marketing books.
Recommended by Nina Pang, Co-Founder of Junction 43, a digital marketing agency, The Content Design Book serves as a reminder of the importance design plays in content marketing.
Over the years, I’ve written thousands of blog posts, social media posts, and emails.
Would any of them have got the reads they did without fantastic imagery?
Sure. Some would.
But there is no doubt in my mind that content design increases the chance of a click tenfold.
In fact, 94% of first impressions relate to your site’s web design and it takes about 0.05 seconds for users to form an opinion about your website that determines whether they like your site or not, whether they’ll stay or leave.
So, yes, we can say content design is rather important.
That’s not to say you need to read this book and become a designer.
Quite the opposite!
Here’s a snippet from the blurb to know what you’re getting into:
More content marketing books
As I asked for content marketing books to read before I included them in this list, Jimmy Daly, Founder of SuperPath, pointed out he surveyed a bunch of content marketers for their favorites too.
If you haven’t had your fix of marketing books, check those out too.
A reminder of the best content marketing books that I’ve actually read:
I’d like to continuously update this post as I find the genuine “best content marketing books”. But, I can only do that if you keep recommending them 🙂