10 best books on content marketing

“What are the best books on content marketing?”

Ideas from these 10 books will make your content marketing even better

Happy Thanksgiving! Thanks for reading the Simplify Marketing blog! 

At Content Marketing World, someone asked: “What are the best books on content marketing?”

Here are my 10 all-time favorites — the best books on content marketing, plus one new one I’m looking forward to in 2020:

Content Inc. book cover
If you only read one book about content marketing, make it Content Inc.

1. Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute. If you only read one book on content marketing, make it Content Inc. 

The book shows how content marketing is a new business model, and therefore how marketers need to approach content marketing. Here’s my review and summary of the book. 

Buyers have fallen out of love with marketing. What’s a marketer to do? Mark Schaefer has good ideas for you.

2. Marketing Rebellion by Mark Schaefer observes that marketing isn’t working like it used to: as marketers fell in love with technology, buyers fell out of love with marketing.

The cure: marketing needs to fall in love with buyers. Consumers won’t put up with the tricks that worked in the past — lies, secrets, and control. In the future, most marketing will be driven by buyers, not marketers. How will we prepare for that future?

To start an AI pilot project with confidence, read Chris Penn’s book AI for Marketers.

3. AI for Marketers: An Introduction and Primer (2nd edition) by Christopher S. Penn helps non-technical people get a handle on one of the biggest new trends that will affect marketing – the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). If you only read one book about AI and marketing, make it this one. 

The book defines AI, maps out 4 different types of machine learning, and helps marketers understand what we need to do to prepare for AI in marketing. It’ll give you the confidence to move forward with AI experiments and pilot projects. 

Team Human is the most disturbing, and perhaps most important, book about living in a digital world.

4. Team Human by media theorist and author Douglas Rushkoff was the most disturbing book I read in 2019. As Doug writes, “Autonomous technologies, runaway markets and weaponized media seem to have overturned civil society, paralyzing our ability to think constructively, connect meaningfully, or act purposefully.” Sound familiar? 

He continues, “Yet the root causes for our collective disempowerment are based on some very old, false ideas about competition, individuality, scarcity, and progress … We must stop optimizing human beings for technology, and start optimizing technology for us.” Amen!

They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan
They Ask You Answer offers a brilliantly simple approach to content marketing — focused on customer questions.

5. They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan is a brilliantly simple guide written by a pool salesman turned marketer. Marcus advocates obsessing over customer questions and answering them through radically honest teaching. 

Because voice search is revolutionizing search by providing only one result (not 10 like on-screen Goggle), it’s crucial that marketers prepare for customers’ voice search questions now. Here’s my review and summary of the book.

Content marketing distribution strategy
To target content marketing effectively, point all content to your owned media — an idea from Rusty Shelton’s book Mastering the New Media Landscape.

6. Mastering the New Media Landscape by Barbara Cave Henricks and Rusty Shelton shows how to balance paid, earned and owned media the best way.

All your paid (rented) and earned media need to point to your owned media. More than half your content marketing distribution spend should go into owned media. Why? Because you need to cut out the middleman to build your own list of subscribers.

Help before hype is the key to successful content marketing, writes Jay Baer.

7. Youtility by Jay Baer is all about content marketing that succeeds by putting help before hype. Many marketers struggle to create valuable content that resists making a hard sales pitch – which is why so much of content marketing gets ignored by buyers.

Jay shows why that’s a problem, and exactly how to fix it. 

Buyer Personas helps marketers tend their authority by becoming customer experts.
Adele Revella’s book Buyer Personas is a guide for creating highly relevant content by knowing your buyers better than competitors do.

8. Buyer Personas by Adele Revella shows how to use qualitative research to gain unique customer insights. You see the purchase process through the eyes of customers when they’re offstage and out of sight (rather than through the eyes of Sales). 

Simply put, CMI research found that marketers who use buyer personas are more successful than those who don’t. Here’s my review and summary of Buyer Personas.

Ann Handley’s book Everybody Writes is full of ideas to help you write better content marketing.

9. Everybody Writes by Ann Handley is my favorite writing handbook for nonwriters, and it’s a commonsense guide for experienced writers too. 

Ann teaches you how to write better in 12 steps. Here’s my review and summary of her book. 

For practical insights on blogging, websites and search, get Andy Crestodina’s Content Chemistry.

10. Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina provides practical insights on blogging, websites and search optimization. It’s chock-full of down to earth, how to, step by step formulas for success. 

No one works harder than Andy to keep up to date on this rapidly changing field, which is why you want to be sure to get the current (5th) edition of Content Chemistry.

In 2020, I look forward to Andrew Davis’ new book

I can’t wait to get my hands on The Loyalty Loop by Andrew Davis. Drew previewed his new book at Content Marketing World. 

It’s all about how to heighten the customer experience with moments of emotion throughout the buyers’ journey. By doing so, you can enlist the customers we’ve got to help you get the customers you want. 

If you’ve read these and you’re hungry for more, here’s Michael Cole’s list of top marketing books to consider.

All of these books will prepare you to become even more successful at content marketing in the year ahead. 

Future you will thank present you for having the foresight to get and read these books!