Small Business Tips

The 10 Best Digital Marketing Books for Small Business Owners

Circle of books fanned out

You wear many hats as a small business owner, not the least of which is marketing. And, these days, that means digital marketing.

While learning about tools such as search engines, blogs, email and social media is necessary, with so much information available, it can seem overwhelming.

To make the task easier, we’ve collected a list of the ten best digital marketing books you should be reading now. Each is written by practitioners who have put digital marketing strategies and principles to work in their own businesses.

Some are classics while others are newer releases. Regardless of their publication date, each contains a wealth of practical, actionable information that you can put to use immediately with minimal cost or technical expertise. Together, they cover just about everything you need to know to make your digital marketing efforts a success.

If you’re ready to make your marketing hat fit a little better, add these ten volumes to your “must-read” list.

Permission Marketing, by Seth Godin

Published in 1999, Permission Marketing, by best-selling author Seth Godin, changed the marketing paradigm from unwelcome interruptions intended to attract consumers’ attention to earning the privilege by first asking their permission.

Its premise: turn strangers into friends and friends into customers. That “out of the box” approach is what makes this book required reading for anyone interested in learning the digital marketing ropes.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR, by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing & PR, written by marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, is a classic in the marketing and PR world. Now in its 4th edition, New Rules is a practical step-by-step guide to the future of marketing.

It uses real-life case studies and examples to show readers how to leverage web-based content to get the right information to the right people at the right time for a fraction of the cost of big-budget campaigns.

Youtility, by Jay Baer

Youtility, a term coined by author and marketing strategist, Jay Baer, is a blueprint for how to market in the age of information overload.

It teaches that effective marketing today requires small business owners to provide information that is inherently useful. It’s “Golden Rule” marketing that places the needs and interests of customers first, rather than the typical “hype” they’ve become used to, but to which they pay little heed.

Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley

Ann Handley is known as the “Queen of Content” and her latest book, Everybody Writes, proves why she has earned that title.

The book is a down-to-earth guide for creating content that will drive business your way, instead of to your competitors. And in a world where anyone who has a website is a publisher, telling your story with compelling writing is a requirement — even if you aren’t a writer by trade.

The Social Media Bible, by Lon Safko

Enough books have been written on the topic of social media marketing to fill a library, but there is none better than The Social Media Bible by marketing innovator Lon Safko.

Now in its third edition, The Social Media Bible is comprehensive in scope and contains the latest techniques and tactics needed to ensure social media finds a place in your overall marketing plan.

DOTCOM Secrets, by Russell Brunson

A newer book on the digital marketing scene, DOTCOM Secrets, by entrepreneur Russell Brunson, addresses one problem in particular: how to convert website traffic into leads and sales.

It presents Brunson’s concept of a “value ladder” to pull prospects into the marketing funnel with free or low-cost offers and then build long-term business with upsells.

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk

No one can accuse serial entrepreneur and internet personality Gary Vaynerchuk of being timid when it comes to using social media for marketing and Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, the third in his series of four best-sellers, is proof positive, even by its evocative title.

The book is filled with social media techniques and tactics Vaynerchuk has employed to build several thriving businesses. In it, he discusses the best ways to use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other channels to “knock out” the competition and drive business your way.

Email Marketing Rules, by Chad White

Gone are the days when marketing pundits pronounced email as dead. To the contrary, it is a tried and proven channel through which small businesses can reach new prospects and retain existing customers effectively and at little cost.

Email Marketing Rules, by veteran digital marketer Chad White, makes the case for email marketing, breaking it into 120 easy-to-understand rules built around key concepts that include how to secure the right level of permission (think Godin’s Permission Marketing), create relevant messaging, optimize list growth, and maximize subscriber lifetime value.

Ultimate Guide to Local Business Marketing, by Perry Marshall and Talor Zamir

Google AdWords expert Perry Marshall and local marketing expert Talor Zamir teamed up to write this primer on local business marketing success. It teaches the ins-and-outs of local search, directory listings, mobile marketing, and SEO.

You’ll learn how to use Google AdWords and Bing pay-per-click advertising, mobile search, Facebook ads, Google Maps, and customer reviews to convert website visitors into qualified leads.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited, by Steve Krug

As a small business owner, you may choose to build a website yourself. If so, it’s helpful to know the principles that convert visitors into buyers. If that’s your goal (and why wouldn’t it be?), we recommend Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited, by web usability expert, Steve Krug.

First published in 2000, Krug revised the book in 2014 to reexamine the principles that made it a classic, using fresh examples and a new chapter on mobile usability.

Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited is an easy read intended for non-designers. It’s a perfect tutorial for small business owners who want to turn their website from an “electronic brochure” into a lead-generating machine.

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About the author

Paul Chaney

Paul Chaney is the Director of Content Strategy and Marketing for Bizzuka, a digital lead generation company. He is the author of four books about digital marketing and has more than 20 years experience working with small businesses helping them grow their presence online.

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