(This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
As marketers, we tend to be busy people. Between social media, emails, Slack conversations, internal as well as client meetings, phone calls, webinars, conferences, and on top of that creating the latest, greatest ad campaign ever takes up a lot of time. But what about continued learning in our field? If we don’t keep track of the latest trends, we’re liable to lose whatever competitive edge we might’ve had in the past. Eventually clients or other operations staff at the firm will ask us questions we don’t know the answer to, and struggle to find the answer to. So, with our time being so precious, what can we read that will keep our knowledge up-to-date? Here are some excellent, if not the best marketing books that you should read this year, at least if you haven’t already.
For those who think that blogs and podcasts are enough, yes, reading and listening to those are critical to our keeping up-to-date, as well. But authors invest the time into their books to create structure, explanation, and depth that you simply can’t get in a single podcast or blog post. That’s why I’m an avid reader of books, and I hope you are and become one too!
I used to have a separate blog post for social media books and another for marketing books, but it seemed more natural to finally merge these together into one longish list of books that I recommend regardless if it is digital or social media. As digital and social media changes, these books and their perspectives provide us a guiding light. I plan to keep updating this list as well as new recommendable books get published, so make sure you bookmark this page and come back for more recommendations!
Also, I have a LOT of friends who are authors in the space. I also have gotten some pushback from my readers that they want me to be more diverse and inclusive in who I promote when speaking about authors. I have tried to find a balance between the two, so to my friends who are not included here – or to those who don’t think I tried hard enough from a diversity perspective – I did try my best and will continue to revise. If there are authors that you think should be represented here, please feel free to comment below or reach out to me directly as I do want to best represent all of the great talent that is out there.
I have divided this blog post into selections, which are categories based on the subject matter to make it easy for you to find the exact book you are looking for, so keep scrolling because I am confident your next read is in this list!
Without further adieu, buckle your seatbelt, get out your reading glasses, and power up your Kindle!
Note: Clicking on the book title or book image will bring you to its page on Amazon. All links are affiliate links, meaning I get a small commission if you were to purchase these books from Amazon using my link. However, the price is the same to you, and the small commissions helps fund this website and my writing. Thanks!
The Best Search Engine Optimization Books
SEO is the basis for digital marketing, so it should come as no surprise that this is where we should start on our journey. Rather than introduce you to one book, I provide you one classic and two newer books, all offering vastly different perspectives on how to best optimize your website for search engines.
The Art of SEO by Stephan Spencer, Eric Enge, and Jessie Strichola (2022)
The Art of SEO is coming up on its fourth edition, and with good reason: functioning as a textbook guide to SEO, the book was authored by Stephan Spencer, Eric Enge, and Jessie Strichola, all experts in the field of SEO and digital marketing. The Art of SEO is less an introduction to SEO and more a truly comprehensive guide to how to best create and implement an SEO strategy, from start to finish.
The Art of SEO is an ideal read for people who have an existing understanding of SEO practices and those who are wholly new to the concept alike, as it goes over basic topics and advanced topics in depth, and functions as a guide to develop your own SEO strategy according to your business or brand’s needs and preferences. If you are new to developing your digital marketing strategy, or your marketing campaigns are in need of an overhaul, The Art of SEO can provide an ideal jumping-off point to customize your SEO habits and techniques.
Product-Led SEO by Eli Schwartz (2021)
The full title of this book is Product-Led SEO: The Why Behind Building Your Organic Growth Strategy and as the subtitle suggests, this book is designed for people who are either new to SEO, or those who do not fully understand the ins and outs of best SEO practices. Product-Led SEO is written by Eli Schwartz, a consultant and SEO marketing guru, with over a decade of experience in the field. This book may not be the best for people who have an established marketing strategy, or those who are familiar with standard customer behavior, but is a classic book for anyone whose approach to marketing is uncertain or just starting out.
Although the title of the book might suggest that the contents focus primarily on SEO practices for promoting specific products, Schwartz’ work focuses on SEO content as a whole, and offers an approach to marketing with SEO that virtually any company and brand can follow.
The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business by Jason Barnard (2022)
Aptly named, The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business focuses primarily on laying the groundwork for digital marketing, which is pivotal for modern marketers to understand and master. Jason Barnard’s book tackles one specific issue: SERPs, or Search Engine Results Pages. According to Barnard–and plenty other marketing professionals–SERPs are absolutely vital to boost the reach and consistency of your brand or business, as it allows people to continually be directed to you when searching online. The Fundamentals of Brand SERPs for Business offers tried-and-true techniques developed and used by the author himself in his online marketing efforts to develop a consistent and reliable marketing plan that has helped his business soar. This book is ideal for those who are unfamiliar with the best practices for SERPs in order to maximize online marketing strategies, and who are looking for simple advice regarding how to improve your brand or business’ search engine results pages.
The Best Blogging and Content Marketing Books
Content marketing often gets lumped together with SEO, but they are actually two completely different concepts and tactics that both revolve around content. While blogging is only a subset of content marketing, most of these content marketing books focus on leveraging your blog and textual writing of your content. So whether you’re looking for a book on blogging or on content marketing, here are my recommendations.
Content, Inc. by Joe Pulizzi (2021)
Content, Inc., written by the bestselling author and Godfather of Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi, and was created to go over the basics of content creation to improve your marketing opportunities and build a successful marketing campaign. A content marketing strategy that does not utilize principles that follow the basics of human behavior is an ineffective marketing strategy, and Content, Inc. goes over how to avoid the pitfalls of ineffective marketing and how to build effective marketing campaigns. What differs from this book and others like it is the approach Pulizzi takes; rather than focusing on telling you how to create content in an existing niche, Pulizzi encourages his audience to develop an effective marketing strategy by identifying areas of need, creating high-quality content within that area, and subsequently relating it to existing products or branding.
In Content, Inc., you will be walked through how to shift your focus to your audience and build your business consistently as a result.
I’ll be attending Joe’s Creator Economy Expo in Phoenix this May, so hope you can join us: Click here for $150 off your ticket.
Everybody Writes by Ann Handley (2014)
Have you ever thought of yourself as a writer? Considered that everything you write online reflects on you and your personal “brand?” Thought that writing doesn’t matter anymore? In Everybody Writes, Ann Handley makes the case that everyone is a writer, and that everything we write matters. Handley argues that writing is now more important than it ever has been before. After all, in-person communication is declining, and things that are posted on the Internet can literally stay there forever. With this in mind, Handley teaches us how to craft compelling content, whether it’s a quick status update on Facebook or a lengthy blog post. She then gives us a wealth of writing tips from marketers and authors, so that we can understand how to give a great impression to others through the written word.
Content Chemistry by Andy Crestodina (2018)
Originally published in 2012, Andy Crestodina’s classic Content Chemistry is now in its 5th edition. According to him, it is the result of over a decade of research into marketing techniques and consumer psychology. Since the original publication, Andy has carefully revised the text to include the latest research, emerging techniques, and new standards. In other words, it’s intended to be a primer for those who are new to the field of marketing, as well as those hoping to learn what’s new. Even better, the workbook format makes it a great textbook for training, and helps you put insights into practice.
Several Amazon reviewers say it’s among the best books they’ve read. Beyond traditional marketing practitioners, content creators say that it’s a great book for those hoping to make their content more relevant to today’s market. In other words, influencers who collaborate with various companies can get a lot out of this book too.
They Ask, You Answer by Marcus Sheridan (2019)
Rather than being just a marketing professional, Marcus Sheridan is a business owner who was able to grow his pool installation business in spite of the 2008 housing crash. Leveraging that experience, Marcus explains that the traditional sales funnel is incomplete. In order to be successful, he explains, you need to answer the questions your potential customers are asking. Generally speaking, one of the best solutions to this problem is content marketing, especially where it involves consumer education in the relevant field. To leverage this trend, it is essential to have an effective content strategy, including SEO-friendly blog posts and articles. After that, you need to effectively manage your inbound marketing and sales: customer loyalty and referrals that lead to further sales, customer service, and consultations.
Content Mavericks by Andrew and Pete (2017)
It’s almost without saying that putting a bunch of words on a page won’t necessarily get your brand the attention it needs. Just a few years ago, the blogging revolution started raising the bar for content that sells when authors produce quality content, and then monetize it with Adwords or banner ads. Likewise, until fairly recently the idea of “quality content” was a well-produced TV advertisement or glossy magazine ad. Products were sold on hype and celebrity advertisements without telling customers why they might need something. Now that the world of marketing has changed, Andrew and Pete set out to tell us how to create content that sells in this newly competitive world of content marketing. After all, you don’t want to waste your marketing money.
Over the last few years we have seen a lot of excellent works that speak to the need for companies to become better storytellers to have impact in their marketing. While I lump the following books together in this category of Brand Storytelling, there are obvious overlaps with content marketing, branding, and even employee and brand advocacy. This is the newest category of books that I added to this list, so if you are looking at a refreshing look at marketing, these books are for you.
Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller (2017)
The narrative of putting your customer as the hero of your story all began with this influential book, which really should be considered the must-read book in this category.
In Building a StoryBrand, author Donald Miller tackles content marketing in a refreshing and unique way. Turning traditional advertising methods on their heads, Miller encourages his readers to not merely write web copy designed to sell, but to write web copy that utilizes storytelling elements to draw the reader in and develop a tie to the company or brand. Writing for your target market in this way involves a great deal of creativity, certainly, but also creates personal ties to the brand or company in question, and develops customer loyalty more effectively than standard marketing copy.
The basics of Miller’s approach to marketing are laid out in the book in 7 points, and ways to simplify and consequently amplify a brand’s marketing message. Miller’s expertise is derived in part from his time as a best-selling author of memoirs, and his unique approach to content creation has been shown to improve brands’ marketing success and audience engagement and loyalty.
Brand Storytelling by Miri Rodriguez (2020)
Brand Storytelling is an award-winning book that has become one of the classic marketing books used to improve companies’ content marketing strategy. Unlike many other authors in this post, Miri Rodriguez focuses attention and energy on encouraging her audience to listen to the wisdom generated by brands such as Microsoft, Adobe, and Google. The most pressing piece of wisdom offered in Brand Storytelling is this: new and existing customers want to hear about how they will be impacted and how others will be impacted, not why they should buy a product or service. Rodriguez touches on the wisdom of established brands and companies, and encourages readers to develop a lasting connection with their audience. Brand Storytelling describes how to build a brand story, from start to finish, in order to develop a solid base of loyal customers and elevate your brand or company.
The Laws of Brand Storytelling by Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio (2018)
Did you know that your customers are the ones who define what your brand is all about? Increasingly, this is the conclusion that businesses must operate under. In their book The Laws of Brand Storytelling, Walter and Gioglio will tell you how to make sure that your brand is telling a story that will cause you and your customers to embrace the same definition of your brand. One of the chief ways of doing this, of course, is to be authentic with customers. Tell them who you are, and make it compelling story that they’ll embrace. Especially if you’re struggling to define your brand with customers, these insights are valuable.
Stories That Stick by Kindra Hall (2019)
Wondering how to construct a brand story that’s both believable and effective? Kindra Hall’s book Stories That Stick sets out to give you an actionable blueprint for telling your brand’s story in a compelling way. In particular, this best-selling book will give you four different options for telling the story. Probably the most obvious one is called the “value story,” or what value the customer can expect to receive, or which problem is solved by a product. Other options include the “founder story,” or introducing the leadership; the “purpose story” which seeks to unify people and brands, and finally the “customer story,” through which customers are invited to share product reviews. Overall, a very insightful book with lots of actionable suggestions.
The Best Email Marketing Books
While email marketing is often overlooked when compared to SEO, content marketing, or social media marketing in general, it is a fundamental part of digital marketing that often generates the highest ROI for companies that “get it.” Become one of those companies by reading one or both of these books!
The Definitive Guide to Email Marketing by Neal Schaffer (2022)
No, you won’t find this book on Amazon. That’s because it is a free ebook that I created to introduce you to the main concepts of email marketing you need to understand to start and realize the massive ROI potential that email has for your business.
The books that follow go into much more depth and thus provide more insight and come from true email marketing experts. That’s why I recommend you first read my free ebook and then check out the below 2 books and decide which (or both) of them you want to read to further pursue your education in email marketing.
Email Marketing Rules by Chad S. White (2017)
Email Marketing Rules by Chad S. White is a deep dive into the rules and ins and outs of email marketing. Email marketing is something of a misunderstood medium, and many people do not take full advantage of the abilities of email marketing strategies to fuel growth and encourage customer engagement. White goes over all of the components of email marketing in great depth, from crafting appropriate and eye-catching subject lines, to developing compelling content and marketing copy, Email Marketing Rules has it all.
Although this book is targeted primarily toward larger companies, or companies that are already well established, small brands and businesses can also benefit, as the email marketing techniques and ideas extend across all sizes and niches in order to develop compelling and insightful email marketing campaigns.
Email Persuasion by Ian Brodie (2013)
Ian Brodie’s foray into digital marketing comes in the form of email marketing, specifically. Email Persuasion (subtitled Captivate and Engage Your Audience, Build Authority, and Generate More Sales With Email Marketing) delivers on the promise its subtitle makes, and provides a wealth of information regarding email marketing, and how to most effectively utilize this particular form of marketing to better your save your brand or company’s reach. Email Persuasion is perhaps most effective for its use of mapping in creating a brand marketing strategy, as it provides a clear way to match the book’s advice and offerings to your own wants and needs, regardless of size, niche, or current email marketing experience.
Brodie is the owner of a successful consulting agency, and he has numerous books written about business, marketing and everything in between. The significance of this particular journey into the business and marketing field is its focus on an actionable framework to utilize with your own unique brand and branding.
The Best Social Media Marketing Books
Social media has matured over time, but there are evergreen principles that brands can utilize to help them across social networks, and even if new ones that might compete with TikTok emerge. These books focus on the big picture and are always helpful as references to make sure our social media marketing is done at a strategic – and successful – level.
Social Media Success for Every Brand by Claire Diaz-Ortiz (2019)
Building on another book we’ve mentioned here, Social Media Success for Every Brand takes Donald Miller’s entry into marketing and instructs readers on how to implement the StoryBrand marketing philosophy on social media in order to expand reach, improve relationships with customers, and build brand loyalty. Claire Diaz-Ortiz dives into the StoryBrand model and provides her own take on the process, creating a five-point process to make your social media marketing efforts truly shine. Although Diaz-Ortize uses the StoryBrand method as a basic framework on which to base her work, readers do not have to have a thorough understanding of the StoryBrand process to follow along and implement the SHARE techniques provided in Social Media Success for Every Brand.
This particular book is most useful for those who are hoping to make a substantial impact on social media, and can be used by both the seasoned social media marketer and the novice, alike.
Likeable Social Media by Dave Kerpen (2019)
Need to read up on the newer social media networks? With 3 Billion people now on social media, Dave contends that every business should have a comprehensive social media marketing strategy. Now in its third edition, Likeable Social Media is considered a classic marketing tome. Originally, it was written before newer social media platforms like Snapchat were invented, but with the 3rd edition these are discussed in addition to the traditional networks.
In this book, Dave talks about what makes customers “like” and otherwise engage with your content. It isn’t as simple as putting out announcements about sales and product rollouts, because you have to get a customer to care. Most reviewers point out that the real-world examples and case studies are especially helpful. After all, what good are principles if you can’t put them into practice?
The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder (2016)
Considered a classic of social media marketing, The Zen of Social Media Marketing has been around since the early days of social media marketing, and has continued to grow, update, and evolve as social media has grown and evolved. Although the title may not lend a great deal of information about the contents of the book, it is a substantial text that covers not only social media marketing but also email marketing and content creation, in order to bring all of these marketing avenues together and have your marketing efforts working in tandem. The Zen of Social Media Marketing also goes over the basics of social media as a whole, explaining what it is and how and why it works as a marketing tool.
Because the book has been around for two decades and covers the entirety of marketing, it is a useful tome for people who are new to social media marketing, and those who have been working in the field for a decade or two.
The Best Social Media Strategy Books
I launched my consulting career as a social media strategy consultant, so this book category is very special to me. In fact, it was my book Maximize Your Social, based off of that consulting experience and providing the framework that I used for my clients, that launched this category. There have been other excellent books to follow as well, so perhaps you pick up one of these to ensure that you both have a strategy and it is producing the intended results.
Maximize Your Social by Neal Schaffer (2013)
Yes, I am the author of this book. Through my own social media consulting, I wanted to create a resource that will allow the reader to create their own social media strategy. I obviously wouldn’t put my own book on this list if I didn’t think it would add value to your business, and being encouraged by the reviews I’ve received so far on Amazon, I’m taking a deep breath and adding it. Once again, this is a subjective list, but if I wasn’t writing a book that I would recommend to others, why write it, right?
Full Disclaimer: This book is one of the older books on this list, and there are some chapters which are irrelevant today, but the main concepts and recommendations from this book remain intact today.
Social Media Strategy by. Keith Quesenberry (2020)
Social Media Strategy packs a wallop, with information about virtually every facet of the field. Keith Quesenberry’s comprehensive guide to social media marketing is filled with in-depth information, ranging from a definition of social media marketing and strategy, an updated overview of jobs involving social media marketing and strategy, and the many ways in which social media influence and inform modern business practices. Quesenberry’s book is a wonderful resource for anyone looking into social media marketing, from novice to professional, and can be used as a guidebook, textbook, and resource for practical tools to improve social media marketing.
The Best Influencer Marketing Books
For those that have read The Age of Influence or my blog posts on influencer marketing, you know that I take a very broad and holistic perspective when it comes to the topic of who is an influencer in social media. It is not only those people that you have never heard of yet somehow have millions of followers. It’s also those who have brand affinity for you, whether it be your employees or fans. That’s why I’ve brought together 3 different books that cover 3 different aspects of influencer marketing that I highly recommend you read.
The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer (2020)
This first selection should come as no surprise ;-)
Influencer marketing is something that any business of any size and industry can leverage, but marketers have misunderstood the potential impact it can have for a lot of reasons. I wanted to set the record straight so that no company misses out on the opportunities that influencer marketing has, so I decided to write a book explaining the why, how, and what’s next. In essence, it is the influencer marketing playbook that simply didn’t exist before. Yes, this is my book, but I wouldn’t write and publish it if I didn’t think it was recommendable!
Superfans by Pat Flynn (2019)
In Superfans, you will find some basics as to how to grow your business, improve your reach, and build a consistent group of people who love your brand or business, and continually come back and act as champions of your products, services, or brand. While plenty of books on marketing and social media will teach you how to gain followers and increase engagement, Superfans asks you to go a step further and create a following that not only pops in once in a while to check on new products, or occasionally “like” a post, but consistently shares your content, points people to your brand, and essentially promotes your brand consistently and without charge. In Superfans, you are encouraged to become a figure of authority in your field, build trust between yourself and your customers or audience, and watch your business grow as a result.
Employee Advocacy: The Ultimate Handbook by Jorgen Sundberg and Ben Donkor (2017)
If you’re looking for a primer on leveraging your employee as influencer as part of an employee advocacy program, this is the book for you.
Jorgen Sundberg and Ben Donkor take a step back and offers a comprehensive guide on what exactly employee advocacy entails, how to begin implementing employee advocacy programs, and why it is important for business owners and entrepreneurs to take into consideration. Employee Advocacy is a vital read for anyone who currently has or is looking into taking on employees, as it demonstrates how to effectively utilize your employees’ experiences and personal habits to improve your brand and business.
I am honored to have contributed the Foreword to this book.
Participation Marketing by Michael Brito (2018)
Michael Brito’s Employee Advocacy is a strong voice for leveraging employee advocacy. Identifying the countless ways in which employee interactions outside of work impact the culture, connection, and marketing efforts of any brand or business, Brito provides actionable steps to improve your brand or company’s employee advocacy efforts, teaching you how to effectively use your employees’ interest and pride in their work to further your reach and improve your brand or business image. Participation Marketing is so named because Brito uncovers the reality of employee participation in marketing, whether it is intentional or not, and urges his audience to maintain a positive, engaging, and employee-driven culture, to improve not only the company’s reputation, but also their marketing targets and reach. Employee Advocacy is targeted toward companies with a dedicated staff, but can be useful for even a two-or-three person operation.
The Best LinkedIn & Social Selling Books
I have a special section here for LinkedIn not only because I wrote two books on it, but because it is one of the few social networks that you can achieve a LOT with organic social media marketing, and especially if you are in sales. I have tried my best to provide a collection of books that together will provide you a wealth of knowledge vis a vis leveraging LinkedIn.
Maximizing LinkedIn for Business by Neal Schaffer (2022)
Maximizing LinkedIn for Business was written by yours truly, and acts as a guide to utilizing LinkedIn for your business in order to build a following, network effectively, and improve your reach across social media. Although many people see LinkedIn as a simple social networking tool, LinkedIn can actually be used to improve your business aside from the basic networking function of the platform. Recently updated for 2022 in its 3rd edition, Maximizing LinkedIn for Business will teach you how to improve your credibility, engage with competitors and others in your niche, and automate your account to further extend your network and reach.
Previous books on LinkedIn have focused on specific aspects of business, such as sales, but my latest offering provides a broader stroke regarding the value and power of LinkedIn, in order to help businesses and professionals most effectively utilize the platform and improve their reach.
This book also can’t be found on Amazon because it’s only available as a free download through this link!
LinkedIn For Personal Branding by Sandra Long (2020)
No matter what you do on LinkedIn, all roads link back to your LinkedIn profile. That’s why it’s important for every outward-facing sales and marketing professional to have an optimized LinkedIn profile based on their personal branding. Fortunately, there is a book that helps the reader do exactly that!
Updated for 2021, Sandra Long’s LinkedIn for Personal Branding is unique on its take, as it positions LinkedIn as a powerful branding tool, rather than merely a networking tool. Although LinkedIn is often left out of social media marketing instructionals, Long identifies why this is doing your brand or business a great disservice, and demonstrates the immense value in leveraging LinkedIn to improve your social media marketing strategies and audience reach. With in-depth guides on how to use LinkedIn to build a compelling profile, market yourself or your brand, and improve your likelihood of coming up first in Google and LinkedIn searches, this is a great read for anyone who currently uses LinkedIn or is new to the platform, and is searching for a way to carry their branding further than standard social media markets like Facebook and Instagram.
60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery by Josh Steimle (2021)
If you are new to using LinkedIn, or you are not quite certain what to do with the platform, 60 Days to LinkedIn Mastery may be an ideal read for you. As the title suggests, Josh Steimle’s book is designed to help people who are not familiar with LinkedIn (or those who are not certain what to do with their existing account) adequately familiarize themselves with the site and what it has to offer. The book is separated into 60 segments, each of them offering a technique to utilize to master LinkedIn in less than 15 minutes, in order to create a LinkedIn profile that is providing the best possible avenue to maximize your LinkedIn profile for connecting with others in your field, networking appropriately, and creating content that will continue to drive people to your page and any pages or sites you may be affiliated with.
Maximizing LinkedIn for Sales and Social Media Marketing by Neal Schaffer (2011)
First, an obvious disclaimer: As you might have noticed, I’m actually the author of this book. And I wouldn’t add my own book to this list if I didn’t have the confidence to tell you that it unlocks the mysteries of how to generate business from LinkedIn that no other book does. If you think LinkedIn is only for professionals and job seekers, think again. If your business markets and sells to other businesses, LinkedIn should be your top social media marketing priority, even above Facebook. Attract more leads, become an industry leader and improve your online reputation: you can accomplish all these things and more through this book. Includes more than 15 case studies to help you see exactly what others have done to see positive ROI from their LinkedIn investment.
This book was also published several years ago, so while the user interface has changed, the central concepts to the book are still intact today. It is why I update this book with my free Maximizing LinkedIn for Business above, but the concepts of leveraging your employees and salespeople – before we had the concepts of employee advocacy or social selling – together with the unmistakeable power of B2B social media marketing is what makes this book still relevant today.
The LinkedIn Sales Playbook by Brynne Tillman (2017)
The LinkedIn Sales Playbook is less a playbook and more a compilation of LinkedIn webinars and advice sessions put together to produce a valuable piece of work to help LinkedIn users utilize the platform for selling over social media. Although LinkedIn is typically used for networking, the platform can also be used to network with a specific purpose in mind: sales. Tillman goes deep on optimizing your LinkedIn profile and practices hinges on sales and making sure that your audience recognizes you as a source of authority and knowledge, and can come to you when a sales need arises.
This particular book is ideal for people who are looking to LInkedIn as another sales building tool, rather than exclusively a networking tool, or even a combination of networking and sales The focus on sales allows readers to approach their LinkedIn profile in an entirely unique way and develop their profiles and outreach efforts specifically to boost sales and encourage purchasing relationships.
Social Selling by Tim Hughes and Matt Reynolds (2016)
In Social Selling: Techniques, readers engage relationship-building exercises, a modern look at the decision-making process and touted social network solutions. Social Selling is a step-by-step guide for marketers intending to harness new skills, refurbish outdated ideas and obtain a high-quality community.
By building trust with online consumers, digital marketers can utilize Social Selling’s developmental points when furthering relationships. Unique to the book is a section on risk and governance—which steers digital marketers away from wasteful online maneuvers with a plethora of applicable examples. Social Selling is a definite “win” in the comprehensive seller’s guide section, and it’s a great choice for any digital marketer seeking evergreen advice.
The Best Instagram Books
While Facebook has matured to the point where it has become a pure pay-to-play for most businesses, the second largest social network still provides opportunities for organic social media and thus deserve a special place on this list.
Instagram for Dummies by Jenn Herman, Corey Walker and Eric Butow (2019)
The “For Dummies” series of books has long been regarded as a staple in basic education, and Instagram for Dummies is no different. That being said, one of the co-authors of the book, who has also blogged here, Jenn Herman, is one of the world’s leading experts on Instagram marketing, so this book is an essential primer for any Instagram marketer.
Focusing on how to use Instagram, and how to increase your following, Herman takes readers through the ins and outs of creating an Instagram account, styling photos for a visually-appealing feed, and connecting with people through your photos, Instagram Live, and daily Instagram Stories. Although Herman’s book is not specifically geared toward marketing, it offers invaluable insights into how to more effectively use Instagram to grow a following and build an online community—two components of social media marketing that are essential to continue driving traffic and growing your brand. Herman’s book is perfect for those who are new to the Instagram platform, but offers plenty for anyone familiar with Instagram, but struggling to gain (and hold onto) followers.
Blogging on Instagram by Terri Nakamura (2021)
I’ll be honest with you that when Terri, someone I have known in social media for some time, reached out to me mentioning that she was writing a book on the subject of blogging on Instagram, I really didn’t get it.
With the passing of time, now I get it ;-)
Although Instagram has been recognized as a vital social media marketing platform, many people are unfamiliar with the use of Instagram as a blogging tool. While posts must be accompanied by a photo, it is not merely the photos on Instagram that individuals connect and engage with. Nakamura wrote Blogging on Instagram after discovering that her own long-form, blog-like Instagram posts fostered the clearest and best connections on Instagram, rather than short or pithy captions. With additional research under her belt, she created this book to help content creators, writers, and marketers develop a solid Instagram blog strategy.
Drawn both from research and from personal experience, Blogging on Instagram functions less as a letter-of-the-law guidebook for blogging on the social media platform and operates more as a source of inspiration for people interested in using Instagram as a blogging platform, whether it is used for profit, or simply as a form of expression.
The Best YouTube Books
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, YouTube, the second largest search engine, is as popular as ever and can have major impact on your digital marketing when done right. Mr. Beast”s Squid Games spinoff, which got as many views on YouTube in 8 days as did the actual series did on Netflix, is a reminder of the potential power that YouTube has not just for content creators but also businesses.
YouTube Secrets by Sean Cannell and Benji Travis (2018)
Designed to provide a comprehensive guide to YouTube monetization and use, Sean Cannell and Benji Travis have compiled a book that thoroughly examines all of the possible avenues to monetize content on YouTube, taking a peek into the lives and habits of people who have successfully created YouTube followings, and identifying how six and seven figure earners were able to make their way to the top of the YouTube food chain. Alternately explanatory and actionable, YouTube Secrets provides a wealth of information for those new to the platform and seasoned veterans of YouTube, and offers a window into the inner workings of successful, monetized YouTube channels while offering straightforward actions to set you on the path toward YouTube success.
The YouTube Formula by Derral Eves (2021)
Eves is perhaps best known as one of the most successful YouTube how-to channel owners currently in operation, and his book certainly delivers on wisdom and insight as a result. Eves breaks down the basics of YouTube’s algorithms to help readers learn how to effectively create a YouTube channel, from start to finish. Although you do not have to be a novice to benefit from a thorough reading of The YouTube Formula, the book is designed to provide a step-by-step guide to starting your own YouTube channel, including creating a name and developing an audience base.
In addition to covering the basics of YouTube, Eves goes over how to create content that will drive engagement and build your audience, while monetizing your channel and developing a solid audience base. In addition to drawing on his own successes on YouTube, Eves goes over case studies and other successful YouTube stories to further elucidate the best practices to improve YouTube reach and success.
The Best Customer Experience Marketing Books
I have heard some CMOs say that Customer Experience is the final frontier for marketing, for as everything becomes commoditized, the only way to strategically differentiate ones offerings is through the customer experience. With that in mind, these 3 books will provide you LOTS of food for thought as to your own customer’s journey and how you can implement customer experience marketing in a positive way for your business.
Talk Triggers by Jay Baer (2018)
Did you know that almost 20% of sales result from customer word-of-mouth? Or that 90% of sales have been influenced by the “chatter” about your business? Especially if you do business in a local setting, having customers refer their friends is critical to business growth. To help you prosper through referrals, Jay Baer gives actionable tips to encourage customers to talk. In essence, the trick is to do something extraordinary for your customers, or to have some kind of customer-centered signature. Specific examples are given, as well as ways to design your own customer calling card. Best of all, these insights are built on research in addition to anecdotal evidence.
The Experience Maker by Dan Gingiss (2021)
The Experience Maker is a unique book regarding customer experience, because it hones in on the value inherent in existing customers, rather than constantly focusing on creating new customers. While many marketing and business books focus on growing, expansion, and bringing in new leads, Gingiss urges readers to acknowledge the value found in existing customers, and create experiences with those customers that will keep them coming back for more again and again. Like social media and other marketing channel how-tos that encourage a heavy focus on customer experience, The Experience Maker urges readers to make sure their customers are receiving care and interaction that they are eager to share with others and, more importantly, value that keeps them coming back to the company or brand for more.
Essentially, Gingiss asserts, your existing customer base is a far more compelling and believable series of salespeople than a sales team that is hired out of the gate, because people will express their gratitude and excitement about products or companies naturally and organically, provided that they have an ideal experience.
Experiences: The 7th Era of Marketing by Carla Johnson and Robert Rose (2015)
For marketers, it’s easy to see marketing as a big competition to see who can sell the most stuff. While that’s still true to some extent, the face of marketing has changed considerably in the last few years. Since the increasing popularity of the Internet, people look around for information about potential products before making a purchase. Even more recently, customers have begun to see the buying process as an “experience.” They want to feel “into” a brand before they choose what to buy, or if they want to buy at all. As a result, brands need to see their content marketing as a second “product” in order to win the game.
The Best Branding Books
Branding is an art and not something that I cover in my own content or consulting. If branding is your weakness as well, these books are just for you!
Fascinate by Sally Hogshead (2016)
Want to gain a loyal following for your brand? Need to raise prices and increase revenue? Both of these operations can be tricky, but Hogshead gives you a blueprint for success in her book Fascinate. In a nutshell, she says that the way to build a successful brand is to make people fascinated with it. To build a sort of cult following, so that people will pay a higher price to acquire the product. Here, you will find multiple case studies about brands who have done exactly what Hogshead is suggesting, along with tips on how they achieved this goal. Companies studied include everything from alcoholic beverages, to ice cream and children’s toys. In short, if you want to increase brand following, this book is a must read.
Brand Now by Nick Westergaard (2018)
How do you capture and keep the attention of your audience in the digital age? From celebrities to wanna-be YouTube stars, everyone seems to want attention these days. In order to capture it, and profit through increased sales and brand loyalty, you need to be relevant. That’s the central theme of Westergaard’s book Brand Now. Leveraging his vast experience in marketing, Westergaard gives us the best tips on how to capture everyone’s attention and make your brand compelling. Even more importantly, he tells us what approaches no longer work. In particular, putting up a bunch of banner ads and Adwords pitches is insufficient. Instead, we need to put out content and give our customers value beyond their purchase. As marketers, we all need to read this.
The Best Personal Branding, Building Influence & Entrepreneurial Books
There are many entrepreneurs, present or future, that read my blog, and for them I wanted to offer a selection of broader marketing books that go beyond social media into personal branding, influencing, and becoming an entrepreneur. Some of these books have more overlap with digital and social media marketing than others, but they are all recommended reading for putting the ideas you read from the above books into concrete action!
KNOWN by Mark Schaefer (2017)
In KNOWN, my “social media cousin” Mark Schaefer tackles the question of how important it is to be known in business. While many people are eager to build a personal brand and share that brand with the world, far too many brands are not truly known, or are not truly understood by their audiences or customers. Schaefer asserts that being known is what nets businesses, creators, and brands the most authentic connections and therefore the most authentic customers, and urges readers to make sure that they are developing a social media and digital marketing strategy that helps them be truly known, in order to maximize the reach, efficacy, and consistency of their business.
KNOWN combines case studies, personal experience, and personal stories to bring the audience a book that identifies the most effective way to take hold of your story online, and utilize that story to build trust, expand your brand or company reach, and develop consistent, loyal customer bases.
Entrepreneurial You by Dorie Clark (2017)
Want to be financially secure, even when the world seems to be falling apart? Thought about starting a work-anywhere gig and firing your boss? How about building passive income? For people with that entrepreneurial spirit, Clark’s book Entrepreneurial You is a great place to start learning what you need to succeed in the modern entrepreneurial landscape. In particular, there are some things that everyone starting a business needs to worry about, such as building a clientele and professional reputation. This is true even with gigs like blogging, because you want potential readers taking you seriously. Other issues discussed include diversifying your revenue streams and successful marketing.
Crushing It! by Gary Vaynerchuk (2018)
Crushing It! addresses the question of digital marketing from the perspective of influencers and entrepreneurs, rather than the perspective of established brands and businesses. Rather than placing all of the emphasis on a specific social media platform or medium, Vaynerchuk covers all of the social media platforms currently being used by brands and businesses, and identifies how to effectively leverage each of these platforms to build your business empire and make a name for yourself (or your brand). The book functions as a how-to for people interested in developing a robust and compelling series of social media tools for their brand.
Part simple how-to, part a close look at “why,” Crushing It! instructs readers both in how to build their brand effectively, and in why building their brand is advisable or preferred rather than acting as one piece in a larger machine or puzzle.
The Common Path to Uncommon Success by John Lee Dumas
John Lee Dumas, affectionately called JLD in the podcasting and general social media community, is best known for his podcast on entrepreneurship, Entrepreneurs on Fire, which serves as the basis for The Common Path to Uncommon Success. In it, Dumas goes over how to develop an entrepreneurial road map to achieve your goals, based on the many interviews he has compiled over the years on his podcast. From failures and pitfalls to wild successes, Dumas delineates how to find success in your entrepreneurial pursuits to create the life you’ve always wanted.
Although the tips and guides offered in this book are certainly not a recipe against faltering or failing, it can act as a great reference guide for anyone interested in starting their own business or personal brand, without the hassle of going through old podcast notes, or re-reading the book itself. While some of the advice is designed to encourage a better life overall, the primary focus of the book is entrepreneurial spirit, and is best used for those who are interested in starting their own business or venture.
AMPLIFY by Holly Chessman (2018)
What is it like to be a woman, working in a field mostly dominated by men? How can women shape their career in a context where women are often ignored, or worse, treated with a degree of hostility? These questions are answered by Holly Chessman, one of my guest bloggers. While marketing isn’t as male-centered as it once was, it’s still tough on women. Holly has built a successful marketing career and is eager to share her insights and top tips with other women. Using the “defining you” method, Holly shows readers how to demonstrate that they are unique people who should be taken seriously. She’ll even share tips on getting the raise and equal pay you deserve. I truly believe that this is a business book that every woman in business should read, even if she is working in a less male-dominated field.
The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur by John Jantsch (2019)
Especially if you’re a busy entrepreneur, it can be hard to slow down and reflect. As a business coach, John Jantsch is familiar with the problem: overworked entrepreneurs who lose their focus and quality of life through all the busyness. To help others, he wrote a different type of business book, The Self-Reliant Entrepreneur, which is a collection of inspirational reflections and quotes. There’s one for every day of the year, including on leap year. In addition to his own thoughts, John borrows heavily from the Transcendentalists of 200 years ago, people he sees as displaying the modern entrepreneurial spirit before its time. Best of all, the topics are generally not business-related, even though they’re geared towards entrepreneurs and other busy professionals. Overall, the goal is to help you sit down and reflect on your own emotional needs so you can trust yourself again, one day at a time. Most marketers I meet are entrepreneurs or have an entrepreneurial spirit in their work. and thus I included this book on the list.
One Million Followers by Brendan Kane (2020)
Brendan Kane’s One Million Followers details the steps and practices Kane employed to grow his social media following to over one million followers in only 30 days. Filled with insights, practical tips, and success stories, Kane brings plenty to the table when it comes to building influence across social media platforms, engaging meaningfully with followers, and creating content that will continue to encourage traffic to your brand and help you grow your sphere of influence. One Million Followers is a great read for those who are looking to not only amass a following, but keep that following engaged and invested in personal branding, from a veritable master of the art, with big names such as Taylor Swift and Vice under his belt.
Influencer by Brittany Hennessy (2018)
In Influencer, Brittany Hennessy tackles the difficult topic of social media branding, and how to effectively leverage your life and lifestyle to build a following, maintain that following, and create a personal brand to attract the interest of your favorite companies, brands, and agents. Hennessy has worked in the field of social media from the first days of online influencers, and offers unique insights into how the industry has evolved—and continues to evolve—and teaches the most effective ways to fuse your passion for life and brand partnerships to create your own influencer brand. Hennessy’s book is perfect for those who are looking to build a personal brand, rather than a business-centric brand, and anyone seeking to leverage their existing lifestyle or social media presence.
What’s your favorite from this list of best marketing books? Any that are missing from this list? I’d love to know in the comments below.
Best Marketing Books FAQs
Here are the some of the best books to read on marketing:
1. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
2. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
3. Marketing 4.0 by Philip Kotler
4. This is Marketing by Seth Godin
5. The Age of Influence by Neal Schaffer
Any type of marketing will be effective if done correctly. What I mean by correctly is that you are targeting the right audience and that everything you create is targeted towards your audience. What matters most is your audience. Your content should be aligned with your audience’s interests and should be delivered at the time your audience is most active. If you do that, you are relaying the message to them, getting them to engage with you, and potentially turning them into customers.
The answer to this question is up for debate, but many would consider Philip Kotler, Seth Godin, or Gary Vaynerchuk the greatest marketer of all time.
There are many ways and things you can do to learn marketing. I can think you can start with reading books and blogs about marketing, listening to podcasts that teach marketing, and even watching the YouTube channels of some marketers. And once you are ready to dive deep in, you can enroll in some courses that tackle different marketing aspects and possibly find where you want to focus more.
The 4 types of marketing strategies are:
3. Direct Selling
4. Business to Customer