10 Amazing Books For Marketers in 2015

We’re into the last month of 2014. Year endings make you contemplative and you’ve probably started making New Year’s resolutions for 2015. The one professional resolution you should make is to catch up with 10 amazing books every digital marketer and growth hacker must read in 2015.

On the list, you will find couple timeless classics that every marketer should read, as well as more recent publications that you must read to advance your marketing skills in 2015.

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

Though published Fifteen years back, Permission Marketing continues to inspire marketers to build long-term relationship development that yields far greater profits, loyalty, and lifetime customer value. Seth Godin defined “permission marketing” as anticipated, personal, and relevant:

  • Anticipated – people look forward to hearing from you
  • Personal – the messages are directly related to the individual
  • Relevant – the marketing is about something the prospect is interested in

Jeffrey K. Rohrs, VP of Marketing Insights for the Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, says “The true testament to the power of Permission Marketing is the number of entrepreneurs it inspired to go build permission-based marketing agencies, campaigns, and platforms… It also laid the groundwork for the social media revolution since every social connection is one based on permission—to post, to share, and to amplify. Indeed, if one didn’t know better, you’d think that Permission Marketing’s subtitle was lifted from one of Facebook’s ad sales training manuals: Turning Strangers Into Friends and Friends Into Customers.”

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age is about building a better, more cooperative world. Clay Shirky, an associate professor in New York University, defines cognitive surplus, an ocean of hours that society could contribute to endeavors far more useful and fun television, as the shared work we do online with our spare brain cycles, using digital technology to increase collaboration within communities and across the globe.

Television, he writes, has “absorbed the lion’s share of the free time available to citizens of the developed world.” It’s not that television is evil, or even bad. It’s just that, as a medium, it’s incredibly good at soaking up leisure and producing very few tangible results.

Just in the United States, he maintains, we collectively watch about 200 billion hours of TV every year. If you think 200bn hours of television is a lot, consider the fact that there are now 2 billion people online across the world, and more than 3 billion with mobile phones. Given that there are around 4.5 billion adults worldwide, Shirky points out that “we live, for the first time in history, in a world where being part of a globally interconnected group is the normal case for most citizens“.

And that’s why for the first time in history, the amount of television being watched by a younger generation is decreasing rather than increasing annually. Why? Because time is being redirected toward activities that are less about consuming and more about engaging—from Flickr and Facebook to powerful forms of online political action. Shirky adds that the time we spend watching TV, we could create 2,000 Wikipedia-size projects — and that’s just in America, and in just one year.

And these efforts aren’t fueled by external rewards but by intrinsic motivation —the joy of doing something for its own sake. Shirky has written an important book about an interesting moment in human history, where, thanks to the virtual infrastructure of the internet, we are able to collaborate and interact as never before. The bottom line is that Cognitive Surplus has made it easier for entrepreneurs to start new businesses and innovate and that is a benefit that outweighs all the other detriments.

Let’s check out video snippet straight from the horse’s mouth:

Groundswell by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li

Written in 2008 by Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, “Groundswell: Winning In a World Transformed By Social Technologies” remain relevant as a key resource for business leaders seeking to understand the phenomenon of social technology.

For anyone interested in social media’s impact on business, Groundswell is a great read. It is regarded as one of the most comprehensive and useful primers on the sudden surge in social media by the Forrester analysts. The authors present an array of charts, facts and case studies to help readers understand “the Groundswell” , and the foundation of Groundswell’s empirical approach is what Li and Bernoff call the “social technographics” of internet users.

Tom O’Brien compares it to the highly influential 1998 book “Cluetrain Manifesto,” which argued technology is allowing consumer-to-consumer conversations to outpace companies’ own consumer messages.

If you are a digital marketer looking for the operating manual on social media, this is a pretty good reading reference.

Influence by Robert Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini is a classic book on persuasion, which presents voluminous evidence on the social psychology of persuasion and compliance. The book discusses how techniques of persuasion work and identifies six ways that people are consistently, unsuspectingly, and (often) automatically persuaded: reciprocity, scarcity, liking, authority, social proof, and commitment/consistency.

Dr. Robert Cialdini, leading social scientist in the field of influence, is the Regents’ Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Marketing at Arizona State University and the president of the consulting firm Influence at Work.

Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s long-time business partner, was so impressed by Cialdini’s thorough explanation of how rational decision-making can break down that he gave Cialdini one Class A share of Berkshire Hathaway stock for his “contributions to humanity.”

Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard

Worried about how to justify the ROI on digital/social efforts? To prove that your social media investment is truly warranted, you need to track how social is influencing every interaction you have with your clients.

Social Media ROI: Managing and Measuring Social Media Efforts in Your Organization is a true resource, which addresses ROI of Social Media. “There are many other books on social media strategy, but in your pursuit of social ROI enlightenment, I’d start with this one (it’s also very new) because it covers social program development and management as well as measurement”, says Lee Odden, founder TopRank Online Marketing

This book helps amateurs as well as professionals develop and hone excellent social communications habits, mindsets and insights into effective social communication programs. It’s not a book that advises just counting your daily tweets as a great sign of engagement – far from it. It’s a book that starts as it means to go on – presenting solid, business material.

Web Analytics 2.0 by Avinash Kaushik

If you have built a website with a goal in mind, you absolutely cannot get by without using a web analytics. Managing any web project can be challenging. The ability to measure your performance with web analytics packages is a huge advantage.

In this book, Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist and blogger at Occam’s Razor, starts with some of the basics – traffic sources, key failure points, click density, segmentation – and jumps off from there, with good ideas on quantifying the impact of some of the more elusive online marketing channels, including Twitter, video, and blogs.

In his enthusiastic and entertaining style, Avinash explains the next generation framework of web analytics including social media measurement and includes specific guidance on hiring analytics

resources, practical advice on the practice of  gaining insight from clickstream data and analysis, plus how to help managers become more data-driven in their decision making. Go buy your own!

Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

Content marketing is a powerful strategy today for getting new customers, building loyalty with existing customers, getting found online, branding and much more. But without a customer-centric content marketing strategy and plan for organizational structure, responsibilities, process and measurement – investing in content marketing is pure speculation.

If you are looking for a guide for marketing through content, look no further beyond Epic Content Marketing, a book by Joe Pulizzi, founder of the Content Marketing Institute.

This is a book that can help you come up with a well-thought out strategy for employing content marketing. Joe takes us step by step from the concept of content marketing to the steps to take to implement an effective content marketing strategy.

The book does a masterful job of helping you line up the tactics you will need to execute your content marketing.  This book really does deserve to be required reading for any marketer investing in content to grow business.

The New Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott

The New Rules of Marketing & PR brings you all the hottest insider tips so you can confidently market any product, service, or idea—for a fraction of the cost of traditional marketing and PR programs. Learn new tools and techniques to communicate with buyers directly, raise online visibility, and increase sales.

The New Rules of Marketing & PR is a book all marketers must read. Also, it’s a handy manual for business people who want to connect with their customers on the Web.

Highly recommended for professionals, entrepreneurs and business owners alike, this pioneering guide offers actionable strategies that can be implemented immediately.

And if you want more, here’s the speed summary.

Youtility by Jay Baer

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing is About Help Not Hype is a book filled with examples of brands that use content to help customers by serving as a “utility” of helpful information. It also gives readers a roadmap for success to help them find and create Youtility within their own organizations.

Youtility is useful marketing from the perspective of customers. It is “massively useful information, provided for free, that creates long-term trust and kinship between your company and your customers,” says Jay Baer, author of Youtility.

“Youtility might be the most important book you’ll ever read because it can help you understand and implement ideas that keep you relevant and reticent in today’s incredibly complex consumer environment,” says Jason Falls . Highly recommended book for anybody keen to embrace the new age of marketing in the social age!

Contagious by Jonah Berger

Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger, a professor at Wharton, gives great insight into some of the science and psychology behind why people share and what makes content popular.

Berger in “Contagious” identifies six ingredients or principles that are associated with messages, products, or ideas that go viral. Summarized in an easy-to-remember acronym (STEPPS), they are: Social Currency, Triggers, Emotion, Public, Practical Value, and Stories. Berger shares the characteristics of what makes something go viral so the reader can build viral messages.

Contagious products and ideas are like forest fires. They can’t happen without hundreds, if not thousands, of regular Joes and Janes passing the product or message along.”

It’s a book that remains heavily indebted to Malcolm Gladwell’s 2000 best seller, “ The Tipping Point,” and Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s 2007 book, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.”

It is a must read for all marketers, mainly bloggers, community managers, planners, strategists, who want to understand how to make your products and ideas catch on. This book also helps you formulate a checklist about how to make your content contagious. Happy reading!

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