10 books every digital marketer should read

Whether you want to learn how to create viral content or simply stretch your creative muscles, there’s something on this list for you.

Now that we’re into the second month of 2014, you’ve probably already broken or abandoned most of your New Year’s resolutions. (Or maybe that’s just me.)

It’s not too late to make a professional development resolution for the year. How about catching up on your reading? Staying sharp is difficult in an industry that changes as quickly as ours, but it will be much easier if you can set aside an hour or two each week to learn from the experts.

The only question is: What to read?

A quick Google search will yield plenty of opinions about the “best marketing books” or “best business books.” But this is my article, so I’m going to list my favorites.

Some of them are classics, while others are relatively new. Some take a bit of effort to consume, while others (like No. 10) are just plain fun. But each one has something important to teach us. Enjoy!

1. “Permission Marketing by Seth Godin

For digital marketers, this is the book that started it all. The concept of permission marketing seems obvious today, but it was groundbreaking in 1999.

2. “Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger

This book provides brilliant insights into the psychology behind infectious content, as well as techniques to create triggers that make people think of your brand and the secret ingredients that drive word-of-mouth marketing.

3. “Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard

Chock full of best practices and practical solutions, this book demystifies the business of social media. It’s an invaluable tool for anyone trying to sell social media strategy in a traditional business environment.

4. “YOUtility: Why Smart Marketing is about Help Not Hype by Jay Baer

Do you want your marketing efforts to succeed? Then try being helpful! This book provides examples of companies that have moved beyond selling to provide real value-and built fiercely loyal audiences along the way.

5. “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini

This classic book on persuasion is one of the all-time bestsellers among psychology-based business books. While not specific to digital marketing, it definitively explains what makes people say “yes.”

6. “Epic Content Marketing by Joe Pulizzi

As a content marketer, this one is close to my heart. Pulizzi provides a roadmap for developing content that is so engaging and moving people will actively seek it out.

7. “Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn

While not strictly a marketing book, this fascinating (and quick) read shines a light on the overly complex, hyper-technologized rabbit warren of choices we’ve all come to accept as normal.

8. “Audience: Marketing in the Age of Subscribers, Fans, and Followers by Jeff Rohrs

Full disclosure: Rohrs is both a friend and colleague, but that doesn’t change the fact that this book is brilliant. Building and engaging a long-term audience is no longer optional; it’s critical for any business that wants to survive. “Audience” shows you how to do it.

9. “Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley and David Kelley

This is required reading for anyone who’s ever thought, “I’m just not the creative type.” Creativity is a skill we must develop and exercise regularly. Through inspiring examples and an entertaining narrative, this book demonstrates how to build that creative muscle.

10. “QR Codes Kill Kittens by Scott Stratten

Unlike almost every other business and marketing book on the market, this one hilariously tells and shows you what not to do. Do yourself a favor and buy this book before another kitten dies.

Have you read any of the books above? What did you think of them? What other books would you add to this list?

Jen Ribble serves as content strategist for ExactTarget’s content marketing and research team. A version of this article originally appeared on the ExactTarget blog.


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