Business advice is everywhere these days, and it may not seem that books offer much more than what’s freely available online. Books offer something special when it comes to solid tips that last for years (and not just until the next trending Twitter topic passes). Written by experts in their field, the best books for digital marketing pass along time-tested strategies for taking your company or nonprofit to the next level.
These favorites have sold thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of copies and can be understood by even professionals new to the digital marketing world. Pick up a copy—or all eight—and line your bookshelves with the kind of knowledge you can refer back to again and again.
Ready to learn more about the best books on digital marketing? Then let’s get started!
1. They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today’s Digital Consumer (Marcus Sheridan, 2019)
You can’t have a digital marketing conversation without acknowledging the impact of search engine optimization (SEO). This book uses relatable stories from the author’s career journey to explain how content marketing can make or break any digital platform. While much has changed since author Marcus Sheridan almost stumbled upon the power of answering questions to become an authority in his field, his lessons are relatable and easily translated to today’s digital platforms and marketing budgets.
This book is bigger (and better) than a technical manual for gaming the first page of search; it takes readers to the heart of why quality content matters and how they can use it as part of an organic, authentic digital marketing strategy minus all the icky keyword stuffing.
Who it’s best for: Anyone hoping to write better content
2. Digital Marketing in an AI World: Futureproofing Your PPC Agency (Frederick Vallaeys, 2019)
Artificial intelligence (AI) is blowing up the news cycles today, with worries that algorithms may fully replace humans in the creation of digital content. Author Vallaeys acknowledges the concerns in this book by stating that it’s powerful, but not the perfect solution. His breakdown of what AI is best used for, and how it helps PPC marketers do their jobs better, is both reassuring and practical. He explores Google’s automated bidding tools and shares how they can be used to amplify what human marketers are doing and even get better over time with machine learning.
Will these exact methods keep up with the fast-paced evolution of Google’s Ad network? Only time will tell, but with use cases that work for anyone in digital marketing (not just PPC), this book is a welcome voice in the otherwise panicked landscape of AI speculation.
Who it’s best for: Google PPC advertisers and others interested in winning the bidding wars
3. One Million Followers, Updated Edition: How I Built a Massive Social Following in 30 Days (Brendan Kane, 2020)
Who wouldn’t want a million followers? While there’s more to being successful on social media than simply getting followers, it’s widely accepted that a larger follower base makes it easier to get your message out there. In this book, the author shares all the things that worked—and didn’t—in his own journey to a million fans. Kane’s case studies have big budgets, which move the needle quickly, but also show what could work on various platforms with even a fraction of the ad spend.
The number one complaint by reviewers of this book is actually its strength; while the author admits he didn’t get all his followers organically, most digital marketers expect to spend something to gain traction. Those already familiar with social media jargon and wanting to know how big brands make a splash will find it intriguing.
Who it’s best for: Those needing to boost their fan base
4. Join or Die: Digital Advertising in the Age of Automation (Patrick Gilbert, 2020)
Despite the book’s somewhat threatening title, Join or Die is a detailed look at how automation is changing digital marketing jobs, maybe for the better. Gilbert references Google Ads in most case studies but emphasizes the adaptability of the mindset to almost any paid media platform where automation tools exist. While agencies and marketers may be reluctant to embrace automation, it’s already here, and this book acts as a primer to how it all works.
It also explores why the most successful marketers will embrace it to make their campaigns more relevant and scalable. Gilbert’s storytelling helps even the most skeptical reader understand the overarching role automation has in the digital marketing landscape, hopefully in time for the next generation of marketers to see the light.
Who it’s for: Those unfamiliar with automation and hoping to make it work for them
5. Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business (Donald Miller, 2020)
You may have already heard of Donald Miller, a best-selling author with notoriety in the branding sphere. His previous book, Building a StoryBrand, introduced readers to brand messaging, while this latest book takes that initial momentum and turns it into an actionable checklist for creating sales funnels. Even if you’re familiar with funnels the principles behind them are worth reviewing, and this step-by-step workbook gives you a place to brainstorm and strategize before you execute those principles.
This made our best books for digital marketing list since readers get a nuts-and-bolts look at creating a marketing plan, including email and an engaging website. Miller gives many ideas for stops along the funnel for you to engage prospects to turn them into repeat clients. If customer acquisition is your aim, this book should be required reading.
Who it’s for: Fans of Donald Miller, or those with weak sales funnels
6. Marketing Analytics: A Practical Guide to Improving Consumer Insights Using Data Techniques (Mike Grigsby, 2022)
What do you think of when you hear “data?” If you run and hide at the mention of anything this technical, take a deep breath. In this third edition of Grigsby’s data analytics primer, readers get a detailed look into the world of brands using analytics to solve problems but in a way that’s surprisingly accessible. Marketers can use the book to explore their campaign goals and set up metrics that make the best sense for their brand before they launch.
While the scenarios listed in the book sometimes seem complicated, the author takes great care to break down complex strategies into smaller tasks, and he includes a comprehensive glossary of terms to help first-time marketers get up to speed quickly. The book includes self-test quizzes to ensure you are on track, so you don’t have to be a data scientist to boost your analytics IQ. In a world when analytics will be more important than ever before to both plan and assess marketing campaigns, having a go-to manual is ideal.
Who it’s for: Anyone overwhelmed by big data or inspired by its possibilities
7. The New Rules of Marketing and PR – 8th Edition (David Meerman Scott, 2022)
In this eighth edition of the international best-seller, Mermann takes readers through some of the newest marketing platforms today, along with strategies to succeed even as these change and become replaced. This isn’t your typical write-a-blog-and-people[will-read[it handbook. It focuses on some of the more compelling ways to get customer engagement, which often means putting in a lot of hard work.
Not all of the tactics in the book are paid or advertisement-oriented, either. His advice for news-jacking (commentating or adding content around breaking news trends) can be used by anyone with any budget. He also touches on podcasting and live videos, which helps those who prefer audio over video (or vice-versa) a way to capitalize on the strategies they do best. Much of the advice seems geared at PR people in particular, but brands without an agency on the payroll can utilize this book to jump-start big ideas for even two-person brand teams.
Who it’s best for: Marketers, PR pros, content strategists, and those willing to go all out with new content methods
How to use the best books on digital marketing
If you’re excited to learn more about digital marketing, it can be tempting to jump into all of these ideas at once. Taking one book at a time, with a focused plan for reading, jotting down notes, and trying a few examples, may be a better approach.
Remember, digital marketing is a vast concept incorporating anything a brand does to reach its target audience online. With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to spread yourself thin. Consider tackling the one thing your company can do now with the resources it already has, then expand outward over time.
There you have it: our list of the best books for digital marketing. We hope that at least one of these tomes suits you, wherever you are on your marketing journey.
Are you just getting into digital marketing and need some guidance on where to start? Our free, self-paced digital marketing course offers exercises to help you learn if digital marketing is the right career for you. Get valuable insights in just 5 days, with courses taking around 15 minutes!
You can also check out these quick reads: