There are tons of “best digital marketing books” lists for marketers out there. But how many are specifically curated for ecommerce marketers, agencies, and founders?
Based on a quick Google search… none.
This is a HUGE problem.
Marketing an ecommerce business is not the same as marketing a service business. Neither is it the same as marketing a software business. And it’s definitely not the same as marketing a local restaurant.
Ecommerce brands have their own challenges.
This is true even if you’re just running a small Etsy store.
That’s why in this post, I’m going to list out the best digital marketing books specifically for DTC brands. So whether you’re a founder looking to sell physical goods online, a marketer working on helping your clients make more sales, or a marketing agency who wants to train your in-house team, then check this list out.
Let’s get started.
- 1 Ogilvy On Advertising by David Ogilvy
- 2 The Adweek Copywriting Handbook by Joe Sugarman
- 3 Breakthrough Advertising by Eugene Schwartz
- 4 Cashvertising by Drew Whitman
- 5 My Life In Advertising by Claude Hopkins
- 6 Great Leads by Michael Masterson & John Forde
- 7 DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson
- 8 Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson
- 9 No B.S Marketing To The Affluent by Dan Kennedy
- 10 No B.S Direct Marketing by Dan Kennedy
- 11 The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries & Jack Trout
- 12 The Luxury Strategy by Jean-Noel Kapferer
- 13 Crushing It! By Gary Vaynerchuk
- 14 Content Inc. by Joe Pulizzi
- 15 Contagious by Jonah Berger
- 16 This Is Marketing by Seth Godin
- 17 Positioning by Al Ries & Jack Trout
- 18 Differentiate or Die by Jack Trout
- 19 Building A StoryBrand by Donald Miller
- 20 Crossing The Chasm by Geoffrey Moore
- 21 Traction by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares
- 22 Don’t Make Me Think by Krug Steve
- 23 Kapferer On Luxury by Jean-Noel Kapferer
- 24 Repositioning by Jack Trout & Steve Rivkin
- 25 Jobs To Be Done by Stephen Wunker & Jessica Wattman
David Ogilvy was the king of advertising. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that if Ogilvy were alive today in his prime, he would probably wipe the floor off 99% of “creatives” out there. Naturally, this makes his most famous book, Ogilvy on Advertising, practically legendary in the advertising world.
It’s a masterclass in how to make sales, period. Obviously, this doesn’t include the internet because the internet wasn’t a thing back then. But the lessons are so evergreen, anyone who truly masters the principles he lays out will be able to sell products at will. Doesn’t matter if its Facebook ads, Youtube, podcasts, or anything else.
Joe Sugarman was the founder of Blue Blocker glasses, among other very successful businesses. He also happened to be a master copywriter who used his skills to sell millions of dollars worth of his own products. Heck, he even once single handedly sold a jet with a simple newspaper ad.
This is why his book is so important. Joe Sugarman was one of the best direct response copywriters that ever lived. Now, while most copywriting books will focus on the psychological side of copywriting, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook actually focuses on the writing side of advertising. Considering writing is so important in digital marketing, then this is a must have.
Eugene Schwartz is another copywriting legend. And like most copywriting legends of old, he didn’t advertise on the internet because the internet was not a thing for most of his copywriting career. Still, the principles laid out in his book apply to digital marketing for ecommerce. In fact, they may be even more important today.
Inside, you’ll learn advanced concepts such as unique mechanisms and market sophistication. Heck, it’s so chock full of advanced concepts that even most professional copywriters can’t grasp everything he teaches inside. This is why Breakthrough Advertising is considered the gold standard of copywriting books.
Digital marketing is essentially about psychology. You have to make content, ads, emails, videos, podcasts, and more to take customers through their customer journey. However, you can’t just put something out and expect magic to happen. You have to really understand what makes people “tick” and take out their wallets.
Enter Cashvertising. The best way to describe this book is that it’s a vault full of the most important psychological moves you can implement regardless of market, message, or medium. You’ll more than likely go back to it many times as a resource everytime you want to try something new.
Claude Hopkins is one of the best advertisers who ever lived. He’s literally the reason why some of today’s most iconic brands even exist, let alone doing billions. In fact, he was so good, some say he’s also the highest paid copywriter of all time. No one deserves to be on this “best digital marketing books” list more than he does.
What makes this book special in particular is not the advertising lessons though. There are very few direct “how to” moments in this book. Instead, the book covers the stories behind some of his biggest successes. This gives you a behind-the-scenes look at what he really did to literally change American culture with nothing but words on paper.
There are few people more credible when it comes to advertising than Michael Masterson and John Forde. Both are direct response marketing juggernauts. The best part? Unlike most copywriting books, which were published before the internet was widely available, the lessons inside Great Leads have been tested online.
Another reason to love this book is what it focuses on. Because while most books on copywriting and advertising put a ton of emphasis on how important it is to capture a customer’s attention, so few actually teach how to do it. This is why Michael and John decided to write this book. It’s a guide to writing the most important part of an ad.
If you’re not a direct response marketer, you’ve probably never heard of Russell Brunson. But if there’s anyone you should learn from when it comes to creating profitable sales funnels that convert to paid traffic, it’s Russell. He himself built a multi-million dollar supplement brand using his own strategies.
Inside, he reveals not just how to create a funnel, but also what goes before and after your initial funnel. This includes everything from targeting and email marketing to how to stack multiple sales funnels on top of each other to get the most money per customer. So if your ecommerce business runs on paid traffic, this is a book to check out.
The best digital marketing books are based off of real life experience. What I love about this book is the angle Russel takes. Unlike most books about how to get traffic, this one is not about any particular platform like Facebook or Google. In fact, it’s the complete opposite. This book is about how to succeed without being reliant on any platform.
Don’t worry. There’s plenty about SEO, advertising, and more. That’s because Russell’s methods focus on traffic prioritization and diversification. This includes strategies you normally never see in digital marketing because they were originally created for offline marketing. Suffice to say, this book can help you get more traffic while paying less.
Regardless of your political views, the data shows that the rich are getting richer and the poorer are getting poorer. So if you’re starting a business, then it’s in your best interest to sell to the rich because they have the money to buy stuff. The problem? Selling to the rich is not like selling to the masses. They don’t buy for the same reasons.
Enter Dan Kennedy. While this book is only one of many in his No B.S Marketing series, it’s also one of his most valuable and actionable. Inside, you can expect to learn the exact psychological triggers that define the rich customer and how to market your products in a way that rich people like to be sold too.
The best digital marketing books are based on strong, proven principles. It’s also not a popular book in ecommerce, but it should be. The main reason for this is probably its focus on helping small service businesses through hardcore direct response marketing tactics. However, it’s for this very reason why every ecommerce marketer should read it.
Dan Kennedy is a legend in direct response marketing circles, which is relevant regardless of category or marketing channel. Some even consider this book to the THE direct response playbook, especially if you’re new to the subject. Considering every ecommerce marketer could use a crash course in direct response, you should buy it.
There are is no “best digital marketing books” list without this treasure from the guys who made positioning. It’s also possibly one of the most hard hitting books of its category because it was written to synthesize everything Al Ries and Jack Trout taught throughout the years.
The craziest part is that this book is short at just 112 pages. Yet, it goes into exactly how to launch a business that can become the #1 brand in its category. Plus, there are tons of examples inside to drive home every lesson. And once you understand every law, you’ll start seeing how almost every successful ecommerce business follows them
Luxury products are fascinating. Yet, you hear much less behind what makes luxury brands so upscale for the rich and desirable for the masses. Fortunately, this book reveals some of luxury’s most important attributes. Written by a former luxury executive, The Luxury Strategy is sometimes known as the bible for luxury marketing.
Inside, you’ll learn everything from the history of luxury and what makes a brand luxurious to specific luxury funnels and even a launch strategy to build your own luxury brand from scratch. This includes every rule that makes marketing a luxury brand not just different from regular brands, but in some cases the exact opposite. This book is especially useful if you’re looking to launch a brand in “naturally luxurious” categories like a makeup brand, a beverage brand like wine, a streetwear brand like Yeezy, high end candles, or even something as simple as a tea brand.
Gary Vaynerchuk is one of the most famous entrepreneurs alive today and it’s almost entirely because he’s the best in the world when it comes to understanding how to build audiences on social media. This is what makes this book one of the best to read when it comes to social media, especially for new entrepreneurs.
The best part of the book is the framework he personally uses to grow massive audiences without having to spend all your time creating brand new pieces of content. Just that section alone can help any ecommerce brand become a true media company that sells their products like clockwork.
The old way of building businesses is dead. At least, that’s the foundational claim that Joe makes in his book. Instead, he says the best way to build a business is to build an organic audience first and then sell them something. It’s more likely to succeed, he claims. And I tend to agree, which is why it’s on my list of best digital marketing books.
This one is a great book for digital marketers in particular because it’s the only one that truly shows you how a real media company runs. And no, it’s not just creating and promoting content. Although, that is the most important part and he goes deep into that. Instead, it’s about treating yourself like Forbes rather than some random publication.
If there was ever a goal that every digital marketer has, it would be going viral. I mean, why not? You making something that takes off and generates a flood of new customers overnight without paying a cent in paid ads is the dream. But it’s also like catching lightning in a bottle. So is going viral something to even strive for?
According to Jonah Berger, a marketing professor from Wharton, it is. In fact, there is a systematic way to make sure every single piece of content you promote can achieve virality. It all comes down to hitting certain human emotions. Of course, none of this guarantees virality. But it will instantly boost the performance of your marketing for free.
Seth Godin is an absolute marketing legend. He’s also prolific with 20 books now. But if there was ever a book of his you should read, it’s This Is Marketing. The best way to describe it is that it’s an anthology of all of his most important work. Except, while most of his books are on the theoretical side, this one is a lot more actionable.
Inside, you’ll learn his strategies behind differentiation, target markets, pricing, branding, and more. It’s safe to say it’s a A-Z guide to coming up with a bulletproof marketing strategy, whether you’re working on a new business or in an existing one. For the average digital marketer in ecommerce, this book will be one you go back to.
In the past, you didn’t have to worry about competition. You could just launch a physical product and be relatively fine. But as time went on, things changed. Eventually, differentiation became a key factor to success. Somewhere along that timeline, Al Ries and Jack Trout came out of nowhere with their groundbreaking book, Positioning.
This book was and still is the definitive book on positioning, which is a strategy every digital marketer in ecommerce should master. Best of all, not only does the book fully flesh out everything you need to know about positioning, but also gives multiple examples that will help you position any product. For a quick example of a brand that used positioning to grow, look no further than Warby Parker.
If Positioning was the “why”, then Differentiate or Die is the “how”. Funny enough, it might be for that very reason why it never became as popular as the former. However, I would argue it’s an even more important book because it’s the only one that goes deep into the actual tactics of positioning.
Inside, you’ll learn everything from how to use heritage and hotness to specialization and distribution to differentiate your product. Plus, you’ll also learn what not to do and the common pitfalls of successfully differentiated businesses that end up losing their edge. It’s THE handbook on how exactly to position any product. It’ll even help you different products in incredibly saturated markets like subscription boxes.
The art and science of marketing is about messaging. Either you make a compelling message that can grab attention, build trust, and sell a product or you fall flat on your face while needlessly spending a ton of money in the process. Luckily, there is a systematic way to do the former.
Inside, Donald Miller goes over his bulletproof system to come up with a brand story that will differentiate your brand, accelerate the trust building process, and make you a ton of money. What’s unique about his system though is that it’s based on the hero’s journey. This is perfect for any premium priced ecommerce brand.
A lot of what determines your success as a digital marketer in the ecommerce space is timing, competition, and the monetary costs both result in. This is why just learning a few growth hacks here and there is just not good enough. You need to understand how to work with your market to efficiently grow your business.
Enter Crossing The Chasm. This book is 100% dedicated to helping you market new products to mainstream customers. Now, while it’s focus is on technology products, the same principles will work regardless of category. It’s also a pretty fun read considering it’s military themed chapters.
The #1 biggest reason for failure for any startup, but especially ecommerce brands, is not lack of capital, people, or some other “standard” reason. The reason is traction. In other words, your ability to efficiently drive traffic to your business so you can generate sales. Because without traction, you have nothing.
This book goes into how to solve this problem. In fact, if you’re looking for a book that goes deep into specific tactics, this is the one for you. It’s a resource you’ll want to go back to over and over again to remind yourself of every way to get traction even if you’re a hyper niche market like hair extensions or wigs. Plus, you also get a strategy to help prioritize everything you learn inside.
Of all the best digital marketing books, this one is the most specific to digital marketing. That’s because while most great marketing books were written before the internet really hit stride, this is the only one on the list that talks about actual websites. And when you’re talking about websites, you must talk about usability.
It’s not just about “usability” though. It’s about how that actually affects conversions. How do you make sure people are looking at the right things at the right time? How do you get people to stay longer on your site? How do you apply all of these principles for mobile? And more.
Luxury products and internet marketing don’t mix. At least, that’s what Jean-Noel Kapferer claims. But what do you do then if digital marketer slowly becomes the dominant form of marketing? How do you deal with the internet’s incessant need to make everything you do widely available, which is the opposite of luxury?
The key is creating “artificial” scarcity. No, none of that fake scarcity stuff you sometimes see in the dark corners of the web. It’s about adapting the luxury model to work in a way so that when you grow, you can still remain rare. This includes not just the internet, but all of growth within the context of luxury brands.
Al Ries and Jack Trout were the guys who conceptualized and popularized the idea of positioning as the key to marketing strategy. In a world full of competition, you should position your brand to find untapped “mind space”. But what they never talked about was how to position your competitors brands.
This is a huge idea because repositioning a competitor’s brand doesn’t cost you any money. It’s just a marketing tactic that also doubles as a positioning tactic for your brand. And it works across all industries and against all brands. With tons of physical product examples, this is a must read if you’re a reader of the best digital marketing books.
The best digital marketing books are all about tactics and strategies to make more sales. But what is it that drives all of these tactics and strategies? In short, its research. It’s fully understanding your customer and taking those insights to use tactics and strategies to effectively sell to them.
And that’s why this book is so important. It’s quite possibly the best book ever written on customer research. The biggest reason? The framework they use goes deep into the actual reasons people buy your stuff over others, what they actually use it for, and why. Once you go through this framework enough times, you’ll have the insights you need to make millions in sales.