19 Timeless Reads That Will Make You A Better Digital Marketer

Posted on Aug 2, 2017
Reading time: 4 minutes Tags: Marketing Books Recommended

*This post was later updated to 19. Sue me.

The internet is packed with hordes of marketers marketing to marketers about marketing. Which sucks when you’re trying to up your game.

But every once in a while, I come across an article, book, or slide deck that actually educates, with crystal-clear pragmatic takeaways.

And I love them.

So when I made the reading list for a recent content marketing course I taught, I filtered out the fluff and stuck with the gold. So in no particular order, here’s my list of required digital marketing reading.

And no, not every item here is The Marketing Bible. But every single thing will help you market better. I promise.

The List

What is Customer Jobs? What is Jobs to be Done?

Blog post and book (with free PDF version!) by Alan Klement

Job To Be Done is a brilliant way to look at what your prospects actually need, helping your craft the story.

Pirate Metrics

Slide deck by Dave McClure

Any decent marketing funnel relies on user lifecycles and funnels. Dave’s Pirate Metrics are the gold standard.


Book by Gabriel Weinberg & Justin Mares (first 3 chapters are free!)

There are a lot of ways to market. Weinberg and Mares use real-life examples to walk readers through 19 different channels for marketing, as well as a low- barrier approach to find the right one.

Growth Hacker Marketing

Book by Ryan Holiday

Gem of a quick read for dipping your toes in real growth hacking, from the principles up.

Permission Marketing

Book by Seth Godin

Godin’s book on permission marketing was a precursor for the explosion of inbound marketing, focused on forging a relationship with prospects so that not only do you get in the door, they open it for you.

Purple Cow

Another book by Seth Godin

When you’re driving through a pasture, you’ll always notice the Purple Cow. Trust me.

The Lean Startup Methodology

Post and Book by Eric Reis

The methodology pervasive in tech for building, measuring and iterating on startups is born to go hand in hand with iterative, adaptive marketing.

How Upworthy makes things go viral

Slide deck by Upworthy

Fantastic case study into how methodical testing makes things take off. Also, how two interns schooled the Upworthy team.

What Is Public Narrative (and Storytelling 101)

Academic article by Marshall Ganz

An incredible read from an incredibley popular Harvard Communication 101 course.

Copywriting Formulas

Blog post by Buffer

Writing is hard. Take a look at some of the most popular frameworks for writing an article. Or magazine ads. Or movies. Or Laffy Taffy jokes. Or anything, really.

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion

Book by Dr Robert Cialdini

This is cited by every content marketer at some point…but the principles at play in this book do exist. Just don’t be evil about it, mmmkay?

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Work

Book by Dan and Chip Heath

Beyond the fact that the authors rock at content marketing, this book provides some great insights into why some ideas (and marketing strategies) work when others don’t.

Growing Mint to 1 Million Users

Blog post by Noah Kagan

Getting started is always difficult. Kagan provides a fantastic window into taking a huge goal (launch a killer app) and breaking it into smaller, achievable steps.

Brian Balfour’s Growth Machine

Slide deck by Brian Balfour

What if there was a framework that you could implement in order to actually control and track your growth experiments? What if? Happy birthday.

How to Make an NPR Podcast

Blog post and podcast by Noah Kagan

Find yourself drawn into NPR podcasts? Me too. It’s because they know how to formulate a story. Read the article, download the podcast.

Growth Hacker is the new VP Marketing

Article (fine, manifesto) by Andrew Chen

The article that kicked off what being a growth hacker is. The term is overused…but the ideas live on.

Why Content Marketing Fails

Slide deck by Rand Fishkin

86 slides that show why so many content marketers fall flat on their face

The Three-Hour Brand Sprint

Article by Jake Knapp Branding is complicated. But this three hour brand sprint is a brilliant way to get quick results. Good enough for Coca-Cola? Probably not. Good way to get started for your startup? Definitely.

86 slides that show why so many content marketers fall flat on their face

How to Build a Minimum Loveable Product**

Article by [Laurence McCahill](https://medium.com/@welovelean There’s a lot of attention given to the lean startup. But ignoring the customer experience with a lean product is a sure-fire recipe to land flat on your face. McCahill provides 10 tips for creating what he calls a Minimum Loveable Product. Worth a read.

Next up, my list of marketing email newsletters that I read before I read emails from my mom.

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