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20 Greatest Marketing Book of All Time [2021 Update]

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I‘ve read more books on marketing than I can recall. When I first got bitten by the marketing bug, I admit, I read too much. I was reading disproportionally more than I was taking action. I don’t want that for you! 

I want you to know which books I feel are most important to your success as a digital marketer.

The following are the books that I have found to be the “cream of the crop,” and will get you the best results in the least amount of time. 

There is a saying in marketing (I don’t know who to credit it to) that goes like, “Until you are getting 100% conversions, you still have ways you can improve.” No matter which stage of your marketing career you’re at you have room to improve.

Never stop reading and learning!

“Until you are getting 100% conversions, you still have ways you can improve.”

Now, not all of the books I share below are directly related to digital marketing,  but the principles taught in them will apply directly to your marketing successes. 

I have only mentioned books here that I have read front to back.

Let’s get into the books!

#1 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

My #1 Most Recommend Marketing Book

80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

Leverage the Pareto Principle to find the 20% of marketing and advertising tasks that drive 80% of your sales. My most recommended and gifted book for everyone who is even remotely involved in sales or marketing.

80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall

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If you read just one of the books on this list, make it be 80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall. I’ve read this book every year since I first found it and I learn something new each time. 

Why Read This Book: This book will make your marketing and advertising efforts more effective by teaching you how to identify and focus on the things that are working best. You can trim the things that aren’t working and focus on more of what is actually moving the needle forward. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Any marketer or advertiser would benefit from this book but especially those who have adopted multiple tactics to their businesses. This book will help you decide which are worth continuing and which are wasting time, effort and money. 

#2 Ask by Ryan Levesque

Ask by Ryan Levesque

Learn how to better serve your followers and potential buyers by asking the right questions and catering your efforts to their needs.

Ask by Ryan Levesque

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Data driven audience segmenting…and McDonalds every night.

I got this book from Ryan for free through a promotion he was running (which made me skeptical at first) but it turned out to be one of the most valuable books I have ever read on the topic of marketing and audience segmenting.

Why Read This Book: This book is not just a rehashing of vague, dated theory. It is full of immediately implementable customer acquisition methods that are both original and proven (by Levesque and in my own tests).

Levesque walks you through the process of finding your “ideal customers” by creating buckets using what he calls “deep dive surveys” followed by “micro-commitment surveys.”

The first half of this book is about Levesque’s personal life and how he came up with the Ask formula. While I enjoyed it greatly (particularly the part where he discussed how he learned to write better copy through long hand duplication), you don’t need to read it to get the actionable insights out of the book.

If you want to shave 2-3 hours off the read, skip to Part II (page 63 in the physical printed copy I own).

Who Would Benefit the Most: Marketers who love data and have a secret passion for spreadsheets and formulas.

#3 The Conversion Code by Chris Smith

The Conversion Code by Chris Smith

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Why Read This Book: Chris Smith is an internet marketer who was trained in both white hat and black hat sales tactics.

This book is the culmination of that experience. He (and I) of course only recommend you implement the white hat tactics.

It’s also riddled with cool little tips. One I implemented was doing something while you are on a phone call (walking, bouncing a ball on the wall etc.) can make you speak more naturally and less robotic.

Who Would Benefit the Most: People who aren’t afraid to get on the phone. This book goes into tactics for finding your hyper-responsive buyers and how to make sales with them one on one.

4. How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

#1 Recommended Book on Writing Sales Copy

How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

The bible when it comes to writing sales copy that works in any niche at any time. I literally have a spare copy at my desk and pull it up regularly for insights when I’m stuck.

How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards

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I have this book in my desk drawer and reference it constantly…

Why Read This Book: There is a library worth of books on writing sales copy but none that are also easy to follow, complete and valuable as How to Write Copy That Sells by Ray Edwards.

Cool Takeaway: My FAVORITE section of the book is when Edwards breaks down the different types of bullet points. Click here to learn the different types of bullet points Ray Edwards teaches in the book.

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who wants a book they can read multiple times and continue to find value. If you are in a rush, skip to page 62 (chapter 5) and read about bullet points!

#5 Launch By Jeff Walker

Launch by Jeff Walker

For better or for worse, this book revolutionized how entrepreneurs launched their products, services or courses to the market.

Launch by Jeff Walker

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You’re likely leaving thousands on the table if you launch a product, service or training any other way…

Why Read This Book: Jeff Walker is one of the pioneers of the online launch (although some of the tactics apply to traditional offline marketing). This book goes through the process Walker himself has used in 8 figure launches in great detail with examples and actionable takeaways.

As effective as this method is, I am not a huge fan of the ways I have seen it implemented by novice marketers. If you follow this method, please, do it the right way. It is easy to be that “car salesman” marketer with this launch method if you aren’t careful.

Use this for good, not to sell garbage. It is powerful.

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who has a big ticket item to sell and needs to get things right!

#6 Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday

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Growth hacking sounds sexy, most people don’t get it though… Ryan get’s it and wants you too as well…

Why Read This Book: Holiday defines a growth hacker as “someone who has thrown out the playbook of traditional marketing and replaced it with only what is testable, trackable, and scalable.” He shows you examples of REAL growth hacking and gives plenty of ideas for how you can emulate them. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone looking for a low-cost alternative to traditional marketing. Creative marketers with small budgets will love this book. 

#7 Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal 

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products

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Learn how to ETHICALLY create and market habit forming products…

Why read this book: This book shines a light on the psychology of habit forming products and what we as marketers can do to ethically cater to our buyer’s basic human nature.

Who would benefit the most: Anyone looking to create “viral” products and find ways to get their products to encourage repeat, mass usage. If you have an app or software, you will love this book!

#8 Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

Why Read This Book: Building a brand is one of the best things any internet marketer can do to ensure that they continue to see consistent results over time. Russell is the king of creating a brand “cult-ure” and shares how you can build a loyal following yourself (without selling out). 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who sells or wants to sell their own information products or expertise in any form.

#9 Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert B Cialdini

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Learn how to ETHICALLY become more persuasive.

A classic book on the psychology behind persuasiveness and how we as marketers can use it to our advantage. 

Why Read This Book: This book breaks down why some individuals gain trust and respect (and customers) and others simply don’t. 

Who Would Benefit Most: Anyone who is looking to understand the psychology behind trust as they work to build a brand and persuade others. 

#10 The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

A Tim Ferriss Recommendation

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

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A beginner’s book good enough for Tim Ferriss to recommend

Why Read This Book: This book came highly recommended from Tim Ferriss so I jumped into it. It isn’t ground breaking but it is extremely valuable content. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: New marketers who want to get off on the right foot. This book is a great introduction to marketing and the 80/20 of what will drive your success. 

#11 The Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert W. Bly

The Copywriter's Handbook by Robert W. Bly

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#12 This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better by Neville Medhora

This Book Will Teach You How to Write Better by Neville Medhora

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#13 How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

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#14 Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

The best book on general writing. Ann goes beyond the bland rules we learned in grade school and shows how to make writing fun and engaging.

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

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Stop writing wrong…

No one writes about writing like Ann Handley… Ok, maybe Stephen King does, but this book is very relevant to how we write as digital marketers.  

Why Read This BookThis book will make you a better writer which will make you a better marketer. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Any marketers looking to improve the way they write and communicate with their audience. 

#15 Dot Com Secrets by Russell Brunson

Why Read This Book: This book is a must read for anyone looking to learn how to compose engaging email sequences that drive loyal fans and eventual sales.

I implemented some of the methods in this book, stored my new email sequences in ConvertKit, and haven’t looked back since. I wrote in detail about the 7 things I learned from the author about email automation. Most of what I learned can be found in this book.

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone looking to build a sustainable base of raving fans and/or anyone who uses the ClickFunnels software (click here to read my review of Clickfunnels).

I know, I know, Russell Brunson might seem to be over-represented here (this is his 3rd book on the list) but these books are absolutely gems. 

Why Read This Book: Even if you’re not a fan of Russell and the Clickfunnels “cult” like community, this book is full of literally dozens of quick action items that will help you understand how to get more traffic to your products. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who is struggling to drive traffic to their products or just wants more traffic. So, basically everyone who sells anything online.

Why Read This Book: Instead of competing with everyone and their brother in overly saturated niches, this book will teach you how to carve out your own unique space that you dominate and don’t have to compete with others. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who is tired of being in a market that is flooded with competition and is ready to leave the race to the bottom.

Why Read This Book: Chet Holmes is one of the most underrated marketers and authors in the entire field. Many of his concepts have been repurposed by people like Russell Brunson and Dana Derricks in their books. Basically, this is the book that planted the seed for other big books you’ve actually heard of.

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone who is looking to leverage influencers will find the concept on the Dream 100 to be especially valuable. 

#20 Invisible Selling Machine 

Invisible Selling Machine by Ryan Deiss

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Why Read This Book: Ryan Deiss, the founder of DigitalMarketer.com, is a genius when it comes to creating marketing automations. This book will show you how (among many other things) to create onboarding sequences that turn your leads into lifelong customers. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone looking to automate their marketing efforts more.

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