The 18 Best Digital Marketing Books in 2021

By Stacy |  Jan 17, 2022 (5 min read)

Career | Digital Marketing Training | Life in the Agency

A study by the National Endowment for the Arts found that only 43% of U.S. adults read any form of literature that’s not required for work or school. That’s disappointing as the habit of reading is widespread among some of the most successful people in the world.

Warren Buffet reads 500 pages a day, Mark Cuban reads 3 hours a day, and Bill Gates reads 50 books a year.  A successful digital marketer needs to possess a curiosity and an insatiable thirst for knowledge. This knowledge is prevalent in plenty of digital marketing books and guides authored by some of the most successful marketers in the world.

Digital marketing strategy is changing every few months, and whether you are looking at inbound marketing, social media strategy, affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, personal branding, or even conventional advertising, then you have to stay up to date.

If you are looking a for a good digital marketing book to get you started, here is our latest list of favorites in 2021.

Top 18 Digital Marketing Books to Read in 2021

1. What Customers Crave: How to Create Relevant and Memorable Experiences at Every Touchpoint | Nicholas J. Webb

“Insightful and pragmatic, this book provides the tools that organizations need to truly satisfy customers and orchestrate memorable experiences for them.” Publishers Weekly

Do you think you know your customers? The best companies in the world start by tirelessly researching their customer’s wants, needs, and desires. In the age of information, those insights are often difficult to discern. Within What Customers Crave, author and accomplished business strategist Nicholas Webb, simplifies the process into two straightforward questions: What do your customers love? What do your customers hate? 

In this book, you’ll learn how to foster relevant and unique customer experiences at every point of contact. Webb brilliantly deep dives into understanding how to delight a customer in every experience with your brand. Learn who your customers are and what they care about in the ever-changing age of the internet. 

2. Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Digital Distraction | Derek Thompson

“Hit Makers is thoughtful and thorough, a compelling book …. a terrific look at what makes a hit, from the Mona Lisa to Donald Trump.” Vox

In Hit Makers, Atlantic senior editor Derek Thompson explores the hidden psychology of why we like what we like and how the economics of mass cultural markets shape our entire lives. More specifically, Thompson analyzes the secret histories of pop culture hits and the science of popularity. As marketers, it’s extremely important to understand how ideas flow throughout society. We suggest you pick up a copy and learn more about interesting topics like why Facebook is the most important modern newspaper and why all Hollywood blockbusters are sequels.

3. Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You | John Hall

“John’s got his finger on something here―something important. Anyone interested in communicating effectively through content would do well to embrace the audience-centric approach outlined in Top of Mind.” Eric Hellweg, Managing Director at the Harvard Business Review

Top of Mind will teach you how to achieve top-of-mind distinction by engaging prospects, customers, and colleagues with a strategy Hellweg calls “you marketing.” This is essentially the idea that consistent and quality content makes people’s lives better by connecting people with what they value. In other words, your content needs to provide value! Rethink the way your business goes about marketing with Top of Mind from John Hall

4. Hacking Growth: How Today’s Fastest-Growing Companies Drive Breakout Success | Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

“A terrific book [that] belongs up there with Geoffrey Moore, Eric Ries and Steve Blank’s books as a fundamental part of the canon of StartUpLand” Jeff Bussgang, Harvard Business School Lecturer, and general partner at Flybridge Capital Partners
From the mind of Morgan Brown and Sean Ellis (inventor of the phrase growth hacking), Hacking Growth dives into the origin of growth hacking. Included are countless real-life examples from high growth companies like DropBox and LogMeIn. Furthermore, the book is split up into two distinct sections: The Growth Method and The Growth Playbook. Hacking Growth is a must-read for any entrepreneur or business owner looking to successfully scale a business.

5. Ogilvy on Advertising | David Ogilvy

A candid and indispensable primer on all aspects of advertising from the man Time has called “the most sought after wizard in the business.”

Sometimes to understand how to create a modern marketing campaign, you must look at the history of advertising. Published in 1985 well before digital marketing was even thing, this book is still a must-read for anyone in marketing and advertising. That’s because David Ogilvy, “the father of advertising,” principles and teachings ring even truer today than when the book was released. Learn the secrets behind advertising that actually works and how to come up with ROI generating copy.

6. Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products | Nir Eyal

“Hooked gives you the blueprint for the next generation of products. Read Hooked or the company that replaces you will.” Matt Mullenweg, Founder of WordPress

You may not think about it much, but most of our daily product use is heavily based on habit. This book by Nir Eyal explores why people engage with certain products and why other products fail. You’ll learn the four-step process for making products that attract users. This process of a trigger, action, action, reward, and investment is a proven principle used by some of the fastest-growing startups in the technology space. 

7. Lean Analytics: Use Data to Build a Better Startup Faster | Alistair Croll & Benjamin Yoskovitz

“Your competition will use this book to outgrow you.” Mike Volpe, Hubspot.

Founded on the principles laid out by the lean startup, Lean Analytics shows you how to utilize one simple metric to fuel your entire growth strategy. The author backs up his claims with case in-depth case studies from companies like LinkedIn, Airbnb, and PayPal. When it’s all said and done, reading this Lean Analytics help you determine the best and most effective metric to utilize with your startup. 

8. The Road to Recognition | Seth Price & Barry Feldman

“There are plenty of smart people and resources in this industry, but few think about the delivery and reader experience like Seth and Barry. If you’re a believer in books that are both nutritious AND delicious, you’re in luck.” Jay Acunzo, Founder of Unthinkable.fm

If nothing else, this book displays the immense importance of branding and more specifically personal brands. This thorough guide provides you with 26 lessons on how to develop a successful personal brand. Most importantly, The Road to Recognition displays insights from plenty of accomplished business people who benefited from their own personal brand. 

9. Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves | Adam L. Penenberg

“Penenberg has unlocked the secret to the most successful digital businesses. An indispensable read.” Robert Safian, Editor-in-Chief, Fast Company

Viral Loop is a primer on the power of shared content in the age of the internet. Adam L. Penenberg, an accomplished writer from The New York Times and WIRED, gives a detailed account of how online products were designed to go viral. This includes first-hand accounts from companies like Facebook, eBay, Twitter, and Flickr. At the end of the day, we suggest reading this book for an in-depth background on designing a product for mass scale.

10. Contagious: Why Things Catch On | Jonah Berger

“Jonah Berger knows more about what makes information ‘go viral’ than anyone in the world.” Daniel Gilbert, Professor of Psychology, Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness

“Word of mouth is 10 times as effective as traditional advertising, but why do people talk about and share certain things rather than others? Why do some products catch on, some ideas diffuse, and some online content go viral?” This is the basic premise for Berger’s book that’s gone almost as viral as the concepts mentioned in the book. Learn the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. We love this book because it pairs extremely thorough research with real-life compelling examples. 

11. Marketing Made Simple | Donald MIller

Lots of marketing agencies will tell you that you need new logos, color schemes, slick landing pages and a lot more window dressing to succeed in the world of mobile marketing and lead generation. But without a sales funnel in place, most of your marketing efforts simple won’t work. If you’ve been wasting money on a marketing agency with no results, author Donald Miller will help you figure out why. He offers an easy-to-understand blueprint in Marketing Made Simple to increase sales, grow your mission, and connect with potential customers.

12. The Ultimate Sales Machine | Chet Holmes

“This book will be a classic for as long as businesses seek to improve their profits, their sales, and their futures.” Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the Guerrilla Marketing series

Despite its title, The Ultimate Sales Machine isn’t solely about sales but also scaling a business from all funnels of marketing. You’ll learn Chet Holme’s same processes for time management, running teams, and how to optimize every stage of your marketing channel. We like to think of this book as an official guide for new CEOs. 

13. Digital Sense: The Common Sense Approach to Effectively Blending Social Business Strategy, Marketing Technology, and Customer Experience | Travis Wright & Chris J. Snook

“In order to truly succeed as a human organization you must create organization-wide digital sense and this book gives you a playbook and the inspiration to lead that transformation.” Bryan Kramer (bestselling author, keynote and TED speaker, and CEO)

Nowadays, it’s all about customer satisfaction. If you’re not fulfilling a need in a convenient way, your customers or clients can certainly look for other options. This book teaches anyone interested in business how to create a more engaging customer experience strategy. Furthermore, Digital Sense dives into how companies can better compete in the market by meeting customers where they are and engaging with them in novel way. 

14. Invisible Influence: The Hidden Forces That Shape Behavior | Jonah Berger

“Jonah Berger has done it again: written a fascinating book that brims with ideas and tools for how to think about the world.” Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit

From the author of Contagious, Invisible Influence explores the idea that we believe we have greater control over our everyday decision making than we actually do. More specifically, we are all susceptible to the power of social selling. We recommend this bok to marketers of all levels as it helps you understand the hidden factors that shape our behavior. 

15. Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World | Adam Grant

“Reading Originals made me feel like I was seated across from Adam Grant at a dinner party, as one of my favorite thinkers thrilled me with his insights and his wonderfully new take on the world.” Malcolm Gladwell, author of Outliers and The Tipping Point

Originals is a New York Times bestseller that delves into how people can foster new and revolutionary ideas. Grant draws upon his insights from business, politics, sports, personal life, and entertainment to explain how to recognize a good idea at the source. More specifically, anyone in business will love the ideas expressed about building a team of leaders and choosing the right time to act. 

16. Digital Marketing for Dummies | Ryan Deiss & Russ Hennebery 

“Content that is over-delivered. Great stuff!! An enlightening overview and comprehensive coverage of digital marketing. Empowering and truly inspirational!” Amazon Reviewer

We’ve all seen the bright highlighter yellow “For Dummies” books that give you amazing step by step overviews to all different skills, hobbies, jobs, trades, and more. The digital marketing version is no exception. The friendly guide teaches you the fundamentals of various forms of digital marketing strategies and tactics in order to spread the reach of your brand, boost audience engagement, and build up customers. You’ll learn everything from up to date best practices in SEO and SEM to the latest ways to utilize content and influencer marketing. For a less pretentious guide to digital marketing, put Digital Marketing for Dummies on your must-read list.

17. HELLO MY NAME IS AWESOME | Alexandra Watkins

“Your company or product probably needs all the help it can get. Watkins helped me name my firm, and I’m constantly told what a great name it is. Don’t pick a name until you’ve read Watkins’s book—you’ll want to have a name that you love forever!” Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, author of Open Leadership, and co-author of Groundswell

Hello My Name is Awesome is the premier guide to naming your product and business. Now updated, the second edition includes a full-scale reboot with twice as many resources and stories around the most and least successful names out there. This book will provide you with brainstorming tools, techniques, secrets, and strategies to steal the best available domain name and get your brand started off on the right path. A company isn’t a company without a name. Find yours with a little help from author Alexandra Watkins.

18. Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints & Keep Your Customers | Jay Baer 

“If you’re not already hugging and loving your haters, then I can’t think of a better time to start doing so than right now!” FORBES

Jay Baer believes your haters aren’t your problem, but completely ignoring them is. He believes a rise in consumer complaints is a huge opportunity and catalyst for turning better customer service into a marketing advantage. 80% of companies claim they offer exceptional customer service but only 8% of customers agree. Jay runs through the critical steps necessary to retain and please customers in the age of the internet when customer service has become a crazy rollercoaster ride for businesses.

Why All Digital Marketers Should Read More Books

When it comes to advancing in a digital marketing career, books might not be your first thought. Here at Brandastic, we absolutely love books and have found plenty of amazing reads that help advance the thinking of any marketer. Not to mention, reading helps you reduces stress and is an amazing brain exercise. Put down that phone or iPad and pick up a book to learn some new skills and relax.

Looking to improve your online presence? Brandastic is a digital marketing and advertising agency with offices in offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, and Austin. We specialize in web development, SEO, and social media advertising. Contact us to ignite your potential and start growing your business.

Every Brand Has a Story to Tell.

Let us help you tell it.
Free Consultation