7 Must-Read Books For Digital Marketing Professionals

Mitchelle Viray

May 26, 2022

Are these recommended reads on your pile?

So that you can be well-rounded digital marketers, you need to be exposed to a lot of things. Things like data, process, management, leadership, and strategy, to name a few.

You need to learn, grow, push, and push some more. Unfortunately, time and budget for digital marketing training are not usually skewed to your advantage. What, then, can you do as an aspiring digital marketer?

Read. And do a great deal of it! Then, implement.

An article from Business Insider reports that Microsoft founder Bill Gates reads about a book a week. But what does that have to do with you? Well, simply that if you’re aspiring to become one of the Bill Gates of the world, then reading is a habit you need to pick up.

Here are a few titles to add to your bookshelf for starters, and wide readers, alike.

Essential reading for digital marketing professionals

To make your mark in this ever-changing digital world, you need a strong foundation. I’ve sorted through these books and picked out those that will help you broaden your horizons and empower you to take on any challenge with passion.

  1. Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t by James C. Collins
  2. Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin
  3. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  4. Peter Drucker on the Profession of Management
  5. David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants by Malcolm Gladwell
  6. Leaders Eat Last by Simon Sinek

1. ‘Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap… and Others Don’t’ by James C. Collins

“The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”

It’s a cliche, but it really is true: the moment you think of yourself as successful is when everything stops. But as any digital marketer knows – it’s not even close! Digital marketing is a strategic process that continuously evolves to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers.

As such, it’s crucial for digital marketers like yourself – who are pursuing their clients’ success at all costs – to never stop thinking about how you can either improve upon current strategies or implement new ones in order to achieve objectives as outlined by your company goals (and more).

If something isn’t working out exactly how we planned on doing things, then get back down into those weeds. There might just be an opportunity hiding underneath them!

2. ‘Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers’ by Seth Godin

“Permission Marketers are totally obvious about their objectives with the consumer.”

Times have changed. Consumers’ most coveted commodity is no longer a product, or the lack of other alternatives, but time.

It’s a tough world out there for marketers. With more and more noise, it becomes ever harder to get your customer’s attention without other brands or messages vying for their time.

Interruption marketing seems like a great idea at first. You spend money to get your message in front of people, but when there’s too much competition and clutter from other advertisers who also want their audience’s attention, you quickly realize that more isn’t better. It might even make things worse because no one can hear you anymore with all the noise around them.

Permission marketing, on the other hand, is a process. Yes, it may start with an interruption, but it pursues the objective of starting a dialogue with each customer until you gain their trust. Just like dating, it has to be anticipated, personal and relevant. It may take time but it’s definitely worth it. And because it is a process, it will result in an effective implementation when managed properly.

3. ‘The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business’ by Charles Duhigg

“Champions don’t do extraordinary things. They do ordinary things, but they do them without thinking too fast for the other team to react. They follow the habits they’ve learned.”

Every digital marketer’s success does not depend on how brilliant he is but on how he continuously practices excellence in every single thing that he does. And excellence is a result of gradual but consistent struggle to do better. How? By looking at your habits, understanding how these habits work, and curing those that restrict growth.

There is a three-step loop that’s happening in our brain: cue, routine, and reward. And from these three, routine is what we need to control, practice and master eventually. For instance, the need to provide visuals (cue). The usual digital marketer’s reward here is the high of seeing their creative juices exposed with brands out there. But the question is, how were they able to execute it? Is their routine process-based and time-bound? Are they driven by data and do they iterate fast? If not, they may still be able to reach their reward, but it will be too late to even be effective. Continue that kind of habit and no client will trust you anymore.

And so, with the growth of digital marketers over the years, you have no other choice but to work and think faster than they do and apply excellence as a way of life.

4. Peter Drucker on the ‘Profession of Management

“Many brilliant people believe that ideas move mountains. But bulldozers move mountains; ideas show where the bulldozers should go to work.”

Effective marketers are creative and dynamic, but it’s not an excuse for them to turn their back to process and management even if it is, most of the time, boring. Peter Drucker emphasized in this book the importance of the ongoing effort to balance change with continuity.

One question that might blow your mind is, how sure are you that every marketing activity (or established process, if you have) is aligned with your company’s overall mission?

As an example, once your creative team is able to connect the dots from your mission vision, goals, product, and services down to the level of your UI elements, then you’re almost sure that they’ve basically understood the importance of management and processes. They become professional marketers themselves, guided with structures.

5. ‘David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants’ by Malcolm Gladwell

“In reality, the very thing that gave the giant his size was also the source of his greatest weakness. There is an important lesson in that for battles with all kinds of giants. The powerful and the strong are not always what they seem.”

Every emerging or start-up company’s fear is to deal with the Goliaths, those established and well-known competitors in the industry. This book encourages not just businesses but individuals themselves to challenge the competitors’ weaknesses instead of playing their game which they were trained to excel at in the first place.

So how did David beat Goliath again? Instead of using strength and sword (which Goliath has tremendous advantage), he used his slingshot and hit Goliath on his weakest point, the middle of his eyes.

Digital marketers are supposedly trained Davids. Their ability to do SWOT analyses and identify market gaps should be superb enough to play well in the digiverse.

6. ‘Leaders Eat Last’ by Simon Sinek

“Letting someone into an organization is like adopting a child.”

I used to think that my empathy and nurturing attitude is the reason why I treat every team member of Propelrr as my own. This book placed me into the right perspective on how it is to be a true leader.

That is, to rush toward the danger and put my interest aside to protect my team and drive them into the future—just like a real parent does. Every marketer MUST be a team player. So ask yourself, are you protecting the members of your team or at least acting as a leader you wish you had?

7. ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ by Susan Cain

“The most effective teams are composed of a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, studies show, and so are many leadership structures.”

This last recommendation is something I hold very close as I am an introvert myself, breathing in an extrovert-ridden environment. It took time for me to accept my strengths and use them to my advantage. I don’t push myself to be in the limelight anymore, knowing that I can contribute more effectively as a thinker and implementer.

So, if you are an introvert who wants to pursue marketing or any field that the norm says should be led by extroverts, remember that you are as capable as they are. There is nothing wrong about being an introvert. It is not a disease that needs to be cured.

If you are an extrovert, on the other hand, don’t treat silence as a weakness. There is no correlation between being the best talker and having the brightest idea. Sometimes, it pays to be an observer.

There you have it. As I’ve said, there’s so much room to grow as a digital marketer, and you have to start somewhere. For me, reading these seven books (and more) is one of the best things I did for myself.

And while these are my personal recommendations, I would love to hear from you, too. Do let me know which books have influenced your life, especially as a marketer, by leaving your comments below.

Do you have your own recommendations to share to our readers? Write about it in a guest post, or share it with us via Facebook, X, or LinkedIn.