The best online marketing books and resources (that all our team members study)

Published: December 2022

The following are the 18 “must have” marketing books and resources—part of a (much longer) reading list our team members study during their onboarding.
A bookshelf
These are a few of our favorite books.

So you can get as much value as quickly as possible from the list, we recommend first reading nineteen tips for digesting books rapidly (and none involve speed‑reading).

By the way, some older ones may be a little dated in style and tone, but the principles are timeless.

(We don’t profit from these recommendations, and the article doesn’t contain affiliate links.)

Marketing and advertising

My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising

My Life in Advertising and Scientific Advertising by Claude Hopkins

Claude was part salesman, part scientist. He spent most of his life measuring what works and what doesn’t in advertising. It’s almost unbelievable that Claude wrote the book in 1923. It’s still one of the best books on marketing and advertising. Claude was born 85 years too early; he’d have loved the internet. The book is in the public domain, so free to read.

The Dip

The Dip by Seth Godin

“Being the best in the world is seriously underrated” is the first sentence of this book. It’s perhaps the most convincing argument we’ve seen for why a company (or a person) must position itself (or themself).

And it’s only 80-ish pages long.

My First Sixty Years In Advertising

My First Sixty Years In Advertising by Maxwell Sackheim

The legendary direct-response copywriter Maxwell Sackheim describes how one of his most significant breakthroughs came when he started to introduce “romance.”

Web Analytics-An Hour a Day

Web Analytics—An Hour a Day by Avinash Kaushik

Avinash is one of the world’s leading web analytics gurus. We met him at Google’s headquarters, where he spends a lot of time working with the Google Analytics team.

Analytics can be a dry subject, and Avinash is great at focusing on how to use it as a practical tool for optimizing a business. Based on his experience running a company’s analytics department, his approach focuses on practical, profitable activities, not just getting lost in data and theory. As a result, this book contains a lot of good advice. Pages 237–262 cover testing.

Avinash also has a great blog to help you keep up to date.


The 16-Word Sales Letter

The 16-Word Sales Letter™ by Evaldo Albuquerque

A very short book that helps you focus on the core aspects of a sales message that could help you generate millions in online sales.

The Bencivenga 100 Seminar

The Bencivenga 100 Seminar by Gary Bencivenga

The best copywriting course by far.

Bencivenga spent the last 38 years painstakingly testing and collecting the most powerful marketing and copywriting techniques. He reveals all his secrets in this course so that you can boost your conversions and become “independently wealthy as a copywriter or marketer.”

Keys to Great Writing

Keys to Great Writing by Stephen Wilbers

Keys to Great Writing is our favorite concise summary of the mechanics of writing well. Even if you didn’t enjoy English classes at school, you might enjoy this book. We imagine it would appeal to programmers. It’s a non-waffly guide to writing, full of logic and advice that works.

The Elements of Style

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

Skip the first half of this book (sorry, Strunk!). Instead, read the second half (the section written by E.B. White), which concisely describes how to write clearly—and why it’s essential to do so.

Tested Advertising Methods (4th edition)

Tested Advertising Methods (4th edition) by John Caples

(Though hard to find, try to get the 4th edition with red text on a white cover.)

Caples is a copywriting legend. His classic masterpiece reveals how you can write high-converting copy that appeals to buyers’ emotions.


Selling the Invisible

Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith

(Especially the chapter on positioning entitled “The More You Say The Less People Hear: Positioning and Focus”.)

Selling the Invisible is the essential guide to marketing services. Unlike products, services are intangible. They are invisible. So how do you sell, develop and make them grow?

When it comes to marketing and selling, the difference between products and services can be enormous. This book provides short, easy-to-read lessons.

DotCom Secrets

DotCom Secrets by Russell Brunson

Are you struggling to increase traffic to your website and convert that traffic? In many cases, you may have a “funnel” problem. This book is an excellent guide to ensuring that your company has a good sequence of offers and price points. (No need to read the final third of it, which is just the scripts.)

Your Music and People

Your Music and People by Derek Sivers

In the past, we read and loved a series of short articles by our friend Derek Sivers, founder of CDBaby. It’s about the music industry, but it applies to all businesses—in fact, we think it should be called “Careers advice for anyone who creates content”—as learned from a career in the music industry, the most competitive content market on Earth.

The E-Myth Revisited

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber

Inc Magazine called Michael Gerber “the world’s #1 small business guru.” The big idea is that the business owner should go from being what Gerber calls a “technician” (a doer) to an entrepreneur.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Innovation and Entrepreneurship by Peter Drucker

This book can be hard work (especially the first chapter). Still, it’s a great guide to many aspects of entrepreneurship, particularly the “Entrepreneurial Strategies” and the “Seven Sources for Innovative Opportunity.”

Web design and usability

Don’t Make Me Think

Don’t Make Me Think by Steve Krug

Perhaps you already own this book (if you don’t, buy it now!). We are amazed by how many people own it, read it, love it, and then don’t do what it says!

This book’s most important point is ensuring you carry out usability tests. Rather than wait for the book to arrive, ask your neighbors to test your website—now! Watch them make mistakes, get lost, and hear them tell you all the things that Google Analytics never could.

Designed For Use

Designed For Use by Lukas Mathis

This book is less entertaining than Don’t Make Me Think, but it covers more usability concepts. It teaches you how to design sites that people will not only use but will love.

Clean Code

Clean Code by Robert C. Martin

This book argues that developers must follow the Boy Scout Rule: “Leave the campground cleaner than you found it”—and that if all developers did that, “code could not rot.”

It is incredibly relevant to website development. But, unfortunately, most websites deteriorate with time—to the point that they become almost uneditable. Yet, surprisingly, few developers—or companies recognize the value of tidying, refactoring, and improving code readability. Martin’s principles will help you save countless hours and significant resources lost because of poorly written code—and help you iteratively improve your website as fast as possible.

Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

Making Websites Win

Making Websites Win by Dr Karl Blanks and Ben Jesson

Making Websites Win (written by us) tells you how to apply the customer-centric methodology that has doubled the sales of many leading websites. It tells you what successful web businesses do differently (and others get wrong)—and how to easily identify your website’s biggest opportunities. It’s a treasure trove of proven solutions for growing businesses.

Download a free copy of Making Websites Win by subscribing to our email newsletter.

We read a lot of marketing books. Unfortunately, not many of them contain advice that wins A/B tests. If you have discovered any marketing books that have measurably increased your sales, we’d love to hear what they are.

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