The Digital Marketing Essential Reader

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Blogs, Podcasts, Twitter and YouTube will only take you so far. If you really want to learn about Digital Marketing, you’re going to have to do the heavy lifting.

In self-promoting my upcoming full-day seminar on Social Media Marketing (more on that here: Learning About Social Media Marketing), there was a "suggested reading list" compiled at the end that is worthy of its own unique Blog post. If there is one thing that will help you navigate the ever-changing world of Digital Marketing, a good old-fashioned business book on the topic simply can’t be beat. Following are the best of the best…

The Top 20 Digital Marketing Business Books (in alphabetical order):

  1. The Cluetrain ManifestoRick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls & David Weinberger.
  2. Crush It!Gary Vaynerchuk.
  3. GroundswellJosh Bernoff & Charlene Li.
  4. Here Comes EverybodyClay Shirky.
  5. Life After The 30-Second SpotJoseph Jaffe.
  6. The Long TailChris Anderson.
  7. Made To Stick – Chip & Dan Heath.
  8. The New Community RulesTamar Weinberg.
  9. The New InfluencersPaul Gillen.
  10. The New Rules of Marketing & PRDavid Meerman Scott.
  11. Purple CowSeth Godin.
  12. Tribes – Seth Godin.
  13. Trust AgentsChris Brogan & Julien Smith.
  14. Waiting For Your Cat To BarkBryan & Jeffrey Eisenberg.
  15. Web Analytics 2.0 – Avinash Kaushik.
  16. Web Analytics – An Hour A DayAvinash Kaushik.
  17. What Would Google Do? Jeff Jarvis.
  18. The Whuffie FactorTara Hunt.
  19. WikinomicsDon Tapscott.
  20. Word of Mouth MarketingAndy Sernovitz.

What’s missing? What’s on your list?


  1. I’m a huge fan of “World Wide Rave” by David Meerman Scott. It’s a great starting point for anyone wanting to get into digital marketing. I would also recommend “Hey Whipple! Squeeze This” by Luke Sullivan – as supplemental reading for what makes great advertising/marketing.

  2. What a perfect list Mitch, it’s more like a reference guide for Social Media that you’ve put together there.
    I’d add these for different reason, but all relating to the digital marketing world:
    Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers
    by Seth Godin
    Viral Loop: From Facebook to Twitter, How Today’s Smartest Businesses Grow Themselves
    by Adam L. Penenberg
    Social Media 101: Tactics and Tips to Develop Your Business Online
    by Chris Brogan
    and of course:
    Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone.
    by Mitch Joel

  3. Mitch — I know it sounds like I’m puckering up, but as I mentioned before on this blog, I’ve been recommending “Six Degrees of Separation” by Mitch Joel to just about everybody I come across who’s an entrepreneur or marketer, and I am currently getting enthusiastic texts from a new biz owner I’ve lent my own copy to. Don’t omit your own book from the list! What I like best about it is 1) you’re a trained journalist, so it’s a beautiful read, and 2) it clearly explains the characteristics of the marketing paradigm shift from old to new, in a way anybody can understand. Love that book.
    Dan Zarrella’s “social media marketing” is my second choice — very different, less conceptual and all practical how-to tips, but quite invaluable as a map to the landscape.
    Sheila Averbuch — ENN

  4. This list is fantastic! Thanks for sharing this Joel!
    I would include three great books.
    First, I agree with Amod Munga (previews comment) about “World Wide Rave” by David Meerman Scott.
    Second, I MOST DEFINITELY agree with Joe Sorge (previews comment) about your book: “Six Pixels of Separation: Everyone Is Connected. Connect Your Business to Everyone”. Your book is a classic!
    Third, I would include “Engage” by Brian Solis
    Once again, thanks for sharing such remarkable list!
    All the best

  5. I’d add, in alphabetical order:
    Engage, by Brian Solis
    Me 2.0, by Dan Schawbel
    Social Media 101, by Chris Brogan
    Social Media Marketing in an Hour a Day, by Dave Evans
    Twitter Marketing in an Hour a Day, by Hollis Thomases

  6. Crazy as it may seem – How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
    Equally crazy – Think and Grow Rich – Hill
    Growing up Digital – Tapscott

  7. So many of these books presuppose the fact that you have compelling content to share, and they are excellent guides to help you use social media to spread that content. However, there are lots of ways people can hone their skills at improving the quality of their digital content. As such, I recommend:
    Presentation Zen Design by Garr Reynolds – It’s primarily about designing presentations but almost all of the lessons are applicable to any kind of digital content.
    The Elements of Story by Francis Flaherty – This is a fantastic book about writing non-fiction that can help anyone improve the quality of their writing.

  8. Great list Mitch! I too would add the recent additions of:
    Social Media 101-Chris Brogan
    Engage – Brian Solis
    Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs – Brian Halligan and Dharmesh Shah
    The Social Media Marketing Book – Dan Zarrella (good quick handy primer)
    and of course….Six Pixels!

  9. Some have been said already, but my book lists includes
    Six Pixels of Separation by Yourself
    Linchpin by Seth Godin
    Building a WordPress Blog People Want to Read by Scott McNulty
    The Dip by Seth Godin
    Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business by Erik Qualman
    Twitterville by Shel Israe
    Dandelion Marketing (ebook) by Jeremy Epstein
    Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky
    It’s All on the Blog, Don’t Buy the Book by Jeremy Epstein
    Chris Brogan (All of Them)
    Seth Godin (Yep All Them To)

  10. Certainly “Six Pixels Of Separation” deserves to be on that list. In agreement with everyone else on that one. Mitch is just being humble. 🙂
    @Mike Brewer, I would definitely supplement Tapscott’s “Growing Up Digital” with its sequel “Grown Up Digital”. Fantastic read, and one of the few follow-ups that I would say is actually better than its predecessor. Together, they offer an interesting and often surprising look at the net generation.
    Another great addition to this list would be David Weinberger’s “Everything Is Miscellaneous”. A wonderfully detailed look at the new laws of organizing information and how to make things available/accessible to everyone.
    For an alternative look at how some of the rules are changing in the online, everyone-can-create-anything era, I really recommend “Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy” by Lawrence Lessig. Currently reading it and have nothing but great things to say…

  11. Great list Mitch, and other good suggestions in the previous comments. A couple other books I’d like to mention are The Corporate Blogging Book by Debbie Weil, The Mobile Marketing Handbook by Kim Dushinski and Now is Gone by Geoff Livingston.
    I was lucky enough to hear and meet Andy Sernovitz last Friday (as well as get him to sign a couple copies of his book Word of Mouth Marketing). I am pleased to see that on the list as it has a lot of great info.

  12. You practice what you preach Mitch, but please add your own book with is a gem by the way :
    Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne
    Web Analytics par Nicolas Malo et Jacques Warren
    Social Media 101, by Chris Brogan
    Six Pixels of Separation, by Mitch Joel
    Twitterville, by Shel Israel
    Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business, by Erik Qualman
    Growing Up Digital, by Don Tapscot

  13. From a nonprofit perspective, Momentum by Allison Fine. She and Beth Kanter have a new book coming out. I read the manuscript and it is also very good – coming out in June.

  14. Mitch – you are too modest – your book has to be on a top 20 list. Interesting you left off one of the first, a bit dated now, but Naken Conversations – Scoble and Israel.
    Also lets not forget classivcs set the tone for what is done so, How to Win Friends and Influence People – Dale Carnegie
    Just my toonies worth!

  15. Mitch,
    Thanks for the list . Great titles all.
    I agree, as has already been mentioned or implied, that one needs to understand more than the basics of how Web 2.0 works to succeed in this arena. Others have already noted a book that I put high on the list that is not necessarily web-centric
    Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds, as well as recent follow-up: Presentation Zen Design.
    Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss. A grammar book that is fun to read. For whatever reason good grammar often goes by the wayside in Web 2.0. Let’s see if we can bring it back a bit 🙂
    A book on manners would also be in order — another thing that is often overlooked in social media circles (sorry don’t have a specific title).
    And as for the more obvious titles, many of these have been mentioned by now but here goes:
    Content Nation, John Blossom
    Grown Up Digital, Don Tapscott
    Marketing to the Social Web, Larry Webber
    PR 2.0, Deirdre Breakenridge
    Web 2.0: A Strategy Guide, Amy Shuen
    The Facebook Era, Clara Shih
    And last but not least, Mitch, your own tome: Six Pixels of Separation.

  16. Great list Mitch and even more fantastic list of crowdsourcing additions, To that point, I would add Crowdsourcing by Jeff Howe and the other two Jaffe books:
    – Join the Conversation
    – Flip the Funnel
    Since the list runs the gamut from intro to advanced, what about segmenting it into a couple of categories like that?

  17. All of the above or almost but this list would not be complete without
    The wisdom of crowds by James Surowiecki, Citizen Marketers by Ben McConnell & Jackie Huba and to get a brand dimension, The Brand Bubble by John Gerzema and Ed Lebar

  18. I’ll second David Horne and Dusty. Inbound marketing was a fantastic marketing book. It gives a very holistic view of how content creation, seo and social media should tie together.

  19. I would suggest adding
    Winning in a world transformed by technologies
    by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff
    Of particular interest, a social technology profile tool to understand how social technologies are adopted by various groups of people in order to build the appropriate social strategy… that tool is available online. Check it out =)

  20. Hi Mitch. Wonderful reading list. I’ve read about half of the books you have posted on this list. I’ve wondered about several of the others, especially “New Community Rules.” I’ll have to pick a couple of the others up.
    If I could recommend a book for this list, it would be “Tribal Leadership.”
    Thanks for the list and all of your efforts.

  21. GREAT list. Most of those books keep floating around but I’ve never taken the time to put them in a list. This will make an excellent reading list of the next few months.

  22. Just catching up on older posts, I find it interesting how many of us digiterati are recommending and reading books, traditional long form information dissemination. Is everyone here reading on paper or screens?

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