Best Marketing Books of All Time

20 Greatest Marketing Book of All Time [2021 Update]

By Nate McCallister

Last Updated September 25, 2021


I've read more books on marketing than I can recall. When I first got bitten by the marketing bug in 2012, I admit, I probably 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. 

It's still quite a few books and it might take you years to actually get through them all, but I highly recommend that you prioritize these books over any of the new flavor of the week "me too" books that will come out down the road. 99% of that content will just be a rehashing of the content in these books.

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 and know are worth your time and energy.

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: The Definitive Guide to Working Less and Making More by Perry Marshall
$11.40

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.

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12/01/2021 01:01 am GMT
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This list isn't in order of most recommended,  but this is the exception. This is actually my #1 most recommended book for marketers.

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 disproportionately better than others. 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 and need to "trim the fat. This book will help you decide which things are worth continuing and which are wasting time, effort and money. 

#2 Ask by Ryan Levesque

Ask by Ryan Levesque
$12.99

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

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I got this book from Ryan for free through a promotion he was running which I have to admit made me skeptical at first. However, 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 and tagging 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 want to become more data driven and take the guess work out of what their customers want and how to best deliver it to them.

#3 The Conversion Code by Chris Smith

The Conversion Code by Chris Smith
$10.45

A unique look at direct advertising from a former black hat advertiser.

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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. The Conversion Code 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
$13.99

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.

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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.

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
$12.19

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

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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
$12.69

A quick read that might give you insights on how to dramatically speed up your chances of success.

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Why Read This Book: Growth hacking sounds sexy, most people don't get it though... Ryan get's it and wants you too as well...

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
$19.57

We are creatures of habit. This book shows us how to ethically create and market products that become a recurring part of the users life.

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Why read this book: Learn how to ETHICALLY create and market habit forming products. 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
$28.26

The gold standard for human psychology with real world applications to life and business. Everyone should read this, not just marketers.

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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
$14.99

A short book that gives you almost all of the core elements of marketing.

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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
$12.79

An awesome resource for copywriters. My second favorite book on the topic.

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Why Read This Book: The book all marketers should have on their desks. This book is loaded with actionable advice on all things related to copywriting. Some information is basic while some is more advanced.This book will teach you the fundamentals of copywriting and is an amazing resource to have handy. You don't need to read this book front to back to benefit from it. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone looking for a straightforward resource for the fundamentals of copywriting. 

#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
$5.00

You can devour this book in less than an hour and it will make you a better writer almost immediately.

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Why Read This BookThe shortest book on the list, Neville has been one of my favorite copywriters for a long time. He consistently writes emails, blog posts and sales pages that keep me interested and usually lead me to buying something. 

This is the "quick and dirty" guide to writing copy online and off. It is $5 book full of 6-7 figure insights. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone with an hour to read this but especially beginners. 

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

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
$10.99

Don't let the cheesy name fool you, this book is a gem. I recommend this book to everyone, not just marketers.

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Why Read This BookIt's hard to write any round up post about business related books and not want to share this one. So, why did I share a book written by someone who was gone long before we were in the age of "digital marketing?" Because what Carnegie shares about empathy and connecting with others is at the heart of ALL marketing. You won't learn ad hacks or web design skills in this book, but it could very well change the results you're getting from your marketing efforts. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: Anyone looking to develop more empathy with their audience and "get in touch" with the people they are targeting. 

#14 Everybody Writes by Ann Handley

Everybody Writes by Ann Handley
$13.39

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.

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Why Read This Book: 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.This 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).

#16 Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson

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Traffic Secrets by Russell Brunson
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An evergreen book on one of the most important aspects of marketing: driving endless amounts of traffic.

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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.

#17 Ogilvy On Advertising By David Ogilvy

Most Popular Advertising Book of All Time
Ogilvy on Advertising by David Ogilvy
$14.79

Although it was written in the 1980s, this book is timeless. Ogilvy is known as the "godfather of advertising," and failing to read this book is essentially a sin in the advertising and marketing community.

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Why Read This Book: An oldie but a goodie, this book pioneered modern advertising. It's full of principles that are just as applicable today as they were in 1985 when the original copy was written. 

Who Would Benefit the Most: More experienced marketers who appreciate the old school fundamentals.

#18 Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne

Blue Ocean Strategy by Kim, W. Chan & Renée Mauborgne
$15.78

Learn how to give yourself an unfair advantage by creating your own niche that is free of any competition.

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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.

#19 The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
$11.87

The Dream 100 concept alone makes this book worth its weight in gold.

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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
$9.95

I learned most of what I know about marketing automation from this book.

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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.

Want More Book Recommendations?  Check out my other website 21DayBlogs.com and read my 10 most recommended books for bloggers. Also, check out this article I love covering books on minimalism (a little off topic I know, but you're clearly an avid reader if you've made it this far!)

About the author

Nate is the founder and main contributor of EntreResource.com. He is a lifestyle entrepreneur who spends his time building businesses and raising his four kids Sawyer, Brooks, Van and Lua with his beautiful wife Emily. His main interests include copywriting, economics and piano.

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  1. Pingback: A Minimalistic Reading List for Hardcore Self-Education - entreresource.com
  2. Hi Nate McCallister,
    In addtion, i suggest this book: Content, Inc.: How Entrepreneurs Use Content to Build Massive Audiences and Create Radically Successful Businesses. Author Joe Pulizzi flips the traditional model. In this book, he argues that you must first develop great content and build audience before creating a product. Through a six-step process, you’ll learn how reversing the steps is key to market longevity, and can carry over into future endeavors.
    Hope it’s helpful for us.
    Cheer.
    Tony

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  4. Hey Tony, I actually just finished reading this (late comment I know). Absolutely a great read for sure!

  5. This is a great inspiring article.I am pretty much pleased with your good work.You put really very helpful information.

  6. Pingback: Your Reading Habit Might Be Holding You Back from Actual Success - EntreResource.com
  7. Love this!

    Some others I might add:

    1) Breakthrough Advertising – by Eugene Schwartz – legendary copywriting book that can be really hard to locate (and the shady PDF copies floating around the internet are not worth trying to read), but it’s well worth its weight in gold – especially in learning how to find and follow trends.

    2) Copywriting Secrets of a marketing rebel – John Carlton – I re-read this book over and over to try to let the insane lessons just seep into my brain.

    3) The 10x rule – Grant Cardone – Specifically, the audiobook – Uncle G’s kind of dominating social media these days, but this book is literally worth listening to over and over if you’re any sort of entrepreneur who has big goals

    Anyways…awesome post!

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  10. I would give it a check on all the points that you have mentioned here. Thanks for this!

  11. Hi Nate,

    Hypnotic Marketing by Joe Vitale is also an excellent book if you haven't read it yet.

    Excellent article, I might add.

  12. Pingback: The Self Development Reading Paradox – Extra Coupon Code
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