eBook vs. e-book vs. ebook: Guess Which Spelling Got Twice as Many Clicks

Estimated reading time: 8 minute(s)

A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but it wouldn’t get as many clicks. When it comes to copywriting and conversions, spelling matters—and in the case of spelling eBook, ebook, Ebook, or e-book, it can matter a lot.

Let’s dive into the data and explore what it means for getting the most ROI out of your copywriting.

Spelling Matters: “ebook” Outperforms “eBook” by 125%

In one pay-per-click experiment, “ebook” got more than twice as many clicks than “eBook”—nothing else changed in the ad, only the capitalization.

One version of the ad read:

Creating An Ebook?

Another variant read:

Creating an eBook?

And other read:

Creating an ebook?

After more than 70,000 impressions, the results were clear: “Ebook” and “ebook” got a 0.9% click-through-rate (CTR, i.e., 9 out of 1,000 people clicked on the ad). In sharp contrast, the “eBook” variant got a measly 0.4% CTR.

Before we banish eBook forever, there are a few catches: this experiment was conducted way back in 2006, and it neglected to test another popular variant: the hyphenated e-book.

E-book vs. eBook: To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate?

Fortunately, we don’t have to rely on one experiment—we can also turn to bigger data sets and the opinion of experts.

According to Google Trends, which measures relative search traffic over time, ebook or eBook has always been a lot more popular than e-book.

Similarly, Google nGram Viewer, which searches a corpus of English books, shows that eBook is almost three times more popular than e-book—at least in printed books up to 2008.

What do the expert style guides have to say? Strangely, they seem to go against the popular, unhyphenated usage: the AP Stylebook, The Chicago Manual of Style, the Buzzfeed Style Guide, and The New York Times all endorse the hyphenated e-book.

Don’t be surprised if the hyphen falls out of favor sooner rather than later. Famously, email used to be commonly spelled “e-mail”—The New York Times only dropped that hyphen in 2013, though other publications did so years earlier.

How Small Details Make a Big Impact on Conversion Rates

So, what spelling variant should you use? In short, there’s no right answer: whether you go with the popular ebook/eBook or the elite e-book, you’ll be able to justify your decision.

The real insight here is how seemingly miniscule tweaks can have an outsized impact on your conversation rates.

Michael Aagard and Oli Gardner from Unbounce found that changing one word in a call-to-action button nearly doubled clicks: going from “Start your free 30 day trial” to “Start my free 30 day trial” increased the CTR by 90%!

Copywriting seems intuitive enough—you might even think obsessing over word choice is excessive or inconsequential. These results show why that line of thinking is misguided at best.

Copywriting is indeed a finely honed craft, and things that might seem small—a hyphen here, a different word there—can make a big difference on your clicks, conversions, and revenue.

Get in touch with MarkeSmiths today to learn more about how high-ROI copywriting can drive more revenue for your business.

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Gregory Lewis

A winsome wordsmith, Gregory M. Lewis loves nothing better than absorbing new information and crystallizing it into clear, captivating copy. Greg brings his incisive insight and easy-going approach to every project. In his free time, the Chicago native can be spotted at Nets games, art galleries, and local concerts in Brooklyn.

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