Are you one of those who think that the days of the white paper are over? Think again because the truth is far from this. In fact, do it right and it may turn out to be just what you need to connect to your audience at a deeper level.
The question isn’t whether or not to use a white paper, but it is about using it in a way that enables one to leverage this
In case you’re wondering why the white paper isn’t going anywhere, the answers are pretty clear. It is here to stay for the following three crucial reasons:
How often do you come across content that genuinely strives to add value to your life, rather than present sales pitches in a bid to sell you things you may not even need? A white paper isn’t trying to sell you anything, but its objective is to provide you with rich, substantive content that educates.
White papers do not bore the audience with things they already know. Rather, their aim is to provide new ideas that encourage innovative thinking. This prompts the audience to think independently and make informed decisions.
Customers are always on the lookout for well-researched, well-thought-out points of view on issues that matter to them. White papers clearly communicate relevant data and well-researched findings. Such information is key to content that resonates with clients and prospects and will be lapped up by them.
Research findings indicate that white papers make for one of the five most important marketing tactics for B2B businesses.
Further, according to TopRank, white papers get 71% votes when it comes to the top content marketing tactics and 63% votes for being the most effective B2B content marketing tactics.
The importance of white papers as a means to document information cannot be overlooked. Brands can have an enhanced content marketing strategy if they are successful in drafting high-quality white papers. They can use them to promote and highlight key features of their products and services, or arrive at a solution to industry-specific problems, thereby increasing sales in the long term.
Mentioned ahead are a few other ways in which incorporating white papers in their content marketing strategy can help brands.
Sure, people will visit your website and go through your blog! But, have thought how much time that will take to generate leads. A white paper, on the other hand, helps you do so very quickly. Because it educates audiences, it easily convinces them to trust you and buy your products.
Boosting Social Media Fandom
Being on social media platforms should always be a part of your content marketing strategy. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, you need to be where your prospects are. Their ‘Likes,’ tweets and comments can help you generate both, quality traffic and new leads. A white paper can help you in this as well.
You can let your profile visitors know that they will be able to access your white paper only after they ‘Like’ your page. This technique will not only help you get social media followers, but also a lot of readers for your newsletter.
Increasing Newsletter Sign-ups
A robust content marketing strategy is incomplete without the inclusion of newsletters. The main reason for this is that you can send your direct marketing messages through it. Not only that, newsletters help you engage and stay in touch with your readers by sending them the latest posts, news and offers.
However, it can be hard to get people to register or sign up for your newsletters, but sign ups can be increased through white papers. You can let your readers know that they can receive a copy of your educative white paper only after they sign up for your newsletter. You can then send out your newsletters to your readers, build relationships, increase blog traffic and generate leads.
Revive Old Blog Posts
When creating a white paper, do make it a point to include links to your blog and certain specific pages that you want to highlight. This tactic works particularly well when you want to explain complicated terms or provide more information about a particular topic. These links will also help direct traffic towards and breathe life into your old posts.
So you’re sold on the idea and want to make the most of the above benefits? For this, you need to create powerful white papers. The following tips will help you with this:
Focus On Solving Problems
A white paper essentially provides solutions to problems and prompts an action. You, therefore, need to keep up with that and provide solutions to problems faced by your readers. This, of course, means finding what their biggest problem is in the first place.
Through your white paper, you can display your expertise in the chosen subject and keep them coming back to you and even hire your services when needed.
Keep Them Crisp and Concise
You need to make your white paper easy-to-read, which is why it is suggested to keep it short and crisp. Remember, your readers will always prefer reading a short white paper to a long and verbose one.
According to a Pardot survey, 70% of B2B buyers believe written marketing content should be limited to five pages. This could mean that your white paper may not find an audience if your white paper is too long.
Of course, if you are covering complicated topics or products, some pieces may need to be longer than five pages. Still, make every effort to keep it as concise as possible.
Let Them Be Functional
Let’s face facts. Even though you produce white papers to educate your audience, the main intention is to bolster sales. However, take care that you do not end up compromising on the quality of the content you offer and make it more like a sales pitch.
Remember, your readers are coming to you because they want to be educated and/or are looking for thought leadership. This means you need to prioritize providing quality information over everything else.
Being transparent and honest in presenting your content will bring more trust and goodwill. Avoid turning the white paper into a sales catalogue at all costs.
One of the most difficult, yet important aspects of creating successful white papers is providing ideas and insights that are original and unique. Succeed in doing this and your white paper will surely be widely read and shared.
Avoid recycling previously-used data from other infographics and blogs. Keep in mind that white papers are supposed to dole out original information in every sense of the term. This means planning for and setting aside ample time and resources to collate fresh data and improvise on new ideas.
Most of all, ensure that the content you churn out is actually useful to the reader. The tricky thing about a white paper is that it can be original and candid, but add little or no value to the life of the reader. The reasons for this can be several, ranging from choosing the wrong topic to releasing it at the wrong time.
The answer to this predicament lies in using analytics as they will help you put everything in numbers. Analytics are the best means to figure out the elements that are crucial to the success of the white paper such as the number of readers accessing your content, the sections that are being consumed, and those which are being abandoned. This will help you understand what your readers find useful and appealing and you will be able to craft white papers accordingly.
Using analytics does not ensure that all of your content will be exceptional. Chances are some of them may not make the mark. However, rest assured that analytics will enable you to learn from your mistakes and persistently improve your content.
Take Care of the Form
While delivering great content is one challenge, putting it out in way that it is easily accessible and readable is a different ball game altogether.
Be careful when releasing your content in the PDF format as sometimes, your fonts and graphics will change on smaller screens and the readers will be left squinting and/or zooming in to read, which will only cause immense inconvenience. This, in turn, will reduce your readership.
Further, white papers published via large PDFs may take a long time to load, which is undesirable. Google says that fast and optimized pages lead to higher visitor engagement, retention, and conversions.
This should speak volumes of the importance of quick loading time. Bulky PDFs replete with images and charts can take time to load, especially on a slow connection.
If you’re a small business looking for ways to generate valuable content for your audiences, then white papers may be the way out of this conundrum. The number of online consumers is only growing, which means that the demand for content that offers helpful tips, tools and resources will also surge.
Brands will need to find new and better ways to meet this demand. As established above, white papers are a potent marketing tool that brands can use to generate and educate leads and grow business. But of course, you need to create them the right way. Using solid copywriting will enable effective content marketing techniques to succeed.
Pratik Dholakiya is the Founder of Preceptist, a content marketing agency for SaaS businesses.