Today’s marketing is impossible without the most efficient tools of representation for the brand, company, goods, and services. Anything can happen when it comes to customer decision-making. To attain desirable ordering and purchasing decisions from your target audience, you need to utilize every approach in digital marketing.
Many marketers are focused on video marketing with detailed webinars and how-to guides to increase brand reputation and generate more leads. Although white papers are still vital for reporting on education, onboarding, explaining different phenomena, theory of operation and performance, benefits, and prospects.
What Are White Papers?
It is a common misconception that written-word reports are not the subject of end-user interest. According to the Demand Gen report, about 71% of purchasers used white papers in 2018 for their decision-making purposes. It goes without saying that this documentation is best to demonstrate the company’s expertise and represent the B2B marketer’s product in an easy-to-understand way.
White papers contain key information about the goods, services, and mode of operation of any strategy or conception in action. Illustrations, infographics, charts, tables with statistics, and imagery help to fully disclose basics and peculiarities. That is why sharing information using white papers is considered one of the most powerful tools for lead generation. It also increases end-user decision-making through the full extent of authoritative data.
White Papers as a Lead Generation Tool
In the context of marketing, white papers have become a powerful lead generation tool. They attract prospects and are essential for the second stage in the sales funnel. White papers are used for capturing leads. That is why the creation of practical guidance that suits the specific needs of your target audience is a must, along with other lead generation practices such as:
- Email marketing (by means of email newsletters, conversational marketing, and other approaches);
- Social media marketing (lead generation together with growing the brand’s audience);
- Story-telling (lead-generating videos, stories about employees’ experiences and work culture);
- Regular blogging (creating helpful content and lead magnets, adding CTAs and lead forms to blog articles).
Remember that B2B lead generation is based on approaches that convince potential consumers that the product or services offered by the company or brand are worth their attention and will likely become the best choices among others in their niche. White papers force leads to convert into standing customers because:
- They are qualitative and well-thought-out educational marketing tools.
- White papers increase the trust and authority of the company or brand.
- This documentation includes figures, guides, and descriptive content essential for decision-making.
- White papers solve complex issues potential users face in the first stages of the product/service introduction.
- This is the most effective way to represent the innovative conception and special features of the service or product while comparing it to the competitors’.
- White papers are a great alternative to the traditional ads and sales pitches people are tired of.
Additionally, white papers are among the most shared content formats for peers and staff members. Both B2B companies and employees get helpful insights with the help of these corporate documents. With blog posts and case studies at the top of sharing-friendly marketing insights, white papers are up to par with webinars and infographics.
6 Tips and Hacks on How to Create High-Converting White Papers
It is worth noting that lead-generating white papers are those that hit the target and bring hot leads in the B2B market. To make them efficient for your business as essential lead generator tools, follow the tips on creating high-converting white papers.
1. Define Your Audience
The main audience of white papers is business decision-makers. This category of readers includes both buyers and partners for the company’s scaling and improvement of brand performance. Along with the external audience, tech decision-makers are the largest group of users to target. These are users who are searching for a specific solution to their challenges and needs.
Additionally, the audience strives to learn something or get additional information about the service or product with the help of the white paper. This group is considered the additional or secondary audience. But to increase the lead-generation properties of your white papers, you should meet the educational expectations of the readers and convey useful information.
Related: ABM Best Practices: Selecting and Profiling High-Value Accounts
Types of White Papers
There are three types of white papers to take into consideration. They are backgrounder, number list, and problem & solution. All of them differ according to their content and application areas. Backgrounders are suitable for product descriptions, service benefits, and comparisons with competitors’ offers in the current market. Because of this, this type of white paper is usually used for launching products by companies that have already gained some brand reputation in their niche.
The number-list white papers are about conveying messages with easy-to-read points that contain the main information. Number lists can be presented in a FAQ section with answers or a list with tips and hacks to help potential customers avoid any challenges with the product or service. The number-list white paper examples are reports or similar pieces of content in:
- Сase studies (after the text).
Problem & solution white papers aim to advocate that the product or service of the company is the best choice on the market with regards to the range of opportunities and problem-solving tactics they provide to consumers. The main application of problem & solution white papers is to educate the audience. Additionally, the company can improve its recognition and reputation on the market and generate more leads. The last type of white paper is recommended for lead-generating marketing.
Related: The 4 Main Lead Generation Goals: What Has Changed & How to Reach Them
It goes without saying that before you design a white paper, you need to define the audiences who will read it. First, let’s divide all the potential consumers according to the three types of white papers:
- Backgrounder – The general public, partners, and multiple companies
- Number List – The general public (especially blog readers)
- Problem & Solution – The general public (leads, potential buyers), employees to onboard, partners
All three types of the above-described white papers are optimal for education and communication with the general public. But the most cross-functional formats are problem & solutions for B2B marketing and lead-generating campaigns.
Note that the target audience might not only be purchasers. Your white paper can attract investors, partners, and potential high-level executives (team members and individual employees). Right after you have chosen the type of consumers, you will help with decision-making issues, and it is high time to decide on a white paper, the format, and its topics.
2. Define Topics for White Papers
To catch the attention of your potential customer, you need to specify the relevant topic of your white paper. For this purpose, heed the following recommendations:
Search for keywords related to your clients. It is necessary to perform the SERP analysis and gain data from the client CRM. A good example of a sound analytical background is the white paper of the Pardot company. The marketers pay focused attention to the keyword research and embed them into their catchy titles of the white papers.
Send survey questions to your existing clients. Not sure that your questionnaire is lead-generating? To get the most precise answers, let your survey consist of at least three questions, but not too many. Additionally, not too many subjects or issues should be discussed in the form. This way, all your respondents will be engaged in the process and will not tire and quit. Be sure that your survey questions include as many answers as possible to get detailed insights. For analyzing and segment leads, avoid open-ended questions and ones that are too obvious. Provide a dropdown with responses for more information from respondents.
It is essential to know what your competitors offer to end-users. This way, you can tailor your marketing campaign and use relevant information in your white paper. Besides keyword ideas, you will explore content topics and choose the best ones for your lead generation. The high-converting white paper is always created with the help of competitor-driven insights. Use research SEO software like SE Ranking that provides solutions for lead generation agencies and helps unveil data about rivals’ top key phrases and topics for content marketing. You can also get access to the vast data via API, which SE Ranking offers. It also has a White Label feature for adding the logo, domain, and color scheme, which is extremely useful for creating reports for the white paper. As a result, you will get a detailed report and improve your white paper with a focus on the specific needs of your target audience, and therefore perform much better than competitors in your niche.
3. Create Content for Your White Papers
Relevant content can complement your lead generation performance. A white paper is the text information and infographics that create meaning. But do not forget that your task as a marketer is to design lead-generating pieces of content, so focus texts and charts on sales and conversions. Start with the basics to create an informative white paper about the subject matter you have chosen.
A good example is the DocuSign company that proved that different complicated topics could be covered and performed catchy. The marketers created a giant library of white papers that highlight the organization’s services and their impact on businesses. After developing software for electronic signature implementation for banking, healthcare, insurance, and other sectors, DocuSign created informative content in the high-converting white paper and case study formats.
Additionally, you should remember the original research that might become the skeleton of your white paper. For example, let’s say you are going to launch a new product or service. Your top-priority task is to initiate research and add all the favorable statistics and analysis to the lead-generating white paper. Use case studies that can be used as the primary data and insights for your subject matter and topic coverage.
Another efficient approach is to repurpose existing content to get a high-converting white paper. If you do not want to gather data from scratch and spend much time on new surveys, find ever-green content to use for this purpose. It can be a case study, blog post, or some press release with the research. Remember the three types of white paper, and here is a range of tips on how to convert existing content into the text of your white paper:
- Backgrounders can be based on the landing page information and press releases if the product launch takes place.
- Number-list white papers can be created with the help of repurposing of case studies with charts and how-to data. Use your website FAQ section to create number lists.
- Almost any content can be used for problem & solution white papers, including blog posts, tweets, social media posts, and slide-deck texts.
Pay attention to the uniqueness of your document and lead-generating message. Note that your white paper should be well-structured and contain catchy visuals (it is recommended to use the same design for all your white papers in the library).
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4. Design Your White Paper
Lead-generating white papers should contain high-quality visuals. It makes the material you offer to your target audience catchier and easier to understand. Use different charts, infographics, imagery, photos, etc.
One more benefit of visuals is the increase of the sharing option. People will be glad to share your content if there are enough attractive elements that cover the subject topic of the white paper: the more shares and public attention, the more high-converting the white papers.
An excellent example of an attractive design for lead-generating white papers is the Marketo library. All the available documents have attractive preview images (cover pictures). White papers are designed the same way with the dominance of the color red for the icon background. The same font and format are used.
Do not forget about a responsive design that allows users to read your white paper from their pocket screens. Avoid PDF formats because they are not mobile-friendly. Select a responsive web format to make it possible to read, share, and download your white paper with cellphones and tablets.
One more important feature of high-converting white papers is their structure. It should be well thought out. Here are the basic aspects of white paper structure to take into account:
- Think of a relevant title. Add a brief overview of the white paper in the form of a short abstract.
- Start your white paper with the problem statement. This way, readers will know the challenge, issue, or question you are going to solve.
- Add background information to draw your audience nearer to the subject matter. Even the most complicated methods and tactics should be described in a clear way.
- Provide a solution or range of solutions for your readers. Use understandable terms, and do not forget about visuals to improve your explanation.
- Add the final word. Your conclusions should be similar to case study summarizing sentences. Describe the results in short to conclude the white paper.
Structure your content the same way to make a high-grade library of white papers. Note that number lists will be shorter than backgrounders and problem & solution white papers. Nevertheless, you can structure content the same way, where the main body will be your numbered or bulleted list.
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5. Promote Your White Paper
You need to distribute your white paper through various channels to catch public attention. There are free and paid ways of advertising to take into consideration. Let’s take a closer look at all the possible marketing tactics in the context of white paper distribution:
Free Advertising Channels
- Social media – use social media platforms (Instagram, Medium, Linkedin, Facebook, etc.) to distribute newspapers and viral content. Add Instagram and Facebook posts together with Linkedin articles for more media reach.
- Home blogging – create special-purpose blog posts for your website to arouse readers’ interest to visit any on-page section with the white paper.
- Take part in industry niche forums – join or start the conversation in the forums of your business niche. Add white papers that might come in handy during some dispute or topic discussions.
- Quora & Reddit – answer questions of other users on the platforms related to your white paper topic. Add links to your website where readers can find the white paper you cite or mention.
- Email marketing – send newsletters with the inserted link to read the white paper you promote.
Paid Advertising Channels
- Guest blogging – find websites to post articles concerning the topic you cover in the white paper. Add links and screens to arouse the interest of readers to find out more about your document.
- Press releasing – announce that your company decided to provide an extra education white paper on the website soon (or it has just happened). Post your press release on the news websites of your business niche.
- Affiliate and referral marketing – think of the affiliate and referral programs in the context of the white paper distribution. For example, a user can share the link and get a discount or extra services available for free.
- Social media ads – use Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin paid advertising for your white paper distribution.
- Pay-per-click advertising – additional paid digital marketing tools (paid search and display advertising) for getting more attention to your white paper.
Distribution really matters if you would like to be heard. Lead generation starts with exposure. With broad media outreach, your high-converting and well-structured white paper will definitely generate the hottest leads. For example, Sportdigita decided to create a newsletter with a CTA and a short preview of the white paper together with interactive buttons to read case studies or visit their website. Those newsletters are usually created via email newsletter software to ensure professional-looking emails and reach the target audience with automated segmentation and personalization tools.
6. Measure Results
It is important to understand what results from your white paper are bringing. That is why you should pay attention to the main metrics of its performance. Measure social shares on the platforms you use for your lead generation marketing. In addition, monitor the number of leads generated and touched. Use special-purpose platforms to estimate your ROI accurately. Together with the factors mentioned above, you will be able to gauge measurements of:
- Pipeline generated;
- Pipeline touched;
- Revenue generated;
- Extent your white paper is reaching.
Undertake analysis of the key parameters regularly to be sure of the results. This way you will be able to correct weak spots and achieve better white paper performance.
High-converting white papers can become one of your most powerful lead generation tools. Get direct access to the ear of your target audience. Well-structured, highly informative, and visually attractive white papers educate well and guide people through the purchasing journey. You can help your potential consumers make decisions and represent your products and services in the most expert and authoritative way.
Speak to your customers’ interests and help them understand the benefits of your company’s approaches and solutions. White papers are not only helpful for launching new products, but for filling your pipeline with warm (even hot) leads. Follow the recommendations and increase your lead flow significantly.