White Paper Writing
White papers, downloadable content, guides and checklists showcase your expertise, woo prospects and win sales. These stealthy rainmakers aren't just for IT geeks!
White papers don’t have to be technical and long. In fact they can be as short as two pages IF the information provided is unique and valuable to your prospective buyer. If you feel overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a white paper, never fear. We’ll interview you by phone to capture your thoughts. Then, we’ll transform your thoughts into a very compelling report with a catchy title. If you have an idea you’d like to develop, but not a lot of details, we can conduct research. Once your white paper is ready, you’ll find countless ways to use it.
How to Convert Leads with White Papers and Downloadable Content
White papers and downloadable content are great tools for converting leads. In B2B content marketing, a “conversion” occurs two times – when a website visitor becomes a lead and when a prospect becomes a customer. When prospects first arrive at your site, they’re typically not ready to buy … yet. They are in research mode. That’s why they rarely respond well if you hit them over the head with a free quote offer. Instead, the key is to offer content that will empower their buying decision.
The first conversion can often be achieved without human intervention if you have compelling downloadable content offers. Here’s what you’ll need to make that happen:
1. Engaging Web Content: Most buyers want to educate themselves before they ever reach out to you. Be sure that your website is equipped to educate. Use infographics and charts to illustrate key messages, and use blog articles to provide up-to-date information. On-screen content should make visitors feel comfortable that you are a good potential partner.
2. Content Offers: For visitors who want to dig deeper, you need to offer premium downloadable content. But there’s a catch – this content is not available to just anyone. Visitors have to complete a few fields in a form to obtain it. If and when a form is completed, the visitor becomes a lead and you’ve attained your first conversion. That’s why the form is essential. Without a form, you don’t have a lead. You have no way of continuing the interaction.
There are three types of downloadable content:
- Top-of-funnel: Top-of-funnel offers are for buyers just beginning the research process. They are recognizing a problem/opportunity and conducting research to gain better understanding. Offers for this audience may include: White papers, e-books, FAQ sheets or buying guides. Keep this content general and non-promotional. It should feel unbiased.
- Middle-of-funnel: These offers are for visitors who thoroughly understand the problem/opportunity and are looking for the best solution. These visitors are closer to the buying decision and have longer attention spans. In fact, they may have already downloaded a top-of-funnel offer and now they’re ready for more. Offers may include: Case studies, step-by-step guides, podcasts, videos and solution comparisons.
- Bottom-of-funnel: These offers help prospects make a final buying decision. They may include: Vendor comparisons, customer testimonials, trials, pilots, product literature, case studies and get acquainted kits.
3. To gate or not to gate: Insurance marketers always want to know if they should gate their content. Trends have evolved over the years. 10 years ago, most content was gated. Now, marketers usually make some content available to everyone, while requiring a form completion before sharing premier content. For example, blog articles and infographics are usually not gated, while white papers, case studies and buying guides are often gated.
The bottom line
If you like the idea of helping your sales team to become more productive, you have to make your website more than just an online brochure. It can become a lead conversion machine if you have the elements listed above. If your website does not generate any leads, this is most likely the issue – you don’t have the correct lead generation structure in place.
Frequently Asked Questions About White Papers
A white paper is an in-depth document that provides information on a particular topic. It’s like a report that you can download, and it’s often used by B2B companies as part of their content marketing strategy. White papers may also be published by government agencies and other organizations.
A white paper can be similar to a blog article, but there are some differences. White papers are typically offered as downloadable PDFs, whereas blog articles appear directly on the website without the need for a download. White papers also tend to be more in-depth. They may require more research, and they may also involve more call-out boxes, graphs and other visual elements that support the information. White papers also tend to be longer than blog articles on average, although both types of content can vary significantly in length.
White papers can be about a lot of different topics. For example, a white paper might look at key trends, emerging risks or areas or opportunities in a particular industry. White papers can also offer solutions, advice and tips to help the audience deal with problems.
White papers are often used in B2B marketing, so when you’re coming up with topics, think about the type of information that would help the businesses you’re targeting. What problems are they dealing with, and what trends should they know about?
White papers are often gated, meaning that people have to fill out a form and provide their contact information before they can download the white paper. This can be a great way to generate leads.
However, for this strategy to work, you need to convince people that the information in the white paper is valuable enough for them to be willing to hand over their contact details. This is more likely if you provide other types of content that are not gated, giving people the opportunity to see that you’re offering useful and high-quality information.
Ultimately, whether or not you decide to gate your white papers will depend on your overall strategy and the preferences of your audience. If your audience is not willing to fill out forms, ungated content may be better.
Different sources will give you different ideal lengths. This is both because expectations vary depending on the industry and because personal preferences also vary. However, white papers tend to be several pages long, and some can be dozens of pages long. Keep in mind that these pages will often include visual elements, such as charts and diagrams, and not just dense walls of text.
Longer is not always better. White papers should provide in-depth information, but if you can deliver that information while being concise, you should do so. Think about it. If you need to read a white paper for your job, would you rather read a twenty-page white paper that’s wordy and rambling or a three-page white paper that conveys the same information without being verbose? If you’re like most people, you’d prefer the latter.
Visual elements can make your white paper easier to read and digest.
Making your white paper visually appealing can be as easy as using subheadings, bullet lists and call-out boxes that make the information highly scannable. However, you should also add charts whenever it’s appropriate, especially when you have a series of numbers. For example, if you’re giving annual figures, you can put this information into a chart. Diagrams, maps and other visual elements may also be appropriate depending on the content.