White papers help businesses build brand confidence with their target audience and ultimately generate more sales, particularly for B2B businesses. In fact, almost three-quarters of professional service firms feel that whitepapers are a great way to generate leads.
More than webcasts, blogs, podcasts, reports, or any other form of digital marketing-minded information, white papers are the most consumed type of marketing. Besides that, more than half of the professionals who read white papers pass them on to peers. So, six of them will pass it on to others for every ten people that you reach with a white paper, helping you get more eyeballs on your brand.
Now the question is, how can you create an effective white paper that will attract and eventually convert more of the types of buyers/clients you are trying to reach?
Here are the five main steps to creating a successful white paper:
Define Your Whitepaper’s Goal
Although it should never be used as a direct selling tool, any whitepaper should have a defined goal. And that is the one thing you need to determine before you do anything else.
Is it supposed to inform? Is it for generating leads for your goods or services? Is it for the development of your brand’s reputation? Is it about doing all the above? Defining these goals from the start is a must.
Choose The Right Topic
White papers are a marketing device, not a sales tool, and are most effective when their content addresses a burning question you target audience has. The aim is to connect with prospects at a very early point in their purchasing journey.
For instance, if your company plans corporate events, “10 Ways to Stretch Your Venue Budget that Only the Pros Know” might be a great white paper. Anyone planning a corporate event has a budget to work with and, no matter the size of that budget, they will be interested in finding ways to maximize every penny of it. Therefore, this whitepaper will immediately appeal to a LOT of your prospects.
White paper topics are focused on the ideal buyer’s needs. So, if you have not pinpointed who your ideal client is, now is a perfect time to take a step back and develop an ideal buyer persona to help lead your marketing strategy.
Create Your Content
Whitepapers sound great, but the actual content creation involved with them is often what stops companies from using them at all. For organizations with smaller teams, producing content can be difficult in general. Even if you have a staff member who can write do you really want to lose several hours of their time regularly to devote to content creation over their actual job?
That’s why most companies outsource whitepaper content creation. The ideal whitepaper is not only engaging and well written in terms of the actual text but is attractively designed, making use of great images and graphics. So, unless any of that is what your firm actually does, then you will probably need to hand at least this stage of the process out to outside help.
That does not, and should not, mean that your company’s voice is lost though. In fact, it’s crucial that ANY whitepaper you create represents your brand voice. Therefore, you should only work with content creators who are willing and able to listen to what you want and then create content for your white paper around that in your voice, not theirs (Pearl Lemon Convert has access to some of those content creation unicorns BTW)
Set Up an Efficient Content Distribution Process
A white paper is an ideal way to launch a dialogue with top-of-the-funnel prospects who are only just starting to examine the challenges and solutions you will ultimately be able to help them with.
To distribute your white paper, use a landing page form to briefly describe your white paper and ask for contact information to generate these leads. On the form fields, don’t overdo it. Only a few basic contact details are enough to get the conversation started, including name, email and business. Any more than that and most people will baulk and often not bother downloading the piece at all.
On that. Some companies choose to send a whitepaper to the requester’s email only. Don’t follow that lead. Your prospects want to read that content now. Not have to check their email, confirm their email then navigate to yet another page before they can even read a word. That is if they get the email at all.
Instead, ensure that readers can access the content as soon as they have finished inputting their details. Also, make downloading the whitepaper from this location as easy as possible, not forgetting to add other share options for social media sites, especially LinkedIn.
You may also be able to tease the white paper – depending on your subject – and have people register to receive it in their email before the paper is officially published. This works well for time-sensitive content, such as a quarterly or annual report. You might also try gathering survey information from your audience, and have survey takers sign up to receive the report in advance.
Nurture Your New Readers
Downloads of your wonderful white paper won’t turn into new clients on their own. When a contact downloads your white paper, use a lead nurturing campaign to guide them along their purchasing journey.
Over time, email them more appropriate resources that would be helpful/interesting to them and check-in with a friendly phone call to touch the base and keep your brand in mind. This done you can then start sending more focused promotions that begin the sales process as you learn more about their issue, possible solutions, and how your organization can help.