What is a White Paper and how should B2B tech companies best use them?
White papers are a great way to cover relevant topics in-depth, and demonstrate your expertise. Typically, they address an important topic in the market, with detailed analysis and further discussion. The goal is to make you top of mind for your target buyers and to generate leads both via inbound and outbound marketing.
It’s important to note that they aren’t always read in full, and this shouldn’t be your intention. However, they are particularly valuable to your leads as reference material.
Ideally, your white paper should address many problems that your buyer has. Therefore, your white paper will be valuable to as wide an audience as possible. This is in comparison to more specific content like blogs.
Your white paper is useful as a sales or promotional tool but you need to make sure it doesn’t come across as too ‘salesy’ in tone. However, it is long-form content. It’s important to understand how white paper fits into digital marketing strategies.
What message are you sending?
When we ask the question, ‘What is a White Paper’, we often think about how we can use them to drive website traffic. White papers are useful tools for driving organic traffic to your website, when implemented into inbound strategies. Content is the hook on to your website, and white papers provide a lot of valuable information.
Traffic that converts through white paper content is important. Visitors are relevant, as they found value in the information that you have provided.
White papers can drive traffic from search engines if you market them with ‘non-gated’ content like blog posts. However, they are also shareable. Visitors and prospects can share your whitepaper, whether by email or on their social media. They may also share as a reference on forums. Ultimately, this leads back to your website.
Shareable content increases traffic. Again, this traffic is relevant, as the content is shared within your market to those who will find it valuable.
Improve Conversion Rates
The most effect way to use a white paper is to put it behind a form so that you can drive conversion rates up. Conversion rates are a good indicator of the success of your marketing efforts. They demonstrate whether your messaging, and content, is resonating with your target audience.
White papers can improve conversion rates by offering good quality and useful content. However, they should be distributed well.
Offer your white paper as a conversation starter with leads. For example, you can provide content to contacts in your outbound email sequences. Often, salespeople will try to push cold leads directly into sales meetings. This rarely works because leads who don’t know you aren’t generally happy to take a sales call.
However, when you push content instead of meetings you get higher conversions and when you follow up on those who downloaded the content, the conversations are higher quality because the lead is more qualified.
Generate Leads and Contacts
By utilizing a white paper to drive conversions, you’re likely to increase your lead generation. As mentioned, downloadable content is a much easier sell than “contact me now”. There is a lot less pressure involved in a download.
However, try to avoid offering something valuable for nothing. White papers are valuable pieces of research and analysis, and they are time-consuming to create.
Consider offering your downloadable white paper in return for contact or prospect information. This doesn’t need to be too invasive. Request details like name, email address and company name.
White papers can help to build up a relevant contact list. This is useful for later lead nurturing, other content offers, and potential sales conversion.
Presenting your business as a thought leader in your market is important. This builds trust and credibility with your prospects, which is just as important in digital marketing. As you improve your reputation, lead generation increases.
White papers facilitate your reputation as a market leader. They are meant to inform and educate, in-depth, about a relevant topic. Therefore, they demonstrate your understanding of your market to the reader.
However, it is important to prove that you’re a thought leader, without becoming inaccessible. The visual element is important in white papers. Analytics and figures need to be digestible, in order to make an impression.
This is especially important in digital marketing, where many prospects consume content on smartphones or tablets. Your information needs to be presented in an accessible way, to make the most impact.
One of the primary benefits of white papers in digital marketing is the impact on SEO. SEO is important to your website, as it is what generates organic traffic. Your blog posts are key to your SEO and white papers give you something to talk about and drive conversions from the blog posts.
In the B2B space, ads that say “contact us” are typically ineffective. Every B2B business is looking for meetings and vying for attention. You need to offer something different.
Strangers aren’t yet ready to take a meeting with you. Instead, it’s important to nurture them, and show them why they should consider a meeting at a later date.
By offering expert analysis, you are showing your expertise in their space. Not only that, they have gained something from your business, and developed trust.
Great Content is Great and Poor Content is Harmful
While white papers serve a multitude of purposes in digital marketing, it’s important to be wary of potential issues. Avoid the sales trap that many good marketers have fallen into.
What is a White Paper, it’s a tool to educate your potential leads, boost conversion rates and raise your profile. White papers are a powerful tool, as long as you have something powerful and valuable to share. However, avoid filling pages with sales pitches for your company.
Providing content that doesn’t carry any value can be very harmful to your brand, and reduce trust in your company. It is important to know your buyer, and what they find valuable. This is always the primary focus of a white paper, in any marketing strategy.
At Nituno, our marketers focus on crafting information-driven white papers. We use content as the key to our inbound, outbound and performance marketing strategies. Get in touch with us for a tailored B2B marketing strategy.