White papers are a type of report published by a certain organization that is related to a certain topic.
They are carefully thought reports which are targeted at a certain group of readers before being published.
They are normally information that is packaged professionally and then published to be distributed in either or both offline and online formats.
Using white papers for marketing
One of the advantages of using white papers for marketing is that they provide substantial information with backing and research.
Because a lot of work has been put into publishing the white paper, this type of publication carries more weightage compared to all other forms of publication which are less formal like copywriting works in advertisements.White papers can be very powerful because they can be viewed as more reliable and credible.
Rich contents used in white paper
Unlike other forms of publications used by marketers, white papers are often perceived to be more accurate and intelligent.
This is totally different from the common copywriting messaging used in conventional advertising.
With a white paper, the publisher can show that a lot of research has been put in which then showcases that the information is true and genuine.
The white paper shows that the company is not making unsupported claims but puts out information that is verified and authorized.
In order to publish a good and credible white paper, the topic is very crucial. The company must find topics that are relatable to the target audience so that they can be used properly.
From there, excerpts from the white paper can be used for other parts of the marketing campaign, provided that the information does not detriment the brand or the product.
When information advertised comes from a source that is authentic, the brand will appeal better and more positively to customers and the general market at large.
Elements of a good whitepaper
There are actually no specific requirements when it comes to whitepapers especially when they are intended for marketing. However, there should be a certain structure that makes a whitepaper credible.
This is most evident in the presentation of the document. With a formal and acceptable structure, it shows that substantial research has been put in the production of the publication. This should normally be:
- Number of pages – Whitepapers should not be less than 5 pages in total. This must cover everything possible including the figures and images as well as the reference list. The maximum number of pages should not be more than 15 if used in marketing. Take note that more academic whitepapers can often go up to 50 pages or more.
- The main content – In terms of structure, it should have a title page, a table of contents, an executive summary, an introduction, the problem or issue it is addressing, the solution, and how the company is making use of the solution. Then, there must be the conclusion and the reference list.
- Reference list – This is a crucial part of the whitepaper. The reference list shows that the paper was published with enough research and thought processes. Credits must be given where they are due or the contents lose credibility.
- Format and density – In terms of format, the whitepaper should be in PDF format and published in portrait orientation. This makes it easy to read and open by standard apps. Whitepapers should be denser than ebooks which are usually less formal.
- Language – Whitepapers are normally not used for leisure reading. Readers will not skim through a whitepaper. Instead, they will go through it in detail in the search of useful information. In some cases, whitepapers are used as reference points. Hence, the language used is less creative and more formal.
How Whitepapers can be used in the Sales Funnel
Unlike ebooks, whitepapers are used differently in the sales pipeline process. Ebooks are commonly used for lead generation but whitepapers are further down the funnel.
If your customers download your whitepaper, they are almost at the conversion stage as they want to know what they can do with your product, not so much as a novelty anymore.
Hence, it is common that whitepapers are used for reference and as a technical resource. This is a popular practice for companies that are subjected to certain regulations.
For instance, you run a recycling business and you publish a paper about the green environment and the regulations of a certain country in this. Your customers will appreciate that information and how your products play a role in the initiative.At this point, the customer is almost certain to buy your product and the whitepaper will drive them further in the purchasing process.
Tips on writing a good whitepaper
If you are going to embark on publishing a whitepaper, you should:
- Know what your audience needs – You know your products and how they can solve your customers’ problems and needs. If you know what information they need, then a whitepaper will be their reference point in the future.
- Research – Bear in mind that whitepapers are meant to provide information, not a sales pitch. You want to offer information that your customers cannot find anywhere else.
- Design your structure – A whitepaper will not have a short-term expiry date. Make sure that your information can be used and is valid for as long as possible. Work out the structure and then you can start.
- Language and images – Use images (like infographics) which can be very useful. Take note of the language you are using, ensuring it is formal and informational.
- Input – This must be done through an independent reader (not from your organization) and then improve where necessary. After that, it can go be published and then disseminated at the appropriate platforms.