Customer Experience News & Trends

How to create white papers that attract the best leads

Who reads white papers?

White papers used to be targeted at engineers and technical influencers. Today’s typical white paper reader has shifted significantly. Modern white paper readers are decision-makers and tend to be business people rather than engineers.

Because business readers focus more on business challenges and less on the inner workings of solutions, white papers have also become significantly shorter.

Why do some white papers fail?

Some salespeople write white papers that may do more harm than good.

Here are six reasons why some white papers fail:

  1. They don’t grab the reader’s attention in the first paragraph. White papers are read by busy decision-makers. If you don’t grab their attention in your opening paragraph, they won’t even read the second paragraph. Leading with the problems your solution overcomes instead of the solution itself captures interest immediately. Openings that focus on the benefits or features of your products turn readers off.
  2. They have no clear objective. The reader finishes the white paper wondering what it was all about. Set your objective before you start to write. Do you want to educate, sell or generate leads? Will it be technical or business-benefits focused? Keep this focus in mind as you put the paper together.
  3. They lack details. A white paper that fails to explain how a product or service solves a business problem is nothing more than a long advertising piece. Effective white papers explain innovative technologies in a compelling way that helps potential customers understand how and why the offering will improve their business results. They cite outside sources such as analyst research or industry reports to strengthen their credibility and demonstrate the value of the product or service.
  4. There’s no customer benefit. The white paper fails to show how the reader can benefit from the information presented. Your white paper should try to identify problems or concerns faced by readers and lead them to a solution provided by your product or service. It’s not a brochure that simply pitches a product’s features or benefits.
  5. There’s no clear flow. The sequence of ideas is so confusing it leaves the reader unable to follow.
  6. The language isn’t clear. A study of white papers by Alpha Marketing found some of them teeming with terms readers didn’t fully understand. Confusing language raises concerns that the products or services being sold would be difficult to install and maintain. Although your audience for white papers is well educated, many will struggle if your material is not well written. Simple, clear writing is concise, effective and persuasive. It avoids acronyms, convoluted sentences and excessive wordiness.

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