Customer Experience News & Trends

How to create white papers that attract the best leads

Blogs or white papers?

Blogs are intended for reaching out to the general public, to provide updates on your ideas and strategies. More often than not, blogs are opinion based. They also tend to be informal.

White papers, on the other hand, are all about business. They provide something truly valuable for your target audience. Good information backed by well-documented research is worth its weight in gold.

When someone signs up for your white paper they’re connecting with you and allowing you to connect with them further — i.e. move them down the sales funnel — especially if your white paper provides useful information and insight they can’t get elsewhere.

What’s a great white paper look like?

So what constitutes a great lead-generating whitepaper?

  • A topic that feeds a need. You must know your target market, what do they want to know and what’s already out there? You can explore topics in social media and community sites that generate a lot of comments. If you have expertise in one of those topics, get to work.
  • Heart. Put your heart into it. Don’t just patch together a bunch of other peoples’ work. Analyze the data and add value by evaluating options and presenting them to your readers in an easy-to-understand format.
  • Substance. Make it substantial. Cover lots of ground. Make an outline first, and then organize it into chapters or sections. It’s a good idea to make each section a “bite-sized” chunk, maybe one page with charts or graphics.
  • Authority. Do your homework and make sure you cite previous authoritative work on the subject. Your mission isn’t to be the only expert in the field — it’s to be the latest expert with the freshest insights.
  • A great landing page. Include a summary to let people know what the white paper’s about. Tell them why it’s important to them, and include some reviews.

Why do white papers matter?

White papers help prospects and customers make decisions. Those decisions range from closing a deal to picking up the phone and initiating contact. White papers are also commonly used to help justify a purchasing decision.

Often a white paper will work its way across the desks of an organization in a way that no other document could ever hope to achieve.

White papers are able to fly under the radar and penetrate most organizations’ anti-marketing defenses because they’re sought after and brought into the organization by decision-makers.

If they are well-written, white papers will not only reach their targets, they’ll influence them. A recent study shows that nearly 90% of executives find white papers helpful and more than half claim white papers influence their buying decision. In addition, more than 86% of marketers ranked white papers ahead of webinars, free trials and seminars in terms of lead generation.

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