If putting together and delivering high-quality white papers to customers and prospects alike isn't part of your marketing arsenal - then consider doing so, or at least conduct a survey to a sampling of customers so as to gain a better understanding of the level of value they may (or may not) associate with white papers, and key topics of interest. It's no secret that when done correctly, white papers can be one of the most effective content marketing tools to generate leads. advance movement of prospects through the sales funnel, establishing credibility, and more. Having said that, many well-intentioned marketers who routinely publish white papers (and other marketing content) fall well short of deriving measurable value from such efforts.
So, this post's main focus is on helping our customers and marketers alike by highlighting a number of key considerations for creating awesome white papers (and related content) that when put together correctly, promises to boost the impact of your lead generation campaigns.
As mentioned, when written and promoted in the correct way, white papers can be a highly effective marketing tactic that measurably strengthens the impact of lead generation initiatives.
Here's a look at the top ways white papers add value to marketers' lead generation initiatives:
Measurably add new leads to sales funnel
Accelerates movement through the sales funnel
Instills a sense of trust, credibility, and a go-to resource status
“Prime the pump” for new business, upsells, and helps builds momentum in the sales process
To be successful, your white paper must capture and keep the attention and interest of your reader, and equally important - the white paper or similar content must compel your ready to want to take the next step in the buying process. Because of a number of serious missteps, many white papers fall short of accomplishing these critical tasks.
Keys To Writing A Winning White Paper
When writing our content marketing messages, like white papers, it's easy to focus only on “content” and forget about “marketing”. Some believe that all a white paper has to do is to “educate” the reader. I disagree. Readers don't decide to buy or take the next step in the lead generation “journey” just because you educate them, especially if you only educate them about the features of your product.
A Powerful Way To Impress Your Reader
Educating your readers about your product is important, but when you are telling them only about its features and specs, their response is “So what?” Your reader doesn't care about your product, per se. He cares about what your product can do for him, what painful, nagging problem it will help him solve, what cherished goal it will help him accomplish and so on.
If you want to cut through the B2B marketing clutter, if you want to get and keep his attention, if you want to have the best opportunity possible to convert him from a reader into a buyer, focus your message primarily on him (his problem, his needs, his wants and your solutions for him) not on your product. And by all means, tell him how your product's features benefit him.
Strong Copywriting is a Must Have
Copywriting is the art and science of selling through the written word. It's a must for your content marketing campaign to be successful. Granted, in a white paper, the “selling” needs to be more subtle and understated than in many other copywriting and marketing content pieces. But the sales and persuasion element still needs to be present.
Play it Again
We talk about this with our clients all the time, and thought we'd share with our readers. In your white papers, write like you talk in everyday life. Imagine you're having a cup of joe with your friend. Imagine you are a world class sales rep conducting an in-person sales interview. Think how you would talk in those situations, and write your white paper like that. Yet, resist getting too casual. You do want to use the language your audience is most comfortable with. Within reason, write your white paper just like you were speaking the content to the prospect in person. And write it as if you were writing to one person only, not a faceless, generic crowd.
A Few More Copywriting Tips
Add bullet points to your white papers. This will make it easier for you to draw attention to key parts of your content; bulleted lists are great places to mention benefits. Use prominent, benefit-laden, curiosity-generating titles. Avoid long sentences and paragraphs. Think about it: what do you do when you are reading a paragraph that's 30 lines long? Your mind balks at the very idea of having to wade through it, especially if you are already stressed out on a busy work day.
Make your white paper easy to read. Focus your message on your reader, not on your company or product, even if it's truly remarkable. Talk about not just your product's features, but how they benefit the reader. Following these steps will help you gain a huge advantage over many, maybe all of your competitors.
A Word About White Paper Titles
The B2B marketing world is swamped with content marketing messages. A lot go completely unnoticed by their intended audience. You can write the world's greatest white paper. But, if it never gets read, it's useless as a lead generation tool. What's one of the most effective ways for you to get your white paper noticed? What's a proven technique for getting the potential reader to request and to open it up, curious to find out what it's about and why he should care?
Here it is: Craft a compelling, “buzz-generating” title. A great title can make prospects flock to your white paper, anxious to find out more. A poor, “lame” title will usually get passed over without a second glance.
Add bullet points to your white papers. This will make it easier for you to draw attention to key parts of your content; bulleted lists are great places to mention benefits. Use prominent, benefit-laden, curiosity-generating titles.
Avoid long sentences and paragraphs. Think about it: what do you do when you are reading a paragraph that's 30 lines long? Your mind balks at the very idea of having to wade through it, especially if you are already stressed out on a busy work day.
The takeaway: Make your white paper easy to read. Focus your message on your reader, not on your company or product, even if it's truly remarkable. Talk about not just your product's features, but how they benefit the reader. Following these steps will help you gain a huge advantage over many, maybe all of your competitors.
A Word About White Paper Titles
The B2B marketing world is swamped with content marketing messages. A lot go completely unnoticed by their intended audience. You can write the world's greatest white paper. But, if it never gets read, it's useless as a lead generation tool. With that in mind, it's essential to ask or learn the most effective ways for you to get white papers noticed by ideal, targeted prospects? Equally important, what constitutes the best strategy for getting targeted readers to request or download your white paper, and almost immediately open it up to give your paper a first glance?
Here it is: Come up with very strong, buzz-generating title. A great title can make prospects flock to your white paper, and immediately feel as if they want to find out more. A poor, lame title will more often than not have the opposite effect - usually get passed over without a second glance.
You've worked hard to produce your white paper. Give it the greatest chance you can of getting read by giving it a powerful title. So what are some elements of a powerful title? Many very successful content marketers and copywriters opt for a title that has a strong combination of curiosity and benefits for the reader. Does your title arouse curiosity in the reader's heart and mind? Does it promise him a desirable benefit if he reads it?
A memorable, persuasive title will make your white paper more likely to get read.
Successfully Promote Your White Paper To Gain Valuable Leads
If your white paper doesn't get opened, it won't get read. And, it obviously won't do you much good as a lead generation tool.You have to get it opened! It also has to be found. Even if you have an ultra-high traffic website, if you bury it on a “Resources” page and don't announce it to your potential audience, it won't get found, at least not by very many people.
Here are few, well-proven ways you and your team can effectively promote your white paper:
Send an email to your email list telling them about it
Make announcements on your social media channels
Write a blog post talking about it
In some cases, it may make sense to offer it through a PPC/SEM campaign
Put a “widget” on all pages of your website with a brief “teaser” mentioning your white paper; link this to your white paper signup page
How to use a Landing Page to Promote your White Paper
An easy-to-set-up, conversion-optimized landing page can be a great addition to your white paper promotion campaign. Whenever you announce your white paper to your intended audience, you'll need to redirect them to a page where they can request it. A page that “sells” them on giving you their email address and other contact information in return for the valuable resource you're about to give them.
You do not want to send prospects interested in your white paper back to your homepage. The likelihood they will then find your white paper on your site without getting distracted and quitting, is small. Instead, direct them to a highly customized page (aka - landing page) that has little to no distractions that could lead them away from the thing you want them to do – share their email address and related valuable information in exchange for your newly minted paper. In most cases, you shouldn't be focused on trying to close a sale at this point in their buying journey, but rather the value of the content found in your company's new awesome white paper. So, the rules of sales, marketing and copywriting all apply here. That's to say, have a brief yet powerful, loaded-with-benefits message on your landing page that prompts intended prospects on why they would want to take the time and effort to download and read your white paper. As should always be the case, employ A/B testing to confidently discern which landing page design and associated copy most prompts the desired behavior.
Wrapping It Up
Even in today's crowded B2B content marketing landscape, marketers like you can use white papers as powerful, effective lead generation tools. But, you have to do it right.To stand out and succeed, you need to use solid copywriting and effective content marketing techniques. The bottom line, a white paper can be a powerful tool that can complement your sales process in combination with customer case studies and other sales collateral as part of your larger content marketing strategy. The following should be kept front of mind when creating your white paper...
Your white paper should be written with an objective lens, backed by reliable resources.
As premium content, make certain your white papers offer enough value to gate and capture the contact information of brand new prospects and existing customers alike.
Your white paper in and of itself must be designed to inform prospects in a problem-solution format. That's to say, it proves to help your prospects understand their problem, simplifies the technical stuff, and explains your company's recommended solution(s) without explicitly selling.
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