If you’re a business that relies heavily on content marketing, you may want to consider whitepapers.
The whitepaper is an important driver to improve your company’s profile as a thought leader, set your brand apart from your competitors, and generate new leads.
This article will arm you with the knowledge you need to maximize the whitepaper’s benefits. We’ll cover what they are, why you need them, and how to write an effective whitepaper.
What is Whitepaper?
A whitepaper is an authoritative, comprehensive, and persuasive report to solve a specific problem and offer a solution.
Companies use whitepapers to build trust with casual readers by illustrating their expertise through evidence and facts. Many brands or marketers require an email address or another form of contact information for download to capture leads.
Unlike other marketing methods, the whitepaper isn’t designed to be a product pitch. It’s an information paper created through in-depth research and facts to help readers solve their issues.
Why Should You Write a Whitepaper
Creating valuable content in the form of facts and data can help readers solve their problems. Here are the primary reasons why you should strongly consider writing a whitepaper:
- Whitepapers Are Lead Generators: Addressing industry-wide problems and including targeted keywords can help you rise in the search rankings and generate leads.
- Whitepapers Help You Become a Thought Leader: Highly technical content that offers an effective solution helps you become an expert in your industry and sound like one. You can increase your newsletter sign-up by writing whitepapers, as more and more people look to follow industry leaders to learn from them.
- Whitepapers Give Your Business a Competitive Edge: When you’re the only one publishing high-quality whitepapers in your business category, you will automatically get recognition; thus more and more customers would like to buy from you.
Let’s now look at some types of whitepapers you can publish to engage your audience.
Different Types of Whitepaper
#1. Numbered List
Consumers love reading numbered lists because they’re easily digestible and allow them to understand the information they need quickly.
These whitepapers use numbered points to convey their message and typically aim toward a more casual audience.
Some example use cases for numbered list whitepapers are:
- Explaining Your Product’s Benefits: 10 Reasons to Outsource Your Booking
- Listing Practical Tips: 11 Ways to Win Your Customers Back
- Answering Common Questions: 8 Mistakes You Make When Running Facebook Ads
When to Use It: Given their simple format, the numbered list whitepaper is perfect for top-of-funnel leads to help build brand awareness and build trust with your audience.
The problem-solution whitepaper helps convince readers that they need what you’re trying to sell. This form of whitepaper positions the problem in a way that highlights how your product is the ideal solution.
When to Use It: This type is typically used to attract and educate prospects in the early and middle stages of the customer journey. Readers are already aware of their problems and are searching for ways to solve their challenges.
Problem-solution whitepaper is effective for generating new leads. That’s because when people face problems, they typically turn to Google. When a well-optimized product-solution whitepaper can bring your website to the top of the search results, you can attract more eyeballs to your website.
The backgrounder whitepaper explains how a product works and its context. When showcasing new trends, features, or other information in your industry, a backgrounder whitepaper helps readers understand your product.
They tend to have the following characteristics:
- Explanation of how a specific product or service works
- Data and scientific studies describing the effectiveness of your product
- Well-supported claims that prove your business is an industry leader
When to Use It: It’s best used in the final stage of the customer journey. When potential buyers compare a shortlist of solutions, they’ll need specific information about your product or service.
If someone is near the bottom of the sales funnel, a backgrounder whitepaper can reassure them that your product offering is what they’re looking for.
How to Write a Whitepaper the Right Way
Now you’re ready to begin drafting the whitepaper. Remember that whitepapers are much more intensive than a standard blog post.
Step 1: Choose a Topic and Style
Selecting the right topic for your whitepaper will significantly impact the result. You’ll generate more leads, insights, and shares by choosing a topic of serious interest to your target audience.
Develop a customer profile to help you identify your audience’s challenges, goals, and needs.
You may ask yourself:
- Do I need to explain how my product solves an issue for a specific audience to generate new leads?
- Do I need to create a well-researched report to help nurture prospects down the sales funnel?
- Is there a complex feature or new trend that prospects need to understand before buying?
These questions help you determine which type of whitepaper to write and the topic to write about.
Step 2: Perform Research
Whitepapers are highly technical and educational, so you’ll want to conduct extensive research on the topic.
You can do that by:
- Detailing a unique process
- Aggregating unique case studies
- Running an original study
- Search for credible data, surveys, and research studies
- Read other papers on the topic
Pro Tip: Always conduct thorough research before beginning writing. The research should be from authoritative industry sources to help support your argument and prove your premise.
Step 3: Create an Outline
A long-winded research paper without a proper outline will end up confusing readers. Sketch out your topic in a clear and concise format.
We recommend having a table of contents with clickable links like Google’s Whitepaper.
Step 4: Write Your Whitepaper
Flesh out your outline and begin writing the body of your whitepaper report. You’ll want to compile your research and provide readers with valuable takeaways and keen insights.
Make sure to write in a fact-based tone so that your content doesn’t come off as promotional. Add subheadings to help break up larger sections for readers who prefer to skim. Cite your sources along the way.
Step 5: Edit and Refine
Let your draft sit for a day, then come back to review the document with a fresh perspective. Try to read it aloud and ensure that it has proper flow and no grammatical errors. Have trusted colleagues, editors, and other key leaders in your organization look at it if needed.
Step 6: Add Graphic and Design
Add visually appealing designs to help bolster your content. You should work with a designer to add charts, graphs, tables, and illustrations to help your audience see your points. There are templates and software that make creating these visuals much easier.
Step 7: Consider Hiring Help From Fiverr
If you need help writing your whitepaper, you can hire a freelancer from Fiverr. There are plenty of talented writers who can clearly convey your message.
Simply go to Fiverr and sign up for an account.
Then you can search for Whitepapers under the Writing & Translation category or just type it in the search bar.
You can browse writers based on their experience level, budget, delivery time, and other service options.
You may want to add keywords in your search by industry, such as ‘crypto whitepaper’ or ‘digital marketing whitepaper.’ This allows you to find whitepaper writers with relevant experience.
Once you’ve found a qualified writer, you can book a gig based on their service offerings.
How to Format a Whitepaper?
The whitepaper should be carefully organized to catch the reader’s attention and make their experience more enjoyable.
Here’s a format you can use to help organize the content and make the paper easier to understand:
- Title: The paper needs an engaging title to pique readers’ curiosity; otherwise, they won’t click on it in the first place
- Abstract: A brief overview of what readers can expect is usually included in the introduction
- Problem Statement: Clearly states the basis for why the paper exists
- Background: Digs into why the problem exists, its detrimental effects, and its prominence in the industry
- Solution: Should be clearly communicated and resolve the problems laid out
- Conclusion: Cover an overview of the major findings and feature recommendations to the reader
- References: Include sources for any claims, so readers can fact-check them if they want to
Best Whitepaper Examples
Whitepapers are a marketing staple and, when done right, will boost your authority. Here are some excellent whitepaper examples you can model after to give you the best chances of succeeding.
#1. Google Cloud’s AI Adoption Framework
Google created a whitepaper to help readers understand how to adopt AI into their business.
This paper covers a technical deep-dive on AI, which helps to present itself as an authority. They also cohesively organize the whitepaper by laying out the background and problem before offering the solution.
#2. Zendesk’s Customer Experience Benchmark
Zendesk’s whitepaper outlines the patterns and insights from their thorough research into customer service.
It’s effective because it uses lots of visuals and data to help readers see what’s trending in customer service and help readers understand how they stack up against their industry peers.
#3. Cisco’s Networking And Your Competitive Edge
Cisco’s whitepaper shares comprehensive data about using your competitive edge in marketing. It’s great for brand awareness since it uses graphics and statistics to highlight why businesses need security.
Whitepaper Distribution – How It’s Done
Gathering and writing the information on a whitepaper is only half the battle. You’ll never receive its desired benefits if it’s not effectively distributed for maximum reach.
There are many ways to distribute your whitepaper, and your strategy ultimately comes down to which method makes sense. If your audience is B2B executives, consider a channel like LinkedIn.
The below 10 tips will help you plan whitepaper distribution no matter who your target audience is:
- Create landing pages and drive people to the landing page through content marketing or ads
- Add pop-ups on relevant pages of your site
- Place internal links in your blog posts
- Include the whitepaper in your email newsletters
- Add the whitepaper to your email signature
- Post it on your social network
- Post it to industry-related groups
- Re-publish a portion on social platforms
- Run paid ads to your whitepaper
- Submit guest posts to relevant blogs
Mistakes to Avoid While Working on a Whitepaper
B2B buyers read whitepapers to make informed buying decisions. Unfortunately, many of them are sales pitches that bore readers. Avoid the following mistakes when working on your whitepaper:
- Using Whitepapers to Sell: The purpose of the whitepaper is to educate readers about the problem and solution. Don’t use them as a way to sell your products.
- Poor Structure: Have a clear structure and format, as mentioned. This makes the whitepaper easy to read and understand.
- No Distribution Plan: Getting your whitepaper to the right audience is just as important as writing it.
- Choosing the Wrong Topic: Address your customer’s biggest challenges, which will have a major impact on their future.
- Not Aligned With Buyer’s Journey: Make sure that your whitepaper answers buyers’ questions at specific stages of the customer journey.
How to Promote Whitepaper
In content marketing, whitepapers are one of the most effective ways of attracting interest from potential buyers online. Here are a few tips and strategies for marketing whitepapers to drive more downloads.
#1. Create a High Converting Landing Page
Your landing page must explain why your audience should hand over their contact information and click download.
Talk about the value that your whitepaper brings, so they’re excited to receive their copy. For example, Human Made created a white paper highlighting WordPress’s Gutenberg editor features.
#2. Have a Banner or Pop-up on Your Blog Posts
When readers land on your blog, there should be a banner or non-invasive pop-up that directly leads readers to your whitepaper.
This helps increase customer experience and takes your audience right where they want.
#3. Google Ads
You’ve likely incorporated many keywords into your whitepaper. This makes a pay-per-click Google ad campaign effective since you can pay to have your landing page on the first page of the search engine.
#4. LinkedIn Promotion
LinkedIn offers advanced targeting capabilities that allow you to place your ads in front of the right audience. For instance, you can target by job function, company size, location, title, and much more.
While whitepapers are often underutilized, they’re one of the most effective tools for your company’s content marketing strategy.
Once you determine your goals for your whitepaper, you can create a piece of it for each part of the marketing funnel.
Whether you’re looking to intrigue customers with an easily-digestible list or explain the highly technical benefits of your product, whitepapers can be a foundational content piece to building trust and generating new leads for your business.