The Statisics on White Paper Effectiveness
“White papers remain the most effective piece of marketing collateral,with 86% of respondents finding them moderately to highly influential in the purchasing decision,” according to a new Eccolo Media study reviewed in B2B Magazine
Why White Papers Work
This is key. To generate quality leads, the content must avoid a hard-sell approach. This means providing your readers with useful information to solve problems they can relate to, without mentioning your company’s product or service. This creates trust and credibility for your company that result in sales leads.
Educational content is a crucial tool in generating leads. Demonstrating your expertise gives you an edge on competitors and makes you the go-to company that people and companies seek out to help solve their problems.
Many companies simply post white papers on their website for download. Go beyond that. Create an email or marketing campaign around the theme of your white paper to drive traffic to your website and white paper registration form, as Fundtech did. Use it as a companion piece to add value for your potential leads.
Which Companies Get the Most from White Papers & eBooks
Getting Started with White Papers & eBooks
♦ White paper tip #1:
Target each white paper precisely
“When a customer says, ‘I’m going to do a white paper, what should I focus on?’ we tell them three things,” says Ramminger.
“Figure out who you’re trying to target, make sure you teach and make the length appropriate.
“We’ve seen people try to talk to too many people at once.and lose the ability to get the attention of the person they’re really after,” says Ramminger.
“The more targeted your white papers are, the better—especially if you can articulate the precise market segment or job title you’re after.”
Everyone has a different agenda. Your white paper must speak to your audience’s agenda, or they’ll ignore it.
♦ White paper tip #2:
Don’t try to be all things to all people
I once overhead a VP of marketing declare, “A white paper is that very rare thing that can be all things to all people.”
He really should know better.
“I can’t tell you how many clients we see who say, ‘We just want leads,'” says Habegger.
|“But they really want leads in a particular place, which implies a particular audience, which implies a particular message.And that demands the discipline of sitting down and asking, ‘Who is my audience and what am I trying to achieve?'”That’s where a lot of these go off the rails… They’ve never really thought through who their audience is and what they’re trying to achieve.||
“To put it in concrete terms, if you’re selling a CRM system, the VP of sales probably has to raise his hand and say, ‘OK, I agree.’ But so does the CIO. And the criteria they each use are completely different. So you need to influence both of them with different messages.
“And the person sitting down to write that document needs to understand that.”
No white paper can be all things to all people. The more focused you make it, the more effective it will be.
♦ White paper tip #4: Teach, don’t preach
Both executives agree that effective white papers focus on educating their audiences.
“Vendors gain the most influence if they use content to educate their different constituencies,” says Habegger. “The best white papers come at it from an educational tone focused on learning versus a preachy approach.”
Use your white paper to explain how your offering solves a real business or technical problem.
Don’t just declare that you’re the best; prove it.
♦ White paper tip #5: Tell, don’t sell
This point is so important, it’s worth repeating.
The trick is to explain now, so you have a chance to sell later.
In other words, you’ve got to prepare the ground before you plant the seed for a future sale. And a sales pitch masquerading as a white paper will surely fall on barren ground.
“We’ve seen the most success with people who use white papers to educate and teach, as opposed to selling,” says Ramminger.
“A lot of people lose the reader where they haven’t done a good-enough job of teaching the basic concepts, or illustrating how a concept might resolve the business problems that reader has.
“If you do the right job of educating, people come back to you because you’re a source of intellectual capital. At the right time, they’ll allow you to talk about your product.”
♦ White paper tip #6: Fit the length to the audience
“We often run into people who want to put too much content into one consumable. And they are going to lose people,” says Ramminger.
“The length of your white paper has to be relevant to the audience.”
Flexibility is the key here.
“There is no one single answer, because white papers have multiple purposes and different audiences,” says Habegger.
He goes back to his example of the VP of sales versus the software architect.
“What the architect is looking for is highly technical, no BS, no marketing, no talk about ROI, just lots of technical detail that really burrows into the architecture. And those kind of white papers can go to 50 pages and still work well.
“But something like that is clearly DOA for a VP of sales trying to think about his contact management problem. For that type of white paper, any more than five pages is probably too long.”
Ramminger likes things even shorter.
“I can carve out enough time to go through two or three pages,” he says. “And that’s either going to make an impression on me, or it’s not.”
Adding another 5 to 10 pages will do nothing if a reader isn’t already engaged from the first few paragraphs.
In fact, today’s recommended sweet spot for white papers aimed at business readers is 6 to 8 pages; for technical readers, this can be longer at 6 to 12 or even more pages.
Link Bait/White Papers