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If you use white papers as an essential part of your marketing strategy or plan to soon, you’re in good company. White papers remain a preferred lead generation tool for organizations worldwide, especially those that sell to other businesses.
A recent survey showed that 75% of buyers are willing to provide contact details in exchange for receiving a white paper, making this type of content a top-performing lead generator. Further, results from the same survey showed that more than 70% of B2B buyers consult white papers to assist with making a purchasing decision. In summary, white papers are marketing gold – when structured well and delivered to those who want and need them.
The following article is written to give you a competitive edge with your next white paper. The optimization tips covered include:
- Make certain your white paper matches its intended audience.
- Define a specific purpose for your white paper.
- Make structural improvements to increase readability.
- Present your white paper in multiple types of media.
- Add new methods of distribution to your publishing mix.
- Use blog articles and landing pages to promote your white paper.
- Contract a professional technical writer to create your white paper.
If, while reading these tips, you decide you’d like the assistance of a professional content developer, reach out to us, and we will help you start your white paper project.
1. Make certain your white paper matches its intended audience.
Few things are as crucial to the success of a white paper as knowing the paper’s intended audience. Knowing this will allow you to move forward with structuring the content to meet the expectations of the target reader.
As an example, if your company sells software, you may develop a paper for two types of audiences involved with your brand. Both audiences will be interested in how the software works but from differing points of view.
If your audience is programmers and developers who will integrate your software into their own systems, they will expect content presented in a highly technical manner. If your audience is the consumer end-user of your software, they will be more interested in information like ease-of-use and feature sets presented in a casual but informative way.
2. Define a specific purpose for your white paper.
Just like knowing the target audience for a white paper, clearly defining the paper’s purpose will increase the opportunity for your organization to see a positive return. To “educate” and “inform” are default missions for white papers, but the more distinct you make the paper’s intent, the more control you can exercise over the outcome it creates.
Take a white paper written as a general overview of a start-up, intended to woo potential investors. To make the document more useful, the founders could mention: which round of funding they are raising, what kind of equity they are offering, whether the start-up plans to use a crowdfunding platform to raise funds, and if so, by which date the campaign will launch and the company will begin accepting investment.
With this level of detail, the writer is not only informing and educating the target reader; they are also making the paper’s purpose and desired outcome clear. To leave nothing to chance, they can also end the paper with a clear call-to-action.
3. Make structural improvements to increase readability.
Considering the average cost of a white paper, it’s reasonable to assume that ensuring the document is read by its intended audience is a high priority.
Unfortunately, poorly formatted white papers are a common problem that can result from development being undertaken by a writer with zero background in layout and design, or a project that was incorrectly priced (by-the-page as opposed to priced per-word). A poorly structured white paper may exhibit issues like, using a font that is too small, or text that is crammed tightly together to reduce page count.
Raising the legibility of a white paper can be accomplished relatively easily with a few key actions:
- Keep fonts within a comfortable reading range.Writing for comfortable reading doesn’t just include paying attention to the point size of a font, but also the intended media for the completed document. Historically, serif typeface has been considered easier to read in printed media, while san-serif fonts are a common default for reading on digital devices. While this has become a subject of debate, it remains a useful go-to rule for those with less experience in typography. Regarding font size, no smaller than 14 pt for digital formats is ideal, while 10-12pt is the typical range used by textbooks and other printed media.
- Make use of white space.Consider white space an easy design hack that has decades of proven science to support its usefulness. It adds “room to breathe” to a document, which helps reduce reading fatigue if a white paper is particularly long. It also acts as a simple design element that can work wonders to upgrade the aesthetics of a finished document.
- Use visual elements. In fiction writing, there’s a rule called “show, don’t tell.” The same principle can be adapted to fit technical writing. Illustrations, infographics, tables, and graphs can be incorporated to increase reader engagement, and help to emphasize data that can be missed when presented only in text.
4. Present your white paper in multiple types of media.
Print has long been a default format for all types of technical writing. As business and culture transitioned to digital, PDF’s became the new standard for white paper delivery.
Today, you have a variety of media to select from to extend your data’s reach and audience. Here at Funnel Amp we receive requests to convert white papers into SEO optimized HTML pages. Other options include having your white paper formatted into an audio file, e-book, slide show, or even a video presentation.
Presenting a white paper in different or multiple types of media can put you in front of new prospects and extend your brand’s social recognition.
Funnel Amp is a content agency with years of experience working with clients around the globe. If you need assistance with content development get started by clicking below:
5. Add new methods of distribution to your publishing mix.
If you usually stick to one or two ways of publishing your white papers, adding a new platform, social network, or methodology increases the opportunity to expose your brand to a broader audience. In particular, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Medium have proven to be viable platforms for B2B companies to expand audience reach. Other new avenues of distribution worth a look include chatbots and podcasts.
6. Use blog articles and landing pages to promote your white paper.
While white papers feature prominently in many companies’ marketing campaigns, it’s important to note that the white paper itself is not the appropriate medium for making an overt sales pitch. Also worth mentioning is that placing a call-to-action within a white paper is different from explicitly writing sales copy.
Even if promoting a product or service, a white paper’s primary goal is to use data backed by technical analysis, research, and facts to persuade and inform the reader. Doing otherwise can give the impression that you or your company are shamelessly shilling under the guise of educating, which can break a reader’s trust in your brand.
To allow your organization more freedom to promote a white paper, consider creating content around the document that highlights its value. Two of the most commonly used types of content for this purpose are blog articles and landing pages.
In particular, a conversion-optimized landing page can dramatically boost download or purchase rates, while blog articles are great for combining educational and promotional content. A bonus for both blogs and landing pages is the instant SEO advantage they create. By publishing highly relevant content to your website, you can attract targeted organic traffic for months and even years after the content was produced.
7. Contract a professional technical writer to create your white paper.
White papers are complex pieces of content that require a lot of time and research to produce. The above tips are provided to help you gain a better result when you create your next paper. However, if you lack the time or expertise to complete these optimizations, it may be simpler to have an expert do it for you.
A technical writer with an expertise in white paper development will be able to pull together a high-quality document for you in a reasonable amount of time.
Another advantage of contracting the services of this type of freelance writer is that they’ve produced numerous papers and know what works best to appeal to a specific audience. They will also be well-versed in how to craft a document that’s appropriately structured and easy to read.
Usually, completing a white paper requires the assistance of several individuals, a technical writer to conduct the research and writing, another person to act as the white paper designer, and thirdly, an online marketer to develop blog content, landing pages, and a strategy for distribution.
Funnel Amp is unique in that we offer a full-stack content development solution that includes every option mentioned in this article.
If you'd like to have your next white paper created by our content development agency, tell us about the goals for your project, and we will be happy to supply you with a free quote!
About the Author
Head Project Manager / Developer
Sequoia is the founder and Head Project Manager at Funnel Amp. She launched the agency to provide clients with access to full-stack content marketing services that focus on high-quality and conversion optimization.